A child in care at the Holt Fontana Village in Haiti during last year’s International Day of the Child celebration.
Birthdays. We all have one. Most often, they are celebrated with family and friends, good food and gifts for the guest of honor — a joyful time of celebration for another hopefully happy and fulfilling year of life.
But for homeless and vulnerable children around the world, birthdays might look a little different. Many children don’t have much reason to celebrate.
Many don’t even know what a “birthday” is.
Sponsorship donations help provide children with their most basic necessities — gifts that these children are forever grateful for. But sometimes, along with the provision of their basic needs, children just need to have a little fun!
In an effort to make every child feel special and loved, Holt will throw exciting birthday celebrations on June 1st for children in Holt’s care around the world—from China to Ethiopia and many countries in between! This special day also fittingly coincides with the International Day of the Child.
The parties will include a special meal, decorations, treats and games. Every child will receive a pair of shoes, clothing, or other much-needed personal items. We’re planning to serve approximately 10,000 children!
Recently, child sponsors had the opportunity to participate in the celebrations by sending a special greeting and goodie bag to their sponsored child. Some sponsors also gave an additional donation above and beyond their normal monthly sponsorship to help with the parties.
Children in Cambodia holding up their gifts during last year’s celebration.
Here’s what we are asking you to do: For children who don’t currently have sponsorship support, would you be willing to stand in the gap on their special day? We hope that you will send a special greeting to a boy or girl on the sponsorship photolisting and make a one-time donation for the parties.
It’s easy. Just click here to select a child, then simply fill out the form and click “submit.”
Holt will compile all the greetings for the children and send them to our staff and partners overseas. And with your help, every child will receive a special greeting.
Click here to make a one-time donation to the general party fund that helps with party preparations and ensures that every child will receive a pair of shoes, clothing, or other much-needed personal item.
The party is just a couple short weeks away, and party preparations take time. So act quickly! Send greetings and donations now!
Children in the Philippines received a backpack and other goodies during last year’s party.
Scott needs a family
Birthday: August 5, 2000, Southeast Asia
For over four years, I have kept a watchful eye on Holt’s waiting child photolisting, observing as new children have been added, and watching, in joy, as the words “I Have a Family” have appeared across many of the children’s pictures.
It brings Holt staff great joy to watch as children move from our photolisting into the arms of loving families.
Some children, however, are added to the photolisting only to wait…and wait. A few children, like Harry from northeast Asia, have sadly been on the photolisting for nearly 4 years. Waiting. We do what we can to advocate for these children, but sometimes it’s just not enough.
The children who wait the longest often have disorders or special needs that seem particularly scary or involve many unknowns, and the hesitation many prospective families face regarding these children is quite understandable. Reading words like “unknowns,” “Cerebral Palsy” or the rare “Prader-Willi syndrome,” in Harry’s case, can be scary. Even the words “older child” can seem rather intimidating.
Many times, though, to remove the fear or hesitation that these words conjure up, the children on our photolisting often just require a closer look.
Take 12-year-old Scott, for example. He has waited on the photolisting for two years now. The “special need” that put Scott on the waiting child photolisting is simply that he is 12 years old. Not what many would consider an ideal age for adoption. He has been given the label “older child,” but there is so much more to him than a number, an age. He deserves a closer look.
Described as very smart, kind, generous and observant, Scott enjoys running, climbing and playing soccer. He is a very good student who enjoys writing stories and listening to folk music. Because of his passion for the arts, Scott has decided that he would like to be an animator or music composer one day. Perhaps a family with similar interests could bring Scott into their family and help encourage this passion. And through love and support, help him realize his dream.
As an older child, Scott knows about adoption. He has been to counseling sessions for intercountry adoption and states that he would love to have a family someday. He is described as a leader, and will need a family who can accommodate this trait and understand the behavioral impact of grief and loss.
Most of all, Scott needs a prospective family to take the next step, to take a closer look — a look beyond his 200- word “waiting child” description. For more information about Scott, please contact Lori Gustin at email@example.com
*To adopt Scott, there should be no more than 45 years age difference between the younger parent and the child. Families with no more than 2 children in the home preferred, though there may be flexibility on a case-by-case basis. * See country criteria for complete requirements.
Thirteen years after they adopted their daughter Amanda from India, the Roullier family travel back to her birth country.
by Penny and Bill Roullier
Our international adoption journey started 15 years ago when we learned about a tragedy in an orphanage in the Philippines. Several children had died in a devastating fire. Our hearts were stirred, and we decided to look into adoption. Holt International, at the time, was the only agency providing international adoption services in our state. We filled out the preliminary paperwork, and Holt recommended we adopt a girl from India. We had two biological sons, Zachary, 4, and Quincy, 2.
