Around the - Holt International

Around the - Holt International

Summer 2009 Vol. 51 No. 3 Life Around the Table The selfless love of foster parents in China in this issue 4 7 Life Around the Table Fall 200...

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Summer 2009 Vol. 51 No. 3


Around the


The selfless love of foster parents in China

in this issue 4


Life Around the Table

Fall 2009 vol. 51 no. 4

Foster parents provide family for children in China

Our Vision Holt International is dedicated to carrying out God’s plan for every child to have a permanent, loving family.

Heritage Tours

In 1955 Harry and Bertha Holt responded to the conviction that God had called them to help children left homeless by the Korean War. Though it took an act of the U.S. Congress, the Holts adopted eight of those children. But they were moved by the desperate plight of other orphaned children in Korea and other countries as well, so they founded Holt International Children’s Services in order to unite homeless children with families who would love them as their own. Today Holt International serves children and families in Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Nepal, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Romania, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, the United States and Vietnam.

Adoptive families explore the beauty and cultures of China and Korea


From the Family Love from the adoption community, plus The surprises of life

Dear Readers

Front Cover: Growing healthy in the loving arms of their foster mother, these twin boys were born premature, weighing about 2 pounds.

This issue of Holt International magazine is a unique one. We celebrate Holt adoptees who have graduated from high school, college or vocational school and applaud them for their impressive list of honors, accomplishments and activities. We also commemorate the Ilsan Center in Korea for continuing to provide loving care for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children, and carrying on the legacy that Harry and Bertha Holt started over 50 years ago. With this issue comes sadness as well, as Holt International has said goodbye to our Director of Communications and friend, John Aeby, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on September 18th. The passion and dedication that John invested in Holt International magazine in his 30 years at Holt is immeasurable. His words and photos graced every page, and his distinctive style of writing cut straight to the heart of everyone who read his stories. John had a special place in his heart for the graduate issue of Holt International magazine. One day John came into my office with a graduate submission in his hand and that ever-present smile on his face. He told me how special it was to be a part of watching Holt adoptees grow into such amazing people. John treasured the chance to give Holt graduates recognition for their accomplishments.

He admired that,

although starting out abandoned and homeless, these children—with help from the their parents—became vibrant and gifted young adults with so many opportunities in front of them. John’s mission was to use his gift of writing and communication to help every child find the loving, permanent home he or she deserved. He wanted each child to know the feeling of being wrapped up in their mother’s arms for the first time, experience their first day of school, get their first after-school job, and one day walk across the

President & CEO Kim S. Brown Senior Vice-President Phillip A. Littleton Vice-President of Policy & External Affairs Susan Soon-keum Cox Vice-President of Finance & Administration Kevin Sweeney Vice-President of Adoption Services Lisa Vertulfo Vice-President of Program Development Dan Lauer Holt International magazine is published quarterly by Holt International Children’s Services, Inc., a nonprofit, Christian, childwelfare organization. While Holt International is responsible for the content of Holt International magazine, the viewpoints expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the organization. Managing Editor Ashli Courtright Graphics Brian Campbell & Chloe Goldbloom Subscription Orders/Inquiries and Address Changes Send all editorial correspondence and changes of address to Holt International magazine, Holt International, P.O. Box 2880, Eugene, OR 97402. We ask for an annual donation of $20 to cover the cost of publication and mailing inside the United States and $40 outside the United States. Holt welcomes the contribution of letters and articles for publication, but assumes no responsibility for return of letters, manuscripts or photos. Reprint Information Permission from Holt International is required prior to reprinting any portion of Holt International magazine. Please direct reprint requests to editor Ashli Keyser at 541/687.2202 or [email protected] Copyright ©2009 by Holt International Children’s Services, Inc. ISSN 1047-7640

Hague Accredited




stage to receive their diploma. Every sentence John wrote, and every photograph he captured was done for one reason and one reason only...the children. We will continue to carry out this mission through the pages of Holt International magazine. We will do this as a tribute to John, but most importantly for the children …as they wait for a family of their own.

Ashli Keyser |

Managing Editor

P.O. Box 2880 (1195 City View) Eugene, OR 97402 Ph: 541/687.2202 Fax: 541/683.6175

directions Communicating the Holt International mission Introducing Holt’s newly updated logo Like most people I’m often asked what I do for work. I thor-

us their design over a year ago. We tested their design against

oughly enjoy a chance to tell others about Holt International and

many other possible concepts— evaluated and modified it slightly

how we help orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children to

over many months before we approved this final design to be

have families of their own. Most of those who ask become hon-

included as part of the Holt International signature. The new

estly interested when I tell them about Holt’s mission.

brandmark is the first major redesign since Holt’s traditional logo

With Holt so much can be said. Little things, like the way we

first appeared in 1973.

make sure infants are held when they’re fed. To big things, like

In many ways the new logo cannot communicate all that Holt

bringing about significant changes in the child welfare system of

is about—but we hope that this image will come to represent Holt

an entire country where we work.

and the wide range of families, children and countries we touch.

