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27391834914154971Meet Chuck Mitman, Holt’s new chairman of the board. A businessman with vast experience in China and a Holt board member since 2012, Chuck has a contagious passion and excitement for creating a better world for children and families. This past fall, Chuck traveled to visit Holt programs and learn more about our work in China. Hear about the children and families who impacted him most.

Chuck Mitman stood behind a big, long table at the front of a classroom in China. The room was full of primary school children, sitting in rows of desks and dressed in school uniforms. Even though it was a holiday, and normally there would be no school today, the students came in to meet Chuck, Holt’s board chair. Today was an important day, and they were all on their very best behavior.

Chuck was introduced to the students. Then Chuck gave a speech, followed by the deputy mayor of the province. The entire time, the children sat in front of them — attentive, quiet, respectful.

“They were scared to death!” Chuck says, a smile evident in his voice. To break the ice, he asked them — through his translator — “Do you have any questions for me?” Read More

Andrea Olson writes a letter to her younger self, before she became an adoptive mom to five children, including four children with complex heart disease. This post originally appeared on No Hands But Ours, a site that aims to encourage, equip and support families adopting children with special needs from China.

Hey there, shadow of myself! Yes, I’m talking to you, the woman who is spending countless hours picking out the perfect color for the walls of the nursery where, in a few months, you will rock your “healthy, as young as possible” baby girl from China. I’m smiling right now, thinking of the woman I once was over eleven years ago. You have no idea, absolutely no idea, how your world is about to be rocked. This tornado disguised as a little girl will turn your world upside down.

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You will be in the trenches, sometimes beaten down, wondering what happened to your life, trading in the time spent making sure her dresser drawers are neat and organized for time in the attachment therapist’s office. You’ll learn to let go of everything you thought you knew about parenting, of your preconceived idea of family, of “healthy.” You will be forced from selfishness to selflessness. You will stop thinking of adoption as finding the right child for you and learn to become the right parent for a child. It will be difficult. It will be ugly at times. It will leave you a sobbing heap in the closet. It will stretch you and twist you until you don’t recognize yourself anymore. Read More

In October of this year, Jordan Love traveled to Korea as part of the Happy Together tour for adoptees with special needs. This was his second time traveling on the Happy Together tour. And this time, he brought back with him some fresh insight about the experience, including a deeper understanding of why it’s so important to have a birth country tour just for adoptees with special needs. 

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Jordan with Dr. Cho, the long-time resident doctor at the Ilsan Center in Korea.

At the end of October this year, I had the great opportunity to travel to Korea on the Happy Together tour. This tour is designed specifically for Korean adoptees who have a special need — giving them the opportunity to experience the Korean culture in a variety of activities and also have opportunities to explore their adoption. I first traveled on this tour back in 2011, which was also the first time I returned to Korea since I was adopted at 4 and a half years old. Looking back on my trip in 2011, the whole week seemed like a whirlwind of new experience and discovery. This trip, I felt a lot more comfort and was able to be more relaxed as I knew what to expect.

Upon reflection, I think there are two main things I brought back with me from the Happy Together tour to Korea. Read More

After 19 years, Holt says goodbye to the executive director of Vathsalya Charitable Trust, Holt’s long-time partner in Bangalore, India.

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Mary Paul (right) with U.S. Ambassador Susan Jacobs (center) and the executive director of BSSK in India.

“If you educate a girl, you educate a generation.”

The world is a better place because of Mary Paul. And it will continue to become better because of her for years into the future. Mary Paul has spent her career in service of others — pouring herself into the children she cared and advocated for, the women she led, the students she taught, the visitors she welcomed with open arms. Read More

For most of her life, Holt adoptee Molly Martin viewed her adoption as something that just “happened.”  But after traveling to Thailand to meet her birth mom, she developed a completely different outlook — and a deeper understanding of how loved she truly is. Molly’s story was a finalist in Holt’s 2016 adoptee essay contest. 

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For someone who was adopted at a young age, being adopted seems, for lack of a better word, normal. For as long as I can remember, except for a few blurry memories, being adopted is all that I have known. I don’t really remember what it was like not to be adopted, so being adopted has always seemed somewhat natural and definitely not really anything worth talking about. However, at the same time, being adopted isn’t normal. While I can’t speak for all kids that have been adopted, I think a lot of us, at some point or another, have entertained the thought that our situations aren’t normal. Surely, not looking like my family wasn’t normal and the thought that my biological family did not want me was always in the back of my mind. But those aren’t exactly things that most kids want to talk about. Read More