The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Had To Do

Fifteen years after placing her son for adoption, Gina Ledsma got in contact with Holt earlier this year.  When we asked her if she was open to sharing her story, her response was an enthusiastic “yes.” While the environment and circumstances are different from country to country and individual to individual, Gina’s domestic U.S. adoption story is one that may resonate with any birth mother. And understanding stories like hers is important for everyone who is touched by adoption.

Gina will never forget the three hard, precious days she had with her son.

“I just counted all the toes and fingers,” she says, remembering those days in a hospital bed in Eugene, Oregon. “I looked at every little piece and part — and said my goodbyes.”

Twenty-nine years ago, Gina chose adoption for her son. Continue reading “The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Had To Do”

My Heart is Awake

For Courtney Hohenlohe Langenburg, Holt’s development officer, working on behalf of orphaned and vulnerable children around the world is personal. And nowhere was she reminded of this more than in Mongolia… 

It started in 2015. After a meeting, Paul Kim came to my desk and said, “You know, we should totally do a donor team to Mongolia.” I replied with what I can only imagine was a very blank stare, “Why?”

He sold me on the idea and two and a half years later a team of us were off. I didn’t know a lot about our programs in Mongolia. I just knew it as a small program that Paul had talked about from time to time and that I had a few donors specifically interested in. I left for Ulaanbaatar with an open heart and an open mind.

I want to highlight one day — a day that was particularly hard. After we went to visit the Red Stone School, we went out to visit families who were living near the landfill. The staff in Mongolia took us to find families who needed help — and hope. These families were literally living among the trash of the landfill. In on ger, they were surviving on moldy bread they had found in the garbage.

As an adoptee, it’s impossible not to see yourself in every child who seems to have a less fortunate outcome. That day I found myself asking, “Why me, God? Why was my outcome so different?”

One of my donors, a mother of two children from Mongolia, once told me that the hardest part for her was looking at the ones who would be left behind. The ones who would not go home with a family.

I understand so clearly that I’ve been blessed with the privilege to speak up for those who did not get to go home. And those who do not have anyone to advocate for them. After that I week I understood why Paul, for years, had been pushing me towards Mongolia. He knew that if he could get people to see the program we would understand the need. My heart is awake and ready to answer the call for these kids!

Courtney Hohenlohe Langenburg | Development Officer

Learn more about Holt’s work in Mongolia. 

Holt’s 2017 donor team in Mongolia.

Are You Eligible to Adopt?

Are you:

• Between 21-65 years old?
• Married or Single?
• Hoping to be a parent for the first time, or do you still have up to 8 kids living at home?

Then you could be eligible to adopt! Families that fall within these ranges qualify for many of our international and domestic adoption programs.

Of course, many things make your family unique, and there are many factors to consider when choosing an adoption path. But we can help you choose the adoption program that is best for you!

Find the right fit for you. Email or schedule an online appointment with our adoption advisor, Caitlin Howe!

Top Stories of 2017

2017 was full of stories of inspiration, strength, compassion, generosity, love and family. Over the past year on the Holt blog, adoptees shared their hearts and life experiences — some even traveled to their birth country and processed their adoption in a whole new way. Holt sponsors and donors empowered children and families around the world to help them stay together. Some of our biggest stories of the year came from Mongolia, when generous Holt donors traveled across the world to meet children living in “a place no child should ever be.” Children from around the world united with their permanent, loving adoptive families — and adoptive families went on a journey, both literally and metaphorically, to bring their beloved children home.

While it’s impossible to sum up the entire year, here are your most viewed, most favorite adoptee, sponsorship and adoptive family stories of 2017! If you didn’t read or watch them the first time — or you want to be inspired all over again — be sure to take a look! 

Continue reading “Top Stories of 2017”

Rachael Needs a Family

An 8-year-old with kind, curious eyes and straight black hair, Rachel is every bit as sweet as her photo. And after five years, she is still waiting for her permanent, loving family.

Rachael entered into care when she was 3-and-a-half years old. She is hearing-impaired and communicates mostly through sign language. She attends a special public school for hearing-impaired children.

Rachael lives in a smaller orphanage where she has a close relationship with her caregiver, is on track developmentally and is described as a “happy girl.” She gets along well with everyone in her orphanage and often helps the caregivers take care of the younger children.

Rachael will thrive in a family that already knows or is willing to learn sign language and one that will provide her with the specialized education and resources she needs.

