Through the sharing of photos and memories, Randa Hazzard remembers the day she met her sister, Kait. The Hazzards began their own adoption journey to Ethiopia earlier this year….
by Randa Hazzard
Today is an important day for my family. On this day, 23 years ago, we picked up my sister, Kait, at the airport in Des Moines. I remember being so filled with excitement waiting for someone to step off the plane with Kait in their arms. We had given Kait a special blanket to be wrapped in, so we would know which baby she was. Up until that point, all we had was a photo taken shortly after her birth. I had kept a photo of her in my room and looked at it often, wondering what she would be like. Little did I know, we would grow up to be so close, so alike, and such good friends.
On December 8th, we always celebrate her coming into our family, and she always tells me how much it means to her.
Once our little guy joins the family, we will most definitely celebrate his special day every year, as well. Thinking about this brings tears to my eyes. I am so thankful for Kait. I can’t even begin to imagine us not having each other.
As I have said before, adoption is amazing! I Love you Kaitlin Kim! I Love everything about you.
You are the best sister I could ever have!
Follow the Hazzard family on the journey to their son, here.
Through candid (and often funny!) observations and heartwarming personal stories, a Holt adoptive mother shares the challenges and joys of parenting adopted children
by Jane Ballback
I mentioned in my last blog that all three of my children had very different reactions to their relinquishment and adoption. In this blog I want to talk specifically about my son Jaik who has never shown or expressed an interest in — or any curiosity about — his adoption, nor does he seem particularly interested in anything related to it.
When I started teaching the classes for Holt he was in his late adolescence. Now that I’m doing this blog, I sat down one more time to talk to him about my participation in the blog and how I was telling his stories. He listened very politely to the whole thing and when I got finished he said (in Jaik’s very clear way), “I know you are very interested in all this, Mom, I simply am not.”
I actually do think that he does care about his relinquishment and his adoption but for his own reasons he just is not, in any way, ready to deal with it.
I recently read a very interesting book on this subject. The book is called, Being Adopted, the Lifelong Search for Self, by David Brodzinsky, Marshall D. Schechter, and Robin M. Harris. This book along with several other good books, are listed under the links “Post Adoption Services/Recommended Books on Holt’s website”.
This is the first book I’ve found that mentions in the introduction of the book that there really are vast differences in the way that children react to their relinquishment and adoption. There are some children that are so happy, so relieved, so pleased to be within a family that they don’t have a great deal of reaction to their early life.
What’s also interesting about this book is that it follows adoptees all through their life cycle. I’m busy reading the book because my boys are now 23 and my daughter Stacee is 20; and I’m very interested in now knowing how their adoption issues could play out in their young adult and middle adult years. It’s a fascinating book.
Julie, a child in China’s Journey of Hope program, needs a family of her own
Date of Birth: 11/15/98
by Robin Munro, Senior Writer
This summer, several of us at Holt traveled to China to meet children in the Journey of Hope – a program to propel adoption of older children, or children with special needs in southern China. Upon arrival, I joined Holt China staff and local caregivers for a traditional dinner in the province of Jiangsu. Across the table from us sat three children who, along with their caregivers, had journeyed a considerable distance to meet us. Two little boys in matching red shirts sat side by side, charming the visitors.
And then there was *Julie.
Though shyly looking away, her eyes held a glow as bright and genuine as her smile. She giggled and chatted with her favorite caregiver – a young woman who also taught in the orphanage school. Clearly very attached to her caregiver, she also recognized Sue Liu, the sweet-faced manager of the Holt office in Beijing. Once more at ease in the company of strangers, Julie got up from the table to give Sue a big hug, and squeeze into her chair – this tall, slender, 11-year-old girl with a Mickey Mouse button on her yellow Crocs shoes. Awkwardly smooshed together, they sat like sisters – playful and laughing.
