An excerpt from Brian’s Travel Diary while in Ethiopia.
Durame, Ethiopia—The washboard, gravel roads from the only hotel in Durame jostle our team along the way to the Holt Shinshicho Clinic. The clouds are beginning to break as the sun comes up and rain from the night before has created a shimmering lushness to the surrounding hillsides. All along this road can be seen people making their way to work. Bundles of firewood, donkeys carrying grain or coffee, women with containers of water share the road with us. To the side of the road, children can be seen in their well-worn school uniforms heading to classes. Other children remain behind, long switches in hand, tending to a couple of cows or a small flock of sheep and goats.
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.
A message from Jennifer Goette, Holt’s Director of Programs for South and Southeast Asia
Holt International has touched the lives of thousands of children and families in India since 1979, providing permanency services for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children. In 2009 more than 3,000 children benefited from counseling, medical support, nutrition services, educational sponsorship, foster care and other services. A total of 30 children were reunited with their birth families, another 30 children were united with permanent families in the United States and approximately 160 children were placed in permanent homes in India.
Children who come into care are nurtured in child care centers, where they receive tender care by nurses, child development workers, caretakers, therapists and pediatricians, or are placed with foster families until they are adopted or reunited with their birth families. All Holt partner agencies in India have onsite neo-natal nurseries, which have specially trained staff and are equipped to stabilize the health of children who are admitted with immediate medical needs. All children receive regular well-baby checks, quarterly health checks, appropriate immunizations and lab tests including hepatitis B and HIV tests.
Many children in India need loving, nurturing families. Because of Holt’s long history and extensive programs serving children in India, we have a successful history of placing children from India with adoptive families in the United States. Holt welcomes Indo-Americans (born in India) as well as non Indian applicants to adopt from India. Adoptive families are especially needed for toddlers, preschoolers and children with medical or developmental needs.
a family adopts their precious daughter, Gauri, from India
I’m often asked what made us decide to adopt internationally and, moreover, what the adoption process has been like. I grapple to find the right adjectives, to give a straight, easy answer. Every family’s decision and journey to adoption is different. Ours was certainly filled with plenty of twists and turns. The summer of 2005, with two healthy biological boys, my husband and I decided to try for a third. Boy or girl, we didn’t care. We just knew we wanted one more to properly fill out the craziness of our household.
But heartbreak and disappointment resulted with two miscarriages, my third overall. It was an agonizing decision, but I couldn’t go through it again. I was done trying. We’d be a family of four. Only…we didn’t feel like a family of four. It was a nagging sense, like an unfinished sentence about our lives. After a time, my husband and I started to talk about how, in the early days of our marriage, we’d both mentioned how much we’d like to adopt a child. I generally don’t like to discuss our three lost pregnancies, but I did, in that moment, have a strange sense that maybe we’d suffered those losses in order to find the child we were meant to have, wherever he or she was. We quickly settled on international adoption, Continue reading “The Adjectives of Adoption”
“You came.” Those were Nephtalie’s first words to her big sister, Martine.
Martine had come home to us from *Haiti in April 2008. When her sister, Nephtalie, needed a permanent family, we were already two years into the process of adopting Martine and because of this, the two sisters would not be able to come home together. When we left Haiti with Martine, we promised Nephtalie we would return for her.
The two sisters were reunited on February 3rd. Nephtalie told Martine how much she had missed her and how long she had waited. Later that day another child from Holt Fontana Village also told Martine how Nephtalie had been waiting for her.
The separation of siblings is one of the tragedies of children without parents to care for them. Martine and Nephtalie are together now, but the two-year wait was obviously heart wrenching for a 6-year-old to remember a promise given two years before. We felt frustration here, while she was longing over there…too young to understand why she had to wait.
I am thankful for the wonderful care my girls received at Holt Fontana Village. I know many other children, now home, who were living in far less than ideal conditions before they arrived at Holt Fontana Village. However, even good food, shelter, and competent, loving caretakers do not make up for a family. We had at least one year to go before Nephtalie would have come home.
God, in his mercy, used this horrific event, which took so many lives, to bring these sisters back together and many other children to their forever families.
Holt will continue to update our blog about our plans for the children and families in Haiti who are still in need of our care and support.
*Holt’s Haiti program is currently closed to new adoption applications, but we invite you to research some of Holt’s other country programs where thousands of children are waiting to belong to a permanent family…..click here to learn more
“The Holt Adoptee Camps are about creating an adoptee community. International and transracial adoptees come together and get a chance to be around people who understand them,” said Holt Youth Services Coordinator Michael Tessier, a former camper and camp staff member.
Every summer Holt manages five camps around the country. Run by trained camp counselors, who are also adult adoptees, these camps give adoptees, age 9-16, the chance to learn more about themselves, discuss adoption, race, and identity issues and, most of all, have fun. “We don’t learn about our birth culture at camp,” said Michael. “The camps are about learning and creating the culture of adoption and the adoptee community.”
Michael began his relationship with the Holt Adoptee Camps as a camper when he was nine years old and now serves on the leadership staff, planning activities and providing support and encouragement to the campers.
