The Loss of My Birth Father

Carmen Hinckley was adopted from Brazil through a closed adoption. But in 2009, she had the amazing experience of meeting and reuniting with her birth family. Here she shares the ups and downs of her adoption journey as she met her birth family, then learned of and processed the death of her birth father.

Carmen (2)My adoption story feels like it came straight from the plot of an intense and dramatic soap opera — the kind that compels you with its ups and downs, without knowing how it will end — the kind you can’t look away from. My story involves secrecy, family rifts and the reunion of an adoptee’s dreams.

I was adopted from Brazil [not through Holt International] as an infant, and shortly after my birth I was taken to an orphanage where I lived for eleven weeks as my legal adoption paperwork was being finished. Then my mother, who adopted me as a single parent, brought me home to the United States. Continue reading “The Loss of My Birth Father”

This Sibling Group of 5 Needs a Family

Think about your siblings, or maybe even your own children. Maybe one is the jokester, sure to bring lots of laughs around the dinner table. Another might be the nurturing oldest child, playing the role of the “second” mom or dad to their younger siblings. Then there’s always the “baby” of the family, supplying cuteness overload as they wrap themselves around everyone else’s fingers.

Brothers and sisters grow up together and are often each other’s playmates, competitors and best friends. Whether a family is comprised of two, four or eight children, each sibling holds his or her own special role and place. Each brother or sister — with their unique personality, humor and quirks — contributes to making your family your family. If anyone were missing, it wouldn’t be the same…

That’s why, when sibling groups are in need of adoptive families, we are dedicated to keeping them together.

We’re currently searching for a loving, permanent family for this sibling set of five from Southeast Asia. While it will take an extra special family to adopt them, we know they will thrive with a family that gives them the love and attention they so desperately need.

Continue reading “This Sibling Group of 5 Needs a Family”

Advocating for Phillip

In a previous post, Holt advocate Shila Henderson described her experience on Holt’s recent ambassador trip to Beijing, how the trip changed her and what it was like to spend time in China with children who are waiting for families. Here, she recounts her last day with the children and advocates for Phillip — a little boy who desperately wants and needs a family.

IMG_0786Our trip to Beijing was full of emotion from day one. The last day was especially memorable. It was the “goodbye party” where we said a farewell to the kids. When I woke up that morning I knew it would be hard, especially with “Phillip.” We had spent four days with 9-year-old Phillip and he had asked us many times if we would find him a mother. He had even said he would take any mother, even a “white-haired grandma-mom.” I both laughed and cried when he told me that. Phillip is intelligent, loving, outgoing, kind, easy-going and sweet. He loves to sing and is full of joy. He enjoys taking things apart to see how they work and I imagine him as a future Lego maniac. Phillip has vision challenges, which make him appear cross-eyed, but he can navigate well. A highly respected pediatric eye surgeon also viewed photos and videos of Phillip and he believes Phillip’s condition can very likely be corrected with surgery and glasses.

Continue reading “Advocating for Phillip”

These Older Children in China Are Waiting for Families

This past November, a 10-member Holt ambassador team traveled to meet a group of older children in a care center in Beijing, China — all of whom have Special Blessings grants to go toward the cost of their adoptions! Will you help advocate for these children by reading and sharing their stories? They are all still waiting to be matched with the loving families they deserve.



Eleven-year-old Jaxson loves to play Chess, is good at Legos, likes airplanes and is talented in the arts. He likes to draw in great detail and make clay animals. Read what Jaxson’s ambassadors, Ed and Sandy, have to share about him!







Tilly squealed with delight when her ambassadors met her and she gave each them a big hug. Tilly also loved to play games, do puzzles and draw with them. Click here to read more of what Tilly’s ambassadors had to say about their time with her!







Clyde’s ambassador says she was so blessed to spend time in China with this delightful boy. Look at that wonderful smile! Every time she would see Clyde, he had that wonderful smile across his face. He brought joy and laughter to everyone he met. Read more about Clyde!

Continue reading “These Older Children in China Are Waiting for Families”

Bringing Christmas

This December, a team of Holt adoptive families, sponsors and supporters from all around the United States traveled on our annual Korea Gift Team to deliver special Christmas gifts to children in our partner’s care in South Korea. Holt Development Associate and Korean adoptee Courtney Young traveled on this year’s team, and below she shares about her experience and why it was so meaningful.

Courtney, as Mrs. Claus, gets ready to hand out gifts to children at the care center.

If Christmas spirit is contagious, then I must catch it every year the day after Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday! I love the twinkling lights, the trees, the hope for snow and baking up a storm to give holiday treats to all of my friends and family. I’m like a real-life Buddy the Elf.

This year was extra special because I got to travel with a team of wonderful people on the Holt Christmas Gift Team to Korea.

