By the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Vietnam's orphanages were overwhelmed with orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children, including thousands of mixed-race children – or as the Vietnamese called them, buidoi, the dust of life. Under social pressures and growing threats from the North, many Vietnamese mothers sought outside care for their children.
In the years since, political and economic reform has led to greater prosperity in many parts of the country. It has also caused a greater disparity of living standards between rural and urban dwellers. As rural families seek a better quality of life by migrating to urban areas, many resort to abandoning children they can't support. Rising rates of HIV/AIDS and the recurring stigma of unwed motherhood have also caused an increase in child abandonment in recent years.
Holt first served families and children in Vietnam through a USAID-funded nutrition program, later developing an international adoption program to help find permanent homes for the twenty-five thousand children living in Vietnam's orphanages.
In 1973, Holt introduced foster care for children in the country's orphanages, providing loving, individual attention to nurture their development while they await permanent placement. Despite steady growth in services, political instability forced Holt to cease work in Vietnam in 1975. Returning in the late 1980s, Holt developed programs throughout the country that enabled children to stay within their birth families, despite hardships.
On September 16, 2014, Vietnam's Central Adoption Authority granted Holt International a license to facilitate international adoption for children with special needs, children older than 5 years old and children who are part of singling groups — effectively ending a 6-year moratorium on adoption from Vietnam to the U.S. In addition, Holt continues to keep or place children in families in Vietnam through family strengthening and preservation, reunification and domestic adoption services. Working in partnership with the government of Vietnam, Holt provides emergency assistance, counseling and the basic financial, health, nutritional and educational support needed to stabilize struggling households.
While helping to sustain three government-run child welfare centers, Holt remains one of the few NGOs providing foster care for children in Vietnam. In 2003, Holt-Vietnam's thriving programs moved Vietnam's Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs to promote this family-like alternative to institutional care. Holt also trains and supports foster families to care, often long-term, for children with special needs – a growing population of children in care in Vietnam.
In 2011, the government began providing day care services in all three provinces where Holt works. With support from Holt sponsors, the program provides preschool fees, nutritional support, counseling and parent education – serving to strengthen families for children in Vietnam.
Help Support Children and Families in Vietnam!
Become a Holt child sponsor!
Provide food, shelter, clothing and loving care for a child in Vietnam.
Give a Gift of Hope!
Whether for Christmas or another occasion, giving from Holt's gift catalog is a wonderful way to honor a loved one. Provide warm clothing, bedding and toys, or school supplies for children in Holt's care. Or give a cow or donkey to a family in one of Holt's programs.