Thoughts on Older Child Adoption From Experienced Parents

If you’re considering older child adoption, one of the best things you can do is seek advice from other families. Families who have worked through many of the same fears or concerns you’re now grappling with, and who have gone through the experience of helping an older child adapt to a new country, culture, language — and, in many cases, to life in a family instead of an institution. Families who have learned how to help their child heal from trauma and long-term institutionalization, and how to build a loving, trusting bond with a child who may have never experienced that kind of bond with a caregiver or family member before.

View the slideshow above to hear from a handful of Holt families who have adopted children at older ages. You can also read more in-depth stories about these families below and, if you would like more advice, you can contact an adoption service specialist to get in touch with an advocate family directly!

Continue reading “Thoughts on Older Child Adoption From Experienced Parents”

Without Any Prompting From Me…

“If I was still in China, I wouldn’t have glasses, I wouldn’t have a new wheelchair, I wouldn’t have such good food, I wouldn’t have surfing or swimming or basketball, I wouldn’t have my church friends, I wouldn’t have camping…”

Eric said these things to me a few weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon. I was working in the kitchen and he was seated at the dining room table and just talking to me with his usual happy chatter. Without any prompting from me, he started listing a very long list of things he was thankful for.

This excerpt is from a story by adoptive dad Tom Court, who adopted his son, Eric, when he was 12 years old. Read the full story!

Reader Favorite Stories of 2020

Revisit our most read, most shared, most liked adoption, adoptee and international program stories from the past year!

Top 5 Adoption Stories 

Why International Adoption is Still Needed

Until we live in a world where every child can grow up safe and loved  in a permanent, loving family, Holt will continue to provide and advocate for ethical, child-centered international adoption. Continue reading “Reader Favorite Stories of 2020”

We Can Help This Child…

One adoptive mom shares how the loss of their son moved her and her husband to sponsor a child in his honor. 

Celebrating Greg's first birthday!
“We are so thankful for the wonderful gift we had in Greg for 28 years,” his mom, Gail, says.

We adopted our daughter, Amanda, from Korea in 1987, through Holt. We adopted our son, Gregory, from Korea, through Holt in 1991. Both of our children have brought joy and love to everyone they’ve met. Continue reading “We Can Help This Child…”

You’ll Learn to Let Go

Adoptive mom Andrea at her daughter Scarlett's bedside after her heart operation.
Andrea at her daughter Scarlett’s bedside after her heart operation.

“You’ll learn to let go of everything you thought you knew about parenting, of your preconceived idea of family, of ‘healthy.’ You will be forced from selfishness to selflessness. You will stop thinking of adoption as finding the right child for you and learn to become the right parent for a child. It will be difficult. It will be ugly at times. It will leave you a sobbing heap in the closet. It will stretch you and twist you until you don’t recognize yourself anymore.

But it will be glorious, and you will look at yourself in the mirror a decade from now and be so proud of the parent and family you have become.”

This is excerpt from a letter that one woman wrote to her younger self, before she became an adoptive mom to five children, including four children with complex heart disease. 

The Question I’ve Learned to Ask Myself

Shila Henderson’s ten kids include five who joined her family through adoption, three at older ages. 

Adoptive mom Shila with her daughter Anna, who had a harder time attaching to her mom. “This was a wonderful moment where she let me put her on my back and dance around with her,” Shila says.
Shila with her daughter Anna, who had a harder time attaching to her mom. “This was a wonderful moment where she let me put her on my back and dance around with her,” Shila says.

“I now know that even children with the most tragic history miss what they’ve lost and the people they’ve left — even if that person hurt them the most. Every child was loved by someone — even if it was only their cribmate. They’ve lost their culture, language, friends, nannies and foster families. They’ve lost their birth families.

I learned to constantly ask myself if I was a person my child would WANT to bond with. Was I making myself easy to love and showing them through my words and actions they could trust me?”

A longer version of this story, “Family Foundations,” appeared in the spring 2014 Holt magazine. Read it here.

So many older children are waiting for permanent, loving families. Learn more about them and view their profiles on Holt’s waiting child photolisting!

In Good Hands | A China Adoption Travel Thank You Message


When the Kennedy family arrived in China to adopt their daughter Mia last year, some things did not go as expected. But John Feng — Holt’s site manager in Guangzhou, China — went above and beyond to care for them and meet each need that they and their daughter had.

Sometimes, adoption is all about preparing for the unexpected.

From the homestudy and dossier to waiting for a match, adoptive parents quickly learn that while there’s a lot they can control, there’s also a lot that is out of their hands.

No one understands this more than our current families in process. As of July 2020, travel is still on hold for many Holt adoptive families because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Every day, Holt is tirelessly advocating for children to unite with their adoptive families as soon as it is safe to do so. Continue reading “In Good Hands | A China Adoption Travel Thank You Message”

What a Difference a Year Makes


The first year home for a child and his or her adoptive family holds a lot of change, joy, difficulty, patience and love. But one year can make all the difference.

For a child living in an orphanage or foster home overseas, joining an adoptive family often means finally receiving the medical care they need to grow healthy and strong. It means going to occupational or physical therapy to begin to catch up developmentally. It means receiving the love, attention and nurturing care that they went without for so long.

All children have the potential to grow by leaps and bounds with each passing year. But for a child who was just adopted, this growth can be even more profound.

Continue reading “What a Difference a Year Makes”

A Miracle for Gracie

Four-year-old Gracie was weeks away from traveling to her adoptive family in the U.S. when COVID-19 hit Haiti. With a heart condition and suppressed immune system, she urgently needed to be on the last known flight leaving Haiti. But no one expected it would take an army of compassion, and a miracle, to get her here.

It was 11:30. The exit letter office closed at noon.

Gracie’s flight — the last known flight leaving Haiti before the country shut down all air travel due to the pandemic — was scheduled to depart at 6 p.m.

Holt’s staff in Haiti had less than four hours to complete her documents so she could be on that flight to Miami, where her dad, Brian, would be waiting for her. Continue reading “A Miracle for Gracie”

My Son’s Second Mother

Adoptive mom Angela Crisanto shares a tribute to her son’s “second mother” — his foster mother — in gratitude for all the love she gave him while in her care in Korea.

Kai with his foster mother in Korea.
Kai with his foster mother in Korea.

For so many months, we had wondered about the family who was taking care of our son.

Before we adopted our older son, he had lived in an orphanage in Vietnam. We were so relieved that in Korea, there were more foster homes to take care of the children — including for our soon-to-be younger son, Kai. Continue reading “My Son’s Second Mother”