Relational Trauma: Healing Our Children And Ourselves

Holt’s director of U.S. foster care programs reflects on the need for foster and adoptive parents to heal their own traumas before they can help children heal from theirs.

It’s not uncommon to think of traumatic experience as a point-in-time incident, such as September 11, 2001. Or a short-term experience like a veteran serving our country during times of war. Relational and developmental trauma, which results from a child’s exposure to repetitive, invasive and interpersonal traumatic events, is often left out of the trauma narrative. That is unfortunate because this is the type of trauma that nearly all children in need of foster care and adoption experience.

Continue reading “Relational Trauma: Healing Our Children And Ourselves”

To the Birth Mother of My Son

On her son’s 23rd birthday, adoptive mom Lu Adair writes a letter to her son’s birth mom — sharing about the kind, sensitive and talented young man he has become. This post originally appeared in April 2016. 

To the birth mother of my son,

Twenty-three years ago you brought a beautiful baby boy into the world. For reasons only you understand, you were unable to care for him. That’s okay; I’m the last person who would judge you. Over the years, others have asked why you could not care for him. It’s really none of their business. I think it shows how much they do not understand about life. Continue reading “To the Birth Mother of My Son”

When Your Own Words Shock You

Holt clinical social worker and adoptive mom Zoila Lopez reflects on the importance of the words we choose when talking about adoption. 

I am not even sure where to begin, other than to say that I have spent the last 24 hours mortified after reading an interview I offered about Holt’s waiting child process. When it was published over the weekend, I went back and reread it.

I read everything at work with a critical eye. I think that approach is rooted in the responsibility of assessing families for children, a charge I don’t ever take lightly, and reading my typed words was not a different experience. Almost immediately, as I sat on my living room couch reading the blog on my phone, I began to shift nervously. Continue reading “When Your Own Words Shock You”

Mom, I Forgive You

Adoptee Krista Gause shares a letter she wrote to her birth mom before she traveled on the summer 2016 Holt Heritage Tour of Korea. 

The adoption agency suggested that I write you a letter. And while I know I’m supposed to keep this brief, I just can’t. I have so many things to share with you. Did you ever have a friend who you only saw every now and then but you loved each other so much that time and distance didn’t matter? And that when you finally did see that friend you had a laundry list of things to share with her? That’s exactly how I feel right now. Continue reading “Mom, I Forgive You”

My Cherished Son

Adoptive mom Jen Skipper shares about adopting her son who has developmental delays — the unknowns, the hardships and the hope she now has for his future.

It was time to go and meet our fifth child, our second adoption from China. Our path to him had been clear — we knew he was the boy that God had led us to. He was to be our son. We knew he would come to us with a couple medical diagnoses and some developmental delays. We thought his developmental delays included learning to walk and speak late. At 2 years old, he was just starting to babble.

I had poured over his paperwork and felt like all of his reported delays were simply related to being institutionalized, and I was encouraged by the great strides in his development after joining a foster family in China. I had heard stories of institutionalized kids coming home to their forever family and overcoming so many of their delays. I was optimistic and ready to welcome my son into my heart and our family forever.

Jen and Marc in their first days with their son in China.

The moment he was placed into my arms in China at almost 3 years old, I knew his delays and issues were more severe than I had anticipated or imagined. He was laughing and smiling, and that was not how kids are supposed to act when being placed into a stranger’s arms.

We took him back to our motel room and I realized he was not making eye contact with any of us. He had no verbal communication and was rummaging through every garbage can he could find, looking for something to play with. He hit himself repeatedly and when we went anywhere new, he would go cross-eyed and grind his teeth. He was so scared and couldn’t communicate it. And so was I.

Continue reading “My Cherished Son”

A Letter to My Future Adoptive Parents

Adoption is complicated. Grieving is, too.

Grief is intertwined in adoption because at some point in time, a family and a child experienced loss, while another family is built. Let’s continue to normalize that tension, so that others might find the courage and hope to walk through it.

This letter is inspired largely by elements from my own adoption journey, but it’s open enough that I hope it shines some light into yours.

Reposted with permission from Adoptee and therapist Cam Lee Small, MS, LPCC. Cam provides adoption-competent therapy, counseling and educational resources for Adoptees and adoptive families. Read more of his work on his website.

Without Them, I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am Today

Holt adoptee Kanya Sesser skateboards, skis, races, models and surfs. Born without legs, Kanya has become an inspiration to friends and fans around the world with her motto, “No legs, No limits.”

“I have always been a positive person — largely in thanks to the people who have cared for me throughout my life.

The people in Thailand who raised me until I was 5 helped me to become a good, calm person. The monks taught me a lot as a kid by showing me love and forgiveness, and I learned the value of Buddhism. Even after I left their care, they kept in touch with me while I lived in Thailand. They taught me a lot that has helped me all through my life.

And although I was initially scared of leaving Thailand with my new family, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I am doing if it wasn’t for my adoptive parents. My mom and dad have supported me every day and all though my sports. My mom, I love her. We have a great relationship. Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

This is an excerpt of a longer story that appeared on the Holt blog in June 2014. Read Kanya’s full story here!

Who Are the Children and Youth in U.S. Foster Care

Holt’s U.S. foster care and adoption specialist shares about the kids in U.S. foster care today.  

What excludes a foster child from many other children in the world is maltreatment. Maltreatment is a behavior acted on a child that causes high risk of harm that can hinder the security, development and trust children have. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, neglect, homelessness and substance abuse are the main reasons why children enter into foster care. Continue reading “Who Are the Children and Youth in U.S. Foster Care”

5 Ways Holt’s Child Nutrition Program Helps Children Grow Healthy and Strong

Holt’s nutrition program director, Emily DeLacey, shares the top five ways Holt donors help children receive the nutritional support they need to grow up healthy and strong. 

Good nutrition is essential. But when children are malnourished, especially during key windows in their development, it can permanently impact them. Poor nutrition affects children’s physical growth and brain development, and can exacerbate any existing special needs or developing special needs, such as rickets. The long-term consequences of poor childhood nutrition include poor mental development, non-communicable diseases, poor school achievement, reduced economic productivity, and risky future pregnancies and malnourished babies. Continue reading “5 Ways Holt’s Child Nutrition Program Helps Children Grow Healthy and Strong”