Holt’s President and CEO Visits Vietnam



Phil Littleton, Holt’s president and CEO, recently returned from a trip to Vietnam. While on the trip, Phil visited a daycare center and orphanage we help support in Dong Nai and met with Holt-Vietnam staff and the deputy director of adoption to discuss our work in the country.

Holt first served families and children in Vietnam through a USAID-funded nutrition program, later developing an international adoption program to help find permanent homes for the twenty-five thousand children living in Vietnam’s orphanages.  In 1973, Holt introduced foster care for children in the country’s orphanages, providing loving, individual attention to nurture their development while they await permanent placement. Despite steady growth in services, political instability forced Holt to cease work in Vietnam in 1975. Returning in the late 1980s, Holt developed programs throughout the country that enabled children to stay within their birth families, despite hardships.

“Holt has a very long history of serving children and families in Vietnam,” Phil says. Continue reading “Holt’s President and CEO Visits Vietnam”

What Makes Children 5x More Likely To Go To School?

One of Mahananda’s students at the Montessori school where she now teaches.

Mahananda grew up the daughter of a single mother in the slums of Pune, India.

Where she comes from, education was never a guarantee. Public school is not free in India, and for families living in poverty, the choice between food and school fees has always been a no-brainer. Still today, India has one of the largest populations of out-of-school children in the world.

But beyond the poverty of her community, beyond her single-parent household and the barriers to basic education in her country, Mahananda faced another obstacle inherent to the life she was born into…

Mahananda was born a girl.

In India and many places around the world, girls are often kept home from school. If a family can only afford fees for one child, they often opt to send their son to school and their daughter to work.

But when Holt sponsors and supporters create opportunities for girls to go to school, the impact is far-reaching.

Mahananda observes an activity at a summer camp for teens at the Montessori School where she teaches.

When girls are educated, they have the capacity to create unprecedented economic and social change in their communities. Girls who are educated are more likely to delay marriage until adulthood. They have fewer children. And the children they do have are healthier and stronger. An educated mother will have increased job opportunities and higher wages, giving her the resources to buy food and medicine for her children.

Mahanada stands beside Usha, one of her fellow Montessori teachers. Usha also received educational sponsorship as a girl growing up in Pune.

Educated women are also five times more likely to send their own children to school – increasing literacy rates in their communities, and breaking the cycle of poverty.

Mahananda is one educated woman who is creating change in her community.

With the support of a Holt sponsor, Mahananda completed her education and went on to become a Montessori schoolteacher. Today, she works for our partner in the region — educating another generation of sponsored boys and girls from the same slum community where she grew up.

As back-to-school season approaches, will you consider giving a gift of $17 to help send a girl to school? By equipping a girl with everything she needs — from books and supplies to a uniform and fees — you can help one more girl to conquer the gender barrier and create a better life for herself, her family and her community.


Tayla Needs a Family!

Update: As of February 2016, Tayla has a family! Congratulations Tayla!

Born October 15, 2014, NE Asia

K2014-0256 taken 6.16.2015 (1)


Ten-month-old Tayla’s photo has been on Holt’s waiting child photolisting for a month. “In that time, no one has inquired about adopting her,” a Holt staff member in the waiting child program says.

We hope that sharing Tayla’s story will help inspire interest and lead Tayla to the loving family she needs a deserves!

Born on October 15th, 2014, Tayla lives in the NE Asia with a loving foster family. Upon her first well-baby check, it was discovered that she had ptosis, or drooping eyelid, developmental delays and a possible brain anomaly that is currently being followed up on. Her foster mother says she sleeps through the night, loves taking baths, takes good naps and loves to be held.  When she’s hungry, Tayla playfully sucks on her fingers. Her social worker calls her a “cute and lovely little girl with fine skin and tiny features.” To help address her delays, Tayla began physical therapy in February and has since drastically improved. “Her foster mother does a very good job at helping her with her therapy,” Tayla’s social worker says.

Tayla needs a family who is open to her needs and who can provide her with any medical care or therapies that she may need in the future.

“We hope that [Tayla] will soon meet good permanent parents who will accept her medical condition and love her as much as she is loved now,” Tayla’s social worker says.  “We hope that she will grow up healthy with no particular medical concerns.”

