My Life-Altering Journey in South Korea

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.

Continue reading “My Life-Altering Journey in South Korea”

Be The Match


Phoebe Jeong-Hui Ward is a vibrant and active 8-year-old adoptee living in Maryland. She loves Tae Kwon Do, basketball, lacrosse and cheerleading.
In September, Phoebe was diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening auto-immune disorder. She is currently receiving chemotherapy, but she may need a bone marrow transplant to save her life.

Typically, close family members usually serve as the best bone marrow donors. But for Phoebe, like all adopted children, her bone marrow donor will be a stranger — likely, someone who shares her Korean heritage. Continue reading “Be The Match”

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”

A Warm and Loving Home for Schyler

Share Schyler’s story to help us find him a family in these last few days of National Adoption Month!

November 26, 2014

DOB: May 26, 2014, N.E. Asia

Today, Schyler has been in this world exactly 6 months. In that time, he has been lovingly held by his birth mother — a young woman still in high school who relinquished him for adoption shortly after giving birth. He then moved from his mother’s arms to the soothing arms of his foster mother, a woman in her later 50’s who has cared for many children waiting to join adoptive families. In his brief glimpse of the world, he has known what it’s like to be in a family — living in an urban apartment with his foster mother and father, as well as an older brother and sister.

Born in May, he has not yet experienced the cold of winter — only the hot brilliance of summer and cool, crisp days of autumn. On warm summer days, his foster mother took him for walks in his stroller, from which he studied his surroundings, and curiously stared at tree branches swaying in the wind.

Schyler has discovered that he likes baths — loves to feel the warm water on his skin. He loves to be held, loves to hear familiar voices and feel the presence of people — especially his foster mom. When he hears her voice and sees her approaching, he gets excited and makes cute sounds. He does not like strangers, however, and cries when he sees them.

Developmentally on target, Schyler can bear weight on legs. He has figured out how to roll himself over and to reach for large objects. He smiles and babbles and laughs. He loves to play.

Shortly after birth, a brain sonogram showed that Schyler has a small cyst around his right cerebral ventricle that needs to be medically observed. He also has a flat occiput, brachycephalic-shaped head. Schyler needs a family that has access to medical resources and will be open to unknowns regarding his special needs.

Schyler’s life has just begun. And so far, all he has known is warmth and love. Our hope is that he will continue to find the world a warm and loving place. Please share his story to help us find Schyler the loving adoptive family he needs and deserves — a family that will show him everything that life has to offer.

For more information about Schyler, contact Kristen Henry at kristenh@holtinternational.org.

November is National Adoption Month!

National Adoption Month starts in just two weeks! And we want to share with you what we have planned for this special month dedicated to adoption and advocating for children who need families around the world.

In the past decade, Holt’s focus has shifted. We now almost exclusively seek loving families for children with special needs. That’s where the need is today, and our forthcoming National Adoption Month campaign reflects this need.

Right now, Holt has far more referrals for children than we have families to adopt them… especially from China and Korea. Older children, children with special needs and boys need advocates in particular!

In 2012, this little boy’s family saw his story featured on the Holt blog.

For the entire month of November, you’ll want to be sure to follow Holt’s blog for stories about children who need families, educational posts to dispel myths and answer frequently asked questions, and candid stories from veteran adoptive families.

AND most importantly, National Adoption Month is all about ADVOCACY. We share the stories and you help take our message to the world via social media, your church and friends! Social media — with the help of adoption advocates like you — has the power to change a child’s life! We’ve seen its tremendous impact again and again:

In 2012, we posted Willow’s story on Facebook, expressing the urgent need to find her a family. In a matter of hours, Willow’s story was shared more than 1,000 times, and today her family is on their way to bring her home.

We featured “Natalie” on our blog in 2011. When a woman in California saw her story on our blog, she contacted our waiting child program. Natalie came home to her family in 2012.

Also in 2012, Holt posted a story about “Hudson,” a toddler from India with lower limb paralysis. Beth Schwamberger saw this post and contacted Holt’s waiting child program immediately. Hudson, now Holden, came home to the Schwambergers last year.

