So Much More Than Food

Holt’s feeding specialists have traveled the world training caregivers in nutrition and feeding best practices — and sometimes, something as simple as a spoon can make all the difference.

Several months had passed since Holt’s Child Nutrition Program team’s last trip to Ethiopia — to help lead a nutrition training at Sele Enat orphanage. And now, Rae Miller, an occupational therapist who specializes in feeding — a skill particularly helpful in her work with the child nutrition program — was there to evaluate how things were going. Already, rates of anemia had decreased and children looked healthier — and happier!

But still, one issue stood out: aspiration.

Continue reading “So Much More Than Food”

Back to School, Because of You

On August 28, 2017, Holt Haiti partnered with organization Education Works to throw a first annual Back to School Kickoff for children from impoverished communities and those living in orphanage care in Haiti.

The kick-off was a great success! And, it was all made possible because of the generous gifts of sponsors and donors!

Many parents in Haiti struggle to afford the high cost of school fees, uniforms, books and other supplies for their children. Sometimes, these costs alone are more than they might make in a week, month or longer. But when children don’t have the supplies and uniforms they need, they can’t go to school.

Children living in crèches (Creole for ‘orphanage’) are even more unlikely to receive their very own backpacks and school supplies.

During the Back to School Kickoff, more than 110 children from one northern crèche and school received backpacks, notebooks, pencils, crayons and other school supplies — all lovingly provided by Holt donors and Education Works! Continue reading “Back to School, Because of You”

The Story of My Life

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”

2 Things We Try Before International Adoption

Do you know that Holt does more than adoption? Learn more about how our child-centric model drives our work, which includes programs to strengthen families!
Holt does more than adoption?!

A misconception we often hear is that Holt International is only an adoption agency. This probably stems from our long history in international adoption, but in truth, Holt serves far more children through programs that help them stay with their families.

At Holt, we in fact consider international adoption to be the last, best option for children. Holt’s model of adoption is child-centric, meaning that we uphold the needs of the child as our number one priority. Through this model, international adoption is the final effort we make to ensure that every child has a loving and secure home.

We believe, first and foremost, that every child deserves to grow and thrive in the loving care of their family, whenever possible.

To that end, we strengthen families who are on the edge and need just a little assistance to stay together. We do this through nutritional, financial, health, education and counseling services, which provide the tools and resources families need to independently care for their children. These programs would not be possible without our generous child sponsors!

Do you know that Holt does more than adoption? Learn more about how our child-centric model drives our work, which includes programs to strengthen families!Read about how Holt’s family strengthening program helped single moms in Haiti like Julia be able to provide for her family!

Unfortunately, and far too often, children are unable to stay with their birth family for a variety of reasons. While we strive to reunite children with their families when this happens, many children remain growing up in orphanages. When that is the case, our goal is to find a family through domestic adoption — which gives a child the opportunity to grow up in the country and culture of his or her birth.

Do you know that Holt does more than adoption? Learn more about how our child-centric model drives our work, which includes programs to strengthen families!

Finally, if the child is still waiting, then we begin to look at international adoption as a way to find a permanent and loving family. We understand the challenges that come with a child being adopted into a new country and culture, and so when international adoption becomes our only choice, we work very hard to make sure that the parents are as prepared as possible to care for the child. We have systems in place to prepare and support both the family and the adoptee — from the moment they apply to the moment they come home, and again when they need support, at any time throughout their lives.

Do you know that Holt does more than adoption? Learn more about how our child-centric model drives our work, which includes programs to strengthen families!Read about how international adoption gave Rini a chance at life.

Each child’s journey to a loving and secure home is different. But when you are matched, rest assured that every option was explored, and that international adoption was the best option for your child.

 

Learn more about what we do!

 

I truly believe your kindness has created miracles …

We are excited to share that little Liu — now Penelope Lian — is home with her family in New Jersey!

Penelope with her mom, Lauren.

