I’ve Just Seen A Face — Danielle, This Week’s Waiting Child

by Robin Munro, Senior Writer

Born in Africa, DOB: January 15, 2003

I saw her face, and I just knew.  That’s my child.

This is a story told time and again by adoptive families.  They see a face, just a face, and they know.  This is a special child.  This is my child.

In an article for Holt’s winter 2011 magazine, adoptive father Sean Yarger explains how he and his wife knew that the girl then identified as G09-211, now Gemma, was their daughter. “(My wife) had found a face – just a face on the photolisting that she knew she’d be united with at some point in the future,” writes Yarger.  “That’s how strong and immediate the connection can be.”

Recently, while browsing through the photos of children still waiting for families, I too came upon a face – just a face, radiant and joyful – and I knew, this is one special girl.

Eight-year-old Danielle’s child reports read like those of a girl with a different background – a girl treasured by a loving family, showered with affection, supported in all her endeavors.  She is “outgoing and loves people,” shows affection with ease, and is considered “a very social, friendly and receptive child.” She attends the top class at her care center, communicates well in both English and Lungara – her native language – and is always available to help other children with their homework.  She “writes really well at school and her teachers are proud of her.”  Every report is glowing.  Every one reinforcing the last.

But Danielle has no champion at home.  No father to beam with pride when she succeeds.  No mother to comfort her when she fails.   No family to guide her way.

Danielle is her own hero.

And “home” to Danielle is an orphanage – the only home she’s known from the time a probation officer brought her in at 3-months-old, dressed in rags, found abandoned at a local bar.  When she arrived, she had skin rashes all over her body and cried from the pain of scratching them. With treatment, she recovered well.  Five months later, she was admitted to the hospital with severe malaria.

Given time to heal, and nurturing care from attentive caregivers, Danielle began to blossom.  Her report at 14 months states that  “she looks well and is growing steadily.”  Years pass without incident, with steady growth.  Her asthma occasionally acts up.  But mostly, she’s focused on the business of growing  — “growing strong and beautiful,” as her report describes Danielle at age 7.

Danielle, now 8, is already strong and beautiful.  You can see it in her captivating brown eyes and big, confident smile.  This is the face of a girl who loves, and knows she deserves to be loved.  A girl whose favorite activity is skipping.  Who likes to read books, tell stories and sing.  Who loves to draw, color and paint.  A girl who is “always seeking how to get involved and seeks responsibility.”  A hard-working girl, helpful and neat, whose “bed is the most organized at the center.”

A girl with a face – just a face on the photolisting, waiting for a family.

Help Danielle, the Waiting Child of the Week, go viral! Forward this to friends and family. Share every week at church or a community group. And repost to your own blog, Facebook page and company site. With the simple press of a button, you can change Danielle’s life forever!

Contact Holt’s Waiting Child program for more information about Danielle.

Don’t Let the Day Go By

Please Help find Grace a Family

By Ashli Keyser, managing editor

I remember, 2 years ago, a group of six Holt employees sitting around a table when the name “Journey of Hope” entered the conversation. As we discussed this new and promising program — made up of older, mostly healthy children from a southern province in China — twenty-five individual child folders, packed with photos, medical history and biographies were passed around the table.

When a folder made its way around to John Aeby, Holt’s late director of communications, he set it on the table and opened it slowly. Staring back at him, with a shy, unsure smile, was 7-year-old Grace. What a beautiful child,” John said softly. “What a joy it will be to help find her a family,” he continued, with a quiet sigh that seemed to express a sense of responsibility for Grace, and for all the Journey of Hope children.

Months before John’s sudden and unexpected passing in September of 2009, he would spend hours preparing for the launch of the Journey of Hope program, pouring his heart into every word he wrote, and every video he edited. As he worked diligently for all the Journey of Hope children, he would continue to keep a special place in his heart for Grace. “I wish we could find her a family,” he would often tell me.

From the moment he stepped into the office every day, John’s purpose was clear: Help find families for children, and pray for them continually.

“Oh, how he loved the children,” his wife Clarice told me recently. “He seemed somehow to feel God’s pain at their loss and felt privileged to have a small part in helping to relieve it.” John would often tape children’s photos above his computer, “to remember why I am here,” he would say. He even handed out photos of children in care to Holt staff. “Make it your responsibility to pray for this child today,” John would tell them. “Don’t let the day go by without praying for this child.”

Two weeks ago, I clicked on Holt’s Journey of Hope photolisting and slowly scanned through the page. Amazed and grateful to see how many Journey of Hope children had been blessed with families since 2009, I also felt sadness to see Grace still on the photolisting, two years later. I quickly remembered John’s words, his wish for this little girl to have a family. I wondered why no one had brought this beautiful child into their home.

Reading Grace’s description, it’s hard to fathom.

Grace’s foster family describes her as clever, shy and kind – the girl with the loving heart, who walks around her foster home singing. Grace’s favorite activities include helping out with the younger children, sliding at the park and playing with dolls. She regularly attends school, although is said to be somewhat delayed in fine motor skills.

Loved by the adults in her life, Grace often shies away from strangers and needs a family able to help her through grief and loss. With a few small neoplasms on her ear, Grace also needs a family who can provide her with the medical care she may need.

I would love to find Grace a family for John. But more importantly, I want Grace to know the love of a permanent family. For her to walk around singing in a home of her own — singing to a family of her own.

“Don’t let the day go by,” John would say. I encourage you to remember John’s words, and remember Grace throughout the day. Don’t let the day go by without praying for her. Don’t let the day go by without reposting her story to your Facebook page, blogs and other social networking sites.