“The most important thing I learned when I was a camper, was that there were role models for me to look up to,” said Michael. “You can’t see that in the media, you can’t see that in your neighborhood or community back home. But when I went to Adoptee Camp, I saw that there were successful, confident adult adoptees, and that made a big difference to me.”
Throughout the day the kids participate in typical camp activities like: archery, swimming and boating, and experience times of community with the other campers in small and large group discussions. Continue reading “Holt Adoptee Camp”
We wanted to add another son to our family and, through Holt’s China Child of Promise program, we brought Will home just one year and one day after we signed the papers to begin our home study!
When we started to discuss adding a final child to our family, we realized that we had several prerequisites that made it challenging to locate a program that fit all of them. We wanted a son–that was the easy one. We also wanted our child to come home at under 2 years old, and the clincher was that we wanted him to be about 18 months younger than our youngest child at the time. This meant that we would need to complete an adoption in about a year. How in the world could this happen when adoption time-lines are increasing in so many programs?
Answer: Holt’s China Child of Promise program. After talking to Holt’s China staff, we became very excited about the potential addition to our family of a child with a minor to moderate need. When a staff member asked me if we were open to either gender, my heart sank….”No, we are only open to a son,” I replied. The excitement and joy in his voice reassured me immediately as he exclaimed, “Really? You want a son? This is great! We have so many boys that need families! Your referral will come very quickly!” Continue reading “We Hoped for a Son”
A Letter from Susie Doig, MSW, Holt Director of Administration & Social Work Systems
We are so pleased to report that our last seven children from Holt Fontana Village (who were matched with families prior to the earthquake) arrived very early this morning into Miami. Holt Director of Social Services for Haiti, Mike Noah, and Africa Director of Programs, Bruce Dahl, are meeting with the children’s adoptive families at “His House”, the child residential care center processing the children and releasing them into their parent’s custody. By the end of today, these kids will be with their adoptive families.
Join us in giving thanks for the 21 children from Holt Fontana who have been united with their families!
14 children from Holt Fontana Village in Haiti travel to the United States to be united with their permanent families
Happiness and tears washed over the faces of the caretakers and staff at Holt Fontana Village in Haiti on Tuesday, February 2nd, as they all gathered around to say goodbye to 14 children departing to Miami to unite with their permanent families.
“There were lots of tears,” said Holt Vice President of Adoption Services, Lisa Vertulfo, who accompanied the first group of children to Miami. “The caretakers sang a hymn and then the staff broke into “How Great Thou Art” in Creole.”
The children, already matched with adoptive families prior to the devastating earthquake in January, had their adoptions expedited. Seven more children from the Village will hopefully arrive sometime next week.
Three members of Holt staff have been in Haiti for a week assisting the caretakers at the Village and helping to get the children home to their families in the United States. Lisa Vertulfo and Director of Social Services for Haiti, Mike Noah, accompanied the children traveling to the United States.
Holt Director of Services for Haiti, Bruce Dahl, will be staying at Holt Fontana Village to assist Holt Haiti Director, Mansour Masse, with future plans to help more children and families in need.
“I always miss the children when they leave, said Mansour. “But I always look forward to the day when the kids finally go home to be with their families.”
Holt will keep you updated as the rest of the children are united with their families, and how we are continually working to help the children and families of Haiti.
A Holt adoptive mom shares her thoughts on the Haiti earthquake and the children affected by the devastating tragedy
A blog entry from Bethany Hutchison
I haven’t posted anything on my blog yet regarding the earthquake in Haiti, because honestly the tragedy has almost felt too overwhelming for me to put into words. Where do you even start? Well, definitely with prayer. Continued prayer for Haiti will be especially important as the media coverage begins to dwindle, and we are no longer confronted with horrifying images on our televisions every day.
My heart is burdened in particular for children who were orphaned prior to the earthquake, and children now who have not yet been able to find their family members. Will you join me in continuing to lift up these children, and all of the Haitian people, in prayer throughout the coming days, weeks, months, and year?
Holt International, our adoption agency, has received an enormous amount of phone calls since the earthquake, from people who are interested in adopting orphans from Haiti. I think it’s often a misunderstanding how complex international adoption truly is. On one hand, it is WONDERFUL that people are opening their hearts to the idea of adoption. On another hand, I think that tragedy sometimes spurs very emotional responses in people… and that is definitely not a reason to rush into anything. After all, international adoption is not an act of charity…it is an act of lifelong parenting. Quite a difference.
There are many children, as you know, who were already in the process of being adopted prior to the earthquake, and it’s wonderful that many of those have been granted expedited entry into the U.S. to unite with their adoptive families. I know of some families who are still waiting or trying to find their adoptive children in Haiti, and we continue to pray for those families.
For the children who “appear” to be orphaned since the earthquake, it is of utmost importance that due diligence is done to ensure that every effort is made first and foremost to unite those children with living family members. This crisis has the potential to create a highway for child trafficking… and agencies must be vigilant in the actions they take to work on behalf of children during this unstable time.
Holt International is one of many agencies who work on behalf of children and families in Haiti, and they issued the following statement on their website after the large influx of calls they have received about adopting from Haiti: Continue reading “Prayers for Haiti”