Holt at 60: The Growth of Post-Adoption Services

Yesterday on the Holt blog, Holt President and CEO Phil Littleton explored Holt’s gradual shift over the years from serving children primarily through adoption to serving tens of thousands more children every year through family strengthening and preservation programs. Today, Phil shares how Holt’s pre- and post-adoption services for adoptees, birth parents and adoptive families have grown and evolved — becoming one of the cornerstones of our organization. Read part one of this blog series here, and part three here

This year, as Holt celebrates 60 years of serving children and families, we look back on all that we have learned and all the ways that we have grown and changed as an organization.

When international adoption began in earnest in the mid-1950s, it was entirely new territory. From the child welfare professionals who placed the first children, to the first families to adopt children from overseas, to the first generation of international adoptees, there truly was no real precedent for this model of building — and blending — family.

Needless to say, the concept — and need — for post-adoption services was not known in 1956. But as the first generation of Korean adoptees began to come of age, they naturally began to ask questions and to show an interest in exploring their past. In the years since, our post-adoption services have grown into one of the cornerstones of our organization — and our robust offerings continue to set us apart today.

Adoptee Camp 2011 19
Today, Holt Adoptee Camp has grown into a robust program serving between 350-400 youth adoptees every summer at four locations across the country.

Continue reading “Holt at 60: The Growth of Post-Adoption Services”

Why Holt Camp is Special

Steve Kalb, Holt’s director of adoptee services, shares what drew him to lead Holt’s camp program — and what’s sustained his enthusiasm over the past 11 years. 

During my freshman year at the University of Iowa in 1995, a friend of mine suggested we become camp counselors at one of the local United Methodist youth camps. “We just take care of kids, lead some activities, and get to live by the lake all summer. It’ll be awesome!” my friend told me. How could I lose? Little did I know, I was about to embark on a summer that would change my life forever. Never having attended camps before, the environment was like nothing I’d ever known. It was a place where time slows down and blurs past you all at once. You’re completely uncomfortable living out of a suitcase and sleeping bag but it all fades into the background as the community and relationships make you feel at home. It’s a place where campers and staff reinvent themselves because they’re unbound from the role they’re expected to play back home. The high school offensive lineman can be the lead singer for his cabin’s doo-wap skit. The introverted Pokémon player confidently directs her team at the challenge course. The unassuming piano player wins the tie-breaking game by capturing the flag. It’s a flexible and forgiving space where awkwardness and vulnerability rise to the surface for everyone to celebrate.

Camp Staff 2015
Steve Kalb (front row, far right) with the 2015 camp counselor staff.

Despite the openness camp fosters, as an Asian Adoptee camp counselor and subsequent camp director in Iowa, I felt little space to be anyone but the farm boy from Oelwein. I wasn’t able to take advantage of camp’s biggest benefit, optimal conditions for self-exploration, because I was always reassuring campers, parents and co-workers that I was as Midwest as they were. I wore seed corn-branded clothing, spoke with a Midwest drawl, and thoroughly enjoyed Jell-o cake and breaded pork tenderloins (some of the Midwest’s finest cuisine). This mindset left me with less room to explore different ways of being or trying different types of roles, for fear that people around me would forget that I was “just like them.”

Continue reading “Why Holt Camp is Special”

The Family We Always Dreamed Of

Holt adoptive mom Emily Jasman reflects on family, adoption and life as an empty-nester.

Jasman kids
Nick Jasman, 23, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2014 and Abby Jasman, 20, attends South Dakota State University.

This week, I am experiencing something that I haven’t been able to for seven months! My son is home on leave from the Navy and my daughter is home from college. Things are once again right in the world when my two children are under the same roof. Where did the time go? Flash back 23 years ago when my husband and I welcomed a 5-month-old baby boy from Korea. Three years after that, we were blessed with a baby girl from Korea. Now these memories sustain us through the empty nest months. Nick, now 23, and Abby, now 20, became our forever family and I truly believe that God worked in our lives to put all of this in place. It is a rollercoaster ride from the time you get that picture of your child to when they come to you on a plane or you go to pick them up in their countries. In fact, for years my kids thought that babies came on planes. My son asked his preschool teacher what type of airline she came on: TWA or United? Continue reading “The Family We Always Dreamed Of”

Fired Up for Holt Adoptee Camp

At Holt Adoptee Camp in Oregon on July 16, 2014, day campers participate in arts and crafts. Day Camp is a program for adoptees who are too young to attend overnight camp. This single-day program of workshops, activities and games for adoptees and their parents helps foster new skills to talk about adoption, while having a fun and exciting time alongside the older adoptee campers.

Continue reading “Fired Up for Holt Adoptee Camp”

Introducing Holt TV!

Introducing Holt TV, a new video series designed to share inspiring stories and updates about our work serving children and families. Check out our first episode, in which we catch up with Molly Holt in Ilsan, South Korea!

 

Because Children Don’t Come with a Rulebook

As all new and veteran parents know, children don’t come with rulebooks. There is no universal guide for parents — only tips, techniques and advice passed down through generations or published based on new science or shared experiences. The Internet brought a new trove of parenting information — blogs and support forums, stories and photos, and platforms to celebrate special moments with the rest of the Google-sphere. Still, parenting can feel at times overwhelmingly difficult. Undoubtedly, at some point, all parents will face challenges they never imagined. For parents of adopted children, it can be more difficult to find support systems, information and advice tailored to the specific needs of an adoptive family. What works for a biological child may be the exact opposite of what will help an adopted child. So, who can adoptive parents turn to for sound advice and information when parenting feels hard?

Holt’s clinical services director, Abbie Smith, and her team of therapists can help. Continue reading “Because Children Don’t Come with a Rulebook”

Parents in Process Training

As the overwhelming majority of children now coming home are older or have a special medical need, what children need from parents is much more complex. In response, Holt has expanded our parent education curriculum to help parents be successful and help children thrive in their families.


It’s dinnertime. It was a long day of work, and you just want to get a meal on the table and take a break. However, your daughter has a different idea. She’s on the floor, throwing a full-on tantrum complete with screams, tears and even a few thrown toys — and it’s all over a pair of socks.

A pair of socks your daughter picked out, because she wanted to wear socks.

A pair of socks you already offered to help her put on.

You take a deep breath, and prepare to address her needs. Continue reading “Parents in Process Training”

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”

Transracial Adoption and Growing Up White

By Holt’s vice president of policy and external affairs, Susan Soonkeum-Cox.

The recent NPR report, “Growing up White—Transracial Adoptee Learned to be Black” is an illuminating story of the complexities and challenges of transracial adoption.  This is certainly not a new topic, or an easy one, but it is a critical reminder for everyone involved in transracial, domestic or international adoption, not to minimize the importance of race and identity as a life-long part of the adoption journey.

When Holt first placed children from Korea with adoptive families in the U.S. in the 1950’s, it was during the era of physically matching children and parents.  This ‘matching’ made it possible for the adoption to be secret, hidden, as if the child was physically born to their adoptive parents.  Adoption of Korean children into white families split wide open the notion of secrecy. It was impossible for adoptive parents to pretend that their Korean children were born to them.

The wisdom of the day was for parents to ‘Americanize’ their child as quickly as possible.  “Fitting in” was given priority over understanding or maintaining connection to race, culture and nationality. Continue reading “Transracial Adoption and Growing Up White”