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

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!…..

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,

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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.

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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!