• Family Preservation in Thailand

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This past year, our organization celebrated 60 years of serving orphaned and vulnerable children and families in countries across the globe. Over these six decades, our work has touched the lives of thousands of people — people whose lives collectively tell the story of who we are as an organization. Their stories are the story of Holt International. And in 2016, many of these people once again graciously shared their life experiences with our readers.

For the first time, we held an adoptee essay contest, asking adoptees to share how adoption shapes or has shaped their identity. We received a number of thoughtful submissions, and featured the winning essay by Noel Hincha in our annual adoption magazine. I am happy to share that the essay penned by one of our runner-ups in the contest is among this year’s top most-viewed blogs of 2016!

Following last year’s trend, stories written by and about adoptees once again topped the list — receiving thousands of views on Facebook and the Holt blog. Among them is a letter one adoptee wrote to her late birth mother, grieving the fact that it was too late for them to meet; a story about a first-generation adoptee reuniting with the man who cared for him in Korea; and a piece by an adoptee from China who describes what the adoption experience was like for her.

Among our Top 16 Blogs of 2016, we also included five stories about our overseas programs — from a story written by a trailblazing woman in our unwed mothers program in Korea to a story about a boy who learned how to express himself for the first time at the Yesus Mena Deaf School that we support in Ethiopia.

And of course, stories by and about adoptive families are always popular among our readers — particularly among families new to the process who appreciate the insight and wisdom that veteran families have to offer. This year, six adoption stories had the most impact on our readers, including, at the top of the list, a heartfelt piece written under a pseudonym by an adoptive mom who wanted to share the truth about raising children with HIV. As more and more families adopt children with more involved and complex special needs, the experiences of these families become increasingly influential — inspiring other families to adopt children with HIV, congenital heart disease or, as one of our top stories explores in detail, Thalassemia.

As we reflect on the year 2016, and on the last 60 years, we thank the many, many adoptees, families, sponsors, donors, staff members, partners and children and families in our programs for your willingness to share what can be very personal and sometimes heart-wrenching experiences. You moved us. You inspired us. And perhaps most importantly, you instructed us. Every year, we continue to learn and grow from what you share with Holt staff and supporters. And we are so, so grateful for your being a part of our story, the Holt story. — Robin Munro, Managing Editor

Top Five Adoptee Stories











Krista in Korea: A Letter to My Birth Mother

Over the summer, Holt adoptee Krista Gause traveled on the Holt Heritage Tour to Korea. Before her departure, she wrote an honest and heartfelt letter to her birth mother, sharing about her life and grieving the fact that it was too late for them to meet.  Read More

DOB: 8/31/2012, China

7.12.2016 1

Davie came into care shortly after birth. He was found by police officers and taken to a welfare institute, where he remains today. In March 2016, at the age of 4, Davie had glaucoma surgery, and now has improved vision. Although he still needs to hold objects close to his eyes to see them clearly, he can navigate a room well and scribble with a pen.

Although delayed developmentally, Davie is still an active and happy 4-year-old who loves school and has a lot of friends. Even when frustrated, he is “still lovely,” his caregivers say. “You will want to cuddle and kiss him when you see his lovely appearance.”

At two-and-half, Davie began preschool, and was immediately fascinated by his new environment, crooking his head and exploring the toys and games. As fond as Davie was of his new surroundings, his teachers were even more enamored of him. “His teachers always want to cuddle him,” his caregivers say. At first, Davie played by himself and had no interest in interacting with the other children. But through love and patience, his teachers made him more comfortable. He now plays with the other children happily.

Davie loves water, playing outdoors, listening to music and trying new things. And when the day is over, he loves to cuddle up with his special quilt and drift off to sleep, resting up for another day of exploration and fun.

If you are interested in learning more about Davie, please contact Jessica Zeeb.

*Name changed

For children adopted internationally, books can provide a meaningful window into the culture to which they were born. Here, adoptive mom Riann Schell shares a reading list of some of her family’s favorites — including those deeply rooted in and about the culture of the author, and those whose themes transcend culture, place and time. 


“Please, just one more chapter?” This was the plea my mother heard as we gathered for a story before bed. We loved the adventures of Little Britches, cheered on the Ingalls family in Little House on the Prairie, and laughed at the cleverness of The Great Brain. Although read-alouds and chapter books defined the evenings, picture books filled the nooks and crannies of our days. When the library bookmobile came to town, we filled a bushel basket, and a long-distance aunt and uncle sent paper-wrapped parcels of secondhand books to our mailbox. Much of my childhood was defined by the stories in those pages.

My bookshelves today hold some of the same books, my childish handwriting inside the front cover. There are tattered paperbacks with thrift store stickers on the spine, antique editions of favorite classics, hardbound books bought during a stretch working at a bookstore in college, award-winning titles and pages yet unturned. Today, my family is nearly as diverse as the titles on those shelves, and I, too, hear the plea each evening, “Please, just one more chapter?” Read More

K15-243 Photos taken 8 29 16 (2)When Howie’s foster family plays with him, you can see his face light up into a big grin. He likes to laugh and his giggle can be contagious. He needs a permanent family of his own to play and giggle with.

K15-243 Photos taken 8 29 16 (1)Howie is learning lots of new things, like how to walk, with a little assistance, and how to communicate — which is mostly just babbling for now. He is going to have many more milestones to reach and he is going to need a family to come alongside him and cheer him on!

Before Howie was born, he was exposed to some alcohol and tobacco, and due to delays in his fine motor skills and some spasticity in his joints, his doctors plan to monitor for possible cerebral palsy. He will need a loving family that can help him through any potential challenges!

Most of all, his family will need to prepare for the bundle of joy that Howie will be in their life.

Could you, or someone you know, be the right family for Howie? Contact Kristen Henry at kristenh@holtinternational.org for more information about Howie and the eligibility requirements for adopting him.

09/12/15 | NE Asia

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-11-20-34-amWhen Frankie* grows up, he wants to be a superhero. For now he just practices by pretending with his friends. But someday, he will be saving people from the bad guys and defending the world from evil.

2015-11-03-11-03-18Like many superheroes, Frankie has some obstacles that he is working to overcome — obstacles that may just shape the narrative arc of his life, infusing him with a deeper compassion for others, and imbuing him with greater purpose and power to achieve his dreams. Frankie was born with cerebral palsy, but he is learning how to get around and be independent. He also has HIV, which is well controlled with medication, but in order to protect his privacy we can’t show his smiling face. These are obstacles that are tough and bring a lot of challenges for Frankie, including developmental delays resulting from CP and discrimination resulting from the stigma against a positive HIV diagnosis.

But in true superhero form, Frankie doesn’t let his obstacles stop him from reaching his goals.

7-11-2016-7CP makes it difficult for Frankie to walk, so he uses a walker. But he doesn’t stop at walking — he also dances along to his favorite music, and actively plays with his friends, just like any other kid. Many of our staff have met Frankie and describe him fondly as a sweet and determined kid.

Frankie is going to help save the world someday, but right now, what he needs is a superhero — or maybe just an everyday hero — who can empower him with the opportunities and resources he needs to reach his potential in life. He needs a family of his own.

Could you or someone you know be the right family for Frankie? For more information about Frankie and access to the great pictures and videos of him that we have on file, please contact Jessica Zeeb at JessicaZ@holtinternational.org.

Date of Birth: 8/7/10 | China

*name changed