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,
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.
Meet Jim De, Holt’s new India country director! From caring for foster children in his childhood home, to finding families for children orphaned by the 2004 tsunami, to greeting Holt adoptive families at the Delhi airport, he has always followed his life’s passion — advocating for his country’s orphaned and abandoned children.
It was 2:00 a.m. and 7-year-old Jim De sat awake in his home with his mother. She changed a baby’s diaper while he held another one in his arms, feeding her a bottle of formula. Tonight was their turn for “night duty,” a task in which they stayed up all night to care for the 30-40 children living in the care center that the De family ran out of their home. Jim and his mother were on night duty about once a week — and he loved it!
“I was very excited about doing that kind of stuff,” Jim says now, during his visit from India to Holt’s headquarters in Eugene, Oregon. “It was so much fun to stay up all night — but by 4:00 in the morning, you were out!”
Throughout his years growing up in India, serving children — growing up with them as friends and welcoming them into his home as family — was a normal part of his life. Jim’s father worked as treasurer for the Church of North India and his mother was involved with child welfare organizations. What started as his family fostering just one child — Tom, who needed somewhere to stay while his international adoption was finalized — soon turned into the De family fostering many children out of their home and eventually opening up an official care center for these children.
“They were my friends,” Jim says. “For us, it was exciting! There was always a new child in the house, a new friend — we always welcomed them.”
How do you bring the true spirit of Christmas into your holiday celebrations?
Do you teach your children or grandchildren about sharing with those less fortunate? Do you volunteer at a soup kitchen? Or participate in local food drives?
Giving a gift to someone in need — someone you’ve never met — is always a beautiful expression of God’s love and compassion, and an excellent way to teach children about gratitude, generosity and kindness.
This Christmas, have you considered giving a gift to a child in one of Holt’s programs as a way to recognize the true meaning of the holiday? We know, as a friend of Holt, that you have a strong heart for orphaned and vulnerable children. And this year, we are making it easy to share the abundance of the holidays with a child in need.
With each gift of $25 given online today — or no later than November 30 — you can help provide a holiday meal, a special gift and a merry celebration to a child who may not know the joy of Christmas without you.
Invite your children or grandchildren to get involved as well — teaching them about love and compassion for others, and that as members of a global community, we should reach out and lift up our neighbors when they need our support.
Thank you for your kindness and compassion. Together, we can teach our children the true meaning of Christmas, while sending love and joy to children in greatest need.
We are now recruiting families for Holt’s first ever ambassador trip to China!
The Children’s Home in Nanning provides care for children who were born with HIV, whose parents have passed away, and who face discrimination in their cities, towns and villages because of their status. Extended family are afraid to care for them, landlords won’t rent to them, and public schools don’t want them in their classrooms. The Children’s Home, with financial and advisory support from Holt and various other charities like www.stdaware.com, provides these children with a home where they can receive an education, medical care and affection from caregivers who do not fear them because of their HIV status. For a firsthand account of a Holt staff member’s visit to this special facility, please see Samantha Gammon’s blog post. Continue reading “An Exciting Opportunity to Advocate for Children with HIV in China”
On a recent trip to China, Holt’s China regional coordinator visited a group home Holt supports for children living with HIV. Here, she shares some of their stories — which, though heartbreaking, are edged with hope.
We first became aware of HIV group homes in southwestern China because of a video broadcast through a Chinese news outlet. The report told the story of a 6-year-old boy whose parents had passed away, and who lived alone with his dog because his extended family and community were afraid to contract HIV. The news segment showed an overwhelming outpouring of material support after a wider population found out about the little boy’s situation, but the support he received was measured in bags of food and hand-me-down clothing left outside his door, not care and affection. His life changed dramatically when he finally moved to an HIV group home.
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”