Comment for Children: SixSeeds.tv Features Holt Family Stories, Gives to Holt

In honor of National Adoption Month, parenting e-zine SixSeeds.tv is featuring several Holt adoptive families, including the Groces, the Johnsons, the Dalrymples, the Osburns and the Blumenthals.  For every comment posted on their stories, SixSeeds will donate to one of many wonderful causes.

Post about the Blumenthals’ story and SixSeeds will donate $2 to Holt!

The Blumenthals brought their daughter Etagegn home from Ethiopia in June.  In the SixSeeds Q&A, the Blumenthals describe their adoption experience, their advice for other families considering adoption, and the wonder of watching their daughter “grow into a joyful little girl who absolutely sparkles.”

Thank you to all the Holt families who shared their stories and thank you, SixSeeds, for giving in service of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children!

To read the Blumenthals’ story, click here.

Surviving, Learning, Laughing: Introducing Jane

Through candid (and often funny!) observations and heartwarming personal stories, a Holt adoptive mother shares the challenges and joys of parenting adopted children

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For the past three years, Holt adoptive parent Jane Ballback has shared her adoption stories with families waiting to bring their children home. An adoptive parent for 24 years, Jane speaks at parent training classes led by Holt Social Worker Mike Guinn. Mike offers the formal training. Jane presents the personal experiences relating to the issues being discussed.

“I provide the stories that bring the theories alive and help new parents figure out what they are about to face,” says Jane. “Everyone loves a good story, and mine are real, relatable and memorable. Adoption concepts are rather abstract and hard to explain until you understand how the theories play out in real life.”

Starting today, Jane will share her thoughts and stories on Holt’s blog once a week. The theories and issues discussed will be relevant to new adoptive families as well as families who have had their children home for some time. Our hope is that Jane’s blogs will serve as an educational tool for adoptive parents and also as a catalyst for candid, meaningful discussion.

Feel free to comment on Jane’s blog entries with your own suggestions, questions and personal stories as they relate to the topic being discussed.

Jane’s daughter, Stacee, will also occasionally be joining her mother as a guest blogger.

The following is a message from Jane:

Hello, my name is Jane and I am one of the luckiest women in the world. I have been married forty years to the “boy” I met in high school, I’ve had a fascinating and rewarding career as a Human Resource Consultant and Career Coach, and now that I’m retired I get to do volunteer work for non-profits whose missions are near and dear to my heart.

The best part of this story, though, is that along the way my husband and I adopted three children from Korea, who are now young adults. Being a parent was the hardest job I’ve ever done, and watching them grow and develop has been the experience of a lifetime.

I’ve always been an intensively curious woman and learning to be an adoptive parent was one of my greatest endeavors. Determined to be the best parent I could, I talked to adoption experts, read everything I could find about parenting adoptive children, and when I was “in over my head”, I worked with a gifted child psychologist, who is herself, adopted.

I was, by no means a “perfect” parent. Along the way I stumbled, survived, learned and laughed. The idea for this blog came out of the volunteer work I do for Holt International. For three years now I’ve been working with the Southern California social worker, helping to train parents who are waiting for their new arrival. He does the formal training and introduces the adoption theories and ideas – I provide the stories that bring the theories alive, and help new parents figure out what they are about to face. Everyone loves a good story, and mine are real, relatable and memorable.

I thought my first story would be about my daughter, Stacee who is now twenty years old and a junior in college. I want to introduce Stacee to you because she will periodically be blogging with me. I have often been asked how it is possible to love a child that is not your own. I understand the question — it’s just difficult to answer, so I often tell this story.

I actually did forget once, that I was not my daughter’s “real” mother. When Stacee was three she had a persistent fever and was turning bright red. After a few days of trying to figure this out, my pediatrician told me to drive directly to the Children’s Hospital and get her admitted. He suspected, rightfully so, that she had Kawasoki’s Disease. This is an unusual disease, common among Asians with just these symptoms. It’s a very treatable disease, but time was of the essence and the result of not treating it was the possibility of permanent damage to Stacee’s heart.