Holt has come a long way since Harry and Bertha Holt sat at

The best image of Holt is portrayed by our real-life adoptive

their kitchen table and answered letters from prospective adop-

families, adoptees, and families kept together. No image can fully

tive parents. But in many ways, the Holts’ legacy continues as the

capture the diversity of all that Holt is about, but perhaps this logo

foundation of our work every day. Simple nutrition and loving care

can be an image that will stand for what we pursue every day.

are still our most effective tools for

Someday, this logo will be replaced

helping weak and under-nourished children to survive.

by another that will be more effec-

Finding the

tive in its time. But the timeless Holt

most appropriate solution for each

International mission will continue to

individual child who needs a family

be anchored in the belief that children

continues to be our hallmark. Part of communicating who we are is our logo, but we wanted it to portray so many aspects of who we are. That’s why we knew

need and deserve the unconditional love and secure belonging of a family. As our founder, Harry Holt, said: “Every child deserves a home….”

it would be an involved effort when we started considering updating our traditional logo well over a year ago. I’m very pleased now to present our new Holt International brandmark. We’ll begin

Kim S. Brown |

President & CEO

publishing this new brandmark on our communications over the next several months. The image of a couple lovingly embracing a child represents the importance of parents in a child’s life—the nurturing, security and encouragement offered by a permanent family. It connects with the belief that launched Holt in the mid 1950s—that God designed a family as the right and best place to raise and nurture a child. The new design is also a logical update of Holt’s traditional parent/child logo. And it reinforces the Holt International tagline, “Finding families for children.” How appropriate that the initial design and concept of our new logo was developed by Holt adoptive parents. Tim and Kim Adornetto who own and operate KT Design and Development sent

Above: Holt’s new brandmark. Below: The initial concept and design of Holt’s new logo was developed by Kim and Tim Adornetto, shown here with their children: Daniel, Timmy and Sarah. Background: Holt’s traditional logo first appeared on the March/April 1973 Holt Adoption Program Newsletter.


Around the


Foster parents give children the loving home they need at a critical time in their lives

H olt I nt e r n at i on a l / Su m m e r 2 0 0 9

It was a scene to warm a parent’s heart— six children of various ages silently working on their school homework around a dining table.

Above: A foster mom nurtures a little boy’s developing mind as well as his heart and body. Left to right: (1) Children gather around the dining table to work on school work at one of the foster home apartments of the Nanchang Group Home. (2) Love and affection characterize the care that Holt strives to provide for abandoned and vulnerable children. (3) Six foster families care for approximately 30–36 children in six apartments of the Nanchang Group Home. (4) Dr. Lv (pronounced loo), Director of the Nanchang Group Home, makes sure that the children are loved and developing well. (5) Having siblings is part of the Group Home experience.


Too good to be true? I wondered. But over the next several minutes it became apparent that this was simply routine for this foster family at the Nanchang Group Home in China. As you would expect, the younger children became distracted by our visiting entourage. But as the foster mother multi-tasked from her work in the kitchen, she periodically brought a little help and encouragement to the children at the table, the younger ones in particular. But they didn’t fully regain their focus while we were there. The Group Home, developed together by Holt International and Nanchang Orphanage, provides a family environment for children who otherwise would

still be living in the orphanage’s dormitories. While this orphanage has had a reputation for trying its best to care for children, its greatest strength may be its willingness to try innovative new concepts. The Baby Unit was one of the Holt’s first joint efforts with Nanchang Orphanage, followed soon after by the development of foster care for newer arrivals. But it soon became apparent that a special approach would have to be developed to find foster parents for the older children and those who had lived at the orphanage for some time. In 2005 Holt and Nanchang built and outfitted a six-unit apartment building on the Orphanage grounds. Six couples were recruited and trained to be foster parents of older and special needs children living in the orphanage. At that time the chil-

by John Aeby, Director of Communications

dren had little or no experience in a family environment, and virtually no encouragement with their schoolwork. One of the significant weaknesses of an institution is that children aren’t exposed to family life with its mutual expectation and support. And in the orphanage, children rarely have anyone who can devote time to whether or not they do their homework. In an institution with its rotation of caregivers, it’s simply not practical to care for much beyond the basics of daily life.

