How Will You Celebrate National Adoption Month?

Join the Holt Ambassadors Network

National Adoption Awareness Month – a wonderful time to spread the word about children throughout the world who need loving families – is coming up in November.

Many Holt adoptive families have found a great way to raise awareness about adoption and help more children find families through the Holt Ambassadors Network.

Composed of people who share the Holt story and raise awareness in their communities about the urgent needs of homeless children around the world, Holt Ambassadors get involved by: organizing fundraisers, speaking at churches, schools or civic groups; or volunteering at Holt events…..Join the Holt Ambassadors Network today!

Post Holt’s banners on your facebook page or blog during National Adoption Month

Holt Ambassador stories and updates:

The Wolterstorffs:

“Once our eyes are opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act.”(Proverbs 24:12)

Speaking out for the orphans of this world is one of my passions. We need to be the voices for these vulnerable children; if we aren’t, then who will be? I try to find ways to help, speak out and gather donations for children whenever I have the opportunity. Being a member of the Holt Ambassadors Network helps me do this.

Most recently, I collected 200 dresses for an orphanage in Ethiopia and was recently given some photos of the children wearing the dresses. To see what the children had worn before and then to see them with those sweet dresses on and those big smiles, it made me want to do so much more.

Even the small things, like gathering dresses, makes a huge difference in the life of a child…and there is still so much more to be done.

With November being adoption awareness month, I encourage you all to find a way to spread the word. Continue reading “How Will You Celebrate National Adoption Month?”

Sign Up for Next Summer’s Heritage Tours Today

Adoptees discovering their homeland and heritage

by Robin Munro, senior writer

For Shannon Landry – a 16-year-old Nebraskan girl adopted as a baby from China – life so far has mostly revolved around school and soccer, friends and family. Returning to China rarely crossed her mind, though she thought it would be cool, she says, to see where she was born.

But from the time she turned 10, her mother told her that one day, they would go.

That day arrived this past summer, when she embarked on a two-week tour of China. She expected a cool adventure – an adventure that has since become a lifelong journey.

“I just feel like there’s so much more I could learn about me. Before, I never really thought about it,” Shannon says, “but now that I’ve had the experience, I don’t want to lose it.”

Joining 21 other adoptees and their families, Shannon and her mom, Melanie, traveled to China on a Holt heritage tour. The adoptees – all girls from this country of the one-child policy – explored the land of their birth, together. They climbed the Great Wall and toured the Forbidden City. They learned to cook traditional Chinese dishes, studied calligraphy and honed their chopstick skills. On a cruise down the Li River, they saw cormorant fisherman and water buffalo. They traveled to a panda reserve, where some even held these squirmy, soft-furred vegetarians, subdued by honey on the paw. They biked and cruised and climbed through China, ending where they began their adoption journey – at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, the southern city home to the American Consulate, where all adoptive families secure their child’s visa.

But for many of the girls, the most meaningful part of the trip occurred on separate journeys – journeys to their finding places, their orphanages and foster families. Here, they found a connection to their past.

When Shannon visited her orphanage, she broke down in tears. “I got to meet the old [orphanage] director, which was really cool,” she says. “It kind of felt like I had a connection with her.” Shannon spent the morning at the orphanage, holding and playing with the children. She met children with special needs, a characteristic shared by many of those needing adoptive families in China. “That definitely impacted me the most,” she says. “That stood out for me and I think it did for a lot of the girls.”

Holt heritage tours are designed for adoptees and their families to experience the customs, culture and history of their birth country. Central to the tour philosophy is the adoptee’s personal story, and personal journey. To recreate this story, Holt strives to coordinate visits to adoptees’ orphanages and reunions with foster families, whenever possible. Continue reading “Sign Up for Next Summer’s Heritage Tours Today”

Learn More About Holt’s China Program

Join a Webinar Today

Considering International Adoption?