Contact Kristen Henry for more information about adopting Tayla.

To adopt Tayla, couples must be between the ages of 25 and 44 and half at time of homestudy submission. Applicants must be married at least 3 years and live in one of the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, HI, IA, KS, KY, MN, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NJ, NM, OH, OK, OR, SC, SD, TN, TX, WADC, WV, or WY. Up to 4 children in the home. * See country criteria for complete requirements.


Thank you for your back-to-school prayers!

As sponsored children prepare to return to school this fall, we sent Holt sponsors some snail mail, asking them to join with us in prayer for their sponsored child’s health, safety and education.

Already, thousands of prayer promise cards are pouring into our headquarters office in Oregon and filling our lobby with uplifting and loving messages for children!

We are so encouraged by sponsor’s prayer promises for the child or children they sponsor! Sponsor’s commitment to help every orphaned and vulnerable child receive the educational opportunities they deserve is inspirational.

Check out this video, recapping just a few of the prayers we’ve received …

Sponsorship-Back to School Prayer cards from Holt International on Vimeo.

Haven’t sent your prayer promise, yet? You can do it now, online — even if you’re not a child sponsor … yet!

And consider giving a gift of $17, which provides school supplies, books, shoes, uniforms and any school-related materials a vulnerable child may need this year.

We’ve said it once, and we will say it again — you are a super hero for children in need!

Thank you for partnering with us to create a brighter world for the most vulnerable children.

A Safe Place to Sit and Read

Holt expands our family strengthening work in Mongolia by funding an after-school program and library in an impoverished district of the country’s capital.

In the Songin Khairhan district of Mongolia, one of the poorest in the country’s capital of Ulaanbaatar, sits a social services building, an office where families come to receive support and services for themselves and their children. Since 2010, Holt International and its partners in Mongolia have provided relief for these families — many of whom have traveled from Mongolia’s countryside to find work — in the form of support that enables them to obtain nutritious food, medical services and educational materials.

In the coming months, Holt hopes to transform one of the rooms of this humble social services building into a fully functioning library and after-school program. “The children in this area love to read and need a safe place to go when they aren’t in school,” Paul Kim, Holt’s director of programs for Korea and Mongolia, says.

Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Holt began to serve homeless children in Ulaanbaatar through a partnership with the Mongolian NGO the Naidvar Center. Continue reading “A Safe Place to Sit and Read”

Passing the Torch: Part Two

In 2011, Holt adoptee and adoptive father Lawrence Vallandigham reflected on how his experience of growing up adopted might influence how he parents his son. Four years later, Lawrence, whose son is now 6, discusses how his perceptions have changed over time.

Giants Aug2014

Divining nature from nurture is a parent’s lifetime Gordian knot. Ask any parent with a history of family adoption to attribute character, predilections and quirks, and that’s when stories become confusing. It’s not like we can simply point to Daddy’s or Mommy’s side of the family – though we jokingly do.

This is our evolving story with our son, Gordon.

In 2011, my wife and I shared our adoption journey from our decision to adopt through the first two years of our son’s new life. I closed the article with rhetorical flourish about ways my being an adult adoptee might influence parenting attitudes and behaviors for raising Gordon:

(2011 story excerpt):  As an adult Holt adoptee, I occasionally wonder how it informs my approach to fatherhood. Will my experiences be relevant to Gordon? Should I be more intuitive about identity issues? Of this I am certain: just as I was lovingly raised, Gordon will always know of his beginnings – not as a reason for solicitous gratitude, but to understand the richness of family and the blessings of life.

Little did I think I’d be asked for a follow-up perspective four years later. Upon discussing with my wife the proposition to write another article, we believe our story might resonate with others in this unique community who have chosen love through adoption. Continue reading “Passing the Torch: Part Two”

Easing Their Transition

Holt’s clinical services director travels to Vietnam and the Philippines to teach social workers how to prepare older children for the transition to life in a family.

Huu Photo 2 - 26 May
Abbie met Hudson while in Vietnam. “He was very engaged in the group process and enjoyed saying the few English words he knew,” she says. “He worked hard in the beginning learning to say my name, practicing it over and over until he got it right.” Holt is now seeking a loving adoptive family for Hudson.