But the remarkable couples who signed


Holt I nt e r n at ion a l .or g

When the first 36 children entered the Group Home, they had a rather wild and unkempt look. Having to fend for themselves had left them wary of nearly everything, and even the condition of their hair, skin and clothing evidenced that they had been largely responsible for their own personal care.

on to be foster parents, brought somebetween siblings reveals a healthy combithing very new into the children’s lives nation of love and acceptance. love. The attention and caring of these Another remarkable evidence of the devoted parents soon induced a remarkprogram’s success is that since its opening able change in the children’s lives. The in March 2005, over sixty children have wary expressions gave way to shy smiles graduated from the Group Home and calm. Now well kempt to permanent adoptive families. over sixty and wearing clean clothes, Children, who once were seen the children responded to children have as not appropriate for adoption, the fact that someone congraduated from gained the relational life skills sistent in their lives truly the Group Home to fit in well with a permanent cared about them. family. to permanent The six foster families The Group Home concept is certainly have busy lives adoptive families certainly a great idea, but like a with five to six children lot of great ideas, it depends upon at a time in each home, but the sense of more than program design. People make order hasn’t crossed the line to rigidity in programs work. In the case of the Group the parenting. Each family is composed of Home several people make this program children with a range of ages and abilities, function well for children. Key figures in much like any normal family. And affecthat success are the foster mothers and tion between parents and children and the fathers who daily create a wholesome normal mix of affection and roughhousing

family life for children who once would have had to live out their childhood in an institution.

Urgent Needs in China

As we entered another apartment in the Group Home, we came across another family scene. We had intruded upon the evening meal as five children and foster father sat at their table. Several bowls with freshly prepared dishes occupied the center of the table while the foster mother finished up preparing the final bowls to complete the meal. We had also interrupted the interaction taking place at the table. I couldn’t tell you what they were saying, but you could sense the caring and kindness in their conversation.

Adoptive families for boys—significant numbers of boys in China need families. Currently in foster care and orphanages, most of these boys range in age from 12 mos. to 13 years old and have minor, correctable conditions. These precious children long for and deserve the love of a permanent family. Information on adopting boys: Contact Brian Bradford at [email protected]

“Is this a typical meal for a Chinese family,” I asked. “Yes,” replied Jian Chen, Holt’s China Program Director. “In China a good mother would prepare many dishes for the dinner.” Perhaps that sums up one of the best things about the Nanchang Group Home: the children there get to have good parents. Editor’s Note: Holt is working with Shangrao Orphanage in Jianxi Province, to develop another group foster home. One of its key needs will be the furnishings: beds and chairs and, of course, tables.

Pray, give, act or refer people to help these children

Families for children with minor/correctable conditions—Holt’s China Child of Promise option focuses on finding adoptive families for children with conditions such as cleft lip/palate, club foot, heart conditions. Adoption processing for these children can be significantly reduced. Information on China Child of Promise: Children in danger of being separated from foster families—loss of funding has put many children at risk of returning to orphanages. In a message from China, Jian Chen, Holt’s China Program Director wrote: “For many of these children, especially children with special needs, their foster parents are the only stable, caring family they have known. It would break their hearts to be removed and taken to orphanages. I have heard of some children who have been moved from foster parents to orphanages and they cried and cried.” Holt is committed to taking over the funding of these programs in order to keep the children with their foster families until permanent families can be found. But we need donations to provide the food, supplies and program support to make this happen. To give to this effort visit:

Above: A foster family gathers for dinner where the number of dishes on the table are telling of the foster mother’s care for her family. Below: Foster families at the Nanchang Group Home create an intimate and caring environment, usually the children’s first experience in a family.

Holt Heritage Tours Adoptive families explore the beauty and cultures of China and Korea Holt families and their adopted children recently returned from Heritage tours in China and Korea. The two-week long tours give adoptees a chance to learn more about their personal adoption stories and participate in a variety of cultural activities. The adoptees and their families visit historical sites, as well as orphanages, foster families and finding places when possible. “There were so many wonderful and emotional parts of the journey, said Barry Fulk, who traveled on the China tour with his wife, Bobbi and their daughter, Renata. “The children (and parents) gained a very strong appreciation of Chinese culture and their heritage. By the time they departed, each one was proud of her Chinese heritage.

The sightseeing was important, but they also had several opportunities to learn more about adoption and ask questions about China.” “During our second full day in Korea we met up at the Holt offices for file readings and foster mother meetings,” said Amy Weinkauf, participant in the Korea Heritage Tours. “Paul Kim, Holt Program Director for Korea, gently prepared the adoptees for the day. He reminded the families of the Holt story, and of Harry Holt’s belief that every child, who arrived into their care, needed to know that someone loved them…the story and legacy of Holt International Children’s Services lives on. What a privilege it was to witness it first hand on the Heritage Tour.” For information about next summer’s China and Korea Heritage tours, contact Lisle Veach at [email protected] (China tour) or Paul Kim at [email protected] (Korea tour).


