2 Things We Try Before International Adoption

Do you know that Holt does more than adoption? Learn more about how our child-centric model drives our work, which includes programs to strengthen families!
Holt does more than adoption?!

A misconception we often hear is that Holt International is only an adoption agency. This probably stems from our long history in international adoption, but in truth, Holt serves far more children through programs that help them stay with their families.

At Holt, we in fact consider international adoption to be the last, best option for children. Holt’s model of adoption is child-centric, meaning that we uphold the needs of the child as our number one priority. Through this model, international adoption is the final effort we make to ensure that every child has a loving and secure home.

We believe, first and foremost, that every child deserves to grow and thrive in the loving care of their family, whenever possible.

To that end, we strengthen families who are on the edge and need just a little assistance to stay together. We do this through nutritional, financial, health, education and counseling services, which provide the tools and resources families need to independently care for their children. These programs would not be possible without our generous child sponsors!

Do you know that Holt does more than adoption? Learn more about how our child-centric model drives our work, which includes programs to strengthen families!Read about how Holt’s family strengthening program helped single moms in Haiti like Julia be able to provide for her family!

Unfortunately, and far too often, children are unable to stay with their birth family for a variety of reasons. While we strive to reunite children with their families when this happens, many children remain growing up in orphanages. When that is the case, our goal is to find a family through domestic adoption — which gives a child the opportunity to grow up in the country and culture of his or her birth.

Do you know that Holt does more than adoption? Learn more about how our child-centric model drives our work, which includes programs to strengthen families!

Finally, if the child is still waiting, then we begin to look at international adoption as a way to find a permanent and loving family. We understand the challenges that come with a child being adopted into a new country and culture, and so when international adoption becomes our only choice, we work very hard to make sure that the parents are as prepared as possible to care for the child. We have systems in place to prepare and support both the family and the adoptee — from the moment they apply to the moment they come home, and again when they need support, at any time throughout their lives.

Do you know that Holt does more than adoption? Learn more about how our child-centric model drives our work, which includes programs to strengthen families!Read about how international adoption gave Rini a chance at life.

Each child’s journey to a loving and secure home is different. But when you are matched, rest assured that every option was explored, and that international adoption was the best option for your child.

 

Learn more about what we do!

 

The Secret of Their Lives

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 “The Secret of Their Lives”

Care That Brings Kids Back To Life

At one special medical foster home in China, orphaned and abandoned children from all over China with severe medical needs, health conditions and special needs receive such amazing care, they blossom right before their caregiver’s eyes.

Peace House is not an actual house, but rather a small apartment on the 26th floor of an otherwise unremarkable 31-story brick building in sprawling Beijing. But inside, the space is anything but unremarkable — it’s a miraculous, life-changing place every day. A place where the contributions of kind and generous donors make a world of difference to the children — often babies younger than 2 — who spend weeks or months here.

A caregiver plays with two children, both growing strong enough for surgery, in the living room of Peace House.

“The thing that most stands out to me about Peace House,” says Jessica Zeeb, Holt’s China waiting child coordinator, “is that the name really describes the environment. When you walk in, you get a sense of peace. It’s calm. The nannies aren’t standing, working on lots of tasks. They are on the floor with the children.” Continue reading “Care That Brings Kids Back To Life”

Because Every Child Deserves Somebody

Around the world, most children come into care not because their families don’t love them, but because they can’t care for them. And far too often, the reason they can’t care for them is because their children have special medical or developmental needs. But through the innovative programs of one longstanding partner in Mongolia, Holt supporters are working to help children thrive — and keep them in the loving care of their families. 

Typically, if a family intends to take their child home — like this little one abandoned in a taxi — they will be back within a month. If their somebodies don’t come back, they become “social orphans.”

This one was left in a taxi, May says, motioning to a months-old baby girl gumming her fingers from inside her crib. Her father told the driver he would be right back. He just needed to get some cash to pay his fare. He never returned.

May Gombo is the adoption/social service program coordinator for Holt Mongolia. She comes here often, and knows each child’s story.

This girl was found in an open market area, she says of a crusty-nosed little cutie with wispy black hair pulled into a pointy topknot. Her parents are homeless and both are alcoholics — “and they live,” May says, “in a hole.” Like so many of the city’s homeless, this girl and her family are part of the subterranean civilization that seeks heat underground during Ulaanbaatar’s frigid winter months, when temperatures can drop below 40. Continue reading “Because Every Child Deserves Somebody”

The greatest gift a mom could receive…

Your child is sick. Horribly, deathly sick.

Is there any worst nightmare for any mom — or any parent — anywhere?

As an adoptive mom of four children with complex heart disease, Andrea knows exactly what this feels like.

