The sun is beating down on us, and if it weren’t for the straw hat they gave me I would probably be a puddle. Of course, the kids aren’t content just sitting in the shade drinking from a fresh coconut, so what are we doing? Running around playing soccer and trying to avoid the sharp metal hiding in the grass. I’m the “monkey,” so I am in the middle trying to intercept the ball as they kick it around the circle laughing. I tell myself I am going easy on them, but like I said, it is quite hot and they are much more used to the heat than I am.
As we play, my mind leaves the game and starts to realize the significance of this moment. These aren’t just any kids in SE Asia. They have no idea who I am, but I recognize these kids the moment I see them. Continue reading “Monkey in the Middle”
UPDATE: For Bella’s birthday, a generous donor has offered to double her Special Blessings Grant to $6,000 to help her find a home!
In the words of the donor,
“Bella said it best, “I want to be adopted, and I would like to live in the U.S.’ My birthday wish to Bella is for her wish and dreams to come true — so that she may know the love and happiness of the family she deserves while blessing the world with her beautiful smile.”
Read more about this special girl below!
Date of Birth: 9/28/2003 | China
Last October, Holt sent a team of doctors, social workers and other hand-chosen advocates on an ambassador trip to China in order to help advocate for specific children. Their goal was to meet some of the children and gain a better understanding of the child’s needs and evaluate the qualifications that a family would need to be the best fit for the child. After spending four days with 11 children from one of the HIV group homes we support, they came home to help advocate for them. Since then, eight of the children they met have been matched, and five are already home with their families.
One of the children the team met, who has not yet been matched with a family, is *Bella. One of Holt’s ambassadors wrote this about her:
Bella was voted “Best Smile” among all the kids by the ambassadors, and if you get the chance to see a picture of her beautiful face, you will see that she definitely deserved that title! At our first meeting, she hung close to an adult from her group home until she determined that her surroundings were safe and that she was free to be herself. She soon warmed up to the ambassadors and Holt staff when she started working on a bracelet craft with her friends. She enjoyed coloring, playing games and showing off her awesome ability to do a split. She stated that “animals and snow make me happy” and that “when I grow up I might like to work with animals.” We asked what is one thing she wanted to learn or do and she said, “I want to learn to ride a bike.” Overall, she is fairly quiet and reserved in group settings. She seemed to prefer to be on her own, with an adult or with another little girl, rather than participate with the group as a whole.
Her group home caregivers said that Bella is often insecure and lacks self-confidence. They attributed her insecurity to being at the group home for only two years (as of October 2015) and that she was just starting to find her place among the other children. She also started her HIV medications late, and she was sick when she first arrived at the group home. Due to her illnesses, she had to take time off from school, but teachers reported that she had improved in her classes and with her homework. She had also been taking tuberculosis medications for about a year and was still taking them as of October 2015. But now her tuberculosis has cleared up and she no longer needs the medications.
We heard that she was very tearful and seemed afraid of the Holt staff that visited the group home in April 2015. Although we saw no tears and no fear of strangers during the visit in October, she did seclude herself at times and appeared sad — a sign that she still deals with trauma from her past. When we asked her directly about adoption, her beautiful smile spread across her face. Then she said, “I want to be adopted, and I would like to live in the U.S.” The ambassadors and Holt staff all think she will thrive via adoption and be a blessing to her family, but she will need lots of encouragement and one-on-one attention from her family members.
Brady is well known throughout China after he was featured in a news story that spread throughout the country. His story was shocking and heartbreaking as it told his plight as an orphaned boy with HIV, forced to fend for himself. Now he is cared for in a Holt-sponsored group home for children with HIV where he is waiting to be matched with an adoptive family. Amanda Bray lives in China and got to meet Brady when she joined a group of Holt Ambassadors who were visiting the care home. Help her advocate for him to find a family that is deserving of such a caring and talented young man.
Update:There is now a $1,000 Special Blessings Grant toward Brady’s adoption!
