The Story Behind the Photo: What Social Workers Actually Do…

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With stern faces and plastic inspection gloves, adoption social workers Kris Bales and Kathie Stocker illustrate what prospective families THINK they do — not what they ACTUALLY do.

Social workers. They come into your home with a white glove and a watchful eye. They check under your bed for dust mites. They go through your medicine cabinet. They call your neighbors to inquire how long you wait to mow your lawn. They take note of every imperfection, just looking for a reason not to approve your family for adoption.

Is that about what you had in mind?­­

Well meet Kathie Stocker and Kris Bales, two of Holt’s most devoted — and beloved — social workers. Kathie has worked with Holt for 23 years and Kris for 14. K­athie is often the first person families hoping to adopt from Korea will speak to, while Kris advises families interested in the China program. Both and have guided hundreds of families through their adoption process. At Christmas time, their walls are covered in cards from families and photos of children they’ve helped place. Both will be the first to tell you that the job of a social worker is not to be taken lightly — entrusting a family with a child is no small decision. But they will also tell you that the homestudy process is not about judgment. No family is perfect. And neither are they.

Above all, their passion — and their role — is to find the right family for every child.

Today on the Holt blog, learn more about what Kris and Kathie ACTUALLY do as adoption social workers for Holt.

Continue reading “The Story Behind the Photo: What Social Workers Actually Do…”

Raising Kanya

Facing an unplanned pregnancy, Napha, a college student in Thailand, made the difficult decision to place her baby for adoption. But when she learned that Holt Sahathai Foundation could help with support and resources she needed to raise her daughter, everything changed.

Napha* looked down at her swollen belly, six months along with her first child, anguished over the decision before her. No longer able to hide her pregnancy, she had recently dropped out of school — one of the top universities in Bangkok — where she was in her final year of studying to be a teacher. Her boyfriend, the father of her baby, left her shortly after learning of the pregnancy. Her parents knew nothing, and because of the strong stigma against unwed pregnancy in Thailand, she intended to keep it that way. At just 22 years old, Napha was afraid, without a home and alone. So she picked up the phone.

The number she called was an unplanned pregnancy hotline where she got in touch with Jintana Nontapouraya, executive director of Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF), Holt’s longtime partner organization in Thailand. HSF works with women like Napha who are experiencing unplanned pregnancies. They offer counseling to help women make a decision for themselves and their babies. And regardless of whether they choose to parent or relinquish their child for adoption, HSF provides these women with a safe place to live, prenatal nutrition and, if they do parent, opportunities for training and education needed to provide for themselves and their baby.

While a difficult decision was still before her, Napha was no longer alone.

Continue reading “Raising Kanya”

For waiting kids, it’s all about “reach.”

We need your help!

During the summer, we consistently receive fewer applications than throughout the rest of the year. Maybe it’s because families are going on vacation or their lives are full of activities, but whatever the reason, lower application numbers mean that we are finding homes for fewer children overall. We want to counteract that trend and we need your help.

One of the major ways that we find prospective families for children is through social media, and when working with social media, it’s all about “reach.” This is where you come in.

