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.”
Forty years ago, on April 5, 1975, Holt evacuated exactly 409 children from Saigon in what has now famously become known as the “Vietnam Babylift.” Holt’s flight – one of several agency-arranged “babylifts” at the end of the war – came two days after President Gerald Ford announced that all Vietnamese children currently identified for adoption to U.S. families would be airlifted out of Vietnam. As it became apparent that Saigon would soon fall to the North, the 409 children in Holt’s care boarded a chartered Pan Am flight to join their adoptive families in the U.S. Between April 2 and April 29, approximately 3,000 children in total were evacuated, joining families in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Canada.
This event was a dramatic moment in Holt’s history and, despite the challenges faced in the aftermath, our commitment to children and families in Vietnam has remained unwavering. Holt was one of the first non-governmental organizations (NGO) to return to Vietnam and re-establish programs in the late 1980s, following the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.
Since then, Holt International has continued to work in Vietnam and provide direct services to children and families. Although international adoption to the U.S. was discontinued in 2002 and again in 2008, Holt International maintained our family preservation and sponsorship programs in Vietnam.
Last year, Holt International was one of two U.S. organizations licensed by the government of Vietnam to begin adoption for children with special needs, children older than 5 years old and children who are part of singling groups — effectively ending a 6-year moratorium on adoption from Vietnam to the U.S. Holt is determined to find families for as many children as possible who qualify for international adoption from Vietnam.
To learn more about children who need families and eligibility requirements to adopt from Vietnam, click here.
In 2000, Holt sponsored a “reunion” of Vietnamese adoptees in Washington D.C. The reunion was attended by more than 200 adoptees from around the country. In November of this year, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the end of the war in Vietnam, Holt will again sponsor a reunion in Washington D.C. Activities will include a photo exhibit of historical documents and photos from Holt’s archives from the 1970s as well as the personal collection of Bertha Holt.
Planning for the second reunion is underway and details of the activities and logistics will be available in the next few weeks.
For information about “Reunion-2,” contact Susan Soonkeum Cox at email@example.com.
To learn more about international adoption from Vietnam and the Vietnam Babylift, click here to read an article Holt published in April 2000 for a special Vietnam Adoptee Reunion. (article written by John Aeby, Holt’s late director of communications)
Through the generous donations of Holt supporters in the U.S., 18 families in Cambodia receive critical roof and home repairs — protecting them from annual monsoon floods.
Hout Rung is a 34-year-old widow with six children. She lives in Cambodia, in a rural mountainous province marked by stunning landscapes and deep poverty. Every year, during monsoon season, the roof of her home leaked constantly. During floods, water would sometimes wash over their entire space — soaking all of their possessions, and leaving not a single dry spot for her children to sleep at night.
From June to October, Cambodia receives nearly 75 percent of its annual rainfall — often in sheets of heavy downpour nearly two out of every three days, with as much as 15-21 inches of rain per month. Monsoons dominate the climate during the rainy months, making even rainy places in the U.S. look relatively dry. To compare, notoriously rainy Seattle, Washington receives an average of 37 inches of rain each year, while southern regions of Cambodia — where Holt serves families — averages 51 inches.
For families like Hout Rung’s who live in the impoverished region where Holt works, the rain is a big worry. During monsoon season, flooding, erosion and heavy wind often cause tremendous damage to homes and streets. And although many homes in Cambodia are built on stilts to avoid the water, sometimes flood levels reach higher than the home’s floors. In time, the wooden stilts that support the home will grow rotten and decayed, and may eventually wash away.Read More
While visiting a Holt-supported day care program in Bangalore, India, Holt staff member Aloura DiGiallonardo celebrates the Indian holiday Holi with the children in care.
Holi is known as the festival of colors, or the festival of love. I certainly felt the love and saw the color during my Holi experience at Vasthayla Charitable Trust (VCT) in Bangalore, India last week. Read More
Seven-year-old Royce has watched many children go home to loving families. Now, one of these families is eager to help Royce find his own family. You can help too! Share his story today on social media and in your community!
Born: July 24, 2007, China
He totally stole my heart.
These are the words Holt adoptive mom Jenn Lawlin shared when asked about Royce — the sweet 7-year-old boy she met while adopting her son, Micah, from the same orphanage in China.
“I haven’t been able to get him off my mind!” she wrote in an email about Royce. “The brief amount of time I spent with him while we were at Micah’s farewell party at the orphanage gave me a peek at his personality… Here is what I can tell you: Royce loves cameras and kept trying to get me to take his photo. Then he wanted to look at the pictures I took. He was beside me even more than my son was!!”
Jenn’s son, Micah, says Royce is “one of his special friends from his China family.” Royce likes to ride bikes and would sometimes sit on the back of Micah’s bike while he rode him around.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you with all of our hearts!”
“Your generosity and kindness was such a gift!”
“Thank you for your gifts and your heart for these kids.”
“You are forever a part of our lives.” Read More