Call Your Representatives Now! This Act WILL Affect Holt Families and Children!

The deadline is approaching… Act now to save the Adoption Tax Credit before December 31, 2012!

The outcome will directly affect Holt families. It will also affect children waiting for a family. If this act does not pass, they may not have one.

Right now, Members of Congress are in D.C. addressing tax and budget issues that need to be resolved before the end of the year. One critical issue under consideration is whether to extend the adoption tax credit!

As many of you know, the adoption tax credit is often a major factor in a family’s ability to adopt. Without this financial resource, many families simply can’t afford to! At Holt, we know some families are waiting for the outcome of this vote before deciding whether to go through with their adoption. That means children are waiting too – waiting to see whether they will be able to join a loving, stable home of their own.

And it all rests on whether our government reauthorizes – and makes refundable* – the adoption tax credit!

To ensure this act passes, Congress must hear from you!

What To Do:

1. Call your two Senators and one Representative via The Capitol Operator at 202-224-3121.

               

You can also click below for your legislator’s contact information:

Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Representatives: http://house.gov/representatives/find/

2. Ask to be connected to the legislator’s office. Then ask to speak to the legislative assistant that handles adoption or tax issues.

3. Ask all three of your federal legislators to become a cosponsor of the Making Adoptions Affordable Act, S. 3616/H.R. 4373.

Talking Points:

  • Hi, I am a constituent and I would like the Senator to cosponsor the Making Adoptions Affordable Act – S. 3616 (or Representative to cosponsor H.R. 4373).
  • The adoption tax credit ensures that vulnerable children find loving homes and do not languish in orphanages or foster care.
  • *The refundable provision is particularly important, because otherwise families with lower or moderate incomes — families who don’t owe taxes — won’t benefit. In some cases, that means families won’t be able to adopt at all.
  • Research has found that each adoption from foster care saves up to $235,000 in total public costs over the child’s lifetime.
  • Will the Senator/Representative cosponsor H.R.4373/S.3616?

For more information, click here.

Thank you for taking action. Your vocal support of the Adoption Tax Credit is vital to ensuring children find the families they need and deserve.

An Active, Lovely Boy

Wade is ready to join a family!

DOB: August 13, 2006, China

Wade* was just under 9 months old when he was found abandoned and delivered to an orphanage in a province of southern China bordering the South China Sea. He was wearing a blue baby suit when he arrived, and quickly admitted for testing by the orphanage doctors. The doctors measured his height and his weight, estimated his birthday, and then diagnosed the condition that was making his lips turn blue. Wade had a congenital heart defect, which was cutting off oxygen to the tissues under his skin.

Three days before his first birthday, Wade received his first heart operation. The surgery went smoothly, and Wade left the hospital in good condition with orders to rest for three months. He returned to the orphanage and got back to the business of growing – his caregivers documenting every major milestone.

At 9 months, he could sit steadily and stand up grasping the crib, they noted. He could make “ba ba” and “ma ma” sounds, was fond of people talking to him, often smiled at those he recognized, and gestured to say “bye.”

At 10-12 months, he could respond to his name and pick up cookies. He was able to understand the meaning of “No,” started to show interest in his surroundings, and wanted to look at and touch everything.

At 16 months, he learned to walk. At 20 months, he learned to run.

By 27 months, he could speak in different Chinese tones, say his name, sing songs and play games. Over two years, Wade’s caregivers had watched him grow into an “active, lovely boy.”

Wade is now a restless, playful 6-year-old, ready to join a loving family. His mental, social and motor skill development are all on target, and he gets along well with both children and adults.

Although the first operation significantly improved Wade’s condition, his heart defect is complex – and he is now being evaluated for a second operation. Wade needs a family open to his heart condition and that has the resources to provide for his medical care. Wade is a special focus child, so any family with an application to Holt’s China program may be considered.

For more information about Wade, contact Beth Smith at beths@holtinternational.org or Marissa Leuallen at marissal@holtinternational.org.

* name changed

Beckett’s Heart Grows Sweeter Every Day

Beckett waits for an adoptive family who will love and adore him — as much as his caregivers and friends in China already do!

