Top 16 Blogs of 2016

This past year, our organization celebrated 60 years of serving orphaned and vulnerable children and families in countries across the globe. Over these six decades, our work has touched the lives of thousands of people — people whose lives collectively tell the story of who we are as an organization. Their stories are the story of Holt International. And in 2016, many of these people once again graciously shared their life experiences with our readers.

For the first time, we held an adoptee essay contest, asking adoptees to share how adoption shapes or has shaped their identity. We received a number of thoughtful submissions, and featured the winning essay by Noel Hincha in our annual adoption magazine. I am happy to share that the essay penned by one of our runner-ups in the contest is among this year’s top most-viewed blogs of 2016!

Following last year’s trend, stories written by and about adoptees once again topped the list — receiving thousands of views on Facebook and the Holt blog. Among them is a letter one adoptee wrote to her late birth mother, grieving the fact that it was too late for them to meet; a story about a first-generation adoptee reuniting with the man who cared for him in Korea; and a piece by an adoptee from China who describes what the adoption experience was like for her.

Among our Top 16 Blogs of 2016, we also included five stories about our overseas programs — from a story written by a trailblazing woman in our unwed mothers program in Korea to a story about a boy who learned how to express himself for the first time at the Yesus Mena Deaf School that we support in Ethiopia.

And of course, stories by and about adoptive families are always popular among our readers — particularly among families new to the process who appreciate the insight and wisdom that veteran families have to offer. This year, six adoption stories had the most impact on our readers, including, at the top of the list, a heartfelt piece written under a pseudonym by an adoptive mom who wanted to share the truth about raising children with HIV. As more and more families adopt children with more involved and complex special needs, the experiences of these families become increasingly influential — inspiring other families to adopt children with HIV, congenital heart disease or, as one of our top stories explores in detail, Thalassemia.

As we reflect on the year 2016, and on the last 60 years, we thank the many, many adoptees, families, sponsors, donors, staff members, partners and children and families in our programs for your willingness to share what can be very personal and sometimes heart-wrenching experiences. You moved us. You inspired us. And perhaps most importantly, you instructed us. Every year, we continue to learn and grow from what you share with Holt staff and supporters. And we are so, so grateful for your being a part of our story, the Holt story. — Robin Munro, Managing Editor

Top Five Adoptee Stories

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Krista in Korea: A Letter to My Birth Mother

Over the summer, Holt adoptee Krista Gause traveled on the Holt Heritage Tour to Korea. Before her departure, she wrote an honest and heartfelt letter to her birth mother, sharing about her life and grieving the fact that it was too late for them to meet.  Continue reading “Top 16 Blogs of 2016”

Traveling to China to pick up your child: Holt’s travel policies

_BGC7622 (1)Your adoption journey has come so far. Can you believe that soon you will travel to China to unite with your child? We are so excited for you, your beautiful kiddo and the incredible adventure you are about to embark on to welcome your child home.

To ensure that your trip to China is everything you’ve hoped for and goes smoothly, we ask that you please read this blog in full. Here, we provide information about our travel schedules, why we schedule travel the way we do and what you should expect as we begin travel planning together. Continue reading “Traveling to China to pick up your child: Holt’s travel policies”

We urgently need families for children in the Philippines

philippines-apw--Header-600x575Have you considered adopting from the Philippines?

This program is small, stable and predictable — and in urgent need of families for children. This program is a great fit for:

Younger couples, married for at least three years, ages 27-45, with less than three children.
Families strong in their Christian or Catholic faith. A 5-year church attendance letter is required.
Families who are open to a child of either gender.
Single applicants open to a child age 6+.
Families open to children ages 2-5 with minor special needs.
Families open to older children, siblings or children with more profound special needs.

Does this sound like your family? If so, we’re excited to hear from you!

Email Holt’s adoption counselor, Emily Lund, at emilyl@holtinternational.org. You can reach her by phone at 541-687-2202.

Click here to request a free packet of information about adoption.

Click here to apply now!

Or learn more about Holt’s Philippines adoption program by exploring online. CLICK HERE.

Children in Thailand and Vietnam Need Families!

So, you’re thinking about adoption! While you’ve already made a first big step in reaching out to Holt, you may be discovering that there are a lot more decisions to make along your adoption journey.

A couple of the next ones coming your way are deciding on the country program and profile of child you are open to. Often, it’s best to begin by talking with Holt’s intake staff or your social worker and doing some research to get an idea of which country program is right for your family.

