NPR Morning Edition reporter and Holt adoptee Ashley Westerman reported a story about international adoption — its beginnings, issues that have arisen and the current outlook for children who are orphaned or abandoned. In part two, she shares about her own personal reunion with her birth mother. Thank you, Ashley, for covering such a complex issue with clarity and accuracy!
Adoption and keeping families together has been pivotal to Holt’s work for over 60 years. Whether through strengthening families around the world, domestic adoption within a child’s birth country or international adoption, this work will continue until every child has a permanent, loving family.
We are SO excited about Holt Adoptee Camp this year and can’t wait to introduce you to your amazing counselors! If you’re going to camp this summer, get to know your counselors a bit ahead of time and get excited about meeting them soon! More than anything, they’re looking forward to meeting YOU!
It is with profound sadness that we share the loss of our board chairman and friend, Chuck Mitman, who passed away on May 24, 2018.
A member of the Holt International board since 2012, Chuck brought a wealth of international business experience and wisdom, and a contagious passion for serving children and families around the world.
Chuck was a seasoned businessman and the co-founder and former president of Prism eSolutions. At the beginning of his time as board chair, Chuck traveled with Holt to China, where he was deeply moved by the children and families in Holt’s family strengthening programs, for whom he was an especially big advocate. Read more here about Chuck’s trip to China.
In one of his last letters to the board, Chuck wrote this: “Never lose hope in the face of the enormity of the need, but trust God and do the best we can to respond with courage and faith.”
With this charge, we will honor Chuck’s work and legacy through continued care, advocacy and empowerment of vulnerable children and families — Holt’s mission, and a mission Chuck said brought great meaning to his life. We will deeply miss Chuck, and are so grateful for his leadership and legacy at Holt.
Fifteen years after placing her son for adoption, Gina Ledesma 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.”
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
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!
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 email@example.com.
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.
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!