As I sat in the admitting department, with this hot, bright red child on my lap, I was distraught to say the least. The nurse began getting a history from me, Continue reading “Surviving, Learning, Laughing: Introducing Jane”

An Angel in Adoption

Holt adoptee Michelle Sherwood receives special recognition for her advocacy of children in need of families

by Robin Munro, Senior Writer

He flips. He cartwheels. He can even do “the worm.” Jayson hams it up for the camera as KSPR News, a station in Springfield, Missouri, films his acrobatic dance moves. “Blood rushes to my head and I like the way it feels,” he says, smiling and trying to catch his breath, his arms casually dangling over the gymnastics bars.

KSPR News has chosen to feature Jayson in a Wednesday’s Child segment, a weekly program designed to help children in foster care find homes. KSPR News anchor – and Holt adoptee – Michelle Sherwood introduces and narrates the segment. She also interviews Jayson during filming.

“If you could have three wishes, what would you wish for?” she asks him.

“To find a family, for me to see my sisters every day, and for me to go to heaven,” he says, before bouncing back to gymnastics practice.

Michelle and her team tailor segments to the children’s interests – they take them to interactive museums, to farms, to the zoo. One baseball-enthusiast received a lesson from the local team. Another got an art lesson. As well as behind-the-scenes work, Michelle participates in many of the segments, shooting hoops or baking cakes, engaging every child.

“We try to bring out the best in these kids,” she says.

Since the program appeared in May, many of the kids featured on Wednesday’s Child have found families. Michelle’s efforts to show children at their best also caught her local representative’s attention. In October, Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt presented her with an Angel in Adoption award for her advocacy on behalf of children who need homes.

On this, Michelle is quite humble. “Although I am thrilled and honored to be accepting a congressional award for my volunteerism,” she wrote on her blog, “it does not even compare to the daily contributions our social workers make.”

Michelle’s efforts, however, are anything but modest. She began lobbying for Wednesday’s Child at KSPR News over a year ago, after learning a disturbing statistic about the community her station serves. Greene County has the highest rates of child abuse and neglect in the state of Missouri, a statistic correlated with the high number of children in the foster care system.

“Why,” she thought, “are we not doing something for these kids to help find them homes?”

As a broadcast journalist, Michelle found a tremendous resource at her fingertips. She discovered Wednesday’s Child, a common vehicle used by news stations across the country to promote adoption, and initiated partnership with The Adoption Exchange – a national child welfare organization that recruits adoptive families for foster children. The segments were an instant success. Continue reading “An Angel in Adoption”

Holt Family Featured in The Eugene Register-Guard

In honor of National Adoption Month, the Eugene Register-Guard featured the adoption story of a local Holt family. Four years ago, Colleen and Steve Thompson adopted their daughter Celia through the Waiting Child program, now the China Child of Promise program — an accelerated adoption process for children born with correctable, manageable conditions. Celia was born without the front of her foot, but during the adoption process she also developed a skin condition that proved more challenging to overcome. The Thompsons, already in love with Celia, took an inspired attitude to this unexpected development.

“Life is full of surprises,” Colleen says.  “And it is like having children biologically — you don’t know how they are going to turn out, and what the challenges are going to be. I don’t see it as much different.”

To read the full article, click here. To learn more about the China Child of Promise program, visit Holt online.

Thailand Update from Ally: Helping the Children Who Wait

Children with special needs in Thailand find strength in the face of challenges

University of Oregon graduate Ally Tritten is currently in Thailand working with Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF) as an intern with IE3 Global Internships. Ally, a family and human services major, will work for HSF for six months, helping to find homes for 200 children with special needs. The children are currently in government-run child institutions in Thailand; some of them will eventually be placed into Holt’s Waiting Child program.

“I am really excited for this trip,” says Ally. “I look forward to learning more about Holt International, their work in Thailand, and to be able to provide services to children.”

