Decades of Dedication

Holt is blessed to have thousands of devoted child sponsors, including more than 1,300 families who have consistently sponsored children for more than 20 years. What inspires their commitment to caring for children they’ve never met, even through times of hardship?

by Billie Loewen, Staff Writer

A recent photo of Linda and Chris Bell with their daughters at Christmas time.

Nearly 30 years ago, Linda and Chris Bell were planning to add one child to their family. They never would have guessed that adding one would inspire them to add 15 more.

After Linda and Chris adopted their daughter Stacy in 1984, they learned that an American family had sponsored Stacy through Holt International while she was in care in Korea.

“We were so thankful for the care that Stacy had received, we wanted to join the sponsorship program,” Linda says. Linda took her children to Holt’s main office, where they looked at the pictures of children in sponsorship, and read each child’s story.

They chose to sponsor a boy from Thailand — the first of nearly 15 children they’ve sponsored over the past 20 years.

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Why It’s Worth Cherishing This Grainy Pic and Mundane Child Report

A Holt adoptee comes across a photo taken of her while in Korea, providing insight into her early care and also reminding her that the world is ultimately a hopeful place. This post originally appeared in May 2013 on Michelle Li’s personal blog,

by Michelle Li, Madison, Wisconsin

Spring cleaning has surprised me once again. Today, I found an original baby picture.  This is the first picture of me on record. As you can see, I had a Korean name and an identification number.

The picture itself is about the size of a passport photo.  I didn’t even know I had it.  It was tucked away in an envelope and then buried under a bunch of papers in a rarely-used drawer.

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A Bond Ten Strong

We have all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  This story provides proof of that old adage. 

by Lisa Haydel-Vicidomina, Metairie, Louisiana

All the babies on the bed in China before returning to the United States. Left to right: Lydia Gay, Jennifer Rochette, Victoria Vicidomina, Ann Maitland, Abby Titmas, Grace Hennage, Laura Boehmer, Nora Mahaffey, Ann Ming Samborski, Sara Bonk, and Zoe Higgins.

In 1994, Holt called ten families to let them know amazing news: they each had a daughter waiting for them in China. In January 1995, my family met with nine other families in Hong Kong, and we cried during the introductions, knowing we would all be parents soon.  We were strangers from California, Wisconsin, Louisiana, New Jersey, Virginia, Texas, Montana, Massachusetts and Ohio. We each came from a very different world, but soon we would be tied together for life, bonded like one giant family.

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Why I Work For An Adoption Agency

Steve Kalb, Holt’s director of adoptee services, is now a regular contributor to the online adoptee magazine Gazillion Voices. Click below to read his first published piece — a commentary that seeks to deepen the adoption conversation, and begin bridging the gap between agencies and adoptee advocates.

Several months ago I was approached by Kevin Vollmers and Shelise Gieseke to contribute to a new online magazine they hoped to launch in the fall. They told me it was going to be a cutting-edge magazine, bringing together leading adoptee voices from across the country. With topics that range from academic research to the latest in Adoptee art, there’s something for everyone.  As an agency insider, I felt I may be able to contribute by providing some unique context to a polarizing issue, so I agreed. Through several months of planning and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Kevin and Shelise launched the inaugural issue of Gazillion Voices a couple of weeks ago, to much buzz.

I’m extremely excited that Holt will play a small part in this new magazine. It creates an opportunity for readers to take the adoption conversation to new levels. This presents the chance to move beyond the good/bad binary, into a sophisticated and rich discussion about the complexities that come along with adoption. Below is an excerpt from my piece and a link to the magazine. Although there is free content, including my piece, to access the other articles you’ll need to subscribe.

Neither Steve Kalb nor Holt International earn money through the sale of this magazine.

“Perhaps advocating for adoptee rights and getting paid by an adoption agency aren’t mutually exclusive. Let’s be clear, my rationale sets on a large presupposition that international adoption can be done with sensitivity to culture, race, socio-economics and adoptee rights. To realize the promise of this vision, patience and effort are required and it will come at the expense of our lived experiences. However, I believe if all parties are open to discussion, a new type of adoption can emerge…” Continue to Gazillion Voices magazine

There’s room for you on Holt’s India Vision Trip!

So you’ve been thinking about joining us on our vision trip to India this November 12-23, but haven’t made an official decision. Well, we have some good news for you … there have been some last-minute cancellations, which means there’s room for you on the trip!

Whether you’re a Holt child sponsor, an adoptive parent, adoptee, Holt donor, or just someone who wishes to see Holt projects up close and personal — to meet the children and families we serve — this trip is for you!

Holt has enjoyed a long history in India.  And today, the child welfare organizations Holt helped to establish continue to diversify their services, and remain a significant part of Holt’s legacy.

This year, one of Holt’s partners in India, Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT), celebrates 25 years of serving children and families. Vision Trip members will help honor their service with a special celebration.

Of course, you will also interact with children in Holt’s care at VCT and Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK) on this exciting trip. On Children’s Day, November 14th, you’ll even get to help throw a special celebration! You’ll also meet families in our family strengthening program and learn more about Holt’s historic work in India.  A Taj Mahal trip is also part of the itinerary.

Click here for more details about Holt’s vision trip to India or feel free to email our vision trip coordinator, Sally Dougherty,   at

A Day of Celebration

In August 2012, a new adoption law passed in Korea, creating several changes to the country’s international adoption process — including a requirement for all families to appear before the family court in Korea. Here, Holt’s director of programs for Korea reflects on the first court appearances for Holt families, which occurred on May 31st of this year.

by Paul Kim, Director of Programs, Korea and Mongolia

There was an air of great anticipation and a bit of dread at the main office of Holt Children’s Services of Korea that Thursday morning. As I walked to the elevator that would take me to the Overseas Section office, I passed a gentleman pacing the lobby, a person I presumed to be an adoptive parent. That day, the first five families from Holt International would be standing before a judge in a courtroom of the Korean Family Court, to answer questions about themselves, their adoption journey, and about the child they were hoping to bring home to be a part of their families. Three families would be appearing in the morning, and the remaining two that afternoon.

Hopeful adoptive families arrive at the courthouse in Seoul to appear before the Korean family court.

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