Another Sunglasses Day

A Gift Team participant’s emotional journey touring Holt facilities in Korea.

Blog excerpts from Kim Hanson,  adoptee and adoptive mother, and Korea Gift Team participant. In her blogs, Kim shares about her experiences at the Jeonju Baby home and Ilsan Center in Korea, as well as her time spent with Holt foster mothers. Read more about Kim’s time in Korea below, and experience these activities for yourself as part of the Korea gift team in December! Click here to learn more!


Tuesday, December 6 (Visiting the Jeonju Baby Home)

Today our team went to the Jeonju Baby Home. We went to the usual E- Mart to pick up snacks and treats for the kids. Then it was off to the toy store to buy extra fun things that all the kids will have to share. Each team member donated a certain amount of money that went towards specific presents for the kids. When I say presents, I really mean that each of the kids gets one gift, that’s it for Christmas.

Prior to Santa and Mrs. Claus handing out the gifts, the kids put on performances they have been working on all year long just for our visit. They are truly precious. It was such a blessing for me to see these kids put every emotion into their routines.

As I watched the kids, I also watched our tour group. A few were crying, so of course, I started crying. And I didn’t have my sunglasses! They were on the bus, so I couldn’t hide the tears.

I told the other ladies that these kids were in a loving home, and that this home was better than being on the streets. I know that’s a tough thing to consider when we think about how lucky we were to be adopted. The other ladies crying were also adoptees like myself. We saw ourselves in the eyes of these children; we truly are the lucky ones. But today, we needed to remember that we made the day of these precious babies just by being there with them, playing with them, holding them, laughing with them, loving them…even for just those few hours, we made a difference and touched their lives.


Thursday, December 11 (Foster Mother Visit)

Yesterday, a Holt foster mother spoke about her feelings regarding being a foster mother and caring for children. We were handed the translation of her speech and as she was speaking, I began to read it…well, needless to say, I couldn’t read past the first few lines before I had to get my sunglasses. I actually had to stop reading it.

I say these foster mothers have the hardest job in the world, for they give of themselves with their whole heart to care for our children until they are placed with their forever family. I always say the toughest part of raising a child is from an infant to six months, and then they ‘start’ being fun. Our foster mothers raise and love our kids during these months over and over again, child after child. They truly are our angels watching over our angels. We honored foster mothers for their service of 5-35 years and those that were retiring. Continue reading “Another Sunglasses Day”

Holt and OSU Ethiopia Trip Featured in the Eugene Register-Guard!

In June, 13 extraordinary student-athletes from Oregon State University traveled to Ethiopia to build houses for families in Holt’s family preservation program. But that’s not all the did… An excerpt from the Guard story:

“In Silti, the community the students visit, both of the families to receive new homes are headed by women. As women in a traditional Muslim village, they can’t build the homes themselves. Gender roles dictate what they can and cannot do. They work in the fields and wash the clothes and cook the food. They pump water from a borehole and carry it home in 20-liter bins, often with a baby strapped to their back.

But they never, ever build houses.

Ironically, nine of the 13 student-athletes who signed up for this trip are, in fact, women. Over six days, as they climbed roofs, hammered nails, sawed wood, and stomped and plastered mud onto the walls of the two houses, they would be quite the spectacle — defying entrenched social norms. And to everyone’s surprise, the community would not only embrace it, but love it — cheering the young women on, laughing joyously when they inevitably got into mud fights, and helping to rinse the mud off their feet at the end of the day.”

Click here to read the full story in the Eugene Register-Guard.

Click here to learn more about our work in Ethiopia and how you can help families and children we serve there.


Athletes Partner With Holt to Make a Difference!

