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!

Julie Has a Family!!

UPDATE: As of June 2012, Julie has a family!! Three cheers for Julie!

Julie* is this week’s featured waiting child. She has less than 9 months to find a family. Eligible and interested families should immediately contact Erin Mower at erinm@holtinternational.org.

Julie in July 2010.

Date of Birth: November 15, 1998

Two years ago, in November of 2010, we posted Julie’s story in the hopes of finding her a family. After several of us met her in China the previous summer, we came home determined to find this 11-year-old girl the family she so deserved – and desperately wanted. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful.

Julie is now 13, and has less than 9 months to find a family before she becomes ineligible for international adoption.

Thirteen years ago, Julie’s birth parents wrapped their newborn daughter in red cloth and left her at a crossroads in a major southern city. Here, she was found by local police and taken to one of China’s sprawling social welfare centers for orphaned and abandoned children. In the years since, Julie has grown into a clever, independent girl with a warm, loving heart.

Click here to read Julie’s original waiting child blog, from November 2010.

Since we last wrote about her two years ago, Julie has come into her own in many ways. After following up with the orphanage, our staff in China received an update on Julie. She likes to sing and dance, and is currently learning Latin dance, they write. She loves dolls and handicrafts and she is good at expressing her ideas. She is also diligent and methodical in nature, and seeks to help others in need. She wants to be a kindergarten teacher when she grows up so that she can help take care of other children.

Over the years, Julie has watched many children leave the orphanage to join loving families of their own – always wondering when it will be her turn. She desperately wants a family, her caregivers write, and often gets emotional and jealous when other children are adopted. Julie says she would love to join a family with grandparents, siblings as well as cats.

She has waited 13 years. This is literally her last chance to join a family of her own. To help interested families who may not have the resources, we have reduced fees and placed a Special Blessings SNAF grant of $5,000 toward Julie’s adoption. 

A recent photo of Julie.

To meet the deadline to adopt Julie by her 14th birthday, families will need to complete and submit their dossier to China by May 15th. Because her case is so urgent, China may however show some flexibility in eligibility requirements. See country criteria for complete eligibility requirements.

For more information about Julie, contact Erin Mower at erinm@holtinternational.org.

* name changed

Children Who Give: Hunter’s Story — Our Gift

Welcome to our first post in the “Children Who Give” blog series!  In the coming weeks and periodically throughout the year, we will feature stories about children who raise funds for Holt, and parents, grandparents and others who raise funds on behalf of the children in their lives. As Mary Li Creasy illustrates so well in the following story about her son, Hunter, children are a gift — a gift that often inspires us to give back. In this story, it is Hunter who was inspired to give back. His love and appreciation for his family inspired him to write an award-winning essay about Holt, to which he then donated his winnings so that we can help more children have families of their own. Thank you Hunter, and thank you Mary Li for sharing this beautiful story!

Hunter in July 2011, age 8.

One year to the day we adopted our daughter, Lily – from China through Holt – we got the call about a 4-year-old boy named “Hung” in Vietnam. Holt thought he would be a good match for our family. We had applied to the special needs program only a few months earlier, knowing we wanted to adopt an older child and also that we did not want to wait the 13 months it took to bring our daughter home from China between 2005 and 2006. We had gone to committee once before, but Holt’s social workers decided another family was a better fit for that child. After that, we felt greatly discouraged and weren’t sure we would ever be matched.

We were shocked to receive the call only a month later about Hung.

With a 10-year-old and 2-and-a-half-year-old at home, 4 seemed on the lowest end of the age spectrum we would consider.  And we knew nothing about the Vietnam program.  After praying about it and talking it over as a family for a few days, we requested the file.

One look at Hung’s beautiful brown eyes and we were in love.

In September of 2008, fifteen months after we accepted Hung’s referral, the U.S. and Vietnam decided not to renew their Memo of Understanding regarding adoptions and subsequently suspended all international adoption from Vietnam. We managed to endure the next seven months with the help of weekly telephone calls with Holt staff, hundreds of supportive e-mails, and several visits with our online Holt Vietnam friends and Dong Nai waiting parents group. After our case was finally resolved, we traveled to Bien Hoa, Vietnam, where on April 13, 2009, we met and adopted our son Hung, who we named John “Hunter.”

