Alana and her grandmother need a fresh start this holiday season…through Holt’s Gifts of Hope catalog, you can help!

Six-year-old Alana should be well into her first year of school right now, but instead, she remains in a small, one-room house in a tiny village of southern Ethiopia. Having lost both of her parents to disease, Alana now lives with her grandmother, who struggles to provide Alana with her next meal, let alone an education.

Through Holt’s family preservation program in Ethiopia, there is hope for this family. For the past three years, families have entered into the program only to transition out a year later, stronger, healthier and happier.

In July, Holt reported on one such success story. Brought back to life through Holt support and generous donations, Ejamo’s family used start-up supplies and a micro finance loan to help them go from poor and helpless, to strong and stable. Sponsorship support brought warm clothes, medical treatment and education materials to Ejamo’s five children.   A start-up supply of seeds allowed Ejamo to grow and sell vegetables and, after awhile, the family saved enough money to purchase a cow, and wood for building a new and stronger house.

The transformation Ejamo made in a year’s time is simply extraordinary — a perfect representation of how a family’s life can be transformed with a little help and a lot of courage….Read Ejamo’s story here.

Holt does what we can to help, but our support would mean nothing without the family’s willingness to take the next step. It takes the drive and determination of families like Ejamo’s to make this program a success. Keeping their family together is what motivates them, and Holt — with your help — is happy to meet them half way.

“The initiative these families are taking is amazing,” says Larry Cahill, Holt board member, who visited Holt’s Ethiopia programs in April. “Their willpower is even more amazing.”

A few months ago, Ejamo’s family transitioned out of the program, making room for another family needing assistance. “So many families in Ethiopia need help,” says Tesfaye Betachew, Holt’s head social worker in Ethiopia.

Accepted into the program in August, Alana and her grandmother still struggle to survive. Stability, however, doesn’t happen overnight. Alana’s grandmother needs time and ongoing support to be successful.

“For this family, and all of the families entering our program, we work on making the appropriate means of intervention to render a holistic support,” says Tesfaye.

This time next year, Holt would love to write a story about Alana and her grandmother, sharing photos of Alana on her way to school, with nutritious food in her stomach and a smile on her face.

With your help, we did it for Ejamo and his family.  Now let’s do it for Alana and her grandmother.


Providing livestock to a struggling family is just one way you can help children and families in Holt’s care this holiday season…click here to see our list of life-changing gifts in our Gifts of Hope catalog…

Genet was born on Christmas day.  This Christmas, let’s make her birthday special.  Let’s find her a family!

Born in Africa, DOB: December 25th, 2007

 

by Ashli Keyser, managing editor

From the moment our group enters the room full of children at the Durame intake center, *Genet has our attention. She has a delightful way about her, a light and a spark that brightens up the whole room. Her ever-present smile, sweet demeanor and spirited personality captivates us all. We can see that her caretakers adore her just as much as we do.

Our group arrives seconds before playtime. Shoes and children are flying about the room, the eager boys and girls more interested in the merry-go-round waiting outside than the six strangers standing by the door. While just as enthusiastic as the rest of her friends, Genet takes a little more time putting on her shoes.   Her poor eyesight makes tasks like this difficult.

Genet came into care, malnourished, after her father passed away from tuberculosis. Her mother, unable to care for her due to her eyesight problems and developmental delays, often kept Genet from other people, making it even more difficult for Genet to learn and thrive.

Described by her caretakers as determined and willful, Genet doesn’t give up easily and finally manages to fit her little foot into the last shoe.  Then, with a little help from Sister Abebech, she makes her way out the door.

After the children make it a few times around on the merry-go-round, a beach ball is introduced into playtime.  Genet wastes no time  joining the rough-and-tumble boys in their quest to catch the flying object.  Once the ball lands, Genet stands on the grass for a bit, giggling at the silly boys — who, of course, have all piled on top of it at once — and then attempting to shimmy her way into the pile. Alas, after a valiant effort, Genet comes up empty handed.  She has fun trying though, all the while managing to charm her observers even more.

“This is one special girl,” says Sister Abebech, head nurse at the intake center, watching Genet play.

Since entering Holt’s care, Genet has learned to walk, use her utensils and has even learned a few words. The caretakers work consistently with her on speech and coordination, and give her the attention she lacked in her first two years of life.“She’s come so far,” says Sister Abebech. “She just brightens everyone’s day.”

On that day, she certainly brightened ours.

Genet is waiting for a permanent, loving family. If you are interested in learning more about this beautiful, spirited little girl, please contact Erin Mower at erinm@holtinternational.org.

Help Genet, the Waiting Child of the Week, go viral! Forward this to friends and family. Share every week at church or a community group. And repost to your own blog, Facebook page and company site. With the simple press of a button, you can change Genet’s life forever!

This little girl is in need of a special family who is open to some unknowns and who are able to provide her with any medical care or therapies she may need.

To adopt Genet, couples must be between the ages of 25-44, married for at least two years, and can have up to five children in the home.

*Name has been changed

As children grow into late adolescence and early adulthood, I think all parents are probably curious about how their children have felt about their own childhood.  Often children don’t think about it or don’t have a way to express their experiences.