Life for children with HIV in China is hard. Through no fault of their own, they have to live with a stigmatizing disease that shows no outward signs but results in a broken childhood and a bleak future. As an expat living in China, the stories from the HIV+ community broke my heart. The more I learned about these people, the more I wanted to help however I could.
Returning from Holt’s ambassador trip to Beijing, China, adoptee Chloe Mills advocates for Jonas — a kid with lots of personality, and a love for food. Help find Jonas a family by sharing his story!
When I first met Jonas, he told me he thought I was too young to be his ambassador and then he promptly led me to the food table. This is the perfect snapshot of Jonas: he is both an entertainer and a food enthusiast. With his quick wit and humor, his laughter is contagious.
Although Jonas’ vision is impaired because of an eye cyst, it is clear that his condition has not delayed his cognitive development. I was amazed at how he could navigate stairs and crowded public areas. Orphanage staff rest assured that, with medical intervention, his vision can be corrected. He is a very artistic and smart 10-year-old. When Jonas and I were playing with clay, he could make me a whole tea set with cups. He can recite poems, but moreover, he is a linguist! He already knows some English phrases and put them to practice with me, such as “Good Morning,” “1, 2, 3,” “Let’s go,” or singing the “Happy Birthday” song.
In a previous post, Holt advocate Shila Henderson described her experience on Holt’s recent ambassador trip to Beijing, how the trip changed her and what it was like to spend time in China with children who are waiting for families. Here, she recounts her last day with the children and advocates for Phillip — a little boy who desperately wants and needs a family.
Our trip to Beijing was full of emotion from day one. The last day was especially memorable. It was the “goodbye party” where we said a farewell to the kids. When I woke up that morning I knew it would be hard, especially with “Phillip.” We had spent four days with 9-year-old Phillip and he had asked us many times if we would find him a mother. He had even said he would take any mother, even a “white-haired grandma-mom.” I both laughed and cried when he told me that. Phillip is intelligent, loving, outgoing, kind, easy-going and sweet. He loves to sing and is full of joy. He enjoys taking things apart to see how they work and I imagine him as a future Lego maniac. Phillip has vision challenges, which make him appear cross-eyed, but he can navigate well. A highly respected pediatric eye surgeon also viewed photos and videos of Phillip and he believes Phillip’s condition can very likely be corrected with surgery and glasses.
This past November, a 10-member Holt ambassador team traveled to meet a group of older children in a care center in Beijing, China — all of whom have Special Blessings grants to go toward the cost of their adoptions! Will you help advocate for these children by reading and sharing their stories? They are all still waiting to be matched with the loving families they deserve.
Clyde’s ambassador says she was so blessed to spend time in China with this delightful boy. Look at that wonderful smile! Every time she would see Clyde, he had that wonderful smile across his face. He brought joy and laughter to everyone he met. Read more about Clyde!
Shila Henderson reflects on the Holt Ambassador Trip to Beijing and how it changed her. While in Beijing, Shila and her two daughters got to meet and spend time with 6-year-old Ione. Now home from her trip, Shila advocates for this sweet, shy girl to find a permanent, loving family of her own.
“Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”
The words above, by Pastor David Platt, echoed in my mind as we taxied down the runway heading home from Beijing. My world was forever changed. I had the honor and privilege of participating in Holt’s Ambassador of Hope Trip to China along with my two daughters, who were adopted from China just a few years ago. It was an amazing experience to see my daughters come full circle — from being the orphans that were advocated for, to being the ones advocating. We had the opportunity to spend four days in an orphanage with amazing children who are all waiting for families. It’s hard to describe our experience; it was so full of hope, heartbreak, love, laughter and tears.
My name is Angie Lewis. I was able to attend the November ambassador trip to Beijing, China with Holt International. I am the mother of five children ranging from ages of 6 to 20 years old. Our youngest is adopted from China, and was 4 years old when we brought her home. Our family has been blessed beyond what words can say by our sweet Nicole. After adopting Nicole, we felt our role in adoption was so much more than just bringing her home. When Holt announced this trip, I knew it was the next step I needed to take in helping orphans. So I am pleased to introduce Clyde, a sweet boy I met in Beijing.
