Special Days for Jovelyn

Two years ago, 4-year-old Jovelyn*, fondly called “Tintin” by her family, was hospitalized and diagnosed with a weak immune system. Her mother, Ala, helped her daughter recover, and Ala’s parents supported their granddaughter as best they could, helping with Jovelyn’s medical treatment and weekly therapy expenses.

JovenaCurrently, Jovelyn is enrolled in Junior Nursery at Kaisahang Buhay Foundation Day Care Center. Despite her weak immune system, Jovelyn is able to attend school. She loves her classmates and is said to always be happy. She likes coloring and scribbling, and can identify primary and secondary colors.

Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF), Holt’s partner agency in the Philippines since 1976, began day care services in 1987 to assist low-income families with food, medicine and immunizations, and appropriate learning activities for children aged 3-5 years. Currently, there are six daycare centers in the metro Manila area, serving 300 preschool children. Families provide a small donation and pay for a uniform. KBF has also been particularly successful in engaging parents as volunteers. Jovelyn’s mother helps to clean the daycare center, and the parents take turns cooking and serving the children food.

Alleviating the burden of child care helps families to be able to seek out employment opportunities, making them more self-sufficient and stable. Daycare programming has also had a significant impact on helping struggling families stay together, while providing children with a head start in education and learning. The program serves 580 vulnerable children a year.

While at school, Jovelyn learns values that increase her self-esteem. She is able to communicate and socialize with her classmates, and loves to share her ideas and experiences. To help maintain her weight, KBF provides supplemental feeding.

Jovelyn’s mother says she is eager to go to school every day and looks forward to eating with her classmates, who are very caring and always make her smile.

The family extends their gratefulness to KBF for the daycare services.


* name changed

60 years ago today, two farmers changed history!


Sixty years ago, a landmark moment occurred in the history of adoption.

On this day in 1955, Oregon Senator Richard Neuberger presented a bill to Congress entitled “A Bill for Relief of Certain War Orphans.” Once passed, this bill would be forever known as the “Holt Bill” — the special legislation that allowed Harry and Bertha Holt to adopt eight children from Korea and bring them to the U.S. as naturalized citizens.

With the passage of the Holt Bill, two farmers from rural Oregon revolutionized the definition of “family.” At a time when adoption was regarded as something to be kept secret, they adopted children who were obviously not children born to them.

They showed that a family’s love can transcend the barriers of race and nationality — inspiring thousands more to welcome orphaned and abandoned children into their hearts and homes through international adoption.

Today, as we reflect on this special moment in history, we also look to the present-day needs of children growing up without the love and support of a family. Most of the children now joining families through international adoption have some form of special medical or developmental need. Bertha Holt had a heart for children with special needs, and it would have overjoyed her to know how many families are now embracing these children — children once considered “unadoptable” — and giving them the love and care they need to thrive.

In honor of Bertha and in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Holt Bill, would you consider giving a gift to Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund — a fund designed to help families adopt a child with a special need? Together with you, we can ensure that finances never stand between a loving family, and a child who needs one.

Orphan Nutrition Update

Holt’s Child Nutrition Program team travels to India, where the program’s impact on the health and wellbeing of children — as well as the reach and ripple effects of the trainings — continue to grow.

BSSK NutritionChahel* would not have survived. Born premature with a serious heart condition, he came into care shortly after birth at a rural branch site of our legacy partner, Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK), outside the central India city of Pune. Transferred to Pune for better care, Chahel needed constant hemoglobin testing and regular blood transfusions. Fortunately, Holt had recently equipped the staff at BSSK with a Hemocue machine and training to measure hemoglobin for iron-deficiency anemia. Chahel received the medical interventions he needed and today, he is able to stand with support and recently took his first few steps. BSSK is now seeking a loving family for him.

