Giving Girls a Chance to Shine

Adoptive mom Kari Grossman and her daughter, Shanti, recently traveled on Holt’s inaugural heritage tour of India. Here, Kari shares about their visit with schoolgirls in the educational sponsorship program that they help to support through one of Holt’s long-time partners in India, Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT). This story originally appeared on Kari’s blog, “Be the Change Network.”

In preparation for this trip, Shanti had been talking about how to help other kids in India. We looked at different programs for the underprivileged and settled on the idea of supporting education, especially for girls. In many poor Indian families, girls’ education is still discriminated against.  As it happens, the orphanage that cared for Shanti in her first two years, Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT), now has an educational sponsorship program that helps girls from low-income families who are vulnerable to dropping out to stay in school through high school graduation.

Shanti (left) with one of the schoolgirls she met on the India Heritage Tour. Educational sponsorship through VCT empowers girls who might otherwise drop out to finish high school.

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Seamus Needs A Family!

Little Seamus is smiley and silly, and he is waiting for his permanent, loving family. Could you be the right family for Seamus, or could you know someone who is? Please help share his story with your family and friends on social media. Together, we can find Seamus a home!

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A Message from the President: Celebrating VCT's 25th Anniversary

Holt President & CEO Phil Littleton visits the children we serve in India while participating in the 25th anniversary celebration of our long-time partner Vathsalya Charitable Trust.

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So Every Child Can Grow and Thrive

In one southern province of Vietnam, an alarming number of children are born with special needs — especially cerebral palsy. To help address the growing need for services, Holt is working alongside one local orphanage to provide daycare and vocational training for children with medical and developmental needs who are living with their families.

With the vocational skills she’s learning in orphanage care, Lan may one day be able to live an independent life.

Lan* rests her foot on the peddle and pauses a moment before pulling the next piece of thread through the loom. This task requires concentration and dexterity. But she has repeated these same steps enough times now to feel confident in her skills. It’s unusual that the orphanage has a few visitors on this overcast Saturday morning, and they observe her now as she carefully demonstrates how to make the colorful woven bags that they admired earlier in the glass case at the front office.

Lan learned to loom as part of a vocational training program for older children with special needs at the Binh Duong orphanage in southern Vietnam. This orphanage is also her home, and will be until she turns 18. Lan and her classmates keep all the profits from the bags they weave, which they sell to customers in the community. Weaving is a fun activity that provides Lan with a little spending money — especially during Christmas and other holidays, when local companies order in bulk. But more than that, the vocational skills Lan is learning can help her to support herself and possibly go on to live a fully independent life when she leaves the orphanage.

The vocational training program teaches the children how to weave these colorful bags, which local companies order in bulk during holidays.

The Binh Duong Child Welfare Center has provided vocational training for many years — often with support from Holt. In the late 1990s, Holt worked with Microsoft to donate computers and provide skills training to youth living in the orphanage. As a result, over 500 children went on to get jobs that required computer skills. The textile training program began about ten years ago. Programs and services like these are vital to helping young people succeed when they leave institutional care, and they are helping to address a growing need in the community. In recent years, this region has seen an alarming increase in the number of children with special needs, especially cerebral palsy. As a result, the orphanage has also seen a large influx. By 2013, a quarter of all children in care had some kind of special need.

Although the cause of this increase is unknown, the orphanage director points to one explanation during our visit.

This little girl came into care severely malnourished. With more outreach to pregnant mothers in crisis, the director believes that fewer children will be born premature, malnourished or with special needs.

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Fired Up for Holt Adoptee Camp

At Holt Adoptee Camp in Oregon on July 16, 2014, day campers participate in arts and crafts. Day Camp is a program for adoptees who are too young to attend overnight camp. This single-day program of workshops, activities and games for adoptees and their parents helps foster new skills to talk about adoption, while having a fun and exciting time alongside the older adoptee campers.

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Help Care for Children Through the Molly Holt Fund for Children with Special Needs

 A message from Holt’s president and CEO about children with special needs

Continue reading Help Care for Children Through the Molly Holt Fund for Children with Special Needs

What Can I Send My Sponsored Child?

The question our sponsorship staff encounters most frequently is, “Can I write my sponsored child?” followed swiftly by, “What can I send my sponsored child?”

We think both these questions are fantastic! They show that you take your sponsorship seriously — often sending positive thoughts or prayers to your sponsored child, and wondering how he or she is doing. Your desire to connect with your sponsored child and bless him or her with additional gifts is one that warms our hearts … and your sponsored child’s, too!

Generally, the answer is yes, you can write your sponsored child, and yes, you can send extra small gifts. But, there are a few stipulations, mostly designed to ensure your sponsored child and his or her family remain safe and successful in our programs.

Here, we’ve created a “10 do’s and don’ts” list regarding correspondence with your sponsored child.

1. Do send cards, letters and words of encouragement.

What you can send your child varies slightly from country to country, but generally, if your sponsored child lives in China, Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Haiti, Mongolia or India, you can send hand-written cards or letters to your sponsored child.

