A Challenging Road to Paradise

Brian Campbell joins Secret Keeper Girl speaker Suzy Weibel on a journey to Haiti this week.  While there, the group, which also includes Dove-award winning singer/songwriter Wayne Watson and Holt’s Director of Donor Engagement Kris Thompson, will visit children at Holt Fontana Village as well as families in Holt’s family preservation program.

By Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director

Arcahaie, Haiti— It’s hot and humid as we step off the plane. This is typical for Haiti. Though the heat isn’t overwhelming by recent east coast standards, you could steam rice in the humidity here. Outside the

The road from Port-au-Prince to Montrouis, lined with makeshift homes nearly 2 years after a devastating earthquake.

airport, the masses of people that seem about to crush, give way to polite “excusé” and gracious smiles. A familiar face joins the fray, that of Supreme, Holt’s programs manager in Haiti. Soon the city of Port-au-Prince begins to fade and the miles to Holt Fontana Village slip by, as our SUV negotiates rough and unfinished roads to Montrouis.

Supreme, Holt's programs manager in Haiti, with Rachael, a child in Holt's care.

As Supreme picks and chooses the narrow roads, a red steel gate, along a walled compound appears. With a few toots of the horn, the gate slides to one side – inside, a paradise. Flowering trees and neat paths lay ahead. The humidity makes an attempt to dampen, but it’s blown aside by the sea breeze and the sound of excited little voices teetering from the cottages of Holt Fontana Village. The curious faces begin to pour out, and serious and polite little handshakes are exchanged. Little fingers poke at the camera bits and unusual hair colorings. Smiles meet smiles. Soon laughter ensues, as tickle jumping games take the place of the  planned activities. Just kids being kids. The outside world, filled with difficulty and distress, is replaced with love, happiness and opportunity.


To sponsor a child in Haiti, click here

Urgent: Three Weeks to Find Homes for Four Children

UPDATE: As of October 2012, Addie and Apollo have families!! Another agency is home-finding for Anderson and Austin.

Addie, Anderson, Austin and Apollo Need Families. They Need Your Help

Looking for a worthwhile, meaningful reason to click that “share” button on Facebook this morning? Holt has four worthwhile reasons. Their names are Addie, Anderson, Apollo and Austin.

Holt staff has met this group of beautiful children in China, and we only have 3 weeks to match them with families! These children can be matched with families who have applied to Holt’s China program or completed an adoption from China in the last year.

If you would like more information about any of these children we are currently home finding for, please contact Masha Ma. 541-687-2202 ext 193 or masham@holtinternational.org

 Meet the Children:

 Addie, DOB 11/20/2009

Addie is a happy little girl who has been living with her foster family since 2010. Addie likes visiting neighbors and is said to especially enjoy the hustle and bustle of crowded places. Abandoned in a hospital waiting room, she came into care in April of 2010 and was diagnosed with arthrogryposis, affecting all four of her limbs. Addie is able to sit and scoot, and roll over, and has recently learned to stand against the wall. She can scribble with a pen and has learned the Chinese zodiac. Addie enjoys playing with other children and is friendly with adults she is familiar with. She needs a family who can provide her with medical care and therapy. “Although she has special needs, and the family to adopt her must give her more care,” says a social worker, “Addie is an intelligent, clever little girl who will definitely bring her adoptive family joy!”




Anderson, DOB 12/28/2005

Anderson is an outgoing little boy who loves to talk and smile. He has been in care since February 2009. After coming into care, it was determined that Anderson has hemiplegia, affecting the right side of his body. He is able to walk, but has limited use of his right arm and hand. The CT scan of his brain was normal. Anderson is self-sufficient and can speak clearly in short sentences. Anderson is reported to learn things more slowly than his peers, but it’s noted that he always takes the initiative to ask questions if he doesn’t understand something. He is in need of family who is able to provide him with any medical care or therapies that he may need.



