Arms wide open special needs, special Families Spring 2007 Vol. 49 No. 2

Spring 2007 Vol. 49 No. 2
Arms Wide Open
Special Needs, Special Families
a child
wait for
Children around the world
wait for adoptive families.
Holt International has
• with minor or correctable
medical conditions
• who are older
• who are siblings
Consider a waiting child;
finding families
for children
Help connect a waiting child with a family. Download and print
our waiting child poster using the above link and display it at
your church or place of work.
Dear Readers
Two young children huddled together on a bench beside the front door of Holt’s
partner agency in Pune, India. The fear and uncertainty on their faces as they sat,
too afraid to move, remains one of the most haunting images in my memory.
These children happened to be sisters—one about 2 years old, the other 4 or 5.
Recently found abandoned, they were being transferred from an orphanage for
babies to Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra, which was better equipped to care for
“older children.” Imagine losing your parents at such a young age, and in the
shuffling from one program to another, the feeling of being lost and uncared for.
The trauma of abandonment in a child’s life is often not so obvious as it was in the
expressions on these girls’ faces. Their story is not likely to capture headlines like
an earthquake or tsunami. But for them, and for each child who comes into Holt
care, the situation that put them there is a disaster of the greatest magnitude.
This past year Holt International touched the lives of over 46,000 orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children, and of these, Holt and its network of agencies
around the world found families for 4,396. A summary of Holt’s other efforts and
finances appears on pages 10–11 of this issue of Holt International magazine. But,
of course, numbers cannot capture the very personal nature of every child helped.
Each child represents a unique situation needing an individual solution. Can
the birth parents be found? Is it in the child’s best interest to be returned to them?
Or was the family in the midst of a crisis, and abandoning their son or daughter
seemed the only way to feed that child? These are all questions and issues Holt and
its partners must deal with fully before seeking a permanent family.
We at Holt are grateful for the involvement and support of so many caring people.
Because of your compassion, Holt and its partners can receive children, nurture
them to health and help ensure that they will have permanent, loving families.
And those two children who arrived at BSSK? Their haunting expressions disappeared as the children grew accustomed to the consistent, attentive care Holt programs are known for. And they eventually joined an adoptive family and started a
new chapter in their lives.
—John Aeby, Editor
arms wide open
Special Needs Adoption
Parents show commitment, flexibility and
abundant love.
Summary and Highlights of 2006
Adoption Medicine
Motherland Revisited
A college student visits Korea on Holt’s
Motherland Tour.
Around the Globe
From the Family
Family Tree Waiting Child Neighborhood Calendar
In 1955 Harry and Bertha Holt responded to the conviction that God had called them to help
children left homeless by the Korean War. Though it took an act of the U.S. Congress, the
Holts adopted eight of those children. But they were moved by the desperate plight of other
orphaned children in Korea and other countries as well, so they founded Holt International
Children’s Services in order to unite homeless children with families who would love them
as their own. Today Holt International serves children and families in Cambodia, China,
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Guatemala, Haiti, India, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Romania,
Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, the United States and Vietnam.
President & CEO Gary N. Gamer
Vice-President of Programs & Services Carole Stiles
Vice-President of Marketing & Development Phillip A. Littleton
Vice-President of Public Policy & Advocacy Susan Soon-keum Cox
Vice-President of Finance & Administration Kevin Sweeney
Board of Directors
Chair Kim S. Brown Vice-Chair Will C. Dantzler President Emeritus Dr. David H. Kim
Secretary Claire A. Noland Members Andrew R. Bailey, Julia K. Banta, James D. Barfoot,
Rebecca C. Brandt, Dean Bruns, Wilma R. Cheney, Clinton C. Cottrell, Cynthia G. Davis, A. Paul
Disdier, Rosser B. Edwards, Kim A. Hanson, Joseph P. Matturro, Jeffrey B. Saddington, Richard J.
Salko, Shirley M. Stewart, Steven G. Stirling
Holt International magazine is published bimonthly by Holt International Children’s Services,
Inc., a nonprofit Christian child welfare organization. While Holt International is responsible
for the content of Holt International magazine, the viewpoints expressed in this publication are
not necessarily those of the organization.
Editor John Aeby
Managing Editor Alice Evans
Graphics Brian Campbell, Alice Evans, Emily Lewellen
Subscription Orders/Inquiries and Address Changes
Send all editorial correspondence and changes of address to Holt International magazine,
Holt International, P.O. Box 2880, Eugene, OR 97402. We ask for an annual donation of $20 to
cover the cost of publication and mailing inside the United States and $40 outside the United
States. Holt welcomes the contribution of letters and articles for publication, but assumes no
responsibility for return of letters, manuscripts, or photos.
California Office
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10685 Bedford Ave., Suite 300, Omaha, NE 68134
Ph: 402/934.5031 Fax: 402/934.5034
Our Mission
Holt International is dedicated to carrying out God’s plan for every child to have a permanent,
loving family.
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25 Whispering Drive, Edgemont, AR 72044
Ph/Fax: 501/723.4444
Some facts about adoption medicine...can
a specialist help your adopted child?
adoptees today
Holt International Children’s Services
P.O. Box 2880 (1195 City View) Eugene, OR 97402
Ph: 541/687.2202 Fax: 541/683.6175
Reprint Information
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International magazine. Please direct reprint requests to editor John Aeby at 541/687.2202 or
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annual report
Spring 2007 vol. 49 no. 2
Cover: Jaili Moffitt enjoys the sunshine and fresh air of her Oregon
home. Story p. 26
Missouri Office/Kansas Office
203 Huntington Rd., Kansas City, MO 64113
Ph: 816/822.2169 Fax: 816/523.8379
122 W. 5th St., Garnett, KS 66032
[email protected]
New Jersey Office
340 Scotch Rd. (2nd Floor), Trenton, NJ 08628
Ph: 609/882.4972 Fax: 609/883.2398
Oregon Office
Capitol Plaza 9320 SW Barbur Blvd., Suite 220, Portland, OR 97219
Ph: 503/244.2440 Fax: 503/245.2498
Copyright ©2007 By Holt International Children’s Services, Inc.
ISSN 1047-7640
offices in Eugene in early March, learning
about ways to set up cooperative social
services that combine public and private
spending in the prevention of child abuse.
The group of social work administrators,
academics and government officials trained
at the Holt offices under the instruction
of University of Oregon Professor Daniel
Close and Holt staff, but also visited model
social service agencies in Eugene including
the Relief Nursery, EC Cares Program for
early intervention and early childhood special education, Birth to Three and Looking
Glass Youth & Family Services.
Summer Camps for
Adoptees Adopted from China, Shan Wolff, 8, was the poster girl
for this year’s Texas Tea & Fashion Show. Her mother,
Evelyn Wolff, hosted a table at the event.
Holt Fundraisers
Texas Tea & Fashion Show: Chaired by
Holt Board members Julie Banta and Cindy
Davis, this March event held near Dallas
raised more than $25,000 for children in
Holt care in Vietnam, Thailand and the
Omaha Auction: Holt’s Colors of Hope dinner auction, held in Omaha in late February
to benefit the children of Korea, brought
in $90,000. Despite a heavy snowstorm,
supporters came, and they gave in record
numbers, nearly double last year’s total.
Garage Sales: A garage sale held by volunteers and Holt staff at the Holt Midwest
Office in Omaha raised $1,400 toward
the purchase of nebulizers and suction
machines for the hospital Holt works with
in Korea. Babies in the care of Holt
Children’s Services of Korea have shown
rapid recovery from respiratory problems
through the use of this equipment. A
second garage sale will be held May 19
as a benefit for children in Holt care in
Uganda. The money raised will go to
the Uganda School Project. Contact the
Midwest Branch Office at (402)934-5031 for
more information.
Ukraine Training
A training group from Ukraine and
Kazakhstan spent a week at the Holt
4 Spring 2007
Holt International’s Adoptee Camp offers
an exciting and fun experience designed to
be relevant to all international and transracial adoptees from 9-16 years of age. Holt
Adoptee Camps focus on adoption, race
and identity, rather than birth culture, helping adoptees to understand and appreciate
their special life experiences. On top of
a great week of summer camp activities,
Holt Camp’s unique environment encourages friendships that continue throughout
the year. Camps fill quickly, so register
online today. See the calendar below for
Camps offered in your area. If you have
any questions, please feel free to contact us
by e-mail or call (541) 687-2202.
and ancestry. It will be held June 23 in
Kokomo, IN. For more information, go to
Holt Graduates: Be included in the annual
graduate edition of Holt International magazine. Deadline for photos of Holt adoptees
who are graduating from high school and
college is June 1. Short stories from families about their graduate are also welcome.
Go to for the Graduate Submission Form.
You can upload your photos there, or if you
prefer, you can mail your graduate’s photo
to Grad Submissions, Holt International,
P.O. Box 2880, Eugene, OR 97402.
Calendar Photos: Deadline for calendar photos is July 15. Please upload
your digital images (set your camera at 3 megapixels or higher) to or mail
glossy prints 4 x 6 to 11 x 14 to Calendar
Photos, Holt International, P.O. Box 2880,
Eugene, OR 97402. We cannot use studio
photographs (except for graduate photos)
or inkjet or digital prints.
In Memory
Camp Friendship—For more information
about this New Jersey culture day camp for
Korean adoptees and their siblings entering
grades K-7, go to www.campfriendshipnj.
Chosen International—Empowers adoptees with the understanding that God has
a divine design for their lives, including
adoption. Integrating biblical and psychological principles, Chosen International
helps adoptees gain security and peace as
they face the challenges of life. For more
information about these Oregon retreats,
visit online or call
(541) 476-2109.
Colorado Heritage Camps—For information about birth culture camps for children
adopted from various countries, go to
Filipino Culture Camp—Camp Mabuhay
Indiana, a Filipino cultural camp, welcomes
families who have ties to the Philippines
through adoption, marriage, friendships
October 31, 1984–January 19, 2007
Matthew Bonner, adopted from Korea in
1987 by Vernon and Jackie Bonner of
Bonanza, Oregon, died in January after
battling bone cancer for two years. He is
survived by his mother, brother and sister.
Matthew was active in youth ministries at
his church and was a leader in AWANA.
Matthew excelled at piano, drawing, origami and yo-yo tricks. ■
Moving Children to
the Front of the Line
My encounter with a foster mom in China this past
March overwhelmed me with a feeling that I had just
experienced a great deal of all that Holt’s mission
Hanging by the foster mom’s side a girl smiled playfully. Her disability presented no barrier to the closeness shared by this mom and daughter. Had the girl
remained in the orphanage, she would have been in
desperate straits. But now that she was a member of
a family—one of the six children in the care of the
foster mom and her husband—her world had been
Oftentimes Holt’s first order of work is to get children
out of institutions and into a family environment,
sometimes for survival sake—and always moving in a
direction of fulfilling each child’s potential in life.
