Best All-Around Senior

Aided by non-traditional learning methods and the support of his parents, Holt adoptee and once “waiting child” Cody Dorsey managed to conquer his learning disabilities and graduate with the distinction of “Best All-Around Senior.” He is now in his first year of college.

Cody at a regional Eagle Scout award ceremony.

Last week, our youngest son, Cody, started community college. There were times when I never dreamed this would happen. Cody was 5 when we adopted him from Romania. We had originally decided to adopt a child 3 years or younger, but after seeing his picture in the Holt monthly newsletter, we knew Cody was our son. We trusted God’s direction in adopting and truly felt His guidance in choosing our “waiting child.” He was a tiny, cheerful ball of energy and a joy from the first moment. Cody has never met a stranger and will talk to anyone, young or old. He is a great athlete, who draws attention everywhere he goes. He will tackle any mechanical problem and work on it until he figures it out. He is also a young man with learning disabilities. The fact that he is so gifted in other areas makes it hard for people to understand that he can’t always learn using traditional methods.

We were aware that Cody did not know the common things most 5-year-old children do, like names of colors, shapes, numbers, etc. The information we received from Holt told us that he was delayed in some areas, but we were ready to do whatever it took to help him. We realized that part of the problem was language, although he learned English very quickly. I tried games and tricks, but he simply couldn’t remember the names of colors. Finally my husband came up with the idea of instructing Cody to call out the color of balls as they played pool. That was our first experience with non-traditional learning methods.

We kept Cody at preschool for an extra year to prepare for kindergarten. His kindergarten teacher was a wonderful, older woman who worked with him and helped him

Cody with his mom, Becky, during their first moments together in Romania.

make it to first grade. She, like us, thought it was still a language issue. Cody’s first and second grade teachers were very sweet, but inexperienced. Although they tried to help, we had difficult years. We would spend hours doing homework that should take 30 minutes. When I would question the teachers about testing for learning disabilities, they would say he was doing “about average.” Our two older children were academically gifted and seemed to absorb knowledge from the air, so it was hard for me to know what was considered “average.” Finally, Cody had an experienced third grade teacher who agreed there were problems. She ordered tests and we were actually relieved to discover that Cody has learning disabilities. Finally, we knew what was wrong and could get him the help he needed. Continue reading “Best All-Around Senior”

Ethiopia students return to school with Holt’s support

In Ethiopia, students head to school this month with support from their Holt sponsors and donors — some for the first time.

Through our work with vulnerable families in Shinshicho, Holt found that many children who start school — even at 5 or 6 years old — weren’t prepared for classes. They lacked an understanding of structure, routine and basic, preschool-appropriate knowledge. In response, we partnered with the community of Shinshicho to support the first Kindergarten in the region.

In the first week of September, the dark mass of stormy skies over Shinshicho finally breaks apart, however briefly.

There is still a 90 percent chance of rain again today, the first day of school, as there has been for nearly three months. Between the thunderstorms, wind and seemingly endless rain, the dirt roads are washed out and muddy, with deep puddles blocking even the most major roadways.

Soon, though, the rainy season will change — returning to a hot and dry dust storm and droughts that make farmers curse their land.

Tigabu signs “I love you” to a Holt staff visitor.

Born sixth in a family with seven children, 9-year-old Tigabu has more than once wondered if, indeed, his family is cursed. His parents are subsistence farmers who struggle to afford even basic necessities, like food or clothing. His four sisters and two brothers help where they can to earn extra income for the family, but that often means skipping class to help their parents harvest or carry crops to market.

Until recently, however, Tigabu and his siblings had no school to miss. Their opportunity to attend school is a new one. Continue reading “Ethiopia students return to school with Holt’s support”

From Children in China to Their Sponsors in the U.S… Thank You!

Earlier this year, Holt’s China staff interviewed several children in Holt’s sponsorship program in Nanning, Guangxi province. Click below to view a few short clips of the children sharing a message with their sponsors in the U.S.!

Four years ago, Holt started a family strengthening project in Nanning to help orphans living on their own and young students from vulnerable single-parent families. Most of the children have lost at least one parent. In some cases, the one remaining parent in these children’s lives has left them — leaving them with no support, and no one to care for them.

With support from Holt sponsors, over 2,200 children are able to attend local schools in this mountainous area of southern Guangxi province. Holt funds a portion of the children’s nutritional support, education materials and tuition fees. By covering their educational expenses, this project also helps children who have living family members to remain in the loving care of their birth families — preventing separation due to economic stress. Donations also help to provide school uniforms and bedding for the children.

