Happy 1st Anniversary, Stella!

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The first day we met Stella in China

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Celebrating 1 year together!

Hey TD!

One year ago today, we officially adopted Stella as our daughter.  So today, we celebrated Stella’s adoption day with her favorite food: hot pot! I guess you can get the girl out of China, but you can’t get China out of the girl! 🙂

It’s hard to imagine that it’s already been a full year since we adopted Stella.  It’s been quite an incredible journey of life and love together, and you all at TD have been such an important part of helping her adjust to life in America.  Thank you!

We love having Stella as a full-fledged member of our family; each one of us loves and admires her quite a bit and can’t imagine life without her.  We look forward to what God has in store for us and for her, and we know that you all will have an important role to play in her life as well.

Here’s to new beginnings, God’s grace, and the love of family!

– Arthur

 

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In Memory of Molly Holt – A True Hero

Hey TD,

Especially in light of our focus on Downward Engagement, you need to read the moving biography of Molly Holt, a life so well lived.  Molly is the daughter of Harry and Bertha Holt, the pioneers of international adoption and founders of Holt International, through whom we were able to adopt Stella.

Her life is an inspiration to us all and needs to be emulated by more Christians, to the glory of God.  Please read and then pray for God’s will to be done in your lives. – Arthur

In Memory Of Molly Holt

It is with profound sadness that we share the heartbreaking news that Molly Holt, daughter of Holt founders Harry and Bertha Holt, passed away early in the morning on May 17 in Korea. She was 83 years old. 

In South Korea, Molly was known by many names, from the Mother Teresa of Korea to the Mother of all Korea’s Orphans. Although she devoted her life to caring and advocating for children and adults with medical, developmental and physical needs in Korea, she leaves a legacy that is felt around the world.

Born on November 24, 1935 in Firesteel, South Dakota, Molly was the second eldest daughter of Harry and Bertha Holt, who pioneered international adoption in the mid-1950s and later founded Holt International. Molly attended high school in Creswell, Oregon, and later graduated from both the University of Oregon and Sacred Heart Hospital, where she earned a nursing degree in 1956.

The summer of that same year, Molly traveled for the first time to South Korea — fresh out of nursing school, and ready to help her father care for children left orphaned and abandoned in the wake of the Korean War. A devout Christian like her parents, Molly had a vision for her future while in Korea. “I felt that this was where the Lord would have me be for the rest of my life,” she later said.

Molly would go on to spend most of her adult life at the Ilsan Center in Korea, a nurturing, long-term care home that her parents built in the early 1960s for children and adults with special medical, developmental and physical needs. As a nurse and foster mother to the residents of Ilsan, Molly worked to ensure they received the specialized care they needed to reach their potential and live as independently as possible. Through her tireless advocacy, Molly also made it possible for many children in care at Ilsan to join loving, permanent families through adoption. Today, hundreds of families adopt children with special needs every year from countries around the world. But long before it was common, Molly actively sought families for the children who others considered “unadoptable.” Like her parents before her, Molly helped change the culture of adoption by showing that every child is equally worthy of love and acceptance, and that every child deserves to be part of a family.

Only a few times in her life did Molly leave the Ilsan Center for extended periods, and only to pursue additional training so that she could better meet the needs of the children and adult residents of Ilsan. She studied at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, attended Korean language school and Multnomah School of the Bible, did post-graduate work in special education at the University of Oregon, and in December 1991 she earned a master’s degree in special education and rehabilitation from Northern Colorado University. Throughout her life, she received many honors, including a presidential award, the National Order of Civil Merit from Korea in 1981, World Vision’s Bob Pierce award in 1984 and in 2009, for her lifetime of dedication to orphans and people with disabilities, she received the Royal Order of Merit from the king of Norway.

Diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2013, Molly nevertheless remained steadfast in her commitment to the children and adult residents of the Ilsan Center. Despite her declining health, she said that she would devote her remaining life “to the things that she loves with her whole heart.” Molly never married or had children, but to the residents of Ilsan — many of whom are now in their 50s and 60s — Molly was their only family. They called her “Unee,” or big sister, a name that Molly cherished.