To the Front of the Line
As I spoke with foster parents at the “Love of the
Heart” group home in Nanchang, I watched a toddler hovering over bountiful bowls of fruits, nuts and
candies—perhaps more with the idea of their use as
playthings than for consumption. The scene stood in
vivid contrast to many situations I have witnessed—
where children who had lost their parents were last
in line to receive basic needs.
As I watched the little boy, I felt the presence of Jesus,
and in my spirit I felt His admonition for us to side
with “the least of these.”*
One of the most satisfying parts of my work is being
part of a committed group of people worldwide who
are moving the least of these to the front of the line.
At Holt, we do this by finding families for children,
enabling them to enjoy the manifold blessings that
come from being someone’s son or daughter.
Tears welled up in the foster mom’s eyes as she
pointed to the photograph behind her of a girl she
had fostered. The girl recently left, adopted by a
family in America. Yes, these were tears of pain
because she and her husband loved and missed the
girl so much. But they were also tears of hope for
this child, tears that we all spilled at that moment in
the shared humanity that brought us together across
great cultural and geographic distances for the sake
of children.
by Gary N. Gamer, President and CEO
A Shared Vision
Holt International connects people who share a vision
for homeless children, a vision first enunciated by our
founder Harry Holt some 50 years ago that every child
deserves a home.
The foster mom I met in China reminds me of Harry
Holt. Like him, she is vital to bringing children out
of the shadows and into the open, ensuring that their
basic needs are met. Her caring extends to children
whose special needs may hinder their adoption. But
because of her devotion, they are escaping the dehumanizing specter of institutionalization.
This nurturing provided by her and others like her
also offers a great start for children who will be
adopted. The foster parents’ faithful, encouraging
hand helps these children take their first steps toward
life in a permanent family. Such dedicated care characterizes the values that define Holt International’s
work to this very day, every day.
Top: A foster mother and
little boy wave during a
visit by Holt International
staff to the Nanchang
Group Home. Above:
Holt President and CEO
Gary Gamer visits with a
Nanchang foster child and
her foster mother.
As you look over our annual report summary in this
issue, please realize that for thousands of children
Holt helped in 2006 through adoption and other
family-based services, thousands of compassionate
people like our foster mom in China enabled this to
Very likely you are one of these people… an adoptive parent, a sponsor or supporter of Holt’s mission
through other means. The needs of children have
brought us together in remarkable ways, and for this
I am truly grateful. ■
* from Matthew 25:45 5
O pen
Adopting a child with special needs takes commitment,
flexibility and a willingness to love abundantly
—like parenting any child.
by Alice Evans
Managing Editor
Above: AntonYong at
home in New Jersey.
“Follows me everywhere
all day,” wrote Kristine Piu
a month after she brought
her son home from Ilsan.
“I am constantly getting
leg hugs. If I am sitting on
the floor he will come up
behind me and hug me and
turn my head so he can
give me a kiss.” • Yongwoo, as he was known
then, sits on a swing with
Min-kee, one of the friends
he left behind at the Holt
Ilsan Center.
Kristine Piu was in Korea to gather up the newest
member of their family, daughter AvaChae, when she
came across Yong-woo, a handsome boy in the care
of Holt Children’s Services of Korea. “The moment I
hugged this sweet little angel I knew he was meant to
be our son,” she wrote in her online journal.
As soon as Holt allowed, she and Sal, her husband,
filed their papers with Holt International and “let fate
do its job.” Within the month, they got official word
they would become Yong-woo’s forever family.
Their fourth adopted child and fifth overall, the
boy they renamed AntonYong came home to them
not only with the special challenges any older child
would offer—he had turned 3 the month before the
Pius picked him up—but also with special healthcare
needs. Kristine calls him her noodle boy because he
has loose ligaments and lacks reflexes in his joints.
He was also born with neurological problems, and
while living at Ilsan received speech and occupational
Following a visit to the neurologist six weeks after
bringing him home, Kristine noted: “If no answers
are found and all he needs is intense therapies, then
so be it. So tired of seeing doctors and so is he.”
Kristine, a stay-at-home mom, and Sal, an engineer
for the Department of Defense, were experienced
not only with adopting children from overseas but
also children with special healthcare needs. They
welcomed AntonYong into their lives with eyes and
arms wide open. As remarkable a couple as they are,
the Pius are also ordinary people typical of those who
adopt waiting children through Holt. Here are some
of the important qualities they revealed:
• Realistic Expectations—the Pius did their home-
6 Spring 2007
work. They knew what to expect with AntonYong,
and even though they couldn’t see around all the
corners, they were prepared to give him all the time
he needed to adjust to their family. “We know it will
take a long time for him to catch up, and he may
never catch up,” Kristine wrote. “That is just fine with
us. He is the way he is because God made him that
• Flexibility—the Pius recognized that AntonYong
would face many challenges and frustrations in joining their family, and both they and their children
would also have adjustments to make. The Pius did
not deny their frustrations, but they showed resilience
and humor in adapting (“He is just one big noodle
• Commitment—the Pius had this clearly in their
sights. “We wouldn’t change anything,” Kristine
wrote. “Some have asked if we have regrets adopting
him, and I just about want to deck them. I would do
it all over again in a heart beat!”
Matched with Grace
Grace Neilitz has a buddy—Smokey, a big, friendly
dog whose warm presence is extra comforting to
this little girl with limited vision. When her parents,
Melanie and Mike Neilitz, decided to adopt a waiting
child, they had been trying for four years to get pregnant, then for yet another year or so to adopt a child
with no known medical problems.
As the wait went on and on, their social worker
suggested adopting a child with special healthcare
needs. “We decided to pray about this possibility,”
Melanie says. Then they watched in puzzlement
as a couple they knew quickly got matched with a
child, even though they were behind the Neilitzes in
their paperwork. Melanie, a middle- and high-school
teacher, and Mike, an insurance salesman, learned
that the child had a special healthcare need, and they
took this as a sign.
“It was like God was saying that if this family
was willing to adopt a child with special needs, we
can too,” Melanie says. “So we prayed and had a
peace about it and informed our social worker of our
desires.” Within days, they found themselves matched
with Grace.
“I remember initially thinking that special need
meant something extreme, maybe something we
couldn’t handle,” Melanie says. “After reviewing
the conditions and then getting Grace and seeing
the other girls’ special needs, my thoughts about it
changed. In my mind our girls are all functioning
normally despite the circumstance that put them in
the special needs category.”
Melanie says that in discussing Grace’s vision
challenges—a result of low pigmentation due to
albinism—they believe Grace will enjoy what sight
she has.
“All we need to do is to equip her with whatever
she needs to succeed, whether it be glasses, learning
Braille, or purchasing special equipment,” Melanie
says. “These to me are simple things, so to me her
vision [challenge] is not serious.”
Melanie points out that in the United States, “we
are so blessed to have the necessary means to help
children with special needs. In our case, the school
district has already set up an appointment to assess
Grace’s development and will help us out with her in
this area whether it be therapy, or helping her learn
to see better.”
The Neilitzes are more than willing to adopt a
second child with special healthcare needs, Melanie
says. They have already submitted their application,
and Melanie has returned to teaching in a substitute
role one day a week to help with adoption costs.
What You Can Handle
Hollie and Devan Strahm were in the same traveling group as the Neilitzes when they went to China
last fall to bring home Lily, a 1½-year-old girl with
special healthcare needs. Their process from start
to finish was 11 months. “Many of the special needs
are so minor, or completely resolved by the time the
children come home,” Hollie says. “I do believe that
everyone knows what they can and cannot handle.
Just like so many people are open to different special
When the Strahms received their referral from Holt,
they took the time they needed to review Lily’s information before making a decision. “We knew she was
meant to be in our family,” Hollie remembers. “But
we had promised each other that we would have an
adoption [medical] clinic* review the information so
we both felt comfortable. Then after the consult, our
decision was made—she is ours!”
But then came the twist. While the Strahms were
“still on cloud nine,” Holt called to let them know
they’d had a report that Lily had been having some
seizures. “I was devastated,” Hollie recalls. “I tried
to remain calm, but there were a thousand questions
running through my head. Was she okay? Why was
she having seizures? Was this child not meant to be
ours? Is this more than we can handle? We had a
lot of soul searching, more research, and decisions
to make.”
*Editor’s Note: See article on adoption medical clinics pp. 26–27.
Above left: Isaiah Corron,
adopted last year from
India, with sister Mei-Lin,
2, adopted from China in
2005. “We will always
be extremely grateful for
giving us the opportunity
to adopt Isaiah,” his mom
says. “We hope we can
help additional families
Center and right: Grace
Neilitz with Smokey. “She
smiles and sometimes giggles when she pets him,”
says her mom. “Smokey
wants to protect her.
While he is not allowed to
go in her room, I often find
him outside of her room
lying down as if keeping
watch.” • Melanie and
Mike Neilitz cuddle their
new daughter. • Grace
sits on a bed at the White
Swan Hotel in China after
being united with her forever family. 7
Above: Hollie, Devan and
Lily Strahm—“Finally we
have our precious Lily!
She is so beautiful, and so
tiny…” wrote Devan Strahm
in the family’s online
travel blog while in China.
Above right: Lily today,
descending a slide.
Facing page: This 2-yearold boy from China recently was matched with a
family through the Waiting
Child Program. WCP
Director Abbie Smith notes
that boys are often harder
to place than girls.
Hollie says they received news of more frequent
seizures, but by this time they had come to the following realization. “This might not even have happened
until we had gotten home with her. We wouldn’t have
looked back then. This child was meant to be ours.”
Hollie, a registered nurse who is now a stay-athome mom, and Devan, who owns a business doing
asphalt maintenance, are in the process of having Lily
evaluated further to address some of her medical concerns. Her initial exams went well, with no surprises,
and Lily has been an active, happy toddler since coming home. “It doesn’t really matter where it all goes,”
Hollie says. “She is perfect.”
Financial Assistance
Abbie Smith, LCSW, director of Holt’s Waiting Child
Program, emphasizes that Holt is aware of the possibility of additional expenses for treatment for some
of our waiting children.
“To help offset the initial costs of adoption so families can dedicate the money to future medical expenses, Holt has developed three avenues of funding assistance available only for waiting children,” she says.
They are the Holt fee reduction, the Special Needs
Adoption Fund, and the Brittany’s Hope grants.
“The availability of these funds are due to the commitment of donors, the hard work of many volunteers
and the dedication to waiting children of our collaborative agencies,” Smith says.
Holt Fee Reduction. Holt provides a reduction in
country adoption fees for children who are assessed
to have moderate or severe needs, not all of which are
medical, she says. Such fee reductions are a measure
of Holt’s dedication to finding families for children
in its care, even many who were once considered
For more information go
to www.holtinternational.
8 Spring 2007
Special Needs Adoption Fund. Before adopting
a little boy from India with profound hearing loss,
Michell and Robert Corron adopted a daughter from
China in 2005. Robert, who works for the highway
department, and Michell, who operates an at-home
daycare, already had three older children, one with a
profound hearing loss. When they saw Nitin’s photo-
graph and decided they’d like to bring him into their
family, the couple simply did not have enough money
to fund the adoption. They were motivated, skilled
parents who had already faced the kinds of medical
challenges they would need to address with Nitin.