Apollo, DOB 4/11/2008

When asked to describe him in one word, Apollo’s foster family describes him as “great!” Apollo has been in care since January 2009 and is reported to have an especially close relationship with his younger foster brother. He is on target developmentally and has recently started school. His teachers report that he is very clever and has learned to recite some children’s songs and poems. He has been diagnosed with a urogenital abnormality and is genetically male. Apollo is described as having a lively personality, but can be a little shy around strangers. He is in need of a family who is comfortable with his medical condition and who can provide him with any medical care or therapies that he may need.



Austin, DOB 3/26/2004

Austin is a charming little boy who is described as having a sunny smile. He has been in care since December 2004, and has been diagnosed with vision impairment (hyperpresbyopia, bilateral lazy eyes and nystagmus). Austin is noted to be most comfortable in familiar environments in which he is able to get around most easily. He is also able to navigate unfamiliar environments, but walks cautiously. He is attending school and enjoys listening to his teachers tell stories. They describe Austin as an outgoing little boy who is very bright and clever. He is noted to have a very good memory and is often able to remember songs and poems after only hearing them twice. He is also able to count to 100. Austin is in need of a family who is able to provide him with any medical care of therapies that he may need.



To learn more about these medical conditions, please click on the website below:


The Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association <http://www.chasa.org/medical/hemiplegia/>


The Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita Support, Inc. <http://amcsupport.org/>


To read more about an adoptive families experience adopting children with similar special needs, please click on the articles below.


Our Son’s Non-Special Need <http://www.rainbowkids.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=695&title=Our%20Son>


Seeing Past Visual Impairment <http://www.rainbowkids.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=647&title=Seeing%20Past%20Visual%20Impairment&snid=12&snaid=3&sname=Blind%20/%20Sight%20Impaired>







Emily’s Ethiopian Adventure; A Student Blog

In June, 13 Oregon State University (OSU) student-athletes* and two adoptive parents traveled to Ethiopia to build houses for families in Holt’s family preservation program. Upon arrival home last week, OSU softball player Emily Richardson posted her personal blog from the trip. Click here to read Emily’s blog in full.

Here are a few excerpts from her first day in the village:

Emily, looking back as she leaves the village.

Today was our first work day, and also my birthday!!! This is definitely one of the most memorable and unique birthdays I’ve ever had! …

The arrival into the village was NOTHING like I could ever have expected. It was the greatest experience and more than I could have asked for on my birthday. The dirt road into the village took about 10 minutes, and as we would pass the villagers they would run after our vans and the older women did the “call of joy”. It sounds like the call Native Americans make when they put their hand to their mouth and yell, but the women just use their mouth and it is faster paced. This is their way of welcoming us and showing us they are very happy we’re there. It was amazing to see the kids and women run and seem so happy to have us in their village. Once we got out of the vans the men and women all gathered near us and began a dancing ceremony. Some of the women had  drums and they were making a beat and dancing. This went on for about 10 minutes, and we all joined in and danced with them. It was so fun, and many people in the group were tearing up at this amazing welcome. I MAY have even shed a tear or two…

Once we came back from lunch, we went to the second house and did the same thing-began nailing in the eucalyptus boards that would become part of the walls. I got another birthday surprise- the kids sang to me in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. They sang “Happy Birthday- to your 23rd year” over and over- after that 3 of the kids came up and shook my hand and gave me their necklaces! I got two of the same necklace that had an Ethiopian flag design, and one strand of Muslim prayer beads. It was so awesome!!!!! …

Continue reading “Emily’s Ethiopian Adventure; A Student Blog”

A Brighter Day For Children

 Jennifer Goette, Holt’s director of programs for South and Southeast Asia, shares about her meaningful visits with two once-struggling families in Holt’s family preservation program. Through day care services and donations provided by generous monthly sponsors, children in the Philippines have been given hope for the future. Once only a program to support children going home to families in the United States, Holt’s child sponsorship program has broadened to include support for children remaining with their families.