I was so blessed to spend time in China with this delightful boy. Look at that wonderful smile! Every time I would see Clyde, he had that wonderful smile across his face. He brought joy and laughter to everyone he met.
During our trip to the zoo, he loved taking pictures — and he was really great at it!
During one of our times together, he and another boy began to sing “Happy Birthday” to me after hearing the group of adults sing to me at dinner. On his own, Clyde also sang to me. The smile across his face as he sang was beautiful, and Clyde was so caring towards me and his friends. He shared food with me when we would sit down to eat and sometimes, he would insist on giving his things to me.
Late last year, Holt ambassador Penny Phillips and her adoptive daughter, Joy, traveled on the Holt Ambassador Trip to Beijing, China to meet some of the wonderful children who are waiting for adoptive families. Below, in her first post, she shared about 9-year-old Kit and why it was so heartbreaking to say goodbye to him. Today, Kit is still waiting for the loving adoptive family he deserves. Will you help Penny advocate for Kit by sharing his story with your friends on social media? Thank YOU!
Older children Jaxson, Tilly,Jonas and Phillip are also still waiting for loving families! Click their name to read their stories and help advocate for them too!!
What we noticed first about Kit [when we met him last month] was his sweet smile. He is quite handsome, has a soft, steady voice and a wonderful laugh. When he is sitting next to you, his cerebral palsy (CP) diagnosis isn’t at all apparent; he is like any other kid his age. He is engaged, happy and sociable.
We first met Kit when he was performing a prepared song, complete with hand motions, along with a large group of 30 other children. He performed just as well as the other children as he stood with his walker. Only his legs are affected by CP, and in video recordings of this performance, it is clear that he has ability in his upper body.
During this same performance, Kit was the only child to stand alone in front of a large audience — many of them strangers — to recite a very long poem from memory about moonlight over the city. His performance was beautiful. It was set to music and recited with confidence and poise.
Angie Lewis recently returned from the Holt ambassador trip to Beijing, China, where she had the opportunity to meet some older children who live in an orphanage. Now that she’s home, it’s her mission to introduce these children and advocate for them to find loving, permanent families. Below, she shares about one little girl she met, and the wonderful qualities that make her special.
My name is Angie Lewis and I was able to attend the November ambassador trip to Beijing, China with Holt International. I am the mother of five children ranging from 6 to 20 years old. Our youngest is adopted from China and was 4 years old when we brought her home. Our family has been blessed beyond what words can say by our sweet Nicole!
After adopting Nicole, we felt our role in adoption was so much more than just bringing her home. When Holt announced this Beijing ambassador trip, I knew it was the next step I needed to take in helping orphans.
I am pleased to introduce and advocate for the first of the two sweet children I met in Beijing.
Elise is a darling little 4-year-old who loves music and blowing kisses. This precious little girl has a smile that will melt your heart. She reminds me so much of our daughter adopted from China. On the first day of meeting Elise, she was very shy. But by the second day I was greeted with that heart-melting smile. Elise lives in a foster care home within her orphanage.
After a week of watching her interact with her caregivers, I could tell how much she is loved. On one of the days, we were blessed to take a special visit to the zoo with some of the children. During this time, I was able to watch Elise walk, dance and climb stairs. Even though she walks with her left foot turned slightly in, she is able to get around very well.
As we were walking around the zoo, I could hear her singing to herself or with her caregiver. Every time she heard music, she began to dance, clap or move her head.
Elise has received an irregular brain MRI, which means that her adoptive family will have to be comfortable with some unknowns in her development. She is receiving speech and physical therapy at the orphanage.
The first day I met Elise, her caregivers were quick to tell me how smart they believe her to be. Throughout the week, the caregivers took any opportunity they could to show off Elise and all that she could do.
I was touch by this adorable girl as I interacted with her. Her heart-melting smile and loving kisses bring so much joy to everyone she meets.