Waiting For So Long

As 16-year-old Van Dai prepares to meet his adoptive family, and his adoptive family prepares to meet him, they share what they’re nervous about, what they’re excited about, and why they are so eager to finally meet one another.

­­­­Van Dai is 16 years old. He likes math, soccer and computer games, and is naturally good at things that require problem solving and forethought. He’s a bit shy and introspective, and doesn’t show a broad range of emotion. But when you catch his eye and smile, he will return your smile a thousand-fold. His smile is absolutely radiant.

It’s a hot and humid January afternoon in the south of Vietnam, but cooler where we sit inside on wooden furniture, beneath a blowing fan. In the background, we can hear the sounds of children playing, the occasional squeak of metal swings.

“How are you feeling right now?”

Van Dai’s eyes gleam and glance around the room. He smiles.

“’I’m so happy to meet my parents,” he says. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long.” Continue reading “Waiting For So Long”

The Least We Can Do

Jing with her family. She appears center, in her dad’s arms

When Koni and Ken Maat decide to adopt a 3-year-old girl from China with significant medical needs, they are moved by the generosity of others who help them bring her home.

Everything in life was great! Our four biological children were all healthy, successful adults and the youngest was halfway through college. We could go where we wanted, when we wanted, without a thought to childcare or bedtimes. And I was finally able to have a dedicated guest room that I had always wanted in our modest home.

I was excited as I planned, painted and decorated the guest room, imagining the family and out-of-town friends who would stay there. When it was completed, I would periodically open the door and look in. It was the one room in the house that was always perfect and glancing in gave me a sense of peace. The satisfaction was short-lived. It seemed so pointless to have this empty room when there were children without a home. I began to research foster care, domestic adoption and international adoption. I would read waiting children’s bios knowing I could help them. I began frequently mentioning my desire and my findings to my husband, Ken, but was met with silence. On the occasion he did respond, he made it clear that he thought I was crazy for wanting to mess up our clearly perfect lifestyle. Continue reading “The Least We Can Do”

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”

Two Minute View

Sarah DeGarmo has 12 brothers and sisters, 11 of whom joined her family through adoption. Here, Sarah shares about her journey to find God’s 30-before-30 bucket list for her life, and how she and her husband, Leighton, began their own adoption journey to their third child.

Sarah and her husband, Leighton, with their 4-year-old son, Wyatt, and 6-year-old, Levi.

My husband and I are currently in the process of adopting from the Philippines. While we may have just started our adoption journey, the seed of adoption was planted for me over 20 years ago when my parents returned home from the Philippines with my brother Isaac. After him followed Kim, Lancer, Josh, Gerard, Arturo, Ericko, Melvin, Cathy, Chris and Jena. I have one biological brother, Austin, making our family 13 children strong.

Back when there were only four of us kids, our family took a road trip to the Grand Canyon. I was 12 or 13 at the time and somehow Dad had convinced Austin and I that we should hike from the rim of the Grand Canyon down to the river and then back up to the rim in a day.

We were so excited!

Continue reading “Two Minute View”

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”

What I Have Learned

Adoptive mom Karen Barnes shares what she has learned over the years as she and her husband, Mike, have welcomed 11 older children into their family. 

I have to smile when asked what I have learned as a parent after adopting 11 older children.  When Mike and I began our adoption journey 20 years ago, we definitely did not know where it would lead us. Here we are in our 50s, a time when most people are slowing down a bit, yet our lives are a blur of perfecting school lunches, meal planning for at least 10 every day and realizing that having seven kids in high school at the same time is a unique situation. Our house is crazy busy, full of life and heartfelt stories. Through older child adoptions, God has taught us so many valuable life lessons. Continue reading “What I Have Learned”

The First of Many Firsts as Family

Adoptive dad Keith Guess shares about his family’s experience with older child adoption, how it differs from adopting babies, and how Spencer and Leo — two teen brothers from Vietnam — have adjusted to their new home, and their new life, in the U.S.

Susan and I were not thinking about adoption when she saw Leo and Spencer’s photograph on the Holt Facebook page. Something about the picture caught her interest and she forwarded it on to me. Over the coming days, we started discussing if adopting again would be something that would be reasonable for our family.  We asked our boys how they would feel about us adopting again. They were all supportive. Our 13-year-old indicated that he would be interested primarily if we would be adopting someone his age.

A bit later, Susan showed me a video of Spencer and Leo racing each other. They are about 11 and 12 years old in the video. As Spencer passes Leo, he turns and grins. Leo responds with a smile. There was something winsome about that moment that made me begin thinking about them as “my sons.” Continue reading “The First of Many Firsts as Family”

Get Up and Keep Dancing

Since coming home to her family last year, Devki Horine — who has cerebral palsy — has  amazed them with all she can do.  

Don’t tell me why you can’t. Let’s find a way you can.

Terry and Drew Horine say this is a mantra of sorts for their family. Since they brought their daughter, Devki — who has cerebral palsy — home from India last year, they have been amazed by all that she can do.

“When she first came home, getting up and down the stairs took her ten minutes, now it’s ten seconds,” Drew says — adding with, a chuckle, “She flies up and down them now – which scares me to death!”

Continue reading “Get Up and Keep Dancing”