At One Deaf School in Ethiopia, This is Their Only Opportunity to Learn…


Ayele is 12 years old.

For the first nine years of his life, he never stepped foot inside a school. Profoundly deaf, he had no way of communicating with his family beyond pointing and gesturing.

But when the Yesus Mena School for the Deaf came to his community in Ethiopia, for the first time, Ayele learned how to express himself through sign language.

This school has had such a tremendous impact on not just Ayele’s life — but on the lives of nearly 500 more deaf or partially hearing children in attendance at this, the first and only deaf school in a region with the highest prevalence of deafness in all of Ethiopia. Continue reading “At One Deaf School in Ethiopia, This is Their Only Opportunity to Learn…”

Because Special Needs Require Specialized Care

ye-1-headerProviding the highest quality care to children with special needs is one of the foundations of our work at Holt.

And as we approach year-end, this life-changing, and often lifesaving, care for children with special needs is on my top priority list.


We support this cause through the Molly Holt Fund, a fund inspired by and named for a woman who has dedicated her life to caring for children with special needs — our founders’ daughter Molly.

Whether for a child who is living with their family or a child who is waiting to come home, whether for a child with HIV, cerebral palsy or other special medical or developmental need, Molly believes that each and every child deserves the medical care, therapy and resources they need to grow healthy and strong.

For these children, specialized care is urgent and so critical. Often, with the right treatment, children with special needs are able to rejoin their birth family or join a family through adoption.


As this year comes to a close, will you support children with special needs through the Molly Holt Fund? Your gift will make such a transformative difference in their lives.

Thank you!

Phil Littleton
President & CEO


Help Feed Vulnerable Children in China!


As the end of the year approaches, I have four top priorities. One of them is to provide food for children most at risk of malnutrition in China.

Thankfully, so far in 2016, your support has helped to provide loving, temporary care to orphaned and abandoned children waiting for adoptive families — more than 300 of whom are already matched with families.

But there are still many orphaned and abandoned children who need help to rejoin their birth families or join a family through adoption — and they remain the most at risk to malnutrition.

Not addressing malnutrition in a child can cause long-term disabilities. It can cause developmental delays, growth stunting, wasting, low immunity and frequent illnesses and infections.


That’s why reaching malnourished children in orphanages is one of my top priorities — and why we need your critical year-end support!

Orphaned children coming into care need support NOW, and reaching these children in China with nutritious food and other essentials will require an urgent, generous response from Holt’s family of faithful supporters like you!

Before the year comes to a close — better yet, today! — please give a gift that will bring critical nutrition to vulnerable children in China.

Thank you!





Merry Christmas, From Aynalem to Degefech

p1b2n85snlp061h3nmd81t3i1tf83Six-year-old Aynalem was adopted from Ethiopia five years ago. One way she and her family stay connected with her birth culture is by sponsoring a child in Ethiopia — a girl named Degefech! This year, in her family’s Christmas card to Degefech, Aynalem — with some typing help from her parents — included a special note just from her.

Hello Degefech, my name is Aynalem. I am 6 years old and I live in Oregon, USA. I am in first grade, in elementary (your primary) school. I play soccer (your football) on a team called Fútbol Club Portland. I like to dance and sing, and I really like to draw. Continue reading “Merry Christmas, From Aynalem to Degefech”

Leaving a Part of Yourself Behind

27391834914154971Meet Chuck Mitman, Holt’s new chairman of the board. A businessman with vast experience in China and a Holt board member since 2012, Chuck has a contagious passion and excitement for creating a better world for children and families. This past fall, Chuck traveled to visit Holt programs and learn more about our work in China. Hear about the children and families who impacted him most.

Chuck Mitman stood behind a big, long table at the front of a classroom in China. The room was full of primary school children, sitting in rows of desks and dressed in school uniforms. Even though it was a holiday, and normally there would be no school today, the students came in to meet Chuck, Holt’s board chair. Today was an important day, and they were all on their very best behavior.

Chuck was introduced to the students. Then Chuck gave a speech, followed by the deputy mayor of the province. The entire time, the children sat in front of them — attentive, quiet, respectful.

