On October 19th, four adoptees will travel to Korea on the Happy Together Tour, a trip designed to give Korean adoptees with special needs the opportunity to return to their country of birth. While there, the adoptees will tour Holt-supported programs, take part in popular sightseeing activities, and some may be able to reconnect with caregivers. “The trip was amazing! A true blessing to experience going with a group of other adoptees,” Holt adoptee Misty Rasmussen says of her trip in 2014. “To share what each of us adoptees have in common was amazing. It was also a little emotional for me. I didn’t get to meet my birth family like I was hoping, but I still loved it and think it’s very beneficial for other adoptees!”
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. Continue reading “IKAA Korean Adoptee Conference in Seoul”
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:
After 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.
Adoptee Megan Green just returned from the 2016 Holt Family Tour to Korea, a trip she had dreamed of for many years. The experience and the personal connections she made while in Korea will always remain close to her heart.
I recently had the pleasure of being part of the 2016 Holt Family Tour of my motherland, South Korea. It was a life-changing experience that I will never forget.
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of seeing my motherland of South Korea, but I never thought I would see this dream come to fruition. It was always a lofty ambition far off in the distance and nothing more. But as I progressed further into adulthood, that once-quiet yearning deep inside of me became such that it could no longer be ignored. So this year I set a goal to finally see my motherland, no matter what the obstacles may be.
You see, my viewpoint of the tour was unique because I was born with cerebral palsy. I have to use crutches for mobility purposes, which made me a bit apprehensive of this trip. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Before this tour I had never traveled outside of my home state of Nebraska, let alone outside of the United States.
After her trip to Korea, adoptee Megan Green felt compelled to write a letter to her birth mother. This is what she said.
Dear Birth Mother,
The last two weeks have been the best two weeks of my life thus far. I have been blessed to be part of the 2016 Korea motherland family tour through Holt International.
The conclusion of the tour compelled me to write you a letter. I have written you many letters before, but now as I reflect back on them they all seem cold and distant — something I would write to a stranger. This letter is different than the others in that it is one of gratitude, empathy and understanding.
As you already know, I came into your life on February 21, 1984 at about 3:26 p.m. I was about 2 months and 21 days premature, I weighed a little over two pounds and I was born with cerebral palsy.
Adoptee Krista Gause continues to share about her experience on the Holt Heritage Tour in Korea. In this entry, she tells about a meaningful gift she received from Holt staff in Korea.
Today we went to Holt Children’s Services office in Seoul, and a lot happened! But for right now I’d like to share just one of the dozen experiences we went through today.
Within a small auditorium we were greeted by some of the post adoption services members. Each of them incredibly kind. We are formally greeted by Esther who I’m excited to finally meet because I’ve heard her name thrown around so many times during my search. After watching a quick video we are assigned a case worker and we divide up into groups (I’m assigned to Esther). But before that, Holt informs us that they have a gift for all the adoptees. It’s a bag with various items within it, but the most sentimental piece is a necklace with our Korean names engraved on it.
This summer, Holt adoptee Krista Gause will travel on the Holt Heritage Tour to Korea. Before her departure, she writes an honest and heartfelt letter to her birth mother, sharing about her life and grieving the fact that it is too late for them to meet.
My name is Krista, and I’m your daughter.
The adoption agency, Holt International, suggested that I write you a letter. I told them that I didn’t know what to say and they advised me to tell you about my life, explain my intentions, let you know that I’m okay and that I’m looking for you.
You last saw me on February 19, 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. You spent one day with me before you said goodbye. What you don’t know is that I was in foster care once you left and my foster mother, Mrs. Na, took good care of me. I was underweight and my crying was “vigorous.” But Mrs. Na and her family took such good care of me that after a few months I left their home and boarded a Korean Air flight to the United States. On June 8, 1988, four months after you said goodbye, I met my family. We met and fell in love at JFK Airport and every year we celebrate this day, my Airplane Day. Continue reading “Krista in Korea: A Letter to My Birth Mother”
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.
Holt adoptive parents Ed and Sandy Kolb recently traveled on Holt’s China ambassador trip to advocate for older children living in an orphanage in Beijing. Below, they share about the two children who they spent the week getting to know — Tilly and Jaxson — and the indelible mark they left on their hearts. Please read and share this blog on social media and in your community to help find the loving families Tilly and Jaxson have been waiting for!
It was with great excitement that my husband, Ed, and I joined our fellow ambassadors for Holt’s first such trip to help advocate for older children living in one of Beijing’s largest orphanages.
We are the Kolbs, parents to ten — seven who were born into our hearts through adoption. Although our adoption days are over, when asked to be a part of the Holt Ambassador Program, we jumped at the opportunity!
We were assigned an 11-year-old boy, Jaxson, and an 8-year-old girl, Tilly, to get to know while in China and then advocate for once home. Both are on Holt’s waiting child photolisting, so we were able to see their pictures beforehand. We learned that they were each in wheelchairs and a little about their special needs. Jaxson is diagnosed with scoliosis and hip dysplasia and can stand for short periods of time. Tilley has a diagnosis of Spina bifida. Continue reading “Help Make Tilly and Jaxson’s Sweet Wishes Come True”