We hope these and the upcoming National Adoption Month stories inspire you! Maybe they’ll even inspire you to start your own adoption journey, and what better time than in a month dedicated to adoption! Click here to start your adoption!

 As a sneak peek to what we have in store next month, read about the Walsh family’s journey to their son Eli….

Continue reading “November is National Adoption Month!”

Help Find Families For Children This National Adoption Month!

Once a “waiting child,” Qiu Ni came home to her family in 2012.

This National Adoption Month, we invite you to share in our commitment to find loving adoptive families for children!

At Holt, we believe every child deserves to grow up in a loving and secure home. But right now, Holt has far more referrals for children than we have families to adopt them… especially from China and Korea. Older children, children with special needs and boys need advocates in particular!

Throughout the month of November, we will share stories on our blog and social media pages about children waiting for families. You would not believe the number of children whose families first saw them on the Holt blog or Facebook page — children like Qiu Ni, who we featured in 2011 as “Natalie.” When a woman in California saw her story  on our blog, she immediately contacted our waiting child program. Qiu Ni came home to her family in 2012.

If you are a family considering adoption, National Adoption Month is also an extraordinary time to begin your journey. Follow the Holt blog for candid stories from veteran adoptive families as well as educational posts to dispel myths and answer frequently asked questions about international adoption.

And if you are an adoptee or adoptive family, celebrate adoption by sharing your own story or donating to the Special Needs Adoption Fund — helping another family adopt and another child come home.

Go to holtinternational.org/nationaladoptionmonth to learn more, find ideas and be inspired!

A Bridge of Love

When an individual or family makes the commitment to sponsor an orphaned or abandoned child in Holt’s care, they create a bridge of love — a bridge that links them to a child waiting for a family, and to a family waiting to bring their child home. Before these children join their families in the United States, many of them are able to stay in the loving care of  foster families through the support of Holt child sponsors. Through their $30/month commitment, sponsors also help provide basic necessities for their sponsored child such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care.  

When adoptive families learn about the selfless strangers who helped provide for their child, many of them wish to express their gratitude through heartfelt letters and photos. Below, we share some of these letters.

 

Dear Sponsor Families,

Last week I found out that my son, JP, had a sponsor while he was in foster care in Korea. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, and also tell you about him.

Eli and JP Gibbs both received care through Holt’s child sponsorship before they came home to their family in the United States.

JP is now 6 and will enter first grade in the fall. He is a fabulous little boy! From the day we found out about him, we were in love with him, and we feel so lucky he is a part of our family. He is funny, smart, sensitive and kind. He loves to build, and Legos are his thing right now! He also loves to ride his bike and read. JP has always loved the water, and has been taking swimming lessons since he was a year old. I call him my “old soul,” as he is very thoughtful and caring. His smile lights up my world.

We were so fortunate to be in the adoption process again in 2011, when we learned about JP’s little brother, Eli, who is now 3 and a half. It’s such a joy to watch the boys play together, and a huge gift to be a able to raise them together.

I have enclosed a few pictures of the boys goofing off during our family photo session. They make me laugh every day. Thank you for being a part of JP’s life, and supporting him and his foster family. We hope to “pay it forward” with other children at Holt. In fact, JP recently asked me to send some of his “giving bank” savings to Holt and his foster mother. The tradition has continued!

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Suzanne LaVigne Gibbs

Continue reading “A Bridge of Love”

A Perfect Fit

The Matz family reflects on their first experience adopting through Holt’s Korea program, and shares some exciting news about their plans to continue growing their family through adoption!

Exploring the city in the bright, crisp morning hours while the rest of the city seems to be asleep.  The unexpected solitude of the corners of Gyeongbukgung.  The contradiction of old and new architecture.  Intricate paper lanterns by the hundreds.  Bustling markets full of anything you could possibly need.  Kimchi, royal tteokpokki and hoddeok.  Back alley BBQ, sitting on buckets.  Our lock, secured to Seoul Tower, marked so we can find it together years from now when we return.  Holt and their amazing staff.  And of course, that it is our son’s birthplace.