Get the information you need from the convenience and privacy of your home… log on to a Holt adoption webinar. Several times each month, Holt International hosts a live online webinar where one of our adoption workers walks you through the process, answering your questions with helpful audio visuals. You get the most current information about:

• adopting a child through Holt — costs, time frames, countries, requirements, etc.;

• the benefits and considerations of international adoption;

• and you will also have an opportunity to ask your specific questions.

Adopting From China Webinar

In this live, interactive online seminar, we will share about the three ways to adopt from China — the Standard Process (generally, to adopt a healthy infant female); the China Child of Promise option, an expedited process to adopt an infant or toddler, boy or girl, with a treatable or manageable, identified physical condition; and the Journey of Hope for older children or children with more involved special needs. Focusing on the Child of Promise option, we will explain how families indicate the physical conditions to which they are open, and how we work closely with families to make a match within that range of conditions. We explain time frames to complete each process, the steps involved, travel and costs. You will also hear from a family who completed the Child of Promise option and be able to ask questions throughout. All webinars begin on Pacific Time. Click here to join a China webinar.

Read touching stories about families who have adopted a child through Holt’s China Child of Promise option.

Season of Love, Gifts of Hope: Love Can Do Amazing Things

The value of foster care in China

Foster families provide a loving home environment that even the most caring orphanage workers cannot provide. Their selfless love nurtures homeless children while Holt completes the adoption processing for permanent families. Holt’s dedicated temporary families are often the only hope for infants suffering from malnutrition, children recovering from surgery, and others who need extra care.

The Chinese government is asking Holt to step up our foster care programs in China immediately.  Every effort must be made to get orphaned children out of institutional care. 

Before coming home to the United States, Lilah Ruud lived with one of Holt’s loving and attentive foster families. Lilah’s older sister, Danica, had this to say about her visit to China to meet her little sister:

“We visited an orphanage where babies were lined up in beds, in rows. These babies didn’t have the one-on-one attention of a loving family. I also saw babies – like my sister – who had been cared for by foster families. Love does great things for people. Foster care for orphans can change a child’s life!”

The Following is Joan Ruud’s account of meeting Lilah for the first time, and her thoughts on the importance of foster care:

In September 2004, my husband and I decided we wanted to grow our family through adoption. Because we had an 8-year-old daughter, we chose the country based on how quickly we could bring our second child home. As fate would have it, we chose China! As the wheels of foreign adoption churned, we ended up waiting for Lilah for 4 years.

We received our first picture and official match on November 2007, and that Christmas Eve, we received an e-mail informing us that Lilah was not in an orphanage – as we had anticipated – but with a foster parent. Holt had no additional information and we inferred that our daughter had recently been placed in foster care.

During our wait for Lilah, I had read a bit about orphanages.  I just assumed that our child would be placed in an orphanage, and we would bring her home almost directly from that institution. I was prepared for potential developmental delays and perhaps some attachment issues. The news of Lilah’s foster care placement didn’t mean so much to me, because I assumed it had been a recent development in her young life.

We arrived in China on January 8th, 2008 and held Lilah in our arms for the first time on January 13th. We had traveled in a group of 13 families to Jiangxi Province. About half of the children had been in orphanages and the other half had the good fortune to be placed in foster care. We also learned at this time that Lilah had been placed in foster care, thanks to donations to Holt, within a few weeks of birth.

As Lilah was placed in my arms, her inevitable tears began. Poor child had to deal with strange smells, strange sights and sounds, and strange people who were all so ecstatic to finally meet her. After an hour or so, she settled in and we began our bonding. She wasn’t so interested in big sister, she didn’t care for dad at all, but she wanted me. Lilah clearly assessed her situation and gravitated to the most familiar person; I attribute this to her relationship with her foster mother. She had experienced a home and recognized a family and, in particular, a mother. Her eye contact with me was constant. Continue reading “Season of Love, Gifts of Hope: Love Can Do Amazing Things”

A Strong Will

by Robin Munro, senior writer

Meihekou, China – At the end of a winding dirt road in Meihekou – a city in Northern China’s Jilin Province – behind a green door decorated in red for luck, a teenage girl spends her days engaged in the usual teenage activities. She text messages her friends on her cell phone. Chats online. Listens to music. Paints her long, manicured fingernails in sparkly purple polish. And dreams of her future.