After another round of paperwork and a home study, we waited to hear from Holt with a referral for a little girl. Shortly thereafter, the Holt magazine arrived. We eagerly flipped to the section featuring children waiting for families. Our eyes stopped on a beautiful little girl in India named Mukta who was a year old. Immediately, we called Holt. And we qualified for her! In addition to her medical and developmental records, Holt sent us pictures of the beautiful little girl who would become our daughter.
After reviewing the records with our social worker, she recommended we proceed with the adoption. She was impressed with the detailed evaluations and reports kept by Mukta’s caregivers and felt they had provided us with more information about Mukta than most families adopting in the USA have about prospective children.
The Roullier family on their recent trip to India.
Traveling to India to pick up our daughter was our first experience with international travel. Holt took care of all of our travel arrangements. We would fly to New Delhi, the capitol, then to Pune to pick up Mukta at her care center – Holt partner agency Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK). We would then travel back to New Delhi.
In both cities, drivers met us at the airports and took us to our hotels. In Delhi, our favorite place was Nath Guesthouse. The food was phenomenal, we met wonderful people from around the world, and it was a familiar place in an extremely unfamiliar culture.
Our next destination was Pune to meet Mukta at BSSK. I was so nervous. The morning we left I wrote in my journal, “I felt like I have had too many cups of coffee.” Horrific images of smelly, depressing orphanages swam through my mind. What would we experience at BSSK? The offices and Nashon, where infants live, were our first stops. All of my fears were unfounded. The orphanage was clean and bright, and the children received loving care.
Then, we got to meet Mukta. She was so beautiful and so small. She was born very small, and at 21 months of age, she weighed only 18 pounds! We brought her a pretty dress and some sandals. She loved them!
Continue reading A Journey Worth Taking
Earlier this year, Holt organized a medical campaign to the Shinshicho/Durame region of Ethiopia. Six American physicians — several of them Holt adoptive parents — volunteered a week of their time and resources to treat patients in this rural, impoverished area of the country. Over the week, they saved several lives. Some in truly extraordinary ways.
by Robin Munro, Senior Writer
Earlier this year, six American doctors traveled to southern Ethiopia as part of a medical team trip organized by Holt. They visited two healthcare facilities – a small health clinic in Shinshicho, and a hospital in neighboring Durame. Here, they were joined by two Ethiopian doctors who traveled from the city to help treat patients in this rural, impoverished region of the country.
Over the week-long campaign, they saw conditions rarely seen in the U.S. Goiters caused by iodine deficiency. A 3-year-old with legs paralyzed by polio. Malaria. Advanced wounds. And patient after patient with prolapsed uteruses and bladders – a consequence of constant physical labor, poor nutrition and long hard childbirths, often at a very young age.
They also met children that tugged at their hearts with soulful eyes and failing hearts or lungs. Some they had to turn away, unable to help them. Their conditions were too serious, the hospital’s resources too few.
But several lives, they did save. In one little one’s case, all it took was a little ingenuity, and an empty plastic water bottle.
A newborn baby Dr. Bannister helped to resuscitate. Basic resuscitation is one area in which the local staff could benefit from additional training.
Continue reading The Lives They Saved
May is National Foster Care Month! In celebration, we bring you two stories — the first from the Larson family, whose a little girl overcame the challenges of early malnutrition while in the loving care of her foster family in Vietnam. In the second story, Holt adoptive mom Debbie Dunham shares how foster families serve as a “bridge of love” to children awaiting adoption in Korea. Enjoy!
A Home Full of Love For Sophie
by Linda and Steve Larson
When we were in the process of adopting our second daughter, Sophie Lan, we learned that she had been in both the orphanage and a couple different foster families. The last one she was with, in our eyes, made such a difference in shaping Sophie’s future and who she is today.
It was February 4, 2001 – the day we were to go to the Danang Rehabilitation Center for Malnourished Orphans to see and hold our Sophie for the first time. It was an amazing feeling to see this little girl of 21 months old for the first time. We were able to hold her and introduce her to her new big sister, Sadie. We also got to feed her and try to get her to drink some water. She looked at us with those big, deep brown and curious eyes…very seriously…afraid to crack a smile…afraid of what was going to change in her life…again. We had to leave her there that day and come back the next for the adoption ceremony at the Department of Justice. It was so very hard to say goodbye – even if just for a day.
