Doing Right By My Son

When adoptee Cat Stubbs becomes a mom for the first time, she wonders how she will share her adoption story with her son — and if it will be enough for him. But then she thinks of her own late father, and has an ah-ha moment that brings her peace.

I never thought I would be a mom. Not because I was adopted, but because I never had that particular dream. As a little girl I never played house or pretended my baby dolls were real. But one day, I met my husband, and everything changed. For the first time, I saw a future greater than just myself — and I wanted that future filled with the laughter and happiness that only a family could provide. Continue reading “Doing Right By My Son”

Saying Thank You in Korean

While traveling on Holt’s 2012 Adult Adoptee Heritage Tour of Korea, Kim Buckley met the foster family that cared for her before joining her family in the U.S. This piece originally appeared in The Daily Nebraskan, the daily newspaper of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Kim with her foster mom and her foster sister, who also helped care for Kim while she was waiting to join her adoptive family in the U.S.

I found out why there is a stereotype of Asians being bad drivers during a trip to South Korea this summer. As it turns out, narrow streets and speeders make for impatient drivers who narrowly avoid accidents.

But that wasn’t the only thing I discovered in Korea. Continue reading “Saying Thank You in Korean”

An Identity Built By Adoption

Over the summer, Holt held our first adoptee essay contest. We asked adoptees to respond to the question, “How has adoption shaped or how does adoption currently shape your identity?” Below, adoptee Abby Lindner — a finalist in our contest — shares how adoption has shaped her identity, and empowered her to become “a daughter of faith and hope who most definitely belongs.”

lindner-family2
Abby with her family. Abby (second from left) stands alongside her mom Cheryl, sister Emma, dad Rick and little brother Matthew.

In 1948, the first recorded transracial adoption in the U.S. instigated a debate among social workers, parents and others on whether adoption across racial borders helped or harmed. Again and again, opponents cited the identity crisis that transracially adopted children would experience as a result of their mixed circumstances. Continue reading “An Identity Built By Adoption”

You’re Forgiven and Loved

Holt adoptee Max Douglas, 21, shares a poem he wrote about — and for – his birth mother, who he has never met but hopes to some day when he returns to Thailand. “I have a really good connection with how it feels to be adopted,” Max says. “Originally, I was just going to make a regular poem. As you can see, I repeated a sentence throughout the whole poem. This sentence was not put in the same place every time — it’s to help bring emotion to the poem. This is based off the song ‘Everything to Me’ by Mark Schultz. In the song, he conveys intense emotions about how his birth mother gave everything to him.”

Douglas, Maxwell Continue reading “You’re Forgiven and Loved”

A Temporary Traveler

IMG_0657Lisa Atkins reflects on her life as an adoptee and how God has taken her from Korea to the U.S. and now to Bolivia to work as a missionary. 

Lisa Atkins has an old first-grade writing project where she tells about eating rice and barley water in a Holt orphanage in Seoul, Korea. Apart from seeing this description, written with careful pencil strokes on wide-ruled paper, she has no memory of these meals. But it is the closest recollection she has of life before she was adopted 54 years ago.

Lisa doesn’t know much about her life in Korea, beyond what she has been told. Left on the doorstep of a church in Seoul as an infant, she was raised by the church pastor’s family for several years before the pastor and his family could no longer support her. They then brought her to Holt’s care center in the city. She was only there for a year before she was adopted and brought home to her family in March of 1961.

Lisa has always been very thankful for the sacrifice her birth mother made for her. “I see God’s hand in everything from the very beginning,” she says.

While she says being adopted isn’t something she often thinks about, it’s given her a unique perspective because she sees adoption as a beautiful representation of what God offers to all of us.

Captioning a picture on her Facebook page with her two sisters — who are also both adopted from Korea — Lisa writes, “I’ve been doubly blessed to be adopted twice.” Once by her adoptive parents, and once again by the Lord.

“As I’ve grown in my spiritual walk, one of the things that really has always stuck with me is that we are not of this world,” she says. Continue reading “A Temporary Traveler”

My Life in a Mosaic

Holt adoptee Alexis Hawks reflects on the meaning of identity and the many mosaic pieces that define who she is.

