As she prepares to move to Indonesia for an exciting new job, Holt Adoptee Programs Lead and adult Adoptee Caitlin Howe shares some thoughts on her time at Holt.
I remember my first interview at Holt. I actually remember all three of my interviews at Holt, each for a different position in a different department. After I completed my master’s degree in intercultural youth and family development, I knew that Holt was one of the few places in town where I could see myself working because of the international focus. After the first two attempts I knew that I had one more shot left in me before moving on in my job search.
To my relief and excitement, I was hired as a result of that third attempt to help with family recruitment in the social services department. I was excited, nervous and eager to start a new job. Being an Adoptee and walking through those doors on the first day seemed like something of minor importance, although special. As I think about leaving as an Adoptee on my last day, I can see how much I have transformed and how this place and my role have changed me and how I feel about my Adoptee identity.
Being an Adoptee and working at Holt has been a complete rollercoaster and alongside the regular ups and downs of a job, it has introduced a myriad of personal highs and lows.
As my understanding grew of my work, adoption and Adoptees, my understanding also grew of myself. To be honest, as I worked with others that were just like me, I did not really have a choice in reckoning with my Adoptee identity.
The need became clear to me as I listened to stories, felt the grief and loss, and celebrated in the joy of likeness and not being the only one. I’ve spent countless hours on the phone with other Adoptees, attended Adoptee-led conferences and events, sat in cafeterias full of youth Adoptees as the sun sets on a Holt Adoptee Camp day, and shared my perspective with all parts of the adoption constellations. Each of these events have reminded me of the power and strength that exists in Adoptee community and the importance of participation and advocacy for our needs.
All of these lessons along with the privilege of processing alongside those that are asking difficult questions about who they are and where we fit has made moving on from here unbelievably bittersweet. As a Holt Adoptee, I am tied to this place and those that it serves in a way that I did not fully understand before. In working here and joining in the vulnerability and strength of the Adoptee community, I know that moving away does not mean moving on.
Strength and progress is found when Adoptees continue to be a part of and lead conversations about adoption. I am excited to join in these efforts in a different capacity even though I will no longer work at the place where this passion first started to grow. I know that this place has always been a part of my story, but I leave now having found a new sort of strength and connection to this place will never part from me.
Caitlin Howe will be moving to Indonesia to start a new job as community engagement specialist for a learning center that provides a safe learning space for refugee children, youth and adults.
To learn more about Holt’s lifelong services for Adoptees and adoptive families — including many that Caitlin helped develop during her time at Holt — visit holtinternational.org/pas.