Holt I nt e r n at ion a l .or g

From top right: Adoptees, traveling on the China tour, in traditional Chinese clothing · Korea tour participants enjoyed a farewell dinner with Molly Holt, chairperson of Holt Children’s Services of Korea · Adoptees visit the Nanning Orphanage in China and place their hands in cement, symbolizing their return to the orphanage after being adopted · Adoptee from China, Sarah DiRago, is embraced by her foster mother · The Fulk family visits the panda preserve in Chengdu, just one of many adventures experienced during the China Heritage Tour.

from the family ‘God Has Given Me Autumn’ The joys and struggles of adopting an older child from China I am an adoptive mother struggling to reach into the recesses of a broken heart—that of my precious fifteen-year-old daughter, Autumn. She is in her bedroom writing too. She is having a bad day. Having been adopted at the age of thirteen, she misses China today. I encourage her to write her emotions in the pages of a journal. Some of her thoughts are too private. She writes those in Chinese so I cannot read them. I feel as if those Chinese characters represent an ancient code within her that I have to crack to find her healing. I’m fairly certain it is going to take me a lifetime to read her. In 2004 God opened our family to the idea of adoption. We were on a mission trip in Zambia and fell in love with more than one orphaned child. We prayed: “God, if you want us to adopt, we are willing. Drop a child into our lap and make it clear.” He did, and when He did our hearts had been marinating in the call for two years. In 2006 my husband’s best friend Troy VanLiere called him. He’d just come from China where he and his wife, Donna had adopted two girls a few years earlier. He sent a photo of Autumn to my husband’s laptop Troy explained: “All she wants is a mom and dad, but in eleven months she’ll age-out and won’t be adoptable. What should I do?” Before we knew it, we realized that God was dropping a child into our laps…and she was thirteen. Adopting an older child from another country is a drastically unique experience. The school systems don’t really know how to advise you educationally. Even the very experienced child psychologist who works with us doesn’t have any similar case studies, and so doesn’t always know how to advise me.

H olt I nt e r n at i on a l / Su m m e r 2 0 0 9

Once Autumn shut down emotionally to Lexi, her teenaged sister, and we couldn’t figure out why. After three months, we finally learned that it stemmed from a moment of sibling rivalry in which I intervened. After giving the girls time to figure it out, I quipped: “That’s enough. This isn’t working!” Lexi correctly interpreted it

to mean: “If we don’t negotiate a plan here, mom will!” Autumn thought it meant I was taking her back to China, and so chose to not interface with Lexi in an attempt to stay. It’s complicated and if you aren’t willing to roll up your sleeves and stay in the game, don’t consider it. On difficult days, you’ll have to believe without a doubt that this was a calling for you and your family. How can you know if it is? First, know that you love the stage of development you’re adopting whether that is teen, tween or kindergarten. We have loved parenting teens more than any other stage of development. We work with teens and have experience in addressing at-risk behaviors, healing emotional trauma and hanging out with them. To us, adopting Autumn—with her attachment issues, mother-traumas and learning challenges— seemed like a much better plan than baby bottles and diapers. We realized that we wanted a teenager. Second, get the advice of several families who have adopted children your age. We dug hard and found a handful of families who had adopted teens, and even after their worst-case scenarios we still wanted to adopt a teenager. In fact, we loved the stories of success they shared and couldn’t wait to live out that story in our lives. Third, make sure you have a support network around you. The first year is world-changing. You are changing the structure of your family, teaching a child English, learning to cook food they like, helping them make friends, figuring out what their emotional wounds are, and adding the extra costs and time for special needs. Before we made our final decision, we went to our children, our parents, and our staff. We got their feedback. They were willing to support us in this. And, they did. It took us about two weeks to solidify the decision that adopting an older child was a good one for our family. If you think that


Ministry to Tweens Promotes Modesty & Helping Homeless Children was a reckless timeline, consider that we had only eleven months to get her out of China. On her fourteenth birthday—no matter how far along in the process we were— she’d become ineligible. We had to act quickly.


)PXDBOZPVOHHJSMTESFTTXJUI both fashion and modesty?


)PXDBOQBSFOUTBOEEBVHIUFST avoid conflicts over clothing?


)PX DBO HJSMT EFWFMPQ B IFBMUIZ CPEZ JNBHF BOE be confident in the face of peer pressure?

At the time adoptions through China were taking twenty-four months. There were miracles along the way. At one point, USCIS communicated to us that they needed 10-15 weeks for a piece of paper. We only had two or we’d miss our deadline. So, we asked people to pray. Soon, we got a call from USCIS that they wanted us at their state facility within twenty-four

These are just a few of the topics covered by Secret Keeper Girl in an upbeat, engaging two-hour presentation for 8–12 year old girls and their moms. The event includes discussions on internal beauty from a biblical basis along with upbeat worship, a fashion show for young girls and hilarious look at fashions from the 50s through the 80s.