Manila, Philippines — Nestled down a narrow street, in a tightly packed community of tiny houses, is the Escopa 2 day care center. Escopa 2, one of six Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF) day care centers, is an oasis in the midst of a bustling neighborhood. The outside of the building is awash with color. The inside is clean and cool, providing a safe and comfortable space for 25 children in the morning session who jump with delight at seeing a visitor. I am entertained with songs and dances while the children stomp, cheer and mime the lyrics to their favorite songs. Their bright faces are eager with enthusiasm and hope. These are some of the new faces of Holt’s child sponsorship program.

Years ago, most of the children in Holt’s sponsorship program were orphaned and abandoned children who were in the process of intercountry adoption. As Holt’s work has expanded to impact the lives of more children, greater emphasis has been placed on keeping vulnerable families together. In the Philippines, Holt’s sponsorship program has expanded to support 300 children from impoverished communities with access to stimulating activities, social interaction and a nutritious meal at their local day care center.  Behind each face and each shy smile is the story of a family surviving despite the odds. I recently met two extraordinary families during my visit to the Philippines. They are convinced that access to day care services has been the key to keeping their family together.

Just around the corner from Escopa 2 day care center, the sixmember Jasmen family occupies a small, two-room house. Naty Jasmen and her husband, Rodolfo, are working hard to put food on the table and meet the basic needs of their four children. Rodolfo is currently unemployed, but manages to find some seasonal work planting and gardening at the local cemetery. Naty is the primary caregiver, earning income by selling rice cakes in the neighborhood.  Naty, like many parents, volunteers at the day care center once each week for three hours – doing whatever it takes to keep the center clean and provide the children with a mid-day meal. Her 5-year-old twin boys attend day care regularly and are thriving.  Naty proudly mentions that her eldest daughter used to attend day care and is now a healthy, well-adjusted first grader.

“Because of KBF’s day care program, my three oldest children have been able to learn how to write and color,” says Naty. “They enjoy spending time with other children and have become more socially independent.”  When I ask Naty about how her family has been impacted by day care services, big tears well up in her soft brown eyes. “My family does not have the financial resources we need,” she says. “The support has allowed my family to stay together, even after the death of one of my children. I am not sure what would have happened without this support.” Continue reading “A Brighter Day For Children”

Where Are They Now?

Mya with her foster family in Korea
Mya with her foster family in Korea

Mya was born in Korea in July of 2008. To provide her with the most nurturing, attentive care possible, Holt Korea quickly placed her with a loving Holt foster family. Mya’s foster parents were an older couple, and they adored her. In their care, Mya stayed for nearly three years. “They were very loving to her, and she still loves them very much,” write Mya’s adoptive parents, Warren and Heidi Roberts.

Later, Mya went to live for a brief period at Holt’s Ilsan Center – a renowned facility providing rehabilitative care for children and adults with medical and developmental needs. Mya was born with Sotos syndrome, a condition that causes excessive growth in the first few years of life. Because she grew so fast, her motor development struggled to keep pace. In Holt’s care in Korea, Mya received speech and physical therapy to help her overcome her developmental delays.

At Ilsan, the staff also prepared Mya for the transition to her adoptive family, which she joined in November 2011. “Her adjustment and transition went amazingly well,” write her adoptive parents. This, they attribute in no small part to the care she received in her foster family and at the Ilsan Center in Korea.

“She was loving, accepting and happy from the start,” they write. “That probably shows a great deal about her personality, and quite a bit more about the love, acceptance and care she was shown in her early life in Korea.”

Today, Mya is flourishing. She has four older brothers who adore her. She, in turn, relishes being the only girl and the youngest child in her family. “She is super super sweet, compassionate and loving,” write her parents. Although she still has a few motor delays, intellectually – she is advanced.

“All around,” her parents write, “she is amazing.”

You can help care for a child like Mya, click here

Mya at home with her mom



A Change of Heart

A family explains how embracing a child with a heart condition was an act of love, not a leap of faith.

