Not every child with special needs requires very involved, lifelong care — or even medical treatment. Some children just need minor interventions such as therapy for developmental delays, as Yesenia and Nick Lenga learned when applying to adopt Xiu Xiu from China. While in care at Holt’s medical foster home in Beijing, Xiu Xiu — now Mya – overcame her delays and is now thriving in the loving care of her family.
Xiu Xiu was found abandoned on the doorsteps of an orphanage in China at just a few hours old. Months after her arrival, Holt matched Xiu Xiu with the Lenga family, who knew that she might have severe developmental and physical delays. “She had extremely low muscle tone,” says Xiu Xiu’s mom, Yesenia. “Originally the doctors thought she might have rickets.” While not in one of Holt’s care centers, Holt determined that it would be best to send Xiu Xiu to the Peace House, our medical foster home in Beijing. Here, Xiu Xiu would receive therapy as well as the care of devoted Peace House caregivers.
The love a parent feels for their child is a fierce kind of love. It is selfless and unconditional. It is powerful. It is permanent. A foster parent’s love is no different. When a foster parent commits to care for a child, they also commit to love that child as their own. And inevitably, they do. The only difference is that while their love is permanent, they know their time with that child will be temporary. They let their hearts break over and over again — a sacrifice they make so that an orphaned or abandoned child will know what it feels like to be loved in that vulnerable time when they are without their family. For the children in their care, they are true guardian angels.
This month, during National Foster Care Month, we wish to honor the extraordinary foster families who love and care for the children in our programs around the world while they wait to rejoin their birth families or join an adoptive family. From China, Korea and India to the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, foster mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters provide the nurturing, attentive care that children need at every stage of their development — but especially in the critical first few years of life. In foster care, children bond naturally and deeply with their foster mother, which can be difficult to do with multiple caregivers. And because of this bond, the children more easily bond with their adoptive families. Just like any parents, foster mothers also see what others don’t. They notice potential health issues that busy orphanage caregivers may not notice right away. Foster families engage and stimulate the developing minds of children. Most of all, they love them.
Below, we share photos of foster parents and children in a few of our programs overseas. Some have cared for just a few children. Others have cared for 100 or more. But they never forget them. Not a single one.
For many years, Holt has, with great admiration, witnessed once-struggling mothers in our family strengthening programs achieve amazing accomplishments for the health and well-being of their children. These mothers worked 15-hour days, earning pennies so that their children could eat and attend school. In Thailand, a mother took a job sewing palm tree leaves together for a mere $2 a day to help her 14-year-old daughter stay in school. In Haiti, a mother worked two jobs to support her daughters after her husband died in the 2010 earthquake.
Mothers would do anything for their children. They would give up everything just to see their children thrive and succeed in life. And nothing brings Holt greater joy than to help these mothers succeed for their children. When you purchase a Gift of Hope today, you help mothers help their children, too! Chickens can help a widow feed her children nutritious eggs. When you purchase a “vocational training” Gift of Hope, a single mother could learn the valuable skills she needs to earn a steady income and help her family stay together.
By helping mothers, you help children! By purchasing a Gift of Hope today, you will change lives.
The vast majority of children in Holt’s sponsorship program live with their birth families. For these children, Holt sponsors provide vital support while their parents work to get back on their feet — and ultimately, regain their ability to independently care for their children. But for a small number of orphaned and abandoned children, Holt sponsors stand in the gap while the children wait to join loving adoptive families in country or overseas. Their monthly commitment ensures these children have everything they need to thrive — from food and medical care to the nurturing care of devoted caregivers. And often, when the children go home to their families, their parents will reach out to their former sponsors with letters expressing their heartfelt gratitude. Below, we share two recent letters from Holt adoptive families to the sponsors who cared for their children while they waited to come home…
Dear Holt Sponsor,
I cannot describe the gratitude that our family feels for the support that you have provided over the past 2.5 years in our daughter’s life. With that, I wanted to take the opportunity to reach out to you and give you a personal and heartfelt thank you along with some updates on her.
My family and I are from Las Vegas, Nevada. My husband and I have a birth son (Kai) who is 5 years old, 2 huskies, and 2 little parakeets. My mother was adopted from China when she was four years old, and I have wanted the opportunity to give to a child what my grandparents gave to her so many years ago. Before my son was even old enough to walk, we began our process with Holt. Since then, Thailand saw flooding and coups and general political turmoil which delayed our process greatly.