DOB: July 1, 2001, China

Beckett* was 3 years old when he was found alone on a train and reported by a passenger. He was old enough to tell his name and his age and he spoke in a Henan dialect, but no information could be found about his family. After a failed attempt to locate his parents, Beckett was sent to live at an orphanage in central China.

Upon admission, Beckett’s lips were blue from cyanosis, which occurs when tissues near the skin fail to get enough oxygen. He was quickly diagnosed with a common congenital heart defect, for which he received surgery shortly after his fifth birthday. The operation was successful, and Beckett recovered well. The orphanage reports that he does not need another operation!

Beckett is now 11 years old and still living at the same orphanage in central China where he was sent to live 9 years ago. Here, he has grown into a sweet and sensitive boy. Although his condition does not affect his daily life or studies, Beckett has to be careful about exposure to cold or participating in intensive activity. He likes to jump rope and play football and other sports, but many of the activities he enjoys suit his more introverted personality – as well as the limitations placed on him by his heart condition. He loves to draw, read in Chinese and listen to music. He likes watching cartoons with his friends and chatting with his caregivers.

Beckett is naturally shy and quiet, and his caregivers worry that he lacks self-confidence. He is also a bit small for his age and a little behind in school. The caregivers think he might feel self-conscious about being one of the older children in his 4th grade class.

Although they worry about his self-esteem, Beckett’s caregivers just adore him. He takes time adjusting to strangers and new environments, but he has no trouble developing close bonds with people. He has five good friends from the school and orphanage, and gets along well with his teachers and peers. When Holt’s social worker visited with Beckett, he confided in her that he “wants a family and will be a good boy.”

The family that ultimately adopts Beckett will receive a $5,000 Special Blessings grant (from Holt) to go toward his adoption fees. Beckett needs a family knowledgeable about the impact international adoption can have on child development and behavior. Beckett’s family will need to allow him time to adjust to being part of family as well as provide him with any ongoing medical care he may need.  Experience parenting past his age is preferred.

For more information about Beckett, contact Beth Smith at beths@holtinternational.org or Marissa Leuallen at marissal@holtinternational.org.

*name changed

Beckett with his friends.

Congenital Heart Defects: An Informational Guide

An overview of congenital heart defects commonly seen among Holt’s waiting children, as well as potential challenges, treatment plans, links to online resources, and stories from Holt families who have adopted children with a heart condition.

Congenital heart defects are problems of the heart’s chambers, valves or blood vessels that develop before birth. This condition encompasses a broad range of defects, most of which affect how blood flows through the heart or through the blood vessels near the heart. Some defects may cause blood to flow in an abnormal pattern, while others completely or partially block blood flow. A baby may be born with just one, or several heart defects, some of which are mild and may need little or no medical treatment even through adulthood. Others are more serious and can endanger the life of the child – either immediately to the newborn, or over time. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to the lifelong health and wellbeing of a child born with a congenital heart defect.

Children referred to Holt who have minor to moderate heart conditions are often quickly matched with families already in the adoption process. Children with more involved conditions typically find families through the Holt photolisting. When families fill out the medical conditions checklist at the beginning of the adoption process, they can identify both the condition and degree of need they are open to – from minor to moderate to major. We typically consider heart conditions “minor” if they have already corrected or resolved on their own; “moderate” if they are correctable upon coming home or manageable with continual follow-up; and “major” if the condition requires long-term treatments or surgeries.

The following five conditions are the most common types of congenital heart defects seen among Holt’s waiting children. Most children referred to Holt with a VSD, ASD or PFO have fairly mild cases.

Rowan Barrett, born with a minor VSD, adopted by Scott and Lindsay Barrett.

Continue reading “Congenital Heart Defects: An Informational Guide”

Thankful for Melia, Born With a Heart Full of Joy and Spirit

When the Horner family saw Melia’s face on Holt’s waiting child photolisting, they eagerly requested more info about her. Although open to special needs, they were saddened to learn that this smiling little girl had major congenital heart defects. But after considering what Melia’s potentially short life would be like growing up without a family, the Horners decided that they would love and care for her — for better or worse. And with Melia, they soon discovered, it just keeps getting better.

by Ryan and Katie Horner

We began our second international adoption after many years of our eldest daughter asking for a little sister.  We already had two rough-and-tumble boys that were best of friends, one biological and one adopted from Russia.  But, our daughter desperately wanted a little sister to play dolls with and pamper, read and sing songs to.  Month by month, our hearts were softening to the idea of having four children and in late 2010, we decided to grow our family one more time through international adoption.

