Amesegenallo – an adoption story from a sister’s perspective

The journey that changed my life

by Alexa Dantzler

Exactly one year ago, my parents told me news that forever changed my life. One evening, my parents gathered us in the living room. We called our oldest sister, Dana, at college. And then my dad said, with a grand smile on his face, “Girls, your mother and I have decided to begin the adoption process of a little boy, in an age range between 4 and 7, from Ethiopia. We know you have always wanted a little brother. Now, the opportunity has presented itself to us.” After hearing this, it seemed as though our living room turned into a water park – we all broke into tears.

I was so overcome with joy and excitement that I could barely sleep that night. I prayed, asking God and St. Charles – the patron saint of orphans and adoption – to please watch over our adoption process and let it progress quickly. From that night on, I prayed every night for my brother’s health and spirit.

In June, we were matched with our little man, Berhanu. He was four years old and looked so adorable that I wanted to just take him out of the photo, hug and squeeze him. It was so exciting to hear my dad read Berhanu’s monthly health and social assessments, and see updated pictures of him. Finally, one afternoon, my dad called us. It was early December. He told us that we should start packing our bags – on Christmas day, we would pick up our “little prince” in Ethiopia!

All of a sudden, it was December 23rd. I was more than ready to take off for Ethiopia! We arrived in the capital city of Addis Ababa on Christmas Day, which was actually night in Ethiopia. When I stepped out of the airport and into the night air, I sensed a feeling of returning home, as though I just belonged in Ethiopia. In bed that night, I still couldn’t believe we were finally there, and that my brother was sleeping peacefully right next door in the Addis Ababa transition center. Continue reading “Amesegenallo – an adoption story from a sister’s perspective”

These are the fruits…

By Brian Campbell, Director of Creative Services

Pune, IndiaBefore the first call of birds, the morning is greeted by the beeping of horns. Little auto rickshaws and scooters buzz through the streets of Pune, and vendors – selling all sorts of goods –  prepare their services for the day.

Outside his tidy, modest home, *Sanjay arranges green pears on his cart.  A smile breaches his face as he talks about his family and his small, successful fruit stand – the stand he utilizes to keep his family together and his children in school.  His daughter, *Ahsha, stands beside him in her crisp, clean uniform ready to start her school day.  She stands tall and proud, practicing a few common English greetings and beaming with satisfaction at our group’s approval. A smile and a glow of pride overtakes Sanjay’s face.

Today, Sanjay’s family, thanks to Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK),  is thriving.

Just a few months ago, however, this scenario didn’t seem likely.

The family struggled under economic pressures.  Sanjay’s future as a truck driver was uncertain, and his children, in order to put food on the table, almost had to quit school and join the workforce.  Identified by community input and social workers from BSSK, Sanjay was provided with a micro loan to start a fruit stand business.

Today, long-term stability is a reality for this family. Sanjay looks forward to growing his small business and even plans on purchasing a motorized truck for selling and buying fruit. His son plans to graduate and become a police officer, and his daughter is looking forward to completing the 5th grade.

The fruits of family preservation and child sponsorship.

*names have been changed

“All Things Are Possible”

Senior Writer Robin Munro discusses her experience at a Holt-supported foster care program in Northern China.

by Robin Munro

Jilin City, China—Today, we drove to a small farming village just outside of Jilin City, a forested, mountainous region of Northern China where Holt sponsors foster care for 39 children. Here, amid lush green acres of corn stalks, rice fields and gable-roofed homes, we meet several of the children in our sponsorship program. Ducking out of the rain, we step into an unoccupied house – recently built by the village – where the families have gathered, anticipating our arrival. I am with Sue Liu, the Beijing office manager and assistant to Jian Chen, Holt’s China director; Jessica Palmer, Holt’s Waiting Child program manager; and a couple officials from the Jilin City Social Welfare Institute, with whom Holt has partnered since introducing a foster care project to this region in 2006.

I find a windowsill in which to sit and observe the scene – foster mothers sitting in a circle on the floor, cooing over babies swaddled in blankets as Sue and Jessica assess the children’s development and the foster care manager distributes formula and food. One boy – an older boy of about 9 or 10 – comes over to talk to me. “Hello,” he says in English, smiling. “Hello,” I say back, followed by a couple more simple phrases. He shakes his head, not understanding. “Ok,” I say. And he repeats. “Ok.” He wants to learn, wants to engage me with any means of communication he can find. I give him a thumbs-up. And he lifts his hand to mimic me.

But even this – this universal symbol for a job well done – he can’t use to communicate.   Continue reading ““All Things Are Possible””

The Gift of Compassion

by Brenna Bonner

I had barely heard the last few words of the radio advertisement for the Secret Keeper Girl event, but I did hear it, and four weeks later my daughter, five friends and myself were on our way to the event. On the night before Mother’s Day, our spirits were high and we looked forward to a fun evening.

The Secret Keeper Girl presentation captivated us from the very start. We sang worship music, listened to teachings on modesty, watched a fashion show, and learned what God says about our true beauty.

Those events were just the beginning, however. The Holy Spirit had just begun to speak.

As intermission approached, the presenters on stage switched gears, and Secret Keeper Girl Creator, Dannah Gresh, shared the story of how she was lead by God to adopt a child through Holt International. She also discussed Holt’s Child Sponsorship Program. I was riveted.