When the Corrons inquired about adopting him, Nitin
had been waiting for a permanent family for more
than a year. Holt offered to help with the adoption
costs, using a donor-funded Special Needs Adoption
Fund (SNAF) grant for families.
Three weeks after bringing Nitin, renamed Isaiah,
home, Michell wrote to thank the anonymous donors
who provided funds for the grant. Without the assistance of a SNAF grant, she says, her family would not
have had enough money. “Your grant also enabled us
to buy him new digital hearing aids upon arrival here,
something our insurance wouldn’t cover.”
Isaiah, who was born premature, has a few developmental issues, and “we continue to deal with his
low weight and malnutrition,” Michell says. “He is,
though, the most loving, affectionate child.”
Brittany’s Hope. Kristine and Sal Piu adopted a
child who had been awarded a grant from Brittany’s
Hope, one of Holt’s collaborative agencies.
Smith notes that grants from Brittany’s Hope go to
the child, not the family, so that whoever adopts that
child receives a deduction in country adoption fees.
Brittany’s Hope grants are typically in the amount of
$5,000 and are available until nine months after the
granting date.
A Loving Family
Kristine Bales, a Holt social worker who helps place
many children with special healthcare needs and who
worked with both the Strahms and the Neilitzes, says:
“Many who thought they needed a healthy baby girl
have come to realize they are capable of loving a boy
or girl who is older or has a medical issue. In this
process, they have discovered what a blessing a child
with special needs can be.
“We say these children have ‘special needs,’ but of
course all children have special needs. Most of all,
they need a loving family that is willing to accept
The Wisdom of Solomon
Holt’s Waiting Child Committee
often must decide between equally
qualified families
One little girl with motor and language
delays. Two experienced adoptive families, both of them skilled at parenting
a child with special healthcare needs.
Both families specifically requesting to
adopt this 3-year-old girl from India.*
“This is not going to be easy,” said Abbie
Smith, director of Holt’s Waiting Child
Program, speaking to the other social
workers who sit on the selection committee.
They discussed the girl’s capabilities and
the challenges she would face. Both
families were motivated and would
make a good match. One already had a
boy with motor delays. The other had
a daughter with speech difficulties.
The committee did not want to turn
down either of them. The situation was
reminiscent of Solomon’s dilemma in the
biblical passage where two women claim
to be the mothers of the same child.
Indeed, a measure of Solomon’s wisdom
was required for the committee members to make their choice.
In addition to assuring that a family
meets the required country standards,
the committee considers other qualities:
In the end, they picked the family who
was further along in the adoption
process. With some of the necessary
papers already filed, they would be able
to bring the girl home sooner.
• the family‘s support system and
access to medical resources
Waiting Child Committee
• family’s experience with special
healthcare needs and adoption
• experience and knowledge of
child’s birth culture and openness
to cultural activities for child
—compiled by Holt staff
*a simulated situation typical of
what the WCC faces each week
Nearly every week, social workers at
Holt meet to consider applications for
children in the Waiting Child Program.
Often, as in the case of the little girl
from India, more than one qualified
family wants to adopt the same child.
them just as they are, so they can reach their full
potential,” Bales says.
Abbie Smith notes that last year, Holt placed 192
children through its Waiting Child Program, a significant increase from previous years.
The program offers advantages:
•the financial assistance available
•the faster processing time (up to 14 months
faster for China)
•the ability to pick the child’s gender and age
•the ability to review files of multiple children
and come to know a child before making a
lifelong commitment.
“Everything that Holt knows about a child is shared
with the family,” Smith says.
The success of the Waiting Child Program is a testimony not only to the commitment and dedication
of families such as the Neilitzes, Corrons, Pius and
Strahms, but a hallmark of Holt and its mission to help
find families for children. When Harry Holt first went
to Korea in the mid-1950s, he never gave up trying
to find families for all the children he came across
who needed this help. Before his death in 1964, he
and Bertha Holt built the Holt Ilsan Rehabilitation
Center outside Seoul, Korea. From the outset, Holt
International has taken on the care and the placement
of children with unique needs.
Among Holt’s waiting child alumni are Steve
Stirling, MBA, a member of the Holt International
Board of Directors; Steve Morrison, MS, an aerospace
engineer; and Lee Schuh, MD, all of whom once lived
at Ilsan.
Many Children Still Wait
It has become very easy to place young children
with minor or correctable special needs, Smith points
out. “Many of our waiting children do not make it
to our photolisting because we call our homestudy–
ready families first,” she says.
But many children still wait, seemingly forever, for
their forever families. And sometimes families are
never found.
Families who adopt waiting children through Holt
often feel a leading to adopt a child whom they
believe may be passed over by other families, Smith
says. She notes the positive nature of this connection, but also points out that sometimes more than
one family expresses a determination to adopt the
same child. When a family remains open to other
children, Holt is more likely to be able to match them,
she says.
This becomes a win-win situation for the child—
and the family. “More and more families are realizing
what a waiting child can bring to their families—the
hope, the joy of small gains, and the growth in their
other children as they come to understand and love a
child with a difference,” Smith says.
Like many other parents who have adopted a child
with special needs, Melanie Neilitz has become an
advocate. “I strongly encourage any family who has
even the smallest piece of their heart thinking about
special needs to really check it out, because it is so
worth it,” Melanie says.
She adds: “You could get pregnant and end up having a child with one of these needs. In my mind it is
not different.” ■ 9
Holt International—uniting orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children with loving families
The efforts and contributions of thousands of people—childcare workers, foster parents, donors, adoptive
parents and staff around the world—could easily fill
several large volumes. These efforts deserve to be
recognized. And perhaps they are… written in the lives
of children.
The following highlights include just the tip of the
iceberg of Holt efforts. These examples typically represent new projects or services. But the bulwarks of
Holt’s services are those that continue year in and out.
These efforts unite children who need parents with
attentive, permanent families of their own. And that’s
a world away from where they were. It represents a
lifetime that has been altered… completely. A child
given hope and love.
Highlights of Holt’s Work 2006
Cambodia In 2006 Holt began two projects near
Phnom Penh. One improves the health, nutrition and
family preservation services for children at a childcare
center. Another effort provides support and care for
orphans and vulnerable children impacted by HIV/AIDS.
China During 2006 Holt increased its outreach to
children with an emphasis on children with special
needs and children affected by HIV/AIDS. During the
year Holt matched 119 waiting children with adoptive
families in the United States, an increase of 33 children
over 2005. Holt’s HIV/AIDS family preservation project in Yuncheng prompted the China Ministry of Civil
Affairs to propose a similar project in Yunnan Province.
Holt also continued to develop the Nanchang Group
Home, a new concept in foster care that enables older
children living in orphanages to have the love and
belonging of a family.
Haiti Holt completed its first international adoptions
from Haiti in 2006, paving the way for many other
children in the future. The Holt Fontana Village program was approved for a three-year grant from Rotary
International to expand family preservation services in
the area surrounding the childcare center.
India Holt’s partner agencies in Pune and Bangalore
significantly increased foster care, providing familylike care for a much larger portion of the orphaned
and abandoned children in their programs.
Kazakhstan Holt is working with several
programs that care for relinquished
HIV-positive children. Most of
South Korea
Adopt Fees
Program and Financial
50 Years of Serving Children
2006 Revenue
Total Accumulated Permanent Placements
Total Accumulated Children Served
1956–2006 (approx.)—467,000
Adoption Fees—$11,937 (57%)
Contributions—$7,193 (35%)
Other Income—$1,727 (8%)
Total Revenue—$20,852
10 Spring 2007
(x 1,000)
2006 Expenses (x 1,000)
International Programs—$8,925 (46%)
Adoptive Family Services—$6,853 (35%)
Fundraising—$1,978 (10%)
Management and General—$1,717 (9%)
Total Expenses—$19,473
Looking Forward
North Korea
these children have been transferred from maternity
hospitals in Almaty. In addition to services, Holt provides medicine, food and children’s clothing. Holt is
also developing a foster care program for orphanage
South Korea Holt Children’s Services of Korea continues to develop an expanding range of services that
strengthen at-risk families as well as providing model
programs of foster care and opportunities for special
needs children.
North Korea Holt continues to provide life-saving,
nutritious food to children in two orphanages.
Mongolia Holt continues to expand services for children, including children at an additional orphanage in
Ulaanbaatar. Holt is also providing needed supplies
such as nutritious food, vitamins, school supplies and
Philippines KBF opened a new foster care project in
cooperation with a government orphanage in Legaspi.
In the Philippines large numbers of abandoned children
reach the age of 5–7 before they are declared legally
free for adoption. This unnecessary stay in institutions
decreases the children’s chances of adoption. Holt and
KBF initiated
a program to assist
childcare agencies to manage
children’s legal status so they can be
adopted younger, but participation has been
Romania Holt’s partner agencies, the Holt Romania
Foundation and Close To You, served significantly more
children in 2006. CTY served 305 HIV/AIDS- affected
children. HRF served 1,681 children and placed 890
children with permanent families.
Thailand Continues its three-year commitment to help
tsunami-devastated families to rebuild their lives.
Uganda Holt’s partner, Action for Children, continues to
develop its outreach to children who have lost parents
to AIDS. AFC helps these children into stable, supportive family units where they can have their needs met
and attend school.
Ukraine Despite political instability in Ukraine, Holt
served nearly 6,000 children and over 4,300 families,
with funding from USAID. Holt worked with many
Ukraine agencies to preserve families and to develop
foster care and other alternatives to institutional care.
Vietnam Holt was able to resume intercountry adoption
in Vietnam in 2006. Holt also laid the groundwork to
into three new
Waiting Child Program
Holt continues its strong
advocacy of children who have
special healthcare needs, older
children and children in sibling groups.
During 2006 Holt matched 192 waiting
children with prospective adoptive families, an
increase of over 36 percent.
Looking Forward Conference Holt culminated its
50th year of serving orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children with an international conference
that gathered child welfare leaders from around
the world. Discussions involved solutions for the
needs of children from a wide range of disciplines
and sources including legal, medical, governmental
and private organizations and adoptees.
Permanent Placements Distribution
Return to Birth Family—400 (9.1%)
Remain with Birth Family—2,093 (47.6%)
Overseas Domestic Placements—685 (15.6%)
U.S. International Placements—679 (15.4%)
U.S. Domestic Placements—70 (1.6%)
Other International Placements—469 (10.7%)
2006 Total Permanent Placements—4396
Total Children Served
2000 Total
Permanent Placements
For a copy of Holt’s 2006 annual audited financial statement, please visit or call (541) 687-2202 11
The day of completion nears for the new
office and childcare center under construction for Vathsalya Charitable Trust, Holt’s
partner agency in Bangalore. Opening
ceremonies will be held in summer 2007.
Holt has hired a country director in Nepal,
and we are taking the first steps to develop
an adoption program there.
Holt has a new adoption program in the
Republic of Kazakhstan, where it has
worked with the Kazakhstani government
since 2005 on a variety of permanency
programs for children. Married couples are
qualified to apply.
