Phil Littleton, president and CEO of Holt International, shares about the merger of Holt International and World Association for Parents and Children (WACAP).
Today, we are making an exciting announcement that will better position Holt International to do the mission-critical, child welfare work at the heart of our organization. Holt will merge with World Association for Parents and Children (WACAP) — a highly respected international adoption and child welfare agency — under the name Holt International Children’s Services on April 1, 2019.
Holt International first pioneered international adoption in 1956 and today remains the global leader in adoption. Founded in 1976, WACAP has united thousands of children with families in the U.S., and has also developed strong foster care and foster care adoption programs in the state of Washington. But while both Holt and WACAP have remained leaders in international adoption, the recent downward trend in adoption has called for a different strategy—one that creates a united front and a merging of efforts to ensure every child has a loving and secure home.
Across the world, Holt strives to ensure a stable, loving home for ALL children — not just those in need of adoption. We believe that every child should remain in the loving care of their birth family, whenever possible. If a child cannot remain with their immediate or extended family, we seek a loving adoptive family through domestic adoption — giving that child the opportunity to grow up in the country and culture of their birth. In that regard, we serve hundreds of thousands more children every year through efforts that strengthen and preserve birth families, and find permanent homes for children in their birth countries, than we do through international adoption.
But international adoption continues to be one of the core tenets of our mission.
For children who cannot remain with their birth families or join an adoptive family domestically, international adoption has proven a positive and fulfilling way to ensure children grow up in permanent, supportive families. Over nearly 63 years, we have watched as the children we helped unite with families have grown to be successful, thriving adults, which is a testament to the power of a loving family to change a child’s life forever. While international adoption has continued to decline — falling by almost 80 percent over the last decade — the need has not. Children continue to need loving, permanent families through adoption, and families’ desire to meet that need remains as strong as ever.
By merging with WACAP, we have an unparalleled opportunity to combine our resources and knowledge to help more orphaned and vulnerable children both in the U.S. and in countries around the world. In recent years, many agencies specializing in international adoption have closed and others have struggled. Longevity and sustainability have been especially difficult for some agencies whose primary source of revenue is adoption. But through robust philanthropic efforts, Holt has grown the mission-critical funding we need to continue our increasingly difficult work in international adoption. At the same time, WACAP’s expertise — particularly in finding loving, trauma-informed families for children in the U.S. foster care system — will be an incredible asset and strengthen our efforts to help children here in the U.S.
International adoption will always be a cornerstone of our organization, and it is close to me personally. My wife, Julene, and I, were fortunate to discover the joy of parenthood when we adopted our three children. Since then, as an adoptive parent, a child sponsor and as president and CEO of Holt International, I’ve gained deep insight into the child welfare ecosystem and the needs that exist — both internationally, and here in the U.S. While the majority of Holt’s efforts over our nearly 63-year history have taken place internationally, Holt has in recent years bolstered our efforts in the U.S. With this strategic merger, WACAP brings a very well-developed strategy to address the foster care crisis in the state of Washington, and we look forward to building upon WACAP’s work to help even more children in foster care find the love and stability they deserve.
This is a new era, and one with exceptional potential. We are confident that through this merger, we can do great work and make significant strides to help find permanent, loving homes for the millions of children growing up without families. It is my dream that every child finds a safe and loving home, and that more parents discover the happiness my wife and I felt when we adopted our children and made our family whole.
Phil Littleton | Holt President & CEO