hours to finger print us. Another time, we realized that we needed $25,000 and fast. A family friend gave us $12,000 and we were on our own for the rest. We prayed because we couldn’t see a solution. That week my accountant called and said I’d been reporting my author’s royalties incorrectly for a few years. The IRS owed me $13,060.00. On days like today when Autumn hurts, I am certain of one thing. God has given me Autumn. I believe that is why He allowed miracles to surround the process of her adoption. More than that, I think I know why God has given her to me: I’m learning about me. I’m learning how selfish I am, and that I need less of me. I’m learning how much I like to be in control, and that I need to yield. I’m learning how much I feel like I need a plan with all the details, and that life is written best when we go day-by-day. I’m learning that God has given me Autumn so that she can be healed, and He has given Autumn to me so that I can be healed. As I finish writing this, Autumn has finished her journaling. She came into my office a few moments ago and showed it to me. It is in Chinese and is for her heart only. But, she’s brought it for me to gaze upon, as if inviting me to figure it out. Leaving it on my desk, she’s now curled up on the little sofa in my office. She just wants to be close. That’s all I know for today, and I’m pretty sure it’s all I need to know.

Dannah Gresh |

State College, Pennsylvania

Above: The Gresh family—Autumn, Rob, Lexi, Bob and Dannah. Left: Autumn Cloud approached Holt’s China Director, Jian Chen, and asked, “Can you find a family for me?” At that time, Autumn was only a few months from turning 14 years old when she would no longer be eligible for intercountry adoption, but with the help of Christian artists NewSong, the Gresh family learned about Autumn and began a whirlwind effort to complete her adoption in time. See a video about Autumn’s adoption at:

During the program Secret Keeper Girl founder, Dannah Gresh, also relates the adoption of her daughter, Autumn, and how people can help other children through Holt’s child sponsorship program. For more information, current schedule and how to bring Secret Keeper Girl to your area, visit:

from the family Wrapped Up in Love Power and love flow from the adoption community I remember clicking on the Holt website at the beginning of our adoption journey, and finding the Holt forum. They were a huge comfort and guided us as we navigated the piles of paperwork and felt the anticipation and worry. This group of adoption community friends rejoiced with us as we shared the joy of finding Joo-sung on the list of children in the Waiting Child program. His face and story seemed to call to us— telling us that we were meant to be together. We had a sense of quiet reassurance that he was the fourth son who was meant to complete our family…and he has! On the flight to Korea to receive Ben, we met another family who was also on the message boards, and we bonded immediately. We traveled together, met our children on the same day and flew them home together. We have had play dates in the years that have followed and feel a love and bond that will last a lifetime. Then, our world changed forever. We stood in the ER hallway and heard the words “large brain mass,” “tumor,” and “emergency ventriculostomy." In the days that followed the news worsened. Our son had a very aggressive form of brain cancer. Life moved at warp speed as he was rushed to the ICU and embarked on many months of in-patient care and a brutal protocol of chemotherapies. We received so many messages on Ben’s care page from all the friends we had made through the years on Holt’s website. We received notes, gifts and cards that buoyed our spirits. Our close friends, who had traveled with us to Korea, now traveled up to UCLA hospital to sit with us and reassure us that we were not alone. But nothing could prepare us for the most amazing gift of all. Bren, a Korean adoptee and adoptive mother, made a quilt pieced together from squares sent from adoptive families from

all over the United States. The families sent fabric and cards to accompany each square, with stories of the significance and meaning behind their quilt square. There was a piece of a child’s favorite baby blanket, a square with vegetables on it, because they know how much our Benny wants to be a chef someday, and a square with a map of Korea on it. On each corner the words “love,” “happiness,” “hope” and “faith” were stitched in Korean. It was Ben’s very own “100 Good Wishes Quilt”…with 100 pieces of fabric, 100 well-wishes and 100 prayers. Accompanying it was a beautiful scrapbook of all the stories and little pieces of the squares. As two moms came and delivered it to his hospital bed, we wrapped him up in all the love that was being sent to him from all around the globe. The colors brightened the drab room, and we spent hours snuggling under that quilt in the months to come— pointing to the squares and telling stories. Ben’s chemo and stem cell transplant are now complete, and he is home and in active remission. Every night we tuck him in under the quilt and feel that all the love brought us to this point, and we thank God for the support and prayers of the adoption community.

Amy Ostertag |

Camarillo, California From Top Right: Ben, who wants to be a chef someday, underwent treatment for brain cancer, with his mother, Amy by his side. (Ben's cancer is now in remission.) Members of the adoption community presented Ben and his family with a “100 Good Wishes Quilt” with the word “Faith” stitched on one of the squares.