At 19, she should be preparing to leave her childhood home – to pursue her goals, and explore the world. But for Jie Lin (name changed), dreams remain just dreams. And independence a fantasy. Born with a condition that causes severe muscle atrophy, Jie Lin is, essentially, paralyzed in her arms and legs – they are thin as reeds, skin to bone, and folded beneath her like marionette sticks. As her body grew, it became too heavy for her to move from laying to sitting on her own. Her foster mother carries her to the bathroom. To leave the house, she must be pushed in a stroller.

“Sometimes I feel like I have no future,” she tells Sue Liu, who has known Jie Lin since 2000, shortly after Sue joined the Holt China staff in Meihekou.

Jie Lin has soulful, sad eyes, but her expression is often overtaken by laughter. Her hair is short and shag-cut, her face lovely and wise.

Holt has sponsored Jie Lin’s care since 1999, when she was 8-years-old. That year, as the Meihekou Ministry of Civil Affairs struggled to meet rising expenses, Holt took over funding for the local foster care program. To date, Holt and sponsors have invested more than 3 million Chinese Renminbi, or nearly a half million dollars, into local foster care, which has provided for as many as 60 children at once. At present, Holt sponsors care for 38 children in Meihekou and 22 in neighboring Tonghua. Sponsorship covers basic necessities, including food, shelter and clothing, and is often the only source of income for foster families.

When children turn 18, sponsorship ends. But special needs are common, and many children continue to depend on their foster families – and Holt – for care and support beyond the age of 18.

“What can we do?” Sue asks, worried about what will become of the children who “age out” of sponsorship. Continue reading “A Strong Will”

Lines

A father’s poem to his daughter, Quinn—a child in Holt’s Journey of Hope Program

by Robert Flanders

When people ask me to prove that God exists, I show them your picture and tell them about lines. The lines on which our lives travel along the points plotted by the choices that we make. I reflect upon all the choices, some good, some bad, that have led me to the place where I stand now holding your picture. I can only imagine the decisions that your birth parents have made, especially your mother. In an act of desperation and hope, she severed a sacred bond and your lines diverged. Yours led you to the orphanage and, years later, to me. Your birth mother’s life line drifted away, as silent as a ghost carried along by the force of circumstances, into her future and your past.

I remember the day that our lines, and our lives, intersected. I saw your picture and two lines, out of the six billion lines moving through time and space, came together at one point. That point is called love. I’ve seen many pictures of older, waiting children traveling on their journeys of hope but our lines did not intersect. When the Holt worker asked me, “why you?” I did not tell her about lines, I told her about love.

Now the lines of our lives will travel together, parallel to each other in love. I feel certain that God was lovingly drawing our lines so that they would one day come together. I look down at your picture in my hands and I believe.

Older children in Holt’s care need families….click here to view the photolisting for Holt’s Journey of Hope children in China.

or visit our Waiting Child page

“All Things Are Possible”

Senior Writer Robin Munro discusses her experience at a Holt-supported foster care program in Northern China.

by Robin Munro

Jilin City, China—Today, we drove to a small farming village just outside of Jilin City, a forested, mountainous region of Northern China where Holt sponsors foster care for 39 children. Here, amid lush green acres of corn stalks, rice fields and gable-roofed homes, we meet several of the children in our sponsorship program. Ducking out of the rain, we step into an unoccupied house – recently built by the village – where the families have gathered, anticipating our arrival. I am with Sue Liu, the Beijing office manager and assistant to Jian Chen, Holt’s China director; Jessica Palmer, Holt’s Waiting Child program manager; and a couple officials from the Jilin City Social Welfare Institute, with whom Holt has partnered since introducing a foster care project to this region in 2006.

