First Child in Cambodia Joins Family Via Domestic Adoption

In Cambodia, Holt’s social work team has helped to develop three care alternatives for children growing up in institutional care — kinship care, foster care and for the first time, a formal, ethical system of domestic adoption. In March 2021, the first child in Cambodia joined her adoptive family via this new process. 

Chivy* is the first child to be united with an adoptive family via Cambodia’s new domestic adoption process.

In May 2020, early in the COVID pandemic, a baby girl was born in a hospital in Cambodia. She was small — weighing just over 5 pounds — but her eyes were dark and lovely and shining with light.

A bright new life had just begun.

But for her mom, this was not a day of celebration. As she looked in the eyes of her newborn daughter, she faced a heartbreaking decision.

Unmarried, and separated from the baby’s father, she feared her family’s reaction if she came home with a child. In many communities in Cambodia, the stigma of single motherhood remains alive and well — shaming women for having a child outside of marriage. This newborn girl’s mom had managed to keep her pregnancy a secret from her family. And on the day her daughter was born, she decided to relinquish her parental rights. Continue reading “First Child in Cambodia Joins Family Via Domestic Adoption”

How COVID-19 is Affecting Children and Families in Colombia

Holt’s in-country representative for Colombia, Ana Maria Fernandez, and U.S.-based program manager, Malia Robello, share how crisis of COVID in Colombia is affecting vulnerable children and families and how Holt sponsors and donors help meet their most urgent needs. 

During COVID-19 in Colombia, a Holt partner distributes groceries to families in need.
Holt partner FANA distributes groceries to families in need.

How is the pandemic currently affecting children and families in Colombia?

ANA MARIA: Definitely there is an increase in violence, abuse and neglect. But Colombia had a very long, very strict lockdown. At the beginning of the pandemic, no one was allowed to leave their homes. … So it’s been really difficult to identify cases because children are not going to school. Medical care, unless it’s an emergency, is also reduced. … The two biggest [child abuse] reporters — schools and hospitals — are not seeing kids so it’s hard to know.

Right now, we are seeing an increase in the number of children that are coming into the [child protection] system, but still, it’s lower [than when schools and hospitals could report cases]. … [Due to social distancing restrictions], there’s not a lot of staff going to visit [families]. So imagine the situation of the children that are below the radar. Continue reading “How COVID-19 is Affecting Children and Families in Colombia”

Voices of Sponsored Children and Families in the Philippines

See what life is like in Escopa 3, an impoverished community in Manila, Philippines where sponsors and donors support children and families. This story originally appeared in Holt’s spring 2018 sponsorship magazine.

Roughly the size of three square blocks, Escopa 3 is part of barangay — or slum neighborhood — home to 7,000 people in Manila, Philippines.

No one here owns the land, so the risk of eviction by the city is high. Escopa 3 residents live in such tight quarters, it’s not at all uncommon for families of 12 or more to live together in less than 200 square feet of rented space. Single room homes are literally stacked on top of one another, and built from any material families can find. Hanging laundry, dishes drying in racks and bags of recyclable plastic bottles fill the thin, dirt-and-concrete footpaths that cut through the barangay.

Jobs in Manila are scarce and many people survive on what they can scavenge, like plastic bottles or tin cans. Many families live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.25 per day. Some families have access to running water that may trickle in through a pipe or hose, but few are connected to sewage.

One of the biggest struggles families face is providing for their children. Many don’t make enough income to meet their kids’ basic needs, such as shoes, food, medical care or school costs. School is difficult to access and expensive. In Escopa 3, Holt sponsors and donors support children in need and provide support to families, helping them launch small businesses or learn new job skills.

View the slideshow above to hear voices from  Escopa 3  and learn how you are helping to change the lives of children and families in this community.

When you sponsor a child through Holt, you help provide everything they need to thrive — from nourishing food and safe shelter to tools and resources to help their parents achieve stability and self-reliance, such as a small business microloan or job skills training. Visit Holt’s sponsorship webpage to learn about a child in the Philippines or another country who needs a sponsor!

A Day in the Life of a Sponsored Child in Uganda

See what a day is like in the life of one sponsored child and her family in rural Uganda. This story originally appeared in Holt’s fall 2016 sponsorship magazine. 

