On this blog, we share stories and updates about our work around the world. With reporting from Holt staff in the U.S. and overseas as well as contributions from adoptive parents, adoptees, sponsors and supporters, we strive to represent the heart, life and experiences of our extended “Holt Family.”
Two years ago, 4-year-old Jovelyn*, fondly called “Tintin” by her family, was hospitalized and diagnosed with a weak immune system. Her mother, Ala, helped her daughter recover, and Ala’s parents supported their granddaughter as best they could, helping with Jovelyn’s medical treatment and weekly therapy expenses.
Currently, Jovelyn is enrolled in Junior Nursery at Kaisahang Buhay Foundation Day Care Center. Despite her weak immune system, Jovelyn is able to attend school. She loves her classmates and is said to always be happy. She likes coloring and scribbling, and can identify primary and secondary colors.
Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF), Holt’s partner agency in the Philippines since 1976, began day care services in 1987 to assist low-income families with food, medicine and immunizations, and appropriate learning activities for children aged 3-5 years. Currently, there are six daycare centers in the metro Manila area, serving 300 preschool children. Families provide a small donation and pay for a uniform. KBF has also been particularly successful in engaging parents as volunteers. Jovelyn’s mother helps to clean the daycare center, and the parents take turns cooking and serving the children food.
Alleviating the burden of child care helps families to be able to seek out employment opportunities, making them more self-sufficient and stable. Daycare programming has also had a significant impact on helping struggling families stay together, while providing children with a head start in education and learning. The program serves 580 vulnerable children a year.
While at school, Jovelyn learns values that increase her self-esteem. She is able to communicate and socialize with her classmates, and loves to share her ideas and experiences. To help maintain her weight, KBF provides supplemental feeding.
Jovelyn’s mother says she is eager to go to school every day and looks forward to eating with her classmates, who are very caring and always make her smile.
The family extends their gratefulness to KBF for the daycare services.
* name changed
Sixty years ago, a landmark moment occurred in the history of adoption.
On this day in 1955, Oregon Senator Richard Neuberger presented a bill to Congress entitled “A Bill for Relief of Certain War Orphans.” Once passed, this bill would be forever known as the “Holt Bill” — the special legislation that allowed Harry and Bertha Holt to adopt eight children from Korea and bring them to the U.S. as naturalized citizens.
With the passage of the Holt Bill, two farmers from rural Oregon revolutionized the definition of “family.” At a time when adoption was regarded as something to be kept secret, they adopted children who were obviously not children born to them.
They showed that a family’s love can transcend the barriers of race and nationality — inspiring thousands more to welcome orphaned and abandoned children into their hearts and homes through international adoption.
Today, as we reflect on this special moment in history, we also look to the present-day needs of children growing up without the love and support of a family. Most of the children now joining families through international adoption have some form of special medical or developmental need. Bertha Holt had a heart for children with special needs, and it would have overjoyed her to know how many families are now embracing these children — children once considered “unadoptable” — and giving them the love and care they need to thrive.
In honor of Bertha and in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Holt Bill, would you consider giving a gift to Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund — a fund designed to help families adopt a child with a special need? Together with you, we can ensure that finances never stand between a loving family, and a child who needs one.
Holt’s Orphan Nutrition Program team travels to India, where the program’s impact on the health and wellbeing of children — as well as the reach and ripple effects of the trainings — continue to grow.
Chahel* would not have survived. Born premature with a serious heart condition, he came into care shortly after birth at a rural branch site of our legacy partner, Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK), outside the central India city of Pune. Transferred to Pune for better care, Chahel needed constant hemoglobin testing and regular blood transfusions. Fortunately, Holt had recently equipped the staff at BSSK with a Hemocue machine and training to measure hemoglobin for iron-deficiency anemia. Chahel received the medical interventions he needed and today, he is able to stand with support and recently took his first few steps. BSSK is now seeking a loving family for him.
Sabal* and Ibha* were frail and seriously underweight when they came into care. At 15 months, Sabal weighed just 18 pounds, while Ibha at nearly 2 months weighed under 5 pounds. This brother and sister were always tired and struggled to adjust to life in care at BSSK. Well fed at BSSK and fully treated for their health conditions — Ibha was living with HIV, and Sabal wore an eye patch over his infected left eye — their continued failure to thrive puzzled the caregivers and staff. When staff from Holt and our partner SPOON Foundation visited BSSK in February 2015, they helped to correct nutritional deficiencies in Ibha and Sabal. With adjustments to their diet, today they are full of joy and life and the staff feel confident they can find a loving adoptive family for them.
Sabal, Ibha and Chahel are just a few of the children who are benefiting from Holt’s orphan nutrition initiative since we began implementing it in partnership with SPOON Foundation a little over two years ago. In this short time, the Orphan Nutrition Program (ONP)** has had a tremendous impact on the health and lives of hundreds of children at pilot program sites in India, China and Vietnam. With plans to expand to more countries in the coming years, the ONP will ultimately impact thousands — thousands of children whose low energy and poor health were previously a mystery to their caregivers. Children whose nutritional deficiencies undermined their ability to reach developmental markers, to grow and learn with the same vigor as other children, to thrive in care and one day, a family. Read More
In the countries where Holt works, the families we serve go to great lengths to care for their children. Through their hard work and dedication, they achieve stability and self-reliance. Often, however, this means sacrificing time with their children. Their desire to provide for their family is great, but job opportunities are few. This is particularly common among men, who often travel great distances to find work, leaving their children behind for days, weeks or even months at a time.
At Holt, we believe that a father should never have to choose between sharing a loving bond with his children and providing a stable life for his family.
The greatest gift you can give a father is the knowledge and comfort that comes with knowing his children and family are safe and supported.
On June 21st, in honor of your father, we hope that you will give a one-time special gift that will help a father in Holt’s care provide for his children — and also be there for his children when they need him.
Thank you for your ongoing support of the children in Holt’s care.
On a recent trip to China, Holt’s China regional coordinator visited a group home Holt supports for children living with HIV. Here, she shares some of their stories — which, though heartbreaking, are edged with hope.
We first became aware of HIV group homes in southwestern China because of a video broadcast through a Chinese news outlet. The report told the story of a 6-year-old boy whose parents had passed away, and who lived alone with his dog because his extended family and community were afraid to contract HIV. The news segment showed an overwhelming outpouring of material support after a wider population found out about the little boy’s situation, but the support he received was measured in bags of food and hand-me-down clothing left outside his door, not care and affection. His life changed dramatically when he finally moved to an HIV group home.