Sophie with her foster parents during their reunion visit in 2008.
During our time in Vietnam, we were fortunate to have our Holt representative take us to meet our daughter’s foster family. As we approached the front door and took off our shoes, they respectfully invited us into their home with such kindness. The look in the mother, the father and the son’s eyes told us that their home was filled with love. This was the home where our daughter Sophie learned to be a fun-loving girl with the personality of a comedian. Here, she also overcame many of the challenges and delays she developed in early life.
When Sophie came into care, she was seriously malnourished and had iron-deficiency anemia. She was smaller in size than others her age, had moderate motor skill delays, and could not sit unsupported. She could not bear her body weight on her legs. Her language skills were also delayed.
In her foster family’s care, Sophie thrived. They fed her at the same times every day with food abundant in vitamins. They assisted Sophie in learning to bear weight on her legs, and helped to develop her motor and language skills – teaching her to identify and name different objects. They also played with her and took her for walks. They interacted with her like she was their own child – taking every measure to ensure her healthy development.
Continue reading In Celebration of Foster Families
A year after switching to Holt’s China program for children with special needs, John and Kathi May brought home their daughter, Madison Grace. Madison’s father, John, shares their story.
by John May
Our adoption story had its beginnings much like so many other families. My wife, Kathi, and I had been trying to start our family for several years. During this time period, we suffered through six miscarriages. The physical and emotional toll this took on us was tremendous, as any family who has gone through a miscarriage can appreciate. The realization that we would not have a biological child of our own was beginning to sink in. Unfortunately, for so many families with similar stories, this is where the book would end. But for us, it was a new beginning.
I must admit that adoption was never an avenue I saw our family pursuing. But being people of faith, we felt there was a reason for the obstacles we had encountered. Kathi first mentioned adoption and we both had a lot of unanswered questions and reservations. We didn’t have any family or friends who had adopted so we had much to learn. We ruled out adopting domestically within the U.S. early on. Right or wrong, we had major concerns about adopting a child and then having to give up our rights to the birth mother if she had a change of heart. After everything we had already been through, this wasn’t a risk we were willing to take. With this option ruled out, we looked to international adoption as the path to our child.
Early in the process, we narrowed our country program options to China and Russia. With some additional research, we learned that Russia required two trips to finalize the adoption, with a fairly lengthy time period in between. We didn’t really like the idea of meeting our child and then having to leave him or her behind. With our decision now made to adopt from China, we began searching for an agency to assist us. Holt International was immediately at the top of the list. All of the reviews and families we spoke with had nothing but praise for Holt. We also sat in on one of the many webinars Holt offers. We were able to ask questions about the process and the moderators were very well informed. We had now finalized our decision on both the agency and the country we would adopt from.
Once our dossier was logged in China, the waiting game began. We knew this would not happen overnight, so we told ourselves we must be patient. I can tell you this is easier said than
Madison’s referral photo.
done. We had requested a girl, and every time we saw a little girl from China, our thoughts immediately went to our daughter – a daughter we had yet to meet. We wondered if she had even been born. Was she in an orphanage or foster care, and was she doing okay? Was she happy? We were twelve months into the adoption process when we began second-guessing our original decision. After some thought, we decided to switch from the standard China process to Holt’s China program for children with special needs. We knew this would shorten our wait by years, and that thought was very appealing. Initially, I was somewhat reluctant about adopting a child with a special need. But the more I learned, the more my concerns were diminished. We had the option to choose what type of special needs we would consider, many of which could be easily corrected with outpatient procedures. We saw stories and pictures of families who had adopted children with special medical and developmental conditions. After much prayer and many discussions, we changed our adoption to special needs. We were very excited that our adoption process would now not take nearly as long. Had we stayed in the standard China program, we would have waited at least 5 years or more for our daughter to come home.
On July 21, 2010, approximately nine months after we made the change to special needs, I received a call from Kathi with the news we had been so anxiously awaiting. We had a referral.
Continue reading Amazing Grace
One of Holt’s legacy partners in India inaugurates a new childcare facility in Aurangabad.
For over 30 years, Holt has partnered with local leaders and childcare specialists to help care for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children in India. When Holt staff arrived in India in 1979, one of their first efforts was to help establish a residential childcare facility in Pune, Maharashtra, a state in West India. Here, our new partner agency – Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK) – began providing care for homeless children. Through the years, Holt has found loving families for many children once in care at BSSK, while the staff at BSSK has continued to grow and diversify their services for children and families in need.