“They were scared to death!” Chuck says, a smile evident in his voice. To break the ice, he asked them — through his translator — “Do you have any questions for me?” Continue reading “Leaving a Part of Yourself Behind”

Dear Younger Me, Let Your Heart Be Broken

Andrea writes a letter to her younger self, before she became an adoptive mom to five children, including four children with complex heart disease. This post originally appeared on No Hands But Ours, a site that aims to encourage, equip and support families adopting children with special needs from China.

Hey there, shadow of myself! Yes, I’m talking to you, the woman who is spending countless hours picking out the perfect color for the walls of the nursery where, in a few months, you will rock your “healthy, as young as possible” baby girl from China. I’m smiling right now, thinking of the woman I once was over eleven years ago. You have no idea, absolutely no idea, how your world is about to be rocked. This tornado disguised as a little girl will turn your world upside down.


You will be in the trenches, sometimes beaten down, wondering what happened to your life, trading in the time spent making sure her dresser drawers are neat and organized for time in the attachment therapist’s office. You’ll learn to let go of everything you thought you knew about parenting, of your preconceived idea of family, of “healthy.” You will be forced from selfishness to selflessness. You will stop thinking of adoption as finding the right child for you and learn to become the right parent for a child. It will be difficult. It will be ugly at times. It will leave you a sobbing heap in the closet. It will stretch you and twist you until you don’t recognize yourself anymore. Continue reading “Dear Younger Me, Let Your Heart Be Broken”

Why Is It Important to Have a Special Needs Heritage Tour?

In October of this year, Jordan Love traveled to Korea as part of the Happy Together tour for adoptees with special needs. This was his second time traveling on the Happy Together tour. And this time, he brought back with him some fresh insight about the experience, including a deeper understanding of why it’s so important to have a birth country tour just for adoptees with special needs. 

Jordan with Dr. Cho, the long-time resident doctor at the Ilsan Center in Korea.

At the end of October this year, I had the great opportunity to travel to Korea on the Happy Together tour. This tour is designed specifically for Korean adoptees who have a special need — giving them the opportunity to experience the Korean culture in a variety of activities and also have opportunities to explore their adoption. I first traveled on this tour back in 2011, which was also the first time I returned to Korea since I was adopted at 4 and a half years old. Looking back on my trip in 2011, the whole week seemed like a whirlwind of new experience and discovery. This trip, I felt a lot more comfort and was able to be more relaxed as I knew what to expect.

Upon reflection, I think there are two main things I brought back with me from the Happy Together tour to Korea. Continue reading “Why Is It Important to Have a Special Needs Heritage Tour?”

Mary Paul Retires After Career In Service to Children

After 19 years, Holt says goodbye to the executive director of Vathsalya Charitable Trust, Holt’s long-time partner in Bangalore, India.

Mary Paul (right) with U.S. Ambassador Susan Jacobs (center) and the executive director of BSSK in India.

“If you educate a girl, you educate a generation.”

The world is a better place because of Mary Paul. And it will continue to become better because of her for years into the future. Mary Paul has spent her career in service of others — pouring herself into the children she cared and advocated for, the women she led, the students she taught, the visitors she welcomed with open arms. Continue reading “Mary Paul Retires After Career In Service to Children”

A Story I Won’t Stop Sharing

For most of her life, Holt adoptee Molly Martin viewed her adoption as something that just “happened.”  But after traveling to Thailand to meet her birth mom, she developed a completely different outlook — and a deeper understanding of how loved she truly is. Molly’s story was a finalist in Holt’s 2016 adoptee essay contest. 


For someone who was adopted at a young age, being adopted seems, for lack of a better word, normal. For as long as I can remember, except for a few blurry memories, being adopted is all that I have known. I don’t really remember what it was like not to be adopted, so being adopted has always seemed somewhat natural and definitely not really anything worth talking about. However, at the same time, being adopted isn’t normal. While I can’t speak for all kids that have been adopted, I think a lot of us, at some point or another, have entertained the thought that our situations aren’t normal. Surely, not looking like my family wasn’t normal and the thought that my biological family did not want me was always in the back of my mind. But those aren’t exactly things that most kids want to talk about. Continue reading “A Story I Won’t Stop Sharing”