You Are Our Greatest Adventure – China Adoption Story

Adoption is something we always considered we would do… some day.

After several years of trying to have our own biological child, we realized adoption was going to be our next step. Adam and I went to several different adoption orientations. At first, we were planning to adopt a child domestically in the U.S., since the rumor was that it would take 2-5 years to bring home a child through international adoption.

Observing The Chinese Culture.Then one evening, at yet another adoption meeting, the social worker mentioned that the China adoption process is typically quicker than other country programs. I am half Chinese, and adoption from China was a no-brainer. Adam and I looked at each other and — surprise! — we both knew that this was the way we were going.

Not trusting all of the signs right away, we still vacillated for a while, between domestic infant and China adoption. We did know from day one that unlike the majority of families adopting internationally, we had no preference in gender. Just like a biological child, whose gender you don’t get to pick, we were open to either a girl or a boy.

One night, as I was cooking dinner, an Operation Smile program came on. I found myself engrossed in the stories of children who received cleft lip/palate repairs through the organization, and the amazing work that was being done…I was in tears.

This was the last sign I needed. Continue reading “You Are Our Greatest Adventure – China Adoption Story”

God Has Answered – China Adoption Story

For as long as she can remember, Liz Larson wanted to be a mom. But the China adoption process, by herself, tested her patience and perseverance. It took her more than 7,000 miles. But it also made her lean heavily into God’s promises for herself, for her daughter and for their new life together.

On days when Liz Larson’s journey to her daughter felt overwhelmingly long, she repeated three words to herself like a prayer. God has answered.

And on the morning she meets her daughter, she appears calm, attentive.

“I’m not nervous, really,” Liz says in the expansive marble lobby of the Kempinski Hotel, a favorite among adoptive families bringing home children from Shanxi province. “I’m just ready. I’ve been ready.”

Liz’s daughter is 2-and-a-half and the little Liz knows about her has come from email and photo updates, often translated from Chinese to English with minimal fanfare or specificity.

“According to her paperwork, she’s a shy, slow-to-warm kind of gal. She supposedly likes her doll. I don’t know much. You just get the paperwork and you have to trust it,” Liz says. “When I was waiting for the match, I wondered what she would be like. But then you get the match and you still don’t know what she’s like. You have a picture, but it’s just a picture.”

From Franklin, Tennessee — where Liz lives and works as a child and family counselor — to Taiyuan, China, it’s more than 7,000 miles. But as a single woman, the journey to motherhood — the journey to her daughter — has been more arduous than any physical distance.

It’s a journey that has already brought Liz to China once before. Continue reading “God Has Answered – China Adoption Story”

The Story Behind the Photo: 86 and Counting


At the beginning of November, to kick off National Adoption Month, we shared a collage of all the children on our waiting child photolisting — just a small glimpse of the hundreds of children who we are seeking families for at any given time. We hoped it would kindle a passion in our supporters to help advocate for children who need loving families of their own. And it did!

You shared our waiting child stories. You reposted our advocacy blogs. You helped us tell the story behind each and every photo that we featured on social media during National Adoption Month.

The photo above represents the number of children from our photolisting that we have — thanks in part to your advocacy — matched with families so far in 2016. The black and white blocks represent the children who now are, or soon will be, part of a loving and secure family. The ones in color represent the children who we still need your help advocating for.

In total this year, Holt has matched 86 children from the photolisting — and another 200+ directly with a family! This is something to celebrate!

But we seek a world where every child has a loving and secure home. And until that day comes, we intend to keep working hard to advocate for the children left behind — and we ask you to join us.

One of the best ways that you can support our advocacy efforts is through sharing the stories we post about waiting children. That can be anything from pressing “like” or “share” on Facebook to leading an informational meeting in your community. Creativity is encouraged and we look forward to hearing what you come up with!

Thank you again for your heart and compassion for children who need families. Allied with you, we can achieve anything!
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The Story Behind the Photo: What Social Workers Actually Do…

With stern faces and plastic inspection gloves, adoption social workers Kris Bales and Kathie Stocker illustrate what prospective families THINK they do — not what they ACTUALLY do.

