On this blog, we share stories and updates about our work around the world. With reporting from Holt staff in the U.S. and overseas as well as contributions from adoptive parents, adoptees, sponsors and supporters, we strive to represent the heart, life and experiences of our extended “Holt Family.”
Julie, a child in China’s Journey of Hope program, needs a family of her own
Date of Birth: 11/15/98
by Robin Munro, Senior Writer
This summer, several of us at Holt traveled to China to meet children in the Journey of Hope – a program to propel adoption of older children, or children with special needs in southern China. Upon arrival, I joined Holt China staff and local caregivers for a traditional dinner in the province of Jiangsu. Across the table from us sat three children who, along with their caregivers, had journeyed a considerable distance to meet us. Two little boys in matching red shirts sat side by side, charming the visitors.
And then there was *Julie.
Though shyly looking away, her eyes held a glow as bright and genuine as her smile. She giggled and chatted with her favorite caregiver – a young woman who also taught in the orphanage school. Clearly very attached to her caregiver, she also recognized Sue Liu, the sweet-faced manager of the Holt office in Beijing. Once more at ease in the company of strangers, Julie got up from the table to give Sue a big hug, and squeeze into her chair – this tall, slender, 11-year-old girl with a Mickey Mouse button on her yellow Crocs shoes. Awkwardly smooshed together, they sat like sisters – playful and laughing.
Julie’s assessment states that she often shows great kindness and easily builds attachments. That night in Jiangsu, Julie brought that description to vibrant, glowing life. She bounded down the hallways to greet orphanage directors and Holt staff, her long skinny legs sticking out of shorts – an outfit in which she seemed more comfortable than the frilly frock she wore for the official Journey of Hope camp the following day. And her hugs – warm and engrossing – landed spontaneous and often on their recipients.
Julie entered care as an infant and has lived in the orphanage ever since. Because of a medical condition that made it difficult to control her bodily functions, she entered school later than other children. But after receiving a surgery in 2005 that corrected her condition, Julie became more confident and outgoing in school. When we met her this summer, she was in the third grade. In November, she turned 12. Read More
On Thanksgiving day, seven years ago, Holt adoptive parents Chris Nigrin and Mark Lund met their daughter, Mia, in China. Chris, a staff writer for the Omaha World-Herald, shares about their adoption journey, their emotional time in China and the moment she fell in love with her daughter. Click here to read the family’s story in the Omaha World-Herald.
Interested in adopting a child from China? Click here to learn more about Holt’s China program and the three wonderful ways to build your family.
Since Holt’s beginning, 55 years ago, many children with special needs at the Ilsan Center in Korea have gone home to wonderful permanent families. Today, we ask for your help on behalf of one resident, Min-kee, a spirited and sweet 6-year-old waiting for a family of his own.
Min-kee came into the care of Ilsan at 16 months of age. Upon arrival, he had a large ASD of the heart, but has since had this surgically closed. His current, suspected diagnosis is Noonan syndrome. Min-kee can feed and dress himself, uses the bathroom with little help and receives speech, art and music therapy. “Min-kee is so charming and has come so far,” says Molly Holt, Holt Korea director. “The housemothers and the residents here just love him.”
Access to medical treatment and the loving encouragement of a permanent family will make a huge difference in Min-kee’s life. This Thanksgiving, post his story on your Facebook, blog and other social networking sites. Min-kee needs a special family. He has waited for six years and we know there is one out there, waiting just for him. Help us bring them together!
The Following is a letter from Melinda Dionne. Melinda volunteered at Ilsan for 4 months alongside Molly Holt. She describes Min-kee as “the cutest little guy ever!”….
by Melinda Dionne
Min-Kee is a bright little boy that is both charming and independent. There are several little boys around the age of six who live at Ilsan, and they all play and live together. Min-Kee is a very social little boy, and often will take the lead among his peers.
Min-Kee can be shy at first with adults, but once he opens up to you he is engaging. He didn’t care that I didn’t speak Korean, regardless he would ask me questions; and I would do my best to answer them. He’s an inquisitive and spirited little boy. Read More
As another Adoptee Camp season is placed in the books, the dust begins to settle from the frantic pace of my summer camp adventures. Back in my Eugene office, I close my eyes and take a deep breath, inhaling a sense of relative calm before I begin my article. As I exhale slowly, my eyes open and begin to focus on the blinking cursor and blank page before me. The calm quickly fades to a light panic.
