Two Organizations Join Forces for the World’s Most Vulnerable Children

Holt International assumes management of Sunny Ridge Family Center’s operations in Illinois.

We have some exciting news to share with you regarding our work in Illinois.

Effective May 1, 2014,  Sunny Ridge Family Center in Bolingbrook will merge with Holt International, joining forces in our efforts to find loving adoptive families for children in the United States and overseas. Holt will assume management of Sunny Ridge’s operations, and will operate as Holt-Sunny Ridge Children’s Services in Illinois — a branch office to Holt’s headquarters in Eugene, Oregon. Holt has branch offices that provide direct services to families living in several states from California to New Jersey, and looks forward to expanding these services to families in Illinois. “We are excited to have a direct connection with families at all levels of their adoption process in this state,” says Susie Doig, Holt’s senior director of adoption services.

Sunny Ridge started providing domestic adoption services in 1979, and international adoption services in 1981. With this merger, Holt plans to continue domestic placements in Illinois, beginning a new and exciting chapter — finding loving homes for children both internationally and in the U.S.  We also plan to continue the long tradition of programs and services provided by Sunny Ridge, including exceptional post adoption services and adoption-competent therapy.  “We are excited to continue these already successful programs,” says Susie.

Amy Trotter, a Holt adoptee from Vietnam, will serve as Holt-Sunny Ridge Children’s Services director.

Declining adoptions have put a strain on agencies in the United States. The merge with Sunny Ridge comes in direct response to this, and follows several months of collaboration between the two organizations. “We believe this is an opportunity to bring the best of two organizations together,” says Phillip Littleton, Holt president and CEO. “This merger will allow us to better serve families and supporters in Illinois, and further develop Holt’s reach in child welfare and social service activities.”

Amy Trotter, who was adopted from Vietnam through Holt, will serve as Holt-Sunny Ridge’s new director. With a personal connection to Holt, Amy has extensive knowledge of our adoption and child welfare services, and looks forward to joining the Holt team. “This is a natural transition for me,” Trotter says. “I know of the good work that Holt has provided for nearly 60 years and I am excited about being the bridge between these two outstanding organizations.”

We hope that you will pray for us as we embark on this new endeavor, merging with Sunny Ridge in Illinois for the benefit of the world’s most vulnerable children and continuing our vision: A world where every child has a loving and secure home.

Click here to read a press release about the merger.

Approved for Adoption

Jung Henin, artist and director of “Approved for Adoption”, stands in front of a photo of Harry Holt during a tour of Holt’s main office in Eugene, Oregon.

“I recognize this picture,” Jung Henin says, pointing at the picture of Bertha Holt in a flowy, pink dress surrounded by children on the back cover of her own book, “Seed from the East.”

“It was at Ilsan when I was there,” he says, “but very big. It is making me remember.”

Last week, Jung, a graphic artist turned film director, was in Eugene, Oregon to screen his new film “Approved for Adoption” — an illustrated memoir about his experience growing up in Belgium in the 70s as a Korean adoptee — at the Cinema Pacific Film Festival. His film is raking in awards internationally, from film festivals in Italy to Armenia and beyond — proof that the subject and message of the film extend far beyond audiences touched by adoption.

“It’s not a film about adoption only,” Jung says, as he sits in a yellow armchair at Holt’s headquarters. “I’m adopted, so I tell that story, but the different thematics — identity, uprooting — it’s universal. It’s a story about relationships.” Continue reading “Approved for Adoption”

Mother’s Day Gifts of Hope

Three of Amita’s children play and talk with staff at Holt’s childcare center in India.

As kids, our moms would often fret over whether we had eaten enough. Moms took us to the doctor when we were sick. They checked our homework, worried about our education, and also taught us many lessons themselves. Lessons like kindness and how to care for others.

This Mother’s Day, salute the person who taught you compassion by giving a Gift of Hope — a gift to ease the worries of a struggling mother or family in one of Holt’s programs overseas. A gift to ensure her child will have healthy meals, afford to attend school, or be able to see a doctor.

