For We Walk by Faith…Not by Sight

by Jennifer Smith

After the birth of our third child, my husband and I decided that our family was complete. We were content and didn’t plan to have any more children; however, God had other plans. During the summer of 2006 we began to think about adding to our family, discussed adoption and prayed for God’s guidance. We both felt a tugging towards adoption, but we wanted to make sure it was the right path for our family. We were looking for some sort of “big” sign, and that’s exactly what we got when we attended Winter Jam in 2007 in Mobile. It was our first time to attend a Winter Jam concert, so imagine our surprise when we discovered that Holt International sponsored it. As a video presentation of orphanages in China played, we watched as tears rolled down our cheeks. When it was over, we looked at each other and said: “we’re adopting…we’re going to China.” We requested an application packet from Holt the next week.

Like most people, we experienced both miracles and challenges during our adoption journey, but we forged ahead and claimed 2 Corinthians 5:7 as our adoption verse. It states: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” That verse came to mean so much to us during both the joyful and difficult times of our adoption journey.

We started out in the standard process but then switched to the China Child of Promise option. After only a few weeks in this program, we received our referral for a beautiful little girl named Shang Nan. She was listed as having vision problems. We read over the information and looked at her pictures, and we knew that she was the one. We fell in love with her instantly.

Rinnah Shangnan is doing very well now. She’s had an eye examination, and it was confirmed that she is completely blind in her right eye. She wears glasses now, and we can tell that using them is definitely helping her. She is trying to stand up now and even does somersaults! She is a good-natured and happy little girl. Continue reading “For We Walk by Faith…Not by Sight”

Ethiopia—Where we Go from Here

Surgical center for children and their families

by Ashli Keyser, managing editor

The second Holt medical campaign in six months had come to an end. For a week, Holt Board Member Dr. Becca Brandt and her husband Dr. Kim Brandt volunteered their time and expertise at the Holt Shinshicho clinic. Arriving at the clinic in the early mornings, the Brandts stayed until each patient had been diagnosed and treated. With the conclusion of the campaign, hundreds of children and families had been treated for malaria, tuberculosis, meningitis, goiters, and other common ailments affecting the people of this region.

“This is good,” says Becca. “Most people would not come to the clinic, or they would wait until their needs are too great. The message went out to the community that we were here to provide the services, and they should come and use them.”

Holt’s renovations of the Shinshicho clinic and the subsequent medical campaigns have dramatically changed the lives of children and families of this area. People are now able to receive medical treatment, prenatal care and health and hygiene education in a clean and safe environment.

A lot has been accomplished in this area, and yet children and families continue to get sick, many of them succumbing to treatable illnesses—leaving the questions: what more can we do? And where do we go from here?

During the closing ceremony for the medical campaign, hundreds of residents and community leaders gathered to help answer these questions. One by one, men and women enthusiastically stood up, walked through the crowds of people, stepped onto the stage and proudly pledged what little they could to help the clinic, which has provided them with so much hope, enter into its next phase of expansion…a state-of-the-art surgical center.

“We don’t have surgeons or an operating room at this clinic currently, and the children and parents are not able to get the surgeries they need to survive,” says Dr. Mintesinot Tadewos, clinic physician and coordinator for the medical campaigns. Continue reading “Ethiopia—Where we Go from Here”

National Public Radio Interview with Holt Adoptive Parent

John Seabrook, staff writer for The New Yorker, and his wife, Lisa, adopted their daughter, Rose, from Haiti in 2009.  Rose, along with 20 other children living at Holt Fontana Village, had her adoption expedited due to the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

Seabrook recently wrote an article about international adoption (read the New Yorker article here), and National Public Radio (NPR) conducted an interview with him about his family’s adoption experience and bringing Rose home.

listen to John Seabrook’s interview here

Celebrate your Mother and Give a Gift of Hope Today…

Mother’s Day is only a few days away!

When you give a Gift of Hope to a child in need, you will not only be recognizing the sacrifice and devotion of your loving mother, but you will also help precious children receive the nutritional food, clothing, educational material and medical care they desperately need.  Give a gift to a child in need, and Holt will send a personalized card or e-card honoring your mother or loved one this Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is only a few days away!…Give a Gift of Hope Today!

