When the Kennedy family arrived in China to adopt their daughter Mia last year, some things did not go as expected. But John Feng — Holt’s site manager in Guangzhou, China — went above and beyond to care for them and meet each need that they and their daughter had.
Sometimes, adoption is all about preparing for the unexpected.
From the homestudy and dossier to waiting for a match, adoptive parents quickly learn that while there’s a lot they can control, there’s also a lot that is out of their hands.
No one understands this more than our current families in process. As of July 2020, travel is still on hold for many Holt adoptive families because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Every day, Holt is tirelessly advocating for children to unite with their adoptive families as soon as it is safe to do so.
And despite the inevitable unknowns — during this global crisis and with adoption in general — Holt families in the adoption process should rest assured that they are in the very best hands. Holt has over 60 years of adoption experience, with strong partnerships in every country where we work. We walk families through the process from beginning to end — including when they travel to their child’s country.
And when they do travel, Holt has on-the-ground staff and partners in each of our adoption country programs who work to ensure that adoptive families and children are well taken care of in their first days and weeks together as a family.
For families adopting from China, John Feng, site manager in Guangzhou, is one of Holt’s trusted in-country staff members. Last year, when Jason and Bethany Kennedy and their daughter, Mia, needed help, John was there every step of the way.
The Kennedys were so thankful for John’s support that they sent an email to our China team in the U.S., commending him for his work. We’re sharing their letter below to give a glimpse into the Kennedy family’s adoption story, and to show that no matter where you adopt from, when you finally get to meet your child or what challenges you face in country, you are and will be in good hands.
Thank You, John
From Jason Kennedy, Holt adoptive dad
I’m not sure how common it is for parents upon coming home to circle back and write a review or word of thanks for the outstanding support and service they had received in China. Hopefully it’s more common than not, but we wanted to share our immense thanks and gratitude for the support and care we received from John when in Guangzhou.
Our adoption wasn’t the YouTube rose-colored glasses that can be portrayed. Mia was really sick and grieving hard. Bethany and I, as brand-new parents, needed help.
John was always available, ready to help, made great suggestions and was literally our right hand for everything we needed. I do not know how we would have made it through those two weeks without him.
To give some context…
Mia was 21 months old when we met her. She had been driving for four hours from MaoMing with two caregivers she didn’t know. They got pulled over for speeding and the police interrogated them thoroughly about why Mia was crying so much. When we met her at the civil affairs office, she was in full meltdown.
“From medications to strollers to food — if we needed help, John was there.”
Getting her back to the hotel, we saw that Mia had a fever. John immediately went out and got us some children’s Tylenol. We also learned that Mia didn’t understand Mandarin, but Cantonese (we’d been studying Mandarin for six months prior to coming to China). We didn’t have a way to communicate with her. John immediately stepped in and helped us learn some key phrases, spoke to Mia, trying to calm her, and went out and got us some comfort food — congee — for her to eat.
The next three days, Mia grieved hard. When she wasn’t crying inconsolably, she was passed out from exhaustion. The only time we could get her not to cry is if we put her in the stroller (which John obtained for us) and walked her through the hotel or nearby parks. We were so thankful for Mama’s Closet (a resource for adoptive families) and John’s help. From medications to strollers to food — if we needed help, John was there. If Mama’s Closet didn’t have what we needed, John helped us order it.
Mia’s fever continued off and on our entire time in China. On our last day, Mia’s fever spiked to 104.5 degrees and she had a cough that wouldn’t stop. We knew that we had to see a doctor at that point and John immediately went to work, finding us an English-speaking urgent care clinic. We texted him at 2:30 in the afternoon stating we were concerned about Mia, and he got us the last appointment available for that day at 4:30 p.m.
Mia was diagnosed with pneumonia and had low O2 levels. The doctors wanted to admit her to the hospital and also recommended that we not leave China until her O2 levels increased.
Unfortunately, we were scheduled to leave for the airport the following morning at 5 a.m. We were scared, stressed and unable to get in contact with our doctor or our contacts in Seattle for additional input or recommendations. The last thing we wanted to do was postpone our flight, but we also didn’t want to jeopardize the safety of our daughter. John helped arrange for us to stay at another Western-style hospital on an observation basis, and he stayed with us almost the entire time.
The kitchen at the hospital was closed, so he ordered food for Bethany, Mia and me. He was great at translating between the doctors and us. Later that evening, he accompanied Bethany to the hotel to pick up our belongings, and traveled back with her at 11:30 p.m. so she would be safe. None of us expected to stay our final night in China in the hospital, and at such a stressful time in our trip, it was amazing to have John there to offer above-and-beyond services.
Fortunately, Mia’s oxygen levels increased overnight, and at 4 a.m. we were cleared to leave the hospital for our flight that morning.
Upon coming home, we have been to the ER twice, and Mia is now on a strong series of antibiotics. Turns out she has been fighting RSV, the flu, pneumonia, giardia, shigella, teething and a chronic urinary tract infection — not to mention the trauma of her whole world turning upside down.
Mia is a completely different kid today. She smiles, giggles and is picking up English amazingly quickly. China was so incredibly tough. Without John’s help, I’m not sure we would have made it. John was and is hands-down the best, most supportive, patient, friendly person we have ever known. Even since we’ve been back from China, he has been helpful — sending some more Cantonese phrases and asking how Mia is doing.
This whole process with Holt has been amazing. Step by step, we have felt supported, educated and prepared as much as we could be. Other families we met (from different agencies) didn’t have the same level of support while in China, and it was clear to us that we made the right choice. While nothing could have prepared us for the sickness, grief and associated challenges we had in China, having John there as a support got us through and to where we are today.
Please, please, please pass along our sincere thanks and gratitude to John — he is an unbelievable asset to families in country and to Holt.
Learn More About International Adoption
We work with families in all 50 states to find loving homes for children from 11 locations around the world!
We couldn’t agree more about John and all of the Holt staff who helped us adopt our two daughters (in 2014 and 2018)! This article had me in tears thinking about how grateful we are for the amazing support and care we received (and the Mama’s Closet!).