It’s a gift to help mothers like Amita* in India.

A single mother, Amita struggles to care for her four children alone. On good days, during festivals or celebrations, Amita might earn $1.75 selling flowers. But many days, Amita is too sick from a chronic health condition to go to work at all. The whole family shares a one-room shack without a bathroom or kitchen, and when they can’t pay rent, Amita and her children sleep outside. The family has little to eat most days, and Amita’s two eldest children often skip school to look for work.

Last year, Amita heard about Holt and the services we offer families on the verge of separation. She came to us for help with school fees and nutritional support — but also to gain the skills she needs to independently support her children.

Holt was able to provide the emergency food and medical care Amita’s family needed to grow strong and healthy. Each day, all four children receive breakfast, snacks and lunch at school. Now, five months later, the children’s teachers praise the students for their hard work and passion to learn. Amita is also learning new skills through the job training Holt provides to parents in her town. It only took a little assistance for Amita to get back on her feet, and today, she is proud that she can support her family.

This Mother’s Day, help change the world for a mother like Amita. Give a Gift of Hope in honor of your own mother.

*Name changed.

A Mom for Breanna

As Mother’s Day approaches, help Breanna find a mom (and a dad)! Share her story!

Born: April 16, 2012, China

Breanna just celebrated her birthday last week, on April 16. She is 2!

This resilient little girl has, in her short life, had many moms — her birth mom, who likely cared for her for her first two months of life; her caregiver “mom” at the orphanage where she lived until she turned 15 months old; and her foster mom, in whose care she is now flourishing.

Continue reading “A Mom for Breanna”

Honoring Dr. Joseph Ha

For more than a decade, Dr. Joseph Ha was an important part of Holt — a friend and ambassador, a supporter and advocate. When he died in 2010, after only a year of service on Holt’s board, he left behind a remarkable gift — one that continues his mission to bring education and opportunity to those less fortunate, and defines his personal legacy.

Dr. Joseph Ha with his three granddaughters, who he doted upon and loved dearly. In the last few weeks of his life in the hospital, Dr. Ha asked his eldest granddaughter, 12-year-old Lainey, what she most wanted, and she replied that she wanted a dog. Dr. Ha wasn’t necessarily a dog person, and his daughter Karen even recalls times when Dr. Ha would feel confused how people could lavish dogs in gifts as if they were people.
Yet, every morning, Lainey’s dog Pepper runs into the kitchen dressed in clothes and with braided ear hair. She’s become the inside joke in the house, and also a beloved member of the family.

THE FIRST FEW TIMES Dr. Joseph Ha spent Christmas at Holt’s Ilsan Center — a long-term care facility in Korea — his wife and daughter had no idea what he was doing.

Perhaps they thought he was away on business, which was common in his role as Nike’s vice president of international business and government relations. As a Korean man himself, with an extraordinary talent to make and connect friends, Dr. Ha spent a lot of time overseas, particularly in Japan, China, Korea and Southeast Asia.

However, Dr. Ha wasn’t in Korea for business — he was there for a party, one that he threw every year for more than 10 years.

Ilsan is a very special home, and one of Holt’s most historically significant programs, since it was the first care facility in Korea to offer a loving, permanent environment to orphaned and abandoned children with special medical needs. Dr. Ha‘s passion for Ilsan and Holt International’s work in the region prompted him to come every Christmas bearing gifts — Nike coats and shoes, toys and treats — and anything to make the residents feel special. Susan Cox, Holt’s vice president of policy & advocacy, says that Dr. Ha came to know many of the children, as well as Harry and Bertha Holt’s daughter Molly — who devoted her life to caring for the residents at Ilsan.

“Most years, he would be there to celebrate with the kids, wearing a Santa suit and laughing and having as much fun as the children,” Susan says.

Dr. Ha’s daughter, Karen Chi, says the orphans inspired her father.  This is perhaps rooted in the fact that Dr. Ha was himself an orphan.