Children in Holt sponsorship in Uganda
were delighted with the shipment of T-shirts
from a 4th-grade
class at the Bertha
Holt Elementary
School in Eugene,
Oregon. The two
groups of children
from faraway continents are working to build relationships with one
another and learn
more about the
Children at Masuliita, Uganda, wearing their Bertha
Holt Elementary School T-shirts.
Children available for adoption include boys
and girls as young as 12 months at time of
match, and also sibling groups. Children
stay in government-run orphanages, and
their health and development varies.
Holt signed an agreement with the Ministry
of Education in early April to begin an
adoption program in Kyrgyzstan. We are
initiating the home finding process for a
number of children, including six in our
Waiting Child Program.
The Face of HIV/AIDS in Romania
Their bodies are small, like children about
to hit adolescence, not the young men they
are at 17 and 18 years old. Victor and Ivan
live with HIV/AIDS. Both have fathers who
drink too much. Both wonder about their
futures. And both receive help from the
Close to You Foundation, a Holt partner
agency in Romania.
Eighteen-year-old Victor has been sick
since childhood. He was diagnosed with
an HIV infection at a time when the Infectious Disease Clinic had no antiretroviral
medication. Because of HIV, he also suffered asthma and liver problems. He lost
all of his teeth and has to wear dentures.
His mother loves and supports him, but
12 Spring 2007
Mary Paul, director of Vathsalya Charitable Trust,
stands inside the new office and childcare center
under construction in Bangalore in a photo taken in
early March.
his father is “far away from his soul,” his psychologist reports.
The mother has tried to leave her husband, taking her three
boys with her, but she does not have anywhere to go. Victor
has his own dreams, in which he lives in a house with his
mother and two brothers without the drunken father, says his
psychologist. He hopes something will change.
CTY is counseling the mother, with the objective of helping
her to make the best decision concerning the family, especially for her boys. Members of the family receive individual
counseling and are included in support groups for HIV/AIDSinfected and –affected people.
When Ivan found out a little over a year ago that he is HIVpositive, he was devastated. “How much time do I still have?”
he asked the social worker assigned him by CTY. “Why does
this have to happen to me?”
Already, his parents were divorced and his mother had gone
to work in another country. He was living with the parent he
Holt Children’s Services of Korea will dedicate its new community center in Pusan in
June. Holt International donors contributed
resources to this facility.
At the request of the government of China,
Holt has expanded its efforts in Jilin
province to help more children move
from an orphanage setting into homebased foster family care. Of the 30
children in the new program, about 80
percent have special needs, mostly cerebral palsy or congenital heart disease.
They range in age from 2 to 6. The Jilin
Social Welfare Institute, where the children
are currently housed, is located in Jilin
North Korea
Holt International needs adoptive families
for children from its newly developed
Ukrainian adoption program. Married
couples and single women are eligible to
apply. Children available for adoption
include boys and girls as young as 18
months at time of match, and also sibling
groups. Children stay in government-run
orphanages, and their health and development varies. Holt has been working in the
Ukraine since 2004 and has strong relationships with the authorities that oversee
international adoption.
Like many countries of the former Soviet
Union, Ukraine continues to undergo rapid
changes in its social, economic and political structures.
Through a partner organization in China,
Holt provides nutritious biscuits to vulnerable, abandoned and orphaned children
in Sinuiju. The biscuits, pictured here,
are enriched to provide as much of the
children’s dietary needs as possible. Each
month they are distributed to childcare
centers in the region. The biscuits are
perishable and must be eaten rather than
Close to You, one of Holt’s two partner
agencies in Romania, will celebrate its fiveyear anniversary the end of May.
Holt Romania Foundation’s Give Hope to
Children campaign recently raised about
$4,500: $2,500 to go toward immediate
financial help to children in their assistance
program, and $2,000 toward the construction of the new Parent Education Center in
Through generous help from our donors,
Holt has been involved in a foster care
project in Meihekou since 2001, supporting children in foster care who otherwise
would be living in a makeshift orphanage.
Most of these children have mid-level to
major special needs.
The foster care project in Meihekou provides a model for the new Jilin Project
through approach, training and management. This project has been made possible
with the cooperation and full support of
the Jilin City Social Welfare Institute.
did not want to be with, his father.
Specialists at CTY helped Ivan, now 17, and his family through
this difficult time, offering counseling and moral support in
addition to financial support. Ivan has been attending workshops within the CTY programs, learning computer use and
bookbinding. He has learned that if he follows his treatment,
he will live a normal life. He has made friends with other
children who have the same problems, and he now understands that he is not alone.
Hopes for a Better Future
Like thousands of other youngsters in Romania who are
infected with HIV, both young men hope for a better future thanks to the intervention of CTY social workers. Holt
continues to touch the lives of many vulnerable youth and
families through its two partner agencies—Close to You
Foundation and Holt Romania Foundation. The generosity of
sponsors and donors helps make this work possible.
Facing page: Victor has
been battling HIV since he
was a young boy. CTY, a
Holt partner agency, helps
Victor and his family in
multiple ways. Right: Ivan,
who recently learned he is
HIV-positive, lives in the
countryside with his brother, father and grandparents.
Ivan and his family are
being helped by CTY.
* Names changed to protect identity 13
from the family
From Mongolia to
the Bluegrass State
A single mom eagerly makes the adjustment to motherhood
by Gail Quets
Louisville, Kentucky
Above from left: Gail and
Tugi Quets on the day of
Tugi’s first haircut. • Tugi
made the adjustment to his
new mom and new home
with ease. • He enjoys
water activities, including
bathing! • Tugi watches the
mirror with interest as his
first haircut commences.
A little more than a year ago I traveled to Ulaanbaatar
to meet Tuguldur and all the wonderful people who
had taken such good care of him. I will never forget the kindness and warmth of the people I met in
Mongolia and the love they showed my soon-to-be
son. I enjoyed every minute of my stay, and in some
ways it was hard to leave that beautiful country.
But I was also eager to get Tugi home and introduce
him to everyone who had been waiting for him so
long. All my friends and family had received copies
of the photos Holt International sent over the months
I’d waited to receive committee approvals, and they
were happy that I was finally bringing him home.
We arrived in the States in October 2005. Tugi’s
“Aunt” Joan met us at the airport. She had been
looking forward to meeting Tugi for so long that she
almost burst into tears when she saw us at the gate.
We went grocery shopping and then home for a long
nap. When we woke, there were other friends waiting
at our door to see Tugi for the first time, including his
first American friend, a 3-year-old named Isabel who’d
been practicing how to say his name for months and
For the first week or so, we did not venture far from
home except to go to the doctor for a checkup. We
rested and played and ate, and Tugi was introduced
to all of his new toys. He had a wonderful appetite,
gobbling up every new food I gave him. One of his
absolute favorite things to do was to take a bath, so I
gave him as many as two a day! I loved taking care
of him. His spirit and personality had really come out
in the photos and videos Holt sent, and I couldn’t get
over the fact that he was exactly the little boy I had
14 Spring 2007
imagined him to be—sweet and curious and completely wonderful.
I was lucky enough to have been given leave from
work for several months, so I was home with Tugi
every day. We started going outside after the first
week, visiting friends, taking walks in the park and
getting cookies at the local bakery.
I was ready for what I thought might be a difficult
adjustment period, but Tugi is a remarkable little boy,
and he was happy and relaxed right from the start.
He ate well, slept well and was very active… and he
was always smiling! We bonded like glue. Almost
right away, he knew “Mommy.” And I knew that he
was the most adorable little boy ever!
Moving to Kentucky
We moved from New York City to Louisville, Kentucky,
just five months after coming home. I was due to go
back to work after six months at home with Tugi, and
I decided that commuting by train to my office every
day would take too much time away from him. After
finding out what an active boy he was, I also wanted
to make sure he had a backyard and plenty of room
to run around! So when a friend offered me a job in
Louisville, a small city with a relaxed pace of life, I
jumped at it. Here, it is just a 10-minute drive from
home to preschool, and a 15-minute drive from home
to work.
Tugi has a big room full of toys all to himself and a
large, fenced-in backyard to play in. He loves his new
house, and when we back out of the driveway, he
Holt’s Work in Mongolia
Children and families in crisis
Nearly one in four
people in Mongolia live
in extreme poverty on
an income of less than
40 cents a day.
Single-parent households headed by the
mother, street children,
and orphaned children
are among the poorest,
often unable to provide
for their basic food
Some parents must
abandon their children
because they cannot
feed or clothe them. About half of the children
Holt serves in Mongolia are brought to institutions
by their birth parents for temporary care.
Improving the care of children
always turns around and says, “Bye, house!”
Kentucky is a rural state, and many people here keep
horses. Of course the Kentucky Derby, one of the biggest horse races in the States, is also held right here in
Louisville. There are wrestling programs in all the local
high schools, and a statewide archery program has just
been funded. So we have all three manly Mongolian
sports covered! Tugi also loves to swim, and this past
summer his “Uncle” Mark and “Aunt” Cheryl taught him
how to fish.
Mongolian Heritage
I am proud of my son’s Mongolian heritage. We have
many books on Mongolia, including several that we
bought in Ulaanbaatar. And photos and pictures and
stamps. I enjoyed the time we spent with Holt staff,
learning about Mongolia and sightseeing, and I am looking forward to going back when Tugi is a little older
and showing him what a wonderful place he came
from. I feel a special bond with everything Mongolian
now. It has really become my “adopted” country, and I
am always excited when I see something mentioned in
American newspapers or magazines about recent happenings there.
I owe a big thank-you to the Mongolian people, especially Holt staff; the caregivers at the Infant Sanatorium
in Ulaanbaatar; Purevsuren, Tugi’s foster mother; and
to Mongolian officials for giving me the opportunity to
mother such a wonderful little boy! He has brought joy
not only into my life, but into so many others’ lives as
well. Everyone who meets him is touched by him. I am
so proud to be his mom. ■
Holt created the Rainbow Baby Care Unit
at the Infant Sanatorium (IS), the primary
state care facility for homeless children under the age of 3. A demonstration project
in childcare best practices, the Rainbow
Baby Care Unit:
• cares for about half of the children at
the IS
• has made significant improvements in
care and nutrition—illness is reduced by
55 percent; infant mortality in the unit is
almost unknown.
Working with the Infant Sanatorium, Holt
provides support and training for a special
team to provide around the clock care for
the children in the Unit.
Holt also provides nutritional support for
the IS, including fresh fruit and vegetables
year-round; wholesome meals of a traditional meat
and vegetable stew with rice and noodles; rich
dairy products of Mongolia including milk, yogurt
and curd.
Holt supports the No. 58 Kindergarten, caring for
children age 3 and older by providing additional
milk, yogurt and cheese; school supplies; new
Top: Girls in Holt care
on a field trip. Bottom:
A childcare worker
holds a toddler at the
Rainbow Baby Care
Finding families for children: adoption
As the leading U.S. placing agency, Holt’s presence
in Mongolia is vital to providing homeless children
the opportunity to have permanent loving families
through intercountry adoption.