FINALLY, October 21st we were able to meet Nattanich in real life. She was super spunky, and even her social worker warned us that she was definitely in the midst of her terrible-twos! She wasn’t though. She was an angel. Still is. The saddest part of the whole journey was leaving her foster family. They were amazing people, and the support that you provided, assisted them in providing a wonderful and loving home for our daughter. I have heard horror stories of the care that foster families sometimes provide, and this is most certainly not one of those. She is well loved, well nourished, has excellent hygiene, and best off all – beautiful teeth! My girl LOVES brushing her teeth. (My 5-year-old could learn a thing or two from her!) Continue reading “Forever a Part of Our Story”
A recent trip to Manila, Philippines reveals the many layers of Holt’s programming for children and families. In this impoverished region of S.E. Asia, child sponsorship plays a key role in supporting children at risk of separating from their families. Here are just a few images from this trip that highlight our efforts to ensure a secure and loving home for every child.
In 1976, Holt helped to establish Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF). Through the years, our partner KBF has grown to become a recognized leader in child welfare services in the Philippines. KBF operates a daycare center a short distance from their office in Metro Manila. On our way to the day care, we spy children practicing their math and writing skills with chalk on the side of their home.
A couple teachers and students walk to the afternoon session of one of KBF’s six daycare programs in Metro Manila. KBF began daycare services in 1987 to assist children from low-income families with nutrition, health care, immunizations and appropriate developmental learning activities for children 3-5 years old. By providing a safe place for their children to go during the day, families can also seek out regular employment — helping them become more stable and self-reliant.
A rousing welcome performance by students at KBF’s daycare center
As their classmates perform for the guests, the audience sits in respectful and surprising quiet for a room full of 4-year-olds. Once their friends finish their song, the room roars with applause and cheers that only 4-year-olds can make.
Later in the afternoon, kids walk home from school and the daycare program. Most of the students in Holt-supported daycare live just a short walk from school. Daycare programming in Metro Manila has had a significant impact on helping struggling families stay together, while providing children with a head start in their education. The program serves nearly 600 vulnerable children each year.
Sometimes, all a struggling family needs is a little assistance to help them get back on their feet. In the case of Roger and Ruchelle, it took just a small nudge in the form of a microloan to achieve a place of stability and self-reliance. Hanging from the ceiling of their home are the dry goods that Ruchelle purchased with Holt funds. The sales from her small front-room shop supplement the income from Roger’s fish cart business.
Roger sells fish from a cart that he takes all around his neighborhood. Before Holt provided a microloan to help his wife open a small shop, Roger was the family’s sole provider. His work required him to be out all day — from before sunrise to well into the night. To earn enough for his family, he would often be gone for several days at a time.
Roger and Ruchelle can now provide for their family and keep their children in school
Today, Holt sponsors like Shane Bowers from the music group Julian Drive provide regular support for Roger and Ruchelle’s daughter while they work toward greater stability and, ultimately, self-reliance. Shane Bowers traveled with Holt to learn more about our work and gather resources to help promote Holt sponsorship at Julian Drive concerts.
A new mother and her baby at Nazereth Home for Single Mothers
An unplanned pregnancy is a challenge in any culture. In the Philippines, single mothers also face discrimination and are often shunned by their families. At KBF’s Nazareth Home for Single Mothers, expecting mothers can carry their babies to term in a safe and supportive environment. In addition to food and shelter, they receive pre- and post-natal care, counseling and even vocational training to help them provide for their child after leaving the shelter.
Women arrive at the Nazareth Home at any point during their pregnancy. After giving birth, they may stay for one month and receive support while they make an informed decision for the future of themselves and their baby. Sixty-five percent of the mothers choose to parent their children, and the remaining 35 percent place their children in foster care while KBF works to find them a loving adoptive family.
Many of these young mothers come to the home without the support or experience of motherhood. Here, they have the opportunity to learn some basic practices and techniques in childcare — such as feeding, bathing and even how to cradle a child.
Family is a big deal in the Filipino culture. At Nazareth Home, a family of women, mothers and counselors work together to address the inevitable questions ahead. How will I talk to my parents and family? Can I do this on my own? How do I make being a single mother work? What are my options? Although the KBF social workers provide support and understanding, ultimately, each mother makes the decision she thinks is best for her child.
Mel’s husband has part-time work in construction and collects recyclable materials. Outside the front door of their home, Mel sorts the recycling so that her husband can sell it for a few dollars. In total, they earn about 4 U.S. dollars per day.
In 1984, Holt and KBF introduced a model foster care program as a more nurturing alternative to institutional care for children in the Philippines. Several families have fostered children for many years. Fifteen years and some 34 children later, this foster family continues to help care for children while they wait to rejoin their birth family or join an adoptive one.
Boyd has a knack for calming little ones in his care
In the 50 years since Holt first pioneered our model of foster care overseas, we have found that this family-like situation is the best place to care for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children until they can be placed in a permanent, loving family. With the help of child sponsorship, Boyd and Edna continue a legacy of loving care.
The children featured in this photo essay are thriving largely because of the compassionate people who sponsor them.