Hunter came to us with a huge smile and an open heart. Continue reading “Children Who Give: Hunter’s Story — Our Gift”

There’s Always More Love to Give

PHOTOS BY REBECCA S. GRATZ/THE WORLD-HERALD Sarah Kolb, one of Sandy and Ed's three biological daughters, leans over to check out Lucas’ book from China.

Recently, we at Holt celebrated the 14th birthday of Lucas Kolb — a boy adopted from China in just the knick of time!  When he turned 14, he would no longer be eligible for adoption. Although they already had four adopted sons at home, Ed and Sandy Kolb of Nebraska found they still had more love to give. With the deadline looming, the Kolbs opened their hearts to not just one, but two older boys.  Lucas, and Christian, age 11.

“Adopting children is what I’ve been prepared to do my whole life,” Sandy Kolb recently told a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald. “You’re not going to stop at just one. Your life positively changes after you adopt and the child’s does too.”

Read the full article, “There’s Always More Love to Give,” in today’s Omaha World-Herald.

To learn more about adopting older children and children with special needs from China, click here.

REBECCA S. GRATZ/THE WORLD-HERALD Stefan, 13, of Romania (from left), Charlie, 7, of China and Christian, 11, of China play together.

Happy 14th Birthday, Lucas!

A boy recently adopted by a Nebraska family turns 14, the cut-off age for adoption from China.
by Robin Munro, Senior Writer

Lucas (right) with brothers Christian and Stefan, about to board a plane to Hong Kong on their journey home to Nebraska.

I have such exciting news to share!  On February 1st, Yu Qing* – the boy featured in the summer 2010 Holt magazine – celebrated his 14th birthday with his adoptive parents, Ed and Sandy Kolb, and five new brothers, also adopted.

On the Kolb family blog, Sandy explains the significance of this particular birthday for Yu Qing (who now goes by Lucas):

February First marked another celebration day…Lucas’ 14th birthday!   In his honor, God proclaimed a “Snow Day” in Omaha and so, school was cancelled…(so we told him!) We spent the better part of the day in PJ’s, watching movies, eating, playing games and eating some more!
It was especially sweet to celebrate this birthday with Lucas since at age 14 in China he would have aged out of being eligible for international adoption!  He became our son, by God’s grace, in the nick of time!!
In some ways we are still getting to know each other, in other ways it is as if Lucas has always been a part of our family.

It’s always exciting when a child finds a family.  But actually having met and personally advocated for the child makes it that much more meaningful.  When I met Lucas this past summer at the Journey of Hope camp in southern China, I was struck by what a polite, thoughtful and intelligent boy he was.  A shy 13-year-old, he avoided eye contact and kept his hands neatly folded in his lap – likely to hide the fact he’s missing fingers.  He told us he hoped to one day become a doctor, a feat nearly impossible for a boy with a physical abnormality and no family name – both traits considered “unlucky” in this traditionally Confucian culture.  As an orphan in China, his educational opportunities would be limited.  When he reached adulthood, finding employment – especially as a doctor – would be even more challenging.  With our friendly gestures drawing only the slightest of smiles, Lucas seemed painfully aware of these social stigmas, and the obstacles they would create for him.

Lucas (right) with brother Christian and another new family member (resting on his shoulder).

Here today, as we interviewed children to advocate for their adoption, Lucas seemed not so much excited, but actually burdened by the gravity of the opportunity before him – the opportunity to join a family, as well as a society that doesn’t discriminate based on your family name or disabilities.  At 13, he had only six months to find a family before aging out.

But then something extraordinary happened.  The Kolbs opened their hearts to Lucas. He was home by Christmas Eve.

In looking at the photos of Lucas on the Kolbs’ private family blog, it’s heartening to see such genuinely happy, confident smiles on his face.  Within the first week with his new family, he grows visibly more at ease – and, once informed that his new family will not judge him for missing fingers, he becomes less self-conscious about his hand.  He seems so happy.  And relieved.  His 13-year wait for a permanent family is over.

No longer a looming deadline, turning 14 is now cause for celebration!

Lucas’ story is a triumphant one.  But so many children – especially older children and children with special needs – continue to wait for permanent, loving families.  Like Lucas, many of them are on the verge of turning 14 and becoming ineligible for adoption. All children deserve a loving family – as well as every opportunity to work hard and achieve their dreams!

Click here to visit Holt’s Waiting Child photolisting and read more about the children who wait.

* Name has been changed