The Name They Grew To Love

Over four and a half years at Holt, our China child match coordinator, Jessica Zeeb, has chosen “advocacy names” for over 1,000 kids on our China waiting child photolisting. Most are temporary names. But among the hundreds of kids who are now home with their families, there are a few who still have the name their parents “grew to love them as.”

Lucie Lenzen, now home, is one of the kids who still has the advocacy name Jessica chose for her.
Lucie Lenzen, now home, is one of the kids who still has the advocacy name Jessica chose for her.

One day, in the spring of 2016, Adam and Jennifer Lenzen decided they wanted to adopt a little girl.

“We didn’t know what the process would look like, but we were looking through the beautiful faces on Holt China’s waiting child photolisting and one little girl caught our eye,” they say.

Her name was “Lucie.” Continue reading “The Name They Grew To Love”

The Story of My Life

Growing up without a stable family in the Philippines, Konny Dela Cruz struggled to stay on track — and eventually left school early to work in a garment factory. Then she learned about Holt’s  independent living and educational assistance (ILEA) program — a donor-funded program that helps institutionalized and disadvantaged teens to attend college and learn independent living skills. 

Konny Dela Cruz in her graduation gown.

The story of my life is so beautiful with a lot of learnings.

I was born in 1997. I grew up with a family with whom I have no blood relationship. I was only 2 years old when my mother entrusted me to the care of the landlady of the boarding house where we used to stay because she went to Korea to work.

When I was growing up, I was wondering why there is no name of my father on my birth certificate. I asked the landlady, whom I have been calling grandmother “Lola,” to explain “why I have no father on my birth certificate,” but she would just tell me it is only your mother who can answer your question. And my mother kept ignoring my question, too.

I could not approach any relative because I don’t know anyone — and maybe nobody knows about me, too. Continue reading “The Story of My Life”

Top Things To Know About Adopting a Child With ARM

Two adoptive moms share what it’s like to adopt children with a common, though not commonly discussed special need — anorectal malformation, or ARM. Because this is a sensitive need, all names in this article have been changed to protect the children’s privacy.

“William just turned 5 and he is amazing! He is so intelligent, inquisitive and goofy. He keeps us laughing all day because he has such a wonderful sense of humor. He has an amazing imagination and is constantly playing make believe or making up songs. He would be outside all day, every day, if he had a choice. He loves nature, bugs, animals, science, swimming, hiking, camping and getting really dirty.”—Tavia, William’s mom

“Tess is such a blessing. She brings us such joy. She is 6, almost 7 years old, but sometimes we say she is 6 going on 18 because she is so mature for her age. She’s very opinionated and will let you know exactly what she thinks! She doesn’t like going to school because she hates waking up early, but she always has a big smile on her face by the time I pick her up. She is such a beautiful, loquacious little girl.” — Sarah, Tess’s mom Continue reading “Top Things To Know About Adopting a Child With ARM”

Congratulations to Holt’s 2018 Adoptee Scholarship Winners!

Congratulations to Suzy Allen, Sarah Carlson and Jill Cuzzolino — our three 2018 Adoptee Scholarship winners! This year, we asked applicants to submit a creative work framed around the prompt, “To My 10-Year-Old Self Re: Adoption…” Suzy, Sarah and Jill each won a $500 scholarship.

Jill Cuzzolino

Slam Poem

I decided to write a slam poem about one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve ever had with my mom regarding my adoption. She wrote a book about me when I was 4 years old so I decided the best way to allude to her work was to write something back. She gave me her love through words so I wanted to do the same. I wanted to specifically highlight an instance of me as a child to represent how our relationship has transcended as well as how it will stay that way. My family means the world to me and this was my gift back to them, a letter of love you might say, before I left for college. Continue reading “Congratulations to Holt’s 2018 Adoptee Scholarship Winners!”

Happy Birthday Max John Harrison!!

Today, Max turned 14 — the age at which children become ineligible for international adoption from China. Max would have aged out today, losing his chance at a loving, permanent family of his own. Instead, Max is with his family in China, completing his adoption! Below is an email message his mom recently sent our staff, and graciously agreed to share on our blog. Happy Birthday, Max!

Meet Max John Harrison!!! He is so smart!!! He’s a walking history book!! He’s curious, happy, kind, gentle, energetic, did I say smart?

Today we talked about currency, exchange rates, salaries, how many years ago the Chinese were oppressed by the Japanese, World War II, bought some collector’s Chinese bills, some collector’s stamps and coins… talked about buying some history and science textbooks… and so much more!!! Continue reading “Happy Birthday Max John Harrison!!”