Alexis and her mom when they first met in China.

Everyone on this planet is a walking mosaic. Throughout our lives, we find pieces to add to the image that is You and Me. Sometimes they’re embedded deep inside us, waiting to emerge and shine. They can also be found, earned and maybe even given to us.

I remember acquiring one of my first pieces when I was very young. My mom has blue eyes, and I thought once I reached a certain age, my brown eyes would be transformed to match hers. So of course, when the question, “Mommy, when will my eyes be blue like yours?” came up, she quickly corrected my former way of thinking. Obviously, I was too young to understand genetics. The only thing I comprehended from her explanation was that because I was adopted, I could never have blue eyes. I was so upset that they would forever remain such a boring color. The same color as my first piece: Brown. It was the only time I ever wished I wasn’t adopted. The only time I wished the woman that spent all this time raising me had given birth to me as well. However, being a child with a short attention span, it didn’t take me very long to get over it.

I was adopted through Holt in 1999 when I was only one year old. Now I realize that I am lucky. I never had the opportunity to question why I was being taken to the other side of the world to begin my permanent life as a U.S. citizen. Most of my school friends were adopted from China as well. My best friend was adopted through Holt the same year I was. I almost never felt different than anyone else. There was always the occasional question to be answered, though.

Sometimes as an adoptee, I feel like my mosaic is flipped over, so all my pieces are undetected, mounted on a foreign substance — material that is familiar to me, but completely bizarre to some. People want to inspect me. They want to know my “dramatic” life’s story. They want to know about my real parents. Am I related to my sisters? Would I change anything? In return, I smile and shake or nod my head respectfully, but in the back of my mind I can’t help but wonder, “Why does it matter?”

I don’t mind being asked these questions. I believe curiosity isn’t something that should be held in contempt, but sometimes I am confronted by people who believe that because I’m adopted, I’m missing a crucial part of who I am. They look at me as though my picture can never be complete. My personal experiences have actually had the opposite effect. I am confident in this growing montage of myself. I know what I like, what I believe in, what I want to do with my life. I don’t think anyone can control these things. Of course our parents will influence us, but it is my own decision whether I find their opinions to be true or not.

As I’ve grown, more pieces have been added to my “big picture,” slowly covering that unknown material that is my foundation. I was born a clean slate, but it was me who found these fragments that made my mosaic strong. After 15 years of being an adoptee, I realize that everyone is defined by more than where or who they come from. I am more than blood and DNA. I am more than a pair of brown eyes. I am a mind, and a voice. I am somebody’s daughter. Someone’s sister, whether we came from the same people or not. I am—in the simplest, most true way of describing it—

Me.

Alexis Hawks | Kapaa, Kauai

Learn about Holt’s many post-adoption services, from camps and tours to birth search assistance!

Best All-Around Senior

Aided by non-traditional learning methods and the support of his parents, Holt adoptee and once “waiting child” Cody Dorsey managed to conquer his learning disabilities and graduate with the distinction of “Best All-Around Senior.” He is now in his first year of college.

Cody at a regional Eagle Scout award ceremony.

Last week, our youngest son, Cody, started community college. There were times when I never dreamed this would happen. Cody was 5 when we adopted him from Romania. We had originally decided to adopt a child 3 years or younger, but after seeing his picture in the Holt monthly newsletter, we knew Cody was our son. We trusted God’s direction in adopting and truly felt His guidance in choosing our “waiting child.” He was a tiny, cheerful ball of energy and a joy from the first moment. Cody has never met a stranger and will talk to anyone, young or old. He is a great athlete, who draws attention everywhere he goes. He will tackle any mechanical problem and work on it until he figures it out. He is also a young man with learning disabilities. The fact that he is so gifted in other areas makes it hard for people to understand that he can’t always learn using traditional methods.