Life is Full of Surprises A family takes an adaptive approach to the unexpected events of their adoption My husband and I adopted our younger daughter, Celia, in 2006 through what is now known as the China Child of Promise program. Like many families, we started out in the standard program, and then switched tracks shortly after our dossier was complete as we learned more about this wonderful program. Through our adoption experience, we learned some helpful lessons along the way. Lesson 1: Embrace the information you receive, but don’t expect it to be complete. Celia was eligible for the China Child of Promise program because of a congenital limb abnormality of her left foot. After accepting the referral, Holt’s China staff got us updated photos of Celia — including close-ups of her foot — which we shared with our pediatrician. Although we didn’t have x-rays to evaluate the bone structure, and we knew Celia was not yet standing on her own, our doctor’s initial assessment further reassured us that Celia’s limb difference need not have a significant impact on her physical development. What we didn’t know was that, during the three months we waited to travel, Celia was developing another medical condition that would prove much more challenging. Lesson 2: Set realistic expectations for your own emotional well-being. Being a “glass-half-full” sort, I was naturally drawn to all the heartwarming, feel-good stories of adoptive families. Without realizing it, I had created a fantasy in my own mind of how our story would play out. By the time of our referral, Steve and I felt well prepared to accept Celia into our family. We had completed our Holt “Parents in Process” class, read all the recommended books on attachment and bonding in adoption, and did our best to prepare our twoyear-old daughter, Sawyer, to become a "jiejie" (which means big sister in Chinese). Celia bonded with us quickly. We were, however, utterly unprepared for the upheaval of our life back home as our older daughter adjusted to a new sibling. For three months, we were challenged by physical violence, extreme tantrums, and regression in development — not by Celia, but by Sawyer.

Lesson 3: Let go of your preconceptions and accept that life is full of surprises.

When we met Celia in Taiyuan, we were alarmed to find that the “rash” had developed into a large bald area covered with sores. With a visit to a Western doctor in Guangzhou days later, we began a medical odyssey that we had never contemplated for this child.

Above: Celia in March

Over the next two years Celia was evaluated by a series of medical specialists, none of whom were able to provide a diagnosis or a cure. Last fall Celia underwent two surgeries to remove the unhealthy scalp tissue. Our lesson learned, of course, was that knowledge and understanding of one existing medical condition doesn’t preclude the existence of others. As with biological offspring, we never know if or when medical, developmental, or emotional issues might arise. We were so prepared for Celia’s limb difference and potential bonding issues that we honestly never considered the possibility of another medical issue. According to my favorite Chinese proverb, “A diamond with a flaw is worth more than a pebble without imperfections.” For us, Celia is that diamond. Her resilience, affection and good nature shine brightly for everyone around her. We have grown immeasurably through this experience, and we know the flexible, adaptive approach we learned along the way will serve us well as we raise our daughters.

Colleen Thompson |

Springfield, Oregon


Holt I nt e r n at ion a l .or g

There were days when I second-guessed our decision to adopt, and even more days when I doubted my qualifications to parent. Eventually, things settled down and everyone found their place in the family — in fact Sawyer and Celia are practically inseparable today. I just wish I’d had more realistic expectations of what that transitional summer would entail and been better prepared emotionally to help Sawyer work through her transition.

The day before we met Celia, we received new photos and information on her. I cried tears of joy to see her running in one photo – evidence that her limb difference would not affect her mobility, and I was not particularly concerned to hear that she was battling a rash on her scalp.




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Zoe, 4, Mia 15 mos. (Korea), Aida n McMillen, 13—Maumelle, AR David Shashigo Mitchell, 2 (Eth iopia)—Hamburg, NJ Liam, 5, Laila Babbitt, 1 (Both from Korea)—Benton, AR Wisotzkey Family: Xiao -Wei, 7 (China), Raymark, 9 (Philippines ), Kayla, 11 (USA), Vincent, 3 (Philippines), Hiwot, 4 (Ethiopia)—Landisville, PA [5] Mia Sara Jia Lovell, 2 (Chi na)—Phoenix, AZ [6] Sam Brockman, 22 (Kor ea), with his bride, Lauri—Mel bourne, IA [7] Rosie Gary, 10 (China), Hannah Basham, 9 (Korea)— Bowling Green, KY [8] Gavin Lee, 4 (Vietnam ), with mother, Leslie—Reston, VA [9] Tyler Vasquez, 3 (Philipp ines)—Lanc aster, CA [10] Ellen Godi, Sarah Coo k (Godi), 34 (Korea), Steve Coo k, Paul Godi—Lake Odessa, MI [11] Zoe, 5 mos. (Ethiopia), Jacob, 5, with parents Jeff and Crys tal—Los Alamos, NM


adoptees today A Wonderful and Sacred Bond A 25-year friendship has brought perspective on life Life takes unexpected twists and turns over the years, but when you’re 7 years old, it’s still a simple, extraordinary world of wonder and possibilities. As you grow older you understand the important things in life…health, happiness, family and friends. Friends. How simple yet life-changing they can be. Let me start from the beginning…. I always knew I was adopted, and it never bothered me. I didn’t always know exactly what it meant; I just thought I was special, and since no one in my family or community treated me any differently than anyone else, I had no reason to feel awkward or self-conscious. I was just a young Korean child running around

Above: Kim (left) and Kara have remained friends since becoming pen pals in 1983.

and exploring the broad countryside of a small, dairy farm in

the hall of the hotel to the lobby. I felt very anxious, nervous and

north central Iowa. What’s so unusual about that? I value the

extremely excited! This was it! A very special dream was com-

time I had on the farm, but that all changed on July 18, 1983. It

ing true!

was a day that drastically changed my life and the lives of my family. It was around 7:30 a.m. when my older brother screamed, “The house is on fire!” A few months before that tragic day, I wrote Holt to request a pen pal. They published the request in an issue of their magazine. I received over fifteen letters from girls all over the country and was shocked and excited that so many people had responded. As the months went by some had stopped writing, but one continued to write. Ironically, her letter was the very first one I had received.