“How?” I ask myself.
How can I possibly describe everything the campers have taught me? How can I convey to readers the beauty and value of the Adoptee community? How can the strength and urgency of their voice be turned into a newsletter? I fumble through several iterations; reading, re-reading, deleting, shaking my head as I struggle to get it “just right”. In spite of my desperate efforts to capture their voice, I sense the soul and poignancy of their wisdom evaporating with each keystroke. Frustrated, I decide to move on to another project. As I close the document, it hits me; “Just let them tell their stories!”……..
Thirteen-year old Allison discusses her life-changing experiences at Holt adoptee camp and encourages others to join her on next summer’s adventures
by Allison Fuchs
My name is Allison Fuchs. This summer was my fifth year attending Oregon Holt camp. When I was younger, I had a lot of unanswered questions in my mind; some were more important than others. This year, I finally realized that many of my questions should be asked.
I think Holt camp is very important for adoptees. It teaches us that there are other people our age who have faced the same problems we have. It’s a great way to share a special bond with another adoptee.
The most rewarding part of camp is seeing how dedicated the staff is. Making sure the the campers have fun and learn who they are, is the staff’s number one goal. To top it off, they don’t get paid for any of it! I truly admire the level of commitment they give.
Adoptee camp helped me so much in everyday life. It helps me make new friends every year and has helped me realize that it wasn’t my fault I was adopted. This was always something I wondered until I asked it at camp. I finally understood that it is never the adoptee’s fault. Never.
I want to tell adoptees that they are special to me. Even if I don’t know them, I still feel very passionate about them. I think of all adoptees as my extended family. It’s a terrific feeling and I hope they feel the same way. Read More
Through candid (and often funny!) observations and heartwarming personal stories, a Holt adoptive mother shares the challenges and joys of parenting adopted children
by Jane Ballback
I thought in my first blog entry, I should introduce you to my children. My three young adult children are all working and finishing their educations. Jaik and Brandon are twins and they both work in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Jaik wants to manage hotels and restaurants and Brandon is attending culinary school. Their sister, Stacee, is studying psychology.
All three of them are from Korea, and they all arrived when they were five months old. My greatest accomplishment isn’t that they are all on track towards satisfying and rewarding careers, but the fact that they are well-loved by everyone that knows them, and that they remain good friends with each other, and are very connected to my husband and myself and our extended family. This, in my opinion, is every parent’s dream — but accomplishing this dream is a different task for adoptive parents than it is for birth parents. There is nothing “normal” about being relinquished by your birth mother (no matter what the reason was), and being an adoptive parent is not for the faint-hearted.
I was fortunate to have three adopted children because I got to witness three very different responses to being adopted. Jaik has yet to have a conversation with me about his adoption. Stacee didn’t talk a great deal about it, but was a master thief and world-class liar at six years old. Brandon gave “voice” to every bit of fear and grief that often engulf adopted children and was so overwhelmed as an adolescent, he told me, “Mom, I don’t want to live anymore”.
As I blog I will be telling you their stories, some of which are “normal”, everyday child-rearing stories, and some that you will find hilarious, and some that will make you shed a tear. I will be the “voice” of the blog, but you will hear all of their voices as well. I asked all three of them if it was all right with them for me to share their stories. Jaik and Stacee readily agreed, and Brandon was, of course, the most hesitant. When I assured him that his story would be read by people who love adoption stories and adopted children, he found that reassuring. After much discussion, he asked if our stories would help adoptive parents and their children. I told him that was the goal of the blog, and he said, in his generous and kind way, “then, that’s what we should do.”
Be prepared to be enlightened and entertained by these three children, and to fall in love with them as well. I know I will fall in love with your children and their stories; so please share this with your family and friends and send me your comments, questions, and stories.
Click here to read more blog entries from Jane. And watch for next week’s entry!
*Plans have commenced for the 2011 heritage tours to China, Korea and Thailand! We hope you will consider joining us on one of these adventures. Holt pioneered in the development of heritage tours for international adoptees and their families. With many adult adoptees on our staff and board, and expertise in overseas travel, Holt is uniquely qualified to provide a special homeland experience for you and your children. For more information about travel dates and costs, visit www.holtinternational.org/tours.