“Molly Holt moved so many with her tireless and admirable efforts, especially for those children with mental and physical disabilities,” says Stephen Noerper, senior director of the Korea Society and senior advisor to the United Nations. “As a brother of adopted, special needs siblings, I salute and admire her legacy of service. She offered six decades of tireless devotion, stood as a credit to her brave parents, and touched, formed and grew many through her compassion. The Korea Society and the entire community of those bent on international friendship and support extend deepest condolences to her family and friends and the entire Holt organization. To Molly Holt’s nobility, spirit and service, all tribute and our love and heartfelt prayers.”

Of Molly’s passing, Lee HongKoo, former prime minister of the Republic of Korea, wrote, “The contribution of Molly Holt to humanity and humanism … is a historic achievement. The modern history of Korea will record her achievement with gratitude and admiration. Many of us in Korea join the Holt adoptee community in recording our love and farewell.”

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Molly Holt,” says Oregon senator Ron Wyden. “Although she lived most of her life in Korea, all of us in Oregon consider her an exceptional Oregonian.  Molly leaves a legacy of caring and compassion that will endure for generations to come.  Her devotion to orphaned children in Korea and around the world touched the lives of thousands of children and families and changed the hearts and minds of many more for the better.”

Steve Stirling, president and CEO of MAP International, lived at the Ilsan Center in Korea before he was adopted in 1966, at the age of 11. “I thank God for Molly for faithfully serving those in need through Holt and living in Ilsan to care for disabled residents,” he says. “While we will miss you now, I will rejoice when we unite for eternity in Heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus. So long for now until we meet again in our forever home.”

Please pray for Molly’s family and for the many people who have loved her that they might find peace and comfort in their memories.

Services for Molly will be held in Korea at 10:00 a.m. on May 21 at Holt Ilsan Center of Korea. Molly’s family requests that gifts be made in her honor to the Molly Holt Fund for Children With Special Needs. If you would like to share memories or photos of Molly Holt, please email them to photosubmission@holtinternational.org.

By Robin Munro

A Meaningful Father’s Day Video – “Fatherless to Fatherfull”

Happy Father’s Day to your fathers, TD! (Please make sure to honor them!)

I watched this video during church service this morning at Menlo Church up here in Menlo Park. I cried.

Just watching and listening to these two uber cute(!) sibling adoptees, and considering the power and truth behind what they were saying left me in tears. I don’t even think they know the full import and power of their video; but God often works through the least of these.

Enjoy and consider the love of God, your true “really” Father in your life! – Arthur

Arthur’s Confession – “I’m Adopted”

Show Hope

Hey TD,

Most of you probably have never thought about me in this way … and in a way, I’m glad … but sometimes, it’s good to come back to the truth of things and to remind myself (and you) that … I’m adopted.  It’s true.  And it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. Adoption is beautiful, life-saving, life-giving, and life-transforming.  I am proud to be adopted.

I live the life I now live, with the confidence, and empowerment, and joy, and purpose, and delight, and hope, and love, and enthusiasm, and fulfillment, and opportunity, and perspective, and blessing, and richness, and family, and friendships, and fellowship, and satisfaction, and peace, and … security … I now live with, because of one simple fact:

I’m adopted.

You see, my natural father did not teach me how to live the right way.  He taught me how to lie, cheat, steal, and live for myself.  He taught me to compete against people and get my worth from outdoing others.  He didn’t teach me to rest and be satisfied in doing my best and in empowering others to do theirs.  He didn’t teach me to know THAT was success.

Nor did he teach me the right way to view the opposite sex, with sacredness and honor.  Instead, he taught me to look at them as a means of titillation and self-gratification, like he did. He wanted me to use them, not serve them; to lust for them, not love them; to idolize them, not cherish them.

I could go on at length about my natural father, but I’d rather not.  I’m actually still working out and undoing his pervasive influence and its effects in my life.  It’s still going to take a while, but it’s happening.  My adoptive Father is making sure of that; and I love Him for that.