These are some things we love most about Seoul, and loving Seoul is just one of the reasons we have chosen to pursue a second adoption from South Korea.

“But it is more expensive than it used to be…”

“But the process is taking longer than it used to and the laws are changing and the kids are older and…”

None of that could deter us from growing our family in the way we feel especially drawn to grow it.

Our first son Ethan’s adoption, from the day we applied to the day we touched down here in the U.S., took two years and five days.  But that two-year wait allowed us the time to learn about ourselves as prospective parents, about each other as husband and wife, about adoption and attachment and patience and faith.  We gained knowledge that would help our son have a healthy transition.  And he did.  We gained friends among fellow adoptive parents who we’ll know for a lifetime, even if we never meet face-to-face.  Adoption truly is an amazing life event. That two-year wait ensured that we were ready — that we longed with our whole beings to be parents to THIS child.  We longed to be parents through international adoption despite any processes, paperwork, delays or drama.

Our plan was clear to us before we’d even completed our post-placement requirements for Ethan’s adoption.  We chose Holt because of their history and because of the phenomenal care they give the children as they wait to join their forever families.  And we chose to adopt from South Korea because your child gets to know his or her story; they get the chance to know their foster families — and potentially, someday, their birth family.  In South Korea, children must be relinquished by their birth parents in order to be legally placed for adoption — as opposed to abandoned — which means valuable pieces of our son’s history are passed along to us. When our son is old enough to begin trying to understand adoption, we will be able to tell him things like where he was born and how much he weighed. And when he’s 18, he can attempt to initiate contact with his birth family, if he chooses. Continue reading “A Perfect Fit”

Everything It’s Supposed to Be and More

The Brooks family shares about their journey to adopt their son, Jonathan, from Korea, and why — “in a heartbeat” — they would do it all over again.

On January 1, 2012 — the first day of the new year — we decided to fill out a Holt application that would also begin a new chapter in our lives. We were ready, excited and scared… terrified really.  Becoming parents for the first time, starting a family and walking a road we were unfamiliar with seemed absolutely daunting.  January 1st was just the beginning of a long journey that would change our lives in so many ways.  So began the paperwork, notary appointments, background checks, fingerprints, the hopes of a glimpse into our child’s life through a photo or well-baby check each month, checking our emails daily (sometimes hourly, and admittedly sometimes hitting “refresh” every second), taking classes, reading every adoption book we could get our hands on, watching our little man grow half a world away … The wait seemed endless.

It was hard, really hard, there is no denying that.  We were hopeful, stressed, happy, sad, angry, excited and sometimes felt like we couldn’t wait any longer.  We had many days that we thought the process would never end.  Then we got our travel call for our first trip to Korea — to attend court and speak in front of a judge — 17 months after seeing Jonathan’s face for the first time.  There were so many emotions running through our bodies.  We got to see him with our own eyes, touch him, play with him and simply stare and watch him in amazement.  We didn’t want to leave, but our wait wasn’t over.  We had to leave this adorable little man and let the court make final decisions. After ten days in Korea, two meetings with Jonathan and his foster mom, and attending court — we had to wait.   Wait for the courts to make the final stamp of approval, wait for Jonathan’s birth mom to be contacted, and wait until we got the travel call to come back.   We traveled home, with half our hearts still in Korea. Days felt like weeks.  And every day, we would be hit with a range of emotions.  But we survived it, and every single minute we waited was worth it.  More importantly, Jonathan was and is a happy, healthy, handsome little boy. Throughout the adoption process, we would remind ourselves that this little man’s journey half way across the world would be much harder than ours. Continue reading “Everything It’s Supposed to Be and More”

Introducing Holt TV!

Introducing Holt TV, a new video series designed to share inspiring stories and updates about our work serving children and families. Check out our first episode, in which we catch up with Molly Holt in Ilsan, South Korea!