Jack* is a child with a gentle soul. As his teachers say, he is “a delight.”
I met Jack last summer in a northern province of China, where he was abandoned at birth eight years ago. A sweet boy with a warm and open smile, he enjoyed playing with the other children we came to visit — two other high-energy boys, and a beautiful little girl with CP. An easygoing kid, Jack amicably horsed around with the boys, all rolling around in giant tubes. When one of the other boys knocked over Jack’s toy with a giant bear, he took it in stride – smiling and engaging the boy in more playful roughhousing.
When the little girl with CP began to practice walking as part of her physical therapy, Jack decided to help. He guided her along the bars, and comforted her when she fell and began to cry.
Jack has poor hearing and unclear speech, the results of an ear deformity. Despite these limitations, he has learned to communicate well with others, always answering his teachers’ questions in class. But he has also learned to communicate in perhaps more important ways – in kindness and thoughtful gestures, in comforting and helping younger children, and in the subtle social cues of playing with other boys his age.
Jack will turn 8 in June. He has spent a year on Holt’s waiting child photolisting, and still, he continues to wait for a loving family. Jack has grown and developed well in the care of his foster parents, but what he needs now is a permanent family – a family to love and appreciate what a delightful boy he is, and support him throughout his life.
Interested families should be able to provide any medical care or therapies Jack will need, and have experience parenting past his age.
Recently, we at Holt celebrated the 14th birthday of Lucas Kolb — a boy adopted from China in just the knick of time! When he turned 14, he would no longer be eligible for adoption. Although they already had four adopted sons at home, Ed and Sandy Kolb of Nebraska found they still had more love to give. With the deadline looming, the Kolbs opened their hearts to not just one, but two older boys. Lucas, and Christian, age 11.
“Adopting children is what I’ve been prepared to do my whole life,” Sandy Kolb recently told a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald. “You’re not going to stop at just one. Your life positively changes after you adopt and the child’s does too.”
Of the three of my adopted children, Stacee has always been the most curious and connected to her Asian roots. She began a very creative exploration process of what it meant to be Asian when she entered junior high. If you know anything about adolescent development, this is not at all surprising. Every adolescent begins to ask herself, who am I and where do I fit? This was much easier for Stacee to do in junior high, because her elementary school had very few Asian children. We are fortunate to live in Southern California where there is every ethnicity possible and every mixture as well. We however, live on an island that is primarily populated by Caucasians. Fortunately the junior high and high school my children attended drew from a larger pool of young people.
As I was picking Stacee up from school about a month after she started junior high, I saw her standing with a group of six girlfriends. What was so interesting about this picture was that every girl was Asian. When I pointed that out to Stacee, she actually had not been conscious of the fact. None of the girls was Korean but they all were different nationalities of Asians. This began an interesting journey for my daughter that I could not have created for her had I tried!
As she grew to know the girls, she began to form strong friendships — many of which still exist today. Because there were so few children on the island where we live, Stacee began to spend a great deal of time with these new friends and their families. She became so close to a few of them, that she took trips with the families.
When she spent time with her new Asian friends and families, she would come home and tell me how they would do things differently than our family did. I was always fine with that, and listened intently while she would tell me her stories. She was always amazed at how the entire family went everywhere together, particularly over the weekends. It’s not that our family didn’t do a great deal together, but we did not do every activity together for days on end. Since many of these new friends were recent immigrants, what Stacee was also experiencing was life with immigrants who had not been acculturated into the “American” way of life. I thought these experiences were very valuable as well. She did not ask me or my husband to do anything different than we were doing, with one exception. We bought a rice cooker and we had white rice in our kitchen cooking at all times. I found this fascinating and endearing.
I also found it very interesting that Stacee’s best high school girlfriend, Thuvy, and her first steady boyfriend, Kurt, were Vietnamese. Thuvy spent a great deal of time at our house, traveled with us many times, and even lived with us over a summer. This also gave Stacee what she had always wanted, a sister. Kurt also spent a great deal of time with us and I enjoyed him very much. They are still part of our lives, and when Thuvy read my blog she sent me a lovely e-mail saying, you are always my “second mama,” as well. Stacee remained very close to both Thuvy and Kurt throughout high school, but she also began to expand her friends to multiple ethnicities.
