Adoptive parents Chad and Becky Hinze share their experience adopting 12-year-old Paolo Miguel just days after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philipinnes, and bringing him home to join their family. Paulo joined his family through the Philippines Ambassador Program.
How many people can say that flying into the Philippines just five hours before the most horrific storm in history hit — and living in an orphanage for the five days after — was the absolute best experience of their lives?
A photo essay and update on last year’s sponsor-funded International Day of the Child celebrations for children in Holt’s programs overseas.
Few things in life are as momentous as the birth of a child. When a child comes into our lives, we cheer and hug and pass around cigars — our faces wet with joyful tears. And every year after, we celebrate the anniversary of the day our child entered the world with parties and gifts and candlelit birthday cakes. Birthdays are more than a silly tradition. And however we celebrate them, the fact that we DO expresses to our children just how much we love them — and how grateful we are that they were born.
Every child deserves a birthday. Every child deserves to eat cake and open presents and have a whole day devoted to celebrating them.
But some children don’t have mothers and fathers and grandparents to throw them birthday parties. Others have loving families who wish they could do more on their children’s birthdays, but can barely afford to give them what they need every other day of the year.
That’s why, several years ago, Holt started a tradition of celebrating the birthdays of children in our programs overseas on June 1, the International Day of the Child. To fund these parties, Holt sponsors go above and beyond their normal monthly donation. They provide goodie bags with signed messages wishing their sponsored child a happy birthday, and give a little extra money for the celebrations. This year, donations from sponsors are also helping to provide a new pair of shoes for every child!
Below, we share photos from last year’s International Day of the Child celebrations in countries we serve around the world.
In Thailand, local staff used sponsor funds to fill goodie bags with stationary sets, sippy cups or cartoon-covered water bottles, chocolate bars and cookies. “HSF would like to convey our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Holt’s child sponsors for their generous donation,” writes the staff of Holt Sahathai Foundation, our partner in Thailand. “This special donation was very meaningful to needy children in our care!”
Eleven-year-old Hector smiles easily. Whether in school or meeting new people, a big grin spreads across his face as he chatters enthusiastically about his favorite things — traditional drums and singing, soccer and his favorite subject in school, science. The neighbors who live around Hector’s foster home watch Hector pedal his bike through the village with a seemingly permanent grin to match his cheery personality. Maybe Hector is riding his bike across the village to meet his friend, Scott, another pre-teen boy who, like Hector, spent much of his childhood waiting for a forever family. The two like to run and play, usually in bare feet with their jeans rolled up — Hector, the outgoing counterpart to Scott’s more reserved, artsy personality. Unlike Hector, though, Scott was recently matched with a permanent family in the United States.
If you are considering adoption, chances are you’ve thought about countries like China, Korea and maybe even Ethiopia. But what about Thailand? You don’t always hear a lot about Thailand in the adoption community. But, maybe you should, because there’s a lot to love about our program and partners in Thailand.
Here are our top 5 reasons to consider adoption from Thailand:
5. The minimum age for adoptive parents is 25.
For younger couples who want to start a family through adoption, Thailand is a great choice. Couples can have up to one child in the home prior to submitting their application, and couples with a child can request to be matched with a child opposite of the gender of the child already home. Childless couples must be open to a child of either gender. Adoptions from Thailand, while limited, have remained stable. Continue reading “Top 5 Facts About Adopting From Thailand”
What would it mean in the life of your child if you not only gave him the toys on his Christmas list, but also toys in his name for vulnerable children in China? What if, for your sister, you helped provide clothing, cribs and bedding for children in Korea? Or a goat for a struggling family in Ethiopia?
This holiday season, you can help a child survive. Help a family thrive. This Christmas, you can give the gift of hope to children and families in Holt’s care…
At a learning center Holt supports in rural, southern Thailand, children build skills using the natural environment while parents learn how to grow low-cost, nutritious food for their families.
by Jessica Palmer, Director of Adoption Services, Southeast Asia
Stepping into an organic garden, seeing fresh vegetables ripe for the picking in a lush green atmosphere, I forget for a second that I’m not in the Holt headquarters city of Eugene, Oregon. Instead, I am in a rural part of Thailand, Tha Sala, just outside the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat that serves as the southern office location for Holt’s local partner organization, Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF). Among the many programs HSF provides for vulnerable children and families in Thailand is a learning center in Tha Sala, which is full of sensory stimulation and learning opportunities for children in the area — including many in Holt’s sponsorship program.
Although sponsorship is not typically a pathway to adoption, Holt sponsors Daniela and Scott Stewart defied the norm — applying to adopt, and turning out to be the right family for a 13-year-old girl in Thailand who they had sponsored from the time she was 2 months old.
by Robin Munro, Managing Editor
Every year for the past twelve years, Daniela Stewart has sent a little gift to her sponsored child in Thailand. Usually on her birthday. Usually something small. One year — several years ago, when Holt staff traveled frequently to escort children and could deliver larger packages to sponsored children — Daniela decided to pick out a doll. As she stood in the aisle of the store, looking at rows of dolls in every shape and style, she asked herself, “If she were my daughter, which one would I pick?” In a moment of clarity, she reached for a very soft and cuddly doll with brown hair, beautiful eyes and a big smile.
