A Temporary Traveler

IMG_0657Lisa Atkins reflects on her life as an adoptee and how God has taken her from Korea to the U.S. and now to Bolivia to work as a missionary. 

Lisa Atkins has an old first-grade writing project where she tells about eating rice and barley water in a Holt orphanage in Seoul, Korea. Apart from seeing this description, written with careful pencil strokes on wide-ruled paper, she has no memory of these meals. But it is the closest recollection she has of life before she was adopted 54 years ago.

Lisa doesn’t know much about her life in Korea, beyond what she has been told. Left on the doorstep of a church in Seoul as an infant, she was raised by the church pastor’s family for several years before the pastor and his family could no longer support her. They then brought her to Holt’s care center in the city. She was only there for a year before she was adopted and brought home to her family in March of 1961.

Lisa has always been very thankful for the sacrifice her birth mother made for her. “I see God’s hand in everything from the very beginning,” she says.

While she says being adopted isn’t something she often thinks about, it’s given her a unique perspective because she sees adoption as a beautiful representation of what God offers to all of us.

Captioning a picture on her Facebook page with her two sisters — who are also both adopted from Korea — Lisa writes, “I’ve been doubly blessed to be adopted twice.” Once by her adoptive parents, and once again by the Lord.

“As I’ve grown in my spiritual walk, one of the things that really has always stuck with me is that we are not of this world,” she says. Continue reading “A Temporary Traveler”

Giving Girls a Chance to Shine

Adoptive mom Kari Grossman and her daughter, Shanti, recently traveled on Holt’s inaugural heritage tour of India. Here, Kari shares about their visit with schoolgirls in the educational sponsorship program that they help to support through one of Holt’s long-time partners in India, Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT). This story originally appeared on Kari’s blog, “Be the Change Network.”

In preparation for this trip, Shanti had been talking about how to help other kids in India. We looked at different programs for the underprivileged and settled on the idea of supporting education, especially for girls. In many poor Indian families, girls’ education is still discriminated against.  As it happens, the orphanage that cared for Shanti in her first two years, Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT), now has an educational sponsorship program that helps girls from low-income families who are vulnerable to dropping out to stay in school through high school graduation.

Shanti (left) with one of the schoolgirls she met on the India Heritage Tour. Educational sponsorship through VCT empowers girls who might otherwise drop out to finish high school.

Continue reading “Giving Girls a Chance to Shine”

Bringing Home Ben

Adoptive mom Quinn Hofmann writes about choosing international adoption to build her family, her son Ben, and the process to bring him home from Korea.

“Mama, Da-dee, Bey…Mama, Da-dee, Bey.” My husband and I must hear that utterance from our son ten times a day, and each time we hear it, we look at each other and smile.

Continue reading “Bringing Home Ben”

A Bond Ten Strong

We have all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  This story provides proof of that old adage. 

by Lisa Haydel-Vicidomina, Metairie, Louisiana

All the babies on the bed in China before returning to the United States. Left to right: Lydia Gay, Jennifer Rochette, Victoria Vicidomina, Ann Maitland, Abby Titmas, Grace Hennage, Laura Boehmer, Nora Mahaffey, Ann Ming Samborski, Sara Bonk, and Zoe Higgins.

In 1994, Holt called ten families to let them know amazing news: they each had a daughter waiting for them in China. In January 1995, my family met with nine other families in Hong Kong, and we cried during the introductions, knowing we would all be parents soon.  We were strangers from California, Wisconsin, Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia, Texas, Montana, Massachusetts and Ohio. We each came from a very different world, but soon we would be tied together for life, bonded like one giant family.

Continue reading “A Bond Ten Strong”

Introducing the 2013 China Heritage Tour Bloggers!

Holt’s China tour kicks off on June 24th! Follow along as two of this year’s travelers  — both adoptees from China — blog about their experiences. On this trip, they will see famous sites such as the Great Wall and the terracotta warriors, participate in cultural activities and a special overnight camp, and visit their home provinces. Without further ado, meet Grace, Marie and Claire…

Hello, I am Marie Zander. I am 16 years old, turning 17 at the end of July. Next year, I will be a junior in high school.

I am an only child with a single parent, my mother. I was adopted from China almost 16 years ago when I was only 13 months old. I was found when I was nine days old in the southeastern part of China. On this trip, I will discover exactly where.

