Holt International Responds to the Coronavirus Outbreak and the Consequences to Children and Adoptive Families

A medical provider holds a child in care at our partner orphanage in Wuhan.
A medical provider holds a child in care at our partner orphanage in Wuhan.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, families around the country in process of adopting from China are directly affected by the outbreak. Families who were preparing to travel immediately have had to rearrange schedules, childcare and travel logistics. However, that is nothing compared to the profound emotions caused by the uncertainty and delay.

It is especially hard on children in China who have to wait longer to come home to their families, and on families who have to explain to young siblings that they do not know when the sister or brother they were expecting will be able to come home.

As the delays continue, Holt International is in regular communication with the families in their China program. In the agency’s 64-year history, they have dealt with the consequences of numerous disasters and crises that immediately and directly affected their adoption and child welfare programs.

“Whatever happens in the countries where we work has implications on our services to children and families,” says Phillip Littleton, Holt president and CEO. “One of the distinctions of Holt’s overseas programs is our commitment to local staff and resources. Because we have offices in countries where we work, we have on-the-ground information that is invaluable in providing critical information to assist and support our families.”

Jian Chen, Holt’s vice president of China regional programs, just returned from China and is now in a 14-day quarantine inside her home in Eugene, Oregon. Upon arrival in the U.S., she received an urgent request to help protect the 600 children in care at Holt’s partner orphanage in Wuhan — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

“So far, the government reports that none of the children in care at Wuhan orphanage have contracted the virus,” Jian says. “But these children are among the most vulnerable to this deadly disease. Some are just infants, and many of them are already fragile due to compromised immune systems or ongoing health conditions. If they contract the coronavirus, it could kill them.”

As the coronavirus spreads across China, orphanages throughout the country are doing everything they can to protect the children. But they do not have enough masks, cleaning supplies or basic medical needs like thermometers and plastic gloves.

As one of only two U.S. child welfare agencies who have received approval and registration by the prestigious national registry in China, Holt is working directly with partner orphanage authorities to secure supplies to protect children in care from the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

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