On this blog, we share stories and updates about our work around the world. With reporting from Holt staff in the U.S. and overseas as well as contributions from adoptive parents, adoptees, sponsors and supporters, we strive to represent the heart, life and experiences of our extended “Holt Family.”
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.
When Bridget and Joe got an unexpected call asking if they’d like to welcome two teenagers into their home, they initially thought there was no way they were ready for that. But the alternative weighed heavily on their hearts. If they didn’t say yes, who would? In the process of becoming parents to a brother and sister pair, they’ve learned a lot about love, how to serve vulnerable kids and the incredible need for foster and adoptive families.
They had every reason to say no.
Joe and Bridget Beal already had two toddler-age girls at home. They’d just moved. They’d never parented teenagers. And at 26 and 29 years old, the age gap between them and the 12- and 15-year-olds they were asked to parent was thin enough to raise constant eyebrows when introducing themselves as mom and dad. The sole provider for his family, Joe had also just taken a pay cut in order to take a new pastoral position at a church he loved.
“We were broke,” Joe says, laughing. “Bridget had just started working again. It had been four or five years since she’d been working outside the home. We were just getting settled in a new community. It was a lot of change, a lot of transition.”
When they got a phone call asking if they could foster two teenagers, they initially said no.
“It was so fast. We were driving to my mom’s house and we just got this call from Hannah and Skyler’s caseworker and she just threw it all out on the table,” Joe says. “In bated silence for the rest of the drive, all I was thinking is I have to find a way out of this. At first I was like, no way. I’m a mess, we’re a mess. But thirty minutes later, we already knew that we were going to answer this call with a yes — whatever that meant.”
Joe and Bridget called the Department of Human Services foster care caseworker back to say they’d changed their minds. Yes, they could be parents to Skyler and Hannah. Read More
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 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.
“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.” Read More
Around the world, most children come into care not because their families don’t love them, but because they can’t care for them. And far too often, they reason they can’t care for them is because their children have special medical or developmental needs. But through the innovative programs of one longstanding partner in Mongolia, Holt supporters are working to help children thrive — and keep them in the loving care of their families.
This one was left in a taxi, May says, motioning to a months-old baby girl gumming her fingers from inside her crib. Her father told the driver he would be right back. He just needed to get some cash to pay his fare. He never returned.
May Gombo is the adoption/social service program coordinator for Holt Mongolia. She comes here often, and knows each child’s story.
This girl was found in an open market area, she says of a crusty-nosed little cutie with wispy black hair pulled into a pointy topknot. Her parents are homeless and both are alcoholics — “and they live,” May says, “in a hole.” Like so many of the city’s homeless, this girl and her family are part of the subterranean civilization that seeks heat underground during Ulaanbaatar’s frigid winter months, when temperatures can drop below 40. Read More
Born with severe sight and hearing impairments, it’s like Giang was trapped, unable to communicate with the world around her. But then, everything changed.
Giang sat on the back of her family’s motorbike, riding home after a full day. Her mother thought everything was going well, until out of the corner of her eye she saw something fly through the air and land on the side of the road.
“No! Not her hearing aids!”
Yes, 4-year-old Giang had apparently had enough noise for the day. But still — believe it or not — this was progress.