I’m so glad that Stacee found this very creative way to explore her culture and her roots. It is such a joy to have children — and now their friends — who have no issue with anyone’s color, creed, or ethnicity. In that way our world is becoming a better place.
Readers, Please tell me how your children have gone through their cultural exploration.
Date of Birth: June, 13, 2009 (19 months old), Korea
by Ashli Keyser, managing editor
Something is missing.
I look at Su-bin’s picture on the Waiting Child photolisting, and I know something’s missing. He’s a cute little guy with black, spiky hair, soft features, adorable, plump lips and sweet, inquisitive eyes. Just an all around lovable 2-year-old little boy. But something is missing. I momentarily look above Su-bin’s photo. I find my answer. Across another child’s photo, written in bold red letters are the words, “I have a family!” I thank God that this precious child has a family, and I wait for the day when those words will be written across Su-bin’s photo, too. That’s what’s missing from his photo. Four little words that mean so much.
“I can’t imagine why Su-bin doesn’t have a family yet,” says Erin Mower, Holt’s Waiting Child program assistant. “He’s just so sweet.” Erin met Su-bin on her trip to Korea in December. She interacted with him and fell in love.
Su-bin has been on the Waiting Child photolisting for two years. “When he was first released for adoption, we didn’t know a lot about his health,” says Erin. “ There were a lot of unknowns. We have more information now so, hopefully, we can find him a family soon.”
Erin is not the only one steadfastly advocating for Su-bin’s adoption.
“When I arrived to assess Su-bin, his physical therapist ran out to me,” remembers Erin. “She said ‘you have to find Su-bin a family! He’s made so much progress!’ I could tell his physical therapist thought he was really special.”
Su-bin’s foster family describes him as “a lovely little boy.” His December well baby check assessed him to be at a 10-11 month developmental level. He is able to walk with support, wave bye-bye and say a few words. He was just recently transferred to Holt’s Ilsan Center where Molly Holt, the center’s director, and attentive caretakers will love him until he goes home to a family.
Even Molly has a lot to say about Su-bin. “He’s very lively and cute,” she tells me, with a smile on her face. “When he arrived at Ilsan all the caretakers wanted to be the one to care for him. He will find a family soon.”
For two years Su-bin’s waited on the photolisting. It’s time to add those missing words to his photo. It’s time to add a mother, a father and, perhaps, a brother or sister. In the next few months, I hope to see the words “I have a family!” written across Su-bin’s photo.
Will you help Holt find what’s missing in Su-bin’s life?
Maybe, just maybe, you’re what’s missing.
There is a $5,000 Special Blessings grant from Holt for this adoption, as well as reduced fees.
Couldn’t make it to a Winter Jam concert near you? Grand Canyon University presents Winter Jam 2011 live! Join hearitfirst.com tomorrow, March 19th at 6 pm EST (3 pm PST) to watch a live Webcast of a Winter Jam concert. Experience Winter Jam from your home! Listen to artists like Francesca Battistelli, the David Crowder Band and the Newsboys….and hear NewSong and inspirational speaker Tony Nolan speak about Holt International’s child sponsorship program and the opportunity to provide food, clothing, shelter and warmth to a child in need.
With Christian music group NewSong leading the way, volunteers at Holt’s Winter Jam concert make tremendous strides in helping children in need through child sponsorship
By Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director
Lexington, Kentucky– It’s hours before the first act and throngs of people of all ages— in a line five people wide — wrap around a city block. When I look outside 50 minutes prior to the pre-show, the crowd is wrapped around two city blocks, snaking through a public parking lot next to the Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Inside the arena, with 20 minutes to showtime, youth pastors from hundreds of miles away are meeting for the youth leadership reception. Members of groups like the David Crowder Band and Newsboys come and pray and encourage youth leaders and their ministries. They are all so full of energy and impassioned for the youth ministry of Lexington and surrounding areas. Tony Nolan wraps up the reception. He calls on youth leaders to step up and lead by example. To walk the talk. Tony calls on them to sponsor a child through Holt International. He says that this is a way for the leaders to live what they preach. “Step up and help the widows and orphans in their time of plight,” Tony says. “We are called to this. Now let’s show our youth how it’s done.”