Just Being Their Mother

Mother’s Day Gifts of Hope

by Melissa Schmidt

“What do you want for Mother’s Day?” my husband, Dan asked last year. What could I possibly need? I was the mother of five children, waiting for our sixth child to come home from India. The only thing I could think about needing was a maid!

I had everything I wanted and just wanted to give something back. I thought for a little bit about honoring our children’s birthmothers and an idea popped into my head. I asked our daughter, Shabnam, who we adopted from Mumbai in 2006, how she would feel about planting a tree in honor of her birthmother. She was delighted.

We bought two trees, knowing that Sanjith would be coming home by the end of the year, and on May 18th, 2009 we gathered our children in our yard, dug holes and planted the trees. Shabnam was very excited to stand by “her tree!” She even named it “Asma”, after her birthmother’s name. I told Shabnam that any time she wanted to feel close to her birthmother she could go out by her tree. She grinned from ear to ear. Shabnam gave it water every day to make sure it would grow.

We brought 2-year old, Sanjith, home from Bangalore in November 2009. He has been running around outdoors this spring and has already worn a path by his birthmother’s tree. Sanjith was considered to be a child with special needs. However, we think that his only special need was “needing” to be home with us. When he came home in November he was speaking only four words in his native language. He is now speaking over 200 English words. His five other siblings have a hard time getting a word in around Sanjith. We are so lucky to have him in our family.

On Mother’s Day, the kids wanted to make sure that I wasn’t sad that I didn’t get a present for myself. I reassured them and told them that I had received a fantastic present. I get the best present every day just being their mother!

Give a Gift of Hope this Mother’s Day in Honor of your Mother or Someone Special

Bringing Families Together

Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund

Nathan came into Holt’s care with a cephalohematoma, a collection of blood under the scalp usually caused by trauma during birth. He also had developmental delays and partial seizures. When children with special needs are brought into the care of Holt International, it takes a special kind of love and commitment to make sure these children are provided for…it takes a tremendous amount of faith, as well. The loving caretakers need faith to believe that the children will survive and grow. And the children need faith that a permanent family who will love and care for them unconditionally is out there…waiting just for them.

Back in the United States, Andy and Angela Betts longed to hold one of these precious Waiting Children in their arms forever and, relying on their faith, they brought Nathan into their home and hearts.

“From the day we signed our application, we wanted to adopt a child with special needs,” says Angela. “For me, I felt like God was pushing us in that direction and God knew exactly what he was doing when he brought Nathan into our lives.

“Nathan has been home for a year and has grown so much. He has gone from not being able to sit up at 11 months, to walking and running around the house. Nathan has attached to us and formed a bond with each member of his family.”

Holt’s commitment, to do what’s best for every child, means putting extra effort into finding families for children with special needs.  We reduce adoption fees for every child with special needs, and Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund helps families who need additional assistance to complete their adoptions.  As a result, hundreds of children who might otherwise have no hope at all now have loving families.

Today Nathan is surrounded by parents and four siblings who love him unconditionally.  The Betts family had faith that Nathan was meant to be a part of their family.  And they had faith in people who give so generously to Holt and to funds like the Special Needs Adoption Fund.  “You will never regret giving this wonderful gift,” says Angela.  “The SNAF grant helped make us a family.”

Help Children with Special Needs Have a Family of Their Own…Donate to the Special Needs Adoption Fund!…..

From Desperation to a Joy-filled Life

A mother is able to provide for her family with the help of Holt International’s family preservation program

Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director

An excerpt from Brian’s Travel Diary while in Ethiopia.

Messenich in 2008
Messenich recieving a micro-loan to start a small coffee selling business.

Durame, Ethiopia—I met an old friend today. Not an old friend from my childhood or college. Rather, a friend I encountered on my first trip to Ethiopia in February of 2008. Messenich is a smiling, healthy mother of two delightful daughters today, but this was not the reality when we met in 2008. Holt International had just introduced our family preservation services to the Durame and Shinshicho areas in southern Ethiopia. Recently widowed and the mother of three daughters, Messenich’s situation had been brought to Holt’s attention after her youngest daughter had been relinquished into Holt’s care. I traveled with two social workers to Messenich’s home to see what we could do to help preserve the remaining family and give them hope for a better future.

