Sarah DeGarmo has 12 brothers and sisters, 11 of whom joined her family through adoption. Here, Sarah shares about her journey to find God’s 30-before-30 bucket list for her life, and how she and her husband, Leighton, began their own adoption journey to their third child.
My husband and I are currently in the process of adopting from the Philippines. While we may have just started our adoption journey, the seed of adoption was planted for me over 20 years ago when my parents returned home from the Philippines with my brother Isaac. After him followed Kim, Lancer, Josh, Gerard, Arturo, Ericko, Melvin, Cathy, Chris and Jena. I have one biological brother, Austin, making our family 13 children strong.
Back when there were only four of us kids, our family took a road trip to the Grand Canyon. I was 12 or 13 at the time and somehow Dad had convinced Austin and I that we should hike from the rim of the Grand Canyon down to the river and then back up to the rim in a day.
Actress Danielle Lyn (Queen Sugar and The Divergent Series: Allegiant) is a Filipina adoptee using her platform to advocate for orphaned children and kids in impoverished communities. Here, she shares her hopes for 2018.
Adoptive mom Karen Barnes shares what she has learned over the years as she and her husband, Mike, have welcomed 11 older children into their family.
I have to smile when asked what I have learned as a parent after adopting 11 older children. When Mike and I began our adoption journey 20 years ago, we definitely did not know where it would lead us. Here we are in our 50s, a time when most people are slowing down a bit, yet our lives are a blur of perfecting school lunches, meal planning for at least 10 every day and realizing that having seven kids in high school at the same time is a unique situation. Our house is crazy busy, full of life and heartfelt stories. Through older child adoptions, God has taught us so many valuable life lessons. Continue reading “What I Have Learned”
Through the Independent Living and Educational Assistance Program in the Philippines, young adults aging out of institutional care gain the skills to live successfully on their own. Marlon Cruz was once an ILEA scholar. This is the story of his life, as told by Marlon.
I was 5 years old when I got lost in the market of Marikina City and never found my parents again. That was the start of my struggles in life. I did not know where I would stay and how I would eat. I came to the point that I was sleeping anywhere I could. To survive, I started to carry baskets and bags of goods for people in the marketplace so I could get money for food. When authorities learned that I had no parents, they put me in an orphanage and they started to look for my parents.
But nobody was found and nobody came back to claim me.
The barangay authorities sent me to Boys Town Complex in Markina City, an institution for children without parents. I was admitted in Mahay, a section in the institution where children like me are housed. I had mixed feelings, happy but sad. Happy because there were people who would care for me and there was food, so I did not have to wonder how I would find food to eat. Happy that I would not experience again what I had been through, I experienced playing again. I focused my attention on playing to avoid thinking of my lost parents and continuing to wonder why I no longer have parents. Continue reading “The Story of My Life”
At the beginning of November, to kick off National Adoption Month, we shared a collage of all the children on our waiting child photolisting — just a small glimpse of the hundreds of children who we are seeking families for at any given time. We hoped it would kindle a passion in our supporters to help advocate for children who need loving families of their own. And it did!
You shared our waiting child stories. You reposted our advocacy blogs. You helped us tell the story behind each and every photo that we featured on social media during National Adoption Month.
The photo above represents the number of children from our photolisting that we have — thanks in part to your advocacy — matched with families so far in 2016. The black and white blocks represent the children who now are, or soon will be, part of a loving and secure family. The ones in color represent the children who we still need your help advocating for.
In total this year, Holt has matched 86 children from the photolisting — and another 200+ directly with a family! This is something to celebrate!
But we seek a world where every child has a loving and secure home. And until that day comes, we intend to keep working hard to advocate for the children left behind — and we ask you to join us.
One of the best ways that you can support our advocacy efforts is through sharing the stories we post about waiting children. That can be anything from pressing “like” or “share” on Facebook to leading an informational meeting in your community. Creativity is encouraged and we look forward to hearing what you come up with!
Thank you again for your heart and compassion for children who need families. Allied with you, we can achieve anything!
Social workers. They come into your home with a white glove and a watchful eye. They check under your bed for dust mites. They go through your medicine cabinet. They call your neighbors to inquire how long you wait to mow your lawn. They take note of every imperfection, just looking for a reason not to approve your family for adoption.
Is that about what you had in mind?
Well meet Kathie Stocker and Kris Bales, two of Holt’s most devoted — and beloved — social workers. Kathie has worked with Holt for 23 years and Kris for 14. Kathie is often the first person families hoping to adopt from Korea will speak to, while Kris advises families interested in the China program. Both and have guided hundreds of families through their adoption process. At Christmas time, their walls are covered in cards from families and photos of children they’ve helped place. Both will be the first to tell you that the job of a social worker is not to be taken lightly — entrusting a family with a child is no small decision. But they will also tell you that the homestudy process is not about judgment. No family is perfect. And neither are they.
Above all, their passion — and their role — is to find the right family for every child.
Today on the Holt blog, learn more about what Kris and Kathie ACTUALLY do as adoption social workers for Holt.
During the summer, we consistently receive fewer applications than throughout the rest of the year. Maybe it’s because families are going on vacation or their lives are full of activities, but whatever the reason, lower application numbers mean that we are finding homes for fewer children overall. We want to counteract that trend and we need your help.
One of the major ways that we find prospective families for children is through social media, and when working with social media, it’s all about “reach.” This is where you come in.
We often use our Facebook page to advocate for children on our waiting child photolisting. In order for our Facebook campaigns to be successful, however, we rely on people like you to spread children’s stories through sharing, liking and commenting. Facebook thinks it knows what people want to see on their feed, and it figures that out by looking at what is getting the most engagement. So the more shares, likes and comments that our posts get, the more Facebook assists in spreading them around. Basically, the more engagement that a post about a child receives, the better chance we have of finding them a loving and secure home.
Take Suzanna. Like many other children on our waiting child photolisting, we wrote a blog post about Suzanna and then posted it to Facebook. Here is where it gets exciting. People like you started sharing it, liking it and commenting on it, and within the first day, 40,000+ people saw it! That number is still climbing.
Now, that is a lot of people and we get excited about that. But what we are really excited about is that we had 40+ inquiries about adopting Suzanna, and one family is going through the process to adopt her now!
Helping us spread the word about children who need extra advocacy has a real and tangible impact on the lives of the people that we “reach” — and most importantly, on the lives of children who are waiting for a family of their own.
Around the world, education is one of the most effective ways to help children and families escape long-term poverty. But in the countries where Holt works in SE Asia, this basic right of children is not easily obtained.
In impoverished communities across SE Asia, parents often let their children drop out of school to enter the labor workforce at very early ages. But high dropout rates, lack of education and poverty are all primary factors contributing to child trafficking.
Children as young as 12 who drop out of school have become easy targets for traffickers who recruit them with the promise of job placements in big cities. Sometimes, they end up in very harsh working conditions. Others are trafficked for far worse reasons.
Preschools or daycare for children ages 3-5 are also not available in many rural areas in SE Asia — resulting in delayed social, language and academic development. In some countries, the frequent migration of parents to seek jobs in big cities has resulted in children not having access to preschools. Many parents simply can’t afford to send their children to preschool, or do not understand how education impacts the development of their children prior to Grade 1.
Without your help and partnership, Holt could never reach so many lives in SE Asia and the many other countries where we work. Thank you for being part of a big cause serving children and families around the world!
Thoa Bui | Senior Executive of South & Southeast Asia Programs