In spring 2019, Holt’s child nutrition program released Holt International’s Feeding and Positioning Manual: Guidelines for Working with Babies and Children. The first of its kind, this publication will have a lasting and life-changing impact on the lives of children in orphanages and impoverished communities around the world.
As *Lanh lay on his back, his wide, fearful eyes filled with tears as he choked on each bite of food spooned into his mouth.
After Dat’s father caught malaria and died three years ago, his mom was forced to sell their only cow to pay off their debts. In this story, the family’s local caseworker in Vietnam shares what happened when a generous donor replaced the family’s cow — and the family’s hope.
“What are you building?” I ask Dat, the little boy playing on a small sand dune by the entrance to the house. He answers me as he continues to collect sand and pile it onto broken bricks.
“I’m building a sand bridge,” Dat answers in a soft voice without looking at me — his family’s caseworker.
Just 8 and 6 years old, Ariel and Sammy spent years in Oregon’s foster care system. They lived in different homes, with different families. But in November 2019, they made their final and forever stop — moving in with a family that would become their last. And just last month, Ariel and Sammy’s adoption was finalized, making them permanent members of the Beatty family.
On a Tuesday morning on the outskirts of Corvallis, Oregon, there’s a party happening. In the field around Cami and Garrett Beatty’s home there’s a huge flying saucer bouncy-house, inflatable obstacle course, bubbles, and waffles with sprinkles and berries and whipped cream. With dozens of friends milling around, eating and playing, this looks like the best birthday party ever. What they’re celebrating is something different, but just as momentous.
“We wanted this to be a celebration,” says Cami. “We want to look back on this day and say, ‘Remember when you became Beattys?’”
This party is for Ariel and Sammy, the newest official members of the Beatty family.
Ariel, 8, has her dark brown hair pulled back into two French braids, and she started the day in a beautiful navy dress with a sweet white lace top — before changing out of it to play once the party started. She has an amazing imagination when she plays, is a rising soccer star, and is the sweetest big sister to her little brother. Sammy, 6, has hair that matches his sister’s in color, shaved short on the sides and left to loop into soft curls on top.
“Sammy is just a big ball of energy!” says Garrett, Sammy’s former foster parent, who is now his dad. “But he is also a lover. He takes any chance he has to wrap his arms around your neck, give you a kiss and say ‘I love you.’”
While these sweet siblings knew today would be a big day, it was bigger than they ever imagined.
Ariel and Sammy’s Adoption Day
Ariel and Sammy wake up early to find extended family gathered at their home, everyone talking excitedly as they get dressed and prepared to leave for the adoption ceremony they knew was scheduled. However, a few of the day’s details have been left a surprise, so Ariel and Sammy get ready and join the other kids upstairs, where they sit watching a cartoon.
It’s time to go to the courthouse. They file downstairs, cheers of “whoa!” and “no way!” erupting as they see a long stretch limo waiting for them outside the door.
“Princesses get to go in limos!” Ariel says, excitedly climbing into the back.
The drive to the courthouse takes just under 10 minutes. And as the family walks up the stairs together into the iconic-looking white building, Ariel and Sammy are noticeably reserved.
Garrett picks Sammy up, and Sammy wraps all four limbs around him in a hug, resting his head on his shoulder as they walk into the courtroom. Garrett, Cami, Ariel and Sammy, along with their soon-to-be siblings Fololo and Asher, all make their way to the front, where Ariel sits on Cami’s lap — a full room of family and friends filling up the rows behind them.
The official adoption ceremony begins.
“How lucky are you, Mr. and Mrs. Beatty,” the judge states, “to have Ariel and Sammy in your life.” Behind the stand, the judge herself becomes emotional as she asks both Ariel and Sammy, separately, if they want to join the Beatty family forever.
“Yes.” Both Ariel and Sammy say into the microphone, in tiny, sweet — but confident — voices.
When you’re adopted, the judge says, you are given a new name, and a new place to belong.
To signify this, Ariel and Sammy both add a charm with their name on it to Cami’s necklace, alongside the names of Asher and Fololo.