Over the last four years, I had visited many child sponsorship tables at concerts, ministry events and Christian conferences. I would often respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and go looking for the one child that caught my eye. Would I choose a boy? A girl? A child from Romania? China? Honduras? Should I choose an older child? An infant? Before I knew it, I had let loud worldly questions drown out God’s voice…but on this night, at the Secret Keeper Girl event, things would be different. Continue reading “The Gift of Compassion”

Investing in the Lives of Others

A youth group sponsors a child at a Winter jam concert

In order to reach kids with the Gospel in this day and age, you have to do it on their level. That’s why I love taking our group to Winter Jam each year. It features the greatest Christian artists of our day with a message that glorifies God. Our kids have such a great time, and it’s great to see how it changes their lives as they draw closer to God and make right decisions.

This year started off no different, but, as we were enjoying the show, God was working in the background. The earthquakes in Haiti had just taken place a few days prior, and I used it as a discussion in our classroom to point out that we aren’t promised tomorrow so we need to do what we can to reach those around us today. Then Newsong came out and presented the ministry of Holt International. As they were presenting, I looked around and saw the compassion in our group. When we had the opportunity we went down and found a little baby from Haiti.

His name is John Peter, but our group calls him “Lil’ H”, for little Haiti. It’s a term of endearment to these kids. We raise the money for the sponsorship independent of regular offerings, and the response has been great! One particular Sunday, a preteen girl gave her entire piggy bank full of change. That same day, another kid gave his whole allowance. When I ask for prayer needs, they are constantly reminding me to pray for Lil’ H. I’m overwhelmed on how God is teaching our kids to invest in the lives of others. We live in a selfish society where people are asking, “what can you do for me?”, but thanks to the opportunity given to us by Holt International, they are truly learning what it means to serve God by serving others.

Sponsor a child in need today!

Volunteer at or attend a Winter Jam Concert near you!

Winter Jam Off to a Great Start

Winter Jam 2010, a concert tour featuring Christian artists like: Newsboys, Third Day, and hosted by Newsong, continues to be a major force in raising awareness and support for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children overseas.

The tour, so far, has seen many generous and caring people make the decision to help a child through Holt International’s sponsorship program, and the tour still has 2 full months of touring dates left.   Speaker, Tony Nolan, has offered hope and helped pave the way for orphaned and abandoned children to be given the assistance they desperately need.

A recent newsstory from Urban Christian News reports on Winter Jam 2010’s record-breaking start.   Also, see locations and venues for  remaining concerts and sign up to volunteer to help concert-goers as they select children to sponsor.

Urban Christian News:

Following the first six dates, Christian music’s largest annual tour, the Winter Jam 2010 Tour Spectacular, has kicked-off with the highest average attendance in its 15-year history. Launching January 8 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Winter Jam has seen nearly 63,000 attendees to date, an average spike of more than 9% from last year, making history for the Tour franchise. Concerts at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, each drew crowds in excess of 13,000. In addition, Winter Jam has facilitated 1,401 sponsorship commitments to adoption and child welfare organization Holt International, to help meet the needs of orphaned children around the world. Continue reading “Winter Jam Off to a Great Start”

Help For the People of Haiti

Holt is assisting Children and Families affected by the devastating Earthquake

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday saw children and families, already starving and impoverished, left with nothing. Holt is now in Haiti helping to assist the children and families who are struggling to survive in this broken country.

Although communication with our staff in Haiti continues to be difficult and there are still many unknowns, we have learned from Holt-Haiti Director, Mansour Masse that the 30 children being cared for at Holt Fontana Village are “OK.”  Holt has been in Haiti since 2004 and the Village, located about 40 miles North of Port-au-Prince, is home to children waiting to go home to their permanent families in the United States.

“We are profoundly grateful the children and staff in our center are safe,” said Holt President and CEO, Kim Brown. “We still do not have an assessment of the 120 families in our Family Preservation program, and we are doing all we can to determine their safety.”

Christian music group and Holt advocate, Julian Drive, was in Haiti on a humanitarian trip when the earthquake hit. The group has now safely made it home to the United States.

“As we flew away and looked over the devastated city,” said Shane Bowers. “I could not help but have a huge burden in my heart for those left behind that are now forced to try and reassemble a life that was already so broken to start with. God help the people of Haiti.”

Before departing Haiti, the group did whatever they could to help in this dire situation and be an encouragement to the frightened children at Holt Fontana Village. They put on a concert for the children in the Village and the surrounding community and brought a little brightness into the lives of the families who have lost so much. Continue reading “Help For the People of Haiti”

The Power of the Human Spirit

by Jennifer Goette, Holt Director of Programs, South and Southeast Asia

During my first trip to Vietnam in my new role as the Program Director for South and Southeast Asia, there were many moments that led me to confront the power of the human spirit. Visiting orphanages supported by Holt, I was impressed by the loving care and genuine affection provided to each child. I was also touched by the need that emanated from each child, young and old, to be loved and cared for. Some of the children would find loving, permanent families through domestic or inter-country adoption; my heart went out to the other children – often older children and children with special needs—who would probably wait for years hoping to find a family of their own.

I was profoundly moved by a quiet young man with a determined spirit who has been living in care for most of his childhood. Tuan Ahn has a quick smile and is shy about his accomplishments. Orphaned at the age of eight years old when both of his parents passed away from infections believed to be caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Tuan was sent to live with his grandparents. After only two years, his grandparents were too old to care for the young boy and placed him with an orphanage supported by Holt International outside of Ho Chi Minh City. There he has received care and positive encouragement for more than nine years. Continue reading “The Power of the Human Spirit”