This June, 14 student-athletes from Oregon State University will travel with Holt International to build homes for families in Ethiopia. (Photos of the team meeting courtesy of Beavers Without Borders)

by Robin Munro, Senior Writer

On a quiet Sunday in June, one week before final exams, a group of Oregon State University students gather in an elegant room at Reser Stadium, overlooking the football field. Four men and ten women, all of them athletes, take seats at a long table surrounded by a film crew. Three of the students are golfers, one a swimmer. One plays softball, one plays soccer. Two are volleyball players, two are rowers, one’s on the track team, one’s a gymnast and two of the four men play football.

All of these young men and women have joined a group called the Beavers Without Borders, a service organization developed by the OSU athletics department – and named with a clever nod to the renowned international medical service organization, Doctors Without Borders. In lieu of “doctors,” they use the university’s mascot – and Oregon’s state animal – the beaver.

In less then two weeks, the Beavers Without Borders will travel to Ethiopia to build two houses for families in Holt’s family preservation program.

OSU student-athletes at the first team meeting for the Ethiopia trip.

A little bit nervous and a lot excited, the students turn to listen to the Holt staff and team at the end of the table. Before making introductions, Patric Campbell – a Holt adoptive parent traveling on the trip – jumps to his feet and announces that he bets he can name all the athletes at the table. An Oregon State alum himself and avid college sports fan, Patric nails it – naming not just the students, but the administrators as well! Everyone is, by now, laughing and at ease – as much as they can be with a boom microphone and cameras hovering overhead. The Beavers Without Borders plan to create a documentary of the trip, and filming starts today.

With the ice officially broken, Patric begins to explain how the Beavers Without Borders-Holt partnership began one year ago at an airport in Frankfurt, Germany. At the time, Patric was en route home from visiting a hospital Holt is building in Shinshicho, Ethiopia. Traveling with Patric was Larry Carter, Holt’s director of donor relations and the person who truly championed the effort on the Holt side to make this trip with OSU happen. He is also at today’s first team meeting at Reser Stadium.

While in Frankfurt to catch a connecting flight, Patric noticed a group of students wearing Oregon State gear. “I thought, ‘That’s weird. I went to Oregon State,’” he says. Patric struck up a conversation with one of the young men in the group. This young man, it turned out, was Taylor Kavanaugh, the former OSU football player who spearheaded the Beavers Without Borders program. The students, he told Patric, were traveling home from their latest service project, building houses in Macedonia.

They exchanged business cards and parted ways, Patric thinking nothing would likely come of it. “Three days later, I got a phone call,” he says, pausing. “Things happen for a reason. A year later, we’re sitting at this table.”

Holt adoptive parents Patric and Holly Campbell with their children, Miles and Lauryn. They adopted Miles from Ethiopia.

They Build Houses. Our Families Need Homes.

Since 2008, Holt has worked with community leaders in Ethiopia to help struggling families achieve both stability and self-reliance. In this East African country of roughly 91 million people, an estimated 5 million children are homeless. But many, if not most, of these children are not true orphans. Many children have living parents or relatives, but end up homeless simply because their parents lack the resources to care for them. Through our family preservation program, Holt strives to prevent this from happening. Continue reading “Athletes Partner With Holt to Make a Difference!”

Partnering for Better Parenting; Holt and Birth To Three Host India Guests

In countries around the world, Holt works with local partners to provide parenting education for the most vulnerable families and children. Earlier this month, Holt invited representatives from two of these partner organizations in India to Holt’s headquarters in Eugene, Oregon. While here, the visiting social workers gained an overview of the programs and services offered by local parenting organization and long-time Holt partner, Birth To Three. Once home in India, they will share what they learned with their staff and begin to apply the practices in their communities —  strengthening Holt’s parent education programming in the region.

by Robin Munro, Senior Writer

Vaishali (left) and Sylvia present during the training in Eugene.

If you were to pack a suitcase for your children, filled with the values and attributes you hope to instill in them, what would you include?

Truthfulness? Confidence? Compassion? Good citizenship?

If you asked this question of parents in India or Uganda or Vietnam, would they want the same for their children?