Meet Sophia. Sophia lives with her grandmother and four of her cousins in a small farming community recovering from both the spread of HIV and years of brutal conflict in central Uganda. Sophia has lived with her grandmother since she lost her mother when she was 10 years old.

Now 13, Sophia is in the sixth grade and she aspires to be a nurse. With the support of sponsors, Sophia and her cousins have everything they need to stay in school and thrive in the loving care of their grandmother. View the slideshow above to learn what daily life is like for Sophia and her cousins and how Holt sponsorship supports them every step of the way.

Not yet a sponsor? Your monthly support can help provide everything a child needs to thrive, from nourishing food and safe shelter to the love of a devoted family or caregiver. Visit Holt’s sponsorship webpage to learn about a child who needs you. 

How One Adoptee Wraps Children With Love

Why Korean Adoptee Cat Fisher knits blankets for children in Holt’s child sponsorship programs around the world.  This story originally appeared in Holt’s spring 2017 child sponsorship magazine

Growing up, Cat Fisher had a special blanket. It was blue and made of an old Disney sheet and she loved every ratty corner of it.

“I took it everywhere with me until it became rags,” says Cat, a Korean Adoptee who now lives in Georgia with her husband, James, and two hound dogs, Annyong and Toby.

Cat was just 3 months old when she arrived on an airplane in Memphis, Tennessee accompanied by a team of nuns. This is a story Cat’s mom and dad have shared with her throughout her life — describing the frenzied nuns, the anxiety when her flight was delayed, and the quick handoff of a tiny baby with nothing more than the clothes she wore on her long flight home. Continue reading “How One Adoptee Wraps Children With Love”

Holt Launches International Adoption Program in South Africa

Holt is excited to announce the launch of a new international adoption program in South Africa in partnership with the Cape Town, South Africa-based child protection and adoption agency Wandisa. Holt is now one of three U.S. adoption agencies approved to place children from South Africa with eligible families in the U.S., and began accepting applications for the South Africa program on May 17, 2021.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to participate in home-finding for children from South Africa,” says Thoa Bui, Holt’s vice president of international programs. “We are particularly passionate about being able to find families for children with special needs and older children.”

Continue reading “Holt Launches International Adoption Program in South Africa”

How COVID-19 is Affecting Sponsored Children in Delhi, India; A Q&A With Jim Dé

An interview with Jim Dé, director of our partner Shishu Sangopan Griha (SSG) in Delhi, India. Jim shares how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Holt-sponsored children and their families in Delhi,  and how sponsors and donors are helping to meet their most urgent needs — especially now, during the country’s deadly second wave

Masked to prevent the spread of COVID, a local team member meets with sponsored children and families in Delhi.
Masked to prevent the spread of COVID, a local team member meets with sponsored children and families in Delhi.

How is the pandemic currently affecting Holt-sponsored children and families in Delhi?

We saw a huge surge between the month of April and July/August 2020 and then we saw a huge tapering down of the situation and people were getting back to work. So I think the first couple of months in 2020 at least to the middle of the year was pretty difficult for lots of families. And then by Aug/Sept, we saw people getting back to work.

However, the sad thing is that in 2021, it’s back to a bigger bang than in 2020. We are seeing a huge surge in the number of cases and it seems like every second house is affected with COVID. This is an extremely precarious situation right now. …

When [India’s recent lockdown] started off, the people did not realize that it was going to last over a month. Since the last two weeks, it has been painful because it’s back to no income and bare survival. Thanks to support from Holt sponsors and donors, we have been able to reach out to all the families and help them with financial aid to overcome this situation. Continue reading “How COVID-19 is Affecting Sponsored Children in Delhi, India; A Q&A With Jim Dé”

A Letter for Pisey

Long-time child sponsor Laura Jones shares why she decided to sponsor one more child during the COVID pandemic — even though she too was financially affected by this global crisis.

When sponsor Laura Jones received an email during the COVID pandemic asking her to sponsor Pisey, she immediately felt called to help.

“She is one of six children and being raised only by her mom, in extreme poverty,” Laura says of Pisey. “Even though I was currently on furlough myself from my job, I knew God was leading me to sponsor her.”

This was not the first time Laura felt led to sponsor a child. Through the years, she has sponsored many children through different organizations. When she first heard about the need among children Holt serves — at a 2015 Winter Jam concert — she was already helping one child. But she was so moved by what she heard, she decided to sponsor another. Continue reading “A Letter for Pisey”