I couldn’t look, but when she walked through the door I was so overwhelmed with happiness. We hugged and it was like hugging an old friend who I hadn’t see in ten years. We introduced our families and decided to go over to the Mall of Americas. Time seemed to stand still just so we could talk and laugh together. That’s one thing you can’t do in a letter…laugh together. I felt completely comfortable with her and her family, and even our parents felt that way. It was so wonderful to see them meet and see how much they had in common.

After the fire things were very emotional and tough for my family.

We saw a red car pull into the parking lot. I was so nervous

There were a lot of changes and uncertainties ahead.

Through it all, my pen pal, Kara Jackson, continued to write me, one of the only bright spots in my life. I now believe she helped me through it all just by being my friend and showing that she cared through her letters. Our friendship has grown into a wonderful and sacred bond between two such similar people.

I had never really

thought about that before until I heard them talking about how they felt when they were waiting for us to arrive on the plane from Korea or how they felt the first time they held us. Kara is truly a unique friend who knows and shares some of the same cultural experiences. Are we Asian, Asian-American, or American? How do we see ourselves? How do people react when they find out we’re adopted? Does it matter? Even though we don’t see each other often, we still share a special bond that only

become a thing of the past, appreciating the medium in which we

we can fully understand and appreciate. We understand and can

grew our friendship only gives us a better understanding into the

empathize with each other because we’ve seen the world through

depths of who we are.

similar eyes. And even though our lives have taken a lot of twists

In the summer of 1993 after my high school graduation, I flew

and turns, one thing remains constant….our friendship.

to Minnesota where she lives. I knew I would finally get to meet her, but the thought of it didn’t sink in until I was walking down

Kim Fenneman |

Frisco, Texas


Holt I nt e r n at ion a l .or g

Although building a relationship through words on paper has

updates approval of the law is a priority given the limited time the legislature will be in session. The law clarifies adoption-processing protocols and mandates clear government oversight responsibilities. Many Haitian children are in desperate need of adoptive families and will benefit from this new law. This includes children who have been waiting in the adoption system, many up to three years, due to confusion and difficulties surrounding the outdated law.

Haiti Holt recently opened four new cottages at Holt Fontana Village, which will allow Holt to care for more vulnerable and abandoned children in need. Vice President of Program Development, Dan Lauer, and Director of Programs for Africa, Bruce Dahl met with UNICEF to urge passage of the new Haitian adoption law, currently before the Prime Minister. Holt has been working with Joint Council on International Children’s Services members to develop support for changes in the law that would relax family eligibility. Advocacy efforts through Holt and other agencies, for

New Holt T-shirts & Sweatshirts The newly designed Holt International T-shirts and full-length zip sweatshirts are available to order online. The shirts are available in children’s and adult sizes, and we are now offering a semi-tailored pink T-shirt available for women. Check online for prices and available sizes. Visit the Holt International store at

The Haitian Legislature will convene soon. It is urgent that the new Haitian Adoption Law be included for approval in the agenda for the upcoming session. Contact your Congressional Representatives, and urge their strong support of the new proposed adoption law. Please ask them to contact the Haitian authorities. For more information on the adoption law, and contacting your Congressional Representative go to calltoaction.shtml

Uganda Holt needs adoptive parents for children of Uganda. We are now accepting applications from families interested in providing a permanent home to a child from this country. For more information, please contact Stephanie Gibson at [email protected] or Jennifer Dalton at [email protected]

China The H1N1 flu has had an impact on adoption travel to China. Most provinces have opened by now, but it is unclear how long this caution will last and what influence it will have on travel. Most travel scheduling is proceeding normally, and Holt is in touch with the provincial officials in each province to follow developments so Holt can keep all families up-to-date if developments affect their adoption trips. Above Left: Generous donors and sponsors made it possible for Holt to build four new cottages at Holt Fontana Village, so that we are able to provide shelter to even more abandoned and vulnerable children.

Holt Events

In Memory

The Colors of Hope Dinner Auction in Portland, Oregon is coming up on October 17. The Portland event will benefit homeless and at-risk children in Ethiopia and will be held at Montgomery Park. See for more information, or call (800) 451-0732.

