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.”
Communities build around shared experiences. Every year, adoptees and their families gather at Holt Annual Picnics to enjoy the company of those who share the unifying experience of adoption. Last year, over 2,100 people attended Holt’s picnics, from Oregon to New Jersey and several states between. We hope you can attend a Holt picnic this year.
On July 17th, Holt’s Portland Area Picnic will take place at the site of Holt’s Adoptee Camp — Camp Angelos in Corbett, Oregon. Pack a lunch and come meet Holt’s adoptee camp counselors amid the rugged beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. All adult adoptees from various countries, the camp counselors are eager to share favorite camp memories, answer questions and get to know you and your children. And don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes! You might decide to hike Multnomah Falls or overlook the Gorge at Crown Point en route to or from the picnic.
The following weekend, Holt’s annual Midwest Picnic will take place in Omaha, Nebraska at Cooper Memorial Farm on July 24th. The Korean Presbyterian Church of Omaha will serve a delicious Korean BBQ lunch for all who RSVP. Join in the fun, including face painting, balloon twisting and an interactive Korean culture display.
Holt’s original Eugene picnic — the one that started the tradition — is scheduled for August 7th at Camp Harlow. Holt adoptive Dad, Daniel Freed, a.k.a. “The Amazing Spaghetti,” will once again host a magic and fun show — a wildly popular event last year. The Eugene Korean Presbyterian Church will serve a delicious Korean BBQ lunch for all who RSVP. Directly following the picnic, join hundreds of Holt adoptive families as they travel to Florence, Oregon for the annual Holt Family Campout at Honeyman Park. Contact Debbie Dunham for more information on the campout. We look forward to seeing you soon at a Holt picnic!
by Brenna Bonner
I had barely heard the last few words of the radio advertisement for the Secret Keeper Girl event, but I did hear it, and four weeks later my daughter, five friends and myself were on our way to the event. On the night before Mother’s Day, our spirits were high and we looked forward to a fun evening.
The Secret Keeper Girl presentation captivated us from the very start. We sang worship music, listened to teachings on modesty, watched a fashion show, and learned what God says about our true beauty.
Those events were just the beginning, however. The Holy Spirit had just begun to speak.
As intermission approached, the presenters on stage switched gears, and Secret Keeper Girl Creator, Dannah Gresh, shared the story of how she was lead by God to adopt a child through Holt International. She also discussed Holt’s Child Sponsorship Program. I was riveted.
Over the last four years, I had visited many child sponsorship tables at concerts, ministry events and Christian conferences. I would often respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and go looking for the one child that caught my eye. Would I choose a boy? A girl? A child from Romania? China? Honduras? Should I choose an older child? An infant? Before I knew it, I had let loud worldly questions drown out God’s voice…but on this night, at the Secret Keeper Girl event, things would be different. Read More
by Jennifer Smith
After the birth of our third child, my husband and I decided that our family was complete. We were content and didn’t plan to have any more children; however, God had other plans. During the summer of 2006 we began to think about adding to our family, discussed adoption and prayed for God’s guidance. We both felt a tugging towards adoption, but we wanted to make sure it was the right path for our family. We were looking for some sort of “big” sign, and that’s exactly what we got when we attended Winter Jam in 2007 in Mobile. It was our first time to attend a Winter Jam concert, so imagine our surprise when we discovered that Holt International sponsored it. As a video presentation of orphanages in China played, we watched as tears rolled down our cheeks. When it was over, we looked at each other and said: “we’re adopting…we’re going to China.” We requested an application packet from Holt the next week.
Like most people, we experienced both miracles and challenges during our adoption journey, but we forged ahead and claimed 2 Corinthians 5:7 as our adoption verse. It states: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” That verse came to mean so much to us during both the joyful and difficult times of our adoption journey.
We started out in the standard process but then switched to the China Child of Promise option. After only a few weeks in this program, we received our referral for a beautiful little girl named Shang Nan. She was listed as having vision problems. We read over the information and looked at her pictures, and we knew that she was the one. We fell in love with her instantly.
Rinnah Shangnan is doing very well now. She’s had an eye examination, and it was confirmed that she is completely blind in her right eye. She wears glasses now, and we can tell that using them is definitely helping her. She is trying to stand up now and even does somersaults! She is a good-natured and happy little girl. Read More
Surgical center for children and their families
by Ashli Keyser, managing editor
The second Holt medical campaign in six months had come to an end. For a week, Holt Board Member Dr. Becca Brandt and her husband Dr. Kim Brandt volunteered their time and expertise at the Holt Shinshicho clinic. Arriving at the clinic in the early mornings, the Brandts stayed until each patient had been diagnosed and treated. With the conclusion of the campaign, hundreds of children and families had been treated for malaria, tuberculosis, meningitis, goiters, and other common ailments affecting the people of this region.
“This is good,” says Becca. “Most people would not come to the clinic, or they would wait until their needs are too great. The message went out to the community that we were here to provide the services, and they should come and use them.”
Holt’s renovations of the Shinshicho clinic and the subsequent medical campaigns have dramatically changed the lives of children and families of this area. People are now able to receive medical treatment, prenatal care and health and hygiene education in a clean and safe environment.
A lot has been accomplished in this area, and yet children and families continue to get sick, many of them succumbing to treatable illnesses—leaving the questions: what more can we do? And where do we go from here?
During the closing ceremony for the medical campaign, hundreds of residents and community leaders gathered to help answer these questions. One by one, men and women enthusiastically stood up, walked through the crowds of people, stepped onto the stage and proudly pledged what little they could to help the clinic, which has provided them with so much hope, enter into its next phase of expansion…a state-of-the-art surgical center.
“We don’t have surgeons or an operating room at this clinic currently, and the children and parents are not able to get the surgeries they need to survive,” says Dr. Mintesinot Tadewos, clinic physician and coordinator for the medical campaigns. Read More
John Seabrook, staff writer for The New Yorker, and his wife, Lisa, adopted their daughter, Rose, from Haiti in 2009. Rose, along with 20 other children living at Holt Fontana Village, had her adoption expedited due to the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake.
Seabrook recently wrote an article about international adoption (read the New Yorker article here), and National Public Radio (NPR) conducted an interview with him about his family’s adoption experience and bringing Rose home.