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As options expand for single applicants hoping to adopt internationally, one single mom shares her story of opening her heart and home to a son from China.

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“You know what, Mom?”

“What Timothy…”

“I LOVE YOU!”

“I love you, too.”

This is a game my son and I play almost every day. And those are words that I thought I would never hear. I am single and in my 40’s, but ever since I could remember I had always wanted to be a mom. I was confused as to why God would place such a longing in my heart, but not have me married and having children. Then, a few years ago, God turned my heart toward adoption. At first I rebelled. Was I out of my mind? Being single and a busy career woman, I had my hands full managing my job, my home, volunteer work and a personal life. And, to be honest, I was a little selfish about giving it up. How in the world did I think I would be able to add a child to this…all by myself.

But once the seed of possibility was planted, the longing only got stronger. I talked with my pastor, my closest friends, my family (all of them live out of town), and carefully surveyed my support systems. As it turns out, I have several friends in my church family who have adopted, so I talked to them. Then, I took the plunge and called Holt International.

Fifteen months, a completed home study and a dossier later, I was traveling to China with my aunt to meet my 2-year-old son, Timothy, and bring him home. The trip to get my son was a wonderful experience and well supported by Holt staff. But the real adventures began when we arrived home.

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My aunt stayed for a few days to help with my adjustment to motherhood, but she was tired and jet-lagged, too, and really needed to get back to her life. I could not have survived those initial weeks had it not been for the support of my closest friends and my church family. Before I went to China, they had arranged a ‘baby shower’ that included not just the usual gifts for a small child, but an organizational chart of meals, errand runners, diaper bringers and prayer support for the first several months after our return. My friends, respecting our initial need for bonding time, stood at the ready to provide the emotional support and encouragement that I needed to begin my motherhood experience. They would send emails, call, drop by briefly with a meal or help me recover from a meltdown. And, when we ventured out to a park, they would meet us there to play ‘separately, together.’ Read More

 As Holt reflects on 40 years since the Vietnam Babylift, Steve Kalb, Holt’s director of adoptee services, interviews Holt adoptee and board member Tara Linh Leaman about her recent travels to Vietnam, the beginnings of a search for her birth family, and her part in Holt’s continuing growth as an organization. Tara is the co-founder of AmerAsians Building Bridges, Inc. (AABB), and currently serves as the program director of Westchester Building Futures, a federally funded initiative that aims to better serve young people aging out of foster care in Westchester County, NY. She is a graduate of Cornell University and Georgetown University Law Center, and lives in the “People’s Republic of Brooklyn.”

TaraSK: Share a little bit about your work with AmerAsians Building Bridges (AABB)? What inspired you to found this organization, and how does it help meet the needs of Vietnamese adoptees?

TL: My comrade, Nguyet Lam, and I co-founded the organization in 2005. Nguyet, like me, is Vietnamese and African American (aka Black Amerasian); but unlike me, grew up in Vietnam with her birth family. We created AABB because we recognized the discrimination Amerasians still face in Vietnam. In an effort to address that reality, AABB provides small educational and business loans to Amerasians in Vietnam, as well as family strengthening and pathways to citizenship classes for Amerasians in the Washington, DC region. In 2010, AABB expanded its mission to include resources for members of the adoption and foster care constellations, specifically in the area of nurturing healthy forms of identity(ies) within transethnic/transracial adoptees, our families and the communities in which we live. Read More

Taking full advantage of every opportunity offered by Holt’s legacy partner in Pune, India, one hard-working mother pursues a better life for herself and her children.

Ms. Mangel Mhaske knew she had to do something. She had three children in elementary school and no way would she allow for any one of them to drop out. Although her husband earned some money taking cooking orders and driving a rickshaw, he was a regular drinker — and irregular at work. And besides, the income he earned was never enough to ensure they could pay their children’s school fees. It was hard enough just to keep them fed.

So Ms. Mhaske got resourceful. She knew how to sew, and she could afford to invest a few rupees in some new quilting fabric. For stuffing, she collected used clothing from friends and neighbors, and she began to hand-stitch quilts to sell for a small profit. This small business earned the family a little extra income.

But still, it was never enough.

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After 37 years of celebrating her adoption day with her family, Holt adoptee Leh Beal-Cook decided she didn’t want any presents. Instead, she sent a gift to Holt International in hopes that another child will be able to have a loving family of his or her own.

LehWhen I was twenty-one months old, I flew to Chicago to meet my adopted parents. My “adoption day” is a celebration my parents have for me every year, filled with a present, card, stories, cake and a meal of my choice. Thirty-eight years later and after 37 years of celebrating my adoption day, I decided I didn’t want a gift. I have the gift I may never have had if it weren’t for my adopted parents, a family. As a South Korean girl whose history was not known, I was just a baby Jane Doe. My name and birthdate were probably randomly created. Before I was adopted, I went through three orphanages and two foster homes, but my mom says I was obviously very loved. My grandmother had read about adoptions from Korea and shared it with my parents who were looking to adopt. Even though my parents wanted a baby, they chose me after they saw my picture — thus, my new life began as a Holt adoptee. Read More

Chanunsiri_1Last January, 15-year-old Nissa received an unexpected birthday gift from her sponsor in the U.S… A blue bicycle wrapped in a red Christmas tree garland! It had a matching blue basket and a big banana seat on which her two little brothers could take turns riding behind her.

“My birthday is on January 20 and I have never received a birthday gift,” wrote Nissa in a thank you letter to her sponsor. “This year, I received a gift from you that makes me feel proud and very grateful.” Read More