Anything For His Sons

When his wife left their family, Anurak suddenly had to raise his two sons alone. And in a traditional culture where women typically do the majority of childcare, he didn’t know where to begin. But his love and dedication for his sons motivated him to learn. And as he soon discovered, he didn’t have to go it completely alone.  

You can learn a lot about Anurak from his hands.

Continue reading “Anything For His Sons”

A Stroke of Generosity

What do chicks, fish, a food cart and a garden all have in common? For one family in Thailand, it’s anything but luck. 

“She’s a smart woman,” says Jintana Nontapouraya, the executive director of Holt’s longtime partner organization in Thailand. “Just unlucky.”

Rada’s life was going well. She had graduated from technical school and was pursuing a university degree when her whole life changed. In the second year of her accounting program, her father passed away.

Today, 37-year-old Rada sits on the floor of her home, sharing about this difficult time in her life. She wears a zebra-striped jumpsuit and tendrils of her black hair, blown loose by the fan on this hot day, wisp across her face.

“After my father died, a family member who was a fortune teller told me that I had to come home and become a Buddhist nun,” Rada says, “or else I would die.”

Feeling like she had no other option, that’s what she did. After several days of serving in the Buddhist temple, she got a job selling brand-name shoes in one of Bangkok’s largest shopping centers.

“During that time, when I was around 18 or 19,” says Rada, “I met the children’s father.”

She became pregnant with their first child, and they moved in with his parents.

“He usually didn’t work,” Rada says about the children’s father. “He depended on his own mother and father and I worked most of the time. And he was very jealous when I would go work.” His jealousy turned violent.

Continue reading “A Stroke of Generosity”

There For Them Always

After Kavi and Krit were born, life became difficult. But with the support of Holt sponsors and donors, they now have everything they need to grow strong. And their mom has everything she needs to be there for them, always.

“This time,” says Ping, “I will do things differently.”

As this mother of three shares her story, she can’t focus for long before Kavi or Krit — her twin 8-month-old boys — draw her attention back. With buzzed hair and drooly grins, they scoot and shriek and take off crawling in opposite directions.

Twins are exhausting.

But Ping’s wide, eye-reaching smile is genuine — barely hinting at the hardship she has endured.

Continue reading “There For Them Always”

A Place That Will Always Belong To Her

The Doig family visits their daughter’s foster family in Thailand — a reunion that shows just how meaningful and enduring the foster experience can be.

Elizabeth Doig with her foster mom and sister.

Being back in Thailand — once again riding in a van with two HSF social workers to our daughter’s foster home — was surreal. Six and a half years ago, we took this same trip in a similar van, after just having met our daughter for the first time. I still have vivid memories of that day, working our way through Bangkok traffic with our grieving daughter sitting on my husband’s lap.  I was nervous, uncertain what to expect, and yet eager to glean any information I could from our daughter’s foster family about her personality and the place she had lived the first year and a half of her life.  That first visit, when we met Elizabeth’s foster family for the first time, we watched as our daughter relaxed and became at ease as she navigated her familiar environment. She blossomed and came to life that first visit, and it was our first glimpse into her true personality and an introduction to what her life had been like before we met her. Continue reading “A Place That Will Always Belong To Her”

When You Teach a Child to Fish: Part Two

Because of Holt sponsors and donors, 7-year-old Anis gets to learn and grow each day at his school in southern Thailand. But when he leaves school for the day, his education is just beginning…

Read part one of this story!

Learning & Reviving Culture

As the group comes to a close, the children start to squirm with a nervous energy. You can tell they’ve been sitting patiently throughout the whole group for this one moment. And soon we see why.

They line up in rows in the same place that they met and sit down cross-legged. Some have shakers, a tambourine or a drum. A beat begins and they move their knees up and down in the sitting position and begin to sing.

It’s a traditional folk song and dance called the Likae Hullo. It tells the story of when their people were forced south into the waters of Malaysia in order to find fish, but the words of this song are a plea for their husbands, fathers and brothers to come home. Anis and his brother and sister perform the motions and words with full energy and enthusiasm.

Continue reading “When You Teach a Child to Fish: Part Two”

When You Teach a Child to Fish: Part One

Because of Holt sponsors and donors, 7-year-old Anis gets to learn and grow each day at his school in southern Thailand. But when he leaves school for the day, his education is just beginning…

At the fishing dock near his home in southern Thailand, 7-year-old Anis concentrates to untangle a squirmy, translucent crawfish from the net. It’s late in the day, and he’s dressed in his afterschool clothes — a red soccer jersey, yellow shorts and Crocs. The ocean air is thick and humid, and it has slightly curled his hair in front.