Earlier this year, sweet Penelope was living at Peace House, Holt’s very special, donor-supported medical foster home in Beijing. Because Penelope was born premature and experiencing global delays, Peace House offered a more nurturing alternative to orphanage care. At Peace House, Penelope received 24/7 attention from a dedicated caregiver and she grew and developed rapidly in a short time. Continue reading “I truly believe your kindness has created miracles …”

The Secret of Their Lives

A little girl at the HIV group home looks out the front door to a sunny courtyard.

Most of the children here don’t know they are HIV+. It’s too risky.

Their teachers don’t know. Their neighbors definitely don’t know because if they did, they would have to move again. They’ve moved eight times in ten years, all 28 children. If their teachers knew, they would be isolated and discriminated against or even kicked out of their pricey private school — a school they attend because they don’t have to inform the principal of their disease.

Most of these children don’t even know about the disease in their blood, the disease that killed many of their parents, robbed them of their life in their villages and that was likely passed to them at birth.

They just know that they have strict rules to follow.

Absolutely no fighting. No rough housing. If they get a cut or a scratch, they have their own first aid kit. And they have Mr. Huang.

“The kids are happy now,” Mr. Huang says, his face worn and tired, his spiky, graying hair hinting at his age.

When children pass through the living room of the apartment, they stop to grab his hands or talk to him and his eyes soften as he greets them lovingly.

“They are too young,” Mr. Huang says. “They don’t understand their fate. But as they get older, they will learn. The discrimination will start. They will always have to keep their secret.”

Continue reading “The Secret of Their Lives”

Uniting Families and Building Opportunity in India’s Slums

Through family reunification and sponsorship, children living in orphanages or in the slums of New Delhi receive the love, support and resources they need to thrive.

 

Paavai’s parents died when she was 2 years old, and for the past 10 years she and her two brothers have lived with their elderly grandmother. Her grandmother has a tea stall, which is their only source of income, and she worries what will happen to her grandchildren when she passes away someday.

Eleven-year-old Vaishali lives in an orphanage. Her mother passed away and her father is incarcerated. Vaishali would live with her grandparents, but between her grandfather’s leg injury that left him unable to work and her grandmother’s meager salary, they don’t make enough to support her.

Ever since Aadita’s father passed away from tuberculosis, her mother has had to work two jobs — one at her tea stall and the other as a door-to-door housemaid — in order to support Aadita and her four other children. Aadita’s mother cares deeply for her daughter and hopes she will not have to be a housemaid someday, too.

These three girls all live in New Delhi. And for one reason or another, they are vulnerable — vulnerable to growing up without a stable family, vulnerable to dropping out of school and vulnerable to extended poverty.

Continue reading “Uniting Families and Building Opportunity in India’s Slums”

China’s Advocacy Gap

It’s very hard to advocate for children you can’t see. That’s why Holt’s registration status in China is so critical.

Jian holding a little girl at Holt’s medical foster home in Beijing, Peace House.

Jian stands leaning on a crib in a dimly lit room with high windows, while a half-moon of neatly dressed men and women hang on her every word.

All around her, more cribs, each filled by a small child bundled in heavy winter clothes and tucked beneath layers of comforters and knit blankets. Children coo quietly and stare around wide-eyed at the uncommon commotion in their room.

Jian’s voice is low but firm, and even without understanding Chinese, her tone communicates that she is delivering a serious message.

The three leaders of this orphanage — a home to more than 200 children at any given time — listen intently, wide-eyed, too, nodding along.

“I’m asking them why they haven’t sent this little girl’s file to Beijing,” Jian says, motioning to a toddler with Down syndrome dressed in a thick coat, contently snuggled against a caregiver in worn out lavender-colored scrubs.

Jian Chen lives and works in the U.S. as Holt’s vice president of China programs. But she was born in China, spent half her life in China, and has developed a solid reputation through the years working with the Chinese government and social welfare community to advocate for the rights of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children. When Jian speaks, people listen.

The little girl Jian told orphanage staff Holt could find a family for, if only they would prepare her child file and send it to Beijing for adoption processing.

“I tell them that we can find a family for her,” she says of the toddler with Down syndrome, “but they are so surprised to hear that.” Continue reading “China’s Advocacy Gap”