Why All Adoptees Need a Certificate of Citizenship

Holt adoptee Susan Cox highlights the importance of securing a certificate of citizenship, and urges all adoptees and adoptive parents to take this critical step. Susan also serves as Holt’s vice president of policy and external affairs. 

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A childhood photo of Susan Cox holding her certificate of citizenship after joining her family through adoption from Korea.

When I was adopted in 1956, I came to the U.S. with a Korean passport and a U.S. visa. I did not have a birth certificate then, and still don’t. The day I became a naturalized citizen was a big day and my parents impressed upon me how important it was.

To get a work permit as a teenager, I had only my certificate of citizenship (naturalization papers) and Korean passport. Because those two documents could not be replaced, we made the trip to the nearest immigration office and presented the documents in person so that they would never be out of sight.

I’m grateful that my parents took this responsibility seriously and took the necessary steps to provide me with the protections granted by U.S. citizenship. I’m keenly aware that many adoptees did not have the same experience and that some of them are vulnerable without a certificate of citizenship as adults. Continue reading “Why All Adoptees Need a Certificate of Citizenship”

The Story Behind The Photo: Adoptees Grow Up Too

When most people think of adoption, they picture children. But adoption is a lifelong experience. And just like everybody else, adoptees grow up too.


In our focus to serve children and families, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that being adopted doesn’t stop at age 18. Adoptees grow up. They become husbands and wives, doctors, teachers, businessmen and women, parents and grandparents. They work, travel and play. And, sometimes, they have questions they can’t answer without assistance.

Part of my job at Holt is to help adult adoptees discover their background. I speak with and email hundreds and hundreds of adoptees from many different countries now living in the U.S. I provide them with file copies, citizenship assistance, historical and cultural information, and for some, I help determine if a birth search is possible. It’s a part of my job that I enjoy tremendously. Continue reading “The Story Behind The Photo: Adoptees Grow Up Too”

IKAA Korean Adoptee Conference in Seoul

This past August, Holt’s director of adoptee services, Steve Kalb, attended a gathering in Seoul, Korea with over 700 other Korean adoptees. Together, they made meaningful connections and looked toward the future.

They came from Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, France and the United States to celebrate and learn about the one thing they all had in common — that they were all Korean adoptees.

The International Korean Adoptee Associations (IKAA) is an organization that connects Korean adoptees with each other to form community, learn about their roots and make a stand together on adoption-related issues. Each of these countries has their own IKAA group, but every three years, Korean adoptees from all IKAA groups gather together in Seoul, South Korea. Last month was the three-year mark for this gathering, bringing over 700 Korean adoptees to the country of their birth.
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Empowered by Adoption

At the end of the 2016 Holt Heritage Tour to Korea, adoptee Kora Hanson spoke with the tour group about her personal perspective on adoption. Here is what she said:

UnknownAfter hearing some of the adoption stories from the older adoptees, I felt compelled to share my experience with adoption, since I am one of the youngest adoptees here.

My mom is an adoptee herself; both my mom and dad are actively involved with Holt on the Board of Directors and have traveled around the world on Holt missions; I have attended Holt picnics, auctions, and Holt Korea trips since grade school; and more recently I’ve witnessed my mom’s nonprofit organization, Love Beyond the Orphanage. I have grown up with adoption being a daily topic around the house.

With that being said, I have pretty much always viewed my adoption as empowering. As a child, I always had a fun fact to share about myself during show and tell. As an athlete, I stood out not only for my talent but for my distinctive features. And now as a young adult, I feel it is empowering to experience moments like these with other adoptees and their families, watching everyone see Korea and embrace our beautiful culture.

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Standing Up For Their Rights

Holt adoptive mom Annelise Pierce shares her “been-there-done-that” cheat sheet for how to advocate for older adopted children at school — ensuring they receive the English language education they deserve.

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Put yourself in the shoes of your recently adopted child. With no English language skills, you can’t explain to your new parents how scared, hungry or overwhelmed you feel in your new home. You begin classes at your new school, but you can barely understand the instructions to line up, sit down or raise your hand. The kids are welcoming and try to make friends with you, but unable to understand their words or comprehend their body language, you isolate yourself to stay safe — and soon, the kids stop trying. Continue reading “Standing Up For Their Rights”

Hearts Created Equal

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Jennifer and Marc have six children. Three are biological. Three are adopted. And three of their children each have a different special need. But for all six of Jennifer and Marc’s kids, their hopes and dreams are just as big — and just the same.

