What Love and a Family Can Do

Just over two years ago, Liz Larson traveled to China to meet and bring home 2-and-a-half-year-old Ellia. A child and family counselor, Liz felt confident and well-equipped, although a bit anxious, to begin the journey of bonding and healing with her daughter.

Today, Ellia is thriving in her mom’s care. In just two years, Ellia has grown from a shy and quiet 2-year-old to an energetic, outgoing, silly 4-year-old who is secure and so loved. Liz says adopting as a single parent is “the hardest thing she has ever done on purpose,” but also the greatest gift.

Liz encourages all hopeful parents — whether married or single — to consider adoption.

Older Child Adoption: An Expert Adopts

The Snodgrass family.

Holt’s director of clinical services — Celeste Snodgrass — shares about adopting her son Max from Thailand at 9 years old. While an adoption expert by profession, Celeste affirms that no older-child adoption goes perfectly smoothly. But it’s the perfect option for many families, and for children who have been waiting so long.

“Are you hungry?” Celeste asked her son, Max.

Continue reading “Older Child Adoption: An Expert Adopts”

At Heart, Their Greatest Need

Six-year-old Claire Peddicord has a heart condition and received heart surgeries both in China and once home with her family in Tennessee. But her parents, Kristin and Casey, have learned that one special need is even greater than her heart condition. It’s one that all waiting children have, and any loving adoptive family can meet. 

In a sweet denim dress and a big yellow bow in her hair, 6-year-old Claire Peddicord walks hand-in-hand with her parents, Casey and Kristin, down the path from their Tennessee farmhouse to a nearby hay field. She climbs up on a hay bale and asks her dad to hoist her two little dogs up, too. She wants them to sit with her.

 

An hour later, she cartwheels across the living room floor as her favorite Toby Mac song plays in the background. Alternating looks of deep concentration and excitement play across her face.

Seeing her here, playing, dancing, running up and down the stairs with her toys, you would never know all that she has gone through. You’d never know that Claire has a heart condition. Continue reading “At Heart, Their Greatest Need”

Special Needs Adoption Fund: Bringing Home Shelby

Every day 2-year-old Shelby Jane spent in an orphanage in China, she grew weaker. She needed to come home to her adoptive family — and fast — but finances stood in the way. That’s when a Holt donor stepped in to help.

Two-year-old Shelby Jane had a hole in her tiny heart, a blood condition called thalassemia and chronic cases of pneumonia and bronchitis that caused her to be hospitalized just about every month of her 24-month life. She could not speak, could not crawl and could not chew food. Every day she spent in an orphanage in China, she grew weaker.

Her adoptive parents, Michelle and Adam Campbell, needed to bring her home — and fast.

“We knew we needed to go get her because she wasn’t getting the care she needed. Waiting,” Michelle says, “wasn’t an option.”

Shelby at her orphanage in China before coming home to her family.
Shelby at her orphanage in China before coming home to her family. While living in the orphanage, Shelby spent part of every month in the hospital due to pneumonia or bronchitis.

Continue reading “Special Needs Adoption Fund: Bringing Home Shelby”

Top 15 Holt Blog Stories of 2018

Every year, we receive the most powerful, inspiring stories from adoptees, sponsored children and families, sponsors, donors, adoptive families and birth parents to share on our blog. 2018 was no different. The stories — and the people behind the stories — show a tremendous sense of strength, love, hope, generosity and family. During 2018, adoptees reunited with family members, reflected on their stories and wrote letters to their ten-year-old selves. Adoptees and adoptive families reflected on the challenges, the joys and the special moments they shared with one another. Sponsored children and families expressed their gratitude to the sponsors and donors who support them, and opened the door to share their stories of perseverance and success.

Each story from 2018 is full of empowerment, inspiration and hope. Here are some of your most viewed, most shared and most favorite adoptee, adoption, family strengthening and orphan care stories of 2018!

