The Importance of Foster Kids Maintaining Connections With Biological Relatives

Holt’s foster care and adoption specialist shares why it’s important to help foster kids stay connected to their biological families, regardless of the reasons they entered the foster care system. 

When a child is entering into care, every situation or case is different. As a foster care worker, the one thing we hear a lot about from adults going through the foster care process is their uncertainty or uneasiness about being involved in legal risk, or being involved with biological parents or relatives. But at the end of the day, no matter what happened for a child to come into care, they all belong and came from somewhere and will long for that connection with their birth family. Continue reading “The Importance of Foster Kids Maintaining Connections With Biological Relatives”

Perspectives All Foster Parents Should Embrace

Foster parenting can be challenging, but parents who welcome children with compassion, empathy and no expectations will have the most success. 

Parenting a child is a challenging task. And when it comes to parenting a foster youth, that challenge increases — but not because of the child. As one former foster youth observed, the increased challenge comes from what this child has endured, and the survival techniques they have developed to adapt to living in the system.

 “Everyone thinks that we’re such bad people,” Dawna Hovenier shared in the 2016 Casey Family Programs video, “Former Foster Youth Share Their Stories.” “We are not bad people. We just had terrible circumstances in which we were brought up …There’s so much more to a child than just their behaviors. I mean, I felt like my life was on hold and I didn’t learn a lot of skills I needed to for when I turned 18.”

Continue reading “Perspectives All Foster Parents Should Embrace”

Caring for Children With HIV in China

In China, children living with HIV face intense stigma and discrimination. But through the kindness and generosity of Holt donors, they find love, care and compassion in Holt’s HIV group homes. This story originally appeared in Holt’s fall 2017 sponsorship magazine

A little girl at the HIV group home looks out the front door to a sunny courtyard.

Most of the children here don’t know they are HIV+. It’s too risky.

Their teachers don’t know. Their neighbors definitely don’t know because if they did, they would have to move again. They’ve moved eight times in ten years, all 28 children. If their teachers knew, they would be isolated and discriminated against or even kicked out of their pricey private school — a school they attend because they don’t have to inform the principal of their disease.

Most of these children don’t even know about the disease in their blood — the disease that killed many of their parents, robbed them of their life in their villages and that was likely passed to them at birth.

They just know that they have strict rules to follow.

Absolutely no fighting. No rough housing. If they get a cut or a scratch, they have their own first aid kit. And they have Mr. Huang.

“The kids are happy now,” Mr. Huang says, his face worn and tired, his spiky, graying hair hinting at his age.

When children pass through the living room of the apartment, they stop to grab his hands or talk to him and his eyes soften as he greets them lovingly.

“They are too young,” Mr. Huang says. “They don’t understand their fate. But as they get older, they will learn. The discrimination will start. They will always have to keep their secret.”

Continue reading “Caring for Children With HIV in China”

Holt Donors Help One Boy Find a Nurturing Home to Heal

Through Holt’s new donor-supported foster care program in Cambodia,  one boy with special medical needs finds a loving place to heal. 

Kiri’s mother brought him to the hospital for medical care, but then left and never came back. We may never know why she felt forced to make this heartbreaking decision…

He was just 1 year old and had a serious lung disease and a cleft palate. He was rushed to the ICU. Kiri stabilized, but for months he had no one to visit him. No one to hold and comfort him. Continue reading “Holt Donors Help One Boy Find a Nurturing Home to Heal”

Honoring First-Generation Foster Mothers in Thailand

In honor of National Foster Care Month, learn about Holt’s longstanding foster care program in Thailand as well as one first-generation foster mother who cared for 13 children over 20 years. 

In 1977, Mrs. Bayan and her family became one of Holt’s first foster families in Thailand — joining the program just one year after Holt introduced foster care as a more nurturing alternative for children living in the country’s orphanages.

“Mrs. Bayan was a full-time housewife and Mr. Boonsong, her husband, was a captain serving the Royal Thai Army. They were both in their 40s, and their two children — a son and a daughter — were in high school by then.  The family was residing in an army residential compound in Bangkok,” shares Kobgarn Trakulvaree, executive director of Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF), Holt’s local partner in Thailand. “All members in this foster family loved children and were always very happy to welcome the homeless little ones to their heart and their home.” Continue reading “Honoring First-Generation Foster Mothers in Thailand”

Permanency: Why It’s Important for Foster Children and How Parents Can Help

When foster parents have a relationship with biological parents, they can help children find permanency.

Child welfare professionals often use the word “permanency” to describe the desired outcome for children in foster care. But what does that really mean?

Permanency refers to the idea that a child has a lifelong place to belong, with a committed caregiver who assumes the legal responsibility of a parent-child relationship. Permanency can be achieved in many ways — reunification with the child’s family, guardianship with a safe adult, or adoption. Once a child lands in a permanent place that is safe and nurturing, the state closes the case and the child is no longer in need of foster care. Continue reading “Permanency: Why It’s Important for Foster Children and How Parents Can Help”

140 Children, Forever Loved From Korea

Together, Mrs. Yang and Mrs. Kim have fostered over 140 children in Korea. In August 2017, they visited Holt families in Oregon — an experience they, and the adoptees and adoptive families they met, will never forget.

This story originally appeared on the Holt blog in September 2017. 

Mrs. Yang sat in a room at Holt’s international headquarters in Oregon — sobbing.

She clutched the glossy photobook to her chest then set it down to cover her face with her hands. The photobook was sent to her by a Holt family, and full of pictures and descriptions about how their son was doing. Her shoulders rose and fell with emotion and a Holt Korea social worker and translator, who was helping me with the interview, put an arm around her.

“Separation is not easy,” she said to me. Continue reading “140 Children, Forever Loved From Korea”

Who Are the Children and Youth in U.S. Foster Care

Holt’s U.S. foster care and adoption specialist shares about the kids in U.S. foster care today.  

What excludes a foster child from many other children in the world is maltreatment. Maltreatment is a behavior acted on a child that causes high risk of harm that can hinder the security, development and trust children have. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, neglect, homelessness and substance abuse are the main reasons why children enter into foster care. Continue reading “Who Are the Children and Youth in U.S. Foster Care”

Children Belong in Homes, Not Hotel Rooms

The best place for children is NOT a hotel room.

Can we all agree that children belong in families who are safe and able to meet their needs? This is why we have foster care. What happens, though, when the system intended to protect children has weaknesses of its own? What if the state removes a child from their parents, turns to find a fostering family, and finds none? Continue reading “Children Belong in Homes, Not Hotel Rooms”

How COVID-19 is Affecting Sponsored Kids in Thailand: a Q&A

An interview with Kobgarn Trakulvaree, executive director of Holt Sahathai Foundation, Holt’s partner organization in Thailand.

The generous gifts from Holt sponsors and donors helped provide everything masks and sanitizer to storybooks and toys to keep children occupied during the pandemic.
The generous gifts from Holt sponsors and donors helped provide everything from masks and sanitizer to storybooks and toys to keep children occupied during the pandemic.

How is the pandemic affecting children and families in Holt’s Thailand programs?

Ten percent of the families we are helping are actually unemployed due to the pandemic. The rest have experienced pay reduction. Prior to the pandemic, the average monthly income of these families was 5,000 Thai baht per month, or around $167 U.S. dollars. Since the pandemic, most of the average income is reduced to only 3,000 baht a month — around $90 U.S. dollars. And the minimum, the lowest pay that we have found was only $17 dollars … So it’s not hard to imagine that these families are facing really hard situations. Continue reading “How COVID-19 is Affecting Sponsored Kids in Thailand: a Q&A”