Holt established a partnership with HSF in 1975. HSF serves a large number of vulnerable children through a variety of programs including adoption, pregnancy counseling, foster care, educational sponsorships and outreach services for children in hospitals and orphanages. Many of these programs help birth families stay together through counseling and assistance.

The following is an update from Ally about her first full month in Thailand (Click here to read Ally’s first blog update):

Bangkok, Thailand — I am still adjusting to my new life in Bangkok. For the last month and a half Pi Tuk, Pi Malee and I have coordinated with Child Adoption Center (another adoption agency in Thailand) and assessed approximately 30 children with special needs, all of whom live in governmental orphanages and have been diagnosed with various disabilities. Some of the common disabilities we see in the children are: cerebral palsy (CP), fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), microcephaly and macrocephaly, seizure disorders, visual and hearing impairment, delayed development, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a variety of physical disabilities. Of the four orphanages we visited in the past month, two — Nong Khai Home for Boys and Udornthani Home for Girls — are located in the northeastern part of Thailand and the other two — Ban Fueng Fah Home for Children with Special Needs and Pakkret Babies Home — are located in a nearby province outside of Bangkok. The HSF social workers and I flew by airplane to the two northeastern orphanages and spent four days assessing the overall development of 14 children.

The majority of the other children in the project live in Ban Fueng Fah Home for Children with Special Needs, where we spent most of October interviewing each child’s caretaker, physical therapists and teachers, as well as completing our own individual assessments. Continue reading “Thailand Update from Ally: Helping the Children Who Wait”

Amazing Firsts

Adopting an older child from Ethiopia

by Susan Johnson

We are the lucky parents of eight children. Our first adoption journey began in 2006 when we brought home our infant son, Matthew. It is hard to describe my feelings when I traveled that first time to Ethiopia. The parents in my travel group who had adopted toddlers and preschoolers were very inspiring to me. The children were amazing and beautiful.

We were so in love with Matthew that we began the adoption process very soon after he came home. This time we knew that we wanted to adopt an older child. Our agency, however, wouldn’t allow us to adopt a child that didn’t follow the birth order of our family. Lucky for us, we brought home our little 18-month-old son, Samuel! Samuel definitely made us work a little harder for his love, but watching him process everything that had changed in his life was amazing.

Our desire to adopt an older child always remained in our hearts. After some discussion with our children, we started researching older child adoption and contacted Holt International. We definitely wanted to adopt from Ethiopia again and there was one little girl that we were particularly drawn to. She was a little older than we were originally planning on, but after some discussion, prayer, and a little bit of faith, we knew she would be our daughter! We began the process with Holt to bring her home!

Our daughter, Asmerach, is nine years old and has been home with us for almost three months. Continue reading “Amazing Firsts”

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”

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?”

Wishing for the Best

Ranjan has a family!

by Robin Munro, senior writer

“Good Morning! All the best!” *Ranjan says in one breath, with a thumbs-up to greet the child care staff at Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT) – a child care center in Bangalore, India.

Today, Ranjan is hopeful and optimistic, wishing for the best – an extraordinary attitude for a boy who, in 5 years of life, has experienced child abandonment, severe health problems, developmental delays and hearing impairment.

Born premature with multiple medical conditions, Ranjan was abandoned at a large government hospital at just a few weeks of age. He came into VCT’s care at 2 months old, weighing a mere 1.5 kg. Shortly thereafter, Ranjan joined a foster family provided by VCT. This blessing has proven instrumental to Ranjan’s growth and development.

Ranjan’s foster mother, a crèche nurse trained in child care, tackled Ranjan’s speech, motor and mental delays as challenges to overcome – relishing small victories as Ranjan worked toward major milestones. “Ranjan smiled today,” she’d enthusiastically report during early visits with VCT child care staff. She noticed, with delight, the first time Ranjan moved his toes. And after two years of occupational therapy and encouragement from his foster family, Ranjan finally learned to walk. Continue reading “Wishing for the Best”