Photo Release: Further_Marketing_Use Adopted Child's Country of Birth: China Report Month: : 24 Month Adoptive Parent's Info:  Adoptive Father's First & Last Name: Brian Murphy Adoptive Mother's First & Last Name: Jessica Murphy State: IN E-mail address: mrsjessicamurphy@gmail.com Adopted Child's Information:  Child's Original Name: Yu Bing Yan Child's New Name: Alaina Murphy Child's DOB: 01/16/2013 Arrival Date: 05/30/2014 Caption for each photo:  AlainaMurphy-01.jpg The Murphy family on vacation in Brown County, Indiana. We love spending time outdoors together. AlainaMurphy-02.jpg Alaina dressed in as a princess for Halloween. AlainaMurphy-03.jpg Alaina and Jessica (Mother) spending time together at the beach. Our family visits the same place in Florida every year! AlainaMurphy-04.jpg Alaina, excited to ride the train at the Cincinnati Zoo. AlainaMurphy-05.jpg Alaina and Brian (Father), together on a beautiful nature trail. AlainaMurphy-06.jpg The Murphy Family on vacation together in Florida. We spent the week swimming and playing together on the beach. AlainaMurphy-07.jpg Alaina dressed as her favorite Disney character, and holding one of her "babies". AlainaMurphy-08.jpg Alaina dressed in her beautiful silk dress for Chinese New Year. We celebrated together with our extended family and ate some delicious food.We often use our Facebook page to advocate for children on our waiting child photolisting. In order for our Facebook campaigns to be successful, however, we rely on people like you to spread children’s stories through sharing, liking and commenting. Facebook thinks it knows what people want to see on their feed, and it figures that out by looking at what is getting the most engagement. So the more shares, likes and comments that our posts get, the more Facebook assists in spreading them around. Basically, the more engagement that a post about a child receives, the better chance we have of finding them a loving and secure home.

Take Suzanna. Like many other children on our waiting child photolisting, we wrote a blog post about Suzanna and then posted it to Facebook. Here is where it gets exciting. People like you started sharing it, liking it and commenting on it, and within the first day, 40,000+ people saw it! That number is still climbing.

Suzanna

 

Now, that is a lot of people and we get excited about that. But what we are really excited about is that we had 40+ inquiries about adopting Suzanna, and one family is going through the process to adopt her now!

Helping us spread the word about children who need extra advocacy has a real and tangible impact on the lives of the people that we “reach” — and most importantly, on the lives of children who are waiting for a family of their own.

 

Sincerely,

Emily Lund

Adoption Counselor

Holt International
Ready to advocate for children? Hunter, Gabbie and Brady need your help right now:

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Why Do Children Drop Out of School in Southeast Asia?

Education-2-Header-600x321Around the world, education is one of the most effective ways to help children and families escape long-term poverty. But in the countries where Holt works in SE Asia, this basic right of children is not easily obtained.

In impoverished communities across SE Asia, parents often let their children drop out of school to enter the labor workforce at very early ages. But high dropout rates, lack of education and poverty are all primary factors contributing to child trafficking.

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Children as young as 12 who drop out of school have become easy targets for traffickers who recruit them with the promise of job placements in big cities. Sometimes, they end up in very harsh working conditions. Others are trafficked for far worse reasons.

Preschools or daycare for children ages 3-5 are also not available in many rural areas in SE Asia — resulting in delayed social, language and academic development. In some countries, the frequent migration of parents to seek jobs in big cities has resulted in children not having access to preschools. Many parents simply can’t afford to send their children to preschool, or do not understand how education impacts the development of their children prior to Grade 1.

But by giving the gift of school supplies, books and uniforms, you can help children continue their education and empower them to pursue their dreams. In Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, you can also help reduce the risk of abuse and child labor.

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Without your help and partnership, Holt could never reach so many lives in SE Asia and the many other countries where we work. Thank you for being part of a big cause serving children and families around the world!

Thoa Bui | Senior Executive of South & Southeast Asia Programs

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Loved Like One of Their Own

While waiting to join a permanent family through adoption, a little girl with severe special needs receives the attentive, nurturing care she needs in her foster family in Thailand.

20160226 (13)When our partner staff in Thailand met Worawan, they were shocked by her condition. Born prematurely at seven months, she spent the first three months of her life in an incubator — and two months on a ventilator. At birth, she had multiple special needs and health problems — including respiratory distress syndrome, rickets, anemia and congenital heart failure, among other severe and complex conditions. At the age of seven months, she weighed just over 8 pounds and was just 19.5 inches long. Most of the time, she laid still in her crib.

“Worawan had global developmental delays and failure to thrive,” says Jintana Nontapouraya, the director of the Holt Sahathai Foundation in Thailand. “We were so worried about her condition and also very afraid about whether the foster parents who agreed to receive her would still want to welcome her when we brought her to their home.”