In the dark, early morning of December 9, 2011, my husband and I were waiting in the Pediatric Intensive Care waiting room at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. Our 23-month-old son, Bryce, adopted five months earlier from China, had been taken to the operating room almost two hours earlier to begin preparations for a technically complex open heart surgery. We were waiting to meet the surgeon who had flown in from Toronto, Canada to perform the surgery along with Doernbecher’s own chief cardiac surgeon. The procedure had not been performed in our state before, and only a handful of surgeons worldwide had experience with it, but it would offer our son the best chance for a hopeful prognosis. As we thought of what the day would bring, what it could mean for our son’s future, we couldn’t help but reflect upon all that had occurred to bring us to this point. How did we get here? We were the family that, six years prior, had never considered the adoption of a child with medical needs. The idea, when it was presented to us, was overwhelming and terrifying. And yet here we were.

Our first child from China, MeiLi, joined our family via the standard process in March of 2007. She joined big sister, Sophia. During the paperwork phase of Mei’s adoption, our wait for her referral, and her first years home, experiences had slowly and almost imperceptibly shaped who we were becoming as individuals and a family. Those changes would shape us in unexpected and glorious ways, and lead us on a path to more precious children — two sons!

When we began the process in 2005 to adopt MeiLi, the majority of referrals were coming through the standard process. We knew very little about adoption availability for children with medical needs. As our wait for referral lengthened, we began to meet other adoptive families who had adopted children labeled “special needs.” Fifteen months after our dossier was logged-in, we submitted a medical forms checklist to Holt in order to pursue a special needs adoption. Our openness to different medical needs was limited, to say the least, and we only indicated openness to one minor need. The special needs program was very different back then. We were not matched in the three months between submitting our checklist and receiving our standard process match. The seed had been planted, however, and we felt drawn towards adopting a child with a medical need one day. Continue reading “A Change of Heart”

A Flower Waiting to Bloom; Allie Needs a Family

Update: As of October 2012, Allie has a family. Congratulations Allie!

The Casey family has adopted seven children, including three girls and four boys, all from India. Five of their children have special needs, and were adopted as “waiting children” through Holt. Through the years, the Caseys have encountered many different challenges as adoptive parents, including issues associated with older child and special needs adoption. They have also experienced the wonder and joy, seven times over, of bringing a new child into their home.

by Anne Casey

I think it is really important for folks to know that there is so much more to each one of these children than what is written on paper, in their profiles.  With a waiting child, there are so many hidden assets tucked inside, just ready to flourish!  These kids need families to make this happen and need parents willing to make the commitment.  The opportunity for the child to reach his fullest potential is just waiting to be tapped into.

Our prayer has always been that we – and others – will see and embrace the children who wait, opening our minds and hearts to the possibility and potential of parenting a child with special needs.  There are so many wonderful resources these days, and tremendous ways of acquiring information to gain a better understanding of each special need. It is so important for prospective parents to read and talk to as many people as possible when considering adoption.

We hope that others will see and feel the joy that resonates from the children who wait, and investigate further!  We have faith, knowing that once a prospective parent initiates the adoption process, the journey begins and there is no going back!

About Allie*, a 10-year-old girl who needs a family:

Continue reading “A Flower Waiting to Bloom; Allie Needs a Family”

Holt and OSU in Ethiopia; A Photo Essay

In June, 13 Oregon State University (OSU) student-athletes* and two adoptive parents traveled to Ethiopia to build houses for families in Holt’s family preservation program. Last week, the students flew home. Many of them got emotional as they left the village where they had spent the previous six days, constructing homes of mud and straw and bonding with their teammates, the local carpenters and the community. Many of them also say they feel changed by the experience — changed in their outlook on life, their view of developing countries, and for some, maybe even their chosen career paths. 

While in Ethiopia, Stephanie McGregor — an OSU gymnast and all around awesome young woman — documented the trip for the NCAA’s “global perspectives” blog.  Due to limited internet access, Stephanie could not post her blogs until returning to the U.S. earlier this week. Click here to read her blogs on the NCAA website.

Also watch for the summer Holt magazine, which will feature stories and photos from the trip. Here is a preview:

Continue reading “Holt and OSU in Ethiopia; A Photo Essay”