Tobin and I

Knox Beard writes what he loves about — and what he’s learned from — his little brother, Tobin, who has autism. This post originally appeared on Anna-Marie and Brian Beard’s blog, pursuingtob.com

Our eight-year-old, Knox, is an “old soul.” There is just a knowing that he has… like he can feel people and situations. He’s still an eight-year-old, full of laughter and fun and light, and he still makes mistakes… he’s not perfect but he is so Good. He’s been through heavy himself, and heavy with us, and he just seems to understand. He “gets it.” Continue reading “Tobin and I”

Tomorrow I Will Meet a Biological Family Member for the First Time in My Life

In searching for her birth mom, Holt adoptee Krista Gause meets her first biological family member — though not the one she expected. This post originally appeared on Krista’s blog, Adopted and Korean

A few weeks ago it was January 17, the first time in my life that I recognized and memorialized my birth mother’s death. It was quiet and it was sad, but it went on like any other day of my life. And then a couple weeks later I went to a doctor’s appointment.

“No husband today?”

“Nope just me, his sister is getting married tomorrow so he’s super busy at the office preparing for the day off.”

“That’s so exciting, how is he doing? Only a few weeks away!”

“He’s doing good! Taking care of me really well…he’s a little nervous.”

“That’s normal, how about you?”

“Me? I’m doing really good. A little nervous too, but mostly just excited.”

“What are you most excited about?”

“Well you know…I’m adopted… Continue reading “Tomorrow I Will Meet a Biological Family Member for the First Time in My Life”

Korea program needs families + more adoption news!

KoreaHeader2Holt’s Korea program continues to be one of our most stable and predictable adoption programs. While they wait for adoptive families, most children in Korea live with foster families, which provide the attentive, nurturing care they need to reach developmental milestones. Families in process to adopt also receive excellent medical information and frequent updates about their child. Most of the children who need families in Korea are younger with minor special needs. There are more boys than girls, and a family will need to be open to either gender. Could a child be waiting for you in Korea?

Learn more about our Korea program!

Continue reading “Korea program needs families + more adoption news!”

A Stork Bound for South Jersey

Twenty-two years ago, William Davis wasn’t just adopted by a family. He was adopted by a region. Now, he aims to give back to the community that gave him a love for baseball, and a place to call home. William’s essay was a finalist in Holt’s 2016 adoptee essay contest. 

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William with his parents at his medical school’s “white coat” ceremony.

I don’t remember my parents ever telling me that I was adopted. I certainly knew at an early age; I remember responding to another child’s, “Do you know that you’re adopted?” with an off-handed, “Of course,” when I was 7 or so. I wasn’t that perceptive, though, as apparently my parents had told me when I was even younger, showing me videos of me coming home from Philadelphia International Airport and pictures of my brief time in South Korea from time to time.

I think that molded how I thought of adoption. From my (very basic) understanding of cognitive development, really young children’s brains aren’t entirely convinced that something has actually happened if they don’t experience it firsthand. That meant that being adopted was just a word, something that might not even exist, especially compared to all the hugs and kisses and band-aids and bedtimes from Mom and Dad. Continue reading “A Stork Bound for South Jersey”

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”

Top 16 Blogs of 2016

This past year, our organization celebrated 60 years of serving orphaned and vulnerable children and families in countries across the globe. Over these six decades, our work has touched the lives of thousands of people — people whose lives collectively tell the story of who we are as an organization. Their stories are the story of Holt International. And in 2016, many of these people once again graciously shared their life experiences with our readers.

For the first time, we held an adoptee essay contest, asking adoptees to share how adoption shapes or has shaped their identity. We received a number of thoughtful submissions, and featured the winning essay by Noel Hincha in our annual adoption magazine. I am happy to share that the essay penned by one of our runner-ups in the contest is among this year’s top most-viewed blogs of 2016!

Following last year’s trend, stories written by and about adoptees once again topped the list — receiving thousands of views on Facebook and the Holt blog. Among them is a letter one adoptee wrote to her late birth mother, grieving the fact that it was too late for them to meet; a story about a first-generation adoptee reuniting with the man who cared for him in Korea; and a piece by an adoptee from China who describes what the adoption experience was like for her.

Among our Top 16 Blogs of 2016, we also included five stories about our overseas programs — from a story written by a trailblazing woman in our unwed mothers program in Korea to a story about a boy who learned how to express himself for the first time at the Yesus Mena Deaf School that we support in Ethiopia.