Ariel and Sammy sign their adoption certificates with crayon, then both hit down the gavel.
“I declare you a legal and loving family,” the judge says.
Cheers and smiles erupt from the courtroom.
Garrett and Cami are not new to adoption. They always knew it would be a part of their story.
“God has blessed us so much, so richly,” Cami says. “We have this love to share, so why would we not share it with these kids?”
Their oldest son, 10-year-old Asher, was adopted from Ethiopia in 2009. And their daughter, 8-year-old Fololo, has been a member of their family for three years since she was adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While there are lots of similarities between international and domestic adoption, birth family connection can be a point of difference. Connection with biological families is extremely important for all adoptees, whether placed through international or domestic adoption. But for international adoptees who may have little to no information about their birth family, their connection may be more abstract — marked by many conversations and wonderings about their first mother and father, imagining shared traits and interests.
“With Asher and Fololo,” Garrett says, “unless God decides to move mountains, we probably won’t ever know their [biological] mom or dad.”
But with adoption from foster care, and for Ariel and Sammy, it’s different. There’s nothing abstract about their first family. Their biological relatives live in a neighboring county, and Cami and Garrett are committed to having an open adoption relationship, including multiple visits in person each year.
“Navigating the ins and outs of having those meetings, the relationship has been frustrating at times and good at times,” Garrett says. “But for the kids to know who they are and where they came from — that we’re ‘mom’ and ‘dad,’ but that they’re ‘bio mom and dad,’ — we want to be supportive of that.”
“It’s important,” Cami says.
Holt Foster Care and Adoption in Oregon
Holt has a long legacy of being an international adoption agency, with current adoption programs in eight different countries. But in response to a greater number of children in the foster care system — and the overwhelming need for them to find families — Holt has over the past few years increasingly focused on foster care and adoption in Oregon and Washington.
“Here in the U.S. we have a significant problem.” says Greg Eubanks, Holt’s senior vice president for U.S. foster care and adoption. “Over 440,000 children are in our foster care system, and more than 120,000 of those youth are waiting for adoption. While child welfare professionals seek to provide services and supports that will reunite children with biological parents, there are simply not enough foster or adoptive families ready to welcome children of all ages into their homes,” he says.
Foster care and adoption is a journey that can be complex, and for the child it involves a difficult beginning – as was the case for Ariel and Sammy.
“The beginning of their story starts with loss. There’s hard stuff there,” Cami says. “They’ve had multiple stops along the way to get here.”
Cami and Garrett first decided to pursue foster care and adoption after learning of the need in their community. Three years ago, they provided emergency respite care to a 13-year-old girl who was in the foster care system and needed a temporary place to stay. While she eventually moved on to a more permanent placement, the experience opened Cami and Garrett’s eyes — and hearts — to the idea of adoption through the foster care system.
“It was a year ago June when we first saw their picture,” Cami says, about how they first learned about Ariel and Sammy. They immediately called their social worker and inquired about the siblings. From that point, things moved along relatively quickly.
The Beattys met Ariel and Sammy a couple months later, and began the several-week transition of moving them into their home.
In their short lives, Ariel and Sammy had been placed with five different families. But in November, they made their final stop when they moved in with the Beattys — their soon-to-be permanent family.
And this, was something to celebrate.
An Adoption Celebration
That’s why, after the ceremony at the courthouse, Cami and Garrett planned a surprise adoption day party for Ariel and Sammy.
“There’s been so much praying and waiting and planning and being excited for this day,” Cami says. “For nine months. Today holds a lot of joy.”
It’s a day, they decided, that Ariel and Sammy deserve to remember.
“This is forever,” Garrett said. “This is really important for them to know. This is it. This is your family.”
So with waffles topped with fruit and candy, jumping with friends inside an enormous flying saucer, and blessings prayed over the new family of six, today will forever be marked as a new chapter in Ariel and Sammy’s story. The day they became Beattys.