—prepared by Holt staff 15
from the family
The Wealth of Family
She was 3 years old when she came from China to join her new
family, and although she gained wealth beyond her imagination, she also
brought along great riches of her own.
by Don Regier
Dallas, Texas
Clockwise from top left:
Author Don Regier holds
Helene soon after she came
home to the United States. •
Helene in ribbons. • Helene
a few years later with sister
Hannah, also adopted from
China. • Helene leaning
against a ladder. • Helene
on the night she came home
from China and met her
siblings—Hannah, Bryan,
Brent, Heidi and Brad. •
Helene and Hannah enjoying
tea. • Editor’s Note: Regier,
an associate professor of
Christian Education at Dallas
Theological Seminary, is
the author of a Christian
children’s book, The Long
Ride, which tells the story of
adoption from a child’s point
of view. Published by Kregel
16 Spring 2007
Fu En came to us with nothing but the clothes on her
back and a pair of red sneakers, new but smelling
strongly of mothballs. She couldn’t run away, and
finally decided to trust us, reluctantly.
We gave her riches beyond her wildest imagination.
We gave her a rubber ball, and the next morning we
presented her with a hand mirror. The third day’s
gift was a rubber ducky. She scampered off to the
far corner of the hotel room with her treasures where
nobody would snatch them away from her. For the
first time in her life, she had all the marbles.
When we gave Fu En a picture book, she wanted to
look only at pictures of the ball, the hand mirror and
the ducky—the extent of her strange, new, expanding
Arriving home in the United States, our newly adopted daughter, now named Helene, began to awaken
to the beauty all around her. Meeting her two sisters
with long lush hair, she stroked her own fresh burr
haircut and expressed her desire for beautiful long
tresses. Her artistry began to emerge as she hung
ribbons and beads from her head, her neck, her ears.
Her newfound riches amazed her. At the table, she
left no scraps uneaten. Watermelon—after she ate
the red part, she just kept on eating right through the
green part.
But it was the dresses that overwhelmed her. One
morning Helene stood in front of her closet for an
hour. She was staring at the row of hand-me-down
dresses. All beautiful. Not knowing which one to put
on, she finally emerged from the bedroom wearing
five dresses—one on top of the other. She must have
thought she was the richest child in the world!
And she is. Think about it. She now lives in a home
with her own family, with assurance that we won’t
(and can’t) un-adopt her. She receives unconditional
love, and enjoys the freedom to run, and play, and be
a little girl. She has a new name, and a document
hanging on the wall declares that she possesses citizenship in her new country. All this, and heaven, too!
She has discovered the Bible’s promises of eternal life
through Jesus Christ.
If my kids are rich, what does that make me?
Sometimes when I kiss them goodnight, I remind my
two adopted daughters that some people think they’re
rich because they have lots of money. “But I’m the
richest man in the world, because I have you.” ■
Becoming a Father
Wednesday, 9 a.m. May 22, 2002
The Waiting Room
The sun is bright, the air clear, and we can see the ridges on
the nearby mountains. The fragrance of jasmine mates with
the orange tree and the resulting scents crawl into the house.
Gia makes a batch of lemon poppy seed scones. I brew a pot
of coffee. Classical guitar is this morning’s music of choice.
Austin, our golden retriever, takes notice of our anxiety and
instinctively stands guard near the outside patio gate. We
The Delivery
Our Holt social worker arrives a little after 9 a.m. He wears a
bright yellow golf shirt and a huge smile. He is a good man,
warm and comforting. We gather around the dining room
table and go through the motions of obligatory small talk.
Gia and I talk, but don’t hear what we’re saying. Our focus is
on the dossier, prominently displaying our name, which at the
moment resides under our social worker’s left elbow. He asks
how we’ve been since last meeting with him in November. We
say something in response, but it’s all a blur.
Finally he reaches for the dossier. One might compare his
A Father’s Rite of Passage
In 1998, Warren and Kelly Volkmann of Corvallis, Oregon,
traveled to Vietnam to adopt a 7-month-old girl named Tam.
At the time, Vietnam required both parents to travel to the
country and stay for two weeks. The Volkmanns, avid adventure travelers, decided to go for two months so they could
spend time with their soon-to-be daughter while the adoption
papers went through. Here is a recently discovered journal
entry from their time at the Dong Da orphanage in Danang.
Not even the thundering rain on the eves of the Dong Da Center could drown out the unhappy wails of the little boy standing alone and unhappy in his crib. Seeing an opportunity to
try out my fledgling fathering skills, I stepped up to answer
his cry of distress. (Perhaps if I were more comfortable with
babies, our daughter would be more comfortable with me.)
“What’s the matter, little guy?” I soothed, picking him up
under his pudgy little arms. “Are you feeling left out?”
I perched him in the crook of my arm, like a little cowboy
straddling the saddle of my love handle. He stopped crying
immediately. I felt a flush of confidence, a surge of competence—the Master Dad, stepping in to handle the situation,
making everything A-OK.
My new little friend looked up at me, gave a wide-eyed,
toothless grin, and proceeded to pee all over my shirt.
In the heat and helpless humidity, I was so soaked from sweat
that I didn’t notice the wet warmth spreading down my side
until it was too late to rescue the papers in my pocket. Collapsing back into paternal incompetence, I held my soggy
charge out at arm’s length and yelled for help.
determination with that of the doctors in a hospital delivery
room at the precise moment they suddenly get serious and
focused. His hands appear to slightly shake... indicative of
the fact that this is no ordinary meeting. He pauses to say a
few words. Some prefer to say that we’re now presenting you
with the “match” or the “assignment.” I prefer to say “baby.”
He slides the file toward us. Our focus immediately gravitates
toward the two color photographs stapled
to the top of the two-inch-thick deck of
This is the point where words cease to
capture moments. We immediately fell in
love with the soul behind the photo. Only 2
months old, he awaits us on the other side
of the globe. Paternal instinct and emotions instantaneously materialize. Things
that were once important now hardly exist.
The world becomes a better place.
Nicholas “Ethan” Anderson was born
March 21, 2002...6 lbs. 8 ozs. and 47 cm.
—by Scott Anderson
Orange County, Calif.
Ethan Anderson at 4 years old.
“Xin loi! Xin loi!” I called urgently. (“Excuse me! Excuse me!”)
The Vietnamese staff came to my rescue, laughing and chattering, delighted by my distress. One of the oldest boys in the
orphanage left his crayons to dash out for some dry pants. I
handed off the baby and quick-stepped down the hall to rinse
my shirt in the sink and contemplate
the significance of this fortuitous
event—I had been peed on by a baby.
Perhaps this ignominious incident, this
body-temp baptism was really a rite
of passage—a defining moment that
heralded my membership into the
Order of Fathers. While it wasn’t my
own baby’s pee that I wrung from my
shirt, it didn’t really matter. Pee is
pee. I had been anointed as a new
I had passed one of life’s most
meaningful milestones. Students
graduate. Pilots solo. Athletes go
pro. And dads? Dads get peed on.
Feeling that initial flush of competence returning, I rebuttoned my
sodden shirt and strode back to the
nursery, ready to engage the next
Warren Volkmann with daughter Tam at the orphanage in Da
Nang, Vietnam, 1998.
Not even the tropical downpour could dampen my spirits this
day. Glory hallelujah! I’m a dad!
—by Warren Volkmann/ Corvallis, Oregon 17
family tree
Andrew Zylstra, 2, Korea—Pella, Iowa
Kenneth Sharpless with daughters Caroline, 3, and Suzanna, 5,
both from China—Dallas, Texas
Send your photos to
Family Tree!
Mail original color prints to:
Holt International magazine
Family Tree
P.O. Box 2880 Eugene, OR 97402
Finalization Day: Kaden Oren, 10
months, Korea—Haviland, Kan.
18 Spring 2007
Above: Chelsi, 1, Korea; Chase, 6; Kaelin,
4, Korea; and Cole Forck, 9—Jefferson City, Mo.
Throughout the year we need photos for Holt
International magazine, our calendar and other productions… and we’d love to consider yours. Send us your
best child & family photos.
Please send glossy photographic prints or e-mail high
resolution digital images. We cannot use studio photos
or prints from digital files. Because of the many photographs we receive each month, we are able to publish
only a small percentage. We keep all photos on hold
for possible future publication and will contact you if
one of yours is selected.
Holly Gottschalk, 1½, Korea—
Hillsboro, Ore.
Kevin and Renee Fink
with twin sons Eli (l) and
Gideon, 6, Guatemala—
Stratton, Neb.
Mia, 4½, and Ellie DeVault 2½, China—
Atlantic Beach, Fla.
Jack Shannon, 8, Korea—Guttenberg, Iowa, and
cousin Andrew Gastineau, 8—Urbandale, Iowa.
Olivia Beach, 4, Mongolia—Potomac, Md.
Maria Spallinger, 4, Ecuador—Columbus
Grove, Ohio, with best friend Riley
Garmatter, 5—Rawson, Ohio
Above: Chloe
Wohlgemuth, 6, China—
Rockaway, N.J.
Left: Ainsley, 3, and
Anna Bauman, 6, China—
Sioux Falls, S.D.
C.J., 14, Philippines; Robby; Olivia; Bethany, 9, Philippines;
Denise and Bobby Valderrama—San Jose, Calif.
Rebecca Cullen, 33, Korea—
Winchester, Mass.
Robert Anderson, Korea, with his bride,
Bach Ly—Minneapolis, Minn.
Michael Sloan, Korea, with bride,
Chandra—San Diego, Calif.
Lilly, 3, China, and Christian Van Loon, 4,
USA—Vulcan, Mich. 19
from the family
God’s Plans, Not Ours
“Our adoption journey began years before we even realized it.”
by Kathy Booms
Ruth, Michigan
Above: Kathy and Philip
Booms with daughters Kara
and Megan on the shore
of Lake Huron. • Kara with
little sister Megan.
It seemed unfair that everyone around us was starting
a family, enjoying their children... and we were getting
left behind. This was not in our plans. Why was God
allowing this to happen to us?
Then out of the blue, we were struck by the idea of
adopting a child from China. It was simple things
like seeing a segment on a morning television show,
reading an article, hearing about a family moving to
Living in a rural area as we do, we learned that not
only did we need patience for the wait, we needed
patience with our community. They did not understand international adoption. We needed to educate,
as we learned ourselves.
Each step of the journey was shared with those close
to us—coworkers, friends and family members. Each
step prompted more questions from others and led us
to find out as much information as we could.
After 18 months of paperwork and waiting, we
received the call that we had a daughter. And six
weeks later, when a caretaker in China placed our
beautiful daughter, Kara Rose, in my arms, I knew the
effort was worth it. The months of waiting vanished
with that first breath I took as a mom.
The years with Kara seemed to fly by. She blossomed
into a beautiful, inquisitive, intelligent little girl. And
she kept begging for a little sister. We told her she
was special and would be our only child, because
the process to adopt her had not been an easy one.
I knew my husband did not want to go through the
process again. But Kara was determined, and she
kept praying every night for a baby sister.
