To the Birth Mother of My Son

On her son’s 23rd birthday, Holt 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.

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.

I want you to know that he is loved and has been raised to the best of the ability of my husband and I. We tell him that his beautiful skin color, hair, and eyes, are your gift to him. My mother is Latina, so I have similar coloring, although he is a bit darker. I remind him that many people pay a lot to have hair and skin color like his.


Continue reading “To the Birth Mother of My Son”

She Carries Your Love Always

Holt adoptive mom Libby Wendland writes a heartfelt letter to her daughter’s foster mom in Thailand, who cared for her in the six years she waited to join a family through adoption. This letter originally appeared on Libby’s blog,

My husband and I just adopted our beautiful 6-year-old daughter internationally. She was placed in foster care at 3 weeks old until the approval of her adoption. Nothing I could ever give or say could repay her foster parents for the love they gave my daughter while she waited for six years for her forever home. My words will always fall short, but I pray all foster moms\dads know the importance of their job and role in a child’s life. This post is dedicated to two of the world’s best people (Por Kian & Mae Eiat) and to all the foster moms and dads in our world. Your work does not go unnoticed and your love will live through these children for all eternity. All my love and gratitude!

To My Daughter’s Foster Mom,

Eden riding a bike.I know you will probably never read these words nor will they ever touch your ears to know my heart, but I want to tell you that the day we met I will never forget or be the same. You showed me the broken hallelujah of loving someone with all your heart even if that love was meant only for a moment. You loving my daughter may have just been a season, but she will carry that love for eternity.

When she trusts me, I know it was because of your trusting hand that held her during those years of waiting and hard transitions.

When she loves me, I know it was because she was first loved by you.

Continue reading “She Carries Your Love Always”

In Honor of Judy

When Holt adoptive mom Angie Ledbetter decided to sign up new sponsors for children as a volunteer at Winter Jam, she knew it would be a wonderful way to honor Judy Young — her family’s adoption social worker and Holt’s Arkansas/Kansas/Missouri branch director who recently passed away. She never expected the beautiful confirmation of her decision that came next.

Our family feels Winter Jam is such an amazing event and is very proud to be a part of the Holt International family that sponsors it. It’s a night spent worshiping the Lord along with ten of the best Christian bands who are sharing the word through music, promoting adoption and getting sponsors for children. We first volunteered at Winter Jam several years ago while we were waiting for our daughter, Lauren, to come home. We were at the point in our adoption where we had all the paperwork finished for the time being and were waiting to be matched with our daughter. Everyone who has adopted knows that is one of the hardest times… to wait. We felt volunteering would be something we could do to feel productive while we were sitting idle in the adoption process.

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Angie Ledbetter first volunteered at Winter Jam while waiting to be matched with her daughter, Lauren, from Thailand.
I admit, the first time we volunteered, it was partly for selfish reasons. I wanted to have the opportunity to see all the faces of the children who needed sponsors, hoping that somehow I would see my daughter’s face. I suppose I had hoped for some divine intervention, considering I didn’t even know who our daughter would be at the time. I had hoped to see a precious baby girl and just know that she was my daughter. Needless to say, that didn’t happen, but we were able to sign people up to sponsor some of the children who were in need and enjoyed an amazing concert. Continue reading “In Honor of Judy”

Blessed With a Boy

The Jackson family was excited to add another little girl to their family. But about halfway through the adoption process, they decided to be open to a boy. Now, they are absolutely in love with their son, Luke, and the wonderful new adventure he is to their family. 

One-and-a-half-year-old Luke had been home for just a few weeks when he fell while playing outside. His legs couldn’t keep up with his toddling gait and before long he was on the ground with a bloody knee.

“I was ready for the drama!” says his mother, Lisa Jackson, recounting the moment.

So she brought him inside and began cleaning him up. Lisa and her husband, Tim, have three older biological daughters, so they knew the drill. While it was just a scraped knee, nothing serious, Lisa doted on him with the loving care and attention that she knew would make him feel better and stop the tears.

“But he kept crying and crying,” she says. Maybe the fall had scared him more than she realized.

But the next word out of Luke’s mouth cleared up any confusion: “Outside!” he sobbed.

He was “over” his bloody knee and falling down — this boy wanted to get back outside to play!

Continue reading “Blessed With a Boy”

One Mom’s Story of Parenting Kids With HIV

Anne Silas* enjoying the time she gets to spend with her daughter.Holt adoptive mom Anne Silas* has adopted two children from China who, because of the stigma surrounding HIV, waited for a family for seven years. Here, Anne shares the realities of raising children with HIV — and how the biggest parenting challenge she faces has nothing to do with the undetectable virus in their blood.

* The author has chosen to write under a pseudonym to protect the identities of her children.

They come running to me after a long school day, the two of them, bright and beautiful in their rubber rain boots and their colorful jackets. They’re almost twins, at 10 and 11 years old, and their faces light up as they catch sight of me. When the weight of their dual hug hits me it knocks me backwards and I laugh as I grab them tight. “Wo ai ni!”  I greet them in their native Chinese.  I love you.  It’s our constant refrain since we met them, not that long ago.

These, my precious third and fourth children, came to us through adoption from China.  Their special need, as I tell those who ask, is that they have been left waiting far too long.  And now they are the older children nobody chooses to adopt.

But there’s actually more to their story. Continue reading “One Mom’s Story of Parenting Kids With HIV”

Top 15 Stories of 2015

The year 2015 was an excellent year in stories on the Holt blog — so much so that we expanded our Top 10 list to a Top 15 of the year!