To my complete surprise, our daughter Stacee wrote about herself and our family in her college essay (she is now a junior at UC, Santa Cruz).

Please enjoy her essay and also enjoy getting to know Stacee a little bit better.  When she’s done with her finals this quarter, I’m going to ask her to start blogging with me. –Jane Ballback, guest blogger

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Introducing Jane’s daughter, Stacee

by Stacee Ballback

Looking at my family portrait, you might notice a lack of consistency. My brothers, Jaik and Brandon, are Korean like myself.  My Aunt Bea Bea is Mexican.  My other aunt Pranita is Indian.  And the rest of my family is Caucasian. This generates a lot of questions and a lot of stares from people. Sure, we’re all very different, but one thing we all share is a strong bond of love, mutual respect and support for each other.

I was born named Mec Sun Kim. Five months later, I was adopted and my name changed to Stacee Ballback. I can’t tell you much about the experience because I can’t remember it, but I know 1 started out a sad baby. I think being taken from my mother at birth instead of being held by her and feeling her love created an emptiness in my heart that remained until I became a Ballback. At five months old, I was given a new home and a new life. My mom and dad, along with my brothers, quickly filled the emptiness in my heart with the family I had been missing and needing.

After I settled into my new life, I became much happier because I knew I had a loving family behind me no matter what. The most influential people in my life are my mom and dad. My mom is the strongest, most independent woman I know. She presides over our family and we refer to her as “Alpha Dog” because she makes every final decision. My dad is much more passive than my mom and has a childlike tendency about him that makes him spacey and forgetful. My mom is organized. When we have dinner, she often ends up pulling out a typed paper with topics and lists of things she wants to discuss concerning vacations, holidays, household chores, etc. Needless to say, you can often walk out of one of her dinners feeling like you just got out of an extremely productive business meeting. However, all neurotic tendencies aside, my mom has taught me valuable lessons as I’ve grown older. She taught me to be independent and never to be a follower, but a leader. Read More

Through the sharing of photos and memories, Randa Hazzard remembers the day she met her sister, Kait. The Hazzards began their own adoption journey to Ethiopia earlier this year….

by Randa Hazzard

Randa at the Des Moines Airport, holding Kait for the first time.

Today is an important day for my family. On this day, 23 years ago, we picked up my sister, Kait, at the airport in Des Moines.  I remember being so filled with excitement waiting for someone to step off the plane with Kait in their arms. We had given Kait a special blanket to be wrapped in, so we would know which baby she was. Up until that point, all we had was a photo taken shortly after her birth. I had kept a photo of her in my room and looked at it often, wondering what she would be like. Little did I know, we would grow up to be so close, so alike, and such good friends.

On December 8th, we always celebrate her coming into our family, and she always tells me how much it means to her.

Once our little guy joins the family, we will most definitely celebrate his special day every year, as well. Thinking about this brings tears to my eyes. I am so thankful for Kait. I can’t even begin to imagine us not having each other.

As I have said before, adoption is amazing!  I Love you Kaitlin Kim! I Love everything about you.

Randa, Kait and Kyle with Grandma Holt.

You are the best sister I could ever have!

Follow the Hazzard family on the journey to their son, here.

Want to learn more about the wonderful journey of adoption?  Click here to learn more.

Through candid (and often funny!) observations and heartwarming personal stories, a Holt adoptive mother shares the challenges and joys of parenting adopted children

by Jane Ballback

I mentioned in my last blog that all three of my children had very different reactions to their relinquishment and adoption. In this blog I want to talk specifically about my son Jaik who has never shown or expressed an interest in — or any curiosity about — his adoption, nor does he seem particularly interested in anything related to it.

When I started teaching the classes for Holt he was in his late adolescence. Now that I’m doing this blog, I sat down one more time to talk to him about my participation in the blog and how I was telling his stories. He listened very politely to the whole thing and when I got finished he said (in Jaik’s very clear way), “I know you are very interested in all this, Mom, I simply am not.”

I actually do think that he does care about his relinquishment and his adoption but for his own reasons he just is not, in any way, ready to deal with it.

I recently read a very interesting book on this subject. The book is called, Being Adopted, the Lifelong Search for Self, by David Brodzinsky, Marshall D. Schechter, and Robin M. Harris. This book along with several other good books, are listed under the links “Post Adoption Services/Recommended Books on Holt’s website”.

This is the first book I’ve found that mentions in the introduction of the book that there really are vast differences in the way that children react to their relinquishment and adoption. There are some children that are so happy, so relieved, so pleased to be within a family that they don’t have a great deal of reaction to their early life.

What’s also interesting about this book is that it follows adoptees all through their life cycle. I’m busy reading the book because my boys are now 23 and my daughter Stacee is 20; and I’m very interested in now knowing how their adoption issues could play out in their young adult and middle adult years. It’s a fascinating book.

Despite Jaik’s reluctance to talk about his adoption, Jaik had some “adopted behaviors.” Let me describe an incident that taught me a great deal. Jaik is pretty much the perfect kid. Read More