Jamison Must Find a Family Before His 16th Birthday!

Jamison turns 16 next year. Please share his story to help him find the family he so needs and deserves!

Jamison* is a charming young man who lives at a care center in the Philippines. He loves playing soccer and badminton, and watching cartoons with his friends. His caregivers say he plays “joyfully” with the other children, and at nearly 15, he also acts as an older brother to the younger boys in his dorm.

In October of last year, Jamison was one of 15 children on the 2012 Philippines Ambassador trip. For the past two years, Holt has sent a special team of ambassadors to meet older children like Jamison – children hoping to find loving adoptive families of their own. During a week full of fun activities, the ambassadors get to know the children and then advocate for their adoption once home in the U.S. This year’s ambassadors included two Holt adoptive parents, two adult adoptees and three Holt staff members.

The group of children on the 2012 Philippines Ambassador trip.

For the first few days of the trip, Jamison was fairly quiet and shy with the ambassadors. But by day 5, Jamison started to open up. His personality came bursting through during a late-night UNO tournament… And what a personality he has!

“That night, I saw a whole new side of Jamison come out.  It was awesome!” writes Kari Bargstadt-Wilson, one of the ambassadors on the trip. “He was sitting by me during our UNO game and was cracking jokes the entire time.  Kissing his cards with enthusiasm when a good one came his way.  Smiling and making others laugh.  He was hamming it up!”

Continue reading “Jamison Must Find a Family Before His 16th Birthday!”

A Family is All She Knows, and All She Wants

UPDATE: Our China team has identified potential families for Ada, and will no longer be sending out her file! Thank you to everyone who advocated for Ada.

DOB: August 25, 2003, China

Ada (bottom) with her good friend.

On a recent visit to an orphanage in southern China, Holt China staff member Sue Liu had the great fortune of meeting a young girl named Ada*.

Ada is 9. Ada is in fact 9 in every way. She loves dancing and singing and the colors purple and blue. She does her chores when told, but would far prefer to play with her two close friends. When they get together, Ada and her friends draw and laugh together, goofing around as 9-year-olds do. Ada enjoys art and Chinese classes, but is not so fond of math. When she grows up, she wants to teach English. Sue thinks she’ll be great at this, as she’s skilled at language and comfortable in conversation.

Ada is a great dancer – especially Latin dance – but is shy performing before others. During their visit, Sue asked Ada to show some of her dancing skills. “At the very beginning, she was a little bit shy but we encouraged her and then she started to dance very well!” Sue writes. She giggled and jokingly ran behind a chair when she confused her steps, and would only perform again when alone with Sue. But she did let Sue record her dance performance, which she managed to do without a hitch the second time around!

Unlike many older children waiting to find an adoptive family, Ada grew up in a family. Up until five months ago – in September 2012 – Ada lived with her father, who adopted her domestically at a younger age. When her father passed away, Ada came into orphanage care. Very quickly, the orphanage partnered with Holt to find Ada a foster family. Family life is all she has ever known – and all we hope for her to ever know.

Ada says her foster mom is very kind to her, and she has also grown fond of the director at the social welfare institute. She has many friends, and is outgoing and happy in their company. But still, she wants a family to love and support her forever. After Sue shared some photos of other children with their adoptive families, Ada made it clear that she wants the same.

She is also confident that she can overcome the challenges of joining a new culture and family. During their visit, Sue asked what Ada would do if she could not understand what her adoptive family said to her. To this, she responded, “I can draw to communicate with them if they can’t understand me!”

Ada‘s ideal family will be experienced with older child adoption, and also understand the impact of grief and trauma on neurodevelopment, emotional reactivity and social skills. Her family should support the need for older adoptees like Ada to maintain cultural connections throughout their lives.

Ada is in the Special Focus category and may be considered by families who have not yet sent a dossier to China.  To adopt this child, applicants must be 30-54 years old and meet an income requirement of $30,000 plus $10,000 per additional family member, with $80,000 net worth. More than 4 children in the home may be accepted. For complete requirements, click here to view China’s country criteria.

For more information about Ada, contact Marissa Leuallen at marissal@holtinternational.org.

Click below to see Ada as she chats with Sue and other social workers at the social welfare institute:

Continue reading “A Family is All She Knows, and All She Wants”

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Congrats to Jimmy!

Congrats to Jimmy on finding his family! And thank YOU for helping to advocate for his adoption! Jimmy reminds us of Kevin, a bright 9-year-old boy who loves playing soccer and climbing trees. Unlike Jimmy, Kevin is still waiting to find a loving family. The family that moves forward with Kevin’s adoption will receive a Holt “Special Blessings” grant to help bring him home. Click here to read and share Kevin’s story!

Where Are They Now: Natalie!