Last year, Minalee Saks, director of the nonprofit organization Birth To Three, traveled to Pune, India to lead a parenting education workshop organized by Holt. The four-day training drew 19 social workers from six countries, including Vietnam, India, Ethiopia, Uganda, Thailand and the Philippines. Upon returning home to Oregon, Minalee felt resolute about one universal truth, writing in an Op-Ed for the Eugene Register-Guard: “Regardless of cultures, allegiances, experiences, living situations or countries — people love their children and want the best for them.”

During the workshop in Pune, the 19 social workers received training on how to use Birth To Three’s “Make Parenting a Pleasure” (MPAP) curriculum – a group-based program for parents that stresses positive techniques for raising their children. Upon returning home to their respective countries, the social workers began to put Birth To Three’s practices to work – making the act of parenting both more enjoyable, and more effective, for the families and communities they serve.

Among the social workers in attendance were five from Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK), Holt’s partner organization in Pune – and host for the workshop. After the training, the BSSK social workers found many creative ways to apply Minalee’s parenting curriculum. “Many of its modules are being used during parent preparation workshops as well as with the parents and children from lower socioeconomic groups,” says Vaishali Vahikar, program director of BSSK’s educational sponsorship program and one of the five social workers in attendance. One component they adapted is the metaphorical suitcase exercise, which helps families identify the values they hope to model for their children. Although designed as an activity for parents, Vaishali also saw a benefit in engaging children in the suitcase exercise.

“We ask what they want their parents to put in their suitcase,” Vaishali says. Often, children respond with very specific needs – with small children asking for good food, parents not fighting, teachers treating them kindly, and older children more interested in educational and other support to help them transition to adulthood. Vashaili and her fellow staff then return to the parents and share the needs their children have expressed.

Continue reading “Partnering for Better Parenting; Holt and Birth To Three Host India Guests”

Phillip Littleton Named Holt President and CEO


Phillip Littleton in Haiti.


After a national search, Holt International’s Board of Directors announced today that Phillip Littleton has been named President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.

“Phil has demonstrated an ability to deliver consistently outstanding performance in every major assignment he has undertaken at Holt,” said Board Chair Jeffrey Saddington. “We have complete confidence that his expertise in program development and marketing will allow Holt to continue to build on its unparalleled story of service to children globally.”

“I am deeply honored to lead this incredible organization,” said Littleton. “More than fifty years ago, when Harry and Bertha Holt adopted their eight children from Korea, no one could have predicted that decades later the needs of children are as urgent as they have ever been. I follow in the footsteps of truly dedicated and exceptional leaders, and I am humbled by this responsibility.”

Littleton served as Senior Vice President prior to being named the interim CEO last October. Before coming to Holt in 2003, Littleton worked for Russ Reid, the world’s largest marketing and communications agency exclusively serving nonprofit organizations.

In addition to his professional background in marketing, development and nonprofit management, Littleton and his wife Julene are the adoptive parents of three children.


Rediscover Korea

 The mother to the youngest member of Holt’s Korea heritage tour last summer shares about their experience

by Lori Eurich

My husband Dane and I took our 8-year-old son, Ryan, on last summer’s Holt Korea Heritage Tour to give him the opportunity to visit and experience his birth culture. We also wanted him to meet and thank the two wonderful foster mothers who lovingly cared for him before he came home in 2003. I had a strong desire to express my appreciation and gratitude, in person, to his foster mothers as well. I felt this tour would be the best way for our families to visit for the first time as well as meet other adoptive families. All of the activities and itinerary were well planned with the adoptees in mind.

Ryan was excited to learn that we were taking him to Korea. We’ve been attending Korean culture events for many years, but we all wanted to actually experience it. Ryan loves to travel and has been interested in learning more about his birth culture. Each day he looked forward to the stops and activities, which included historical places, museums and lots of photos.

