The Greatest Gift a Sponsor Can Give

When Holt staff member Celeste Snodgrass had the chance to meet her sponsored child, it affirmed her belief that sponsors are the key to keeping children out of orphanages — and with their families.

Celeste slipped off her sandals and swung her legs out of the SUV and into the squishy, dark mud. Looking at her surroundings, she couldn’t believe she was here. Lush palm groves lined the rutty, narrow dirt road that led her to a small collection of thatched houses raised on wooden stilts. 

A child and family's home in Thailand
Celeste and local Holt staff wade through knee-deep water as they leave Panit’s home.

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It Takes a Village: Holt Sponsors Change Kids’ Lives in Thailand

A photo essay about the impact Holt sponsors and donors have created in the lives of children and families living in one coastal community in Thailand. 

Thick, sticky mud swallows your shoes as you approach the shoreline, where about five wooden boats dock in southern Thailand. After school, the kids of this community toss their shoes aside and let the mud squish in between their toes as they run to climb up onto their fathers’ boats. Fishing is the livelihood and lifestyle of the people here. It has been for generations. Continue reading “It Takes a Village: Holt Sponsors Change Kids’ Lives in Thailand”

Older Child Adoption: An Expert Adopts

The Snodgrass family.

Holt’s director of clinical services — Celeste Snodgrass — shares about adopting her son Max from Thailand at 9 years old. While an adoption expert by profession, Celeste affirms that no older-child adoption goes perfectly smoothly. But it’s the perfect option for many families, and for children who have been waiting so long.

“Are you hungry?” Celeste asked her son, Max.

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Favorite Five Adoption Stories

For National Adoption Month, read, view and share the five most popular adoption stories and videos to ever appear on the Holt blog!

A Heart for Rini

At the 2014 Holt Gala and Auction in Portland, Oregon, Holt adoptive mom Andrea stood to speak. She told her story of bringing home her daughter Rini from China — a little girl with severe congenital heart disease — and the struggle to save her life. Here, Andrea again shares the story that captivated an audience of families, adoptees and Holt supporters at the Portland event, as well as her appeal to help save the lives of other children with serious heart disease… children just like Rini. Continue reading “Favorite Five Adoption Stories”

Anything For His Sons

When his wife left their family, Anurak suddenly had to raise his two sons alone. And in a traditional culture where women typically do the majority of childcare, he didn’t know where to begin. But his love and dedication for his sons motivated him to learn. And as he soon discovered, he didn’t have to go it completely alone.  

You can learn a lot about Anurak from his hands.

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A Stroke of Generosity

What do chicks, fish, a food cart and a garden all have in common? For one family in Thailand, it’s anything but luck. 

“She’s a smart woman,” says Jintana Nontapouraya, the executive director of Holt’s longtime partner organization in Thailand. “Just unlucky.”

Rada’s life was going well. She had graduated from technical school and was pursuing a university degree when her whole life changed. In the second year of her accounting program, her father passed away.

Today, 37-year-old Rada sits on the floor of her home, sharing about this difficult time in her life. She wears a zebra-striped jumpsuit and tendrils of her black hair, blown loose by the fan on this hot day, wisp across her face.

“After my father died, a family member who was a fortune teller told me that I had to come home and become a Buddhist nun,” Rada says, “or else I would die.”

Feeling like she had no other option, that’s what she did. After several days of serving in the Buddhist temple, she got a job selling brand-name shoes in one of Bangkok’s largest shopping centers.

“During that time, when I was around 18 or 19,” says Rada, “I met the children’s father.”

She became pregnant with their first child, and they moved in with his parents.

“He usually didn’t work,” Rada says about the children’s father. “He depended on his own mother and father and I worked most of the time. And he was very jealous when I would go work.” His jealousy turned violent.

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There For Them Always

After Kavi and Krit were born, life became difficult. But with the support of Holt sponsors and donors, they now have everything they need to grow strong. And their mom has everything she needs to be there for them, always.

“This time,” says Ping, “I will do things differently.”

As this mother of three shares her story, she can’t focus for long before Kavi or Krit — her twin 8-month-old boys — draw her attention back. With buzzed hair and drooly grins, they scoot and shriek and take off crawling in opposite directions.

Twins are exhausting.

But Ping’s wide, eye-reaching smile is genuine — barely hinting at the hardship she has endured.

Continue reading “There For Them Always”

A Place That Will Always Belong To Her

The Doig family visits their daughter’s foster family in Thailand — a reunion that shows just how meaningful and enduring the foster experience can be.

Elizabeth Doig with her foster mom and sister.

Being back in Thailand — once again riding in a van with two HSF social workers to our daughter’s foster home — was surreal. Six and a half years ago, we took this same trip in a similar van, after just having met our daughter for the first time. I still have vivid memories of that day, working our way through Bangkok traffic with our grieving daughter sitting on my husband’s lap.  I was nervous, uncertain what to expect, and yet eager to glean any information I could from our daughter’s foster family about her personality and the place she had lived the first year and a half of her life.  That first visit, when we met Elizabeth’s foster family for the first time, we watched as our daughter relaxed and became at ease as she navigated her familiar environment. She blossomed and came to life that first visit, and it was our first glimpse into her true personality and an introduction to what her life had been like before we met her. Continue reading “A Place That Will Always Belong To Her”

When You Teach a Child to Fish

Because of Holt sponsors and donors, 7-year-old Anis gets to learn and grow each day at his school in southern Thailand. But when he leaves school for the day, his education is just beginning…

At the fishing dock near his home in southern Thailand, 7-year-old Anis concentrates to untangle a squirmy, translucent crawfish from the net. It’s late in the day, and he’s dressed in his afterschool clothes — a red soccer jersey, yellow shorts and Crocs. The ocean air is thick and humid, and it has slightly curled his hair in front.

Next, Anis detangles a tiny crab with a bright purple claw.

“I am very proud to help my father,” he says shyly, then tosses the catch into a shallow rubber tub. His father, Burhan, looks on with approval as his son squats alongside him at the fishing net, then smiles as Anis jumps up and runs to join the other kids climbing on the fishing boats.

Anis’ brother, Daris, smiles while sitting in his father and grandfather’s fishing boat with his friends. Anis (far right) is going to join them.

A little work, and a lot of play, is how Anis and his two siblings spend their days. And all day long, they are learning — both in and out of school.

With support from his sponsors, Anis attends elementary school each day. But this is only where his learning begins. Continue reading “When You Teach a Child to Fish”