I do not have any hard feelings toward my birth parents, nor do I really want to know much about them. For me, this trip is a way to learn more about my past, and to discover Chinese culture up close and personal. I am very excited to try new things and hopefully, to understand where I came from. This trip will very much be a journey of self-discovery. I hope to learn about what has made me, me, and all the history that comes along with that.

What I am looking forward to seeing the most would have to be the terracotta soldiers. I have read so much about them and seen them on TV shows and movies. I think it will be surreal to see them with my own eyes! The whole experience itself is something to look forward to, but I am worried I’ll be overwhelmed with everything that I get to experience. I only have a short amount of time in China, and so much to do!

Continue reading “Introducing the 2013 China Heritage Tour Bloggers!”

Can I Get a Venti Cup of Ignorance, Flavored with Assumption, Please?

An encounter at Starbucks inspires a Holt adoptee to discuss the assumptions strangers sometimes make about race. This story originally appeared on the mother-daughter adoption blog “Don’t We Look Alike?”

by Marisha Castle

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I had recently embarked on this new journey to “The City of Angels” and was excited and hopeful.  I had a plan of stepping stones with which to approach the city and make a name for myself.

I was on my way to meet one of my best friends at the Grove in Hollywood. It is a famous landmark, filled with shops, restaurants, and the Farmer’s Market. They have a Starbucks in the Barnes & Noble there, so to kill time, I went to get a coffee until my friend arrived.

(To preface, the tsunami had just struck Japan, so you can see where this story is going).

The line was long, and when it was my turn, I ordered my coffee and waited for the barista to ring me up and ask for my card. There was an awkward silence.

Out of nowhere she said, “Hey, are you okay?”

I smiled. “Yeah, of course. How are you doing?”

She acted hesitant. “Fine. I just … am so sorry.”

“Sorry? Sorry for what?”

“For your people. The disaster … it’s just awful. I’m glad you are okay and I hope your family is safe as well.”

“I’m sorry, are you talking about the tsunami?”  I couldn’t believe I was hearing this.  “That is so nice, but I’m not from Japan. I’m not even Japanese. Haha. I’m American.”

Continue reading “Can I Get a Venti Cup of Ignorance, Flavored with Assumption, Please?”

Why We Love Grandma Holt

Happy Flashback Friday!

We are celebrating Bertha “Grandma” Holt’s birthday this week! Grandma Holt was a champion for the world’s most vulnerable children. But did you know that she was also a champion runner? Here she is at Hayward Masters Track and Field Championships in 1996, running for Holt and setting a world record for her age group in the 400 meters. Bertha Holt, a champion for all! Happy Birthday, Grandma!

 

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”

SNAF Stories: It’s A Wonderful Life

Feeling grateful and inspired after adopting their daughter, Zoe, from Korea in 2010, Maryann and Cap Post decided to have a celebration — inviting 150 friends and family members. Instead of gifts, they asked for donations to Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund.  What happened next, quite simply, blew them away.

by Robin Munro, Senior Writer

When Maryann and Charles “Cap” Post came home from Korea in October of 2010 – their newly adopted daughter Zoe in their arms – they didn’t expect fanfare. But as they pulled into the driveway of their New Jersey home around 10 p.m. that night, flashbulbs greeted their arrival.

Zoe and Maryann at Zoe’s baptism party!

“My friends were in our driveway with cameras flashing,” says Maryann. “People were so happy for us that we adopted a little girl.”

Over the previous 2-and-a-half years, these same friends had stood by their side as they navigated the demanding and – at times – trying adoption process. “They knew the whole story of what it took, a lot of paperwork,” Maryann explains. So naturally, when Miss Zoe Ann Post finally came home, they couldn’t wait to meet her.

But after the excitement of their first night home, Maryann and Cap decided not to subject Zoe to any more excitement or over-stimulation – not for a while anyway.

After nearly a year had passed – and Zoe had settled into her new life – the Posts decided it was finally time to have a celebration. “It was time to plan her baptism, so I thought, well why don’t we make this a really big party – the party that we held off on having?” says Maryann.

By now, Zoe had become something of a local celebrity. Continue reading “SNAF Stories: It’s A Wonderful Life”