For any orphaned or abandoned child, the love and nurturing care of a family can never come soon enough. But for children with special needs, their health — even their life — may depend on it.
For over two decades, Holt has helped children come home to the families and care they need through the Special Needs Adoption Fund (SNAF). Since 1994, over 600 families have received the critical support they need to adopt a child with special needs. Some of these children came home at older ages. Some children had medical health issues that required urgent surgery or physical therapy, like Levi — featured in the story below. Other children waited longer for families because they have siblings, and needed a family who could adopt all of them.
In 2017, we anticipate far more children with special needs will wait to join families through international adoption. But with support from the Special Needs Adoption Fund — a fund sustained by the generosity of compassionate people like you — more and more families will be able to bring children home to the love, support and urgent care they need.
Before Melissa Combs traveled to bring her son Levi home, endless questions of concern raced through her mind: "Does he have other developmental delays? Is that just because of his condition? What if he's completely blind? What if he loses the rest of his sight before we get there?"
When Melissa learned that Levi had congenital glaucoma, a progressive condition in which fluid buildup in the eye causes permanent vision impairment, she knew that each passing day and week that he was still in orphanage care in China posed a greater threat to his eyesight.
In July 2016, when Melissa and her oldest daughter, Alicia, traveled to China to bring Levi home, these feelings of concern remained.
"When we first met him, he was super quiet and withdrawn within himself," Melissa says. "He wasn't responding at all. He would only look at one thing on the table."
THANK YOU to everyone whose generous donations to the Special Needs Adoption Fund made it possible for us to meet the costs necessary for us to bring our son, Eric, home. We are so grateful that he is here with us now and...
I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing me with a SNAF grant to bring my daughter home! My story is a little different. I am single and infertile. Adoption was the only chance I had at becoming a mother...
Max had to overcome many obstacles in his short life. Shortly after accepting his referral, we learned that he was significantly malnourished. We also learned that he had suspected cerebral palsy and profound bilateral hearing loss. He's such a little fighter, though...
Six months have passed since our 4-year-old Luci landed in this wonderful country for the first time in the summer of 2015. The American side of her story has been written in part by many people she (or we) will likely nevermeet — people whose gracious and generous care have provided...
We first saw our then 10-year-old son's photo in January 2016 via Facebook, and it was love at first sight. My husband and I always thought we might want to adopt at some point. I was adopted as an infant from El Salvador...
Thank you so much for enabling us to adopt our daughter. As you certainly know, adopting a child from India is a very expensive process and taking care of a 3-year-old child, especially one with Spina bifida, is certainly not a trivial endeavor either. We have felt so blessed as the Special Needs Adoption Fund...
In China, 17 of Holt's 21 programs serve children with special needs — 15 of which are specifically geared for children with physical or developmental disabilities. Two additional programs specifically serve children impacted by HIV.
In Shinshicho, Ethiopia, Holt sponsors and donors support nearly 500 kindergarten-to-high school-age children at the Yesus Mena School for the Deaf — the first school to offer sign-language based education in a region with the highest rate of deafness in the entire country. This school also holds weekend courses for parents, helping them learn to communicate with their children — often for the first time.
In 11 of the 13 countries where Holt has programs, we provide services and support specifically for children with special needs. These programs help to both prevent child abandonment and to care for children who are waiting for a family.
Of the children placed with adoptive families domestically or internationally in 2016, 67 percent had some form of special need.
Some of the most common special needs among children in Holt's programs are cleft lip and palate, congenital heart defects, low birth weight, hearing impairments, hydrocephalus, spina bifida and developmental special needs, such as Down syndrome.
"Two years ago, I met Kannika — a shy 18-month-old girl living with a Holt-supported foster family in Thailand. While I visited with her family, Kannika retrieved a book filled with photos of her adoptive family and started flipping through the pages, pointing out her mom and dad.
"Nearing the end of our visit, as Kannika turned toward the camera for a photograph, she displayed the sweetest smile — a smile I knew I would never forget. Last year, while reviewing photos for our 2014 Holt calendar, one picture caught my eye. It was Kannika. She was with her adoptive family, beaming with that unforgettable smile. I felt immense joy knowing that Kannika, who I had met in Thailand just months prior, was now with her loving family, happy and still smiling that sweet dimpled smile."
— Brian Cambell, Holt International Multimedia Manager