Join us for the Gala and Dinner Auction in Portland!

It’s that time, once again, for the Portland Gala and Dinner auction!

Excitement is high as plans are in place to  commemorate Holt’s 55th anniversary and honor Dr. David Kim on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

Last year’s auction in Portland set records! This year we hope to do the same as we raise funds for children in Holt’s Korea program!

Take part in a silent auction before dinner, and bid on everything from jewelry to a 7-day trip to Hawaii during the live auction!

Join us, too, as we celebrate Dr. David Kim.

David Kim was the first employee hired by Harry Holt when he arrived in Korea in 1956. Together, they pioneered the modern era of intercountry adoption. Today, Dr. Kim is an eloquent champion for homeless and abandoned children throughout the world, and we honor him at this event as we raise funds for children in Holt’s care in Korea.

We hope you can join us for this special occasion.

This year’s dinner auction will be held at the the Marriott Portland Downtown Waterfront.

Click here to find out more and RSVP for the event


Goodbye, Cleft Lip….I’m Going to Miss You

A blog entry from the Skipper family on the eve of their daughter’s cleft lip surgery

by Jennifer Skipper

Meili, before her surgery to correct her cleft lip and palate.

A year ago, Marc and I had to fill out the hardest piece of paperwork for our adoption: the form that listed all of the “special needs” we would be willing to knowingly accept in our child. I prayed and prayed over that sheet. It was SO hard. In the end, after many discussions with the Lord and my husband, there was only one condition that Marc and I didn’t agree on. Cleft lip/palate. Marc said a firm and confident, “Yes.” I said, “I just can’t do it.” I knew in my heart that my reason was simple: vanity. I knew my reason was wrong and yet I couldn’t check that box having the reservations and fears that I had. I knew I had to have the perfect peace that only God gives on each condition I checked; I wanted to have it on this condition, but I didn’t.

Fast forward four months, and I felt like we needed to take another look at that form. I asked God why I had to revisit it. It was hard enough the first time. But I couldn’t get it off my mind that there was something we needed to add to the form. I just couldn’t imagine what it was.

Around that time, a billboard popped up on the freeway at the exit to my home. The billboard had a gigantic face of a baby on it with bilateral, complete cleft lip. It was an ad for Smile Train. I looked at that face. The deformity was so big and, to be honest, unattractive to me. I really hate to say it, but I had to look away. That billboard was in a location that I couldn’t get away from. I was forced to look at it over and over again. It was such an issue for me that I had to pray about it: “God,” I said, “please help me. My heart is now right! I know that is Your child. Help me to see this child through Your eyes.” And so I prayed and prayed…and prayed.

Over time, God changed my heart. He cleaned out my sinful thoughts and replaced them with His thoughts. He said to me:

“Jennifer, that is my child and I don’t make mistakes. She is a beautiful, beautiful girl in every way. Her lip isn’t ugly; It’s just different from a lot of other peoples. The world looks at her lip. I look at her heart. Please love her like I love her. Please be different from the world. These kids need love. And besides Jennifer, you know you ain’t no beauty queen yourself. Should I remind you of your characteristics that the world sees as flaws?” Continue reading “Goodbye, Cleft Lip….I’m Going to Miss You”

Laura Needs a Family NOW!


UPDATE: An eligible family has been identified for Laura and her file has been transferred to Madison Adoption Associates.  Thank you for your overwhelming and compassionate response.  Please contact Madison with any further inquiries about Laura.

Calling all families, from all agencies…

Laura* is now 13, and only has four months to find a family before she turns that pivotal age for orphaned and abandoned children in China.  Once she reaches 14 next January, she will become ineligible for international adoption.

Laura’s story is not typical of abandoned girls in China, most of which begin with a carefully bundled baby found on a roadside.  Laura only came into care recently, at 12 years old – leaving her a very short window of time to find a family.

Directors at Laura’s orphanage are now asking us to help find her a loving home – before it’s too late.

Because of this short timeframe, only these families are eligible to adopt Laura: families who have dossiers already logged in with the CCCWA in China, or families who have adopted from China within the past year.

If Laura’s story touches your heart, and your family meets these criteria – whatever your agency – please contact Holt’s China team as soon as possible.  We will work with the central authority in China to help transfer her referral to your agency.

When she first came into orphanage care, Laura kept mostly to herself.  Although shy and timid, her caregivers observed her to be quite thoughtful and self-possessed.  Gradually, she became more outgoing with both the children and the caregivers – or “aunts and sisters.”

