MYTH: I will be expected to go outside my comfort zone and accept the first child referred by my agency.

Week-2-NAM-Myth-Art-4This is a common misperception among families considering adoption. To the contrary, families determine from the beginning their level of comfort when considering age, gender and special needs.

What drives the matching process, however, is finding the right family for every child — and what’s best for each child is to be placed with a family who can wholeheartedly embrace their emotional and medical care needs. Continue reading “MYTH: I will be expected to go outside my comfort zone and accept the first child referred by my agency.”

Be The Match

Phoebe Jeong-Hui Ward is a vibrant and active 8-year-old adoptee living in Maryland. She loves Tae Kwon Do, basketball, lacrosse and cheerleading.
In September, Phoebe was diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening auto-immune disorder. She is currently receiving chemotherapy, but she may need a bone marrow transplant to save her life.

Typically, close family members usually serve as the best bone marrow donors. But for Phoebe, like all adopted children, her bone marrow donor will be a stranger — likely, someone who shares her Korean heritage. Continue reading “Be The Match”

MYTH: I Can’t Afford Adoption

Week-2-NAM-Myth-Art-3At Holt, we never want finances to come between families and children who need loving homes. Yet, we recognize that the cost of adoption can feel like an obstacle for many families. Luckily, countless resources exist to help families offset the cost of adoption, and range from grants to creative, community-based projects.

Of course, some financial resources don’t involve fundraising at all. Many families apply for low-interest loans to cover adoption fees. There are also federal and state adoption tax credits, reimbursements for military service members, private grants awarded through an application process, like those offered by Brittany’s Hope, and Holt grants available to help families adopt older children and children with special needs.

“Don’t let the cost of adoption stop you from pursuing your dream of adopting. So many families that initially thought they couldn’t afford to adopt have received grants and loans and come up with amazing, creative ways to fund their adoptions,” Susie Doig, Holt’s senior director of adoption services says. “Not all fees and costs are due at once, so for most families there is a 1-3 year time period during which the adoption process is occurring that they can be actively working to come up with the total funds. It may take time, creativity and some elbow grease, but families that are financially stable and have the ongoing resources to care for a child can make their adoption dream a reality.” Continue reading “MYTH: I Can’t Afford Adoption”

Checking All The Boxes


In 2013, we featured travel reflections from Beth Anne Schwamberger as she embarked on a mission to India to meet her son, Holden — a child she learned of in a waiting child story, also featured on our blog in 2012. Then, last month, Beth Anne provided a beautiful update on Holden and some great reflection and encouragement about the process to adopt a child with special needs.

Bringing Up Betty is a podcast about parenting children with special needs, and Beth Anne is featured on back-to-back episodes. In the first episode, Beth Anne discusses how she and her husband came to be Holden’s parents, how they decided which special needs they were open to when adopting a child, and how Holden is thriving today. Continue reading “Checking All The Boxes”

MYTH: You Have to Be Perfect to Adopt


Afraid you have to be “perfect” to adopt? Wealthy? Have the nicest home?  Not so! Below, Susie Doig, Holt’s senior director of adoption services, and a Holt adoptive family help to ease those fears.

“Homemade cookies are encouraged,” Susie Doig, Holt’s director of social services says, with a playful smile, as she discusses the adoption process, specifically the oft-dreaded adoption homestudy and home visits. Susie is, of course, kidding. Baked goods aren’t necessary when a social worker visits your home — “just a safe and warm environment for children,” Susie says. Continue reading “MYTH: You Have to Be Perfect to Adopt”

The Flat Side

With the love of her family and community — and a little Chinese chicken soup — adoptee Maya Price gains a confidence that shows in “her bounce, her risk-taking, and most especially, VERY especially, her laughter.” This post originally appeared on the Price family’s blog, “the littlest price.

IMG_9057I made chicken soup for my daughter tonight. Mindlessly, chopping and peeling and crushing, which is how we all make chicken soup. But these days are different: gone are the days of celery, carrots, turnips, fresh parsley from the garden. These are the days of thick slices of ginger, crushed to let the juice out, many many garlic cloves, also crushed and juicy. Fragrant star anise, spring onion, very finely ground white pepper. When the chicken is cooked in this fragrant broth, I pull it out and shred, shred, shred. Then it all goes back into the pot. Without even thinking about it, I grab the big beautiful Chinese soup bowl, the white Chinese soup spoon with pink flowers on it, and ladle it out for my girl. Sometimes I stop and smile, and tonight was one of those nights, at how excited she gets when we’re in an Asian store and she gets to pick out bowls and spoons that look like the ones she had in her home in Wuhan. I have to smile at the pink floral rice spatula, the one that she practically begged for, and IMG_6473how she quietly gets it out of the drawer and places it beside the rice cooker when I make rice. Continue reading “The Flat Side”

