Update: Holt Responds to Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

As of October 27th, the Ministry of Health in Haiti reports at least 303 people dead and more than 4,700 sickened by a cholera epidemic that’s swept through Haiti’s northern regions in the past week.

“There have been no cases to date that have been reported that have affected any Holt children or families,” says Sarah Halfman, Holt’s director of programs in Latin America, Haiti and Romania. “As for preparing a coordinated response to the outbreak at this time for the families in the family preservation program, ongoing preventative education on cholera and hygiene seems to be the best course of action.”

Continue reading “Update: Holt Responds to Cholera Outbreak in Haiti”

Miracles Happen

Manel’s journey from Holt Fontana Village to his home in the United States

by Laura Conners

The road to bring Manel home from Haiti was a long one, but one we would travel again and again.

After deciding that international adoption was the answer for us, Scott and I quickly chose Haiti. At first, we were leaning more toward Ethiopia since our niece is from Liberia.  Once we read about Holt’s Haiti program, however, we both felt pulled in that direction and knew in our hearts that this was meant to be. After applying to Holt in April 2008, we were quickly matched with Manel who, at that time, was nine months old. I remember seeing his big brown eyes in the photo that Mike Noah sent to us, and I knew that Manel was my little boy!

As we watched the news coverage on the evening of the earthquake, Scott and I were numb with fear for Manel’s safety and for the Haitian people.  We saw the Haitian government buildings in ruins and knew that our adoption paperwork was lying amongst the rubble. A long night followed before we heard from Holt and found out that the children and staff at the Village were safe. I just remember feeling so helpless and didn’t know how to answer the questions from family and friends on what was going to happen. Continue reading “Miracles Happen”

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”

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

Investing in the Lives of Others

A youth group sponsors a child at a Winter jam concert

In order to reach kids with the Gospel in this day and age, you have to do it on their level. That’s why I love taking our group to Winter Jam each year. It features the greatest Christian artists of our day with a message that glorifies God. Our kids have such a great time, and it’s great to see how it changes their lives as they draw closer to God and make right decisions.

This year started off no different, but, as we were enjoying the show, God was working in the background. The earthquakes in Haiti had just taken place a few days prior, and I used it as a discussion in our classroom to point out that we aren’t promised tomorrow so we need to do what we can to reach those around us today. Then Newsong came out and presented the ministry of Holt International. As they were presenting, I looked around and saw the compassion in our group. When we had the opportunity we went down and found a little baby from Haiti.

His name is John Peter, but our group calls him “Lil’ H”, for little Haiti. It’s a term of endearment to these kids. We raise the money for the sponsorship independent of regular offerings, and the response has been great! One particular Sunday, a preteen girl gave her entire piggy bank full of change. That same day, another kid gave his whole allowance. When I ask for prayer needs, they are constantly reminding me to pray for Lil’ H. I’m overwhelmed on how God is teaching our kids to invest in the lives of others. We live in a selfish society where people are asking, “what can you do for me?”, but thanks to the opportunity given to us by Holt International, they are truly learning what it means to serve God by serving others.

Sponsor a child in need today!

Volunteer at or attend a Winter Jam Concert near you!

Sisters Together Again

The following are thoughts from Holt adoptive mother, Rebecca Moore, whose daughter, Nephtalie, was one of the 21 children who came home to the United States from Holt Fontana Village.

by Rebecca Moore

“You came.” Those were Nephtalie’s first words to her big sister, Martine.

Martine had come home to us from *Haiti in April 2008. When her sister, Nephtalie, needed a permanent family, we were already two years into the process of adopting Martine and because of this, the two sisters would not be able to come home together. When we left Haiti with Martine, we promised Nephtalie we would return for her.

The two sisters were reunited on February 3rd. Nephtalie told Martine how much she had missed her and how long she had waited. Later that day another child from Holt Fontana Village also told Martine how Nephtalie had been waiting for her.

The separation of siblings is one of the tragedies of children without parents to care for them. Martine and Nephtalie are together now, but the two-year wait was obviously heart wrenching for a 6-year-old to remember a promise given two years before. We felt frustration here, while she was longing over there…too young to understand why she had to wait.

I am thankful for the wonderful care my girls received at Holt Fontana Village. I know many other children, now home, who were living in far less than ideal conditions before they arrived at Holt Fontana Village. However, even good food, shelter, and competent, loving caretakers do not make up for a family. We had at least one year to go before Nephtalie would have come home.

God, in his mercy, used this horrific event, which took so many lives, to bring these sisters back together and many other children to their forever families.