Continue reading “Top 15 Holt Blog Stories of 2018”

Return to Hong Kong: One Adoptive Mom & Daughter Look Back

As Holt reestablishes an international adoption program in Hong Kong, adoptee Amy Banta and her mom, Julie, reflect on their lifelong journey together — and the orphanage in Hong Kong where they first met nearly 26 years ago.

Julie (left) and Amy in a recent photo at home.

A Beautiful Mess

My knee-jerk reaction to inquiries regarding my life is to respond with how simple and relatively ordinary it is. Yet in looking back on my 29 years, I am reminded of how my odds-defying early life ultimately shaped who I am today. I was 4 years old when my mom and Grandma “Lo” came to Mother’s Choice in Hong Kong to bring me home to America. While the actual adoption required no work on my end, I am humbled and deeply thankful for every person who fought on my behalf.

I grew up in Colleyville, Texas as one of seven children and I highly recommend the large family life. Organized chaos becomes a reality when your mom is a teacher. I truly cannot imagine life without my sisters or brothers and their individual impact on me. Continue reading “Return to Hong Kong: One Adoptive Mom & Daughter Look Back”

Alcohol Exposure: What Does it Mean?

Exposure to alcohol. This may be the most vague and full-of-unknowns special need you’ll come across in the profiles of children waiting to be adopted. It includes a vast array of outcomes, sometimes including no effects at all. However, many parents jump to an extreme when they first read “alcohol exposure” — thinking, “This must mean they have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).” Or, families nearly skip over it — thinking, “It’s so common… it must not be a big deal.” An informed approach to adopting a child with alcohol exposure lies somewhere in the middle: informed by research, supported by other families’ experiences, and always with the best interests of the child as the deciding factor.

Continue reading “Alcohol Exposure: What Does it Mean?”

The Loneliest Orphans; Growing Up With HIV in China

Any child who loses their parents suffers unimaginable grief and heartache. But for one population of children growing up in China, the reason they lost their parents adds a whole other level of loss, heartache and isolation — even within their own families. They are not just orphans. They are AIDS orphans. 

The picture that Jenna's son drew that illustrates which family members have passed away. The characters read "I love my mom and dad."
Becca snapped this photo of a hand-drawn picture taped to the wall of her son’s former home in China. The characters read “I love my mom and dad” and above each picture, from left to right, he wrote “Me, Dad, Mom, Grandma.” All of his immediate family has now passed away.

It was as if time stood still.

Everything sat undisturbed — preserved in the moment their son left his childhood home for a new life in the city.

A couple of bikes stood leaning in the doorway, covered in dust. A calendar remained open to November 2016, the month their son moved to his group home. Becca noticed a hat with a flower hanging on the wall.

“I wondered if this was his grandmother’s hat,” says Becca, now mom to the boy who once lived in this cold concrete block home. Becca wondered if his grandmother wore this hat while working in the fields that surrounded their family compound.

Here and there, Becca also caught glimpses of the child her now teenage son once was. The child who left Spiderman stickers and hand-drawn pictures taped to the walls, rollerblades and tiny shoes by the door. The child who created an elaborate chalk drawing of a guitar on the window, and lines on the wall to prove he was growing taller.

Continue reading “The Loneliest Orphans; Growing Up With HIV in China”

Favorite Five Adoption Stories

For National Adoption Month, read, view and share the five most popular adoption stories and videos to ever appear on the Holt blog!

A Heart for Rini

At the 2014 Holt Gala and Auction in Portland, Oregon, Holt adoptive mom Andrea stood to speak. She told her story of bringing home her daughter Rini from China — a little girl with severe congenital heart disease — and the struggle to save her life. Here, Andrea again shares the story that captivated an audience of families, adoptees and Holt supporters at the Portland event, as well as her appeal to help save the lives of other children with serious heart disease… children just like Rini. Continue reading “Favorite Five Adoption Stories”