Megan Herriott | Copywriter
Photos by Emily Gigoux Photography
Want to learn more about Holt’s foster care and adoption program? Contact Greg Eubanks at email@example.com or Melissa Reese at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Holt International, we continue to learn from the diverse experiences and perspectives of adoptees of all ages. Recently, we began a nationwide search for Holt’s first director of adult adoptee community outreach. The new director’s role will be to inform how Holt can best support, magnify and celebrate a healthy and diverse adult adoptee community. Holt board member and Holt adoptee, Kim Lee, offers her perspective on why bringing aboard a new director of adoptee community outreach is important to her, and for the broader adult adoptee community.
Tell us about yourself!
I am a Korean adoptee. In 1955, after the Korean War, Harry Holt traveled to Seoul to adopt eight mixed-race babies as he knew they would be shunned by Korea’s society and soon thereafter began to unite orphaned children with families in the United States, which pioneered international adoption and the founding of the Holt adoption agency. Mr. Holt, as I knew him, escorted me to the United States as part of the first wave of international adoptions from Korea in 1956. My parents had very full hearts – they adopted five children from Korea and while none of us are biologically related, we are siblings in every sense of the word and lived in Columbus, Ohio. When my youngest sister was adopted in 1959, I traveled with my mother from Columbus, Ohio to Portland, Oregon to welcome her and Mr. Holt, who escorted her from Korea. That was a memorable experience for me. Continue reading “Q&A with Adult Adoptee Kim Lee On New Director of Adult Adoptee Community Outreach Role”
UPDATE: We shared about Carter in 2018, but he still needs a permanent, loving family of his own! Since that time, he completed the fifth grade and improved his soccer skills. Carter also shares that he hopes to be a martial artist one day — combining his love for competition and physical activities.
Carter excels in his science and history classes, and he can memorize material with ease. He is a talkative and extroverted boy, making him a natural leader in class! When he faces a problem, Carter solves it quickly and always asks for help when he needs it.
Carter is sweet, gentle and helpful to those around him. He enjoys gardening and harvesting the home-grown vegetables at his care center, and he also likes to take care of the younger children.
At 11 years old, Carter dreams of having his own parents and siblings one day. He hopes to be cared for and loved by his adoptive family, and he can’t wait to make memories with them!
At a care center in Bogotá, several older children who have chosen to be adopted share what it means to them to have a family — and what they would like to tell people who are considering adopting an older child.
Lina is 14. She lives in Colombia, in a care center for older children who have lost or become permanently separated from their families. For a long time, she dreamed of having a family. But as time went by, her dreams began to fade.
“I thought I was going to be adopted. But the time went by, and then, my hopes just went away,” she says, her eyes watery and her voice soft. She is pretty, with gentle, dark eyes, a sweet, warm smile and long straight brown hair. She wears a T-shirt that says, in large block letters, “Brave Gals Also Cry.” Continue reading “A Family That Will Love Me”
Many of the children who are waiting for an adoptive family are older or in sibling groups. Could you be the right family for an older child or a sibling group? Learn more about some of our country programs that are seeking families for children who fit this profile!
In developing countries around the world, going to school means much more than learning.
But before children can go to school, they need — and are often required to have — specific school supplies. The cost of supplies and uniforms are often too high for families living in poverty — causing children to drop out early. Below, we list five ways that your gift of school supplies can change kids’ lives.
Congratulations to Kyla DeWittie, Lila Durig and Alexa Thompson — our three 2019 Adoptee Scholarship winners! This year, we asked applicants to submit a creative work framed around the question, “If you were to register for an “Adoptee 101″ class next fall, what would it teach you? Who would teach it? Why? ” Kyla, Lila and Alexa each won a $500 scholarship.
Artist Statement: Adoption 101 is a course for adoptees from adoptees. The class not only helps prepare adoptees for the problems they will face, but it also connects adoptees from all around the world. In addition to teaching valuable lessons they will benefit from for the rest of their lives, the course is also a safe and accepting environment for sharing and hearing each other’s stories. Through the lessons and coursework, adoptees will gain newfound confidence in themselves, and in their ability to face adversity. Adoption 101 will educate as well as create new friendships and bonds that will be cherished for a lifetime.