This is Your Last Chance to Give a Special Birthday Gift to Vulnerable Children

This is your LAST CHANCE to send a birthday gift to a child in Holt’s care!

One of the best ways to show your love for vulnerable children is to wish them a happy birthday.  Last month, we sent a letter informing you of our plans to throw one big birthday party for all the children we’re helping worldwide on June 1 — the International Day of the Child.

Join us as we celebrate the precious children in our care, and give today!

Your online Birthday Gift today of $25 or more will help provide special party treats, such as: a delicious birthday meal, festive party decorations, exciting games and activities, Bible stories and songs, birthday goodies and even essentials like clothing and shoes!

Even though you and I can’t reach out in person to every child on their individual birthdays, we can celebrate every child in our care on this one special day!

Please help us make children in our care feel extra special on June 1. Give a Birthday gift today!

Thank you!

Dory Needs A Family

Dory has already waited many years for a family of her own. Now, she is almost out of time. Please share her story with your friends, family and community. We know her family is out there, and you can help us find them!


DOB May 30, 2001

Quiet, gentle, and artistic, 13-year-old Dory needs a family to adopt her before she ages out of the Chinese social welfare system in May 2015.

Born with an ear malformation, Dory has a significant hearing impairment and did not start speaking until she was 7 years old.  She began living with a foster family in 2005, and her foster father helped her learn some lip reading skills and also some speaking skills. In 2010, Dory received plastic surgery to give her outer ears a more natural look and to widen her ear canal. The surgery was successful and did improve Dory’s hearing abilities and helped grow her confidence. Now, Dory hears well enough to respond if she is spoken to in a loud voice.

Dory attends classes at the orphanage, though she is significantly behind in her education because of her hearing impairment and difficulty communicating. She lives in foster care with two foster sisters, her foster mother and grandmother. Her foster family describes her as helpful and kind. She enjoys caring for younger children, which helps her break through her typically timid shell. Dory’s foster family says she has a bright smile. Dory is also a talented artist:  she does stitch work and beautiful calligraphy.

We are looking for an exceptional family who will understand Dory’s medical and therapeutic needs and can provide access to the services and resources she needs to thrive. Dory’s family should also have experience parenting older children. With a loving family, Dory will reach her potential and continue to blossom.

To adopt Dory, applicants must be 30-54 years old and meet an income requirement of $30,000 plus $10,000 per additional family member, with $80,000 net worth. More than four children in the home may be accepted. *See country criteria for complete requirements. Families with eligibility concerns may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

For more information about Dory, contact Marissa Leuallen at or Beth Smith at

A Nourishing Start

After a successful pilot project, Holt and SPOON Foundation secure a four-year grant to implement a nutrition and feeding program for orphaned and abandoned children in five more countries — starting this year in China and Vietnam.

It’s lunchtime at an orphanage in southern Vietnam. Children eat their meals in separate rooms— grouped together by age and degree of special need — and caregivers help feed the youngest and most disabled children. In one room, a caregiver is feeding a boy on a stretcher. He is about 8 years old and has severe spastic cerebral palsy. Many of the other children in this room have cognitive or behavioral delays, and you can hear them screaming or clapping in the background. Some are waiting their turn to be fed. One sits on the floor, feeding herself.

The caregiver is a young woman who wears her hair in a neat bun and little pearls in her ears. She smiles as she spoons congee into the mouth of the boy with CP, who is laying flat on his back with a towel spread across his chest and his arms up around his head. Congee is a watery rice soup common in Vietnam and other parts of East and SE Asia, but it’s especially difficult for a child with CP to swallow. The boy keeps shaking and coughing — sometimes gagging — after each spoonful. Unsure what to do, the caregiver continues feeding him — rubbing his chest as he coughs. Thinking he might have an easier time if flatter on his back, she lowers the stretcher. This only makes it harder for him to swallow, and he shakes as he tries not to choke on his food.

Two years ago, Holt teamed up with SPOON Foundation, a Portland, Oregon nonprofit and truly the first organization worldwide to take a special focus on improving nutrition and feeding for orphaned, fostered and adopted children. After identifying two pilot sites among Holt’s partner organizations overseas, SPOON implemented a nutrition screening system and trained caregivers and staff to properly track the growth and nutrition of children in care. Looking at the diet and feeding practices at each care center, SPOON also suggested small changes that could dramatically reduce malnutrition and improve the overall health and wellbeing of the children.

After implementing the nutrition program in India, anemia prevalence dropped dramatically among children in care.

In India, these changes included introducing cow milk to infants at 6 months instead of 3-4 months; delaying the introduction of cereal to infants to when they are 4-6 months instead of 2-3 months; providing iron supplements with Vitamin C to increase absorption and adjusting the dosage depending on whether the child is anemic; and giving iron at mealtimes but not with milk, which lowers absorption. Although some nutritional measurements such as stunting and head size will take longer to show impact, one outcome was immediate. Just six months after SPOON implemented these changes, anemia prevalence among the children dropped from 45 percent… to nine. At one site, anemia was completely eliminated.