I could go on and on and on about my adoptive Father.  In fact, I have and I do. For hours at a time. In a group called Total Devotion. A few Fridays a month. For thirty-three years.  And I can’t stop!  There’s so much more to tell you!  He is THAT good!

Here’s how good my adoptive Father is:  He wants to offer His Fatherhood to you as well.  Here’s how impactful He’s been at my heart level: I don’t feel threatened or jealous by Him wanting to share His love with you.  In fact, I want you to experience it too!

I was introduced to my adoptive Father by my biological father, Kuo-Chen Hsieh.  I owe my biological dad so much for insisting that I go to church so I could meet my eventual adoptive Heavenly Father.  My life has literally been changed forever.

I’d love to do the same for you.  If you want to get to know my adoptive Father, I’d love to introduce you to Him.  He’s amazing.  Just let me know and I’ll arrange a time for all of us to meet!

My old life with my natural father:

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” 1John 3:8-10

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” Eph. 2:1-3

My new life with my adoptive Father:

“And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2Cor. 6:18

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Rom. 8:14-17
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” Gal. 4:4-5
I sincerely hope my real Father adopts you soon! – Arthur

Will You Help Zander Find a Family?

“… Take up the cause of the fatherless …” Isaiah 1:17

Hey TD!

You have an opportunity to fufill what God has commanded us to do … take up the cause of the fatherless!  Here’s how you can help.

Keep Zander in your mind, heart, and prayers; and then just mention him in your conversations with others, including adults, asking whether they or someone they know have ever thought about adopting a child in need of a family.  If they show an interest to hear more, let them know about Zander and refer them to the video above, where they can learn more about Zander, see his personality, and feel his warmth.

If you want to know more about Zander, contact our very own Bring Me Hope (BMH) intern, Angela, who made the video and who is advocating on Zander’s behalf to find him a “forever family.”

You can also email her at angela.hsieh@bringmehope.org.

For more information about Bring Me Hope, visit http://www.bringmehope.org.

C’mon TD! You never know what God will do when His people join together selflessly, loving Him with all we’ve got and loving our neighbor as ourselves.  If we pray and act, God could use us to help change Zander’s life forever!

In the coming weeks, we’ll highlight more children that our other BMH interns are advocating for.  Stay tuned.

How awesome would it be if we could help a few children find families to call their own this year? Let’s do our part, TD!

 

TD Fri. – It’s a HUGE Friday!

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Hey TD!

We’ve got a HUGE meeting this Friday at TD, so don’t miss out! So, what’s so HUGE about it?  Well, we’re going to …

… hand out the very cool V4V swag!

… mine through the personality test data and discover what the results mean for us individually, for TD, and for our church.  If you missed our last TD, click here and take this personality test asap and report your results to your small group leader

… show a very special video …

Two weeks ago, my family sent our first letter and picture to our new daughters in China.  Our agency translated it and went to visit them in the orphanage.  Late last week, we received pics and video of them, including the reading of our letter to them.  Though it’s of a pretty personal nature, of course, we decided we’d like to show the video to you, our TD family, as you’ve been journeying with us and will play a part in acclimating them to their new family and new homeland.

So, was I lying? It’s a huge Friday, right?  Make plans to be at TD and we look forward to worshiping and celebrating our God and His goodness with you! – Arthur

A Story I Won’t Stop Sharing

Hey TD!

Well, V4V is underway and it’s been a huge blessing for many of us already!  The energy is live! In that spirit, I wanted to share with you this riveting essay (and video), written by an adoptee from Holt International (the agency that we are working with to adopt our two girls). Once orphaned, her adoption changed her life … but she still was curious about her birth mother …   – Arthur

A Story I Won’t Stop Sharing

For most of her life, Holt adoptee Molly Martin viewed her adoption as something that just “happened.”  But after traveling to Thailand to meet her birth mom, she developed a completely different outlook — and a deeper understanding of how loved she truly is. Molly’s story was a finalist in Holt’s 2016 adoptee essay contest. 