As the youth pastors rush the Holt International table, which is stacked with hundreds of sponsorship picture folders, a rumble comes from the main auditorium. The countdown to the main event has started. NewSong takes the stage. Fifteen thousand fans come to their feet, singing and praising God at the top of their lungs. Dan Lindsay, Holt International’s tour representative, hangs back during the NewSong set to count the new sponsorships from the youth pastor reception. Nearly ten percent of those who attended the reception made a commitment to sponsor a child. He smiles and indicates that the evening is starting out well.
Moving backstage, NewSong members come down from their set and grab waters, sharing smiles and laughing about their performance. Eddie Carswell quickly turns on his heel to pop back out onstage and introduce the next act. Returning backstage, Eddie turns to Dan and asks him about the number of volunteers. “Over a hundred showed up,” Dan replies. A big grin flashes across his face. “With all those volunteers tonight, it should be a good show for Holt and for the children. We couldn’t make this work without the volunteers.”
Intermission arrives. Eddie comes on stage and shares about the mission of Holt International, the importance of child sponsorship, and how it can change a child’s life. In an arena of fifteen thousand, the audience is nearly silent and listens to every word. When Eddie finishes and releases the audience, a reverberating roar is heard as masses of people move to the Holt table, where hundreds of child sponsorship folders wait. Dozens of volunteers move around the tables, helping folks fill out forms. Some volunteers bring child folders to the people still sitting in the arena.
A high school graduate shares her college entrance essay
Kindergarten students are cruel. Just down right vicious. However, in their defense, they most likely do not mean to be. They are just being brutally honest. I can personally attest to this. The memories of my own kindergarten days are still vivid — snack time, naptime, circle time and a kid named Bobby. We were gathering our belongings by the backpack cubbies. Bobby was shorter than me, with a lot of guts. As we were getting our backpacks, he looked up at me, pulling the corners of his eyes skinny to match my almond-shaped eyes. I felt weird; no one had ever made fun of me before. It was then that I realized I did not look like my peers. Yes, I did “know” I was different, but I did not know that my differences were “funny” to others. Bobby was just stating the obvious. He merely characterized the differences between my peers and I. Their eyes were not almond-shaped, their hair was not black, and their skin was not brown. I was an adopted member of society. And for this, I resented my heritage.
My biological Korean parents were engaged when I made a surprise appearance onto this earth. They gave me up for adoption right away, and I was adopted into a very southern, Caucasian family in Georgia at the age of four months. I have been raised only speaking the English language, yet treated differently because of my looks. I have never had any connection with Korea other than the ink on my birth certificate. I have sometimes wished I could fit in and be like all the other kids who matched their parents on annual Christmas cards. Why couldn’t I look on the outside the same way I felt on the inside?
Kindergarten kids not only ridicule physical attributes, but mental and social differences as well. My brother has autism and often appears socially inept. In school, he was “that kid” that everyone picked on. This enraged me. My brother has always had trouble making friends. Autism is a disorder that affects social interaction and communication skills. Other kids were harsh and unwilling to accept his differences. I despise the hardships my brother experienced. I still do not understand why people have to fit a social mold to be accepted.
The impact of being Asian in a Caucasian culture and having a brother with autism causes me to see life differently. I am keenly aware of students in my school who march to the beat of a different drummer. I have compassion for them and want to understand their view of life. In so doing, I not only learn about them, but I learn more about myself. By expanding my social circles, I expand my understanding of the world.