Social workers. They come into your home with a white glove and a watchful eye. They check under your bed for dust mites. They go through your medicine cabinet. They call your neighbors to inquire how long you wait to mow your lawn. They take note of every imperfection, just looking for a reason not to approve your family for adoption.

Is that about what you had in mind?­­

Well meet Kathie Stocker and Kris Bales, two of Holt’s most devoted — and beloved — social workers. Kathie has worked with Holt for 23 years and Kris for 14. K­athie is often the first person families hoping to adopt from Korea will speak to, while Kris advises families interested in the China program. Both and have guided hundreds of families through their adoption process. At Christmas time, their walls are covered in cards from families and photos of children they’ve helped place. Both will be the first to tell you that the job of a social worker is not to be taken lightly — entrusting a family with a child is no small decision. But they will also tell you that the homestudy process is not about judgment. No family is perfect. And neither are they.

Above all, their passion — and their role — is to find the right family for every child.

Today on the Holt blog, learn more about what Kris and Kathie ACTUALLY do as adoption social workers for Holt.

Continue reading “The Story Behind the Photo: What Social Workers Actually Do…”

Top 10 Myths About Adopting From China

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2021 Update:  Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, China has temporarily paused all adoption processing. Prospective families may still complete a homestudy and submit a dossier. But at this time, it is not possible to estimate the length of time an adoption from China may take.

In addition, Holt is only accepting applications for children who are on our waiting child photolisting. These children are typically older, part of a sibling group or have more involved special needs.  Visit our waiting child photolisting to learn more about children from China who need families!

Visit Holt’s adoption webpage to learn more about other country programs that are now seeking families to adopt!

“Only girls from China need families.” 

“What?! No, only boys need families.”

“No, no, China doesn’t need any families to adopt anymore!”

“Well, it doesn’t matter anyway, because who wants to wait seven years to adopt a child?!”

As a family considering international adoption from China, have you ever found yourself in a conversation like this? At Holt, we hear these misconceptions so often that we thought it time to offer some clarity in the form of a “Top Ten Myths” list about adopting from China.

Please share this list widely to help dispel these common myths and raise awareness about the need for families to adopt from China. Also share with families who may have been deterred from considering China because of misinformation! Despite the #1 myth listed below, so many children in China are waiting for loving adoptive families… Armed with the facts, you can help be their voice and their advocate!

Top 10 myths about adopting from China

Myth #1: China doesn’t need families to adopt anymore.

Fact: To the contrary, we need families for boys and girls with special needs — all age ranges and all levels of need. When you apply to the China program, you will not be “competing” with other families for a small number of children. We have strong partnerships with child caring institutions in China and are receiving new children to find families for every week! You will be offering a loving family to a child who needs one and meeting a strong and urgent need.

Myth #2: Only girls from China need families.

Fact: Twenty years ago, the children coming home from China looked very different from those coming home today. They were almost all healthy infant girls! Most children now living within China’s social welfare system have some degree of medical or developmental condition. They are between the ages of 2-13, and to many families’ surprise, they are about 50 percent girls and 50 percent boys. Most children are under age 5 at the time of placement.

Continue reading “Top 10 Myths About Adopting From China”

Inspired To Do Something New: Protecting Vulnerable Children in China

In China, the most pressing child welfare issue is arguably no longer how to care for children without families — but what to do about children experiencing abuse and neglect within their families. As child welfare officials in China work to address this problem, Holt is providing guidance and support — advocating for systemic change that will ultimately affect hundreds of thousands of children.

 by Robin Munro, Managing Editor

Today, Hong is one of thousands of children in foster care in China.

A few weeks ago, we shared the story of a little girl in China who we called “Hong.” Alongside the story we posted a picture of Hong, chubby-cheeked and smiling, her shiny black hair swept across her forehead. The story was about foster care — how in her foster mother’s care, Hong overcame a bad skin infection that caused her face to become red and swollen. Her foster mother took her to the doctor and ensured she received the medicine she needed. She mothered Hong back to health, with nourishing food and attentive, loving care. Praised for her devoted care, Hong’s foster mother brushed it off. “It’s nothing to be a show-off about,” she said. “I just do what a mom would do for her child.”