When I traveled there for the first time, I remembered thinking that Messenich’s home was tidy and the structure was sound and sturdy. The sturdiness of the home, however, was the only stability this mother had. In poor health and with almost no food to provide her children, Messenich waited for us in her dimly lit home, sitting politely with her hands folded and her eyes down-turned. As she spoke about her children and retold her story to the social workers,

Continue reading “From Desperation to a Joy-filled Life”

Shinshicho, Ethiopia–A place of healing

Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director

An excerpt from Brian’s Travel Diary while in Ethiopia.

Durame, Ethiopia—The washboard, gravel roads from the only hotel in Durame jostle our team along the way to the Holt Shinshicho Clinic. The clouds are beginning to break as the sun comes up and rain from the night before has created a shimmering lushness to the surrounding hillsides. All along this road can be seen people making their way to work. Bundles of firewood, donkeys carrying grain or coffee, women with containers of water share the road with us. To the side of the road, children can be seen in their well-worn school uniforms heading to classes. Other children remain behind, long switches in hand, tending to a couple of cows or a small flock of sheep and goats.

Continue reading “Shinshicho, Ethiopia–A place of healing”

Investing in the Lives of Others

A youth group sponsors a child at a Winter jam concert

In order to reach kids with the Gospel in this day and age, you have to do it on their level. That’s why I love taking our group to Winter Jam each year. It features the greatest Christian artists of our day with a message that glorifies God. Our kids have such a great time, and it’s great to see how it changes their lives as they draw closer to God and make right decisions.

This year started off no different, but, as we were enjoying the show, God was working in the background. The earthquakes in Haiti had just taken place a few days prior, and I used it as a discussion in our classroom to point out that we aren’t promised tomorrow so we need to do what we can to reach those around us today. Then Newsong came out and presented the ministry of Holt International. As they were presenting, I looked around and saw the compassion in our group. When we had the opportunity we went down and found a little baby from Haiti.

His name is John Peter, but our group calls him “Lil’ H”, for little Haiti. It’s a term of endearment to these kids. We raise the money for the sponsorship independent of regular offerings, and the response has been great! One particular Sunday, a preteen girl gave her entire piggy bank full of change. That same day, another kid gave his whole allowance. When I ask for prayer needs, they are constantly reminding me to pray for Lil’ H. I’m overwhelmed on how God is teaching our kids to invest in the lives of others. We live in a selfish society where people are asking, “what can you do for me?”, but thanks to the opportunity given to us by Holt International, they are truly learning what it means to serve God by serving others.

Sponsor a child in need today!

Volunteer at or attend a Winter Jam Concert near you!

Holt’s India program

A message from Jennifer Goette, Holt’s Director of Programs for South and Southeast Asia

Holt International has touched the lives of thousands of children and families in India since 1979, providing permanency services for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children. In 2009 more than 3,000 children benefited from counseling, medical support, nutrition services, educational sponsorship, foster care and other services. A total of 30 children were reunited with their birth families, another 30 children were united with permanent families in the United States and approximately 160 children were placed in permanent homes in India.

Children who come into care are nurtured in child care centers, where they receive tender care by nurses, child development workers, caretakers, therapists and pediatricians, or are placed with foster families until they are adopted or reunited with their birth families. All Holt partner agencies in India have onsite neo-natal nurseries, which have specially trained staff and are equipped to stabilize the health of children who are admitted with immediate medical needs. All children receive regular well-baby checks, quarterly health checks, appropriate immunizations and lab tests including hepatitis B and HIV tests.

Many children in India need loving, nurturing families. Because of Holt’s long history and extensive programs serving children in India, we have a successful history of placing children from India with adoptive families in the United States. Holt welcomes Indo-Americans (born in India) as well as non Indian applicants to adopt from India. Adoptive families are especially needed for toddlers, preschoolers and children with medical or developmental needs.

Click here for the most current and detailed information about the needs for families for children from India