Ever thought about a waiting child you once saw featured on the Holt blog or in the Holt International magazine? Maybe you shared their story with your friends and family on Facebook, or helped advocate for them in some other way. And how exciting it was to hear the news that they finally found their family! At Holt, we are delighted to share updates with you about the children we featured, and you helped advocate for in your community. Remember Natalie, who we wrote about in 2011? Natalie found her family through the Holt blog. And here she is today, now home and thriving in the loving care of her family.

In May 2011, we posted a story about a 6-year-old girl in China waiting to find a loving family to adopt her. We called her “Natalie,” and shared what we knew about her based on staff visits and caregiver reports. We wrote that she likes to read books and draw pictures, and that she is quiet, timid and fairly introverted. We informed prospective families that Natalie has spina bifida, and explained how this affects her daily life. We also urged families to look closer at this beautiful little girl with big, soulful eyes, and see all the potential waiting there.

Natalie two years ago at an orphanage in China.

One family did look closer. That family, the Kazsuks of California, soon became Natalie’s family.

In June 2012, at 8 years old, Natalie finally came home. Recently, her mom, Tracy, wrote to share how Natalie is transitioning into her new family and life in the U.S. She also said we could share Natalie’s update with you!

(Natalie’s real Chinese name is Qiu Ni, which she has kept.)

“Since the day this child was picked up in China, she has been a dream,” writes Tracy. “She is smart, sensitive and considerate. She is artistic, and creative, and has a clever sense of humor… She eats everything nutritious under the sun and has grown 3” and gained 3 lbs. She has fit into our family so well; it is amazing to think she ever wasn’t there.”

The Kazsuks have three other children at home, their youngest adopted through Holt from Korea.When considering a placement for Qiu Ni, Holt’s social workers prepared the family for the potential challenges to sibling relationships when bringing an older child into the family.

Natalie, or Qiu Ni, now home in the U.S.

“I am happy to report that [Qiu Ni] is often seen giggling with her little sister, putting lotion on her sister’s hands, and trading dolls with

her,” writes Tracy. “When she thinks I’m not looking, she washes the little kids’ hands and trades her things with them to make them happy. I have to remind her that they don’t always get to win.”

“As for her medical needs,” she continues, “I am thrilled that we are controlling them… Please, PLEASE, don’t hesitate to send potential parents my way for questions about spina bifida… To think that she might still be waiting due to this ‘need’ is sad and very scary.”

Several months ago, Tracy did talk to a family considering adopting a child with spina bifida – and they were later matched with Donald, a boy we also featured in a Holt waiting child blog!

“Anyway, all this to say we just love, love, love her,” Tracy writes of Qiu Ni.

“Today when I went to the school… she ran to me laughing and hugging and said, ‘I need to go home now. I need to have my Mommy now,’” Tracy continues. “Every night before bed she tells me that I came to China to get her and she loves me. She is music to my ears!!!”

“We are,” Tracy concludes, “more blessed than you will ever know.”

Natalie found her family. But so many children are still waiting! Click here to read about Malachi, an older boy from China recently featured on the Holt blog.

Click here to read about more children from China still waiting to find loving families of their own.

* Tracy’s original letter has been edited to protect Qiu Ni’s privacy


These Brothers Just Want a Stable, Loving Family

Brothers Dylan and Jude are this week’s featured waiting children. Please help them find a loving family!

Dylan*, 11/24/03 and Jude*, 5/20/05

These handsome brothers live at a care center in East Africa, where they are waiting to find a loving family to adopt both of them. I met Dylan, the older of the two, while visiting children in Holt’s care last summer, in July 2012. At the time, his brother was in school.

I remember Dylan as gentle and sweet, with a charming smile and extraordinary hazel-colored eyes that exuded warmth and intelligence. Just a happy, healthy boy, Dylan gave no indication of the hardship he has endured already in his young life. Only later did I learn what brought Dylan and Jude into care, and on the track for adoption.

The brothers came into Holt’s care in May 2012, just a couple months before my visit. Their father is a former policeman whose struggle with alcoholism caused him to lose his job. His wife eventually left him as well, leaving Dylan and Jude without a mother. With little to eat and an unstable home environment, Dylan thought he could do better for himself and his brother. He fled to the streets, where he lived for a couple weeks until finding a local shelter. Jude came to live with him at the shelter, while their father tried to overcome his problems. But the cycle continued, and although the shelter tried to reunite the family, the father said he could not care for them. Wishing for them “to be well-educated and to have a better life,” he relinquished his sons for adoption.

Dylan during our visit in July 2012.

This is how they came to live at one of our partnering care centers – a lovely, well-tended home that cares for just a handful of children at a time.