Nine months have now passed since they welcomed Worawan into their home and lives.

“Although they appeared worried as she looked very tiny and fragile,” Jintana remembers, “they said they believed their family was the best choice for the girl under this situation as they were not afraid to love and nurture her.” Continue reading “Loved Like One of Their Own”

She Carries Your Love Always

Holt adoptive mom Libby Wendland writes a heartfelt letter to her daughter’s foster mom in Thailand, who cared for her in the six years she waited to join a family through adoption. This letter originally appeared on Libby’s blog, milestoeden.com

My husband and I just adopted our beautiful 6-year-old daughter internationally. She was placed in foster care at 3 weeks old until the approval of her adoption. Nothing I could ever give or say could repay her foster parents for the love they gave my daughter while she waited for six years for her forever home. My words will always fall short, but I pray all foster moms\dads know the importance of their job and role in a child’s life. This post is dedicated to two of the world’s best people (Por Kian & Mae Eiat) and to all the foster moms and dads in our world. Your work does not go unnoticed and your love will live through these children for all eternity. All my love and gratitude!

To My Daughter’s Foster Mom,

Eden riding a bike.I know you will probably never read these words nor will they ever touch your ears to know my heart, but I want to tell you that the day we met I will never forget or be the same. You showed me the broken hallelujah of loving someone with all your heart even if that love was meant only for a moment. You loving my daughter may have just been a season, but she will carry that love for eternity.

When she trusts me, I know it was because of your trusting hand that held her during those years of waiting and hard transitions.

When she loves me, I know it was because she was first loved by you.

Continue reading “She Carries Your Love Always”

Children in Thailand and Vietnam Need Families!

So, you’re thinking about adoption! While you’ve already made a first big step in reaching out to Holt, you may be discovering that there are a lot more decisions to make along your adoption journey.

A couple of the next ones coming your way are deciding on the country program and profile of child you are open to. Often, it’s best to begin by talking with Holt’s intake staff or your social worker and doing some research to get an idea of which country program is right for your family.

For some families, Holt’s smaller adoption programs are a perfect fit. And right now, both our Thailand and Vietnam programs are in need of adoptive families!

These two programs have two different sets of parent eligibility requirements and two very different profiles of children who are waiting for families. Could your family be eligible and interested in adopting a child from Thailand or Vietnam? Take a look!

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Thailand

Right now, the Thailand program needs loving adoptive families for younger children who have very manageable/minor special needs. The majority of these children are living with a nurturing foster family where they are growing and being cared for in a stable family environment. These foster families prepare the children very well for adoption, helping the transition into a permanent adoptive family to be as smooth as possible.

Because of Thailand’s eligibility requirements, this program is a good fit for younger parents — the adoptive mother should be under the age of 40 and the adoptive father under the age of 45 at time of application — and those who have just one or no other children living in their home. However, these requirements can be flexible for families interested in a waiting child. Families with one child in the home can request a child of the opposite gender, but otherwise you cannot request a specific gender.

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If the Thailand program doesn’t seem like a good fit for your family, check out the Vietnam program! This is our newest adoption program, and our first Holt-matched child came home just this past month!

Children waiting for families typically fit within one of two profiles. These include children who are generally between the ages of 1 to 5 and have moderate or major special needs. Older children, ages 6-14, are also waiting for families. Some of these children may not have any special needs, but will need families who are experienced and prepared for the complexities of older child adoption.

Parent eligibility requirements for the Vietnam program are generally more open and can be flexible depending on the needs of the specific child. Families adopting from Vietnam can have up to four children in the home, parents can be up to 54 years old at the time of application, and the program is open to single applicants.

We hope this helps you as you continue your journey toward welcoming a child into your heart and family. If you have any question about either of these programs, you are always free to contact me at emilyl@holtinternational.org.