For Daniela, envisioning her sponsored child as her daughter was not too difficult a task. Over the years, she and her family had watched her grow from the 2-month-old baby pictured in their first sponsorship report, to a darling girl with a beaming smile. “We always felt a special connection to her,” Daniela says. “Every update on her made for a joyous day.” She became, in a sense, a part of their family.
But little did Daniela know as she stood in the aisle of the store that, one day, the little girl she sponsored in Thailand would become her daughter for real.
Fourteen years ago, Daniela and Scott Stewart traveled to Thailand to adopt their first son, a 10-month-old boy they named Timothy. Not long after, they returned to adopt their son Benjamin. While waiting to join an adoptive family, both boys stayed in a loving foster family in Thailand. In fact, they stayed in the same family! While in Thailand, Daniela and Scott met their sons’ foster family, as well as their social workers. They visited Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF), Holt’s partner organization in Thailand, and learned about our programs to strengthen families at risk of separation.
Holt International CEO and President Phil Littleton is currently touring Holt’s programs in Southeast Asia and Korea, visiting the children and families we serve. Today, Holt’s creative services director, Brian Campbell, reports on Phil’s visit with a struggling grandmother and her grandson. Through family strengthening services, Holt is helping to support this family in partnership with Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF) in Thailand.
by Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director
In the parking lot of a high-rise apartment building stands a dilapidated utility building, long forgotten by the apartment residents. Abandoned signs, old promotional banners and tarps to keep out the rain cover this small one-room structure. A couple of broken office chairs and a few stumps of wood make up the living room. This small utility building is now home to Tien and her grandson, Satang.
Today, Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF) director, Jintana, will introduce Phil Littleton, Holt president and CEO, to this struggling family and detail how Holt and HSF have come alongside them.
After Tien’s daughter gave birth to Satang, she refused to raise him. Tien then stepped up to raise and care for her grandson. The family’s difficult situation came to the attention of HSF through a cooperative effort with local social workers and hospital authorities. Since Satang’s birth, HSF has made repeated efforts to contact Satang’s mother, but she has been unresponsive, only appearing from time to time to ask her mother for money. It is HSF’s hope that one day, through counseling and support, Satang will be united with his mother.
In the meantime, HSF has stepped in to help this grandmother and her grandchild stay together, providing Tien with powdered formula, food and social services to ensure good health and nutrition for both of them.
In 1976, HSF began providing support services to struggling families, enabling them to care for their children. Over the years, services expanded and today include counseling, financial assistance, vocational training, educational sponsorship and income-generating projects. Training in proper health and nutrition also reinforces a family’s ability to care for their children.
“With support, Tien and Satang are going to make it,” explains Jintana to Phil. “Having Satang in Holt’s child sponsorship program will help a great deal. It’s going to take some hard work on the grandmother’s part, but she is dedicated to keeping her remaining family together. They will make it.”
Holt CEO and President Phil Littleton is currently in Thailand visiting the children and families Holt serves alongside our long-time partner in the region, Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF). Here, Holt’s creative services director, Brian Campbell, reports on Phil’s visit with a little girl he helps to support through Holt’s child sponsorship program.
by Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director
Nakhon, Thailand— After a busy couple days visiting HSF programs and services for children and families in the community of Nakhon, a special moment awaits Phil Littleton, CEO of Holt International.
For the past two years, Phil and his family have helped to support a little girl named Mali*, who lives here in Nakhon with her mother Lawan*, her twin sister Kanya* and several extended family members. Mali and Kanya’s mother is 24-years-old and works as a server at a small restaurant, earning about $7 per day. On such low income, she can hardly afford to meet all of her daughters’ needs – especially their educational expenses. With assistance from Phil’s monthly sponsorship donations, HSF is able to give Mali the supplies she needs to attend school – including a school uniform.
Last November, when another Holt staff member visited Lawan and her daughters at their home in Nakhon, Lawan asked to send a special message to Phil. “Thank you,” she said. “Without your support, it would be very hard for my children and me. Expenses are very high, and I could not afford to provide for two children and their education. My main concern is the education of my children.” Mali and her sister started preschool in August 2011, and are now in Kindergarten.
At home in Eugene, Phil’s family keeps a picture of Mali in a little magnetic frame on their refrigerator. As new child reports arrive from Holt’s child sponsorship program, Phil and his wife share the updates about Mali with their three children and pass pictures of her around the dinner table. From a distance, little Mali has become a part of their family.
Today, for the first time, Phil will have the opportunity to meet Mali and her family.
Phil Littleton, Holt International’s president and CEO, is currently in Thailand visiting Holt’s longtime partner Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF), and spending some time with HSF foster families and the children in their care. For over 35 years, Holt has worked in cooperation with HSF to serve the needs of homeless and at risk children and families in Thailand.