Continue reading “Honoring Dr. Joseph Ha”

No Fairytale Ending

Courtney Young, an adoptee and member of Holt’s marketing and development team, met her birth mother during her first trip to Korea with Holt. Here, she discusses family, culture and the complexities of adoption.

Courtney Young (center) with her biological aunt (far left), grandfather, mother and another aunt.

My niece’s recent obsession is playing princess. She’s 4, inspired by a recent trip to Disney World and the movie “Frozen,” and she reenacts the climatic fairytale over and over again. We all indulge her and it’s probably the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

When I was 4, I would pretend to live in fairytales too. It was more along the lines of “Anastasia” — a little girl relinquished by her birth parents who later discovers that she belonged to a royal family. One day, if I ever reunited with my birth parents, I thought they too would be some kind of royalty or something. Of course, in my head I knew that wasn’t true, but the imagination has to start somewhere, and I had a pretty solid base for my fantasy.

Continue reading “No Fairytale Ending”

Vietnam Delegation Visits Holt International

Four government officials from Vietnam visit Holt families and staff in Eugene as part of a final selection process to begin adoptions from Vietnam to the U.S. The two selected agencies will participate in a pilot adoption program for children with special needs.

Sixteen years ago, Hai and Valerie Nguyen traveled to Vietnam to bring home their twin 2-year-old daughters, Mai and Ly. This month, Mai and Ly will turn 18. Both girls love math and science, can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 46 seconds — blindfolded — and have big ambitions to be the first twins in space! They also speak fluent Vietnamese, an amazing feat considering they grew up in Eugene, Oregon and have only traveled to Vietnam twice.

The Nguyen family pose for a picture with the delegates from Vietnam.

Continue reading “Vietnam Delegation Visits Holt International”

Philippines adoption

You know you’ve been called to be an adoptive parent. You know a child is out there waiting for you. Now, you just have to find that child. There are so many choices — which country, which child profile, even which agency.

Maybe you’ve looked at waiting child photolistings and scrolled past the beautiful faces of boys and girls who long for a family to call their own. Maybe a few photos have stood out to you, or maybe you are still waiting for the photo that does.

Roann Kieft, 3, with her brother Zechariah, 8. Roann was born in the Philippines, then placed with a loving, adoptive family. She lives in Illinois.

Continue reading “Philippines adoption”

Adoption Tax Credit 2014

From the North American Council on Adoptable Children:

Members of Congress who are working on tax reform indicated that for a provision of the tax code to remain in place it should do one or all of the following three things: (1) grow the economy, (2) make the tax code fairer, and (3) effectively promote an important policy objective. A refundable adoption tax credit does all three things. Today, we’re asking you to contact the tax staff of your members of Congress.

Highlighted FAQ
How does the adoption tax credit benefit meet the stated goals of tax reform?

Continue reading “Adoption Tax Credit 2014”

Camp 2014

Katie Breeden is a Holt adoptee and freshman pre-business and digital arts student at the University of Oregon. This spring, she interned at Holt, helping to organize and promote one of her favorite Holt programs — summer camp!

Katie Breeden has loved Holt camp for more than six years. Here, we see her as a counselor, hanging out with campers at the 2013 camp in Corbett, Oregon.

Holt Adoptee Camp has been a part of my life for six years — I’ve enjoyed roles as both a camper and a counselor.

I started out as a camper, and I wasn’t sure what to think about the whole thing. At first, I had my doubts about this summer camp for adoptees. I was 13, going into 8th grade, and had no idea what to expect. I knew Holt camp wasn’t a heritage or culture camp, so what was it?

On the car ride to Corbett, Oregon that first year, I had about an hour-and-a-half to ponder what Holt Adoptee Camp might be like. My biggest fear was that we would be forced to sit around talking only about adoption for the entire week. The drive was a quiet one. I didn’t know if I would make friends and fit in.

Thankfully, my worries were for nothing.

Continue reading “Camp 2014”