The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Had To Do

Fifteen years after placing her son for adoption, Gina Ledesma got in contact with Holt earlier this year.  When we asked her if she was open to sharing her story, her response was an enthusiastic “yes.” While the environment and circumstances are different from country to country and individual to individual, Gina’s domestic U.S. adoption story is one that may resonate with any birth mother. And understanding stories like hers is important for everyone who is touched by adoption.

Gina will never forget the three hard, precious days she had with her son.

“I just counted all the toes and fingers,” she says, remembering those days in a hospital bed in Eugene, Oregon. “I looked at every little piece and part — and said my goodbyes.”

Twenty-nine years ago, Gina chose adoption for her son. Continue reading “The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Had To Do”

No Fairytale Ending

Courtney Young, an adoptee and member of Holt’s fundraising team, met her birth mother during her first trip to Korea with Holt. Here, she discusses family, culture and the complexities of adoption.

Courtney Young (center) with her biological aunt (far left), grandfather, mother and another aunt.

My niece’s recent obsession is playing princess. She’s 4, inspired by a recent trip to Disney World and the movie “Frozen,” and she reenacts the climatic fairytale over and over again. We all indulge her and it’s probably the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

When I was 4, I would pretend to live in fairytales too. It was more along the lines of “Anastasia” — a little girl relinquished by her birth parents who later discovers that she belonged to a royal family. One day, if I ever reunited with my birth parents, I thought they too would be some kind of royalty or something. Of course, in my head I knew that wasn’t true, but the imagination has to start somewhere, and I had a pretty solid base for my fantasy.

Continue reading “No Fairytale Ending”

Transracial Adoption and Growing Up White

By Holt’s vice president of policy and external affairs, Susan Soonkeum-Cox.

The recent NPR report, “Growing up White—Transracial Adoptee Learned to be Black” is an illuminating story of the complexities and challenges of transracial adoption.  This is certainly not a new topic, or an easy one, but it is a critical reminder for everyone involved in transracial, domestic or international adoption, not to minimize the importance of race and identity as a life-long part of the adoption journey.

When Holt first placed children from Korea with adoptive families in the U.S. in the 1950’s, it was during the era of physically matching children and parents.  This ‘matching’ made it possible for the adoption to be secret, hidden, as if the child was physically born to their adoptive parents.  Adoption of Korean children into white families split wide open the notion of secrecy. It was impossible for adoptive parents to pretend that their Korean children were born to them.

The wisdom of the day was for parents to ‘Americanize’ their child as quickly as possible.  “Fitting in” was given priority over understanding or maintaining connection to race, culture and nationality. Continue reading “Transracial Adoption and Growing Up White”