Julie’s assessment states that she often shows great kindness and easily builds attachments. That night in Jiangsu, Julie brought that description to vibrant, glowing life. She bounded down the hallways to greet orphanage directors and Holt staff, her long skinny legs sticking out of shorts – an outfit in which she seemed more comfortable than the frilly frock she wore for the official Journey of Hope camp the following day. And her hugs – warm and engrossing – landed spontaneous and often on their recipients.
Julie entered care as an infant and has lived in the orphanage ever since. Because of a medical condition that made it difficult to control her bodily functions, she entered school later than other children. But after receiving a surgery in 2005 that corrected her condition, Julie became more confident and outgoing in school. When we met her this summer, she was in the third grade. In November, she turned 12. Continue reading “Waiting Child of the Week: Julie”
Since Holt’s beginning, 55 years ago, many children with special needs at the Ilsan Center in Korea have gone home to wonderful permanent families. Today, we ask for your help on behalf of one resident, Min-kee, a spirited and sweet 6-year-old waiting for a family of his own.
Min-kee came into the care of Ilsan at 16 months of age. Upon arrival, he had a large ASD of the heart, but has since had this surgically closed. His current, suspected diagnosis is Noonan syndrome. Min-kee can feed and dress himself, uses the bathroom with little help and receives speech, art and music therapy. “Min-kee is so charming and has come so far,” says Molly Holt, Holt Korea director. “The housemothers and the residents here just love him.”
Access to medical treatment and the loving encouragement of a permanent family will make a huge difference in Min-kee’s life. This Thanksgiving, post his story on your Facebook, blog and other social networking sites. Min-kee needs a special family. He has waited for six years and we know there is one out there, waiting just for him. Help us bring them together!
The Following is a letter from Melinda Dionne. Melinda volunteered at Ilsan for 4 months alongside Molly Holt. She describes Min-kee as “the cutest little guy ever!”….
by Melinda Dionne
During my time at Ilsan Town, I had the privilege of living among the residents for four months. And one of those residents was 6-year-old Min-Kee.
Min-Kee is a bright little boy that is both charming and independent. There are several little boys around the age of six who live at Ilsan, and they all play and live together. Min-Kee is a very social little boy, and often will take the lead among his peers.
As another Adoptee Camp season is placed in the books, the dust begins to settle from the frantic pace of my summer camp adventures. Back in my Eugene office, I close my eyes and take a deep breath, inhaling a sense of relative calm before I begin my article. As I exhale slowly, my eyes open and begin to focus on the blinking cursor and blank page before me. The calm quickly fades to a light panic.
“How?” I ask myself.
How can I possibly describe everything the campers have taught me? How can I convey to readers the beauty and value of the Adoptee community? How can the strength and urgency of their voice be turned into a newsletter? I fumble through several iterations; reading, re-reading, deleting, shaking my head as I struggle to get it “just right”. In spite of my desperate efforts to capture their voice, I sense the soul and poignancy of their wisdom evaporating with each keystroke. Frustrated, I decide to move on to another project. As I close the document, it hits me; “Just let them tell their stories!”……..
My name is Allison Fuchs. This summer was my fifth year attending Oregon Holt camp. When I was younger, I had a lot of unanswered questions in my mind; some were more important than others. This year, I finally realized that many of my questions should be asked.
I think Holt camp is very important for adoptees. It teaches us that there are other people our age who have faced the same problems we have. It’s a great way to share a special bond with another adoptee.
The most rewarding part of camp is seeing how dedicated the staff is. Making sure the the campers have fun and learn who they are, is the staff’s number one goal. To top it off, they don’t get paid for any of it! I truly admire the level of commitment they give.
Adoptee camp helped me so much in everyday life. It helps me make new friends every year and has helped me realize that it wasn’t my fault I was adopted. This was always something I wondered until I asked it at camp. I finally understood that it is never the adoptee’s fault. Never.