“We loved her, played with her, listened as she called me ‘mama’ for the first time, and soaked up every moment,” Andrea wrote of her daughter, Rini, as she and her husband prepared to say goodbye to the little girl they had just brought home from China — a girl who was not yet 2 years old, but whose heart was growing weaker with every passing moment.

Only a new heart would save Rini’s life. Continue reading “The greatest gift a mom could receive…”

Life Inside the Caves of Northern China

Through Holt’s child sponsorship program, dedicated sponsors create pathways for orphaned and vulnerable children to escape poverty and chase their dreams — an especially rare opportunity for children living in caves in northern China.

Pei is able to attend school because of Holt's child sponsorship program.
If 15-year-old Pei ever hopes to escape the poverty and stigma associated with living in a cave, she will need to stay in school as long as possible.

Only the poorest families still live in caves.

Some families use the dusty, mountainside rooms as animal pens to protect their sheep or goats from the freezing winter cold. Others store grain or farm equipment in their cave, and live nearby in a more modern brick or concrete home.

Until she was 4 years old, Huan Yu Pei had never lived in a cave. She didn’t face the stigma cave families feel as the bottom of society. She never felt the draft from the makeshift door.

In the cave-dwelling community where she grew up in China’s Shaanxi province, Pei’s family was considered middle class.

Her father worked in a factory and her mother cared for the house. Pei’s grandfather spent his days harvesting their large plot of land, where they grow sweet apples. Their life was comfortable.

Then, in 2006, Pei’s father was in a motorcycle accident on his way to the printer manufacturing company where he worked as a machine operator. His leg was badly mangled and broken. In this rural, underdeveloped region of northwest China, there were few hospitals and none that Pei’s father could afford without health insurance. The injury never fully healed, and Pei’s father needed crutches to move. He lost his job, and the family fell into poverty and debt.

A view of several cave homes in Ruicheng, an agricultural region about 450 miles from Beijing, China.
A view of several cave homes in Ruicheng, an agricultural region about 450 miles from Beijing, China.

Soon after they moved into the cave where they still live today, Pei’s mother vanished. Continue reading “Life Inside the Caves of Northern China”

Becoming a Person Again

When her husband died of AIDS at a young age, Sebele felt hopeless and unsure about how she would support her five children. But with a small business grant and training from our partner in Ethiopia, she has kept her family together — and has become “a person again.”

_hlt0526Sometimes, people say bad things to Sebele’s children. They taunt them because their father died of AIDS. They avoid them because their mother still carries the virus. They push them to the point of tears.

“They come home and they cry sometimes,” says Sebele*, her eyes cast downward, hands neatly folded in her lap, as she sits on her porch beside four of her five children. “They find their father’s picture and they cry.”

Sebele and her family live in Shinshicho, Ethiopia — one of the southern region’s impoverished woredas, or districts, where Holt has for nearly a decade worked alongside local partners to strengthen struggling families, in particular families headed by women. Here, the stigma against HIV remains so strong that the local hospital — a hospital Holt worked alongside the community to help build — has a separate wing to help HIV patients keep their health status private. When Sebele’s husband died, her neighbors shunned her. Friends and relatives became distant. And even though her children are not carriers of the disease themselves, they too experienced discrimination at school and in their community.

“The only thing I wanted was not to live,” she says.

But life was not always so bleak for Sebele and her family. Before her husband died, he earned a good income working in the local government. Her children attended private school. They ate well. They lived well. And they were respected and embraced in their community.

“Their life was normal,” Sebele says of her children, speaking in Amharic to our translator. “They used to get good support. They learned very well. But the only source of income was from their father. So after he died, that made it even harder.” Continue reading “Becoming a Person Again”

President and CEO Phil Littleton Travels to Mongolia and China — A Photo Essay

In September, Holt President and CEO Phil Littleton spent two weeks visiting Holt projects in China and Mongolia. “The work we are doing exceeded my expectations,” Phil said. “It was extraordinary.”  

MONGOLIA:

Below Phil visits the Rainbow Special Baby Care Unit within a state-run infant and toddler orphanage in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Holt established ties with the orphanage in 1999. At this special baby care unit, Holt provides at-risk infants and toddlers with the proper nutrition, medical care and nurture they need to thrive.

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“When Holt arrived in Mongolia almost two decades ago, the orphanage was rather bleak,” Phil says. “Today, the center in Ulaanbaatar is a well-run, warm place for babies to come and be nursed back to health and receive proper nutrition and care.”
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“Ninety percent of the children at the care centers don’t have families,” Phil says. “Some, however, come here on a temporary basis while their families get the support they need. It’s wonderful to be able to provide a safe place for these children to come while their families become more stable.”

Continue reading “President and CEO Phil Littleton Travels to Mongolia and China — A Photo Essay”