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.

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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.

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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”

Facing Down Child Hunger

Hunger threatens children’s lives around the world. Children like Sarnai and Shenaz live day to day, wondering if they will eat. But you can help. This winter,  give a  gift to fill their bellies, and save their lives. 

Sarnai is Hungry

Seven-year-old Sarnai is hungry. Her family lives in a one-room, tent-like home on a bare, blustery hillside overlooking Ulaanbaatar. On the other side of the hill, the city dump sprawls for miles and miles.

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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”

Adoption From Colombia: Older Children Like Santi Wait

Adoption from Colombia might lead you to a child like Santi — an older child with a larger-than-life love for everyone he meets. Santi, like so many older children living in orphanages, has waited a lifetime for a for a stable, loving family.

Santi is waiting for an adoptive family. Adoption from Colombia is focused on finding families for older kids and kids with special needs.

On paper, kids’ backstories are scary. Especially older kids.

When children are reduced to medical forms, psychiatric evaluations, intake documents and quick assessments — lacking the context of their vibrant personalities, beautiful smiles and contagious laughter — their needs seem overwhelming.

Paperwork can be dehumanizing.

At least, that was the case for many of the 33 children who we met in Colombia.

When I read Santi’s file, it didn’t say that he loves board games and the color blue. It didn’t talk about his breathtaking smile or his love of building things. It didn’t mention his impeccable sense of style — he wore salmon-red slacks, a teal button-down with shell snaps, and a pair of fake Ray-Ban shades the day we met him — and the way he draws people in like a magnet. Continue reading “Adoption From Colombia: Older Children Like Santi Wait”

Charleson Needs a Family!

I’ve been in this place before.

In March 2017, I visited this same orphanage to help prepare older children for adoption. Those children, both age 13, flipped through photo albums and letters to learn more about their adoptive families. One boy wasn’t yet matched with an adoptive family but looked over the shoulders of his friends as this happened. My heart broke for him and I returned from that trip determined to find a family for him. Continue reading “Charleson Needs a Family!”

Ask The Adoption Expert

why choose Holt?

adoption expertAs an adoption advisor, I spend a lot of my time speaking to families about allof the ins and outs of international adoption. After we have sifted through the rules, legalities and details of the process, we inevitably land on the question, “Why should I choose Holt?” There are plenty of agencies to choose from, and whether families have never heard of Holt or they are well acquainted with the work that we do, this is a question worth asking. Here are a few things that really set Holt apart.

— Caitlin Howe, Adoption Advisor
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