We had been introduced to Holt International through several local friends that had adopted from Korea, India, Africa and China.  So, our first decision was choosing an agency that had a good reputation domestically and internationally.  Holt’s roots and history proved their reliability and so we were thrilled to start the journey with Holt’s help, guidance and support.

We chose China erroneously because we thought that they only had little girls available for adoption, and we had hoped to grow our family with the addition of a daughter.  Later, we would learn that there are almost equal numbers of boys and girls with minor to more major special needs available for adoption from China.  Nonetheless, this decision was one of many that led us down a path to our daughter, Melia.

We learned about the special needs program early on and visited with a local international adoption doctor about all the possible minor special needs that children from China could have.  Although it felt awkward to select which needs our family was open to, we knew this form was part of the process and filled it out to the best of our ability.  Little did we know that processing through this list of minor special needs would begin to open up our hearts to these amazing, precious, wonderfully created children around the world and lead us to adopting a child with major congenital heart defects.

But, I’m jumping ahead…after submitting all our paperwork to Holt and getting all the documents notarized, state-sealed, authenticated and stamped with China’s approval, we were ready for a referral!  We were so excited but had nothing to do but wait.  Well, we don’t wait well and so we found ourselves roaming around Holt’s website night after night.  One Friday evening we happened upon the waiting child photolisting.  That night we saw the picture of our happy, smiling daughter for the first time!

We read her profile and anxiously waited all weekend to request to view her profile more completely from Holt’s waiting child program director.*

Continue reading “Thankful for Melia, Born With a Heart Full of Joy and Spirit”

The Prerequisite For a Special Needs Adoption: Love

 The Anderson family shares their story about adopting a little girl with special needs.

by David Anderson

In talking with friends and co-workers, I sometimes have to catch myself, as I have a tendency to ramble on about our family’s story. So when my wife mentioned that Holt International was asking for family’s of special needs adoptees to submit their stories, I jumped at the chance.

In raising our children and watching them grow, I often find myself living in the now, with little reflection and pondering about pre-adoption times. Having two biological sons and a newly added daughter, our house is constantly bustling with energy. There’s hardly a time when we aren’t engaged in what the kids are doing to some degree. Each day brings something new, and with a daily addition of tomorrow’s memories, it’s rare to just sit back and consider all that went into getting us here. But when my wife and I were asked to meet with a group of prospective adoptive parents through Holt, their questions brought back a flood of memories and feelings.

After my wife and I established that we were going to fully pursue adoption, we next weighed whether or not special needs adoption was something that our family was willing to consider. It wasn’t long before we felt that a special needs adoption indeed was something that we were willing to put on the table. Upon this conclusion, I vividly remember my mood changing a bit. The idea of taking on a child with special needs is fairly easy when it’s simply a notion. It was still abstract to me. But as the idea became more concrete, I couldn’t help but visualize what our lives would look like. Would we be taking on a host of medical bills that we can’t afford? Would the time and energy needed to care for this child result in a negative effect on the children that we currently have? And while there was no way of knowing the answers to these questions with complete certainty, I found peace in believing that as long as we kept love as the central thread in our family, everything would work out. Continue reading “The Prerequisite For a Special Needs Adoption: Love”

Second Philippines Ambassador Trip!

In early 2011, Holt introduced a pilot adoption program for older children in the Philippines. Ambassadors, selected by Holt, traveled to the Philippines in March 2011 to meet a group of older children who were waiting to be adopted. After getting to know the children, the ambassadors returned to the United States and advocated for their adoptions.  Six older children in this program now have families!

This year, Holt sponsored another Philippines Ambassador program. The ambassador volunteers just returned from their week-long trip to Manila to meet this year’s group of older children who need families.  Below are blog entries from one of the participants.

