Alcohol Exposure: What Does it Mean?

Exposure to alcohol. This may be the most vague and full-of-unknowns special need you’ll come across in the profiles of children waiting to be adopted. It includes a vast array of outcomes, sometimes including no effects at all. However, many parents jump to an extreme when they first read “alcohol exposure” — thinking, “This must mean they have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).” Or, families nearly skip over it — thinking, “It’s so common… it must not be a big deal.” An informed approach to adopting a child with alcohol exposure lies somewhere in the middle: informed by research, supported by other families’ experiences, and always with the best interests of the child as the deciding factor.

Continue reading “Alcohol Exposure: What Does it Mean?”

The Loneliest Orphans; Growing Up With HIV in China

Any child who loses their parents suffers unimaginable grief and heartache. But for one population of children growing up in China, the reason they lost their parents adds a whole other level of loss, heartache and isolation — even within their own families. They are not just orphans. They are AIDS orphans. 

The picture that Jenna's son drew that illustrates which family members have passed away. The characters read "I love my mom and dad."
Becca snapped this photo of a hand-drawn picture taped to the wall of her son’s former home in China. The characters read “I love my mom and dad” and above each picture, from left to right, he wrote “Me, Dad, Mom, Grandma.” All of his immediate family has now passed away.

It was as if time stood still.

Everything sat undisturbed — preserved in the moment their son left his childhood home for a new life in the city.

A couple of bikes stood leaning in the doorway, covered in dust. A calendar remained open to November 2016, the month their son moved to his group home. Becca noticed a hat with a flower hanging on the wall.

“I wondered if this was his grandmother’s hat,” says Becca, now mom to the boy who once lived in this cold concrete block home. Becca wondered if his grandmother wore this hat while working in the fields that surrounded their family compound.

Here and there, Becca also caught glimpses of the child her now teenage son once was. The child who left Spiderman stickers and hand-drawn pictures taped to the walls, rollerblades and tiny shoes by the door. The child who created an elaborate chalk drawing of a guitar on the window, and lines on the wall to prove he was growing taller.

Continue reading “The Loneliest Orphans; Growing Up With HIV in China”

Favorite Five Adoption Stories

For National Adoption Month, read, view and share the five most popular adoption stories and videos to ever appear on the Holt blog!

A Heart for Rini

At the 2014 Holt Gala and Auction in Portland, Oregon, Holt adoptive mom Andrea stood to speak. She told her story of bringing home her daughter Rini from China — a little girl with severe congenital heart disease — and the struggle to save her life. Here, Andrea again shares the story that captivated an audience of families, adoptees and Holt supporters at the Portland event, as well as her appeal to help save the lives of other children with serious heart disease… children just like Rini. Continue reading “Favorite Five Adoption Stories”

The Truth About Adopting Toddlers From Foster Care

If you’re thinking about adopting a toddler in the care of a foster family overseas, adoptive mom Jill Spitz has some advice for you.

Jill and Tom Spitz with their daughter, Yi Yi, and son, Quinn. The Spitz family adopted both their children through Holt’s China program — Quinn in 2008, and Yi Yi in 2017.

One morning last December, my husband, son and I woke up in our fancy hotel room in Wuhan, China, fully aware that our lives were about to change. We ate our last breakfast as a family of three and marveled that the next time we slept there would be four of us.

That same day, a 29-month-old girl woke up in the bed where she’d slept since she was one month old, next to the only mother she’d ever known, with no idea she was about to be ripped away from life as she knew it. She hardly had time for breakfast before an orphanage director showed up and whisked her to a children’s welfare institute, and then to a chaotic civil affairs office where she was pushed toward strangers while she searched desperately for a familiar face. Continue reading “The Truth About Adopting Toddlers From Foster Care”

What Makes The “Perfect” Family?

Taeyang and his sisters.

Special needs. Older children. Single parent adoption. Kids with unknown medical needs. Just the good ol’ “let the agency choose” path. There are lots of adoption paths — and no “perfect” families — but whatever path you choose, your family will ultimately be the right family for a child who is waiting.

Once upon a time, there was the perfect adoptive family. The mom and dad — both pediatricians — decided to adopt a child with a few medical needs. Their neighbors, high school teachers with a trust fund and awards for their work with underprivileged youth, decided to adopt an older child. Then, their other neighbors, who have never once been afraid in their whole lives, adopted a child with some “unknowns” in his history.

If you already questioned whether this was a “true” story, congratulations! You caught us. Continue reading “What Makes The “Perfect” Family?”

How a Cleft Lip Surgery Saved Baby Rebekah

Rebekah with an unrepaired cleft lip, at the time she came into care at Holt's medical foster home in China.
Rebekah was so malnourished, she weighed just six pounds when she came into care at Holt’s medical foster home in Beijing.

Born in China with a cleft lip and palate, baby Rebekah was so malnourished that she could have died in her orphanage. But then she received a Gift of Hope that saved her life.

She was just a week old, and tiny. The caregivers at the orphanage looked into her big, bright eyes and gave her the name “Xiu.” Beautiful.

When baby Xiu came into care, she also had a deep cleft in her lip that made it hard for her to suck on a bottle. She barely ate, and barely grew. When she left the orphanage, at 2 and a half months old, she weighed just six pounds. Continue reading “How a Cleft Lip Surgery Saved Baby Rebekah”

Welcome Home Ava!

“I have a baby sister. Her name is Ava. She lives in an orphanage in China.”

Three of the greatest sentences of my life. This quote above, uttered countless times by our two very young biological children while we were in the process of adopting from China, was sweet music to my ears. Nothing prepared them better for the sudden addition of a 2-year-old to our family than just simply talking about it. Every day. All the time. Continue reading “Welcome Home Ava!”

Top Things To Know About Adopting a Child With ARM

Two adoptive moms share what it’s like to adopt children with a common, though not commonly discussed special need — anorectal malformation, or ARM. Because this is a sensitive need, all names in this article have been changed to protect the children’s privacy.

“William just turned 5 and he is amazing! He is so intelligent, inquisitive and goofy. He keeps us laughing all day because he has such a wonderful sense of humor. He has an amazing imagination and is constantly playing make believe or making up songs. He would be outside all day, every day, if he had a choice. He loves nature, bugs, animals, science, swimming, hiking, camping and getting really dirty.”—Tavia, William’s mom

“Tess is such a blessing. She brings us such joy. She is 6, almost 7 years old, but sometimes we say she is 6 going on 18 because she is so mature for her age. She’s very opinionated and will let you know exactly what she thinks! She doesn’t like going to school because she hates waking up early, but she always has a big smile on her face by the time I pick her up. She is such a beautiful, loquacious little girl.” — Sarah, Tess’s mom Continue reading “Top Things To Know About Adopting a Child With ARM”