A Time to Heal

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1

The following is a glimpse of Holt’s work in Haiti since the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake…..

A time to embrace……

Three weeks after the earthquake, Holt Fontana Village staff in Haiti gathered around to say goodbye to 21 children leaving the Village to unite with their permanent families in the United States. The children, already matched with adoptive families prior to the earthquake, had their adoptions expedited and have been home for 4 months.

“When the talk of Humanitarian Parole Visas started, Scott and I were afraid to believe that Manel’s case would qualify. Within days, however, we received phone calls from our senator’s office, the governor’s office, and from our social worker telling us to believe it,” said Laura Conners. “When Manel’s eyes met mine for the first time, and I heard him yell “Mommy!” the anxiety of the last two years melted away as he jumped into my arms. A miracle had happened….read the rest of the Conners family’s story

A time to Love….

21 children had departed Holt Fontana Village and only four children remained in care, giving Holt the opportunity to protect and care for children affected by the earthquake. Through the hiring of additional Village staff and the completion of new houses on the property, Holt welcomed 40 orphaned and vulnerable children into Holt Fontana Village.

“Appropriate permanency planning services will be provided for the children including family tracing and search for kinship care placements,” says Dan Lauer, Holt Vice President of International Programs.

22 of the 40 children are currently receiving temporary care at the Village while their family members stabilize and can prepare a better home for them. With the loss of housing and income, many families are struggling to care for their children, and Holt is happy to provide these children protection, love and stability while their families get back on their feet. Continue reading “A Time to Heal”

Don’t Miss Out — Holt Picnics Underway!

Communities build around shared experiences. Every year, adoptees and their families gather at Holt Annual Picnics to enjoy the company of those who share the unifying experience of adoption. Last year, over 2,100 people attended Holt’s picnics, from Oregon to New Jersey and several states between. We hope you can attend a Holt picnic this year.

For a current schedule, click here.

On July 17th, Holt’s Portland Area Picnic will take place at the site of Holt’s Adoptee Camp — Camp Angelos in Corbett, Oregon. Pack a lunch and come meet Holt’s adoptee camp counselors amid the rugged beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. All adult adoptees from various countries, the camp counselors are eager to share favorite camp memories, answer questions and get to know you and your children. And don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes! You might decide to hike Multnomah Falls or overlook the Gorge at Crown Point en route to or from the picnic.

The following weekend, Holt’s annual Midwest Picnic will take place in Omaha, Nebraska at Cooper Memorial Farm on July 24th. The Korean Presbyterian Church of Omaha will serve a delicious Korean BBQ lunch for all who RSVP. Join in the fun, including face painting, balloon twisting and an interactive Korean culture display.

Holt’s original Eugene picnic — the one that started the tradition — is scheduled for August 7th at Camp Harlow. Holt adoptive Dad, Daniel Freed, a.k.a. “The Amazing Spaghetti,” will once again host a magic and fun show — a wildly popular event last year. The Eugene Korean Presbyterian Church will serve a delicious Korean BBQ lunch for all who RSVP. Directly following the picnic, join hundreds of Holt adoptive families as they travel to Florence, Oregon for the annual Holt Family Campout at Honeyman Park. Contact Debbie Dunham for more information on the campout. We look forward to seeing you soon at a Holt picnic!

The Gift of Compassion

by Brenna Bonner

I had barely heard the last few words of the radio advertisement for the Secret Keeper Girl event, but I did hear it, and four weeks later my daughter, five friends and myself were on our way to the event. On the night before Mother’s Day, our spirits were high and we looked forward to a fun evening.

The Secret Keeper Girl presentation captivated us from the very start. We sang worship music, listened to teachings on modesty, watched a fashion show, and learned what God says about our true beauty.

Those events were just the beginning, however. The Holy Spirit had just begun to speak.

As intermission approached, the presenters on stage switched gears, and Secret Keeper Girl Creator, Dannah Gresh, shared the story of how she was lead by God to adopt a child through Holt International. She also discussed Holt’s Child Sponsorship Program. I was riveted.