Sabal* and Ibha* were frail and seriously underweight when they came into care. At 15 months, Sabal weighed just 18 pounds, while Ibha at nearly 2 months weighed under 5 pounds. This brother and sister were always tired and struggled to adjust to life in care at BSSK. Well fed at BSSK and fully treated for their health conditions — Ibha was living with HIV, and Sabal wore an eye patch over his infected left eye — their continued failure to thrive puzzled the caregivers and staff. When staff from Holt and our partner SPOON Foundation visited BSSK in February 2015, they helped to correct nutritional deficiencies in Ibha and Sabal. With adjustments to their diet, today they are full of joy and life and the staff feel confident they can find a loving adoptive family for them.

Sabal, Ibha and Chahel are just a few of the children who are benefiting from Holt’s child nutrition initiative since we began implementing it in partnership with SPOON Foundation a little over two years ago. In this short time, the  child nutrition program** has had a tremendous impact on the health and lives of hundreds of children at pilot program sites in India, China and Vietnam. With plans to expand to more countries in the coming years, the child nutrition program will ultimately impact thousands — thousands of children whose low energy and poor health were previously a mystery to their caregivers. Children whose nutritional deficiencies undermined their ability to reach developmental markers, to grow and learn with the same vigor as other children, to thrive in care and one day, a family. Continue reading “Orphan Nutrition Update”

Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas

In the countries where Holt works, the families we serve go to great lengths to care for their children. Through their hard work and dedication, they achieve stability and self-reliance. Often, however, this means sacrificing time with their children. Their desire to provide for their family is great, but job opportunities are few. This is particularly common among men, who often travel great distances to find work, leaving their children behind for days, weeks or even months at a time.

At Holt, we believe that a father should never have to choose between sharing a loving bond with his children and providing a stable life for his family.

The greatest gift you can give a father is the knowledge and comfort that comes with knowing his children and family are safe and supported.

On June 21st, in honor of your father, we hope that you will give a one-time special gift that will help a father in Holt’s care provide for his children — and also be there for his children when they need him.

Give a Father’s Day Gift of Hope today!


Thank you for your ongoing support of the children in Holt’s care.



House of Hope

On a recent trip to China, Holt’s China regional coordinator visited a group home Holt supports for children living with HIV. Here, she shares some of their stories — which, though heartbreaking, are edged with hope.

We first became aware of HIV group homes in southwestern China because of a video broadcast through a Chinese news outlet. The report told the story of a 6-year-old boy whose parents had passed away, and who lived alone with his dog because his extended family and community were afraid to contract HIV. The news segment showed an overwhelming outpouring of material support after a wider population found out about the little boy’s situation, but the support he received was measured in bags of food and hand-me-down clothing left outside his door, not care and affection. His life changed dramatically when he finally moved to an HIV group home.

Holt first learned about the HIV group home in southwestern China because of a news report featuring this 6-year-old boy.

Continue reading “House of Hope”

Holt Helps Open a New Daycare Facility in Vietnam

In 2014, Holt helped to build a daycare center for children with special needs in Vietnam. The facility, which opened earlier this year, currently supports 3 children and hopes to soon provide services to more children and families in the area.


Since 2010, Holt International has helped to run a respite daycare facility for children with special needs in Binh Duong, a province in Vietnam north of Ho Chi Minh City. While the need for daycare services is great in this area, the facility has only been able to serve 4 or 5 children each year. After an assessment was completed to identify the cause for the low attendance, it was determined that many impoverished families in the area found the distance to the daycare to be too great. Many families also faced the extra challenge of trying to travel with children whose disabilities were too severe to make the journey to the daycare.

After the assessment, Holt International saw the need and decided to help Binh Doung orphanage build one more small facility located on an empty space of land at the Binh Duong Social Protection Center. “The goal is to help provide more service location options to serve children in need and their families,” Hang Dam, country director of Holt Vietnam, says. Continue reading “Holt Helps Open a New Daycare Facility in Vietnam”

Because No Child Should Ever Feel Alone…

Abhijeet, in orange, stands outside his home in Pune, India with his mother Vimal, his grandmother and his youngest brother.