This project is managed in partnership with the local Nanning Education Foundation and the local government in Heng County.

In both 2012 and 2013, the Civil Affairs Ministry and China Charity Federation named the Holt Nanning Family Strengthening project one of the 40 most influential projects in China.

Click below to see and hear from a few of the students in this program…

China-Sponsored Children Testimonials from Holt International on Vimeo.

Not yet a Holt sponsor? Become one today!

Click here to read more about our work in China!

Love in Action: Holt Supporters Visit the Jeonju Babies’ Home in Korea

Last April, several Holt supporters traveled to Korea to see our work and meet the children, families, single mothers and others we serve in the country where Holt was founded. After visiting the Jeonju Babies’ Home — a temporary care center for young children waiting to reunite with their families — they felt inspired to do more.

One boy was the son of a refugee. Another, a little girl, witnessed her father die tragically. Some are the children of single mothers who struggle with the stigma of unwed motherhood and the financial and social barriers it creates. Others come into care because their parents lost jobs. Or homes. Or each other.

Children in care at the Jeonju Babies’ Home in Korea all have a unique story to tell. But for all of them, the ultimate goal is the same — to one day go home.

“The goal of the babies home is to keep families together,” says Paul Kim, Holt’s director of programs in Korea. Some children stay for a week. Others stay for years. Some of their parents may choose to relinquish them for domestic adoption. But most will eventually rejoin their birth families, once they have overcome whatever caused them to place their child in care in the first place.

Since 1981, Holt International and Holt Korea have operated the babies’ home as a haven for families in crisis — a place where they can bring their children for temporary care and support while they work to get back on their feet. While Holt Korea manages the babies’ home, Holt International finds sponsors for every child in care to help provide food, clothing and other basic necessities. With the support of their sponsors, the children at Jeonju have everything they need to thrive while they wait to rejoin their birth families, or if that’s not possible, to join a loving adoptive family in Korea.

Ashley Bawl with a baby in care at Jeonju. “I felt that [Holt] has never lost its intention. Never lost its purpose,” she says. “It’s always focused on the kids.”
Continue reading “Love in Action: Holt Supporters Visit the Jeonju Babies’ Home in Korea”

Philippines Gift Team


What do you do to get ready for Christmas? We know it’s only September, but stay with us here.

Do you deck the halls with tinsel and bows? Drink hot cocoa by a hot fire? Brave the malls and department stores in search of the perfect gifts?

What if there was another way to get in the holiday spirit — a way to spread the joy of Christmas to those who need it most?

As a Holt sponsor to a child in the Philippines, we want to personally invite you to travel with us this December on our first annual gift team trip to the Philippines!

From December 3-11, we will enjoy a Christmas show with single mothers in Manila, take gifts to children in Cebu, and spread holiday cheer to college-aged scholars we support in Paranque. We will also see the sights, celebrate KBF’s 39th anniversary and still have plenty of time to play with the children!

The gift team trip is a unique opportunity to see Holt’s programs in action — the same programs you support through your Holt sponsorship. You will meet families in our family strengthening program, learn more about our work, and see with your own eyes how you are making a difference in the life of a child!

The deadline to register for this special trip is fast approaching. Click here to register online by October 15, or contact Sabrina Biggers at 541-505-5525 or for more information.

We look forward to traveling with you this December!

Travel Dates: 12/3/14-12/11/14
Registration Deadline: 10/15/13
Estimated cost: Approximately $4,300 – $4,600 per person. The range in cost represents air travel; hotel accommodations; domestic flights and ground transportation within the Philippines; most meals and a non-refundable required project fee of $750 per person.
*Although we cannot guarantee that you will be able to meet your sponsored child while in country, we will do our best to arrange a meeting. If you are interested in traveling with us on the Philippines Gift Team, contact Sabrina Biggers today!

A Sweet and Determined Boy Who Needs a Family of His Own

Hear what a Holt social worker has to say about this adorable 5-year-old she met earlier this year!

Antony, SE Asia

DOB: March 5, 2010

Jessica Palmer, Holt’s director of adoption services for Southeast Asia, met 5-year-old Antony last year. As soon as Jessica arrived at Antony’s foster mother’s house, he greeted her warmly and proudly showed her the sign language he and his friends recently learned, including the sign for “thank you” and “I love you.”   Later, Jessica watched Antony — who is often described as sweet and quiet — color a picture for her. “He worked on it for a long time and payed close attention to his work,” Jessica says.