In 2015, Holt’s creative lead, Billie Loewen, and I traveled to India, where we witnessed the incredible impact of Holt’s child nutrition program, gained new understanding on how Holt’s local partners are helping some of their country’s most vulnerable children and families, and met profoundly inspiring young women who refuse to accept the gender inequities that are far too common in their native India. In 2015, China announced major changes to their one-child policy — inspiring an essay by Chinese adoptee Lillian Schmaltz — and significantly expanded options for single applicants such as Vicky Baker, whose story of opening her heart and home to a son was among the most viewed of the year. Perhaps what’s most exciting this year is that a number of submissions from adoptees topped the list. In fact, the top four most viewed blog posts of 2015 came from Holt adoptees! 

Without further ado, we are so excited to share Holt’s Top 15 Most Viewed Blogs of 2015, including five adoptee stories, five adoptive family stories and five stories about efforts to strengthen families and uplift orphaned and vulnerable children in our programs around the world. — Robin Munro, Managing Editor Continue reading “Top 15 Stories of 2015”

Saying Yes to a Boy; One Adoptive Family’s Story

After learning about the urgent need for families to adopt boys from China, the Griffis family switches their gender preference from “girl” to “either” — a decision that has blessed them in ways they never imagined.

From the moment that adoption was on our hearts, it was always China. As I would read blogs about China adoption stories and browse the waiting children lists, I felt deep in my soul that soon, I would be looking into the eyes of my future child. It was always China. Always special needs. And always a girl.


Because it was China, we assumed there were girls upon girls waiting. We believed, like so many others, that the effects of the one-child policy in China were still rampant and that there were baby girls just waiting for families. I read blog upon blog written by families who had adopted from China, and at that point, most of them had adopted girls. This gave me a vision for what adopting from China would look like, and I started to dream of adding a daughter to our family.

See, we have two boys already. So adding a girl seemed like a no-brainer. As we were submitting our medical conditions checklist, we also checked “girl” without even giving it much discussion.

And we started to plan to add a girl to our family.

That is, until we started getting emails from our agency that read:

There is an urgent need for parents to adopt boys, but you will wait 6-9 months for a girl.

An URGENT NEED. It is boys who need families. The orphanages and foster homes were not overflowing with girls… but boys. Continue reading “Saying Yes to a Boy; One Adoptive Family’s Story”

Special Needs Adoption Grant Helps Lucy Come Home

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As a 7-year-old with albinism in China, Lucy needed the love, support and acceptance of a family. In September 2015, she came home with help from Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund and today she is thriving as a member of the Burleigh family. 

From the beginning, something stood out about about Lucy.

Jennifer Burleigh first laid eyes on her as she sat at her computer, scrolling through the waiting child photolisting. The Burleigh family wasn’t looking to adopt at the time — they already had two biological children and an adopted son — but Jennifer would often look through the photolisting, praying for and sharing about the children she saw there. Her heart hurt for each one and she desperately wanted them to find families.

As she scrolled through photos on this day, one girl in particular caught her eye. It wasn’t so much her blue eyes, pearly skin and toe-head hair that made her stand out from the other children. But rather, an unexplainable tug she caused on Jennifer’s heart.

Continue reading “Special Needs Adoption Grant Helps Lucy Come Home”

A Family’s “Thank You” to SNAF Donors


The Court family expresses their gratitude to those who donated to Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund (SNAF), which helped them to bring their son, Eric, home in 2015. 

THANK YOU to everyone whose generous donations to the Special Needs Adoption Fund made it possible for us to meet the costs necessary for us to bring our son, Eric, home. We are so grateful that he is here with us now and we are together as a family!

One year ago, we learned about Eric for the first time through Holt International Children’s Services. My wife discovered Eric on their waiting child list. She felt immediately drawn to him and told me with tears in her eyes that he needed to be in our family. We talked with a representative from Holt and we both wanted to apply for adoption, but I really didn’t see how we could meet the costs. In fact, just a few weeks after discovering Eric, I was in the midst of writing an email to Holt explaining that we couldn’t proceed with the adoption because of finances when I was suddenly struck with a very forceful thought. The thought was, “If you walk away from this child, then you’re abandoning him.” I couldn’t press “Send.” I deleted the message. The next day we agreed to do everything we could to become Eric’s parents.

Continue reading “A Family’s “Thank You” to SNAF Donors”

The Top 10 Photos of 2015

We all love feel-good stories. At Holt, we are surrounded by miracles, triumphant underdog tales and inspiring success stories every day. But sometimes, the best stories aren’t told through words. Today, we look back at a few of our favorite stories of hope, love, family and incredible, life-changing impact — not told through words, but pictures. We’ve rounded up our top 10 favorite, most iconic photos of the year. It’s likely that if you’ve followed us on social media, checked out our website, started sponsoring a child, given a gift to help a child in need or started your adoption journey, you’ve seen at least one of these photos this year. Today, we share the stories behind the photos, and explain why these images exemplify Holt’s work and the incredible impact of Holt’s friends, families and supporters around the world. Enjoy!

Photo 10: Summer Camps

Every summer, Holt Adoptee Camp is both fun and inspirational for the kids and teens who attend. At four sleep-away camps across the country, adoptees spend a week hiking, swimming, playing games and enjoying evenings around a campfire with fellow transracial adoptees and adoptee counselors. This is a time and place for adoptees to just be themselves, surrounded by other people who share similar stories and family histories. Together, they explore identity, race and other adoptee-specific topics in an open, safe setting. Mostly, they have fun! In the photo below, 2015 camp director Chris McGinn — who will return to direct camps in 2016! — serves as jungle gym and friend to 9-year-old Adam Wachner during camp in Nebraska. In the background, 16-year-old Alec Zoz and 13-year-old Karl McGillvray sport Holt camp shirts specially designed by Holt camp counselors.

Photo 10 Continue reading “The Top 10 Photos of 2015”