Holt’s Child Nutrition Program Partners With the Philippines Government

Local caregivers and staff in the Philippines proudly hold their certificates showing they graduated from Holt’s child nutrition program!

In July 2017, the Philippines became the sixth country where Holt has implemented our child nutrition program (CNP).

In tandem with our long-time local partner, Kaisahang Buhay Foundation, we provided trainings for caregivers and staff at two new government-run care centers. The trainings were filled with lots of learning, dancing — a beloved pastime and popular ice-breaker activity throughout the country — and meaningful hands-on opportunities. Continue reading “Holt’s Child Nutrition Program Partners With the Philippines Government”

Raised in a Colombian orphanage: Waiting for adoption, this teen shares her story

Having spent her whole life in a Colombian orphanage and foster homes, 15-year-old Vanessa now wants a family more than anything. She and her 12-year-old sister, Bianca, have limited time left to be adopted.

Adopt older child Colombia
Vanessa, far left, and her sister Bianca, next to her, stand with other kids in Medellin waiting for adoptive families. Vanessa grew up in a Colombian orphanage and foster families, and now she’s hoping for a family will adopt her and her sister.

Vanessa doesn’t remember being taken from her mom. She was 17 months old and too little to develop memories. She’s not even sure why child protective services took her, exactly. No one has ever told her, and her mom has only tried to contact her once — late last year, just a bit before her 15th birthday. Vanessa didn’t end up seeing her.

Vanessa keeps tugging at the hem of her T-shirt, pulling the embroidered, floral fabric layers down flat. She tinkers with the ring on her right middle finger, spinning it around nervously. She smooths her black skinny jeans that tuck into a pair of shiny, black lace-up boots. She pulls her long, brown hair behind her shoulders.

She’s nervous.

She’s never really talked about what it means to grow up in Colombia’s child welfare system — what it means to have bounced from Colombian orphanage to foster home to group home — and to watch her five siblings do the same for their entire lives. No one has ever really asked. Continue reading “Raised in a Colombian orphanage: Waiting for adoption, this teen shares her story”

This Is Linh’s Story

We were given permission to share this story by the people involved, but due to its sensitive nature we have changed their names.

As Holt’s senior writer for the past eight years, I’ve met a lot of kids. I’ve heard — and retold — a lot of stories. And I’ve seen some pretty heartbreaking things. I feel it, every time. The hurt, the sadness in the eyes of these children.

But at this point, it’s pretty hard to shake me.

Then I met Linh.

Linh shook me. And I can’t get her out of my mind. Continue reading “This Is Linh’s Story”

The Meaning of TeTe

When Tamara and Lex Price brought home their daughter, Maya, from China, they did not understand why in her grief she kept screaming “TeTe.” Finally, years later, they discovered the meaning of these two syllables — and why they meant so much to Maya. This story originally appeared on Tamara’s blog, thelittlestprice.com.

Reunited foster siblings Maya and Thomas stand smiling together.

“TeTe! TeTe!” From the minute we left the children’s welfare office in Wuhan, our sweet girl screamed for “TeTe” with panic and terror and total heartbreak in her eyes, often until she made herself sick or until she was exhausted and fell asleep. We will never forget her seeing the elevator doors close as her favorite social worker left before we did, and hearing her scream “TeTe” as she tried to pry the elevator doors apart with her delicate little fingers. The look in her eyes as she screamed for him and tried to leave the hotel to go find him, while I, the awful stranger she didn’t even understand blocked the door, will haunt me for the rest of my days.

TeTe. Continue reading “The Meaning of TeTe”

Country Singer Amy Corey Goes Back to Holt Adoptee Camp

Holt adoptee Amy Corey is fast becoming a country music star. Signed with Grammy-nominated producer Kent Wells — as well as the publicity firm Derailed Development — she now lives in Nashville where she works as a recording artist and songwriter. But long before Nashville, Amy was a Vietnamese Adoptee growing up in a small town in Oregon. And every summer from age 9 to age 17, she attended Holt Adoptee Camp — an experience she describes as the highlight of her every summer.

I was born on May 28, 1997 and was adopted six months later from Da Nang, Vietnam. My older sister, who is two years older than me, was adopted from China. I was brought to America and lived in Cleveland, Ohio until 2000. Our family then moved to Ashland, Oregon, where I grew up and lived until I was 18. Three months after graduating high school, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue my music career. I’m still living in Nashville where I am now a recording artist and songwriter.

My parents told me at a very young age that I was adopted. They began telling me when I was 3; they never hid it from me or my sister. They helped me understand it all throughout the years. Being 6 months old when I was adopted, I don’t remember much and I obviously didn’t fully understand everything until much later. Continue reading “Country Singer Amy Corey Goes Back to Holt Adoptee Camp”