Because Children Don’t Come with a Rulebook

As all new and veteran parents know, children don’t come with rulebooks. There is no universal guide for parents — only tips, techniques and advice passed down through generations or published based on new science or shared experiences. The Internet brought a new trove of parenting information — blogs and support forums, stories and photos, and platforms to celebrate special moments with the rest of the Google-sphere. Still, parenting can feel at times overwhelmingly difficult. Undoubtedly, at some point, all parents will face challenges they never imagined. For parents of adopted children, it can be more difficult to find support systems, information and advice tailored to the specific needs of an adoptive family. What works for a biological child may be the exact opposite of what will help an adopted child. So, who can adoptive parents turn to for sound advice and information when parenting feels hard?

Holt’s clinical services director, Abbie Smith, and her team of therapists can help. Continue reading “Because Children Don’t Come with a Rulebook”

Parents in Process Training

As the overwhelming majority of children now coming home are older or have a special medical need, what children need from parents is much more complex. In response, Holt has expanded our parent education curriculum to help parents be successful and help children thrive in their families.


It’s dinnertime. It was a long day of work, and you just want to get a meal on the table and take a break. However, your daughter has a different idea. She’s on the floor, throwing a full-on tantrum complete with screams, tears and even a few thrown toys — and it’s all over a pair of socks.

A pair of socks your daughter picked out, because she wanted to wear socks.

A pair of socks you already offered to help her put on.

You take a deep breath, and prepare to address her needs. Continue reading “Parents in Process Training”

Camp 2014

Katie Breeden is a Holt adoptee and freshman pre-business and digital arts student at the University of Oregon. This spring, she interned at Holt, helping to organize and promote one of her favorite Holt programs — summer camp!

Katie Breeden has loved Holt camp for more than six years. Here, we see her as a counselor, hanging out with campers at the 2013 camp in Corbett, Oregon.

Holt Adoptee Camp has been a part of my life for six years — I’ve enjoyed roles as both a camper and a counselor.

I started out as a camper, and I wasn’t sure what to think about the whole thing. At first, I had my doubts about this summer camp for adoptees. I was 13, going into 8th grade, and had no idea what to expect. I knew Holt camp wasn’t a heritage or culture camp, so what was it?

On the car ride to Corbett, Oregon that first year, I had about an hour-and-a-half to ponder what Holt Adoptee Camp might be like. My biggest fear was that we would be forced to sit around talking only about adoption for the entire week. The drive was a quiet one. I didn’t know if I would make friends and fit in.

Thankfully, my worries were for nothing.

Continue reading “Camp 2014”

Transracial Adoption and Growing Up White

By Holt’s vice president of policy and external affairs, Susan Soonkeum-Cox.

The recent NPR report, “Growing up White—Transracial Adoptee Learned to be Black” is an illuminating story of the complexities and challenges of transracial adoption.  This is certainly not a new topic, or an easy one, but it is a critical reminder for everyone involved in transracial, domestic or international adoption, not to minimize the importance of race and identity as a life-long part of the adoption journey.

When Holt first placed children from Korea with adoptive families in the U.S. in the 1950’s, it was during the era of physically matching children and parents.  This ‘matching’ made it possible for the adoption to be secret, hidden, as if the child was physically born to their adoptive parents.  Adoption of Korean children into white families split wide open the notion of secrecy. It was impossible for adoptive parents to pretend that their Korean children were born to them.

The wisdom of the day was for parents to ‘Americanize’ their child as quickly as possible.  “Fitting in” was given priority over understanding or maintaining connection to race, culture and nationality. Continue reading “Transracial Adoption and Growing Up White”

Post Adoption Services: Who We Are, What We Do

Holt’s post adoption team shares about what they do, and what inspires their commitment to the families and adoptees they serve.

Sunday Silver, Director of Post Adoption Services:

I have served as the director of Post Adoption Services since 2006. Over the past 7 years, I have helped create a post adoption quarterly e-newsletter, presented post adoption webinars and have networked with other agencies to find ways to collaborate in providing services to adoptees and families.

While I have been the director for seven years, I started working at Holt 21 years ago. Even though the bulk of my responsibilities are administrative, nothing has touched me more than working directly with this population of people we serve.  Through the years, I have provided counseling and referrals to adoptive parents, adoptees and birth parents who need a listening ear and resources to help them navigate through the different issues adoption brings. It has been my privilege and honor to be a small, albeit temporary, part of their lives as they share their deepest thoughts and pains.

Working at Holt as long as I have, I have had the opportunity to see children I placed as a social worker grow to adulthood.  One particular case comes to mind.  When I first came to Holt, I coordinated Holt’s pregnancy counseling program and provided counseling to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.  One particular birth mother I worked with early in my career was about 16 years old when I first met her.  Her parents were extremely angry when they found out she was pregnant.  They brought her to Holt for help.  I met with her throughout her pregnancy, helping her decide whether to parent or make an adoption plan.  After several sessions with her — and hearing from her parents that they would not help her raise her child — she came to the difficult decision to place her child for adoption.  The birth father was not in the picture.  She chose her child’s adoptive parents after viewing several family portfolios, and we scheduled a meeting with them.  The meeting was difficult at first, but after some time, they began getting acquainted with each other.  After the meeting, the birth mother stated that she felt she found the right parents for her unborn child.

After the child was born, I went to the hospital to visit with her and discuss whether she wanted to continue her plan.  With tears in her eyes, she nodded her head.  We went through the task of signing the paperwork.  I asked her if she wanted to see the adoptive parents and she shook her head, saying it would be too hard.  So she asked her parents to hand her baby girl over to the adoptive parents, which they did, not realizing how difficult it would also be for them.

Continue reading “Post Adoption Services: Who We Are, What We Do”