I find a windowsill in which to sit and observe the scene – foster mothers sitting in a circle on the floor, cooing over babies swaddled in blankets as Sue and Jessica assess the children’s development and the foster care manager distributes formula and food. One boy – an older boy of about 9 or 10 – comes over to talk to me. “Hello,” he says in English, smiling. “Hello,” I say back, followed by a couple more simple phrases. He shakes his head, not understanding. “Ok,” I say. And he repeats. “Ok.” He wants to learn, wants to engage me with any means of communication he can find. I give him a thumbs-up. And he lifts his hand to mimic me.

But even this – this universal symbol for a job well done – he can’t use to communicate.   Continue reading ““All Things Are Possible””

Telling Their Stories

Holt Senior Writer Robin Munro is traveling with Waiting Child Manager Jessica Palmer to learn more about a new group of children in Holt’s Journey of Hope program, as well as other Holt-supported programs.

by Robin Munro

At the Jilin City Social Welfare Institute – the third orphanage we’ve visited in China – the beds are empty. Except for one tiny newborn who recently came into care, no children occupy the cribs and beds that line the rooms. It’s a lovely building – a home for the elderly, and orphaned and abandoned children, with a central atrium that lets in abundant natural light. It’s a wonderful sight, all these empty rooms – it means all the children who’ve passed through this orphanage are now in Holt-sponsored foster care, a program that serves 39 children in partnership with the welfare institute.

After a short stay when they come into care, the children occasionally visit the orphanage for physical and developmental exams, and rehabilitation training for those with special needs. But their homes are apartments and houses, where they get to experience family life.

Today, we get to meet five children in Holt sponsorship, a program that funds their clothing, food and other basic needs for 350 Chinese Remnibi, or about $55, per child per month – a cost shared equally by Holt and the Jilin City Social Welfare Institute. We enter a room – the only one emitting any sound – and find four boys in motion, bouncing on giant balls or rolling around in soft tubing, teasing each other and making faces. Two of the boys, dressed in matching striped polos and shorts, look like twins. They are foster brothers, though not related, 8 and 9-years-old – happy, hyper, outgoing boys with telltale scars on their lips from cleft lip surgery. Their foster mom tells us they are both their teachers’ favorites in their 2nd and 3rd grade classes, both very popular with other children.

I can see that right away. The older boy, Shen Ying (name has been changed), has a great sense of humor. He jokingly puts on a scarf and exaggerates his smile for the camera. I bet he’s the class clown – sharp, easily bored, requiring constant stimulation. When he lacks engaging activity, I bet he creates it, entertaining everyone in the room. I like him immediately, and think about how lucky the family is that gets to adopt him. Continue reading “Telling Their Stories”

Who do you see?

Holt Senior Writer Robin Munro is traveling with Waiting Child Manager Jessica Palmer to learn more about a new group of children in Holt’s Journey of Hope program.

Robin Munro, Senior Writer—Today, we visited a beautiful orphanage in Northern China – a place full of color and life.  Each room opened onto another group of faces – curious, apprehensive, wide-eyed faces.  Most of these children have special needs, conditions beyond which most birth families have the capacity to provide medical care – conditions like cleft lip and palate, CP, Down’s Syndrome, Spina bifida, feet and hand deformities, as well as a few cases of pneumonia.

In the first room we enter, metal barred cribs line the wall.  In each, a child sits or lays, staring at the ceiling, the wall, or nothing in particular – into middle space.   These children have some of the most severe conditions.  Most don’t seem to notice our presence in the room – don’t jump up, or cry, or reach out to us.  I walk over to one boy, who lifts his head when I touch his back.  His head is swollen from Hydrocephalus, a condition in which water gets onto the brain.  In some cases, this condition is minor and won’t interfere with the child’s life.  But this boy’s condition is serious, says Sue Liu, the Beijing office manager.  As I rub his back, he begins to smile.  When I stop, he stares at me blankly.  I gently touch him again, and his smile returns.   Continue reading “Who do you see?”