Together, we can find Grace a family, and make her one less child on that Journey of Hope photolisting. John spent so much time helping children find families, the least I can do — the least we can do — right now, is help this one child find a family of her own. For John….but most importantly, for Grace.

For more information about Grace, contact Erin Mower at erinm@holtinternational.org

Waiting Child of the Week: Julie

Julie, a child in China’s Journey of Hope program, needs a family of her own

Date of Birth: 11/15/98

by Robin Munro, Senior Writer

This summer, several of us at Holt traveled to China to meet children in the Journey of Hope – a program to propel adoption of older children, or children with special needs in southern China. Upon arrival, I joined Holt China staff and local caregivers for a traditional dinner in the province of Jiangsu. Across the table from us sat three children who, along with their caregivers, had journeyed a considerable distance to meet us. Two little boys in matching red shirts sat side by side, charming the visitors.

And then there was *Julie.

Though shyly looking away, her eyes held a glow as bright and genuine as her smile. She giggled and chatted with her favorite caregiver – a young woman who also taught in the orphanage school. Clearly very attached to her caregiver, she also recognized Sue Liu, the sweet-faced manager of the Holt office in Beijing. Once more at ease in the company of strangers, Julie got up from the table to give Sue a big hug, and squeeze into her chair – this tall, slender, 11-year-old girl with a Mickey Mouse button on her yellow Crocs shoes. Awkwardly smooshed together, they sat like sisters – playful and laughing.

Julie’s assessment states that she often shows great kindness and easily builds attachments. That night in Jiangsu, Julie brought that description to vibrant, glowing life. She bounded down the hallways to greet orphanage directors and Holt staff, her long skinny legs sticking out of shorts – an outfit in which she seemed more comfortable than the frilly frock she wore for the official Journey of Hope camp the following day. And her hugs – warm and engrossing – landed spontaneous and often on their recipients.

Julie entered care as an infant and has lived in the orphanage ever since. Because of a medical condition that made it difficult to control her bodily functions, she entered school later than other children. But after receiving a surgery in 2005 that corrected her condition, Julie became more confident and outgoing in school. When we met her this summer, she was in the third grade. In November, she turned 12. Continue reading “Waiting Child of the Week: Julie”

Waiting Child of the Week: Let’s Find Min-kee a Family this Thanksgiving

Since Holt’s beginning, 55 years ago, many children with special needs at the Ilsan Center in Korea have gone home to wonderful permanent families.  Today, we ask for your help on behalf of one resident, Min-kee,  a spirited and sweet 6-year-old waiting for a family of his own.

Min-kee came into the care of Ilsan at 16 months of age.  Upon arrival, he had a large ASD of the heart, but has since had this surgically closed.  His current, suspected diagnosis is Noonan syndrome.  Min-kee can feed and dress himself, uses the bathroom with little help and receives speech, art and music therapy.  “Min-kee is so charming and has come so far,” says Molly Holt, Holt Korea director. “The housemothers and the residents here just love him.”

Access to medical treatment and the loving encouragement of a permanent family will make a huge difference in Min-kee’s life.  This Thanksgiving,  post his story on your Facebook, blog and other social networking sites.  Min-kee needs a special family.  He has waited for six years and we know there is one out there, waiting just for him.  Help us bring them together!

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The Following is a letter from Melinda Dionne.  Melinda volunteered at Ilsan for 4 months alongside Molly Holt.  She describes Min-kee as “the cutest little guy ever!”….

by Melinda Dionne

During my time at Ilsan Town, I had the privilege of living among the residents for four months. And one of those residents was 6-year-old Min-Kee.

Min-Kee is a bright little boy that is both charming and independent. There are several little boys around the age of six who live at Ilsan, and they all play and live together. Min-Kee is a very social little boy, and often will take the lead among his peers.

Min-Kee can be shy at first with adults, but once he opens up to you he is engaging. He didn’t care that I didn’t speak Korean, regardless he would ask me questions; and I would do my best to answer them. He’s an inquisitive and spirited little boy. Continue reading “Waiting Child of the Week: Let’s Find Min-kee a Family this Thanksgiving”

Who do you see?

Holt Senior Writer Robin Munro is traveling with Waiting Child Manager Jessica Palmer to learn more about a new group of children in Holt’s Journey of Hope program.

Robin Munro, Senior Writer—Today, we visited a beautiful orphanage in Northern China – a place full of color and life.  Each room opened onto another group of faces – curious, apprehensive, wide-eyed faces.  Most of these children have special needs, conditions beyond which most birth families have the capacity to provide medical care – conditions like cleft lip and palate, CP, Down’s Syndrome, Spina bifida, feet and hand deformities, as well as a few cases of pneumonia.

In the first room we enter, metal barred cribs line the wall.  In each, a child sits or lays, staring at the ceiling, the wall, or nothing in particular – into middle space.   These children have some of the most severe conditions.  Most don’t seem to notice our presence in the room – don’t jump up, or cry, or reach out to us.  I walk over to one boy, who lifts his head when I touch his back.  His head is swollen from Hydrocephalus, a condition in which water gets onto the brain.  In some cases, this condition is minor and won’t interfere with the child’s life.  But this boy’s condition is serious, says Sue Liu, the Beijing office manager.  As I rub his back, he begins to smile.  When I stop, he stares at me blankly.  I gently touch him again, and his smile returns.   Continue reading “Who do you see?”