I returned to work part-time as a nurse for a local
20 Spring 2007
hospital in January 2001. I worked in the nursery a
lot then, and rocking those babies just made me want
to rock another daughter of ours. After three months
of rocking babies, I approached my husband with
the idea of going back to China once more. I was
shocked when he agreed.
So began the process once more. This time it was
easier for us. Much easier. Kara was impatient with
the waiting, as any 5-year-old would be. I was in no
hurry for the referral, as I still had questions in my
mind and wondered if I could give all to this child
that I had to Kara. I had waited 18 years for Kara, and
she filled a void in my life. For our second daughter I
would wait only 23 months. Would I be able to love
her as much as our first?
Another adoptive mother from Kara’s travel group
helped answer my question and was a tremendous
help throughout the process.
Kara and I were home together when the referral
call came. I let her make some of the phone calls
to announce the arrival of her little sister. When the
FedEx envelope arrived and I had that first glimpse of
the bald, chubby baby from China, that was all it took
for us to fall in love all over again with another daughter. All my fears and worries were swept away.
People often tell us that our girls are lucky. My husband and I feel that we are the lucky ones. To be
blessed with two beautiful, healthy daughters and
have the chance to parent them, love them, and experience life through their eyes is a miracle.
As Kara tells me every day now, ”The Booms family is complete Mom!” And I have a feeling she is
right. ■
Kids from Haiti Cookbook
While waiting for her three children to come home from
Haiti, a mother compiled a benefit cookbook.
Natasha Hixon has been helping people tell their stories for
more than six years in her role as a founder of QuicKutz, a
company that manufactures diecutting tools for the scrapbooking
and craft industry. When she and
husband Mark began the process
of adopting Katiana from the Holt
Fontana Village in Haiti, Natasha
wanted to create a memory book for
Katiana and the other children at
the Holt Fontana Village. The idea
grew when Mark and Natasha realized they wanted to donate funds
toward building homes for more
children to live at the village.
Kids from Haiti
Meanwhile, she and her husband
fell in love with a brother and sister
in another Haiti orphanage and
began efforts to adopt them as well.
The Kids from Haiti Cookbook contains more than 250 recipes
and dozens of photos of life at the Holt Fontana Village.
Contributors include Peter and Shay Fontana, founders of
the Holt Fontana
Village; families
adopting children
at the Holt Fontana Village; staff
members of Holt
International; the
Hixons’ friends from
the scrapbooking
and craft industry; and QuicKutz
friends and families.
The Kids from Haiti
Cookbook costs
$20. All profits
from the sale will
help build houses
and support at-risk
children at the Holt
Fontana Village.
For more information or to order,
go to the QuicKutz
website: www.
The Hixon family—daughter Marisa, Katiana (soon
to be adopted from Haiti), Natasha and Mark.
Maria and the Monarchs
Each year, my family looks for monarch caterpillars in the
fields and around the ponds. We care for them by feeding
them milkweeds. When the caterpillar is ready it goes into a
chrysalis. We wait about 10 days as it changes into a monarch
butterfly. One day, we had seven hatch. Maria held as many
as possible on her arms and in her hands. As one took flight it
returned to her on her nose.
I adopted Maria from Ecuador in 2003. She is
absolutely the most wonderful child. She has a
personality that can light
up a room. Her foster
parents would be happy
and pleased with the way
she is growing in grace.
She has a deep love for
the Lord, and her prayers
are precious. Maria has a
heart of gold. She is truly a
miracle in my life, and I do
not know what I did when
she wasn’t here. I thank God
daily that He has brought us
—by Barbara Klein, Dubuque, Iowa
Maria Klein, age 5, enjoys interacting with the natural world in the Iowa countryside.
Adopted through Holt from Ecuador, she brought with her “a personality that can light
up a room,” says her mom. 21
from the family
Blessed Be the Tie that Binds
An older brother joyfully remembers the adoption of his three sisters.
by Ben Sullivan
Cedaredge, Colorado
Top right: The six Sullivan
siblings, from left to right:
Vera, Michelle, Jacob, Ben,
Josh and Ashley. • Top left:
The Sullivan family as they
appeared in the 1989 Holt
Calendar for the month
of August—that’s Michelle
being held aloft by her
father. • Bottom left:
Cindy and Scott Sullivan
bring Vera, 11, home from
Russia (Hi Families, Jan/Feb
We waited for the phone to ring as eagerly as any
expectant mother waits for her first contraction. Every
time it sounded, we held our breath. Then it finally
happened. I was only 8 years old, but I still can envision my mother nearly stumbling as she clutched the
receiver to her ear, reacting to the news with a strange
mixture of tears and laughter.
was frightened easily, and she struggled to get her
bearings. After we left the airport, Michelle, who
by then was 3, was eager to make her new sister
feel right at home. She brought along a brand new
Garfield doll with big, googly eyes and tried to give
it to Ashley. Ashley responded as if she were being
dangled over a snake pit.
Someone from Holt International was calling to let
us know that our little sister, Michelle, was ready to
come to her new home from South Korea. We had
never met her, but to three older brothers, she was our
sister immediately. We eventually went through this
process three times, and three new sisters resulted:
Michelle, (now) 20, Ashley, 17, and Vera, 26.
Born in 1980 and raised in an orphanage in Moscow,
Vera was 11 years old when she received word she
would be coming to America. She was one of the
first children in Russia to be adopted with the full
knowledge and blessing of both governments. She
didn’t understand a word of English, and we knew
very little Russian.
Michelle was 3 months old when she was carried off
the plane, and I can declare with utter impartiality
that she was the cutest child on the flight. She slept
constantly, waking up only to take nourishment.
She had the plumpest cheeks anyone ever saw. She
smiled a lot, and she still does.
The transition was difficult. Vera knew virtually nothing of basic life skills such as preparing food, washing
clothes, using money, and even personal hygiene.
She now remembers little of her former life, and only
vaguely recalls being sent to the dorms when she
was “bad” with no supper and a pill that made her
stomach hurt.
Ashley was wide-awake when she arrived at age 7
months. She wrapped both her arms and legs around
our mom, taking to her immediately.
The difference between a 3-month-old and a 7month-old was astonishing. Michelle had been relatively clueless as to her radically new surroundings.
Ashley, however, seemed old enough to know she
was in a different place with different people. She
24 Winter
22 Spring 2007
As far as everyone is concerned, Michelle and Ashley
may as well have been carried home from a local
hospital as Stapleton Airport. And a hint of an eastern
European accent is the only clue Vera gives of being
born and partially raised in Russia.
Most importantly, all three were adopted into a home
filled with the Light of the World. ■
The Day My Little Sister Came Home
This teenager already had two brothers adopted from
Korea, but she begged for a little sister.
As I climbed down the newly assembled ladder attached to
our bunk beds, I took one last long gaze at the neatly made
bed below me. The stuffed animals were lined up neatly
against the wall, the taller brown bears in the back with the
smaller white rabbits in the front. The purple patchwork quilt
that had once adorned my bed now lay neatly on top of hers,
and it smelled of the fabric softener that my mom had used
to clean it by hand.
Her dresser stood tall, already jam-packed with an array of
clothes and hair bows of all sorts. The white doll beds were
already filled. Many of the dolls had been mine, yet their hair
had been neatly brushed and pulled back and their clothes
straightened and stray buttons reattached to give them new
As I walked out of my room, the last time I would be able to
call it that, I remember smelling the coffee that my uncle was
brewing in the kitchen.
At the Airport
We waited and waited, and finally I could see the top of my
dad’s head. He was carrying my little sister, who had on
a pink striped jogging suit. My mom followed pulling the
carry-on luggage and bearing a tired expression. I ran to my
dad as I could already hear my
sister’s sweet laugh. Her eyes
sparkled like the stars. I pressed
her delicate fingers into mine and
gave her a hug, the first of many.
Lily Nan
She has been in our hearts since
the day she was born. Her smile
lights up any gloomy day and her
laugh would soften stone. My
room has become our room, yet
all the changes have been for
the better. The lonely dolls that
once sat in the corner of my
room now have a mother, and
the little girl who once lived in
China now has a family that
cannot imagine how they managed so long without her.
—by Laurie Delatour
Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
Laurie hugs her little sister, Lily Nan.
Celebrate Christmas in the
Join Holt International’s 2007 Philippines Gift Team
Holt’s Philippines program has operated in partnership with
Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF) since 1975. Through KBF
Holt supports a variety of services for children and at-risk
families, preventing abandonment and performing successful
reunifications. KBF is a pioneer in the development of foster
care services in the Philippines and also provides housing,
counseling, prenatal care and post-delivery services to pregnant single mothers. Volunteers will host parties with children in Manila and Cebu—all while experiencing the culture,
cuisine and special beauty of the Filipino people.
Gift Team Details
• Travel: November 30–December 9
• Registration deadline: September 7
• Estimated cost: $2,500-$3,000 (includes airfare, lodging,
gifts and party expenses)
• Meals are estimated at about $30 per day per person
• For more information, call Debbie Francis at (541) 6872202 or e-mail: [email protected]
Above: Children enjoy one of the Gift Team-hosted parties. Left: Glenis Levine
hands a boy in a community daycare setting a meal. Team members provided
meals to all the children, and some of the children in turn shared their meals
with other members of their families. 23
Waiting Children
Special needs, special blessings
Every day around the world children
come into Holt-supported programs.
Their stories are different but have a
thread of commonality—the children all
need a home of their own.
These children have suffered abandonment, the death of loving parents, or a
natural disaster. Sometimes they have
additional challenges that prevent many
families from adopting them. They may
be older than 2 years, part of a sibling
group, or have a medical condition that
may be easily correctable or need multiple
interventions. We call these our waiting
children, and they deserve to have families
of their own.
Den Mark
The children shown here represent just
a few of those who need parents. Because
Holt’s website provides a more complete
listing and can be updated daily, we
ask you to view additional children at
If you would like more information
about a particular child, please contact
Katie Poff in our Waiting Child Program.
She would be happy to share more information with you. You can request a
Waiting Child Application either by calling
the Waiting Child Program at (541)687-2202
or through our website: holtinternational.
These descriptions of waiting children
are based on information available to Holt
from caregivers and medical personnel
in the children’s country of origin. Holt
cannot guarantee the accuracy of these
descriptions or that the medical and psychological diagnoses of the children are
correct or complete.
Kazakhstan. Holt is now looking for
families for children in Kazakhstan who
have special healthcare needs. If you are
interested, please contact the Waiting Child
Program. ■
This cute baby boy can roll over, coo and laugh
and is able to grasp large objects. He has
delayed development and mild hypotonia but
receives physical therapy and is doing well. His
birth mother smoked cigarettes and used alcohol during the pregnancy.
Alert and playful, Amir is friendly with other
children and his caretakers. He was diagnosed
with spastic cerebral palsy, primarily on his right
side. He can walk and climb stairs independently and responds well in learning new tasks
and activities. He has some delays and may
have hearing loss.
A cheerful, inquisitive little boy, Sachin is always
interested in learning new things and enjoys
playing with his peers. He tested positive for
chronic hepatitis B, but his liver functions have
been normal and he is receiving medication.