During the trip, we traveled south of Seoul to visit the Jeonju Babies Home and then to Daejeon to visit the Holt Morning Garden Mother and Child Shelter. While the whole trip was indescribably life changing, there were a couple of days that were particularly special. The first of these days was at the Jeonju Babies Home.

Continue reading “Bringing Christmas”

Brothers In Search of a Family

Vo Tu Lap + Vo Ngoc Son

UPDATE: As of April 2016, these brothers will be staying together in a loving, permanent family! 

You may have seen this dynamic brother duo in our post about adopting and parenting sibling sets. Spencer and Leo are still in search of a permanent, loving family. Please help us in spreading the word about them! 

Spencer and Leo started living in an orphanage just three years ago when their mother and grandmother were no longer able to care for them. Their father died from AIDS and their mother was very sick with HIV. Both of the boys are HIV-negative, and while they continue to grieve the loss of their birth family, they have gradually become more and more happy and involved in their care center.

These boys are not only brothers, but also best friends and teammates who would be a wonderful addition to any family.

Continue reading “Brothers In Search of a Family”

How Nutrition Changes Lives

Holt International’s Child Nutrition Program has seen amazing success since it began 3 years ago in India, China and Vietnam. But even more amazing are the stories of individual children whose lives and health have dramatically changed with better nutrition and feeding methods. 

Ajay* is a sweet young boy whose potential and personality were long unrealized. He lives in a care center in Pune, India and has cerebral palsy in addition to other physical and mental disabilities. He is almost 4 years old, but appears small and skinny for his age — a result of malnutrition. Ajay’s days are pretty uneventful: he lies in his crib and when he is fed, also while lying down, he is barely able to choke down his food.

Ayush with his care giver-2
Ajay, being fed by his caregiver.

But one day was different. On this day, he sat up in a chair for one of the first times ever. Although he can’t speak, the expression on his face and the light in his eyes seemed to clearly shout: “Hello world, here I am!”

Continue reading “How Nutrition Changes Lives”

Happy, Healthy and Dry

Six-year-old Sokha and his family live in the most impoverished region of Cambodia where many families are forced to migrate or make their children work to earn extra income. But now, with help from Holt and the Child and Life Association, they have hope. Equipped with resources, education and support, Sokha and his family can now escape poverty and transform their future.

When it rains in rural Cambodia, 6-year-old Sokha* and his family have little hope of staying dry. The wind and water easily make it through the palm leaf walls and deteriorating steel roof of their small home. They do their best to dodge the drips and drops, but eventually end up drenched.

Continue reading “Happy, Healthy and Dry”

Forever Changed

Shila Henderson reflects on the Holt Ambassador Trip to Beijing and how it changed her. While in Beijing, Shila and her two daughters got to meet and spend time with 6-year-old Ione. Now home from her trip, Shila advocates for this sweet, shy girl to find a permanent, loving family of her own.

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“Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”

The words above, by Pastor David Platt, echoed in my mind as we taxied down the runway heading home from Beijing. My world was forever changed. I had the honor and privilege of participating in Holt’s Ambassador of Hope Trip to China along with my two daughters, who were adopted from China just a few years ago. It was an amazing experience to see my daughters come full circle — from being the orphans that were advocated for, to being the ones advocating. We had the opportunity to spend four days in an orphanage with amazing children who are all waiting for families. It’s hard to describe our experience; it was so full of hope, heartbreak, love, laughter and tears.

Continue reading “Forever Changed”

An Ambassador Advocates For Smiley Clyde

My name is Angie Lewis. I was able to attend the November ambassador trip to Beijing, China with Holt International. I am the mother of five children ranging from ages of 6 to 20 years old. Our youngest is adopted from China, and was 4 years old when we brought her home. Our family has been blessed beyond what words can say by our sweet Nicole. After adopting Nicole, we felt our role in adoption was so much more than just bringing her home. When Holt announced this trip, I knew it was the next step I needed to take in helping orphans. So I am pleased to introduce Clyde, a sweet boy I met in Beijing.      

1104151156aI was so blessed to spend time in China with this delightful boy. Look at that wonderful smile! Every time I would see Clyde, he had that wonderful smile across his face. He brought joy and laughter to everyone he met.

During our trip to the zoo, he loved taking pictures — and he was really great at it!

During one of our times together, he and another boy began to sing “Happy Birthday” to me after hearing the group of adults sing to me at dinner. On his own, Clyde also sang to me. The smile across his face as he sang was beautiful, and Clyde was so caring towards me and his friends. He shared food with me when we would sit down to eat and sometimes, he would insist on giving his things to me.

Continue reading “An Ambassador Advocates For Smiley Clyde”