“I have made a lot of friends since I got here, including my best friend,” Laura writes.  “The sisters and aunts are very nice to me.”  The sisters sometimes bring the children to their homes, where they play and have snacks.  They teach the girls to draw and write, and practice songs and dances.

Laura’s caregivers also told her all about international adoption.  Earlier this month, Laura wrote, “The sisters told me many orphans were adopted by nice families in the past.  I also hope I will have a happy home.”

The sisters and aunts describe Laura as “very honest and clever.”  She is a quick learner and a good student, loves to read and can even say a few simple phrases in English.

Her caregivers have also noticed another outstanding quality in Laura.

She “usually gives much love and care to the younger sisters and brothers,” they write.  “When she sees that younger sisters and brothers are not happy, she will take her snacks to share with them, and comfort them to make them happy.”  Laura’s spirit is so resilient, her will so strong, that she is not only concerned about herself and her own happiness, but about those around her as well.

All children deserve a happy home – whether they’re born into one, or find one later in life.  Let us hope and pray and do all we can to ensure Laura’s journey ends in a loving family… and a happy home.

For more information about Laura, please contact Marissa Leuallen at

* name changed


The Changing Face of International Adoption

Jazmyne came home to Rick and Kathy Rees in 2008 with an extra toe on each foot. Today, after surgery to correct her feet, Jazmyne excels in preschool and is the star of her dance class, gymnastics and skiing classes

A message from Beth Smith, director of services for China — The miracle of the “match” with a child and the right family inspires my work each day. Families come to Holt with various expectations about the term “special needs” – it means different things for many people. Rick and Kathy Rees came to Holt with a lot of professional and personal experience with children – children with physical differences or mental challenges. They were prepared for and welcomed the challenge of adopting a child with a correctable physical condition. But the match with Jazmyne was an unexpected blessing for their family.

by Kathy Rees

Jazzy in 2008, after surgery to correct her feet

March 15th, 2008 – an e-mail popped up on our computer. Beth Smith thought she might have identified a child for us – a child with a minor condition that fit our updated medical conditions list. She concluded the e-mail by saying that she would call us soon! We updated our medical checklist, prayed over it, sent it out and waited. At 8:23 p.m. the call finally came. I was scratching down every word I could, waiting for the bottom line: “What was her condition?” And finally, it came: “And she has an extra toe on each foot,” said Beth. I will never forget standing over our tiny laptop, watching our daughter’s grainy picture emerge!

Because Rick and I both work in special needs education fields, we felt we had the skills to help any child, with any disability, live up to their full potential. Never in our wildest dreams did we even entertain any thoughts that our child would be exceptional.  Today, Rick and I spend a lot of time with Jazmyne. We work with her a lot, but certainly cannot take all of the credit for how smart she is. And, of course, the twist of fate — such an ironic twist — is that she was adopted through the special needs process for simply having an extra toe on each foot.

Jazmyne has seven doctor’s kits and proclaims: “I’m going to be a doctor when I grow up!” While in China, she spent a lot of time with the orphanage doctor. The doctor even went so far as to travel with Jazmyne to meet us. She traveled with Jazzy to make sure that we knew that in her professional opinion Jazmyne was not “special needs” at all, but in fact, “gifted!” The good doctor was absolutely correct in her opinion! I have no idea if Jazmyne will keep on the course of wanting to be a doctor, but I can tell you something for certain: whatever she chooses to do in life, she will be successful.

Rick and I were so relieved to get Jazmyne’s surgery behind her. When you agree to take a child with a minor, correctable need, you know that you are most likely looking at some kind of

Jazzy today. The star of her dance class.

surgery. Before the operation we did a lot of research and concluded that the procedure was safe and necessary. Back then it all seemed so easy, and for Jazzy’s surgeon it was, but for us it was anything but simple. Both legs were in casts after the surgery so she wouldn’t try to walk on them.

These “special needs” children are children who have such promise to be “normal” in every way despite what initially appears to be their imperfections.

The surgery was tough, but when Jazzy is 17 years old and puts on those heels that match her prom dress so perfectly, she will not give a second thought about what it took for her to be able to walk without pain or to have those shoes fit her. Our Cinderella will never know the full extent of the miracle that takes place when that dainty little slipper glides on to that precious foot so easily, but Mom and Dad sure will!

Learn more about adopting a child from China….



Live Simply So that Others May Simply Live

A Holt adoptee volunteers at the Ilsan Center in Korea


by Robert Daze

My name is Robert Daze and I am an adopted Korean American. My heart was set on meeting my birth mother. The file had been opened and the first initial contact had been made. I signed up to volunteer at Holt Ilsan for the summer of 2011 in the hopes that I would be able to meet her while volunteering. The final puzzle pieces of my identity as an adopted Korean American would finally fall into place. Yet this meeting did not come to pass, for little did I know that something greater was in store.