Every afternoon, 30-year-old Vimal picks up her three boys from school. Her 12-year-old son Abhijeet climbs on her back, and she carries him up, up, up …

Up three flights of steep, rickety stairs — so narrow, you have to turn sideways at places to fit. She ducks under electric wires, and is careful to avoid the sharp, cutting edges of serrated tin.

Three flights up, and the family arrives — exhausted — to their single-room house in a slum community in India.

Abhijeet, the oldest son, has always struggled to walk because of a leg deformity. He also has a learning disability, and rarely speaks. The children in his neighborhood exclude him from games and festivals. Already struggling financially, Vimal and her husband couldn’t afford his school fees — much less resources to care for the specialized therapies he would need to help his legs and communication.

Vimal and her mother climb down the stairs from their home. Vimal has to carry her 12-year-old son up and down these dangerous stairs each day.

Vimal said she doesn’t mind carrying her child up the stairs, but it breaks her heart to see him teased and harassed. Vimal’s youngest son dreams of being a doctor, but she feared that Abhijeet would never dare to dream because of his learning disability. Continue reading “Because No Child Should Ever Feel Alone…”

In Booming Bangalore, Children with Special Needs are Left Especially Vulnerable

In the progressive tech capital of India, jobs and work are plentiful — and while this is good news overall, some of the adverse side effects from rapid urbanization and an increasing migrant population make caring for orphaned and abandoned children with special needs particularly challenging. During a visit to partner program Swanthana in April, Holt Creative Lead Billie Loewen met the children and caregivers most affected by these challenges.

16-year-old Alyssa lives in a care center for children with special needs in Bangalore, India. Alyssa says she would like to be a teacher some day.
Sixteen-year-old Alyssa lives in a care center for children with special needs in Bangalore, India. Alyssa says she would like to be a teacher some day.

A pair of deep, brown eyes peer curiously around the corner of a dark hallway. Pushing herself through a doorway, a small girl with short hair and a long purple dress appears in an old, metal wheelchair. She keeps her head low, her eyes shielded behind a red headscarf. Her short hair is held back with a barrette and a bindi decorates her forehead.

Alyssa is 16 years old, and she is paralyzed from the waist down. Abandoned by her family years ago, likely due to her disability, Alyssa has lived in a home for children with profound special needs for three years. She is one of the few residents at her care center who is able to express her thoughts verbally. Her voice is quiet, but in English she will tell you about her dreams.

Alyssa wants to be a teacher, someday, and teach little children how to dream big. She wants to live independently.

Sadly, at the moment, Alyssa’s dream is just that — a dream. She doesn’t receive any life skills training because her caregivers are too busy for that kind of one-on-one attention. She never travels beyond the very limited borders of her care center. She is stuck in a world that has forgotten her, and it isn’t her fault. Continue reading “In Booming Bangalore, Children with Special Needs are Left Especially Vulnerable”

Top 5 Facts About Adopting From Korea

Are you still trying to decide which country to adopt from? Do you have friends or family interested in adoption? We urge you to consider adopting through our Korea program — and to share this infographic and list of Top 5 Facts about Korea Adoption on social media!


  1. There are many children in Korea waiting for a loving family! For years now, we’ve battled the misconception that adoptions from Korea are coming to an end. While the political, economic and social landscape in Korea has changed — helping more and more children stay with their birth families or find adoptive families in their birth country — the need for international adoption hasn’t gone away. For many children in Korea, international adoption is the only route to a permanent family.


  1. The care children receive in Korea is second to none! While waiting to join an adoptive family, all children stay in the loving care of a foster family – providing nurturing, individual attention to help children reach critical developmental milestones, and form healthy emotional attachments. Korea’s exceptional medical care system also keeps children healthy and strong while they wait to come home.

Continue reading “Top 5 Facts About Adopting From Korea”