Holt will continue to update our blog about our plans for the children and families in Haiti who are still in need of our care and support.

*Holt’s Haiti program is currently closed to new adoption applications, but we invite you to research some of Holt’s other country programs where thousands of children are waiting to belong to a permanent family…..click here to learn more

Seven Children Arrive in Miami

A Letter from Susie Doig, MSW, Holt Director of Administration & Social Work Systems

We are so pleased to report that our last seven children from Holt Fontana Village (who were matched with families prior to the earthquake) arrived very early this morning into Miami. Holt Director of Social Services for Haiti, Mike Noah, and Africa Director of Programs, Bruce Dahl, are meeting with the children’s adoptive families at “His House”, the child residential care center processing the children and releasing them into their parent’s custody. By the end of today, these kids will be with their adoptive families.

Join us in giving thanks for the 21 children from Holt Fontana who have been united with their families!

Sincerely,

Susie Doig, MSW

See below to read more about the 14 children who were united with their parents last week

Click here to help children and families in Haiti

The Children are Home

14 children from Holt Fontana Village in Haiti travel to the United States to be united with their permanent families

Happiness and tears washed over the faces of the caretakers and staff at Holt Fontana Village in Haiti on Tuesday, February 2nd, as they all gathered around to say goodbye to 14 children departing to Miami to unite with their permanent families.

“There were lots of tears,” said Holt Vice President of Adoption Services, Lisa Vertulfo, who accompanied the first group of children to Miami. “The caretakers sang a hymn and then the staff broke into “How Great Thou Art” in Creole.”

The children, already matched with adoptive families prior to the devastating earthquake in January, had their adoptions expedited. Seven more children from the Village will hopefully arrive sometime next week.

Three members of Holt staff have been in Haiti for a week assisting the caretakers at the Village and helping to get the children home to their families in the United States. Lisa Vertulfo and Director of Social Services for Haiti, Mike Noah, accompanied the children traveling to the United States.

Holt Director of Services for Haiti, Bruce Dahl, will be staying at Holt Fontana Village to assist Holt Haiti Director, Mansour Masse, with future plans to help more children and families in need.

“I always miss the children when they leave, said Mansour. “But I always look forward to the day when the kids finally go home to be with their families.”

Holt will keep you updated as the rest of the children are united with their families, and how we are continually working to help the children and families of Haiti.

Read a news article about the Polzin family waiting to be united with their daughter.

Read a news article about Alicia Swaringen’s emotional reunion with her son.

Help the children and families in Haiti.

Prayers for Haiti

A Holt adoptive mom shares her thoughts on the Haiti earthquake and the children affected by the devastating tragedy

A blog entry from Bethany Hutchison

I haven’t posted anything on my blog yet regarding the earthquake in Haiti, because honestly the tragedy has almost felt too overwhelming for me to put into words. Where do you even start? Well, definitely with prayer. Continued prayer for Haiti will be especially important as the media coverage begins to dwindle, and we are no longer confronted with horrifying images on our televisions every day.

My heart is burdened in particular for children who were orphaned prior to the earthquake, and children now who have not yet been able to find their family members. Will you join me in continuing to lift up these children, and all of the Haitian people, in prayer throughout the coming days, weeks, months, and year?

Holt International, our adoption agency, has received an enormous amount of phone calls since the earthquake, from people who are interested in adopting orphans from Haiti. I think it’s often a misunderstanding how complex international adoption truly is. On one hand, it is WONDERFUL that people are opening their hearts to the idea of adoption. On another hand, I think that tragedy sometimes spurs very emotional responses in people… and that is definitely not a reason to rush into anything.  After all, international adoption is not an act of charity…it is an act of lifelong parenting.  Quite a difference.

There are many children, as you know, who were already in the process of being adopted prior to the earthquake, and it’s wonderful that many of those have been granted expedited entry into the U.S. to unite with their adoptive families. I know of some families who are still waiting or trying to find their adoptive children in Haiti, and we continue to pray for those families.

For the children who “appear” to be orphaned since the earthquake, it is of utmost importance that due diligence is done to ensure that every effort is made first and foremost to unite those children with living family members. This crisis has the potential to create a highway for child trafficking… and agencies must be vigilant in the actions they take to work on behalf of children during this unstable time.

Holt International is one of many agencies who work on behalf of children and families in Haiti, and they issued the following statement on their website after the large influx of calls they have received about adopting from Haiti: Continue reading “Prayers for Haiti”