Sincerely,

Emily Lund
Adoption Counselor

In Honor of Judy

When Holt adoptive mom Angie Ledbetter decided to sign up new sponsors for children as a volunteer at Winter Jam, she knew it would be a wonderful way to honor Judy Young — her family’s adoption social worker and Holt’s Arkansas/Kansas/Missouri branch director who recently passed away. She never expected the beautiful confirmation of her decision that came next.

Our family feels Winter Jam is such an amazing event and is very proud to be a part of the Holt International family that sponsors it. It’s a night spent worshiping the Lord along with ten of the best Christian bands who are sharing the word through music, promoting adoption and getting sponsors for children. We first volunteered at Winter Jam several years ago while we were waiting for our daughter, Lauren, to come home. We were at the point in our adoption where we had all the paperwork finished for the time being and were waiting to be matched with our daughter. Everyone who has adopted knows that is one of the hardest times… to wait. We felt volunteering would be something we could do to feel productive while we were sitting idle in the adoption process.

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Angie Ledbetter first volunteered at Winter Jam while waiting to be matched with her daughter, Lauren, from Thailand.
I admit, the first time we volunteered, it was partly for selfish reasons. I wanted to have the opportunity to see all the faces of the children who needed sponsors, hoping that somehow I would see my daughter’s face. I suppose I had hoped for some divine intervention, considering I didn’t even know who our daughter would be at the time. I had hoped to see a precious baby girl and just know that she was my daughter. Needless to say, that didn’t happen, but we were able to sign people up to sponsor some of the children who were in need and enjoyed an amazing concert. Continue reading “In Honor of Judy”

The Top 10 Photos of 2015

We all love feel-good stories. At Holt, we are surrounded by miracles, triumphant underdog tales and inspiring success stories every day. But sometimes, the best stories aren’t told through words. Today, we look back at a few of our favorite stories of hope, love, family and incredible, life-changing impact — not told through words, but pictures. We’ve rounded up our top 10 favorite, most iconic photos of the year. It’s likely that if you’ve followed us on social media, checked out our website, started sponsoring a child, given a gift to help a child in need or started your adoption journey, you’ve seen at least one of these photos this year. Today, we share the stories behind the photos, and explain why these images exemplify Holt’s work and the incredible impact of Holt’s friends, families and supporters around the world. Enjoy!

Photo 10: Summer Camps

Every summer, Holt Adoptee Camp is both fun and inspirational for the kids and teens who attend. At four sleep-away camps across the country, adoptees spend a week hiking, swimming, playing games and enjoying evenings around a campfire with fellow transracial adoptees and adoptee counselors. This is a time and place for adoptees to just be themselves, surrounded by other people who share similar stories and family histories. Together, they explore identity, race and other adoptee-specific topics in an open, safe setting. Mostly, they have fun! In the photo below, 2015 camp director Chris McGinn — who will return to direct camps in 2016! — serves as jungle gym and friend to 9-year-old Adam Wachner during camp in Nebraska. In the background, 16-year-old Alec Zoz and 13-year-old Karl McGillvray sport Holt camp shirts specially designed by Holt camp counselors.

Photo 10 Continue reading “The Top 10 Photos of 2015”

Just look at the striking differences in these children and families…

Holt’s supporters are amazing. Because of gifts to our President’s Top Priority Fund last year, we have seen striking changes in the lives of children and families we serve. Hopeful adoptive families have been able to offer a loving home to children with special needs, while children with special needs living with their families around the world were able to receive the vital medical care and therapies they need to thrive. Through family strengthening initiatives, many struggling families now have the tools and resources to independently support their children. Holt’s supporters created pathways for children to go to school, provided lifesaving food to orphaned children in North Korea and created hope and opportunity in the lives of children and families as near as Haiti and as far as Mongolia and Vietnam.

Below, we share some of our favorite stories from the year — stories that show the lasting and meaningful difference you made in the lives of children and families in 2015. Thank you, and enjoy! Continue reading “Just look at the striking differences in these children and families…”