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.
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.
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.
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.
Last December, Holt adoptive mom Andrea shared her family’s moving story about bringing home Rini — a little girl born in China with severe congenital heart disease — and the months-long struggle to save her life. One year later, Andrea shares an update about her daughter Rini and the incredible gift that she has given their family in their short time together as a family.
On November 13, 2015, we celebrated the two-year anniversary of our youngest child’s heart transplant. And just a couple of weeks later, the day arrived when she had officially been living longer with her donor’s heart than with her birth heart.
It’s sacred and surreal to listen to your child’s heart beating and know that another mother heard that same heartbeat emanating from her body during her obstetrical appointments. We are the beneficiaries of another family’s selfless gift given during their time of deepest grief, and the parallels to adoption are not lost on us. Loss, gain, pain and joy coexist in a complex dance in this life. We appreciate that now more than ever.
Rini is doing beautifully and we are doing our utmost to drink in every moment! Sometimes, the darkness creeps in when we read statistics and ponder the reality of transplant and its long-term outlook. But then we take a deep breath and refocus on the here and now, and remember the days not too long ago when we would have been overjoyed to have just one more hour with Rini. Continue reading “Rini’s Gift”
National Adoption Month 2015 has come to a close, but the myths we’ve dispelled and the truths we’ve uncovered about adoption will stay relevant all year.
Here’s a recap of all the stories we featured, and all the children who we asked you to advocate for. Hopefully by next November, with your help, all the waiting children you advocated for this year will have the family they long for and deserve.
For today’s National Adoption Month of Myth-Busting post, Holt Adoption Counselor Emily Lund dispels the myth that older children who are adopted internationally always have difficulty bonding with their adoptive family and adapting to their new home. We also share an update from the Wells family, who wrote one of our all-time most popular blogs, “The Unexpected Ease of Older Child Adoption.”
Every child, family and community is unique. Children who are adopted internationally face some especially unique challenges such as language barriers, grief, adapting to a new country and culture, and loss. Some post-placement transitions are relatively smooth and other adoption journeys are not quite what the family expected. We work to ensure that each family is as prepared as possible and has the tools they need to help their older child adjust to their new life in the U.S. During the homestudy process, you will complete parent education trainings that will empower you with knowledge and insight about attachment and bonding. And after you come home, Holt has a clinical services department available to support families with any challenges that may arise. And, as Abbie wrote earlier this month, love between you and your older child may not be at first sight — but in time, it will grow. — Emily Lund, Adoption Counselor Continue reading “MYTH: Building a Bond With Older Adopted Children is Always a Struggle.”
As our National Adoption Month of Myth-Busting continues, Holt adoptive father Jason McBride shares what he believes to be the greatest adoption myth of all — that parents could never feel the same about an adopted child as they do about a biological child. Below, he explores the theory that the pressures of conventional ways of thinking about family planning are what deter the most people away from adoption. And that ultimately, love is what makes a family.
America’s fascination with kings and queens may have dissolved in the late 1700s, but our monarchist heritage shines through in the present with our continued desire to preserve bloodlines.
The greatest hurdle to adopting isn’t found in common misconceptions about the health of orphans or in the burden of travel. These are insider concerns; pressures of people who’ve already made the choice to adopt.
Rather, it’s the greatest adoption myth of all that repels most families away from children in need: The consideration of whether a child outside our own blood relation could ever feel the same as a biological child.
We’re always amazed by how truly talented and entrepreneurial so many of our supporters are in how they raise money and give to Holt. The people below are no exception. Read about what their creative and inspired ideas to provide for vulnerable children and families around the world. Thank you for your creativity, hard work and generosity!
For her senior project, Holt adoptee Paige Worthington hosted a game night and sent out letters to raise money for children who need cleft lip and palate surgeries.
Holt adoptee Paige Worthington is a rock star when it comes to making a difference for kids in China. Back in 2008, when she was a third-grader, we featured Paige’s photo on our blog because she gave a presentation to her classmates about raising money for earthquake victims in China.
Now she’s a senior in high school and still doing big things to help abandoned and vulnerable children in China!
As she began to think about her high school senior project, Paige knew she wanted to use it as a fundraiser to support children in China through Holt.
Holt and the Holt China program have a special place in Paige’s heart. Not only is she herself a Holt adoptee from China, but so is her younger sister. She also has two cousins who are Korean adoptees through Holt. Continue reading “Inspired Ideas, Generous Hearts”
Holt’s supporters are amazing. Because of gifts to our President’s Top Priority Fund last year, we have seen striking changes in the lives of children and families we serve. Hopeful adoptive families have been able to offer a loving home to children with special needs, while children with special needs living with their families around the world were able to receive the vital medical care and therapies they need to thrive. Through family strengthening initiatives, many struggling families now have the tools and resources to independently support their children. Holt’s supporters created pathways for children to go to school, provided lifesaving food to orphaned children in North Korea and created hope and opportunity in the lives of children and families as near as Haiti and as far as Mongolia and Vietnam.