In the Knick of Time


A Special Needs Adoption Fund (SNAF) grant helped Max come home quickly so that he could receive the medical care that he so desperately needed. 

Six-year-old Max has no spleen. HIs body lacks the ability to fight infection, and every time he has a fever, his family has to rush him to the ER.

Thankfully, Max has a wonderful, devoted family — a family that obsessively watches him for any sign of sickness. A family that would drop everything to make sure he receives the vital healthcare he needs. 

Continue reading “In the Knick of Time”

Lile Needs a Family to Care for Him

UPDATE: As of April 2016, Lile has a family!

Holt Ambassador Andrea advocates again for Lile, an 8 year old who has complex congenital heart disease. Her heart breaks that he has, as of now, had no families inquire about him. 

IMG_2768-540x720The room was brightly lit and full of activity. Excited children clamored about and I strained to catch a glimpse of the two boys whom I had been partnered with for the week as part of Holt’s Beijing Ambassador trip. Suddenly, I saw “Lile”! I watched as he walked into the room and looked about, surveying the activities keenly. I felt giddy with excitement, so thrilled to have a chance to get to know him and hopefully assist in finding his forever family.

I jotted down notes as I watched him. He seemed well liked by the other children, he minded the ayis [caregivers], he was able to sit still during presentations, and he was very aware of his surroundings. I detected a bit of anxiousness emanating from him — seemingly from his need to make sure that the other children were participating and having fun. He was constantly looking around to be certain that nobody was left out. My heart melted when he noticed a toddler girl who was standing alone while the other little ones were being guided through an activity. He marched up to her and very gently, with a hand on each of her shoulders, guided her over to the activity and made sure she was engaged.

Continue reading “Lile Needs a Family to Care for Him”

No One Waits Longer Than a Child With Special Needs

Hanoi 2014 95Every day, orphaned and abandoned children around the world wait for a loving family to call their own. Some wait months. Some wait years.

Many wait in care facilities where they are just one among dozens or even hundreds of other children. With caregivers unable to give each child the love and attention they deserve, children often rock themselves to sleep at night — waiting for a mom and a dad to come and get them.

But children with special needs often wait far longer for a family. They watch as other children leave one by one with their adoptive parents. And they wonder, month after month, year after year, when it will be their turn. When they get to go home. 

Continue reading “No One Waits Longer Than a Child With Special Needs”

Stigma and the Unwed Mom

Why does the distinction between children who have lost their parents through relinquishment or through family death or abandonment matter? It matters because if we hope to create a world where every child has a loving, secure home, then we need to understand how and why women choose to relinquish their children — and work to remedy those reasons.


Take that word and roll it around.

Can you feel the pain it carries? The questions it leaves unanswered?

It’s sharp and clinical.

What it hides is the pain — the pain of the woman losing her child; the pain of the child losing his or her family.

It also masks the complex and surprising reasons why a woman may choose to relinquish her child.

Saanvi* was 24 years old when she became pregnant with her son. At the time, she had already earned a master’s degree in computer science. She liked reading, dancing and cooking. She’d known the father of her child since she was a child herself, and they loved each other very much.

However, Saanvi and her boyfriend weren’t married, and the weight of their pregnancy hung heavy on her heart. She knew her options were limited in India. Continue reading “Stigma and the Unwed Mom”

Holt Philippines Partner KBF Celebrates 40 Years of Serving Children


In December 2015, Holt’s long-time partner in the Philippines, KBF, celebrated 40 years of service to orphaned and vulnerable children!

Holt actually helped to establish KBF – the Kaisahang Buhay Foundation, or Working Together Foundation, in Manila — in 1975.  With Holt providing funding and technical assistance, a local team of professionals developed and staffed KBF. Though not a child care center, KBF became a resource for the many orphanages around the country. The staff worked to improve care conditions while also encouraging institutions to move children into permanent families.

In the 1980s, KBF broadened its outreach, establishing a medical sponsorship program, a day care center and a program to house street children. Through a family rehabilitation and outreach program, KBF also helped numerous other agencies increase their services to children.  In 1984, KBF introduced a model foster care program to provide attentive, loving care for children awaiting adoption. After a temporary stay in foster care, many children reunited with their birth families or joined  local or international adoptive families. Continue reading “Holt Philippines Partner KBF Celebrates 40 Years of Serving Children”

Top 15 Stories of 2015

The year 2015 was an excellent year in stories on the Holt blog — so much so that we expanded our Top 10 list to a Top 15 of the year!