Over the last four years, I had visited many child sponsorship tables at concerts, ministry events and Christian conferences. I would often respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and go looking for the one child that caught my eye. Would I choose a boy? A girl? A child from Romania? China? Honduras? Should I choose an older child? An infant? Before I knew it, I had let loud worldly questions drown out God’s voice…but on this night, at the Secret Keeper Girl event, things would be different. Continue reading “The Gift of Compassion”

For We Walk by Faith…Not by Sight

by Jennifer Smith

After the birth of our third child, my husband and I decided that our family was complete. We were content and didn’t plan to have any more children; however, God had other plans. During the summer of 2006 we began to think about adding to our family, discussed adoption and prayed for God’s guidance. We both felt a tugging towards adoption, but we wanted to make sure it was the right path for our family. We were looking for some sort of “big” sign, and that’s exactly what we got when we attended Winter Jam in 2007 in Mobile. It was our first time to attend a Winter Jam concert, so imagine our surprise when we discovered that Holt International sponsored it. As a video presentation of orphanages in China played, we watched as tears rolled down our cheeks. When it was over, we looked at each other and said: “we’re adopting…we’re going to China.” We requested an application packet from Holt the next week.

Like most people, we experienced both miracles and challenges during our adoption journey, but we forged ahead and claimed 2 Corinthians 5:7 as our adoption verse. It states: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” That verse came to mean so much to us during both the joyful and difficult times of our adoption journey.

We started out in the standard process but then switched to the China Child of Promise option. After only a few weeks in this program, we received our referral for a beautiful little girl named Shang Nan. She was listed as having vision problems. We read over the information and looked at her pictures, and we knew that she was the one. We fell in love with her instantly.

Rinnah Shangnan is doing very well now. She’s had an eye examination, and it was confirmed that she is completely blind in her right eye. She wears glasses now, and we can tell that using them is definitely helping her. She is trying to stand up now and even does somersaults! She is a good-natured and happy little girl. Continue reading “For We Walk by Faith…Not by Sight”

National Public Radio Interview with Holt Adoptive Parent

John Seabrook, staff writer for The New Yorker, and his wife, Lisa, adopted their daughter, Rose, from Haiti in 2009.  Rose, along with 20 other children living at Holt Fontana Village, had her adoption expedited due to the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

Seabrook recently wrote an article about international adoption (read the New Yorker article here), and National Public Radio (NPR) conducted an interview with him about his family’s adoption experience and bringing Rose home.

listen to John Seabrook’s interview here

Just Being Their Mother

Mother’s Day Gifts of Hope

by Melissa Schmidt

“What do you want for Mother’s Day?” my husband, Dan asked last year. What could I possibly need? I was the mother of five children, waiting for our sixth child to come home from India. The only thing I could think about needing was a maid!

I had everything I wanted and just wanted to give something back. I thought for a little bit about honoring our children’s birthmothers and an idea popped into my head. I asked our daughter, Shabnam, who we adopted from Mumbai in 2006, how she would feel about planting a tree in honor of her birthmother. She was delighted.

We bought two trees, knowing that Sanjith would be coming home by the end of the year, and on May 18th, 2009 we gathered our children in our yard, dug holes and planted the trees. Shabnam was very excited to stand by “her tree!” She even named it “Asma”, after her birthmother’s name. I told Shabnam that any time she wanted to feel close to her birthmother she could go out by her tree. She grinned from ear to ear. Shabnam gave it water every day to make sure it would grow.

We brought 2-year old, Sanjith, home from Bangalore in November 2009. He has been running around outdoors this spring and has already worn a path by his birthmother’s tree. Sanjith was considered to be a child with special needs. However, we think that his only special need was “needing” to be home with us. When he came home in November he was speaking only four words in his native language. He is now speaking over 200 English words. His five other siblings have a hard time getting a word in around Sanjith. We are so lucky to have him in our family.

On Mother’s Day, the kids wanted to make sure that I wasn’t sad that I didn’t get a present for myself. I reassured them and told them that I had received a fantastic present. I get the best present every day just being their mother!

Give a Gift of Hope this Mother’s Day in Honor of your Mother or Someone Special

Bringing Families Together

Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund

Nathan came into Holt’s care with a cephalohematoma, a collection of blood under the scalp usually caused by trauma during birth. He also had developmental delays and partial seizures. When children with special needs are brought into the care of Holt International, it takes a special kind of love and commitment to make sure these children are provided for…it takes a tremendous amount of faith, as well. The loving caretakers need faith to believe that the children will survive and grow. And the children need faith that a permanent family who will love and care for them unconditionally is out there…waiting just for them.

Back in the United States, Andy and Angela Betts longed to hold one of these precious Waiting Children in their arms forever and, relying on their faith, they brought Nathan into their home and hearts.