Next, Anis detangles a tiny crab with a bright purple claw.

“I am very proud to help my father,” he says shyly, then tosses the catch into a shallow rubber tub. His father, Burhan, looks on with approval as his son squats alongside him at the fishing net, then smiles as Anis jumps up and runs to join the other kids climbing on the fishing boats.

Anis’ brother, Daris, smiles while sitting in his father and grandfather’s fishing boat with his friends. Anis (far right) is going to join them.

Continue reading “When You Teach a Child to Fish: Part One”

When You Teach a Child to Fish

Because of Holt sponsors and donors, 7-year-old Anis gets to learn and grow each day at his school in southern Thailand. But when he leaves school for the day, his education is just beginning…

At the fishing dock near his home in southern Thailand, 7-year-old Anis concentrates to untangle a squirmy, translucent crawfish from the net. It’s late in the day, and he’s dressed in his afterschool clothes — a red soccer jersey, yellow shorts and Crocs. The ocean air is thick and humid, and it has slightly curled his hair in front.

Next, Anis detangles a tiny crab with a bright purple claw.

“I am very proud to help my father,” he says shyly, then tosses the catch into a shallow rubber tub. His father, Burhan, looks on with approval as his son squats alongside him at the fishing net, then smiles as Anis jumps up and runs to join the other kids climbing on the fishing boats.

Anis’ brother, Daris, smiles while sitting in his father and grandfather’s fishing boat with his friends. Anis (far right) is going to join them.

A little work, and a lot of play, is how Anis and his two siblings spend their days. And all day long, they are learning — both in and out of school.

With support from his sponsors, Anis attends elementary school each day. But this is only where his learning begins. Continue reading “When You Teach a Child to Fish”

Top 16 Blogs of 2016

This past year, our organization celebrated 60 years of serving orphaned and vulnerable children and families in countries across the globe. Over these six decades, our work has touched the lives of thousands of people — people whose lives collectively tell the story of who we are as an organization. Their stories are the story of Holt International. And in 2016, many of these people once again graciously shared their life experiences with our readers.

For the first time, we held an adoptee essay contest, asking adoptees to share how adoption shapes or has shaped their identity. We received a number of thoughtful submissions, and featured the winning essay by Noel Hincha in our annual adoption magazine. I am happy to share that the essay penned by one of our runner-ups in the contest is among this year’s top most-viewed blogs of 2016!

Following last year’s trend, stories written by and about adoptees once again topped the list — receiving thousands of views on Facebook and the Holt blog. Among them is a letter one adoptee wrote to her late birth mother, grieving the fact that it was too late for them to meet; a story about a first-generation adoptee reuniting with the man who cared for him in Korea; and a piece by an adoptee from China who describes what the adoption experience was like for her.

Among our Top 16 Blogs of 2016, we also included five stories about our overseas programs — from a story written by a trailblazing woman in our unwed mothers program in Korea to a story about a boy who learned how to express himself for the first time at the Yesus Mena Deaf School that we support in Ethiopia.

And of course, stories by and about adoptive families are always popular among our readers — particularly among families new to the process who appreciate the insight and wisdom that veteran families have to offer. This year, six adoption stories had the most impact on our readers, including, at the top of the list, a heartfelt piece written under a pseudonym by an adoptive mom who wanted to share the truth about raising children with HIV. As more and more families adopt children with more involved and complex special needs, the experiences of these families become increasingly influential — inspiring other families to adopt children with HIV, congenital heart disease or, as one of our top stories explores in detail, Thalassemia.

As we reflect on the year 2016, and on the last 60 years, we thank the many, many adoptees, families, sponsors, donors, staff members, partners and children and families in our programs for your willingness to share what can be very personal and sometimes heart-wrenching experiences. You moved us. You inspired us. And perhaps most importantly, you instructed us. Every year, we continue to learn and grow from what you share with Holt staff and supporters. And we are so, so grateful for your being a part of our story, the Holt story. — Robin Munro, Managing Editor

Top Five Adoptee Stories

Korean-and-adopted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Krista in Korea: A Letter to My Birth Mother

Over the summer, Holt adoptee Krista Gause traveled on the Holt Heritage Tour to Korea. Before her departure, she wrote an honest and heartfelt letter to her birth mother, sharing about her life and grieving the fact that it was too late for them to meet.  Continue reading “Top 16 Blogs of 2016”

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. 

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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”