I want to tell adoptees that they are special to me. Even if I don’t know them, I still feel very passionate about them. I think of all adoptees as my extended family. It’s a terrific feeling and I hope they feel the same way. Continue reading “A New Beginning…A Powerful Connection”
Through candid (and often funny!) observations and heartwarming personal stories, a Holt adoptive mother shares the challenges and joys of parenting adopted children
by Jane Ballback
I thought in my first blog entry, I should introduce you to my children. My three young adult children are all working and finishing their educations. Jaik and Brandon are twins and they both work in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Jaik wants to manage hotels and restaurants and Brandon is attending culinary school. Their sister, Stacee, is studying psychology.
All three of them are from Korea, and they all arrived when they were five months old. My greatest accomplishment isn’t that they are all on track towards satisfying and rewarding careers, but the fact that they are well-loved by everyone that knows them, and that they remain good friends with each other, and are very connected to my husband and myself and our extended family. This, in my opinion, is every parent’s dream — but accomplishing this dream is a different task for adoptive parents than it is for birth parents. There is nothing “normal” about being relinquished by your birth mother (no matter what the reason was), and being an adoptive parent is not for the faint-hearted.
I was fortunate to have three adopted children because I got to witness three very different responses to being adopted. Jaik has yet to have a conversation with me about his adoption. Stacee didn’t talk a great deal about it, but was a master thief and world-class liar at six years old. Brandon gave “voice” to every bit of fear and grief that often engulf adopted children and was so overwhelmed as an adolescent, he told me, “Mom, I don’t want to live anymore”.
As I blog I will be telling you their stories, some of which are “normal”, everyday child-rearing stories, and some that you will find hilarious, and some that will make you shed a tear. I will be the “voice” of the blog, but you will hear all of their voices as well. I asked all three of them if it was all right with them for me to share their stories. Jaik and Stacee readily agreed, and Brandon was, of course, the most hesitant. When I assured him that his story would be read by people who love adoption stories and adopted children, he found that reassuring. After much discussion, he asked if our stories would help adoptive parents and their children. I told him that was the goal of the blog, and he said, in his generous and kind way, “then, that’s what we should do.”
Be prepared to be enlightened and entertained by these three children, and to fall in love with them as well. I know I will fall in love with your children and their stories; so please share this with your family and friends and send me your comments, questions, and stories.
Click here to read more blog entries from Jane. And watch for next week’s entry!
*Plans have commenced for the 2011 heritage tours to China, Korea and Thailand! We hope you will consider joining us on one of these adventures. Holt pioneered in the development of heritage tours for international adoptees and their families. With many adult adoptees on our staff and board, and expertise in overseas travel, Holt is uniquely qualified to provide a special homeland experience for you and your children. For more information about travel dates and costs, visit www.holtinternational.org/tours.
We at Holt were recently inspired by a Holt adoptee’s creative efforts to help find families for children. Every Wednesday, broadcast journalist Michelle Sherwood hosts a TV news segment featuring a local child in foster care. She also encourages viewers to repost the Wednesday’s Child stories on their blogs, Facebook pages and other sites. Since May, this community effort has already helped six kids find permanent homes!
Inspired, we’ve decided – thank you Michelle! – to copy Michelle’s idea. Every Tuesday, check Holt’s blog and Facebook page for photos, stories and even videos of a different child in the Waiting Child program. Our goal is to create a vibrant profile of every child so a potential family, browsing through, might see a spark – make a connection.
Even if you don’t make a connection, someone you know might. Help the Waiting Child of the Week go viral! Forward the stories to friends and family. Share every week at church or a community group. And repost to your own blog, Facebook page and company site. With the simple press of a button, you can change a child’s life forever!
So, without further ado, we introduce Ben – Holt’s first Waiting Child of the Week.
We met Ben this summer at an orphanage in Wuxi, a city in southern China. He seemed shy at first, but began to relax and smile during the interview and, at the urging of his caregivers, eventually stood up to demonstrate a headstand.
His caregivers seemed very fond of him and talked about how helpful he is around the orphanage, where he came into care at just a few days old. He likes to help care for the younger children, especially feeding the babies, but he tells us what he would really love are older siblings. Though he has many good friends, Ben misses his pals from the orphanage who’ve joined families through adoption. But when asked how he would feel about being adopted, his eyes immediately brightened.