Sachin expresses his emotions openly, speaks
clearly and is doing well in school.
Kelli loves dancing and playing with other children. She has hepatitis B and also hearing loss
in both ears. She is described as a good little
girl who is close to her foster family.
Leann is a sweet little girl in foster care who
loves to play outside and dance to music. She
had one surgery to correct a ventricular septal
defect and may still have an atrial septal defect.
She is significantly delayed in all areas, including motor, speech and social skills.
Born in Korea, July 24, 2006
Den Mark
Born in Philippines, December 18, 2002
An active, playful boy, Den Mark gets along
well with the children in his neighborhood.
He is delayed in all areas but is showing some
improvement with therapy. Den Mark has a
short attention span, alternating esotropia and
limited vocabulary. He has been with his foster
family for about a year.
Born in China, May 3, 2004
A handsome little boy, Hadley enjoys playing
outside with friends and singing to music. He
likes his foster family. Hadley has deformity
of both external ears, poor hearing and speaks
with a limited vocabulary, but he is healthy and
developing well.
24 Spring 2007
Born in India, April 19, 2004
Born in China, October 1, 1999
Born in India, April 15, 2005
A beautiful little girl with Down syndrome,
Shreya is active and in good health. She enjoys
singing to herself, playing with her foster sisters, and being with other people. She has a
$5,000 grant available from Brittany’s Hope.*
Born in India, June 25, 2000
Born in China, December 13, 2004
Born in Vietnam, March 1, 2005
A cute 2-year-old girl, Ngan smiles when she is
spoken to and cuddled. She has a brain disorder
called schizencephaly. Ngan shows developmental delays in all areas but can roll over, clap
her hands and search for dropped objects. A
$5,000 grant is available from Brittany’s Hope.*
See more children at
Born in Vietnam, October 27, 2004
Son is a responsive little boy who loves being
held and cuddled by his caretakers. He was
diagnosed with hydrocephalus, and a neurologist concluded that surgery will not be necessary. He has some motor and language delays
but can walk, say a few words and follow
Oregon Waiting Child
Agencies reduce fees for the adoption of a child in state
care, and financial assistance may be available. To learn
more, call the Special Needs Adoption Coalition at The
Boys and Girls Aid Society at (877) 932-2734 x 2392, or
DHS at (800) 331-0503. Also visit www.boysandgirlsaid.
org and for information and photos of
waiting children.
Born in SE Asia, September 12, 2000
Nolan loves to climb and play soccer. He is
doing well in school and is described as happy
and developmentally on target. He has been
with his foster family for over three years. His
birth mother is HIV-positive, and although he
tested positive in early 2001, he has had three
subsequent negative tests.
Born in the Caribbean, Sept. 3, 1994
A hard worker, Amanda follows through with
her work and is a big help to her housemother.
She is organized, neat and loves to braid her
friends’ hair. She is often the leader of the
group and is in good health.
*Brittany’s Hope grants are available
for nine months from their granting
date, which varies by child. Find out
more at
Deanna, age 10
Deanna sparkles when showered with nurturing, individualized attention. She is
ready to be a family’s shining
star. In counseling treatment,
Deanna has been working hard
to leave behind childhood
trauma and move forward into
a healthier and happier place.
She is slightly behind developmentally in some areas due
to hardships she has endured.
She has a keen eye and appreciation for fashion. 25
How can an adoption
medicine specialist help you?
by Mary Masterson, MPH, MPA
Program Manager
and Meg Hayes, MD, Medical DIrector
OHSU Adoption Health Services
Adoption medicine is a new subspecialty in medicine that was born out of
a recognition that children adopted internationally have a unique set of medical issues
and needs. With 20,000 plus internationally adopted children arriving in the United
States each year, there has been a growing
need for adoption medicine specialist physicians and other healthcare providers who
have experience and expertise diagnosing
and treating these children.
Here are some common questions, along
with answers to these questions, that will
help you better understand what adoption
medicine is and how an adoption medicine
specialist can help you before, during, and
after your adoption process.
Q.What is adoption medicine?
World health for children is one definition
( Toward the end of the
last century, adoption medicine began to
emerge in response to the kinds of medical
problems that presented in children born
overseas and adopted into North American
A specialist can provide pre-adoption counseling and evaluation based on a child’s
medical records, and then follow with postadoption consultations, and often, primary
care of an adopted child.
Some of the medical conditions adoption
medicine specialists look for include fetal
alcohol syndrome, tuberculosis, hepatitis B
and C, and intestinal parasites. Even if a
child has a record of immunizations, it may
not be reliable. Adoption medical specialists can determine whether or not children
need to be reimmunized.
Q.Why should you use an adoption medicine specialist for your
international adoption?
Pre-adoption phase
During this phase, adoption medicine specialists can provide you with a broad range
of services that include agency required
physical examinations for adoptive parents
as well as completion of the associated
paperwork. Adoption medicine specialists
can explain what a medical report from
Kazakhstan, China, Ethiopia or Guatemala
says and explain it in terms that you can
understand. They can assist you in determining what additional information might
be needed, or to arrange for further medical evaluation or treatment before you travel to bring your child home. They can provide you with in-depth counsel regarding
children with special needs. These special
needs may include hepatitis B, tuberculosis
positive cases, congenital issues such as
cleft lip/palate, ear deformities, heart conditions, malnutrition and a host of other concerns. Adoption medicine specialists can
review photos and video footage to help
assess the child for potential fetal alcohol
problems or developmental delays. Some
adoption medicine specialists are willing to
prescribe medicines that you can take with
you on your adoption trip both for the care
of the child and for care of the traveling
family members.
Hep B Conversion
Our prayers have been answered. We went to the international adoption and infectious disease
specialist yesterday at OHSU to have our daughter checked out and her blood work looked at, and
the specialist let us know that our daughter does not have hepatitis B. The doctor said that her
body has converted it, so she basically now has a natural immunity to it. She said that we were
very lucky—only 10 percent of children born to hepatitis B–positive mothers are able to do this,
so it is very rare. Our daughter’s exam went fantastic. She is perfectly healthy in every way.
—Angelinna Moffitt
Left: Jaili Moffitt toddles along with the help of her father, Shane.
26 Spring 2007
Left: Holt Children’s Services of Korea offers excellent medical attention to children before adoption.
Here, a staff pediatrician at the Seoul clinic examines
a baby‘s umbilical stump during a regular well-baby
checkup. The baby is in the care of an experienced
foster mother and supported by Holt Sponsors.
your whole family. They are able to
counsel you on special issues for attachment and sleeping problems. They are
well-connected with other specialists
for specialty referrals and counseling
Q. Why should you use an
adoption medicine specialist for
your domestic adoption?
Adoption trip
Adoption medicine specialists are available
to you, by telephone or e-mail, during your
adoption trip to answer any and all types of
questions you may have about the health of
your child, or yourselves.
Post-arrival/post-adoption phase
Adoption medicine specialists are experienced in evaluating your child during those
first few weeks after you return home to
help assess your child’s health, both physically and developmentally. They understand the need to evaluate your child(ren)
as “new” to our U.S. environment and culture and determine what tests are needed
to determine your child’s level of immunity
to communicable diseases and exposure
to infectious diseases and environmental
poisons such as lead. They understand the
stress that you are under as a new adoptive
parent and how an adoption can impact
Your Child’s Pediatrician
If you have selected a pediatrician for
your child who is not an adoption medicine specialist, consider setting up an
appointment with him or her to review
your child’s medical information before
your child comes home. Even if you’ve
already consulted an adoption medicine
specialist at time of child referral, it’s
also a good idea to meet with your local
A specialist who has expertise with
domestic adoptions can be an invaluable
resource to assist you with reviewing
birth parent medical and social histories
and to counsel you on the issues with
prenatal exposure to alcohol, drugs, and
communicable diseases. They can provide you with a second medical opinion
on a child’s medical report if need be.
Some adoption medicine specialists provide services specifically for birth parents.
Q.How do I find an adoption
medicine program/specialist?
Your adoption agency is a good resource.
There are several websites that list Adoption
Medicine programs and specialists for your
Joint Council on International Children’s
Services (JCICS)—Clinic Directory—www. Directory by Category.
htm#MEDICAL CLINICS’s Directory of International
Adoption Medical Clinics—
Q.What is the usual process for a
pre-adoption consultation?
The following is a general outline of the
pediatrician to review your child’s information. Meeting with your pediatrician
before your child’s arrival will not only
help your pediatrician become knowledgeable about your child’s health and
developmental history, but it also allows
you to establish a relationship with the
pediatrician before your child’s first
—Susie Doig, MSW
We waited anxiously in our hotel
room in Changsha for a doctor to arrive and help us with our daughter’s
diarrhea. This was our third day with
her and she was not drinking or eating very much.
We had hoped to purchase something the day before to help with her
diarrhea, but this was a challenge
because of the language barrier. It
would have been comforting to us if
we could have called or e-mailed an
adoption medicine specialist in the
United States to help us determine if
our daughter’s condition was serious
and to get advice on how to manage
the situation.
Upon our arrival home, and several
months later, our daughter had a
continuing problem with diarrhea.
We mentioned this to our pediatrician at each visit. Our daughter was
tested for the presence of “routine”
parasites, but it was not until we
sought the services of an adoption
medicine specialist that she was tested for the not so routine parasites
and diagnosed with Giardia lamblia.
She started to improve shortly after
starting treatment for this intestinal
—an adoptive mom
process many adoption medicine programs
offer. You should always contact the clinic
to learn what their process is.
• You can contact the specialist via telephone or e-mail
• You can e-mail, fax, mail, or handdeliver the materials that you want to
have reviewed by the specialist
• A consultation can be scheduled within
two to four business days from when
you deliver the materials
• A consultation can be done in person or
via phone or e-mail, or a combination
of both. ■
Author Mary Masterson, adopted from
Korea, is also the mother of two girls
adopted from China through Holt International. 27
Photo provided by Peter Saddington
adoptees today
A college student goes to Korea on the Motherland Tour—
and comes full circle in the adoption process.
by Katrina Craven / Bloomington, Ind.
All 23 of us had to find the strength to turn
and walk away from the children lying on
the ground, kicking, screaming and crying
for us to pick them back up. The children
at the Sung Ae Won Orphanage in South
Korea had lost the security of a biological family and longed for the one-on-one
Holt Motherland Tour
The 2006 Motherland Tour was a two-week
trip to South Korea for Korean adoptees
through Holt International. The tour provided me and 22 other participants with our
first opportunity to experience the culture
of our biological ancestors, and offered a
glimpse into what life would have been
like had we not been adopted.
Each of us grew up in upper-middle-class
white families in schools and communities that had little diversity. We considered ourselves American, but also longed
to learn about our Korean roots and heritage. The tour took us through historical landmarks in South Korea and taught
us a background of the country’s history,
current political and social issues, and
practical lessons of Korean culture.
