Adoptee Identity: Tips From Post Adoption Services

Steve Kalb, adoptee and director of Holt’s post adoption services, shares advice for any adoptees beginning to explore and process what adoptee identity means to you.

I’ve been working in post-adoption services for over 16 years. While unique histories and individual circumstances have brought thousands of Adult adoptees to us over the years, many come asking similar questions about topics like adoption files and birth search. I’ll be providing insights and answers to some of those questions in this limited series I’m calling “Tips from Post Adoption Services.”

Read part one, “File Copies” and part two, “Birth Search.”

Part Three: Exploring Identity as an Adoptee

As a wrap up to my “Tips From Post Adoption” series, the recent announcement of Holt’s 2021 adoptee scholarship winners presents a nice opportunity to highlight a common theme that permeates most of the work we do in Post Adoption Services: Adoptee identity.

The idea of Adoptee identity reveals itself in bits and pieces in Post Adoption’s services: a file copy to demonstrate we are, in fact, U.S. citizens, a quest for personal origins and belonging through birth search, short-term coaching or mentoring youth. The extra layers of identity Adoptees have to wade through are apparent when observing the aggregate of our work, but less clear to anyone outside the department and Adoptee community.

Continue reading “Adoptee Identity: Tips From Post Adoption Services”

Announcing Holt’s 2021 Adoptee Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to this year’s Holt Adoptee Scholarship winners — Annie Bone, Abby Conant and Kira Ewoldt!

This year, each applicant submitted a creative work framed around the prompt, “What’s in a name? Revealing the stories behind our adoptive names, birth names and nicknames.” Annie, Abby and Kira each received a $500 scholarships funded by donors to put toward the cost of higher education. See their winning submissions below!

Abby Conant

Abby will be studying visual arts at Boston University this fall. Continue reading “Announcing Holt’s 2021 Adoptee Scholarship Winners”

10 Influential Asian Americans To Teach Your Kids About

More than 30 years after President George H.W. Bush signed a law dedicating May 1990 the first national Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Asian American history remains relatively untaught. Asian American history lessons are usually limited to a few major historical milestones, with less of a focus on the influential Asian Americans that contributed to our country’s history. In a recent academic study conducted by the nonprofit Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH), researchers found that 42% of respondents couldn’t name a single influential Asian American.

However, for an Asian American Adoptee, seeing a successful figure who is also a “racial mirror” (someone who looks like the Adoptee) is an important part of building a healthy racial and Adoptee identity. By giving them people to look up to who share their same race and/or ethnicity, racial mirrors allow children to develop positive feelings about their race. Learning about influential Asian Americans who have accomplished great things in history can help our adopted children dream big about their futures.

Learn more about some of the influential Asian American figures, past and present, who come from the countries where we work!

Holt Adoptee Camp Director: What I Do When Camp is Not in Session

Holt Adoptee Camp Director Joli Hanlon shares how she spends the eight-month off-season to continue serving adoptees — and make the camp experience the best it can be. 

Holt adoptee campers met over Zoom during the socially distant 2020 "Holt Camp at Home" version of Holt Adoptee Camp.
Holt adoptee campers met over Zoom during the socially distant 2020 “Holt Camp at Home” version of Holt Adoptee Camp.

One of the most common questions I get asked as Holt Adoptee Camp director is, “What do you do when camp is not happening?” Surprisingly, being camp director is a year-round job and there are a variety of tasks that I work on during the off-season. Here are five things that I do before and after camp that you may or may not know about: Continue reading “Holt Adoptee Camp Director: What I Do When Camp is Not in Session”

Holt Camp at Home

As COVID-19 canceled in-person gatherings this summer, Holt Adoptee Camp moved online — offering a virtual camp experience for over 400 youth adoptees, including many adoptees who had never attended Holt camp before.

During Holt Camp at Home, camp staff had two hours a day with each group of about 50 campers.

Holt Camp at Home just completed our first ever camp season online and the experience has been wild! As the effects of COVID-19 spread across the country, closing down schools and many youth summer programs, Holt Adoptee Camp was no exception to the growing risk of meeting together and the decision had to be made to cancel our in-person camp season. Continue reading “Holt Camp at Home”

Indian Adoptees Reunited After 30 Years

Thrity-one years ago today, Christina, Rekha and Deborah, along with two other Indian Adoptees, arrived in the United States.  They were escorted from India by the Poindexter family who took on an adventure of a lifetime. Since that day in December 1988, 30 years ago would go by before the women would be able to reunite in person with each other and then with the family that forever changed their lives. As we sat down with these young women we learned so much about their resiliency, heart and determination to find pieces of their past in each other. They were together from the beginning and the connections that formed as babies in India has blossomed into a friendship that is remarkable and deep.

Happy Adoption Day Christina, Rekha and Deborah! Your story is so important and we are proud to be able to share it with the world.

Q&A with Adult Adoptee Kim Lee On New Director of Adult Adoptee Community Outreach Role

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.

Kim plays with a baby in one of Holt's programs in Beijing.
Kim plays with a baby in one of Holt’s programs.

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”