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Tinker couple honored as Adoptive Family of the Year

Lawrence and Allison Holt with their children, from left, Holly, Jace, Josh, Lexi, Sidney, Maci and Katie. The Holts, who were recently named the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Adoptive Parents of the Year, have adopted their seven children, ranging in age from 10 months to 6 years, within the last five years. (Air Force photo by David Faytinger)

Lawrence and Allison Holt with their children, from left, Holly, Jace, Josh, Lexi, Sidney, Maci and Katie. The Holts, who were recently named the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Adoptive Parents of the Year, have adopted their seven children, ranging in age from 10 months to 6 years, within the last five years. (Air Force photo by David Faytinger)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- When Allison Holt first prayed for the safety of a 3-week-old baby boy, she didn't know he would soon be her adopted son. She now deals with children writing on furniture, sprinkling glitter on the counters, pouring syrup in Barbie doll hair, deflating lawnmower tires and rubbing toothpaste into the carpet. This is the everyday life and answered prayer of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services 2010 Adoptive Parents of the Year, Lawrence and Allison Holt.

Mr. and Mrs. Holt have adopted seven children within five years, and all of them are younger than age 6. Mr. Holt is an Equipment Specialist in the 422nd Supply Chain Management Squadron and Mrs. Holt is a stay-at-home wife and mother.

"We are truly the most blessed people. I don't know what I would do without my kids," Mrs. Holt said.

After being married 10 years, the Holts decided to pursue adoption when they were ultimately unable to have a baby of their own. Mrs. Holt was able to get pregnant, but had several miscarriages and was never able to carry a baby the full term. In 2004, after Mrs. Holt had her final miscarriage, she was at the hospital with her sister who was giving birth. While there, a pediatric nurse informed Mrs. Holt that a baby boy was immediately being taken to a group home after he was born because a foster home was unavailable.

"So I prayed for that baby right then and there, and that's Jace." Mrs. Holt said. "I didn't pray that we were going to get him, I just prayed that he would be safe. We didn't get him for another six months, but that was our baby."

Mr. and Mrs. Holt chose to adopt children through DHS for financial reasons, and case workers informed them it would take several years for them to get a child younger than age 3. However, they were able to bring home Jace in April 2005, when he was 6 months old. It was only a week after they had completed adoption paperwork.

The Holts were ecstatic to welcome a baby in their home, but they wanted to adopt another child as well. Two years after adopting Jace, they adopted their second child, Sidney, who was 2 years old. Shortly after Sidney joined the family, the Holts adopted more children.

"It happened really fast," Mr. Holt said.

After taking a family portrait with their two children, the Holts were surprised when the third child came along. They wanted to give back and help DHS, so as a thank you for being able to adopt Jace and Sidney, Mr. and Mrs. Holt agreed to foster a child temporarily.

After being around 7-month-old Josh, they decided they wanted him as a permanent part of their family. Josh, however, came with two older biological sisters, Katie, 4 years old, and Holly, 3, who needed a home for adoption as well.

"We were just going to foster one child to pay the system back," Mrs. Holt said. "But we kept seeing the girls and they would just cry not wanting to go back to their foster mom. They thought I was another DHS worker and they kept saying, 'I want to go with you, worker. I want to go with you.'"

After careful prayer and consideration, the Holts decided to adopt all three children.

Josh, Katie and Holly increased the number of children in the Holt family to five, and the Holts decided they needed a vehicle big enough to seat their entire family. The day they purchased a new Chevrolet Suburban, which seats exactly eight people, Mrs. Holt received a call from DHS informing her that Sidney's biological mother had just given birth to another child -- and the baby needed a home. That same day Mr. and Mrs. Holt took home their sixth child, Alexandria (Lexi).

Soon after adopting Lexi, the Holts received information that Katie's, Holly's and Josh's birth mother was expecting again. The mother had a stipulation that if the Holts adopted the rest of the siblings, they had to adopt the baby, Maci, when she was born as well.