We were aware that Cody did not know the common things most 5-year-old children do, like names of colors, shapes, numbers, etc. The information we received from Holt told us that he was delayed in some areas, but we were ready to do whatever it took to help him. We realized that part of the problem was language, although he learned English very quickly. I tried games and tricks, but he simply couldn’t remember the names of colors. Finally my husband came up with the idea of instructing Cody to call out the color of balls as they played pool. That was our first experience with non-traditional learning methods.

We kept Cody at preschool for an extra year to prepare for kindergarten. His kindergarten teacher was a wonderful, older woman who worked with him and helped him

Cody with his mom, Becky, during their first moments together in Romania.

make it to first grade. She, like us, thought it was still a language issue. Cody’s first and second grade teachers were very sweet, but inexperienced. Although they tried to help, we had difficult years. We would spend hours doing homework that should take 30 minutes. When I would question the teachers about testing for learning disabilities, they would say he was doing “about average.” Our two older children were academically gifted and seemed to absorb knowledge from the air, so it was hard for me to know what was considered “average.” Finally, Cody had an experienced third grade teacher who agreed there were problems. She ordered tests and we were actually relieved to discover that Cody has learning disabilities. Finally, we knew what was wrong and could get him the help he needed. Continue reading “Best All-Around Senior”

No Legs, No Limits

Kanya Sesser, a 21-year-old Holt adoptee from Thailand, skateboards, skis, races, models and surfs. She’s also a college student studying fashion marketing, and she hopes to join the Billabong surf team soon. Born without legs, Kanya has become an inspiration to friends and fans around the world with her motto “No legs, no limits.” 
Continue reading “No Legs, No Limits”

The Joke’s on Me: How My Name Became a Punch Line

In his latest contribution to the online adoptee magazine Gazillion Voices, Steve Kalb, Holt’s director of adoptee services, reflects on the “otherness” encountered as an Asian-American  growing up with a name like “Steve.”

I recently joined my wife, Shannon, at her company Christmas party. It was a small party at a local brewery with about 40 people attending. We had a room reserved off the main building where employees and their partners were able to eat, drink, and be merry. Early on in the evening, I struck up a conversation with a fellow partier. We discussed careers, motorcycles, and industrial paint (Shannon’s company sells paint.) It was a nice conversation, but not nice enough to ignore the food that was being set up. I graciously thanked him for his time and expressed how much I enjoyed the company, but that I could hear the buffet calling my name. We shook hands and I headed for the table of goodness. As I walked off, I overheard him talking with another coworker. “That’s Shannon’s husband. He works in adoption. His name’s Steve. He doesn’t look like a Steve…”

Click here to read Steve’s full article in Gazillion Voices.

For information about Holt’s post-adoption and adoptee services, click here.

What It Means To Be in the Holt Family

Adoptee and family testimonials about Holt’s post adoption services.

A Q&A with Holt adoptee Kim Lindebaum

Why did you contact Holt’s post adoption services department (PAS)?

Over the last couple years, I’ve had more of a desire to learn of my early years and was especially interested after reading Dr. David Kim’s book, “Who Will Answer…”  I then had the opportunity to travel to Korea with my daughter and family this past spring and decided I needed to know as much about my early years as I could find. So that was when I searched out Holt’s post adoption services.

 Who did you speak with, and how did they help you?

Debby Hanson was my contact and we corresponded several times as I wanted to visit a couple of Holt’s facilities while in Korea.  Debby was able to make the arrangements for me to visit Ilsan Center, where I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and hug Molly Holt.

What made your experience meaningful?

For me it is the “coming full circle” of who I am as a first generation Korean adoptee, with the opportunity of making my first return trip to my homeland and reading the autobiography of Dr. Kim, who uncovered so many of my hidden feelings by pointing out the facts of Holt’s early years.

Would you return to Holt’s post adoption services department or recommend to other adoptees for services?

Yes, if anyone isn’t sure where to begin and may have unanswered questions of their early years, or want to see what is in their adoption file, then I would encourage them to make contact with PAS either by email or telephone. They are most helpful and very compassionate to my feelings.

Continue reading “What It Means To Be in the Holt Family”