Recounting my experience in Korea will never give it complete justice, for human words cannot fully express the experience I had at Ilsan. It is one of those things that must be done in action – love in action. My volunteer duties consisted of various “activities” to engage the residents in mutual bonding moments. Oftentimes I took the residents off the Holt premises and indulged their palettes with ice cream and Coke. Having my Bachelor’s degree in dance from Santa Clara University, I was asked to teach the residents a weekly dance class. I did everything I could to assimilate myself to their daily lives. Being a premedical student I was asked to escort some of the residents to the local hospital. Coming face to face with some of the more severe cases of cerebral palsy and mental retardation opened my eyes to my future as a doctor. But more importantly, the experience I gained in Korea transcended that of medicine. I began to see the residents beyond the scope of their disabilities. The recognition of each person’s humanity and human dignity was the end-all for me. The sense of humility that became ingrained in my experience was instrumental in shaping my identity as a Korean American – these were my people. My activities extended beyond the normal set schedule, as I could not part myself from the residents. The epiphany came when some of the younger male residents began to call me “older brother.”

The hardest day for me was the day I boarded the plane back to the United States. It is a day I will never forget. The brother I never had, Jin Gyu, wrote me a letter that stated, “Robert, my brother. Thank you. I love you. Come back soon. Park Jin Gyu.” Even in the simplest of sentences this message carried maturity far beyond his years. I left Ilsan crying, as one of my other brothers, Jeon Won, begged me not to leave. The relationships I had built at Ilsan were not a consequence of my volunteer commitment. Continue reading “Live Simply So that Others May Simply Live”

Who Are the Children Waiting for Families?

Times have changed in the international adoption world, and for prospective adoptive parents this means shifting images and asking new questions: What does “special needs” really mean? What can we be open to? What strengths and resources do we bring to parenting?

The vast majority of children coming home to families today have some form of special need, and more boys and older children are in need of families. These children represent the new face of international adoption. We hope that, as we enter this new era, prospective adoptive families embrace these changes as they begin their journey to the child who waits for them.

The New Face of International Adoption: Myth vs. Reality:

Myth: Children with special needs who are available for international adoption use wheelchairs, or have conditions that prohibit them from participating in daily family activities or living independently as adults.

Reality: The “special needs” range is very, very broad – from minor and correctable to major. Medical conditions are just one type of special need. Age, birth history, and developmental conditions can also lead to a child’s file being handled as a special needs case. Examples of minor conditions can include things that would not normally be considered a “special need” in the United States, like low birth weight, missing or extra finger or toe and a large birthmark. Moderate conditions could include Hepatitis B (carrier or active/positive), cleft lip/palate or heart condition. Major conditions could include Down syndrome or cerebral palsy. Many children who have been placed through a special needs process live full, active, independent lives. For every child, Holt staff considers the child’s needs individually and finds a family who is open and prepared to care for the child……look through Holts’ minor/correctable needs checklist.

Myth: There are more girls in need of adoptive families than boys, especially in China, because boys are considered more valuable in their birth countries than girls.

Reality: Just as many boys wait for families. Prospective adoptive parents frequently express the desire to adopt girls, more than boys, so boys often wait longer for families simply because they are boys. Right now, especially in China, there is an urgent need for families interested in adopting boys. The wait time to adopt a healthy infant girl from China is 5 years or more…..interested in learning more about adopting boys from China? click here…..OR read a story about a family who recently came home with their son…..

Myth: Parents need to be medical experts in order to care for children with special needs.

Reality: Adoptive parents do not need to be medical doctors or experts to parent a child with special needs. Many adoptive parents first learn of various conditions early in the adoption process, and they continue their learning over time. Researching various conditions can help parents as they work to find resources to support their child. When it comes to parenting, an eagerness to learn, resourcefulness, and flexibility are more important prerequisites than “pre-existing” medical expertise.

Myth: Older children have “Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)” and cannot bond/attach with their adoptive families.

Reality: Bonding and attachment is a process.  Parents need to attach with the child, in order to help the child attach to them. It may take more time for older children to form secure attachments with adoptive parents, but it can be done. Abbie Smith, LCSW, Holt’s clinical services director provides support to families who are considering an older child adoption, or who have already completed one.



