Learn about Empowered to Connect, TBRI and how one weekend drastically changed the way that one adoptive mother and father connect with their children.

“Our family was introduced to TBRI® in 2014, at the Empowered To Connect (ETC) Conference that year. At the time, we had two young biological children (one who was exhibiting sensory dysregulation) and were in process to adopt a toddler internationally. Up until this time, we had been parenting simply to change behavior,” says Angela, an adoptive mom. “Our goal when our child ‘misbehaved’ was to give the consequence we could think of that would stop him/her from repeating the undesired behavior.”

Raise your hand if this is how you were disciplined growing up, or how you are disciplining now? You focus on fixing or stopping the unwanted behavior. Until recently, this type of discipline is all that Angela and her husband knew. Frankly, it is what most of us know. But when you are parenting children from hard places — children who have experienced loss or trauma or multiple foster placements or grief — is this the best way to go? Through years of research, we’ve learned there is a better way, a more effective way, of reaching our children and helping them learn and grow.

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After 2,187 days in an orphanage, 5-year-old Matthew finally comes home to his family. Read the Leese family’s letter to the donors who made their son’s homecoming possible.

February 19, 2018

Dear Contributing Donors:

The first photo the Leese family saw of their son, on the RainbowKids photolisting.

We want to express our thanks for your part in making our adoption of Matthew possible. Today marks two months since Matthew officially joined our family in Guanxi, China. We are still in awe of God’s faithfulness to connect us with this precious child from over 8,000 miles away and to provide so generously everything we needed to make the journey. Back in December 2016, after welcoming our fourth biological child who was just 10 months old at the time, we began to look at profiles of waiting children in preparation to start the official process when our youngest turned one. After inquiring and applying for a child with no listed special needs, we were saddened when another family was selected. I was praying in the wee hours of the following Sunday morning, asking God for clarity on our next steps when I heard the name “Russell” and then went to sleep in peace. When I woke up, I went back to the RainbowKids.com site and searched for the name. Our son’s profile came to the top and I had already saved it the first night I found the other child for whom we had applied. However, “Russell” had a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and a potential liver condition. Since his profile was listed with Holt, I emailed them right away to inquire and received his file the following day on his 5th birthday. My children suggested that we sing “Happy Birthday” to this child we didn’t even know yet and we made a video as God planted the seeds of belonging in our hearts.

Matthew, home for 62 days!

Though his file held many unknowns, my husband and I prayerfully agreed to take steps in obedience to learn more about “Russell” and God-willing, bring him home as our son. We weren’t sure how the finances would come together or how his special needs would affect our family’s lifestyle and our future, but we prayed through the fear and kept moving forward one step at a time. One year later, we were packing to leave for China to bring him home and gave him the name Matthew, which means ‘gift from God.’ He is an absolute treasure and has the most innocent laughter. I have a video of his first laughter with us as he ran freely in a park with his new brother chasing him. Since then, we’ve learned that his CP is mild and mainly affects one hand. He has some vision problems that are likely connected as well, but we are encouraged to be going to a specialist to get him the help he needs to thrive. It is clear that God knew exactly where Matthew should be and we are eager to see how God’s plan continues to unfold for his life. He amazes us every day with how quickly he is learning and how he can be so affectionate and caring.

Matthew with his siblings celebrating Chinese New Year!

Matthew spent over 2,000 days in an orphanage waking up without the anchor of a family. With your help, we were able to impact the world for this one little boy, and as one of the Holt China staff told us, to give Matthew the gift of hope. Thank you for partnering with our family through Holt to make a difference in the lives of these precious children.

With gratitude,

Leroy and Jessica Leese

Help another child like Matthew come home. Give a gift to the Special Needs Adoption Fund!

A $7,000 Special Blessings grant is available to help the right family bring Rowan home!

Rowan gets the joke.

Out of breath, and laughing, he has just demonstrated how easily he can skip on one foot — racing across the dining area in the orphanage where he lives in Southeast Asia. Breathless and thirsty on this humid January morning, he gulps down his cup of water. Still thirsty, he eyes my water and I push it toward him. Once Rowan’s downed his second cup of water, our photographer pushes his glass of water across the table toward Rowan as well.

We all laugh, including Rowan, through gulps of water. Read More

A skating coach for Olympic hockey players, Kim Muir knew there was no way she’d miss this year’s Winter Olympics in Seoul. But as a Korean adoptee, the trip was about even more than gold medals…  

When I found out that that the Olympics were being held in South Korea and that I had five hockey students competing, I contacted Holt. As my athletes’ technical skating coach, I knew I wanted to travel to Korea to see my students compete. But I’m also an adoptee, so I knew that traveling back to Korea for the first time would be a meaningful and significant experience. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I’d be able to meet with the agency in Korea and potentially see my orphanage or an orphanage. Through reflection, it became a priority that I come and share my life story with my children. My life has been amazing, and I was eager to learn more about my beginning.

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Linda and Jim Vail have sponsored You Jun since she was 9 years old. Now 18, You Jun wants to say thank you for supporting her all these years.

When Linda and Jim Vail first “met” their sponsored child — when they received her photo in the mail and first read about her life — she was 9, and in crisis.

You Jun’s mother hadn’t been in her life for years, her father struggled with substance abuse and died the year before, and not long after, her uncle passed away too. She and her grandmother were the only ones left.

“The little girl and her granny depend on each other,” her social worker wrote in a sponsor report from 2009. “They lead a hard life.”

You Jun and her grandmother live on less than one acre of land near the Chinese border with Burma. They grow rice to feed themselves — selling any surplus to pay for necessities. But it has never been enough to afford school for You Jun. Read More