Continue reading “These Brothers Just Want a Stable, Loving Family”

Waiting For Her Chance to Blossom

Natasha needs a family

Birthdate: July 21, 2007, Southeast Asia 

Shila Ann Henderson is the mother of 10 children, five adopted through Holt, three of whom came home after the age of five. She shares a little about her family’s experience adopting older children, here. “Some people think it’s too late for older children to be adopted, especially kids who have always been waiting,” says Shila. “Some think children who have experienced a harsh life will never overcome the effects. Those people have never met our Lan Lan, adopted at the age of 11, our Ningjie, adopted at the age of 10, and our son, Vu, adopted from Vietnam at the age of five — the sweetest, most loving children in the whole world!”

Today, Shila draws on her older child adoption experience and shares about 5-year-old Natasha, a sweet girl from Southeast Asia who is still waiting for a family of her own.

By Shila Henderson

Have you ever had a tea party with a 5-year-old girl? It’s a blast! It usually includes lowering oneself onto teeny tiny chairs, facing an audience of stuffed bears, and breaking out the special Pepperidge Farms cookies you were saving for company. (Just FYI, the tea is often cold water, but make sure that when you are served you grasp the tiny cup and stick out your pinky finger, then exclaim with great satisfaction that the steaming hot tea is simply delightful!)

Now that you have had your tutorial on tea parties, let me introduce you to little Natasha. Natasha needs a mommy and a daddy! When you read her bio, you might find yourself focusing on her diagnosis and rough start in life. As a parent who has adopted older kids with special needs, I remember those feelings. I urge you to look beyond.

Several of our children had developmental delays when they were adopted—they were older and, like Natasha, experienced neglect. What I’ve learned is that these kids are survivors! Once they come home and have the security of a family, anything and everything is possible. While we accept the fact they might always have challenges, their development in the first year alone always blows our socks off! It’s like discovering buried treasure!

When I look at Natasha, I see a little girl just waiting for her chance to blossom! I see a little girl who will love to play dress-up, and use mommy’s lipstick, and make playdough cookies for daddy. Yum! She’ll be a ballerina in the morning and a ninja by noon. Like most children who have faced challenges, she will need structure, and parents who will be patient as she learns to navigate relationships and emotions. But look at Natasha’s potential! Look at the gains she has already made! Look at that precious face! She has a long attention span, and a huge plus is her attachment to her current foster family. She can attach. She just needs a mommy and daddy to attach to–forever parents who will teach her about love, commitment, and of course, tea parties!

Have you ever had a tea party with a five-year-old girl? It’s a blast!

To read more information about Natasha, click here

Print prayer cards of Natasha and share them with your friends and family during National Adoption Month.

For more information about Natasha, contact Erin Anderson at erina@holtinternational.org

Holly’s Story

UPDATE: So many families have shown interest in Holly that we have closed applications for her! Our China program staff has identified two families equipped to meet Holly’s needs and will select one this week. Thank you to everyone for your immediate and overwhelming response. The China program often receives referrals like Holly’s, which are designated to Holt for a short amount of time before going to another agency for home-finding. Often, we are able to match these children before we ever have to post them on the photolisting. Families who are open to adopting older children will have the most success if they apply to Holt — well before they have a child in mind. This allows our staff to immediately consider your family as a potential match every time we receive a new designated referral, like Holly’s. 

Still interested in adopting an older girl from China? We are still looking for a family for Leanne. Click here to learn more.

DOB: February 4, 2004, China

Holly* was likely less than a day old when she was found – nine years ago – at the gate of a government building in a province on the southeast coast of China. The official who found Holly brought her to the police station, where she was quickly sent to live at the local social welfare institute. Here, she was diagnosed with congenital cataracts, nystagmus of both eyes – a condition that causes uncontrollable eye movement – and weak light perception. She also received an estimated birthday of February 4, 2004 – the date she was found.

Holly was a quiet baby who rarely cried but smiled when caregivers would laugh in her presence. She showed great interest in new objects, holding them close to her eyes so she could see and study them. With the encouragement of her caregivers, she slowly built her courage and learned to walk on her own. By 4 years old, she could walk steadily – relying on light perception – and had no problem going up and down stairs, running, jumping or participating in outdoor activities like hide-and-seek. She could read simple poems and count numerals with her peers. She strived to please and sought praise from her caregivers, to whom she had grown very attached. “In a word,” wrote her social worker at the time, “Holly is an active and lovely baby.”

Three years later, in March of 2011, Holly’s social worker sat down to write an update on Holly, now 7 years old. “Time flies,” she writes. “Now Holly becomes a very beautiful little girl!” Holly likes wearing dresses and “swinging in them.” She enjoys participating in craft workshops – always beginning by carefully observing what materials she has, grouping the materials, and then starting the crafting process. Holly’s motor and intellectual development are evident in how skillfully and meticulously she crafts her pieces.