In 2015, Holt’s creative lead, Billie Loewen, and I traveled to India, where we witnessed the incredible impact of Holt’s child nutrition program, gained new understanding on how Holt’s local partners are helping some of their country’s most vulnerable children and families, and met profoundly inspiring young women who refuse to accept the gender inequities that are far too common in their native India. In 2015, China announced major changes to their one-child policy — inspiring an essay by Chinese adoptee Lillian Schmaltz — and significantly expanded options for single applicants such as Vicky Baker, whose story of opening her heart and home to a son was among the most viewed of the year. Perhaps what’s most exciting this year is that a number of submissions from adoptees topped the list. In fact, the top four most viewed blog posts of 2015 came from Holt adoptees! 

Without further ado, we are so excited to share Holt’s Top 15 Most Viewed Blogs of 2015, including five adoptee stories, five adoptive family stories and five stories about efforts to strengthen families and uplift orphaned and vulnerable children in our programs around the world. — Robin Munro, Managing Editor Continue reading “Top 15 Stories of 2015”

Saying Yes to a Boy; One Adoptive Family’s Story

After learning about the urgent need for families to adopt boys from China, the Griffis family switches their gender preference from “girl” to “either” — a decision that has blessed them in ways they never imagined.

From the moment that adoption was on our hearts, it was always China. As I would read blogs about China adoption stories and browse the waiting children lists, I felt deep in my soul that soon, I would be looking into the eyes of my future child. It was always China. Always special needs. And always a girl.


Because it was China, we assumed there were girls upon girls waiting. We believed, like so many others, that the effects of the one-child policy in China were still rampant and that there were baby girls just waiting for families. I read blog upon blog written by families who had adopted from China, and at that point, most of them had adopted girls. This gave me a vision for what adopting from China would look like, and I started to dream of adding a daughter to our family.

See, we have two boys already. So adding a girl seemed like a no-brainer. As we were submitting our medical conditions checklist, we also checked “girl” without even giving it much discussion.

And we started to plan to add a girl to our family.

That is, until we started getting emails from our agency that read:

There is an urgent need for parents to adopt boys, but you will wait 6-9 months for a girl.

An URGENT NEED. It is boys who need families. The orphanages and foster homes were not overflowing with girls… but boys. Continue reading “Saying Yes to a Boy; One Adoptive Family’s Story”

The Greatest Need

After beginning the adoption process to adopt a girl, the Jackson family decided to be open to either gender. They welcomed Luke into their family a year and a half ago.

As we embark on 2016, our top priority remains: to meet the greatest needs of orphaned and vulnerable children around the world. So we talked with our adoption counselors and asked them, “What is the greatest need right now among children waiting for adoptive families?”

The answer was resounding: “We need families to adopt boys!”

This need is not a new one, and it’s one we’ve been working hard to meet. In the past, we’ve advocated for boys by raising awareness on our blog and social media, featuring the need as a myth in our November myth-busting campaign, and sharing stories from Holt families about the joys of adopting a boy.

Continue reading “The Greatest Need”

Special Needs Adoption Grant Helps Lucy Come Home

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As a 7-year-old with albinism in China, Lucy needed the love, support and acceptance of a family. In September 2015, she came home with help from Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund and today she is thriving as a member of the Burleigh family. 

From the beginning, something stood out about about Lucy.

Jennifer Burleigh first laid eyes on her as she sat at her computer, scrolling through the waiting child photolisting. The Burleigh family wasn’t looking to adopt at the time — they already had two biological children and an adopted son — but Jennifer would often look through the photolisting, praying for and sharing about the children she saw there. Her heart hurt for each one and she desperately wanted them to find families.

As she scrolled through photos on this day, one girl in particular caught her eye. It wasn’t so much her blue eyes, pearly skin and toe-head hair that made her stand out from the other children. But rather, an unexplainable tug she caused on Jennifer’s heart.

Continue reading “Special Needs Adoption Grant Helps Lucy Come Home”

A Family’s “Thank You” to SNAF Donors


The Court family expresses their gratitude to those who donated to Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund (SNAF), which helped them to bring their son, Eric, home in 2015. 

THANK YOU to everyone whose generous donations to the Special Needs Adoption Fund made it possible for us to meet the costs necessary for us to bring our son, Eric, home. We are so grateful that he is here with us now and we are together as a family!

One year ago, we learned about Eric for the first time through Holt International Children’s Services. My wife discovered Eric on their waiting child list. She felt immediately drawn to him and told me with tears in her eyes that he needed to be in our family. We talked with a representative from Holt and we both wanted to apply for adoption, but I really didn’t see how we could meet the costs. In fact, just a few weeks after discovering Eric, I was in the midst of writing an email to Holt explaining that we couldn’t proceed with the adoption because of finances when I was suddenly struck with a very forceful thought. The thought was, “If you walk away from this child, then you’re abandoning him.” I couldn’t press “Send.” I deleted the message. The next day we agreed to do everything we could to become Eric’s parents.

Continue reading “A Family’s “Thank You” to SNAF Donors”