 Antony was born at 30 weeks and entered foster care shortly after birth when it was determined that his mother could not care for him. Antony’s birth mother drank alcohol throughout her pregnancy, and Antony was sick for the first year of his life with various illnesses, including bronchitis and pneumonia, but has since recovered. Antony started preschool last year and is said to be doing very well in his studies.  He loves climbing on the school playground, playing musical instruments, and looking at animal books and wildlife programs.

Antony had surgery to correct his tongue-tie — a congenital abnormality of the tongue that often affects feeding and speech — in 2012.  He also has mild exotropia, and digestion issues. “Antony’s foster mother has started giving him lactose-free milk, which seems to be helping,” Jessica says. “He has a good appetite and can feed himself.”

When visiting Antony, Jessica made note of his determined spirit. “He had trouble with a cat puzzle but was persistent and patient in finishing it,” she says. “When he did and was asked what sound the animal made, he said ‘meow.’ One of the girls was helping him with the puzzle but he wanted to finish it himself and show me when it was done.” Jessica says he is very smart and can name animals and write letters in both his native language and in English. Antony is soft spoken and quiet with adults, but louder with other kids, Jessica says. “He prefers to be with the kids who are a little older than him, as those children helped him last year when he first started school.”

Antony is a sweet little boy who waits for a patient family with access to medical and developmental resources, and has a good understanding of trauma, grief and loss in older child adoption.

If you are interested in learning more about Antony, please contact Kristen Henry at 


Vietnam’s Department of Adoptions Names Holt as One Agency to Provide Adoption Services

Dillon International and Holt International Children’s Services were named today—in an announcement by the U.S. Department of State— as the two U.S. agencies selected by the Ministry of Justice’s Department of Adoptions in Vietnam to place waiting children from Vietnam with adoptive families in the United States.

The decision allows the two agencies to find families for orphaned children with medical special needs, children over the age of 5 and children who are part of a sibling group through Vietnam’s Special Adoption Program, which will open effective Tuesday, September 16.

“We are honored by the trust Vietnam’s Ministry of Justice has placed in our agencies to serve some of the nation’s most vulnerable children,” said Kyle Tresch, Dillon International’s executive director.

“Both Holt and Dillon consider it a privilege to continue in our long-standing commitments to meet the needs of children in Vietnam,” added Phillip Littleton, Holt International president and CEO. “We are grateful for all of the efforts of the Ministry of Justice to develop strategies to ensure ethical adoption practices in Vietnam and for the U.S. Department of State’s support for these efforts.”

Director Nguyen Van Binh of the Central Adoption Authority in Vietnam presents our license to Hang Dam, Holt Vietnam’s country director who works out of our office in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Both Dillon and Holt have a long tradition of serving the children of Vietnam through adoption and humanitarian aid programs. Adoption services were provided until 2008, when a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Vietnam expired, placing adoptions by Americans on hold. This new agreement initiated by the U.S. Department of State and Vietnam’s Department of Adoptions allows intercountry adoptions to resume through the Special Adoption Program offered by the two agencies.

Founded in 1972, Dillon International is a licensed non-profit adoption and humanitarian aid agency headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., with branch locations in five U.S. states. Dillon International is Hague Accredited through the Council on Accreditation to process international adoptions pursuant to the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000.

Founded in 1956, Holt International is dedicated to finding and supporting permanent, loving families for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children. Holt is recognized as a leader in child welfare and permanency planning, providing services and advocating for the best interest of children while always upholding the highest ethical practices.

For more information about adopting from Vietnam, please contact Jessica Palmer at

To learn more about the many different ways Holt serves children and families in Vietnam, click here.

How Does Your Money Get To Your Sponsored Child?

Every month, you faithfully send your $34 to your sponsored child … Sort of.

Technically, you send your gift to Holt International, trusting that we will properly steward your money and direct it to your sponsored child. We don’t, in fact, actually give your sponsored child and his or her family $34 in cash or check each month.

Why, you ask? Wouldn’t our sponsorship program be just as effective if we simply wrote a check each month?

Well, that’s a great question, and it is one that our sponsorship team hears often.

There are many reasons why Holt doesn’t give cash to the children and families in our programs, but the biggest reason is that we care deeply about those who we serve and we want every mother, father and child in our programs to be successful. Remember, Holt’s ultimate goal is to ensure that every child has a permanent, loving family. But while our goal for every child is the same, the way we work toward that goal is different for every child. Continue reading “How Does Your Money Get To Your Sponsored Child?”