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For someone who was adopted at a young age, being adopted seems, for lack of a better word, normal. For as long as I can remember, except for a few blurry memories, being adopted is all that I have known. I don’t really remember what it was like not to be adopted, so being adopted has always seemed somewhat natural and definitely not really anything worth talking about. However, at the same time, being adopted isn’t normal. While I can’t speak for all kids that have been adopted, I think a lot of us, at some point or another, have entertained the thought that our situations aren’t normal. Surely, not looking like my family wasn’t normal and the thought that my biological family did not want me was always in the back of my mind. But those aren’t exactly things that most kids want to talk about.

Because of the seeming normality of my adoption, it was never something that I felt compelled to talk about or share with others. It didn’t feel important or like it was a part of who I am. People would often ask me where I am from and I would instinctively respond, “Raleigh, NC” when the real answer they were looking for was “Bangkok, Thailand.” Telling people “Yeah, my parents are white” in response to questioning looks they gave me after meeting my parents became the norm and I would typically zone out when people found out I was adopted and gave me the, “Wow, that is so amazing!” spiel. Because honestly, to me, being adopted wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t great. It was just something that happened that I had no control over (don’t get me wrong, I am SO thankful to have been adopted by my amazing family!). It was just a part of my past that I did not care to talk about.

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However, recently, that has all changed. Over Christmas of 2014, my adoptive family and I traveled back to my homeland to meet my birth mother for the very first time. A few years prior, I told my parents that I wanted to meet my birth mother if at all possible. I’m not exactly sure what prompted me to make such a request; I think I was just curious to know more about my heritage and my background. My adoptive parents very graciously took my request in stride and contacted Holt to see if it were possible. After years of planning and being in touch with the social workers in Thailand, they had contacted my birth mother and set up a date for me to meet her. And before I knew it, I was boarding a flight to Bangkok, Thailand for what was going to be a life-changing experience.

Going into the meeting, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Meeting the woman who gave birth to you for the first time at 19 years old isn’t exactly a common experience. I couldn’t exactly go up to my friends and ask them, “So, what was it like meeting your birth mom?” And secretly, I thought my birth mother was selfish. I knew from my records that my birth mother had given me up for adoption because she was too poor to properly care for me. To me, that just meant that she was too selfish to work harder or to get a better paying job. While that sounds extremely harsh, I just couldn’t understand her reasoning for putting me up for adoption, and I definitely didn’t want to accept it.

 

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I don’t think anything could have properly prepared me for that experience. As I stood in a private room with my adoptive family, waiting for the Holt social workers to bring my birth mother into the room, I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. When they finally brought her in, I was shocked. The woman standing in front of me was the spitting image of me, only aged by a couple years, and crying. And she cried for what seemed like forever. It was extremely awkward, as I didn’t know whether to hug her or just stand there. One of the social workers prompted me to give her a hug and when I did, she clung onto me, with tears still streaming down her face.

Eventually, my birth mother was able to stop crying long enough to talk to me (through a translator). She told me that for the past 19 years she had carried with her so much guilt, hurt and sadness for putting me up for adoption. When I was born, she knew that she was too poor to give me a good life. She gave me up hoping that I would get adopted by a family that could give me the life that she would never be able to give me. It wasn’t a lack of love that made her put me up for adoption, but it was her abundance of love.

Meeting my birth mother completely changed my outlook on my adoption. Rather than being something that just ‘happened,’ it is something that has shaped every facet of my life and my identity. Instead of growing up without a father, I have an incredibly strong and loving father. Instead of growing up without an education, I am excited to say that I will be graduating in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. And instead of believing that I am unloved, I know that I am incredibly loved — by a birth mother who gave up being able to see me grow up and have me call her ‘mom,’ by my adoptive family that has loved me even when I’ve had nothing to offer them, and by an amazing adoption agency that worked so hard to give me a forever family. Adoption will forever be a part of who I am and a story that I won’t stop sharing.

Molly Martin | North Carolina

After meeting her birth mom, Molly created a video about the experience, which she gave us permission to share:

To learn about birth search assistance and other post-adoption services available to adoptees, visit Holt’s Post Adoption Services website!