Category: For Birth Parents (page 1 of 3)

To Birth Moms, on Birth Mother’s Day…

On Birth Mother’s Day, here are some of our messages to birth mothers here in Chicago and around the world: 

  • You are loved!

  • Your wellbeing is in the hearts and minds of many. “We do no great things, only small things with great love.” -Mother Teresa

  • Happy Birth Mother’s Day. The courage you have to make a very difficult decision is admirable.

  • You are amazing! 🙂

  • Your heart and courage are truly an inspiration! ❤

  • As a foster mother myself, I know that a mother’s love is expressed in many different forms, and all are beautiful! But today I honor the mothers who gave their children the first experience of love in their life. What an incredible gift that stays with children their whole lives.

  • Dear Birth Mothers, As an adoptee, I want to thank you for all the sacrifices you gave to give me (us) a better life. You will always have a special place in our hearts. xoxo This year this celebration [Birth Mother’s Day] is on my birthday and it brings extra importance on this day. Thank you for your love  and care. xoxo

  • You will be a part of our family forever.

  • Because of your bravery, our family is complete. Thank you for bringing our daughter into our world and our lives.

  • You are a brave and amazing person!

The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Had To Do

Fifteen years after placing her son for adoption, Gina Ledsma got in contact with Holt earlier this year.  When we asked her if she was open to sharing her story, her response was an enthusiastic “yes.” While the environment and circumstances are different from country to country and individual to individual, Gina’s domestic U.S. adoption story is one that may resonate with any birth mother. And understanding stories like hers is important for everyone who is touched by adoption.

Gina will never forget the three hard, precious days she had with her son.

“I just counted all the toes and fingers,” she says, remembering those days in a hospital bed in Eugene, Oregon. “I looked at every little piece and part — and said my goodbyes.”

Twenty-nine years ago, Gina chose adoption for her son. Continue reading

Bonding For Birth Parents

It’s not uncommon for a birth mother to select openness with the adoptive family as part of her adoption plan. This can be in the form of sharing photos, email updates, and sometimes even in-person visits. But even though open adoption is viewed for the most part in society as a positive relationship between the birth parent and the adoptive family and child, it can still be difficult to navigate.

Oftentimes, a birth mother may struggle with finding ways to bond with her child after placement.

When it comes to connecting with her birth child, many birth mothers struggle with:

  1. Feeling unsure about the child’s likes or dislikes
  2. Doubting her ability to form a relationship with her child after placement
  3. Fear that that she will do something wrong and won’t be able to see the adoptive family again
  4. Fear of experiencing loss again
  5. Not wanting to overstep boundaries

New Program: Empowering Women, Strengthening Families

To expand our services to women, children and families in Illinois, we are excited to introduce the Empowering Women, Strengthening Families program! 

Beginning in October 2017, with funding from a generous gift from Wayne and Nan Kocourek, the Empowering Women, Strengthening Families Program will provide counseling services, funding and trained advocates to help expectant mothers or new families in crisis stay together.

For qualifying applicants, the Empowering Women, Strengthening Families Program will help provide bridge funding for housing, educational scholarships, medical care and more so women who wish to parent their child will have the support and resources they need to make a parenting plan instead of an adoption plan.

Holt-Sunny Ridge works with dozens of women each year who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. For women who want to parent, but lack sufficient support, parenting skills, job skills or permanent housing, there are few resources outside of decentralized public assistance.

The Kocoureks want to help raise awareness about the need to empower women who wish to raise their children and they encourage others to join in supporting them as well. The Kocoureks feel there are some women who just need a boost up to get started in their new lives as mothers.

Women in the Empowering Women, Strengthening Families Program will have a dedicated counselor who determines the best way to use the program’s funds to help them overcome hardship. The counselor will work to identify, contact and solidify a team of ongoing support, which may include addressing issues such as food insecurity, the need for stable housing, vocational training, daycare or more.

“Empowering mothers to parent their children will meet such a huge need in Chicagoland and Illinois,” says Nancy Crouch, Holt-Sunny Ridge’s director of domestic adoption and birth parent services. “We are so grateful to the Kocoureks for this opportunity to expand our services.”

In the first year, the Empowering Women, Strengthening Families Program hopes to serve 20-25 women and over 30 children, with a plan to increase services in subsequent years.

Holt-Sunny Ridge began over 90 years ago as the “Sunny Ridge Home for Children” in Chicago. Over the decades, as adoption and child care policies changed, the organization transitioned from an orphanage to an adoption agency. In 2014, what was then “Sunny Ridge Family Center” merged with Holt International to further expand their services to children, becoming Holt-Sunny Ridge. Today, Holt-Sunny Ridge is a respected international and domestic adoption agency and post-adoption resource for families, dedicated to the mission of finding loving, secure homes for children and strengthening families both here in Illinois and around the world.

For more information, contact

Together, We Make Family

Domestic open adoption brings birth parents, adoptive parents and their children together as a unique and beautiful family. This photo shows the significant moment of Killian’s birth mother and adoptive parents meeting for the first time — the beginning of a lifelong relationship centered around the love they all have for their son.

Continue reading

Meet Our Very Own Guardian Angels – The Stark Family

For 20 years, the Stark family has served faithfully as Holt-Sunny Ridge foster parents — caring for children as they wait to be united with their adoptive families. Nancy Crouch, Holt-Sunny Ridge’s director of domestic adoption and birth parent services, shares about the amazing, meaningful impact the Stark have made over the years.  

I never really knew the true meaning of guardian angels until I met Paul and Cindy Stark, licensed temporary foster parents for Holt-Sunny Ridge. For over 20 years, the Stark family has been providing a loving and caring home to children in need. The dream of being foster and adoptive parents all started when Cindy was a student at the University of Notre Dame and working part-time for the assistant dean of marketing, Joanne, who would often talk to Cindy about her passion for adoption. Joanne adopted two young boys of a different race who were in need of a family, which really touched Cindy’s heart. The love that she observed in Joanne’s family was truly amazing and life-changing for Cindy. It did not matter what differences the family had with race, education or need. They were family.


The Stark family with one of their foster babies.

Continue reading

The Importance of (Birth) Family

In a post originally on the Holt International blog, one adult adoptee writes about finding a new identity through the birth of his daughter.

Continue reading

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