You’re 9 years old. You live in Vietnam. You grew up surrounded by other children, none of them siblings. You have never known what it’s like to have a mom and a dad. You don’t even understand the concept of parents, but all the grownups seem to think it is a good thing. You have no idea how you would respond to the actual love and affection of a family. You are fiercely independent and have learned to keep your emotions stuffed deep inside. All you’ve ever known is life inside an orphanage.

Now you live in a house in Minnesota. You have a brother and a sister and parents and grandparents. You have your own room that’s so quiet and dark at night, you can’t sleep. You grew up in heat and humidity, but here, a thick powdery blanket of snow covers everything in sight. Everything is foreign. The weather, the food, the language and most of all, the onslaught of love and attention from people you have known only a couple weeks.

This is your new normal. But everything feels new. And nothing feels normal. Continue reading “Easing Their Transition”

Growth and Transformation

The children of migrant families are some of the most vulnerable in India, and they are often excluded from schools and at risk of exploitation, trafficking and abuse. Recognizing the needs of this growing population, Holt’s partner in the region completely refocuses their efforts, using education as a transformative tool.

26-year-old mother of three, Avni stands outside her temporary home in Bangalore, India. Six years ago, Avni and her husband migrated 350 miles from their rural village to this major metropolis of more than 8 million people in search of work.They were hired to build a six story apartment building, and while they build, they also live on their job site with their two sons.

Avni pulls her husband and son’s stiff, sun-dried pants and shirts off the frame of wooden scaffolding built outside her home. She climbs the seven unfinished concrete stairs, and drifts through the wide, cement hole where a double door and massive picture windows will someday lead into the lobby of a six-story apartment building. But, at that point, her family won’t live here anymore. It will be time for them to move on in search of another job, and another home.

Avni is 26 years old, and the mother of three children — an 11-year-old daughter and two sons, Basha, 9, and Mapasha, 6. She is strikingly beautiful, and has a kind, shy smile that peeks through the whole time she speaks, the little ring in her nose glistening. Her feet are bare under her purple sari, except for a thin, gold toe ring, which married women commonly wear in India as a token of luck in marriage.

Avni and her family migrated from their rural village to Bangalore, India six years ago for work, hopeful that they could find better jobs and make a better life for themselves and their children.

They weren’t the only ones. Continue reading “Growth and Transformation”

An Exciting Opportunity to Advocate for Children with HIV in China

We are now recruiting families for Holt’s first ever ambassador trip to China!

The Children’s Home in Nanning cares for 30 boys and girls, ages 2-17. As the children may face discrimination if identified, we cannot share their photos.

The Children’s Home in Nanning provides care for children who were born with HIV, whose parents have passed away, and who face discrimination in their cities, towns and villages because of their status. Extended family are afraid to care for them, landlords won’t rent to them, and public schools don’t want them in their classrooms. The Children’s Home, with financial and advisory support from Holt and various other charities like www.stdaware.com, provides these children with a home where they can receive an education, medical care and affection from caregivers who do not fear them because of their HIV status. For a firsthand account of a Holt staff member’s visit to this special facility, please see Samantha Gammon’s blog post. Continue reading “An Exciting Opportunity to Advocate for Children with HIV in China”

From Our Family to Yours

Moved by the plight of one family in Vietnam, Holt board member Ken Matsuura and his wife, Diane, provide the resources needed to help them build a safer home.

Early this year — in January — we joined a group of Holt board members for a 12-day trip to see the work of Holt in Vietnam. Led by Thoa Bui, Holt’s senior executive of SE Asia, and Hang Dam, Vietnam country director, we visited family strengthening projects, orphanages caring for children with special needs, day care centers supporting ethnic minority children through a milk program and participated in a house building project — as well as taking time for sightseeing in beautiful Vietnam.

Ken Matsuura presents an envelope to Mrs. Tran with the extra funds needed for the family to build their home.
As we met each family and child, we were impressed with the level of care and commitment provided by the Holt Vietnam staff. They showed personal concern for each of their specific needs and expressed genuine hope that they could help meet those needs — enabling the children and families to have a brighter future. Continue reading “From Our Family to Yours”