Holly is now 8, going on 9. Although shy around strangers, Holly has through the years grown more confident and outgoing. Where before she spoke softly, she now expresses herself loud and clear. Holly attends school at the orphanage, and is described as quick to learn new things and to want to do the right thing.

Once a lovely baby, Holly has grown into a truly lovely girl.

This special young lady waits for a family who has access to vision resources, has parented past her age, has a good understanding of older child adoption and institutionalization, and will be patient in helping her transition to a family.

To learn more about Holly, contact Marissa Leuallen at marissal@holtinternational.org.

*name changed

The Philippines Ambassadors Leave Sunday!!

The second annual Philippines Ambassador Trip kicks off on Sunday, October 14th!

This year’s team includes two adoptive parents, two adult adoptees and three Holt staff members. Over the coming week, they will participate in group activities, go on fun outings and generally get to know the 15 boys and girls, ages 10-15, in this year’s group. Just like last year, the ambassadors will then return home to the U.S. and advocate for the children they met – helping them find loving adoptive families of their own!

Last year's group of older children.

Last year’s team of ambassadors had great success in this endeavor. Today, six of the 11 children they met have families!

We have the same high hopes for the 15 older children in this year’s group. Interested in learning more? Throughout the week, the ambassadors will post blogs about the children on a password-protected site. Interested families can follow along by clicking here for a username and password.

Continue reading “The Philippines Ambassadors Leave Sunday!!”

A Sweet, Inseparable Pair

UPDATE: Great news! As of January 2013, Jared and Gabby have a family!!

Siblings Jared and Gabby are this week’s featured waiting children. Help them find a loving family!

Jared, 5/25/96 and Gabby, 5/25/05, East Africa

This sweet pair of siblings lost their mother in 2005, when Gabby was just 4 months old and Jared was 9. After their mother died, they stayed in the care of their maternal uncle. However, with unstable income and two children of his own to care for, their uncle struggled to support his niece and nephew. In 2007, he relinquished them to a care center, where they still live today.

In the years since, Gabby has grown into a healthy, happy and playful girl who loves to draw and sing. Now 7 years old, Gabby is in the 2nd grade at school, where her favorite subject is general science. She hopes one day to become a doctor!

Gabby never knew her mother, but she has always had her older brother and looks to him for guidance. Her brother is now 16 years old and is very nurturing and protective of his younger sister, as well as the other children in the care center. Jared is in the 9th grade and enjoys his English and biology classes most. He is described as respectful and cooperative, with a talent for drawing and sculpture.

Both Gabby and Jared are active and sociable, and get along very well with their caregivers and peers. Although neither have any friends who have joined adoptive families, they are described as having a positive attitude toward adoption.

These siblings will do best in a family that understands the impact of being adopted internationally as an older child, as well as the impact of grief and loss on child development. The ideal family will have access to cultural role models, as well as previous older child adoption experience.

Although they do not have the means to care for them themselves, their aunt and uncle hope for Gabby and Jared to find a loving, stable, permanent family – especially since they have already experienced the trauma of losing their birth parents. We wish that for them too.

For more information about Jared and Gabby, contact Erin Anderson at erina@holtinternational.org.

Holt to Kick Off Second Philippines Ambassador Trip!

Last year, a special team of Holt ambassadors – including two Holt staff and six volunteers – traveled to the Philippines to meet 11 older children still waiting for a loving family to adopt them. During a week full of fun activities, the ambassadors got to know the children – their likes and dislikes, their challenges and strengths and what makes them special. Upon returning home to the U.S., the ambassadors shared what they had learned about these children with members of their church and community – hoping to inspire families to adopt.

Last year's group of older children from the Philippines.

Today, six of these children have families of their own! We find that really exciting…

So exciting that we have decided to send another group of ambassadors to the Philippines to meet another extraordinary group of children. On October 14th, two adoptive parents, two adult adoptees and three Holt staff members will kick off the second Philippines Ambassador trip. They will spend a week doing group activities, going on fun outings and generally getting to know the 15 boys and girls, ages 10-15, in this year’s group.

Help make the trip even more special! We have selected items for the children and included them in a gift registry at amazon.com. Click here to view the wish list and purchase a gift to send with our ambassadors.

All items are tax-deductable and need to arrive at Holt’s Eugene office by October 10th. Please send your gift to:

1195 City View

Eugene, OR 97402

For more information, contact Erin Anderson at erina@holtinternational.org.

Interested in learning more about the ambassador program and the participating children? The ambassadors will blog during the trip on a password-protected site. Stay tuned for information on how to access this site!