Twenty years ago, foster care was an alien concept in China. If their parents died or were unable to support them, children would customarily be taken in by relatives. For children who truly had nowhere else to go, China provided housing and care through an extensive network of social welfare institutes spread out across the country. These orphanages provided a last resort for orphaned and abandoned children, and before the 1990s, few children came into care.

Then, in the late 1980s, China instituted a one-child-per-family policy — resulting in one very unfortunate and unintended outcome. Facing extreme consequences if they failed to comply, parents began to abandon their children, primarily those who would not in time be able to support the family.

By the time Holt began working in China — in the early 1990s — China’s social welfare institutes were in a state of crisis. With children coming in at a rate of sometimes five per day — most of them infant girls — caregivers became overwhelmed. To properly care for the growing number of children in care, China’s orphanages needed a solution more immediate than adoption.

By this late date, Holt had already developed an alternative model of care for children — a model that would give children the attentive, nurturing care that, despite their best efforts, orphanage caregivers simply don’t have the time or resources to provide. In South Korea, India, Thailand, the Philippines and other countries, Holt had already introduced this model with great success. After some convincing, the Chinese government began partnering with Holt to develop foster care for the country’s orphaned and abandoned children. Today, thousands of children in China live with foster families while they wait to join permanent adoptive families in China or overseas. Thousands of children are being nurtured back to health, achieving critical developmental milestones, and thriving in their foster parents’ care.

While moving, the story of little Hong is also very common in China today.

Continue reading “Inspired To Do Something New: Protecting Vulnerable Children in China”

Gifts for Foster Families, Hope for Helpless Children

When you provide a gift to a Holt foster family through Holt’s Gifts of Hope catalog, you can help frail and sick children have a fighting chance at life!

 “Mom, I don’t feel well this morning.”

When you were a child, you most likely uttered this phrase on more than one occasion. You would wake up feeling hot and clammy. Your stomach would hurt, and your nose would be running. With loving care, your mother would give you a big hug and set you on the sofa. While she made you chicken soup, she would let you watch your favorite movie and get the rest you needed.

We need loving family members in our life to care for us when we are sick. At Holt, we feel blessed to have so many wonderful foster families to provide love and support to the children in our care.

Hong was sick with a skin infection when she first entered her foster mother’s care.

Little *Hong from China was weak and sick with a skin infection when she first entered her foster mother, *Jing’s, care. Hong had lost her appetite and rapidly began losing weight. She desperately needed medical attention. Jing made sure Hong saw the best doctors and was given the medicine she needed. Soon, Hong’s infection began to clear up. Jing also made Hong a variety of nutritious foods, and after a while Hong began to gain weight.

Continue reading “Gifts for Foster Families, Hope for Helpless Children”

It’s National Adoption Month! Let’s Celebrate!

 Welcome to the first week of National Adoption Month! — Celebrating Adoption!



In case you missed it, here is a reminder of this month’s National Adoption Month plans:

Week 1: Celebrating Adoption!

 Week 2: Affording Your Adoption – gain helpful tips and resources

 Week 3: Post-Adoption Services – explore Holt’s expanding range of services

 Week 4: Re-cap and Reflection

Your participation is essential to the success of this campaign. We share the information. You help take our message viral!

In honor of our first week, we bring to you a special adoption video.

Beth Anne and Chris Schwamberger brought their son, Holden, home from India last year.  They knew adopting a boy with lower limb paralysis would be challenging, but their love, and Holden’s perseverance and heart, made them a strong family of three!

This Video is a must see!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Holden! from Beth Schwamberger on Vimeo.

The Schwamberger family’s story gives us reason to CELEBRATE!

