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.”
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
A father’s poem to his daughter, Quinn—a child in Holt’s Journey of Hope Program
by Robert Flanders
When people ask me to prove that God exists, I show them your picture and tell them about lines. The lines on which our lives travel along the points plotted by the choices that we make. I reflect upon all the choices, some good, some bad, that have led me to the place where I stand now holding your picture. I can only imagine the decisions that your birth parents have made, especially your mother. In an act of desperation and hope, she severed a sacred bond and your lines diverged. Yours led you to the orphanage and, years later, to me. Your birth mother’s life line drifted away, as silent as a ghost carried along by the force of circumstances, into her future and your past.
I remember the day that our lines, and our lives, intersected. I saw your picture and two lines, out of the six billion lines moving through time and space, came together at one point. That point is called love. I’ve seen many pictures of older, waiting children traveling on their journeys of hope but our lines did not intersect. When the Holt worker asked me, “why you?” I did not tell her about lines, I told her about love.
Now the lines of our lives will travel together, parallel to each other in love. I feel certain that God was lovingly drawing our lines so that they would one day come together. I look down at your picture in my hands and I believe.
Older children in Holt’s care need families….click here to view the photolisting for Holt’s Journey of Hope children in China.
Senior Writer Robin Munro discusses her experience at a Holt-supported foster care program in Northern China.
by Robin Munro
Jilin City, China—Today, we drove to a small farming village just outside of Jilin City, a forested, mountainous region of Northern China where Holt sponsors foster care for 39 children. Here, amid lush green acres of corn stalks, rice fields and gable-roofed homes, we meet several of the children in our sponsorship program. Ducking out of the rain, we step into an unoccupied house – recently built by the village – where the families have gathered, anticipating our arrival. I am with Sue Liu, the Beijing office manager and assistant to Jian Chen, Holt’s China director; Jessica Palmer, Holt’s Waiting Child program manager; and a couple officials from the Jilin City Social Welfare Institute, with whom Holt has partnered since introducing a foster care project to this region in 2006.
I find a windowsill in which to sit and observe the scene – foster mothers sitting in a circle on the floor, cooing over babies swaddled in blankets as Sue and Jessica assess the children’s development and the foster care manager distributes formula and food. One boy – an older boy of about 9 or 10 – comes over to talk to me. “Hello,” he says in English, smiling. “Hello,” I say back, followed by a couple more simple phrases. He shakes his head, not understanding. “Ok,” I say. And he repeats. “Ok.” He wants to learn, wants to engage me with any means of communication he can find. I give him a thumbs-up. And he lifts his hand to mimic me.
But even this – this universal symbol for a job well done – he can’t use to communicate. Read More
Holt Senior Writer Robin Munro is traveling with Waiting Child Manager Jessica Palmer to learn more about a new group of children in Holt’s Journey of Hope program, as well as other Holt-supported programs.
by Robin Munro
At the Jilin City Social Welfare Institute – the third orphanage we’ve visited in China – the beds are empty. Except for one tiny newborn who recently came into care, no children occupy the cribs and beds that line the rooms. It’s a lovely building – a home for the elderly, and orphaned and abandoned children, with a central atrium that lets in abundant natural light. It’s a wonderful sight, all these empty rooms – it means all the children who’ve passed through this orphanage are now in Holt-sponsored foster care, a program that serves 39 children in partnership with the welfare institute.
After a short stay when they come into care, the children occasionally visit the orphanage for physical and developmental exams, and rehabilitation training for those with special needs. But their homes are apartments and houses, where they get to experience family life.
Today, we get to meet five children in Holt sponsorship, a program that funds their clothing, food and other basic needs for 350 Chinese Remnibi, or about $55, per child per month – a cost shared equally by Holt and the Jilin City Social Welfare Institute. We enter a room – the only one emitting any sound – and find four boys in motion, bouncing on giant balls or rolling around in soft tubing, teasing each other and making faces. Two of the boys, dressed in matching striped polos and shorts, look like twins. They are foster brothers, though not related, 8 and 9-years-old – happy, hyper, outgoing boys with telltale scars on their lips from cleft lip surgery. Their foster mom tells us they are both their teachers’ favorites in their 2nd and 3rd grade classes, both very popular with other children.
I can see that right away. The older boy, Shen Ying (name has been changed), has a great sense of humor. He jokingly puts on a scarf and exaggerates his smile for the camera. I bet he’s the class clown – sharp, easily bored, requiring constant stimulation. When he lacks engaging activity, I bet he creates it, entertaining everyone in the room. I like him immediately, and think about how lucky the family is that gets to adopt him. Read More