Our Son, However He Comes to Us

In the following story, the Shardell family shares about their experience adopting a boy with unknown medical needs from China. Before referring children to families, we do all that we can to make sure questions about the children’s medical condition or development are answered. But given the many unknowns in international adoption, Holt also considers the family’s experience level and openness to potential unknowns. The Shardell family had a particular expertise in and openness to developmental concerns, which was a great fit for their son Brennan. Brennan’s unknowns were all part of the process of discovery during their wait for him. Allison, tenacious in her pursuit of answers to her concerns about his development, asked key questions and was open to wherever the answers led us. Our local on-the-ground staff in China was able to follow up and learn more about Brennan. And ultimately, the Shardells decided to move forward and welcome Brennan into their family. In many ways, their story illustrates how the adoption process is an active partnership between families and Holt’s program staff — ensuring families are as prepared and informed as possible as they enter this major, and wonderful, part of their lives. — Beth Smith, Director of Services, China Program

 Brennan has learned over four-dozen ASL signs that he uses independently.
Since being diagnosed with profound bilateral hearing loss, Brennan has learned over four-dozen ASL signs that he uses independently.

They say the biggest surprises come when you least expect them, and this definitely seems to be our family’s adage. As a family of five, including a 10-year-old biological son, a 7-year-old daughter adopted as an infant from northern Vietnam, and a 5-year-old biological daughter, we were comfortable and firmly out of the toddler stage. We had a nice little routine of homeschooling and traveling, sports and music lessons, co-ops and field trips. Until one day, that routine was shaken up when we had a family picture taken as part of a culture camp for Vietnamese adoptees and our middle child announced that nobody in the family looked like her. It was around that time that we began to look at different options for possibly adopting one more child. Vietnam, at the time we were looking, was not an option, so we began researching China.

As an autism behavior specialist with a doctorate focused on child development and developmental disorders, I felt well equipped to care for a child with special needs. So my husband and I began talking to Holt to find out about our options. We were told the current status of China adoptions — almost all children have special needs, there was a 6-9 month wait for a young girl, and there was an urgent need for families open to adopting boys. Since we had two girls and a boy, we felt like a little boy would be the perfect fit for our family, and so in August 2014, we applied to adopt a child with a special need through Holt’s China program. Continue reading “Our Son, However He Comes to Us”

Passing the Torch: Part Two

In 2011, Holt adoptee and adoptive father Lawrence Vallandigham reflected on how his experience of growing up adopted might influence how he parents his son. Four years later, Lawrence, whose son is now 6, discusses how his perceptions have changed over time.

By Lawrence Gordon Vallandigham, Mountain View, California

Giants Aug2014

Divining nature from nurture is a parent’s lifetime Gordian knot. Ask any parent with a history of family adoption to attribute character, predilections and quirks, and that’s when stories become confusing. It’s not like we can simply point to Daddy’s or Mommy’s side of the family – though we jokingly do.

This is our evolving story with our son, Gordon.

In 2011, my wife and I shared our adoption journey from our decision to adopt through the first two years of our son’s new life. I closed the article with rhetorical flourish about ways my being an adult adoptee might influence parenting attitudes and behaviors for raising Gordon:

(2011 story excerpt):  As an adult Holt adoptee, I occasionally wonder how it informs my approach to fatherhood. Will my experiences be relevant to Gordon? Should I be more intuitive about identity issues? Of this I am certain: just as I was lovingly raised, Gordon will always know of his beginnings – not as a reason for solicitous gratitude, but to understand the richness of family and the blessings of life.

Little did I think I’d be asked for a follow-up perspective four years later. Upon discussing with my wife the proposition to write another article, we believe our story might resonate with others in this unique community who have chosen love through adoption. Continue reading “Passing the Torch: Part Two”

The Family We Always Dreamed Of

Holt adoptive mom Emily Jasman reflects on family, adoption and life as an empty-nester.

Jasman kids
Nick Jasman, 23, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2014 and Abby Jasman, 20, attends South Dakota State University.

This week, I am experiencing something that I haven’t been able to for seven months! My son is home on leave from the Navy and my daughter is home from college. Things are once again right in the world when my two children are under the same roof. Where did the time go? Flash back 23 years ago when my husband and I welcomed a 5-month-old baby boy from Korea. Three years after that, we were blessed with a baby girl from Korea. Now these memories sustain us through the empty nest months. Nick, now 23, and Abby, now 20, became our forever family and I truly believe that God worked in our lives to put all of this in place. It is a rollercoaster ride from the time you get that picture of your child to when they come to you on a plane or you go to pick them up in their countries. In fact, for years my kids thought that babies came on planes. My son asked his preschool teacher what type of airline she came on: TWA or United? Continue reading “The Family We Always Dreamed Of”

Holt China Tour Blog: Annabel Meets Her Foster Mom

Ten-year-old Holt adoptee Annabel Horvath reunites with her foster mom and visits her finding site on the 2015 Holt China Family Tour. This post originally appeared on the blog Bringing Home Annabel.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

As our travel group prepared to depart for our respective provinces, the larger group of adopted girls all became a bit pensive and introspective. It was clear they were all preparing themselves for the days to come. We all parted ways and our family left for the town of Yuanling in the Hunan Province to see Annabel’s orphanage and meet her foster mother.

js_YuanlingFirstFoster Continue reading “Holt China Tour Blog: Annabel Meets Her Foster Mom”