We Are Happy to Announce……

An Update on the Philippines Ambassador program

In May, six volunteer ambassadors from Oregon, Georgia and Missouri, selected by Holt, traveled to the Philippines to meet 11 older children in need of families. After interacting with and getting to know the children, the ambassadors returned to the states and began advocating for the children’s adoptions at their churches and through presentations in their area.

We are happy to report that through the ambassadors’ advocacy, five out of the 11 children, including one sibling group, have been matched with families in the United States. We are so thankful for the ambassadors who traveled to the Philippines and helped these beautiful children find their families.

In an article for the Rome-News Tribune, ambassador, Cheryl Jenkins shares about her time in the Philippines, getting to know the children, as well as her efforts to find them families since she’s been back.

“We wanted to be able to tell families back in the states what these children are like,” says Cheryl. “One loves basketball and one loves to dance. They’re all smart and have fun and deserve a chance at a better life.”

Six children still wait for families.  Cheryl with the rest of the ambassadors will continue to speak at churches and around their communities to make sure the 6 remaining children are not left without families of their own.  Click here to read the ambassadors’ travel blog and find presentation dates near you.

Read the Rome-News Tribune article, here


What Grandma Would Have Loved……

UPDATE: As of April 2012, Jason has a family! Congratulations Jason!!

Birthday:  February 3, 2007

Northeast Asia


by Ashli Keyser, managing editor

Two days separate the birthday of one beloved woman, and one special little boy –Holt’s waiting child of the Week, Jason. This year, we hope to honor Bertha “Grandma” Holt on her birthday, by finding a family for Jason on his.

February 5th, 2007. We remembered Bertha “Grandma” Holt on what would have been her 104th birthday. Two days prior to this special day, a special boy named Jason was born in Northeast Asia.

Grandma loved every child, but she had a special place in her heart for children with special needs. She once said, “All children are beautiful when they are loved.” This quote has since become a hallmark of this organization. It’s what keeps us going even when finding a home for a child becomes difficult or seems impossible. We fight for the child. We honor Grandma Holt on her birthday every year because without her love and willingness to fight for all of God’s children – children, like Jason, wouldn’t have the hope of one day having a family of their own.

Jason has Down syndrome. He needs a family who is comfortable with his diagnosis and can provide him with any therapies or medical care that he may need. What he needs most is the love of a family.

Last week, I contacted Grandma’s daughter, Molly Holt, and asked her about Jason. “I’m so glad you are trying to find a family for this little fellow,” she wrote. “He is happy and healthy, runs around and is the center of attention. I hope he finds a family soon! He is loved by everyone.”


Grandma Holt no doubt would have loved Jason too.

She would have loved his smile. She would have loved giving him hugs, just as much as he loves giving them.  Grandma would have loved reading him his favorite stories, and singing him “The Three Bears” — his favorite song.  She would have loved Jason’s beautiful spirit, the one that shines through ever time he laughs – which is often, according to his caregivers.

Grandma would have loved Jason. And she would have fought to find him a family — just as her daughter, Molly, and the rest of the organization fights for him today.

In 6 months, Jason will turn 5. Two days later, Holt, once again, will honor the life of Grandma Holt— a woman who made it possible for all of God’s Waiting Children to have homes of their own. What better way to honor the life of this extraordinary woman on her birthday, than for Jason to find a family on his.

We have 6 months to give Jason the best birthday present he could ask for.

And what a beautiful birthday present that would be for Grandma.

For Jason to have a family, that’s what Grandma would have loved most of all.

To learn more about Jason, click here or contact Erin Mower at








Go, Team Holt!

Ten Holt supporters need YOUR support as they run for the children in Ethiopia.  Holt adoptive mom and member of Team Holt Cathy Morin shares her story below.

I look forward to the Holt marathon every year!  This will be my fourth year as a member of Team Holt.

I learned about Holt International through some good friends who adopted two beautiful children. When I started looking into adoption, I knew that Holt was the agency for me. On April 3, 2008, about one year after starting my adoption journey, my son Jack came home and was delivered into my arms on what turned out to be the best day of my life – the day I officially became a mom. I remember so many things about that day, and every day since then with my little guy has been a joy.

As a participant on the Holt team, I am spreading the word about an amazing agency and raising donations to help the agency continue its vital work around the world.

I will be running the 10K portion of the Omaha marathon this year. My goal is to raise $400 for Holt’s Ethiopia program. Will you help me? Any donation amount is appreciated, and 100% of the donation goes directly towards maintaining and growing Holt’s Ethiopia program.

Thank you,

Cathy Morin

Help Cathy reach her goal! Click here to support Cathy and the rest of the marathon runners!…..