Top Stories of 2017

2017 was full of stories of inspiration, strength, compassion, generosity, love and family. Over the past year on the Holt blog, adoptees shared their hearts and life experiences — some even traveled to their birth country and processed their adoption in a whole new way. Holt sponsors and donors empowered children and families around the world to help them stay together. Some of our biggest stories of the year came from Mongolia, when generous Holt donors traveled across the world to meet children living in “a place no child should ever be.” Children from around the world united with their permanent, loving adoptive families — and adoptive families went on a journey, both literally and metaphorically, to bring their beloved children home.

While it’s impossible to sum up the entire year, here are your most viewed, most favorite adoptee, sponsorship and adoptive family stories of 2017! If you didn’t read or watch them the first time — or you want to be inspired all over again — be sure to take a look! 

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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.

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Transformed in One Year

One year ago, 1-year-old Archelle weighed 16 pounds. Her tummy protruded and her hair had an orange-ish tint from malnutrition. But then she received a Gift of Hope — a gift of sponsorship.

In October 2016, Johnise walked into the Holt Haiti office in Port-au-Prince, her 20-month-old daughter Archelle on her hip. Weariness dulled Johnise’s eyes as she used a tissue to wipe her daughter’s runny nose. She sat down with a social worker, and began to share about her life.

Archelle and Johnise in October 2016, when they first came to the Holt office.

Johnise is a single mother who lives with her daughter, her grandmother, mother, sisters and their children — all nine of them in a single-room house. Their home is near a trash-strewn riverbed in Tabarre, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the area. When it rains, their house floods. In the rainy season, Johnise spends sleepless nights bailing muddy water out of their flooding house one bucket at a time. Mosquitos hatch in the stagnant water and buzz endlessly in the thick tropical air.

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You Made Last Christmas So Special!

Every year, because of the generosity of sponsors and donors, children in Holt’s global programs receive a special surprise: the gift of Christmas!

For most children living in impoverished communities or orphanages, Christmas is just another day. No gifts, not treats, no special meals or extra time with loved ones.

We think sharing Christmas with orphaned and vulnerable children is one very special way to celebrate the true meaning of the season and share the love of Jesus with children in need.

We are so grateful to sponsors and donors who give $25 per child to make this day possible!

Because of sponsors and donors, children receive hand-picked, wrapped gifts — items they want or need chosen by their on the ground advocate. They also receive special, festive meals, often for their entire family, and a day of games, arts and crafts, field trips, visits from Santa or other fun activities!

For each child, Christmas is a day they remember and cherish all year.

Want to join the fun this year? You can donate $25 to provide Christmas to one child here!

Check out just a few of the photos from last year’s Christmas celebrations around the world …

Caregivers in India celebrate with the youngest children at the orphanage.

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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.

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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”