The Story Behind The Photo: Celebrating Progress

At first glance, there may seem to be nothing out of the ordinary in this photo of babies resting in their cribs in an orphanage in China. But if you could step inside this room, inside this moment 20 years ago, you would notice something not quite right. You would not hear a single sound. It would be as silent as the photo you see now on your screen. 

On her first visit to China in 1997, Holt’s senior director of adoption services, Susie Doig, holds a child awaiting adoption in orphanage care.

In December 1995, I began my career in adoption working in Holt’s newly formed China program, helping families adopt baby girls living halfway around the world. In the early 1990s, Holt and many other U.S. agencies became aware of the urgent need to find families for children in China, and quickly put the staff and infrastructure in place to start meeting this need. Orphanages in China were overflowing with infant girls — girls unable to remain in their birth families because of China’s one-child policy and the society’s longstanding need for a male child to ensure a family’s long-term wellbeing.

While I understood on an intellectual level that a great need existed, it wasn’t until 1997, when I took my first trip to China, that I came face-to-face with that need. During my stay in a rural province in China, I was able to visit some of the children waiting to be adopted. It was truly a trip of a lifetime, but one moment in particular stands out from all the others. Continue reading “The Story Behind The Photo: Celebrating Progress”