By Kari Bargstadt-Wilson

 Kari was born and raised in Omaha (where she still lives today). She works as a physical therapist and a full-time mother. She enjoys a full life with her husband, Pat, and their six children. After they had their three biological children, they pursued adoption with Holt International. Over a 3-year period they brought home three beautiful children, each from different birth countries – South Korea, India and Ethiopia. 

 

Manila, Philippines — Today was our first full day at the resort. There was no sleeping in for us or the Philippines Ambassador kids – the director of the resort told us all the kids needed to be up for “exercise” at 6am! So there we were, with yawning kids in PJs, trying to do aerobics… It was quite entertaining, as most of us were sliding around in flip-flops. After our exercise, we we’re off to breakfast, followed by some Filipino team building games involving bamboo and ping pong balls.

After morning snack, (which consisted of a hamburger and fries!) it was finally pool time. The kids made sure we went to all the pools, and I mean all of the pools!….kayaking, the wave pool, the waterside, the “baby pool” and the standard pool. By the end of the day, the kids were wrinkled like prunes.

Late in the afternoon, we were informed that that all the ambassador volunteers were going to have to perform in a talent show, alongside the children. After some quick thinking, we came up with a karaoke version of “Sweet Caroline” that we changed into “Sweet Sister Liz”, so we could serenade Liz, the only nun on the trip. We gave it our best effort, but the kids really out did us with their performance. They are definitely well versed in American pop songs and dance moves.

 

That evening the kids begged to play UNO. As exhausted as we were and as inviting as our beds seemed, we put our own wants aside and stayed up late playing spirited UNO tournaments. And I am so glad I did because it was another opportunity to get to know these wonderful children a little more.

Let me take the time to tell you about JP.

He was very quiet the first few days of the trip. He rarely smiled for photos and avoided the affection we tried to show. He seemed guarded and shy. But that night, I saw a whole new side of JP come out. It was awesome! He was sitting by me during our UNO game and was cracking jokes the entire time. Kissing his cards with enthusiasm when a good one came his way. Smiling and making others laugh. He was hamming it up!

In the days that followed, we saw a relaxed and smiling JP. One who let us put our arm around him and give him hugs. JP, like all of these children, is ready to join a permanent loving family. He needs a mother who will nurture him and a strong father to lead him. Pray that a family will open their hearts to JP. I know they will be blessed to have him as their son.

 

For more information about the Philippines Ambassador children contact Erin Anderson at erina@holtinternational.org

Now and Then

Henry was featured in the waiting child section in 2005.  Today he is home and happy with the Thompson family.

by Zoe Thompson

My husband Dave and I brought home our first child, August “Gus” Jung, a 4-month-old from South Korea, in 2003. After a few years of being a happy family of three, we considered expanding our family and providing Gus with a sibling.

Whereas I was anxious to start the process, afraid that too much time would go by and our children would be too far apart in age, my husband was content with our current family situation and in no hurry to disrupt our happy trio. Dave eventually agreed to start the paper chase for our second child, but slowly and without urgency.

On the computer one night, long after my son and husband had gone to bed, I looked at Holt’s Waiting Child pages online. There, in the middle of the screen, was the small photo of a smiling, chubby-faced 18- month-old boy from Korea. I opened up his description and learned that although he had a few challenges when he was a baby and a history that raised a few concerns, thanks to physical therapy and the support of his foster family, the doctors felt that his special needs were no longer an issue. He was described as very attached to his foster family and, by all accounts, doing very well.

I’ve heard people describe love at first sight as a shock or like a bolt of electricity, but it was, for me, more like a quiet familiarity. There was something about this little boy that I recognized – maybe it was his smile or the look in his eye – at first glance, I thought, “this could be my son.”