Meeting our son’s foster mothers was one of the most memorable events on the tour. Our first meeting at the Holt office was filled with hugs and tears as Mrs. Lee marveled over how much Ryan had grown. We’ve been sending photos and cards since he came home and it was great to finally meet her. She showed us a photo album, and we learned about some of the people and places that were part Ryan’s life when he was there. At lunch, she was pleased to see Ryan happily eating his beef wrapped in lettuce. We were amazed at how long both women have been caring for Holt babies, and how many they have cared for over the years. Our Seoul foster mom invited us to her home for a wonderful lunch of bulgogi, japchae, pajeon, kimbap and soup. The foster sister and her husband spoke English. The sister’s baby boy and Ryan played ball together, too. Mrs. Lee brought out some of the clothes Ryan wore and pillows he used. She even had his photo on display. Ryan thought it was fun to see some of the things he used during his stay and wanted to try on some pants that were much too small. I thanked both foster moms for taking such good care of Ryan and told them how much I appreciated their efforts. Continue reading “Rediscover Korea”

Holt Employee Testifies for Proposed Legislation on Cleft Lip and Palate Surgeries

An adoptive father and longtime Holt employee recently traveled to Oregon’s capital city to testify on behalf of a bill that would increase insurance coverage for cleft lip and palate surgeries in Oregon.  His story can be found on the front page of today’s Register Guard.


Lydia Hale, with parents Dean and Cindy

Dean Hale, Holt’s director of services for India, and his wife, Cindy, adopted their daughter, Lydia, from Korea in 1993. Born with a cleft palate, Lydia required many intensive surgeries after coming home to Eugene – surgeries that often involved orthodontic work and weren’t covered by insurance.

In January, Dean learned of House Bill 4128 – a proposed bill that would require health insurance policies to cover both reconstructive surgery and orthodontic treatment for individuals with cleft palate or cleft lip – a necessary combination of treatments says a majority of dentists and orthodontists. “Cleft lip and palate surgeries are much more effective and much less likely to fail when they are combined with orthodontic treatment, “says Dr. Judah Garfinkle, a Portland-based orthodontist.

Not only is orthodontic procedures a necessary step in craniofacial reconstruction, it’s also one that can greatly increase the psychological well-being of patients says Lydia Hale. “People who have had successful treatment are more confident and, maybe, less introverted,” says Lydia. “It’s really benefited them.”

Like Bertha Holt when she urged Congress to pass a special law allowing her and her husband, Harry, to bring home eight Korean-war orphans, Holt and its devoted employees continue to advocate for the rights and well-being of children, both overseas and here in the United States.

“Whatever happens to House Bill 4128 will be too late to benefit my family,” said Dean during his testimony. “I have no self interest in this, but this bill will be a godsend to many Oregon families.”

House Bill 4128 was signed into law by Gov. John Kitzhaber earlier this month.

Click here to read the full story in the Register Guard

Neighborhood Calendar

Holt events, picnics, camps and more!

A list of Holt Happenings in 2013!:



July 28-August 1, Camp Rockin U—Holt Adoptee Camp for adoptees 9-16 years old (day camp is July 31)



July 21-25, Calvin Center—Holt Adoptee Camp for adoptees 9-16 years old



April 20, Omaha—Gala Dinner & Auction benefiting children in Holt’s care in the Philippines, Embassy Suites, La Vista, 5:30 PM


New Jersey

August 4-9, Camp Louemma—Holt Adoptee Camp for adoptees 9-16 years old (day camp is August 8)

September 28, Princeton—Gala Dinner & Auction, Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village, 5:30 PM



July 14-18, Camp Angelos—Holt Adoptee Camp for adoptees 9-16 years old (day camp is July 17)




July 7-11, Camp Lakotah—Holt Adoptee Camp for adoptees 9-16 years old (day camp is July 10)


Get the Info


For Holt Adoptee Camp information, contact:


Debby Hanson at


For Events information, contact:


Shonna Wells at


For Holt Heritage Tour and Adult Adoptee Tour information, contact:


Sara Higgins for China tours:


Paul Kim for Korea tours:


Courtney Young for adult adoptee tours:




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