“From the day we signed our application, we wanted to adopt a child with special needs,” says Angela. “For me, I felt like God was pushing us in that direction and God knew exactly what he was doing when he brought Nathan into our lives.

“Nathan has been home for a year and has grown so much. He has gone from not being able to sit up at 11 months, to walking and running around the house. Nathan has attached to us and formed a bond with each member of his family.”

Holt’s commitment, to do what’s best for every child, means putting extra effort into finding families for children with special needs.  We reduce adoption fees for every child with special needs, and Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund helps families who need additional assistance to complete their adoptions.  As a result, hundreds of children who might otherwise have no hope at all now have loving families.

Today Nathan is surrounded by parents and four siblings who love him unconditionally.  The Betts family had faith that Nathan was meant to be a part of their family.  And they had faith in people who give so generously to Holt and to funds like the Special Needs Adoption Fund.  “You will never regret giving this wonderful gift,” says Angela.  “The SNAF grant helped make us a family.”

Help Children with Special Needs Have a Family of Their Own…Donate to the Special Needs Adoption Fund!…..

The Adjectives of Adoption

a family adopts their precious daughter, Gauri, from India

by Kali VanBaale

I’m often asked what made us decide to adopt internationally and, moreover, what the adoption process has been like. I grapple to find the right adjectives, to give a straight, easy answer. Every family’s decision and journey to adoption is different. Ours was certainly filled with plenty of twists and turns. The summer of 2005, with two healthy biological boys, my husband and I decided to try for a third. Boy or girl, we didn’t care. We just knew we wanted one more to properly fill out the craziness of our household.

But heartbreak and disappointment resulted with two miscarriages, my third overall. It was an agonizing decision, but I couldn’t go through it again. I was done trying. We’d be a family of four. Only…we didn’t feel like a family of four. It was a nagging sense, like an unfinished sentence about our lives. After a time, my husband and I started to talk about how, in the early days of our marriage, we’d both mentioned how much we’d like to adopt a child. I generally don’t like to discuss our three lost pregnancies, but I did, in that moment, have a strange sense that maybe we’d suffered those losses in order to find the child we were meant to have, wherever he or she was.  We quickly settled on international adoption, Continue reading “The Adjectives of Adoption”

Holt Adoptee Camp

A week of self-discovery, friendship and fun

The Holt Adoptee Camps are about creating an adoptee community. International and transracial adoptees come together and get a chance to be around people who understand them,” said Holt Youth Services Coordinator Michael Tessier, a former camper and camp staff member.

Every summer Holt manages five camps around the country. Run by trained camp counselors, who are also adult adoptees, these camps give adoptees, age 9-16, the chance to learn more about themselves, discuss adoption, race, and identity issues and, most of all, have fun. “We don’t learn about our birth culture at camp,” said Michael. “The camps are about learning and creating the culture of adoption and the adoptee community.”

Michael began his relationship with the Holt Adoptee Camps as a camper when he was nine years old and now serves on the leadership staff, planning activities and providing support and encouragement to the campers.

“The most important thing I learned when I was a camper, was that there were role models for me to look up to,” said Michael. “You can’t see that in the media, you can’t see that in your neighborhood or community back home. But when I went to Adoptee Camp, I saw that there were successful, confident adult adoptees, and that made a big difference to me.”

Throughout the day the kids participate in typical camp activities like: archery, swimming and boating, and experience times of community with the other campers in small and large group discussions. Continue reading “Holt Adoptee Camp”

We Hoped for a Son

China Child of Promise

By Elizabeth H.

We wanted to add another son to our family and, through Holt’s China Child of Promise program, we brought Will home just one year and one day after we signed the papers to begin our home study!

When we started to discuss adding a final child to our family, we realized that we had several prerequisites that made it challenging to locate a program that fit all of them. We wanted a son–that was the easy one. We also wanted our child to come home at under 2 years old, and the clincher was that we wanted him to be about 18 months younger than our youngest child at the time. This meant that we would need to complete an adoption in about a year. How in the world could this happen when adoption time-lines are increasing in so many programs?

Answer: Holt’s China Child of Promise program. After talking to Holt’s China staff, we became very excited about the potential addition to our family of a child with a minor to moderate need. When a staff member asked me if we were open to either gender, my heart sank….”No, we are only open to a son,” I replied. The excitement and joy in his voice reassured me immediately as he exclaimed, “Really? You want a son? This is great! We have so many boys that need families! Your referral will come very quickly!” Continue reading “We Hoped for a Son”