Because of my hardships and struggles respecting differences, I can confidently say that I have a passion for combating society’s ignorance. My life’s lessons have shown me that single-minded thinking and influence does not create a healthy world. I know what it means to be different and I know what it means to be misunderstood. I have learned to accept who I am instead of always looking to be something I am not. Because of this, I have learned to think differently and to view deeper into others instead of judging them based on surface appearances. Because of my life’s journey, I believe I am uniquely equipped to contribute to the diverse learning environment at the University of Texas.
Startled, I thought, ‘how could I not be?’ I was adopted. But this wasn’t about me. This was about our commitment to become a family. With that question, adoption was no longer an abstract idea but our unambiguous decision to transform lives.
Like many of our friends, we married later in life, established our careers, traveled and lived well. But we also discovered that conceiving a family wasn’t easy, nor was it fun trying to conceive through procedures. Ultimately, it mattered less to us how we became a family, so long as we did.
And so, on a warm Sunday evening in June 2008, we sat at the kitchen island, completed our application with excitement and trepidation, and embarked upon our adoption journey. In our hearts, a baby boy was waiting for us, even though he had not yet been conceived.
Family and friends could not have been more genuinely excited and supportive. My mother cried joyfully while my father reflected upon their decision decades earlier. Judy’s mother smiled such that we knew she had long reserved room in her heart only to be filled by her new grandson.
Time has stood still twice in my life – watching the sunlit silhouette of Judy approach the wedding altar, and on an otherwise unremarkable July 2009 afternoon when my iPhone pinged, alerting me to an incoming photo and call from my wife. Our son was waiting for us in Seoul.
The vibrant colors of fall signal metamorphosis, and so it was fitting that in November 2009 we expectantly flew to Seoul. Taking no chances for delay, we made a subway trial-run to the nondescript Holt building a day before our appointment. (Then we enjoyed the city sights and sounds). The next afternoon, when escorted into the nursery room to meet our son and his foster mother, the entirety of Judy’s body ached to hold him.
Upon returning to the hotel with Gordon, our list of things to do was pretty basic: bottle, diaper, sleep and repeat. Later, in the small quiet hours of daybreak, like every parent before us, we exchanged unspoken glances — “Now what?”
Gordon is our miracle and it is unfathomable to imagine life without him. From first steps to first words, reading and beyond, his nature is one of eager discovery and engagement. One morning, he proudly declared “birds eat dirt” after watching finches in the yard. On a recent vacation, he gleefully marveled at brightly colored fish swimming around his feet while he collected hermit crabs and clam shells along the white sand beach. Without doubt, he is all boy — playful, inquisitive and joyful — and we truly are his parents as he is our son.
Before returning from Seoul, we spent an illuminating day with Molly Holt, the woman who signed my adoption papers 40 years earlier. She surprised us by producing documents from my file and described candidly the challenging future awaiting orphans, then and now. Unquestionably, I have been granted the gifts of family, education, marriage, profession and social mobility. My parents’ love transformed not just one little boy’s life, but now two. Serendipity? Divine providence? Who could have foreseen the impact of Harry and Bertha Holt’s ministry?
As an adult Holt adoptee, I occasionally wonder how it informs my approach to fatherhood. Will my experiences be relevant to Gordon? Should I be more intuitive about identity issues? Of this I am certain: just as I was lovingly raised, Gordon will always know of his beginnings – not as a reason for solicitous gratitude, but to understand the richness of family and the blessings of life.
For Judy and me, our hope and charge is that Gordon will grow in body, mind and spirit. If we do this right, he will grow in the security of family love, he will chart his own course in life, and he will be prepared to serve others. Perhaps, one day, he too will be okay with adoption.
“This event is going to help renovate the buildings at the Ilsan center in Korea,” said Celeste. “They have fallen into disrepair…the children need a safe place to live.”
The Omaha event will commemorate Holt International’s 55th anniversary of serving homeless children — a legacy of love that began at the Ilsan center. Since Holt’s beginning, many children with special needs at the Ilsan center have gone home to wonderful, permanent families.
Molly Holt, director of the Ilsan Center and daughter of Harry and Bertha Holt, will be the honored guest at this year’s auction in Omaha.