It’s an unusually warm spring day — the kind of day where, if you’re homeschooled, you work like crazy to get all of your work done in the morning so you can go outside and play. And today, that’s just what the Comer* kids decide to do.

Joyful giggles and shrieks fill the backyard as these six siblings do ninja moves mid-air on the trampoline, kick around the soccer ball and dash through the yard giving piggyback rides.

The fun they are having and love for each other is evident in how they play — but the most beautiful thing about this scene becomes evident when you hear this family’s story. That, because of their special needs, three of these children may have never had the opportunity to be accepted and loved within such a family.

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Holt at 60: The Role of Faith in Our Organization

For 60 years, Holt International has continued our mission, always remembering our Christ-centered history and always in prayer for the children and families we serve.

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending our city’s prayer breakfast, a time for citizens of our community to come together in prayer for our nation, our city and our respective organizations. As president and CEO of the largest international adoption and child welfare organization in the world, I recognize the overwhelming power of prayer in the work that I am honored to be a part of. Without continual prayer and our Heavenly Father’s guidance over the past 60 years, Holt could not have impacted the lives of so many of the world’s most vulnerable children and families. Holt International began when a couple from Creswell, Oregon prayerfully decided to come to the aid of children left orphaned or abandoned in the wake of the Korean War — a mission deeply rooted in following Christ. And today, we continue the legacy of our founders by serving as the hands and feet of Jesus in 13 countries around the world. While we have expanded our work and will continue to seek new ways to help vulnerable children, our organization will never lose sight of how we began — as an organization built on prayer and the Lord’s guidance.

I’m thankful that throughout our six-decade history, it has never been hard to find the Lord’s hand in Holt’s work.


One night in Korea, 1955, after Harry Holt had traveled the long journey from Oregon to bring home eight children through adoption, Harry lay awake — seeking further confirmation that he and his wife, Bertha, were, indeed, on the right path. As he had done many times before, he prayed. Shaking his Bible open, he closed his eyes and pointed his finger on a Bible verse. He then turned on the light and lifted his finger. There, before his eyes, was Isaiah 43:5: Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you”a visionary verse that reminded Harry Holt that they were, undeniably, doing the will of God. A year later, feeling led to help more homeless and vulnerable children, Harry traveled to Korea once again — this time to set up the Holt adoption program. Continue reading “Holt at 60: The Role of Faith in Our Organization”

A Father Speaks for Older Child Adoption

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 12.06.41 PMAn adoptive father shares about deciding to pursue older child adoption, his son Eric, and how adopting an older child may be right for you and your family. 

Our 6-month old baby seems to be growing at a healthy rate. In the past 6 months, he’s grown about 5 centimeters. He has a healthy appetite and has gained 10 pounds. Last week his voice cracked and he’s showing the typical signs of pre-adolescence. All normal healthy development signs for a baby…right? Perhaps I should mention that our 6-month old baby is actually a 12-year-old boy whom we adopted from China last November. He is our son, Eric, and we can’t imagine life without him.

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Holt at 60: The Growth of Post-Adoption Services

Yesterday on the Holt blog, Holt President and CEO Phil Littleton explored Holt’s gradual shift over the years from serving children primarily through adoption to serving tens of thousands more children every year through family strengthening and preservation programs. Today, Phil shares how Holt’s pre- and post-adoption services for adoptees, birth parents and adoptive families have grown and evolved — becoming one of the cornerstones of our organization. Read part one of this blog series here, and part three here

This year, as Holt celebrates 60 years of serving children and families, we look back on all that we have learned and all the ways that we have grown and changed as an organization.

When international adoption began in earnest in the mid-1950s, it was entirely new territory. From the child welfare professionals who placed the first children, to the first families to adopt children from overseas, to the first generation of international adoptees, there truly was no real precedent for this model of building — and blending — family.

Needless to say, the concept — and need — for post-adoption services was not known in 1956. But as the first generation of Korean adoptees began to come of age, they naturally began to ask questions and to show an interest in exploring their past. In the years since, our post-adoption services have grown into one of the cornerstones of our organization — and our robust offerings continue to set us apart today.

Adoptees Enjoying Their Time At Holt's Adoptee Camp.
Today, Holt Adoptee Camp has grown into a robust program serving between 350-400 youth adoptees every summer at four locations across the country.

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