March 1, 1970–March 24, 2009 Mark Kook Hyun Huber, 39, of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, adopted from Korea in 1982 by Jerry and Heidi Huber, died recently from tuberculosis in the lungs and spine. Mark was known for his kind and friendly manner. He was always patient and gentle, especially with younger children. He had a deep respect for his family, and was a wonderful role








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H olt I nt e r n at i on a l / Su m m e r 2 0 0 9

model for his 18 younger siblings.

Adoption Tax Credit The adoption tax credit, which has assisted many families offset the cost of international adoption, is set to expire in December of 2010. Support is urgently needed to pass the Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act of 2009, which will make the tax credit permanent and allow more families the opportunity to adopt a child and bring them into a loving home. To learn more about the tax credit, and find out how you can help get this bill passed, go to x?id=639


The annual Holt Picnic season is underway! Visit our Picnic webpage at to find the picnic closest to you. Whether you’re considering adoption, waiting to receive your child, adopted many years ago, or are adopted yourself—Holt’s picnics are for you! See old friends and make new ones while children enjoy fun activities. Bring a friend! For more information, contact Sally at [email protected]

Send us your Grad Photos Wanted: photos of Holt adoptees who are graduating from high school, college or vocational school for the fall issue of the magazine. For a Graduate submission form, go online to Deadline is September 1.

Mark graduated from high school and attended several years of Bible College. He was good with computers and received a full time job with Gateway in computer sales and another job helping set up computer systems in homes. Mark wanted others to know in a personal way how much God loved them. Mark helped with children's church, especially in the puppet ministry. While in college he traveled with a missions group to Southeast Asia, which gave him an opportunity for a brief visit back to Ilsan with Molly Holt. He is survived by his parents, and 18 siblings.

w a it ing c h il d re n

neighborhood calendar

These and other children need adoptive families


Lutheran Church of October 11 | Atlanta—Holt Family Picnic at p.m. 6 3:30n, rectio Resur the


August 15 | Westmont—Holt Family Picni Memorial Park

c at Veterans’


September 27 | LeGrand—Holt Family Picni Community Park


September 26 | Prairie Village—Holt Famil Park

c at LeGrand

y Picnic at Harmon

New Jersey

c at Pine Park August 22 | Lakewood—Holt Family Picni


Camp Harlow August 1 | Eugene—Holt Family Picnic at Moody Park Al at c August 15 | Bend—Holt Family Picni Dinner Auction. October 17 | Portland—Holt Color s of Hope in Ethiopia , ren child k To benefit homeless and at-ris Park ry Montgome

Holt Family Picnics



Bor n:   5.21.01   |   A fric a

This beautiful, young lady love s to smile and came into Holt’s care in 2008. She had syphilis, but has since tested negative for the cond ition . She follows directions well and likes to help with the younger chil dren. A grant is available through Britt any's Hope Foundation.


Bor n:   7.8.06   |   India This handsome boy has been in care since about the time he was born. He speaks a few words, run s, and is able to climb stairs with support. He has been diag nosed with dystonic diplegic cerebral palsy. He is strongwilled, independent and clea r about what he wants. He can feed himself, enjoys play ing games, and is affectionate. A $7,500 grant is avai lable from Brittany's Hope.

cs, For information or to volunteer at Holt Picni rnati tinte @hol sallyd ar contact Sally Dunb wise. All picnics 11 a.m.–3 p.m. unless noted other info. Go to For more

Click holtinternatio /waitin gchild/ photolisting

Gyeo ng

A my Sha nta nu

5.17.08   |   Kore a This cute and active littl e boy has been in foster care sinc e July 2008. He was hospitalized for 13 days after birt h, due to respirato ry distress syndrome. He is delayed in gross motor skills and is receiving physical therapy. He is being monitore d for congenital glaucoma and epib lepharon. A $7,500 grant is available from Brittany's Hope.


2.27.02   |   SE   A sia Jake has been in foster care since May 2007. Witt y and active, he manages his own needs with prop er guidance, and he enjoys play ing with other children. He has genu valg us bilat eral, and had surgery at 6 months for an inguinal hernia. He has the cognitive development of a 4-year-o ld, but has good comprehension skill s. He is char ming, expressive and resp ectful.

For more infor matio n on adop ting these and other waiting child ren, conta ct Erin Mow er at erinm @hol tinter natio nal.o rg

-‐bin Ja ke


Post Office Box 2880 E u g e n e O R 974 0 2

Change Service Requested

provide for a child until they can have a family When you sponsor a child, you help provide food, shelter, clothing, medical treatment and loving care while Holt arranges a permanent family For $30 per month you can change the life of an orphaned, abandoned or vulnerable child. You’ll receive periodic progress reports and photos of your child Choose a child who needs your help at: or sponsor an additional child or call (800) 451-0732

McKenna Graf once needed help in China, but sponsors provided the care she needed until she could be adopted. Now she's a much-loved daughter and sister in the Graf family.

Hague Accredited