“Anemia is the big issue children face in orphanage care,” says Dan Lauer, Holt’s VP of Africa programs. Dan helped forge Holt’s partnership with SPOON. “If 75 percent of children are anemic, we have a real issue.”

Most commonly caused by a deficiency of iron, anemia can have very severe consequences for a growing child. As Zeina Makhoul, SPOON’s nutrition scientist, explains, “Iron is a very important mineral for brain development. For a child between 0 and 5-years-old — especially between 0 and 2 — this is when their brain is developing at an accelerated rate.  So having a deficiency in iron at that time is really going to impact their brain development.” Long-term studies of anemic children have shown that they have lower IQs and perform more poorly in school. Iron is also very important in disease prevention and immunity. As Zeina explains, “Those who are iron-deficient tend to get sick more easily and for longer periods of time and then those who are sick have poor appetite, and poor appetite means not enough nutrients. Not enough nutrients mean iron- and other deficiencies. It’s an ongoing cycle.” Continue reading “A Nourishing Start”

Holt Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Our Longstanding Partner in India

Join us as we celebrate Vathsalya Charitable Trust!

In June, Phil Littleton, Holt president and CEO, will travel to India to join the 25th anniversary celebration of Vathsalya Charitable Trust (VCT), the cherished partner agency Holt helped establish in Bangalore. Based on the model of care that Holt founder Harry Holt established in Korea, VCT continues to provide loving, attentive care to orphaned and abandoned children in India. Today, our longstanding partner also provides educational support for children, and long-term care for children with special needs.

On June 7th, VCT will hold a special anniversary event, celebrating their rich 25-year history of helping children join permanent families both in India and the United States. The event will also serve to raise awareness of VCT’s work as well the children who still wait for families. Dean Hale, Holt’s director of programs for India, will also attend this special anniversary event.

Did your child receive attentive care at VCT before coming home to you? Were you provided care at VCT before joining your permanent family? Or do you have a special connection to the work of VCT? We would love to hear from you!

In the weeks leading up to the anniversary celebration in India, we are asking families to write letters of congratulations. Tell us what VCT has meant to your family, and thank them for their long and outstanding service to children in need.

We will need the letters, sent to, by the end of May.

We look forward to hearing from those who have been touched by the work of VCT!

Thank you!


Milo needs a family

Milo is artistic, sweet and kind, and he has waited many years for a family to call his own. Next spring, Milo will age out of eligibility for adoption from China! Please share his story to help find his family now!

Two weeks ago, Holt’s director of China programs Beth Smith traveled to Nanjing Municipal Welfare Institute to meet children who need additional advocacy to find permanent, loving families. One young man stood out immediately. Although he has lived with a foster family in China since he was 5, this now 13-year-old boy recently moved to a government-run orphanage so he could attend a school more tailored to his needs. Milo has an outer ear deformity and near total hearing loss, so during his meeting with Beth he read her lips and spoke quietly in response to her questions. After the meeting, Beth saw Milo crying with his foster mother, who had come for a visit. Soon, Milo’s foster mother was in front of Beth with her foster son by her side. The foster mother explained to Beth that Milo was crying because he didn’t feel like he had done a good job presenting himself to Beth. Of course, talking with Beth isn’t a test, but Beth was touched by Milo’s sensitive response and wanted to help him feel better. Beth asked Milo what he wanted to do, and she was shocked when he said he wanted to sketch a picture for her — of her. Beth sat down, and watched as Milo completed a sketched portrait of her.

“I left our meeting feeling very strongly that there is a family out there for Milo,” Beth says. Continue reading “Milo needs a family”

Parents in Process Training

As the overwhelming majority of children now coming home are older or have a special medical need, what children need from parents is much more complex. In response, Holt has expanded our parent education curriculum to help parents be successful and help children thrive in their families.

It’s dinnertime. It was a long day of work, and you just want to get a meal on the table and take a break. However, your daughter has a different idea. She’s on the floor, throwing a full-on tantrum complete with screams, tears and even a few thrown toys — and it’s all over a pair of socks.

A pair of socks your daughter picked out, because she wanted to wear socks.

A pair of socks you already offered to help her put on.

You take a deep breath, and prepare to address her needs. Continue reading “Parents in Process Training”

Shinshicho Celebrates the Arrival of Donated Medical Equipment

Four years ago, Holt International and the rural community of Shinshicho, Ethiopia partnered to build the first maternal-child hospital in the region. Now in its final phase of construction, the hospital is nearly complete. Throughout the area, Holt is supporting projects to help children and families grow strong and healthy. 

