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.”
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.
Holt’s work in Haiti after the earthquake…and how you can help
Near Port-au-Prince Airport Road, in a Haitian community called Village Solidarite, 22-year-old Nahomie holds in her arms her ailing 2-year-old daughter, Nournia. Nahomie has just returned from her fourth trip in eight months to St. Catherine hospital in Cite Soleil – a slum of Port-au-Prince. Nournia, they tell her, is extremely malnourished. She also has tuberculosis.
Abandoned by Nournia’s father, Nahomie earns what she can as a part-time housekeeper, but it’s not enough. Unable to provide the care her daughter needs, Nahomie stands helpless as Nournia wails in pain and hunger. Nahomie begins to weep with Nournia. She weeps for her mother, who died one year ago, and weeps for her poor daughter. It seems impossible that their situation could get much worse.
And then the sun rose on January 12th, 2010.
In just 60 seconds, 230,000 people were dead. Millions were homeless and an estimated one million children were orphaned. For many already living in the clutches of poverty and hunger, life became even grimmer.
“I had never seen a city so devastated as Port-au-Prince,” says Will Dantzler, Holt International’s board chairman, who traveled to Haiti in June. “To see the hopelessness and emptiness of spirit in so many people as we drove through the city shed light on the magnitude of this disaster, and its long-term effect on an entire society.”
Just two of millions whose lives changed forever, Nahomie and Nournia lost their one source of stability in the January 12th earthquake – their home.
After five months living in the streets, Nahomie sat in a church service in Port-au-Prince and prayed. Prayed for her daughter, prayed to survive. Here, she heard of a temporary care program offered by Holt Fontana d’ Haiti – Holt International’s partner in Haiti. Nahomie applied and her daughter was accepted into a 3-month temporary care program at Holt Fontana Village in the western city of Montrouis.
“Nahomie said it was the first time in years she felt a moment of joy,” says Mansour Masse, Holt Haiti director. “Her daughter would be taken care of.”
We at Holt were recently inspired by a Holt adoptee’s creative efforts to help find families for children. Every Wednesday, broadcast journalist Michelle Sherwood hosts a TV news segment featuring a local child in foster care. She also encourages viewers to repost the Wednesday’s Child stories on their blogs, Facebook pages and other sites. Since May, this community effort has already helped six kids find permanent homes!
Inspired, we’ve decided – thank you Michelle! – to copy Michelle’s idea. Every Tuesday, check Holt’s blog and Facebook page for photos, stories and even videos of a different child in the Waiting Child program. Our goal is to create a vibrant profile of every child so a potential family, browsing through, might see a spark – make a connection.
Even if you don’t make a connection, someone you know might. Help the Waiting Child of the Week go viral! Forward the stories to friends and family. Share every week at church or a community group. And repost to your own blog, Facebook page and company site. With the simple press of a button, you can change a child’s life forever!
So, without further ado, we introduce Ben – Holt’s first Waiting Child of the Week.
We met Ben this summer at an orphanage in Wuxi, a city in southern China. He seemed shy at first, but began to relax and smile during the interview and, at the urging of his caregivers, eventually stood up to demonstrate a headstand.
His caregivers seemed very fond of him and talked about how helpful he is around the orphanage, where he came into care at just a few days old. He likes to help care for the younger children, especially feeding the babies, but he tells us what he would really love are older siblings. Though he has many good friends, Ben misses his pals from the orphanage who’ve joined families through adoption. But when asked how he would feel about being adopted, his eyes immediately brightened.
“Are you at all worried about the language difference?” we asked.
“No problem,” he said. “I can learn.”
Now 8, Ben is in the 2nd grade. He’s a fast runner, loves basketball and also enjoys art projects and origami. He’s doing well in school and hopes to grow up to be a policeman – a point he reinforced for us with a straight-backed salute!
After entering care, Ben progressed well in the institution but was found to have slow motor development. Laboratory reports also noted that he is a Hepatitis B carrier. Ben would do best in a family with older child adoption experience and access to good medical resources.