"When we found out that we were going to be taking Maci, I literally cried for about two weeks because I didn't know how we were going to handle two infants," Mrs. Holt said. "We had two night's sleep before Maci came and then we had to do it all over again."

But the Holts said now that they have all of the children, they wouldn't have it any other way. Currently, Jace and Sidney are 6, and Katie is 5 years old and the three are in kindergarten; Holly is 4 years old and is in pre-kindergarten; Josh is 2; Lexi is 1 and Maci is 10 months old.

"We really thought our family was done, and we were so happy," Mrs. Holt said. "Then all of a sudden we went from two kids in our little world, to seven. I have since learned to hold up to four of the kids at one time."

Mr. Holt said giving his children a loving family is one of the most fulfilling feelings he could have.

"I grew up without a dad," Mr. Holt said. "I know my dad now but, there is still that connection that I never had and I don't want them to grow up without having that connection."

Though the Holt's have a large family, it doesn't slow them down. The children are involved in basketball, soccer, t-ball, Sunday school and even bowling on occasion. Mr. and Mrs. Holt have even coached basketball, t-ball and taught Sunday school as well.

"You can do everything but it just takes a lot of planning," Mrs. Holt said. "But we can't do anything at the last minute. We are never late to anything and we never miss anything unless someone is sick."

Mr. Holt said the hardest part of having seven children is going out to restaurants or to visit other people's homes. However, they stick to a strict schedule and routine and have help from Mrs. Holt's mother who they said is their "third arm." They also have a lot of support from neighbors and teachers.

The Holts said they are able to experience so many activities with their kids because of their location and their school district in Choctaw/Nicoma Park.

"We moved out here for the schools," Mrs. Holt said. "It's like living in Mayberry, and our school has been the biggest support for us as well. My kids in kindergarten are reading more than second graders are reading, it's just the standards. They are going to be the world's smartest kids because they say 'why' more than anything."

The Holts said another thing that has helped them through their adoption process is Mr. Holt's position at Tinker because his supervisors have been supportive and understanding.

"They have been so incredibly good to us," Mrs. Holt said. "We have had a lot of coming and going. We do basketball, we do gymnastics, we have appointments; it's like a whole orchestra."

Tim Ness, flight chief, is Mr. Holt's supervisor in the 422nd SCMS. He said he is very proud of Mr. and Mrs. Holt, and that their team is always glad to support them in all they do.

"Lawrence does very well at balancing work and home life," Mr. Ness said. "We strive to keep an open line of communication open so that if an emergency or a need arises we can ensure he is available."

Mr. Ness also said he thinks Mr. and Mrs. Holt's adoption process is truly amazing.

"They are so gracious," Mr. Ness said. "The care of children spanning those ages is very difficult. They, no doubt, have the patience and fortitude to raise the children providing them a strong foundation."

The Holts received the OKDHS Adoptive Parents of the Year Award on Nov. 17.

"We made a lot of jokes that the prize better not be another baby," Mrs. Holt said.

Luckily for the Holts, they were awarded with a plaque and had the honor of joining Oklahoma Governor Henry and the first lady at the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the State Capitol on Dec. 1.

"It was neat to meet the governor and his wife and walk around with security," Mr. Holt said. "And the kids got 30 minutes with Santa in the governor's office. His wife was very nice; she actually talked to the kids and got down on their level."

Mrs. Holt said the kids enjoyed the entire night, but their favorite parts were the large Christmas tree and meeting Santa Claus.

"Santa was their rock star," Mrs. Holt said.

The entire adoption process for all of the children was officially finalized in October and to celebrate, the Holts plan on taking a family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge in Texas.

"The most exciting part about them being done and adopted is that we can go across state lines without permission," Mrs. Holt said. "But it's not just that. It's everything, it's every day. We are all learning how to be a family and this isn't your everyday, normal, quiet home."