At the end of March, more than two tons of medical equipment arrived at the Holt-funded maternal and child hospital in Shinshicho, Ethiopia after months of delays in the Port of Djibouti customs. Donated by hospitals and collected by the Oregon Rotary Club in September 2013, the equipment will outfit the hospital’s patient wards and surgery rooms and its installation is the last step to complete a 4-year effort to bring greater healthcare to children and families in this rural region of Ethiopia. Continue reading “Shinshicho Celebrates the Arrival of Donated Medical Equipment”

The Peace House Angels

The story of two once-orphaned and abandoned girls, and the special medical foster home that changed their lives. Read and share their story in honor of National Foster Care Month!

Today, Maya and Payton are home with their loving families in the United States. Their journey was a long and difficult one. Maya’s mother Ashley says that Maya’s condition before entering Holt’s care was extremely poor. “She was so tiny, frail and developmentally delayed,” Ashley says. Found on the steps of an orphanage in Guangdong province, Maya suffered from cleft lip and palate, and was severely malnourished.

Maya before rehabilitation at the Peace House.

Four months later, little Payton was also found and brought to the same orphanage. She too suffered from cleft lip and palate. In 2013, Holt determinedly worked to match these precious girls with families in the United States. In September of that year, we matched Payton with Kris and Kelly Furman. And two months later, we matched Maya with Max and Ashley Simpson. “We found Maya on the waiting child photolisting. The day they posted her picture, we contacted Holt wanting to be matched with her,” Ashley says. While Maya and Payton had both found their families, our staff in China quickly realized that they would need extra help and attention before they could begin their journey home.

YongFu (Payton), before rehabilitation.

They found that care at Holt’s Peace House.

A special foster home that Holt oversees in Beijing, The Peace House offers orphaned and abandoned children waiting for corrective or life-saving surgeries a place to prepare and recuperate. Holt took over operation of the Peace House in 2011, and currently cares for an average of 35 children every year.

When Holt staff learned about Maya and Payton, they desperately tried to bring them from their orphanage to the Peace House. Their first few attempts to transfer the girls were unsuccessful. “Their orphanage was quite a distance,” Holt China staff says. “The orphanage didn’t bring them. But we knew we couldn’t give up on these girls.” Desperate, Holt staff sent “before and after” photos of children who had previously been rehabilitated at the Peace House to the girls’ orphanage. Finally, after several months, the orphanage agreed to send the girls to receive the care and surgeries they desperately needed. “We knew we needed to bring these two children to our Peace House for better care,” they said,  “otherwise we couldn’t imagine what could happen to them.” Continue reading “The Peace House Angels”

Born in Thailand, Raised in Wisconsin, Loved Everywhere

Holt adoptive parents Kyle Geissler and Robin Stephens bring their 5 and 6-year-olds sons on a trip to Thailand — giving them an early opportunity to explore their identity, celebrate their heritage and reconnect with the foster families who cared for them before they came home. Read and share their story in honor of National Foster Care Month!

The decision to build our family through adoption was an easy one.  We wanted to be parents and biological kids weren’t possible for us.

Navigating the choices that followed was not as easy.  Ultimately, we chose Holt’s Thailand program.  We liked that Holt’s partner organization in Thailand, Holt Sahathai Foundation (HSF), focuses primarily on family strengthening and preservation — keeping children in their birth families whenever possible — and that the children in their program are mostly cared for by foster families.  We liked that Holt’s Thailand program is small and methodical, and that adoptions from Thailand are tightly regulated by the Thai government to minimize the chance of corruption.  We also had a few Thai friends and felt comfortable with the idea of bringing Thai culture into our family.

Seven years and two incredible boys later, the choices that face us make those initial decisions seem easy. In addition to the many issues that all parents face, we are also trying to help our kids feel positive about themselves as Asian Americans, born in Thailand and adopted and raised in the Midwest by white parents.

Continue reading “Born in Thailand, Raised in Wisconsin, Loved Everywhere”

Who Writes Sponsorship Reports

You open your mailbox and pull out a familiar red and yellow envelope, Holt’s logo flashing from the corner. It’s an update about your sponsored child — one that comes each season. You rip open the envelope and pull out a new photo of your child and an update about his or her life overseas. Or, you log into your email and click on a familiar link from Holt. Soon, a new picture of your sponsored child stares at you from your screen.

You examine the new picture of your sponsored child — her smile, how she’s changed from the last photo — and delve into the words, how your $30 per month is changing her life.

Maybe you even wonder about the day a Holt staff member visited your child to take his new photo and get his update, and the journey to get that update to you, the sponsor. How did it get to you, and why, in April, is your child talking about Christmas?

Here we explain who wrote your sponsored child’s update, and the long journey that report took to get to you. Continue reading “Who Writes Sponsorship Reports”