Could you or someone you know be the right family for Rachael? To learn more about her, please contact Jessica Zeeb at


A Stroke of Generosity

What do chicks, fish, a food cart and a garden all have in common? For one family in Thailand, it’s anything but luck. 

“She’s a smart woman,” says Jintana Nontapouraya, the executive director of Holt’s longtime partner organization in Thailand. “Just unlucky.”

Rada’s life was going well. She had graduated from technical school and was pursuing a university degree when her whole life changed. In the second year of her accounting program, her father passed away.

Today, 37-year-old Rada sits on the floor of her home, sharing about this difficult time in her life. She wears a zebra-striped jumpsuit and tendrils of her black hair, blown loose by the fan on this hot day, wisp across her face.

“After my father died, a family member who was a fortune teller told me that I had to come home and become a Buddhist nun,” Rada says, “or else I would die.”

Feeling like she had no other option, that’s what she did. After several days of serving in the Buddhist temple, she got a job selling brand-name shoes in one of Bangkok’s largest shopping centers.

“During that time, when I was around 18 or 19,” says Rada, “I met the children’s father.”

She became pregnant with their first child, and they moved in with his parents.

“He usually didn’t work,” Rada says about the children’s father. “He depended on his own mother and father and I worked most of the time. And he was very jealous when I would go work.” His jealousy turned violent.

Continue reading “A Stroke of Generosity”

National Adoption Month 2017

Wow, what a fantastic National Adoption Month it has been! Thanks for following along and advocating for children with special needs!

In the month of November, 172 families requested adoption information, 55 families submitted their adoption application, and 10 children from our waiting child photolisting were matched with permanent, loving families! We’ve also had a much higher than normal number of inquiries, specifically about children with Down syndrome! (And three of the children we matched this month have Down syndrome!) This is a direct result of your advocacy!

National Adoption Month may be over, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop advocating for children with special needs! In case you missed anything, below are links and a summary of all of our National Adoption Month posts — de-mystifying some of the most common or misunderstood special needs, and raising awareness about children who need families.

Read up, share them with your friends, and be an advocate all year long!

Continue reading “National Adoption Month 2017”

5 Things to Know About Adopting an Older Child

  1. A child is considered “older” if they arrive home older than 5. After age 5, a child’s chance of joining a family through adoption decreases significantly.
  2. All parents of older adopted children say that despite missing out on the earliest days of life, there are still many joyful “firsts” to experience together!
  3. Older children in orphanages often develop self-protective behaviors. With Holt’s education and training, you will learn how to help your child heal from a traumatic past.
  4. Some kids will have few problems in school, while others will need some specialized support or pacing — particularly if they are also learning English!
  5. Adopting an older child is less about helping a child fit into your family, and more about the entire family adjusting to their newest member and his or her culture, history, language and more
…Plus 5 more!!

Continue reading “5 Things to Know About Adopting an Older Child”

5 Things to Know About Adopting a Child With Thalassemia

  1. Children with thalassemia have an abnormal formation of hemoglobin in their blood, which leads to anemia. There are two types: thalassemia minor and beta thalassemia.
  2. Thalassemia is more common in specific regions of the world, including southeast China and India.
  3. Some children’s thalassemia is well controlled with medication. Other children need blood transfusions every 3-4 weeks. Most communities have blood banks and hospitals that treat thalassemia.
  4. Thalassemia is inherited, not contagious. Without treatment, beta thalassemia can lead to enlarged organs, jaundice, extreme fatigue, poor appetite, frequent infection, paleness and general body pains.
  5. In most cases, children with thalassemia have normal life expectancies and live happy, normal lives! Adults with beta thalassemia may have an increased risk of heart conditions.

We need you to be an advocate this National Adoption MonthShare this postrequest free adoption information or find other ways to advocate for children who are waiting.

5 Things to Know About Adopting a Child With HIV

  1. Sadly, many children around the world have lost their parents, their families and their community because of HIV/AIDS and the stigma associated with it.
  2. In some countries, the stigma surrounding HIV is so strong that children and adults are marginalized from attending good schools, pursuing promising careers or having normal social lives.
  3. Many children who are HIV+ are waiting for families have very low viral loads, and their disease is so well controlled with medication that they have normal or near-normal life expectancies.
  4. By following simple, universal precautions, the risk of spreading the disease is extremely low for children on antiretroviral medications.
  5. Many children who are HIV+ live in group homes while they wait to join a family. There is a growing community of Holt families who have adopted children with HIV!

We need you to be an advocate this National Adoption MonthShare this postrequest free adoption information or find other ways to advocate for children who are waiting.