I e-mailed the photo to my husband, ‘What do you think?’ I asked. The next day, Dave checked his e-mail from the office. Immediately, his reply came: ‘Call Holt NOW,’ he said. My husband had gone from passively participating to aggressively driving the process. Dave felt so strongly that this little boy was meant to be in our family. However, as much as we both felt a connection to him, the confirmation that something magical was happening came from our nearly 3-year old-son who, upon seeing the picture for the first time, simply said: ‘My brother.’ Continue reading “Now and Then”

Daddy’s Little Helper, Mommy’s Little Sweetheart

Trevor Needs a family.

date of birth:  January 5, 2012, Northeast Asia

by Corrie Prickett, adoptive mother

At the top of my list of favorite things are cards from my two boys. A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated a birthday. This year, my birthday card featured Alvin and the Chipmunks, complete with the trio singing a well-known tune! One might wonder why on earth I would look forward to such a thing. However, that card was hand selected by two sweet boys. On top of that, when that card opened and the music started playing, their eyes lit up with excitement. Without hesitation, the three of us had a dance off right there in the kitchen! I don’t think it gets much better than dancing and laughing hysterically with my children!

With that in mind, meet Trevor. He is a precious boy from Northeast Asia waiting for a family through Holt’s Waiting Child Program. One look at Trevor and you can’t help but fall in love! Let’s face it, those cheeks are just begging for kisses and loving pinches. As a mother to boys, I imagine toy cars, dinosaurs, and skyscrapers built from Legos in Trevor’s future. I’m also betting Trevor would love to be daddy’s little helper and mommy’s little sweetheart!

Trevor, like many waiting children, has some special needs. Born with some abnormal eyeball movement, he is currently undergoing tests to rule out cortical blindness. Although he is currently delayed by about 4 months, he can roll over, bear moderate weight on his legs, bring his hands together, and respond smiling to a voice. He has a few other special needs that will likely require treatment. He now receives physical therapy for decreased muscle tone. On paper, these special needs can seem overwhelming. But, as many parents to special needs kiddos will tell you, these children are the most resilient children around. For us, this has been the case with everything our son has faced. He has never let anything slow him down!

Trevor’s foster mother reports that he babbles well and laughs loudly. I can hear Trevor laughing now, as he dances along to the silly music card he picked out for his mommy or daddy!

For more information about Trevor, contact Erin Anderson at erina@holtinternational.org

 Print Trevor’s prayer card and pray for him during National Adoption Month.

 

 

Mason Deserves a Closer Look

Mason Needs a Family

date of birth: September 21, 2011, Northeast Asia

 

When Jimmy and Corrie Prickett traveled to pick up their son Finnley earlier this year, they had the opportunity to tour Finnley’s orphanage. What they saw confirmed what they had previously been told: Currently more boys are waiting for families in orphanages than girls. 

 “The orphanage visit etched beautiful little faces into our hearts and minds,” says Corrie. “As we walked the halls, we were greeted by countless children. Each of those children equally deserving of a loving forever family. Every one of those children, precious. The vast majority of those children, boys! I will never forget their faces or the joy that came from being given a simple piece of candy. We had been told of the increasing need for families open to boys, but there in front of us was living proof. Just days before, our Finnley had been one of those boys, waiting for his forever family.”

When filling out their medical conditions checklist, the Prickett family happily checked the box “either” when asked what gender they preferred. “We felt strongly that adoption should be no different than biology,” says Corrie. “When I was pregnant, we chose to do things the old-fashioned way and wait until delivery to hear ‘it’s a boy!” or ‘it’s a girl!.” Referral day would be just the same!”

In 2011, The Prickett family was matched with Finnley, a beautiful 30-month-old little boy.

Some of the boys waiting for families today are younger with minor medical conditions, some are older with no known medical conditions or special needs.  All are beautiful and worthy of a family!

One-year-old Mason lives in Northeast Asia. Luckily he is has been blessed by a loving foster family that is very fond of him. Mason lives with an intestinal disorder for which he has multiple surgeries. His condition continues to improve after each procedure.

Mason is somewhat delayed but is able to roll over, sit briefly, transfer object from hand to hand, respond to the sound of his name and say single syllables.

There has long existed a preference by adoptive families to adopt girls over boys. This may be attributed to the common misperception that orphanages are overflowing with abandoned girls.  But often, families abandon boys with medical conditions, boys like Mason, for which they can’t afford to provide care.  And with greater adoption of girls by adoptive families, the ratio of boys to girls in orphanages and foster families has reversed.  Continue reading “Mason Deserves a Closer Look”