Holt Camp: The Most Epic Place To Be This Summer

This year, Holt Adoptee Camp will be led by two outstanding camp directors — Adoptees Katelyn Marks and Joli Hanlon! Katelyn is a Korean Adoptee, while Joli is adopted from China, and both have been a part of Holt Camp for several years. They each bring a lot of experience and expertise to their roles as co-directors and they are both super excited for the upcoming camp season!

Together, they have created a list of notable highlights about Holt Adoptee Camp.

5 Awesome Features about Holt Adoptee Camp

Holt Camp is open to all Adoptees. All international, domestic and foster care Adoptees are welcome to attend camp and experience being a part of this special community. Holt’s camps are unique because they are created by Adoptees for Adoptees. Read More

Growing Up, I WAS The Diversity

“You can’t be what you can’t see” – Marian Wright Edelman

If you’ve ever sat down to interview someone for the first time, you know that there is just no way to predict the outcome. As I was working on the most recent Adoptee to Adoptee video series on racial identity, I wanted to feature the voices of some local Adoptees that I have the privilege to work with in Eugene. Maddy, featured in a recent “Adoptee to Adoptee” video, is one of the students that attends our campus group at the University of Oregon. I asked her if she was interested in sharing more about her identity for a video, and she happily volunteered her time. Read More

All Grown Up?

“Honey, I know you’re 25 now, but you’re not really all grown up,” I told my son with a smile. “I can still teach you things.”

“I know, Mom, but at 25, I need to be all grown up. I should be all grown up,” he responded, with a small smile of his own.

This is an actual conversation I’ve had with my son a few times over the past couple of years. My independent, head-strong yet open-minded young man has always had a need to make his own decisions, even if I thought they were the wrong decisions. The decisions he made during his teen years were often not only inadvisable (wrong), but also based on a complete lack of life experience. Yet, in his eyes, his decisions made sense. He was, of course, too young to know any better, and he understands this now. But as is typical of a 25-year-old, he no longer feels “too young” to make his own decisions.

In many ways, he is. In others, he could still use some guidance. Read More

The Role of Adoptive Parents in Birth Search

Through the years, I have received a number of calls from adoptive parents asking for advice on how to handle conversations with their child about their birth parents. They ask if they can search on behalf of their child; how they can support their child’s desire to reconnect with their birth family; will this process negatively affect their child or their relationship.

But before I discuss birth search and how to support your child, I first want to discuss one key step that should occur long before your child can ever begin a search: sharing their background information. Read More

8 Tips for Parents to Manage the Transition From School to Summer

By Samantha Brady, LCSW | Adoption Therapist at Holt-Sunny Ridge

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs we will ever do. As parents, many of us rely on school. We can take a break to recharge, or we can prepare for the mornings, nights and weekends.

But what do we do when summer comes along, and our breaks go out the window? Read More

Honoring the Adoptee’s Story: An Overview of Lifebooks and Life Story Work

Marissa Robello, LMSW, CSWA | Clinical Social Worker

Finding ways to craft our own personal narratives is an essential component of the lifelong process of healthy identity development. The field of psychology calls this concept narrative identity, which is defined as the ‘internalized evolving story of the self that each person crafts to provide his or her life with a sense of purpose and unity’ (Adler, 2012, p.367).  Scrapbooks, baby books and photo albums have historically been important tools in helping us piece together childhood memories and make sense of our pasts. They have weathered the storm of digitization by morphing into the online photobook industry. Photobooks give us a way to honor the events and people that have shaped us. And they still offer that wonderfully cathartic experience of turning to a page that illustrates a moment in our past — a past that someone has chosen to carefully preserve for us. Read More

It’s Complicated

by Joanna Mittereder, LSW | Branch Social Worker

Much has been written about helping adopted children and their parents navigate school projects that trigger emotional issues surrounding adoption. You know, the Trace Your Family History and Draw Your Family Tree kind of projects.  Adoptive parents are often encouraged to talk with their child’s teachers to smooth the path and help them understand issues around adoption. Sometimes, teachers will adapt assignments to accommodate the adoptee’s special circumstances. In these instances, children are aware of their stories, but may have varying degrees of comfort in relaying their story to the class.

With support and understanding, they can successfully complete their projects, feel proud of their story and feel loved, accepted and more in tune with their own identity. Read More

TBRI Camp Coming to Oregon, Returning to Illinois!

By Marissa Robello, LMSW, CSWA and Pam Shepard, LCSW

Holt International’s branch office in Illinois, Holt-Sunny Ridge, ran its first therapeutic TBRI-based camp — the Journey of Hope — in 2017.  We are happy to announce that we will be offering this two-day camp experience for adopted children and their parents once again this June 2019, in both Illinois and Oregon!