And of course, stories by and about adoptive families are always popular among our readers — particularly among families new to the process who appreciate the insight and wisdom that veteran families have to offer. This year, six adoption stories had the most impact on our readers, including, at the top of the list, a heartfelt piece written under a pseudonym by an adoptive mom who wanted to share the truth about raising children with HIV. As more and more families adopt children with more involved and complex special needs, the experiences of these families become increasingly influential — inspiring other families to adopt children with HIV, congenital heart disease or, as one of our top stories explores in detail, Thalassemia.

As we reflect on the year 2016, and on the last 60 years, we thank the many, many adoptees, families, sponsors, donors, staff members, partners and children and families in our programs for your willingness to share what can be very personal and sometimes heart-wrenching experiences. You moved us. You inspired us. And perhaps most importantly, you instructed us. Every year, we continue to learn and grow from what you share with Holt staff and supporters. And we are so, so grateful for your being a part of our story, the Holt story. — Robin Munro, Managing Editor

Top Five Adoptee Stories

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Krista in Korea: A Letter to My Birth Mother

Over the summer, Holt adoptee Krista Gause traveled on the Holt Heritage Tour to Korea. Before her departure, she wrote an honest and heartfelt letter to her birth mother, sharing about her life and grieving the fact that it was too late for them to meet.  Continue reading “Top 16 Blogs of 2016”

Why Is It Important to Have a Special Needs Heritage Tour?

In October of this year, Jordan Love traveled to Korea as part of the Happy Together tour for adoptees with special needs. This was his second time traveling on the Happy Together tour. And this time, he brought back with him some fresh insight about the experience, including a deeper understanding of why it’s so important to have a birth country tour just for adoptees with special needs. 

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Jordan with Dr. Cho, the long-time resident doctor at the Ilsan Center in Korea.

At the end of October this year, I had the great opportunity to travel to Korea on the Happy Together tour. This tour is designed specifically for Korean adoptees who have a special need — giving them the opportunity to experience the Korean culture in a variety of activities and also have opportunities to explore their adoption. I first traveled on this tour back in 2011, which was also the first time I returned to Korea since I was adopted at 4 and a half years old. Looking back on my trip in 2011, the whole week seemed like a whirlwind of new experience and discovery. This trip, I felt a lot more comfort and was able to be more relaxed as I knew what to expect.

Upon reflection, I think there are two main things I brought back with me from the Happy Together tour to Korea. Continue reading “Why Is It Important to Have a Special Needs Heritage Tour?”

The Story Behind the Photo: 86 and Counting

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At the beginning of November, to kick off National Adoption Month, we shared a collage of all the children on our waiting child photolisting — just a small glimpse of the hundreds of children who we are seeking families for at any given time. We hoped it would kindle a passion in our supporters to help advocate for children who need loving families of their own. And it did!

You shared our waiting child stories. You reposted our advocacy blogs. You helped us tell the story behind each and every photo that we featured on social media during National Adoption Month.

The photo above represents the number of children from our photolisting that we have — thanks in part to your advocacy — matched with families so far in 2016. The black and white blocks represent the children who now are, or soon will be, part of a loving and secure family. The ones in color represent the children who we still need your help advocating for.

In total this year, Holt has matched 86 children from the photolisting — and another 200+ directly with a family! This is something to celebrate!

But we seek a world where every child has a loving and secure home. And until that day comes, we intend to keep working hard to advocate for the children left behind — and we ask you to join us.

One of the best ways that you can support our advocacy efforts is through sharing the stories we post about waiting children. That can be anything from pressing “like” or “share” on Facebook to leading an informational meeting in your community. Creativity is encouraged and we look forward to hearing what you come up with!

Thank you again for your heart and compassion for children who need families. Allied with you, we can achieve anything!
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The Story Behind the Photo: Meeting Your Child, Then and Now

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See the picture in black and white? That’s Molly Holt, Harry and Bertha Holt’s daughter, in 1959, placing a baby in her adoptive mother’s arms after a long journey from Korea to the United States. When Holt International started in 1956, Korean children were exclusively brought home to their adoptive families via charter flights, and in the years that followed, staff escorting a child from their birth country to their adoptive family in the United States was considered the norm.

But in the last two decades, escort trips have slowly phased out in favor of adoptive families traveling to their child’s birth country. In fact, travel is required in every one of the 11 countries where Holt has adoption programs. Continue reading “The Story Behind the Photo: Meeting Your Child, Then and Now”