Today, BSSK remains a significant part of our history and legacy, and we are so proud of their accomplishments in caring for homeless children.
Children in care at BSSK perform a dance during the inauguration ceremony.
Earlier this month, BSSK celebrated one of their most recent accomplishments – building a new facility for homeless children in Aurangabad, a city near BSSK’s headquarters in Pune. For several years, BSSK has supported a branch in Aurangabad, but over time conditions of the care facility began to deteriorate. It was also too small for the 25-35 children who typically reside there.
“At BSSK, we believe that the children who come into our care should have a spacious, well-ventilated and comfortable home,” says Roxana Kalyanvala, executive director of BSSK. Thus, she says, they built a new home.
In 2006, Roxana and her staff began looking for a piece of land in Aurangabad for the new childcare facility. They approached the local government to help keep the land purchase at a reasonable cost, and raised funds for any remaining expenses. Finally, they secured a low-cost piece of land through a local industrial development corporation.
Continue reading A Beautiful Home for Children
April showers bring May flowers. Happy (Almost) Wordless Wednesday!…and Happy May Day to all of our Holt International family and friends! (photo: Nicholas Mayur Neaman, 5, adopted from India)
Jane urgently needs to find a loving, supportive adoptive family. Please share Jane’s story to help her find the family she deserves.
DOB: May 11, 1997
Jane* is a cheerful, confident and athletic almost 16-year-old girl from Southeast Asia. She has lived in the U.S. for almost two months.
Jane comes from what developmental psychologist Dr. Karyn Purvis calls a “hard place.” In early life, she experienced neglect and abuse from some members of her birth family. For a time, she stayed with caring relatives who showed her love and support. But these relatives lacked the means to support her for long, and at age 5 Jane landed in orphanage care. Here, caregivers described her as a sociable, sweet and talkative little girl who gave everyone hugs.
In this safe place, Jane continued to develop into an active and playful girl. She developed good relationships with other children and was especially helpful and kind to her roommates. She grew to love outdoor activities, especially running and playing hide and seek. She diligently completed her household chores, earned average grades and excelled at sports. Jane could also be quarrelsome, stubborn and defensive – especially when scolded or corrected.
As Jane entered high school, her childhood trauma began to trouble her and distract her from her studies. She started to attend counseling sessions, which helped her cope with her past. Today, Jane is excited to graduate high school and go to college.
Although Jane has lived with a family in the U.S. for about two months, she has struggled to adjust to her new life. She arrived without the skills typically developed in the context of a loving family, and has built up barriers to limit closeness – as is common among children who have experienced abuse and neglect. Jane needs a new family that has the time, skills and energy to help break through the behavioral walls she has developed to protect herself. Jane’s family should be willing and able to help her develop the effective coping strategies and relationship skills she needs to thrive in life.
Jane is fluent in English and adjusting to the U.S. school system. Her behavioral issues have only occurred in a family environment. She would like to stay in the U.S., in a family that loves and supports her unconditionally.
To adopt Jane, families must be experienced adoptive parents. Both parents also need to be under the age of 60, earn a family income of $40,000/year or more, and have a current domestic or international home study. Due to adoption requirements in Jane’s birth country, families also need to be of Christian faith.
For more information about adopting Jane, contact Abbie Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* To protect Jane’s identity and privacy, we have not shared any photos. Contact Abbie Smith to view photos and learn more information about Jane.
Take Action: Lend Your Voice to the Tax Day Advocacy Campaign!
Happy Tax Day!
Today (April 15th) and throughout the week, join Holt and Voice for Adoption in sending messages to legislators — thanking them for making the adoption tax credit permanent, and also urging them to reinstate the refundable provision of the adoption tax credit.
Here’s the message we need to communicate: Nationally, nearly half (46%) of families adopting from foster care are at or below 200% of the poverty level, meaning many do not have a tax liability and cannot use a non-refundable tax credit.
Whether families adopt domestically or internationally, the refundable provision of the adoption tax credit is not a minor issue. It makes an enormous difference in the number of families who are able to claim it! When more families can claim this vital credit, more families can afford to adopt — enabling more children to join loving homes. It’s as simple as that! We need your help to let Congress know they can help more children join loving families of their own. We ask that you join us in urging Congress to reinstate the refundable provision — as it was in both 2010 and 2011 — so that all adoptive families can benefit from the adoption tax credit.
For legislator contact information and a sample letter template, click here.
Together, we made it permanent. Now let’s make it refundable!