Unfortunately, sponsors of children living in Ethiopia and Uganda are not able to send personal letters at this time. In these countries in particular, fairness and equal distribution of resources is critical to maintaining the positive relationships the staff have formed with families. If one child receives a letter while another does not, it could cause feelings of jealousy within the community. In order to avoid favoritism and encourage healthy working and learning environments, program staff request that no letters come to children or families in these programs at this time. However, there are some ways you can still give to your child. See #7 below!

2. Do tell your sponsored child about yourself and your family!

We encourage you to write about your family, activities you enjoy together and what life is like where you live. Sponsored children like to hear about your town, if you attend school, what you do for work, if you have pets, and other details that help them get to know you. Continue reading Can Holt Sponsors Send Letters

Introducing Holt TV!

Introducing Holt TV, a new video series designed to share inspiring stories and updates about our work serving children and families. Check out our first episode, in which we catch up with Molly Holt in Ilsan, South Korea!

 

Our Korea Adoption Program Is Now In Four More States!

We are excited to announce that Holt International’s Korea adoption program has expanded, and we are now able to work with families in four additional states — Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York and Ohio.

This opportunity could not have come at a more crucial time, as right now we have many referrals for children — and not enough families to adopt them.

We need families for children typically about 2 years old at the time of placement, mostly boys. Most of the children who need homes have some special needs, but many have medical conditions that are minor, correctable or self correcting — such as low birth weight, minor heart murmur or minor developmental delays often associated with being orphaned or abandoned.

Due to our high number of referrals and short wait list, families who have completed their homestudy will likely have a short wait to be matched with a child.

For nearly 60 years, the Korea program has remained one of Holt’s strongest and most reliable adoption programs. Families receive detailed medical information about their child and monthly updates from well baby checks. To ensure children receive the highest level of care, most stay with specially trained foster families while they wait to join their permanent, loving families — helping them reach critical developmental milestones, including healthy bonding.

Up until now, Holt could only place a very limited number of children in families in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and we could not facilitate any adoption placements in Pennsylvania or New York. Due to our new expanded licensing — as well as our recent merger with Sunny Ridge Family Center in Illinois — we now have the opportunity to find permanent, loving families for children in all areas of these states!

Beginning in July 2014, families adopting from Korea are required to work with homestudy agencies that are Hague accredited. Couples between the ages of 25-44 who have been married for at least three years — with up to four children in the home — are eligible to adopt through our Korea program. Please see our country criteria for complete requirements.

Unfortunately, our Korea program is not able to work with families in Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin or Washington. If you are interested in adopting from Korea and you live in one of these states, we may be able to point you to an agency that you can work with.

If you are interested in adopting a child from a different country, we can help find a Holt country program that is right for you!

We are excited to hear from you, and we are so happy we can welcome new parents into the Holt International family! For more information about our adoption program in Korea, visit our website or contact Kathie Stocker at kathies@holtinternational.org or by phone at (503) 597-2540. We also encourage you to reach out to the Holt branch office in your state.

The Proof is in the Picture

Every day, more than 7,000 children we serve around the world receive life-saving nutritious food, medical care and access to education. Their families are growing stronger and more stable with the help of vocational training, free daycare programs, medical care and counseling — even forming community groups for support and networking, and their children are learning about sanitation and nutrition.

These are Holt’s sponsored children — children who, through the generous monthly gift of Holt supporters, are thriving and learning and finding hope for the future.

One of those children is Dawit — a young boy living with his family in rural Ethiopia. He has been in Holt’s sponsorship program for a little over two years, and in that time his life and the lives of his family have changed dramatically. You can see the change in his photos, the ones a Holt social worker snaps of him every six months. You can see his face change from sunken and sad to bright and smiley.

Two years ago, Dawit’s family was very poor and did not have enough land to generate income or grow crops to feed their family. They lacked basic sanitation and enough food too eat. Dawit suffered from malnutrition, but his parents could not afford to take him to a hospital.

Then, Holt helped Dawit’s family receive a cow, which provided nourishing milk every day — with extra to sell for income. When the cow had calves, Dawit’s family could sell them and add the earnings to a savings account. Soon after, Dawit developed pneumonia, and thanks to the support of Holt, he was able to see a doctor and receive the antibiotics he needed to grow healthy. Slowly, he grew stronger and taller, and he added weight.

Now, Dawit has close, loving relationships with his mother and father, and he is especially fond of his eldest brother. He likes playing soccer and marbles and he has many friends. Dawit is in school, and in the winter his parents paid for his school fees with the income from a calf. Each day, the whole family is stronger and more stable. Dawit is on track developmentally, and he is not malnourished. He is cheerful, friendly and respectful.

We celebrate victories like Dawit’s and his family’s, but we also know there are many children who need the same support that Dawit receives.

We encourage you to sponsor a child today. It is truly life changing — and the proof is in the pictures!