The Trust-Based Relational Intervention approach to parenting was created and developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX.  This parenting intervention is research and evidence-based, providing parents with practical tools, techniques and strategies to respond in a connected manner to their children’s needs. This is an attachment-rich and trauma-based intervention, keeping in mind a child’s early life experiences. Read More

Presenting “Adoptee to Adoptee”

Over the past couple weeks, Caitlin Howe and Steve Kalb of the post-adoption department have released two brand new videos on YouTube as part of our new ongoing web series called “Adoptee to Adoptee.” This video series produced by Adoptees, for Adoptees, will cover unique topics and issues relevant for all Adoptees. The first three-part series is all about birth search. We have been dreaming of an innovative way to share expertise with Adoptees and adoptive families for a while, and it is our delight to bring relevant content directly to you through this “edutainment” medium. Read More

Adoptee Camp

We are gearing up for another great camp season and we are so excited to see new and returning faces! Holt Adoptee Camp is such a special place for adoptees — not only do they have fun, but they also build strong connections with other adoptees. There is a sense of belonging, self-discovery and community that binds the adoptee community in our camp space, and it’s something I hope every adoptee is able to experience.

Camp registration has been open and spots are already filling up (looking at you, Oregon, with your camp already half full!). We love seeing this community grow and can’t wait to see you all this summer!

Register today! Read More

Call for Research Participants

We receive several requests from academics asking Holt to help recruit participants for studies on international adoption. Once we determine if the study is relevant to our work, will contribute substantially to our field, and has passed IRB approval, we agree to help recruit. The following study is currently recruiting for participants and you may contact them directly if you’re interested. Read More

Holt Post Adoption on NPR

Holt Director of Post Adoption Services Steve Kalb joined NPR this month to talk about Holt’s continuously growing programs for adopted children, teens and adults — developed with feedback from Adoptees by Adoptees, for Adoptees. Listen here: opb.org/…/s…/news-roundtable-transracial-adoption-farm-bill/


Circle Back!

A new service for youth and teen Adoptees!

(click here)

Six Themes for the Adopted Adolescent

The author of Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens discusses six common questions that adoptees grapple with in adolescence.

by Debbie B. Riley, LCMFT

Although not all teens dwell on each of the subjects described below, it is common for teens to grapple with each area as they try to gain understanding of their personal adoption experiences.

  1. Reason for Adoption

Prior to adolescence, children are extremely curious about their adoption story, but they seem to accept most of the answers they are given. Sometimes they lack the cognitive development to truly understand all the ramifications of what they are told. Sometimes adoptive parents sweeten the story Read More


The teen years can be difficult — not only for the teenager, but for the parents as well. They are years full of changes both physical and emotional; full of angst and hormones. For some teens, it is extreme, and for others, not as much. Add adoption to the mix and it gets really interesting.

You can find countless literature about what adopted teens experience at each developmental stage. Books on how to survive the teen years and how to parent an adopted teen. Books that attempt to fill parents in on what their children are experiencing and help them handle the outbursts, the drama and the defiance. Read More

School Projects, Social Anxieties and Finding Your Way

I spent the summer before I started 6th grade searching for the perfect jean jacket. I tried on so many jean jackets in so many stores, but always found something lacking. The fade of the denim would be wrong, the pockets would be sewn shut, or it would have too many floral embellishments for my 10-year-old sense of fashion. A week before school started, I finally found the perfect jean jacket at an Express store — a store no longer in existence — at the mall. When I brought it to my mom, her only comment was, “Finally! Did you have to pick the most expensive one?” Read More

A Birthfather’s Story

By Megan Herriott | Digital Marketing Specialist

The most defining moment in Rob’s life was when he held his son, Stevie, for the very first time.

Rob loves his son. And he’s a part of his life. But four years ago, Rob made the difficult decision to place Stevie with a loving adoptive family.

Rob might be different from the image many people have of a birth father. It’s true that in many cases, the birth father is out of the picture — unknown, even. This is especially true in international adoption. Read More

A Place of Belonging

This was my third year of being part of Holt Adoptee Camp, and my second as camp director. It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been part of this community for such a short amount of time, especially after meeting campers who attended for most of their lives. I remember my first year well; learning about the program, going to a couple of the camps, and trying to absorb every drop of the experience. I quickly realized that one of my favorite activities is the talent show. Watching the array of talents — everything from card tricks and puppet shows to incredibly moving dance and musical performances — I was enamored.

I left that year feeling incredibly privileged to experience Holt camp, while also thinking, “Who am I to come in and run this?!” Getting over my imposter syndrome was a struggle, but as I look back, I realize that what I was feeling was more than just fear of my abilities. It was a realization that I had been missing the Adoptee connection and community for most of my life. I was overwhelmed by the connection and community that I didn’t even know I needed. I can only imagine that for many new campers, this was their experience, too, and it’s what keeps campers coming back. Read More

Immigration & Citizenship: It’s Different for Adoptees

U.S. citizenship can be a scary subject for some Adoptees and adoptive parents. Rumors are flying, misinformation is spreading like wildfire, and fear is running high in the adoption community. Unfortunately, we don’t see any relief from these fears for Adoptees and their families in the near future. Holt’s post-adoption team fields calls every day from Adoptees and adoptive parents who are worried they can’t prove their citizenship, or wonder if they even have it at all.

An adoptive mom called Holt because her placing agency has closed, her daughter is now a high school senior, and she’s been told that her daughter isn’t a citizen. Mom adopted from China during a time when the Certificate of Citizenship wasn’t automatically issued on arrival, and the child’s social security card was issued in the Adoptee’s Chinese name. Read More