The Adjectives of Adoption

a family adopts their precious daughter, Gauri, from India

by Kali VanBaale

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”

Sisters Together Again

The following are thoughts from Holt adoptive mother, Rebecca Moore, whose daughter, Nephtalie, was one of the 21 children who came home to the United States from Holt Fontana Village.

by Rebecca Moore

“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

Holt Adoptee Camp

A week of self-discovery, friendship and fun

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 Hoped for a Son

China Child of Promise

By Elizabeth H.

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”

Seven Children Arrive in Miami

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!

Sincerely,

Susie Doig, MSW

See below to read more about the 14 children who were united with their parents last week

Click here to help children and families in Haiti

The Children are Home

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.

Read a news article about the Polzin family waiting to be united with their daughter.

Read a news article about Alicia Swaringen’s emotional reunion with her son.

Help the children and families in Haiti.

Prayers for 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”

Update on Haiti

Holt Director of Social Services for Haiti, Mike Noah, Vice President of Adoption Services, Lisa Vertulfo and Director of Programs for Africa, Bruce Dahl, arrive in Haiti

Members of Holt staff arrived in Port-au-Prince Wednesday morning (January 27th), and traveled directly to Holt Fontana Village to provide assistance and support to Holt’s dedicated and caring Haiti staff.

“Over the next few weeks, Bruce Dahl (Africa Program Director) and Holt Haiti Director, Mansour Masse, will be assessing and determining what role and task Holt will have next in helping the children and families in Haiti,” said Holt Senior Vice President, Phil Littleton.

Holt is currently waiting for the Haiti Prime Minister to sign off on the visa paperwork that will allow the majority of children at the Village, matched with families prior to the earthquake, to travel to the United States and be united with their adoptive families.  From there, Holt hopes to be able to provide care to more children who lost their families in the earthquake.

Click here for more updates on Haiti

Click here to read a story from the Journal Sentinel about a Holt adoptive family who hopes to have their daughter home with them soon.

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”