For some families, Holt’s smaller adoption programs are a perfect fit. And right now, both our Thailand and Vietnam programs are in need of adoptive families!

These two programs have two different sets of parent eligibility requirements and two very different profiles of children who are waiting for families. Could your family be eligible and interested in adopting a child from Thailand or Vietnam? Take a look!

Thailand

Thailand

Right now, the Thailand program needs loving adoptive families for younger children who have very manageable/minor special needs. The majority of these children are living with a nurturing foster family where they are growing and being cared for in a stable family environment. These foster families prepare the children very well for adoption, helping the transition into a permanent adoptive family to be as smooth as possible.

Because of Thailand’s eligibility requirements, this program is a good fit for younger parents — the adoptive mother should be under the age of 40 and the adoptive father under the age of 45 at time of application — and those who have just one or no other children living in their home. However, these requirements can be flexible for families interested in a waiting child. Families with one child in the home can request a child of the opposite gender, but otherwise you cannot request a specific gender.

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If the Thailand program doesn’t seem like a good fit for your family, check out the Vietnam program! This is our newest adoption program, and our first Holt-matched child came home just this past month!

Children waiting for families typically fit within one of two profiles. These include children who are generally between the ages of 1 to 5 and have moderate or major special needs. Older children, ages 6-14, are also waiting for families. Some of these children may not have any special needs, but will need families who are experienced and prepared for the complexities of older child adoption.

Parent eligibility requirements for the Vietnam program are generally more open and can be flexible depending on the needs of the specific child. Families adopting from Vietnam can have up to four children in the home, parents can be up to 54 years old at the time of application, and the program is open to single applicants.

We hope this helps you as you continue your journey toward welcoming a child into your heart and family. If you have any question about either of these programs, you are always free to contact me at emilyl@holtinternational.org.

Sincerely,

Emily Lund
Adoption Counselor

Children in China Urgently Need Adoptive Families

PeddicordsIt can take time to decide with certainty to adopt a child. But once you do make that life-changing decision, it can feel discouraging to wait even longer to bring your child home.

We understand. And we also have great news!

Right now, the need for families to adopt children with correctable conditions from China is so great that once you complete your dossier, you will likely go straight into the matching process! In the past, most families would sit on a waitlist behind other families who are hoping to adopt a child of a similar profile. But because we now have more children than families waiting to adopt, we are often able to match families who are open to a boy within several weeks of completing their dossier! The wait for a girl is also the shortest it has been in several years — currently about 5-6 months after a family’s dossier arrives in China.

Regardless of whether you are open to a boy or a girl, this means a huge dip in the wait to bring your child home. Continue reading “Children in China Urgently Need Adoptive Families”

Holt Philippines Partner KBF Celebrates 40 Years of Serving Children

 

In December 2015, Holt’s long-time partner in the Philippines, KBF, celebrated 40 years of service to orphaned and vulnerable children!

Holt actually helped to establish KBF – the Kaisahang Buhay Foundation, or Working Together Foundation, in Manila — in 1975.  With Holt providing funding and technical assistance, a local team of professionals developed and staffed KBF. Though not a child care center, KBF became a resource for the many orphanages around the country. The staff worked to improve care conditions while also encouraging institutions to move children into permanent families.

In the 1980s, KBF broadened its outreach, establishing a medical sponsorship program, a day care center and a program to house street children. Through a family rehabilitation and outreach program, KBF also helped numerous other agencies increase their services to children.  In 1984, KBF introduced a model foster care program to provide attentive, loving care for children awaiting adoption. After a temporary stay in foster care, many children reunited with their birth families or joined  local or international adoptive families. Continue reading “Holt Philippines Partner KBF Celebrates 40 Years of Serving Children”

We Are Now Recruiting Families for Holt’s Second Ambassador trip to China!

Help Holt Find Families for Older Children in Beijing!

How You Can Help — Join us in Beijing!
Families often ask how they can help Holt advocate for vulnerable children, and we are thrilled to offer this unique approach. During the first week of November, Marissa Leuallen, Holt’s social work manager for China, will be leading our second ambassador trip to China, and we are hoping to recruit five families to accompany her and advocate for older children in need of families! During the week, you will have the opportunity to spend several days getting to know a small group of children between the ages of 6-12. You will learn their stories and participate in outings and activities with them. And when you return to the United States, you will help advocate for these children, sharing their stories and their need for loving adoptive families. Holt will provide you with materials and ideas to help with your advocacy.