“Are you at all worried about the language difference?” we asked.
“No problem,” he said. “I can learn.”
Now 8, Ben is in the 2nd grade. He’s a fast runner, loves basketball and also enjoys art projects and origami. He’s doing well in school and hopes to grow up to be a policeman – a point he reinforced for us with a straight-backed salute!
After entering care, Ben progressed well in the institution but was found to have slow motor development. Laboratory reports also noted that he is a Hepatitis B carrier. Ben would do best in a family with older child adoption experience and access to good medical resources.
Post about the Blumenthals’ story and SixSeeds will donate $2 to Holt!
The Blumenthals brought their daughter Etagegn home from Ethiopia in June. In the SixSeeds Q&A, the Blumenthals describe their adoption experience, their advice for other families considering adoption, and the wonder of watching their daughter “grow into a joyful little girl who absolutely sparkles.”
Thank you to all the Holt families who shared their stories and thank you, SixSeeds, for giving in service of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children!
For the past three years, Holt adoptive parent Jane Ballback has shared her adoption stories with families waiting to bring their children home. An adoptive parent for 24 years, Jane speaks at parent training classes led by Holt Social Worker Mike Guinn. Mike offers the formal training. Jane presents the personal experiences relating to the issues being discussed.
“I provide the stories that bring the theories alive and help new parents figure out what they are about to face,” says Jane. “Everyone loves a good story, and mine are real, relatable and memorable.Adoption concepts are rather abstract and hard to explain until you understand how the theories play out in real life.”
Starting today, Jane will share her thoughts and stories on Holt’s blog once a week. The theories and issues discussed will be relevant to new adoptive families as well as families who have had their children home for some time. Our hope is that Jane’s blogs will serve as an educational tool for adoptive parents and also as a catalyst for candid, meaningful discussion.
Feel free to comment on Jane’s blog entries with your own suggestions, questions and personal stories as they relate to the topic being discussed.
Jane’s daughter, Stacee, will also occasionally be joining her mother as a guest blogger.
The following is a message from Jane:
Hello, my name is Jane and I am one of the luckiest women in the world. I have been married forty years to the “boy” I met in high school, I’ve had a fascinating and rewarding career as a Human Resource Consultant and Career Coach, and now that I’m retired I get to do volunteer work for non-profits whose missions are near and dear to my heart.
The best part of this story, though, is that along the way my husband and I adopted three children from Korea, who are now young adults. Being a parent was the hardest job I’ve ever done, and watching them grow and develop has been the experience of a lifetime.
I’ve always been an intensively curious woman and learning to be an adoptive parent was one of my greatest endeavors. Determined to be the best parent I could, I talked to adoption experts, read everything I could find about parenting adoptive children, and when I was “in over my head”, I worked with a gifted child psychologist, who is herself, adopted.
I was, by no means a “perfect” parent. Along the way I stumbled, survived, learned and laughed. The idea for this blog came out of the volunteer work I do for Holt International. For three years now I’ve been working with the Southern California social worker, helping to train parents who are waiting for their new arrival. He does the formal training and introduces the adoption theories and ideas – I provide the stories that bring the theories alive, and help new parents figure out what they are about to face. Everyone loves a good story, and mine are real, relatable and memorable.
I thought my first story would be about my daughter, Stacee who is now twenty years old and a junior in college. I want to introduce Stacee to you because she will periodically be blogging with me. I have often been asked how it is possible to love a child that is not your own. I understand the question — it’s just difficult to answer, so I often tell this story.
I actually did forget once, that I was not my daughter’s “real” mother. When Stacee was three she had a persistent fever and was turning bright red. After a few days of trying to figure this out, my pediatrician told me to drive directly to the Children’s Hospital and get her admitted. He suspected, rightfully so, that she had Kawasoki’s Disease. This is an unusual disease, common among Asians with just these symptoms. It’s a very treatable disease, but time was of the essence and the result of not treating it was the possibility of permanent damage to Stacee’s heart.