Adoptive dad Keith Guess shares about his family’s experience with older child adoption, how it differs from adopting babies, and how Spencer and Leo — two teen brothers from Vietnam — have adjusted to their new home, and their new life, in the U.S.
Susan and I were not thinking about adoption when she saw Leo and Spencer’s photograph on the Holt Facebook page. Something about the picture caught her interest and she forwarded it on to me. Over the coming days, we started discussing if adopting again would be something that would be reasonable for our family. We asked our boys how they would feel about us adopting again. They were all supportive. Our 13-year-old indicated that he would be interested primarily if we would be adopting someone his age.
A bit later, Susan showed me a video of Spencer and Leo racing each other. They are about 11 and 12 years old in the video. As Spencer passes Leo, he turns and grins. Leo responds with a smile. There was something winsome about that moment that made me begin thinking about them as “my sons.” Continue reading “The First of Many Firsts as Family”
When he was about a month old, Bennett was left at the front steps of his care center. He has lived here his whole life, and is now 7 years old.
Bennett is a shy kid at first, but quickly warms up to people! Humor is one of his favorite ways to make friends, and he can often be seen laughing and joking with others. He likes living with a bunch of other kids, but it is hard for him to see other kids leave to join adoptive families while he still waits.
He is learning all kinds of new things in second grade including reading, writing and multiplication. He does well in school and someday, he says, he wants to be a doctor and help people! He knows he will need to learn as much as he can if he hopes to achieve his dream of becoming a doctor, and that’s why he works so hard.
What Bennett most wants and needs, though, is to be a part of a family — a family that will give him all the love and support he needs to achieve whatever he wants in life.
Dustin is a friendly and energetic boy who has been in care since he was 3 weeks old. He is currently in the 1st grade and is reportedly learning well. He can write letters and numbers and enjoys counting. He is said to have mild cognitive delays and a lisp, but is otherwise healthy! Continue reading “Dustin Needs a Family!”
Sometimes when a country hasn’t seen any movement on a waiting child’s file, they remove Holt’s referral for the child. Effectively that means that Holt can no longer seek families for these children.
Vincent is one of three boys who Holt will soon no longer be able to home-find for. If we can find the right family for Vincent, a $5000 Brittany’s Hope grant is available to help cover his adoption costs!
He has decided that five best friends is not enough, and is open to having more. It is rare to see him alone and he is most upset when he can’t hang out with others. He isn’t just popular with his peers, though, he is also close with his caregivers!
Vincent is also a very active boy, which can get him into trouble when he is supposed to be sitting still. He can ride a bike, play soccer, and likes to play pretend with the other kids in his care center.
He is very observant and a quick learner. One of his caregivers told the story of when a carpenter came to repair a door. Vincent was very curious about all of the tools that the carpenter brought and was very interested in the work that he was doing. He sat and watched as the man worked and in a very short time, he knew what each tool was called and how it was used. By the end, Vincent was helping the carpenter by handing him the right tools at the right time.
Vincent also has a very caring and thoughtful spirit. He can often be found helping the younger children in his care center and he likes playing with others and doesn’t mind sharing his toys because it brings them joy. One day, he hopes to be a priest because they help people.
Vincent is said to be in good physical health and to have mild cognitive delays. An adoptive family for this older boy should be knowledgeable about older child adoption issues, such as how grief may affect adjustment and attachment. His family should also have access to a good educational system to help him reach his full potential.
Born with severe sight and hearing impairments, it’s like Giang was trapped, unable to communicate with the world around her. But then, everything changed.
Giang sat on the back of her family’s motorbike, riding home after a full day. Her mother thought everything was going well, until out of the corner of her eye she saw something fly through the air and land on the side of the road.
“No! Not her hearing aids!”
Yes, 4-year-old Giang had apparently had enough noise for the day. But still — believe it or not — this was progress.
When Holt staff member Billie Loewen delivers a uniform to a young girl in Vietnam, she also gets a glimpse of how one small act of kindness can forever change the course of someone’s life.
I know how powerful your gifts, as donors, can be because I’ve been blessed to visit families and children who have received them — and on one especially wonderful occasion, I got to deliver a gift to one particularly sweet and inspirational 15-year-old girl.
When I met Nhi, it was a hot, humid afternoon in late June. My husband and I traveled to Vietnam on our honeymoon, but took a couple extra days to visit with children and families in Holt’s programs. This is one of my favorite parts of working for Holt. I am inspired by the families in our programs. They have big dreams and work harder than most anyone I’ve ever met. They take the small investment or hand-up we provide and completely transform their lives and the lives of their families and communities. I meet mothers, fathers and grandparents who sacrifice everything to provide for their children and grandchildren the opportunities they never had. Many of the parents and grandparents in our programs have survived unspeakable atrocities. War, violence, oppression, the worst kind of poverty. And children seem so much older than their chronological age. They take on adult chores and responsibilities from a young age.
Nhi was no different.
At 14, she was tremendously quiet and absolutely beautiful, but understated in her appearance. In contrast to many American girls, Nhi didn’t wear makeup, anything brand-name or jewelry. Her slick black hair met at the nape of her neck in a low ponytail. She wore simple jeans, flip flops and a polka dot T-shirt.
Just weeks before I arrived at her home in Danang, Vietnam, Nhi received some incredible news. After weeks and weeks of studying for her high school exams, Nhi received her test scores.
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!
Social workers. They come into your home with a white glove and a watchful eye. They check under your bed for dust mites. They go through your medicine cabinet. They call your neighbors to inquire how long you wait to mow your lawn. They take note of every imperfection, just looking for a reason not to approve your family for adoption.
Is that about what you had in mind?
Well meet Kathie Stocker and Kris Bales, two of Holt’s most devoted — and beloved — social workers. Kathie has worked with Holt for 23 years and Kris for 14. Kathie is often the first person families hoping to adopt from Korea will speak to, while Kris advises families interested in the China program. Both and have guided hundreds of families through their adoption process. At Christmas time, their walls are covered in cards from families and photos of children they’ve helped place. Both will be the first to tell you that the job of a social worker is not to be taken lightly — entrusting a family with a child is no small decision. But they will also tell you that the homestudy process is not about judgment. No family is perfect. And neither are they.
Above all, their passion — and their role — is to find the right family for every child.
Today on the Holt blog, learn more about what Kris and Kathie ACTUALLY do as adoption social workers for Holt.