An excerpt from Beth Anne Schwamberger’s blog:

Holden is smart. Guys, he is seriously so smart. He has an adorable sense of humor, and he will talk your ear off once he gets to know you. He is creative — always coming up with a new way to play a game, or a new way to get himself around in this world. He is joyful. I have seen so many things roll off of this child’s shoulders without him even giving it a thought. (Yes, we’re still working on joyful sharing, but this is kind of the first time he’s ever had anything to share…) He is kind and compassionate. When he sees someone cry, whether in real life or a TV cartoon, he makes a sad face and says, “it’s ok.” He loves to give messy yogurt-face kisses and belt out, “You are so beautiful……to meeeeeeeeeee!” He is determined. When he falls off his scooter or hurts himself playing, he is right back up 90% of the time, saying “try again” through tears.

Honestly, I could go on and on.

 The message here is: I know parents who would give anything for a child who could talk to them.

I know parents who would give anything for a child who could live.

We are blessed, and Holden is blessed.

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

the Lord bestows favor and honor;

no good thing does he withhold

from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty,

blessed is the one who trusts in you.

~ Psalm 84

We are far from having a blameless walk, yet still, we are blessed.

Let me make one thing clear, in talking about Holden’s disability: the sorrow I feel is not for me.

I don’t feel sadness in Chris and I not having a “typical child”. We chose Holden. Out of all the children in the world, we wanted him. We wanted him more than we wanted a biological child, and we still do. He was our first choice. Period. We think he is exquisite and perfect.


Did you know that many boys with varying degrees of special needs are waiting for families right now!  They all deserve a closer look.  Visit our waiting child photolisting today!   Or join one of our webinars.  On November 25th, Holt’s China team will conduct a webinar featuring 50 children, mostly boys, who are waiting for families.  Join the webinar and meet them!

Peace House

Every child longs to fit in, to be accepted, to be loved.

But for a child born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, heart abnormality or other serious (but correctable) condition… fitting in can feel impossible.

In many cases, their lives are on the line…

That’s why Holt provides care at Peace House … a very special place where children from all over China can stay while recovering from life-changing, life-saving surgeries.

But today, so many children in China are waiting right now for help… and it costs just $7.83 to provide one of these special boys or girls a day of essential care at Peace House. We really need your help to ensure every child has enough food, medicine, warm bedding and attention from nurturing caregivers every day while they are in care at Peace House.

Your gift of $55 will help provide one week of care for a child. $110 provides two weeks. If you could give a gift of $245 now, you would be providing an entire month of life-changing care to a child.

Won’t you show these precious little ones that your heart is bigger than they can possibly imagine? Big enough to touch the lives of all the boys and girls who will pass through Peace House in the next few months?

Please give generously today to help ensure that every child will receive the care he or she needs to heal, to thrive and to feel fully accepted in life — just as every child longs for and deserves. Click here to go directly to the donation page.

Thank you in advance for your kindness!

Why I Forgive

An adult adoptee’s journey to forgiveness

By Juliet Ercolano

When I was only one month old, I lost my first family. I lived for five months in an orphanage in China. Because of the shortage of food, the nannies thickened our bottles with ground rice. I am told that we were kept swaddled in blankets to keep us warm, and to take the place of someone holding us. We spent many hours trying to entertain and soothe ourselves. When I was adopted, I had a bald spot in the back of my head from rubbing back and forth against the mattress, trying to comfort myself. My parents told me I cried the first time I saw a rattle shaken in front of my face. We did not have toys in the orphanage and seeing and hearing it scared me.

Of course, I don’t remember any of this, but I’ve heard the stories so many times and each time they have left me feeling angry and confused. To make me feel better, my parents often reassured me that my birth mother must have loved me very much. The orphanage told us that I was left at a crowded train station. This showed that my birth mother wanted me to be found and wanted me to have a better life.

It makes me feel sad that I don’t know anything about my birth mother. I don’t know if anyone really understands how much I wish I knew the things that most children take for granted. For years, thinking about my birth mother caused me a lot of inner turmoil, and I blamed myself a lot of the time for my birth mother abandoning me. Maybe I did something wrong that caused her not to want me. I will never really know.

I know that if I ever have a baby, I won’t separate from her for any reason at all. I will make it work somehow and some way, no matter what. I would remind my precious baby girl each day how much I love her and how important she is to me and how I’d never let her out of my sight. Continue reading “Why I Forgive”