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.”
The deadline to submit a graduate photo for the summer issue of Holt International magazine is July 1st. If you are a Holt adoptee and graduated from high school, college or vocational school in 2012, fill out a graduate form and submit your photo, here.
Short stories (250-700 words) from graduating adoptees, or their parents, are also welcome! Contact Ashli Keyser for more information.
by Robin Munro, senior writer
Meihekou, China – At the end of a winding dirt road in Meihekou – a city in Northern China’s Jilin Province – behind a green door decorated in red for luck, a teenage girl spends her days engaged in the usual teenage activities. She text messages her friends on her cell phone. Chats online. Listens to music. Paints her long, manicured fingernails in sparkly purple polish. And dreams of her future.
At 19, she should be preparing to leave her childhood home – to pursue her goals, and explore the world. But for Jie Lin (name changed), dreams remain just dreams. And independence a fantasy. Born with a condition that causes severe muscle atrophy, Jie Lin is, essentially, paralyzed in her arms and legs – they are thin as reeds, skin to bone, and folded beneath her like marionette sticks. As her body grew, it became too heavy for her to move from laying to sitting on her own. Her foster mother carries her to the bathroom. To leave the house, she must be pushed in a stroller.
“Sometimes I feel like I have no future,” she tells Sue Liu, who has known Jie Lin since 2000, shortly after Sue joined the Holt China staff in Meihekou.
Jie Lin has soulful, sad eyes, but her expression is often overtaken by laughter. Her hair is short and shag-cut, her face lovely and wise.
Holt has sponsored Jie Lin’s care since 1999, when she was 8-years-old. That year, as the Meihekou Ministry of Civil Affairs struggled to meet rising expenses, Holt took over funding for the local foster care program. To date, Holt and sponsors have invested more than 3 million Chinese Renminbi, or nearly a half million dollars, into local foster care, which has provided for as many as 60 children at once. At present, Holt sponsors care for 38 children in Meihekou and 22 in neighboring Tonghua. Sponsorship covers basic necessities, including food, shelter and clothing, and is often the only source of income for foster families.
When children turn 18, sponsorship ends. But special needs are common, and many children continue to depend on their foster families – and Holt – for care and support beyond the age of 18.
“What can we do?” Sue asks, worried about what will become of the children who “age out” of sponsorship. Read More
Matthew Barnett, legendary pastor of The Los Angeles Dream Center – one of the fastest growing churches in America – and Holt International present the NY2LA Dream Center Tour—reaching out to communities with an inspirational message of hope and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children. The tour, featuring recording artists Press Play and Coffey Anderson, and with inspirational words by Pastor Barnett, will play in markets as diverse as Louisville, Tulsa, San Antonio, Orlando and, of course, New York and L.A.
July 31st marked the 10th anniversary of Bertha Holt’s passing.
“[Remember me] as that lady who loved the Lord,” she humbly replied.
On the tenth anniversary of her passing, it’s fitting to reflect on Bertha “Grandma” Holt’s love for the Lord, her faith in Him, and how that faith has inspired many people around the world to carry on Holt’s mission of finding families for children.
Brian Campbell, Holt’s creative services director remembers Bertha Holt, and how she has inspired him:
I remember watching Bertha Holt at a Holt picnic, one year, as she sat and had her picture taken with hundreds of children of all ages. I stood there, amazed, listening to her recall the names of the children and sharing a brief story about each one of them. Older adoptees also came up to her, giving her hugs and thanking her for the work of Holt International. The younger children referred to her as “Grandma.” She had prayed continually for all of these children while they were in Holt’s care and traveled all over the world to serve them; they were always her top priority.
During a quiet moment, between the visiting and photos, I caught Grandma by herself. A look of peace and blessing was on her face. Not a look of pride or pleasure in knowing that she was important to all these people, but rather a look of peace that comes from knowing that she was doing what God had called her to do.
Now, more than 20 years later, I recall that moment with Grandma Holt. I imagine her with me in places like Ethiopia, surrounded by children, listening to their giggling and crying, laughing with them, and cradling and comforting them without hesitation. I ask for the children’s names, take their pictures, touch their little hands and pray for them. Today, inspired by Bertha Holt, these children are also my priority.
After the death of Harry Holt, many thought Holt International would close its doors. But Bertha always had faith that the agency would carry on. “This has always been God’s work,” she said. “If He wants it to continue, it will.”
Evidence of Bertha Holt’s faith can be seen today through Holt employees, working diligently and joyfully for children all over the world, to the hundreds of adult adoptees who were touched by “Grandma’s” life and, most importantly, through the smiling faces of children now home with their loving families.
The mission of Holt International has carried on, and will continue, all because one woman had faith that it could.
a son from the Philippines
“There’s Oliver!” The social worker beamed, pointing toward the living room where two little boys were playing. My husband Sam and I walked inside the small, concrete house, forgetting about the stale, humid air of the tropics. I held my breath as I looked for the boy that resembled the photo we received from Holt. The photo showed a toddler dressed in over-sized clothes and a hat that covered his hair. His round face had eyes shaped like almonds and lips that were round and full.
One of the boys in the room wore an old, red shirt and had thick black hair. His eyes and lips were the same as the photo. I sighed quietly. He was more beautiful in person. Sam and I knelt down to Oliver’s level and took a long look at the child we had prayed for, dreamed of and longed for.
One afternoon in February of 2006, I stood in front of a mailbox and said a little prayer as I dropped our application to Holt International. At our ninth year of marriage, Sam and I had walked a long road of false hopes and fertility tests. Coming to a fork in the road, we picked the path of adoption. Little did we know that in the same month I dropped that piece of mail, our baby boy was born across the Pacific in a humble town in the Philippines. Read More