For a prospective adoptive family, it makes an incredible difference to hear from people who have met the children, played with them, know their personalities and have heard their laughter. Sometimes it simply takes another voice to help someone understand how truly special a child is. Our hope is that Holt’s ambassador program to Beijing will give these children the voices they need to find permanent, loving families of their own.

Lan Lan (left) traveled with her parents to China to meet her new sister, Ningjie.  Both were older when they were adopted.
Qiulan (left) traveled with her parents to China to meet her new sister, Anna. Both children were adopted when they were older by the Henderson family.

Details:

•The Ambassador trip will take place November 1st – 7th (US departure on 10/31)
•A family traveling on this trip could be a couple, a single adult, or a parent with an older teen.
•Families will spend 3-4 days with the children and their caregivers. Activities will be planned for those days and optional sightseeing will be offered on the remaining days.
•Holt will share the travel costs for Ambassador families. Families will need to arrange their own transportation to and from a West Coast airport (likely Portland, Seattle or San Francisco) and contribute $2,500. Holt will make all other travel arrangements (flight, hotels, meals, group outings) and cover most of the travel expenses, including some meals, transportation and activities.
•Marissa Leuallen has been with Holt International for 11 years. Kathie Stocker, also a Holt staff member, will accompany Marissa on the trip.

 

For more information about joining the Holt ambassador trip to Beijing, contact Marissa at marissal@holtinternational.org 

Holt’s President and CEO Visits Vietnam

 

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Phil Littleton, Holt’s president and CEO, recently returned from a trip to Vietnam. While on the trip, Phil visited a daycare center and orphanage we help support in Dong Nai and met with Holt-Vietnam staff and the deputy director of adoption to discuss our work in the country.

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.

“Holt has a very long history of serving children and families in Vietnam,” Phil says. Continue reading “Holt’s President and CEO Visits Vietnam”

An Exciting Opportunity to Advocate for Children with HIV in China

We are now recruiting families for Holt’s first ever ambassador trip to China!

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The Children’s Home in Nanning cares for 30 boys and girls, ages 2-17. As the children may face discrimination if identified, we cannot share their photos.

The Children’s Home in Nanning provides care for children who were born with HIV, whose parents have passed away, and who face discrimination in their cities, towns and villages because of their status. Extended family are afraid to care for them, landlords won’t rent to them, and public schools don’t want them in their classrooms. The Children’s Home, with financial and advisory support from Holt and various other charities like www.stdaware.com, provides these children with a home where they can receive an education, medical care and affection from caregivers who do not fear them because of their HIV status. For a firsthand account of a Holt staff member’s visit to this special facility, please see Samantha Gammon’s blog post. Continue reading “An Exciting Opportunity to Advocate for Children with HIV in China”

It All Started With a Holt Sponsor

A letter from Holt Cambodia staff to Holt child sponsors and supporters. 

Dear Sponsor,

On behalf of our colleagues and the children we serve in Cambodia, I would like to thank you very much for your support for all of our programs. It is very helpful to children in rural areas who have little access to education.  Education is a key factor in the development of our country as well as the development of stronger, more self-reliant families. Without your support, our children may not be able to have a good education or stay with their families. Your support is a valuable gift for all of them.

In 2014, your support enabled Holt Cambodia to directly serve 871 children. Through your sponsorship, you have helped to support educational programs, family strengthening activities, a community library, rice bank, women’s self-help groups and income-generating activities to help families independently support their children.

In 2014, 546 children benefited from educational support. All children received schooling materials, uniforms, emotional support, and some hygiene materials. Sixty-one students continued their schooling until the end of university.

Sien Sok-Ny is a young girl from Porsat province who graduated in 2014, earning a degree in management. She now is very proud to have a full-time job at Cambodian Indigenous Youth Association as a program officer in charge of women’s issues. She hopes to be able to help other children stay in school and complete university.

Sien Sok Ny-1

 Last year, you also helped provide approximately 53 families with a one-year loan to start an income-generating business and enabled approximately 270 families to participate in Holt-supported self-help groups. For example, the Pav family in Takeo province faced great difficulties as they were very poor and not able to afford school fees for all four of their children. Continue reading “It All Started With a Holt Sponsor”