Katrina holds a boy at Sung Ae Won. • Top: A little
girl gazes through a window at the orphanage.
that parents would normally provide. They
loved to be carried and give high-fives and
peace signs. They loved to laugh and sing
and see pictures of themselves develop on
a Polaroid picture. But they hated letting
And so did we.
28 Spring 2007
We visited the Demilitarized Zone, palaces and burial sites of late kings, the
Korean War Memorial and folk villages,
and we stayed with a host family.
Each day, we sampled different kinds
of Korean food and learned to bargain
in the busy Korean street markets that
boasted an endless variety of goods.
But most importantly, the trip offered a
chance for adoptees to learn about Korean
culture in a way that shed light on the
reasons adoption is so prevalent within the
country. Adopted children grow up with a
natural curiosity about their birth parents
and the reasons for their adoption, lacking
an opportunity to see the situation through
the eyes of the other side. During our
two-week stay, we visited places such as an
unwed mothers home where single pregnant women were preparing to relinquish
their child to adoption, and orphanages
where infants and children were waiting for
homes and families.
The Orphanage
Visiting the orphanage was the first opportunity my group had to interact with children ranging in age from newborns to 6
years old.
Upon arrival, Paul Kim, our tour leader,
reminded us to treat each child fairly. He
said to remember that the cutest child
might not be the one in need of the most
help and to be conscious of the children
who sit alone in the corner. He warned us
of the emotional impact the morning might
have on us, and advised us to be prepared
before we went to the children.
The first floor I visited had 2-year-olds. My
attention immediately fell on a little girl in
the corner of the room. She wasn’t crying,
but her brown eyes were filled with tears.
Her name was Sa-rang (“love” in Korean),
and she was much smaller than the rest
of the kids her age. I helped her eat a
cupcake, and she took it eagerly. We built
block structures and knocked them down
at the height of their glory. I stayed with
her for almost a half hour. When I left the
room, Sa-rang followed me to the door,
stood at the window and pressed her hand
against the glass. But she didn’t cry.
On another floor, I picked up a little boy
and danced with him as he sang words I
couldn’t understand. When I put him down
he screamed and cried and wrapped his
body around my legs so I wouldn’t leave.
I helped another little boy wipe his nose,
and they both threw fits when I diverted
my attention from either. I had to carry one
on each hip and continue dancing.
A tour member grabbed me around the
waist and pulled me away, explaining,
“You have to let them go. You have to walk
Downstairs everyone gathered again. I was
sobbing thinking of the innocent children
upstairs that only wanted something as
simple and natural as the love of a family.
I felt guilty that I had taken advantage of
the comfort of my own family’s relationships, and felt an overwhelming sense of
gratitude through my devastation. I prayed
for the children we had left upstairs to be
afforded the opportunity like the one I had
been given through the gift of adoption.
But my friend was right. We had to walk
away. We had to realize that we couldn’t
save them all right at that moment, but we
could keep hold of the feeling we were
experiencing to drive us to make changes
however we could in the future.
The Unwed Mother’s Shelter
The Salvation Army in Seoul sponsors
a Seoul Women’s Home where single,
pregnant women can stay during the duration of their pregnancy while they decide
whether or not to relinquish their child
for adoption. Our tour guide told us that
Korean society is not accepting of women
who become pregnant out of wedlock. It is
almost impossible for a mother to raise her
child alone in Korea, and she is strongly
encouraged to give her child up for adoption.
We entered the shelter and sat around
tables arranged in a circle. After the presentation, the mothers came in the room
and sat around us. Translators from our
tour walked around to assist in our communication with the women.
“Do you hate your birth mom?” one woman
asked my table.
“No,” I responded. “I’m grateful that she
had the courage to do what you’re about to
do. I’ve had a great life and I’m happy and
I admire the fact that she had so much love
for me that she could give me away knowing I’d be better because of it.”
The mother cried and looked down as the
translator told her what I said. When she
looked back up, she just nodded at me and
rubbed her hands over her pregnant belly.
In her face, I could see she was torn. She
had no guarantee that her child would have
a better life, but she knew the chances
were greater than if she kept him or her.
The strength that she showed through her
teary eyes was greater than any I had ever
witnessed before.
grown up to be what she expected me to
be. I couldn’t believe I was sitting down
with the only woman who knew me when
I was still in Korea. She wasn’t my birth
mother, but she knew me better than my
birth mother ever had, and I loved her for
what she had done for me.
I couldn’t imagine the love that a mother
has for her child being so great that she
would sacrifice their relationship together
for the sake of the baby. Before we visited
the shelter, I always thought that if I met my
birth mother, it would be important for me
to ask her why she gave me up. But now,
it didn’t matter. If I met her, I would assure
her that there was only love and admiration
in my heart for her and the strength she
showed in letting me go.
We exchanged gifts after lunch. She
wrapped a silver cross necklace around my
neck and told the translator to tell me that
she prayed for me everyday, and hoped I
prayed for her too.
My Foster Mother
I cried as I watched her walk away. She
was the only mother figure I had before my
own mother, and I realized that letting me
go must have been just as painful to her as
it was for my birth mother. I pray for her
everyday, hoping that somehow she will
know how grateful I am for her care then,
and her care now.
I didn’t have the opportunity to
meet my birth mother on the
trip, which was something I
knew beforehand. According
to my records, my mother
relinquished me to Holt
Children’s Services of Korea
two days after my birth, and
I went into foster care with a
woman named Nu, Yam-jun.
Mrs. Nu cared for me for the
three months I was in Korea
before I was adopted to the
United States. After I left
her, she sent me letters and
pictures of the two of us,
which served as the only
forms of memory I had
from Korea growing up.
Holt Children’s Services of Korea arranged
for me to meet with her again. I had
never heard anyone call me by my Korean
name before, but I smiled and nodded and
hugged her as she spoke rapidly in my
ear. My heart was beating in my throat
and my palms were sweating as she held
my hands.
The author with her foster mother, Mrs. Nu.
“Are you Christian?” was the first question out of her mouth. She smiled with
relief when I nodded my head toward the
translator. “Are you happy? Is your family
Christian? Was your brother good to you?”
These were the questions she asked me
during our lunch as she fed me food from
across the table. The whole time she was
talking, I stared at her wondering if I had
As the two-week trip was coming to an
end, my mind started processing all that
had happened. The babies at the orphanage, the unwed mothers at the shelter and
my own foster mother had put things into a
much greater perspective for me. Adoption
was something that goes full circle. Love
and attachment can be separated through
a greater need for a better life. With each
relationship you form during the process,
each person has to find the strength to
walk away and know that it is for the
for the
ne: w
Go onli
to r
tee Cam
rnation 29
neighborhood calendar
July 29–Aug. 2—Holt Adoptee Camp in Ashland for
adoptees 9–16 years old. Contact: Steve Kalb at
(541) 687-2202 or [email protected]
New Jersey
August 3—Holt Day at the Steel Pier in Atlantic
City, a family fun day for Holt families, noon to
midnight. Hosted by Anthony and Chris Catanoso.
Contact: New Jersey Branch Office at [email protected]
Sept. 8—Holt Family Picnic at Pine Park in Lakewood.
Contact: Sally Dunbar at [email protected]
org or 1-888-355-HOLT x137
A Korean pediatrician uses a suction machine on an infant who had recently undergone heart surgery. The
child is being held by his foster mother. Donations toward purchase of nebulizers and suction machines were
raised through a garage sale held by parents associated with the Holt Midwest Office in Omaha.
June 2—Quarterly Meeting at Little Rock for
prospective and existing adoptive families. 1
p.m.-4 p.m. Location to be announced. RSVP to
(501) 723-4444 for details.
August 25—Holt Family Picnic at Ty Warner Park in
Westmont. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Contact: Sally Dunbar
at [email protected] or 1-888-355HOLT x137
May 5—Holt Family Picnic at Benicia Community
Park in Benecia, at Rose Drive and Dempsey. 11
a.m.–3 p.m. Contact: Sally Dunbar at [email protected] or 1-888-355-HOLT x137
Sept. 15—Holt Family Picnic at LeGrand Community
Park, LeGrand. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Contact: Sally
Dunbar at [email protected] or 1-888355-HOLT x137
May 19—Holt Family Picnic at Royer Park in Roseville,
190 Park Drive. Noon–3 p.m. Contact: Sally
Dunbar at [email protected] or 1-888355-HOLT x137
Kansas / Missouri
June 23—Holt Family Picnic in Southern California.
Location to be announced. Contact: Sally Dunbar
at [email protected] or 1-888-355HOLT x137
Aug. 5–9—Holt Adoptee Camp in Dobbins for adoptees
9–16 years old. Contact: Steve Kalb at (541) 6872202 or [email protected]
May 19—Holt Family Picnic at Moss Park, 12901 Moss
Park Rd., Orlando. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Contact: Sally
Dunbar at [email protected] or 1-888355-HOLT x137
Sign up today
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*For up-to-date news on adoption, inspirational
stories of children and families.
*When you sign up, your Holt International
e-newsletter will be delivered to your e-mail address.
Go to
October 6—Holt Family Picnic at Harmon Park in
Prairie Village, Kansas. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Contact:
Sally Dunbar at [email protected] or
1-888-355-HOLT x137
May 11—Colors of Hope Dinner Auction at the Valley
River Inn in Eugene to benefit the children of
Vietnam. Contact: Caroline Toy, Holt Events
Manager, at (800) 451-0732 or [email protected]
July 22–26—Holt Adoptee Camp in Corbett for
adoptees 9–16 years old. Contact: Steve Kalb at
(541) 687-2202 or [email protected]
August 4—Holt Family Picnic at Camp Harlow in
Eugene. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Contact: Sally Dunbar at
[email protected] or 1-888-355-HOLT
August 4-11—Holt Honeyman Campout at Honeyman
State Park in Florence. Immediately following the
Holt Picnic. Contact: Patricia Billups at (503) 6973219 or Kathy Johnson at (503) 620-7242
August 12—Holt Family Picnic at Cook Park in Tigard.
1 p.m.– 4 p.m. Contact: Sally Dunbar at [email protected] or 1-888-355-HOLT x137
May 19—Garage Sale in Omaha to benefit children
in Holt care. Contact: Midwest Branch Office at
(402) 934-5031 for information about dropping
off donation items, and for location. See related
report, p. 4.
Oct. 20—Colors of Hope Dinner Auction in Portland
to benefit the children of Haiti. Contact: Char
Woodworth, Event Chair, at (503) 638-2518
or [email protected]; or Caroline
Toy, Holt Events Manager at (800) 451-0732 or
[email protected]
June 30—Holt Family Picnic in Omaha. Noon–2 p.m.
Contact: Sally Dunbar at [email protected]
org or 1-888-355-HOLT x137
Aug. 12–16—Holt Adoptee Camp at Starlight for
adoptees 9–16 years old. Contact: Steve Kalb at
(541) 687-2202 or [email protected]
Orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable
children around the world need food, shelter,
clothing and medical treatment...
essentials your sponsorship of $30 per month
will help provide. Choose a child to sponsor
from Holt’s website:
ur Sponsorship can...
or call 888.355.HOLT
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