When we lived in our old house, there was a road I took daily that I would jokingly say should have been named after me. I said this because of the frequency of my vehicle on this particular road. I used it to take my kids to school, there and back in the morning. Then again, there and back midmorning for the preschool pickup and there and back again at the afternoon pickup for my oldest. Six times a day, my dirty black suburban could be seen on this winding road!! It was exhausting and I started to hate that road with a passion. The road itself was beautiful with its trees and its curves, but it was annoyingly predictable. Continue reading “The Road that Led to My Son – Haiti Adoption Story”
We know there have been a lot of changes in adoption recently.
Country programs are changing their eligibility requirements, the profile of children coming home is changing and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and give up.
One thing that isn’t changing, though, is the need. There are still so many kids who have been deprived of the love and protection that only a permanent family can provide. Each child is waiting for a family, and our mission is to find loving parents for those children.
Could you be the family that a child is waiting for?
If you are just in the beginning stages of adoption and aren’t sure what to do next — or if you are ready to move forward — talk to our adoption advisor, Caitlin Howe! She can give you free information with no strings attached — helping you learn more about adoption or guiding you through the first steps of the process.
Through job skills training and support, single moms in Haiti work hard to create a better life for themselves and their children, sometimes in the most wonderfully unexpected of ways…
Julia Joseph Julien squats near the wall and mixes plaster in her small yellow bucket. Her black hair pulled back in tight braids and a colorful barrette, she scoops then spreads the mixture onto a ceramic tile and carefully places it on the wall, making a tight row.
The Haitian sun is hot. This is hard work, and she is the only woman doing it.
But she is smiling — she is so proud. As a single mom, she knows that these new skills will change her life and change her children’s future.
“So many single moms are taking care of children and unable to work or be trained to work because of that,” says Mike Noah, director of services for Holt’s Africa and Haiti programs. “Some moms said they were in despair for the future, not sure how they would get food or care for their children.”
Holt’s Korea program continues to be one of our most stable and predictable adoption programs. While they wait for adoptive families, most children in Korea live with foster families, which provide the attentive, nurturing care they need to reach developmental milestones. Families in process to adopt also receive excellent medical information and frequent updates about their child. Most of the children who need families in Korea are younger with minor special needs. There are more boys than girls, and a family will need to be open to either gender. Could a child be waiting for you in Korea?
At the beginning of November, to kick off National Adoption Month, we shared a collage of all the children on our waiting child photolisting — just a small glimpse of the hundreds of children who we are seeking families for at any given time. We hoped it would kindle a passion in our supporters to help advocate for children who need loving families of their own. And it did!
You shared our waiting child stories. You reposted our advocacy blogs. You helped us tell the story behind each and every photo that we featured on social media during National Adoption Month.
The photo above represents the number of children from our photolisting that we have — thanks in part to your advocacy — matched with families so far in 2016. The black and white blocks represent the children who now are, or soon will be, part of a loving and secure family. The ones in color represent the children who we still need your help advocating for.
In total this year, Holt has matched 86 children from the photolisting — and another 200+ directly with a family! This is something to celebrate!
But we seek a world where every child has a loving and secure home. And until that day comes, we intend to keep working hard to advocate for the children left behind — and we ask you to join us.
One of the best ways that you can support our advocacy efforts is through sharing the stories we post about waiting children. That can be anything from pressing “like” or “share” on Facebook to leading an informational meeting in your community. Creativity is encouraged and we look forward to hearing what you come up with!
Thank you again for your heart and compassion for children who need families. Allied with you, we can achieve anything!
Nutrition scientist for SPOON Foundation, Zeina Makhoul, spent a week training staff in Haiti’s Fontana Village to recognize and treat causes of malnutrition, which is often a deeper and more complicated problem than just making sure a child has enough to eat.
by Billie Loewen, Staff Writer
Late June was a time of celebration at the Holt Fontana Village childcare center in Haiti. Everywhere, children prepared for the festivities of kindergarten graduation — which they traditionally celebrate in a big way — and the International Day of the Child. Boys and girls practiced dances and presentations, dressed in white and tan linen suits and skirts. Some children received haircuts, and many greeted the few American visitors with hugs and games. One of those visitors, Zeina Makhoul, is well known by the children at the village, since she had visited less than a year before.
Zeina is the nutrition scientist for SPOON Foundation, a Portland, Ore., based nonprofit that began in 2007 and now works internationally and domestically to improve the way orphaned, fostered and adopted children are nourished. As a partner of Holt, SPOON works to design and implement a wide range of sustainable and affordable nutrition programs to optimize the health and well-being of children in care overseas.
Brian Campbell, creative services director, is currently in Haiti with Christian music group 4HIM, touring Holt Fontana Village and learning more about Holt International’s educational *sponsorship program in this impoverished country. Back in August, Brian met a 12-year-old girl named Noely, her younger sister, Rose, and their mother, Goulette; They were a family of three struggling to survive. But today, through the support of Holt’s educational sponsorship program, Noely and her sister are able to attend school, and their mother is making tremendous strides to better her life for the sake of her children.
Brian and Mark Harris caught up with the family on their trip to Haiti this week…
By Brian Campbell, Creative Services Director
Arcahaie, Haiti—The hot Haitian air is filled with anticipation and excitement this morning. Christian music artist, Mark Harris, of the music group 4Him, is on his way to school. But not just any school. A young girl named Noely attends this school. You may remember her…
In August of 2012, I met Noely, her sister, Rose Carmel, and their mother, Goulette. At that time, the family was in desperate need of food. When Holt first met the family, they hadn’t eaten in three days. For Noely and Rose, receiving a proper education seemed unlikely. Goulette wept when thinking about her daughters’ uncertain future.
But today, Noely sits among children in a classroom—children that are a year or two older than her. She sits in the front row with her books open, her voice strong as she calls out answers to the teacher’s questions. Mark makes note that Noely looks so much younger than the rest the students. The school principal tells Mark that he advanced Noely an additional grade because she tested very high at her placement exam.
A Haiti vision trip member recounts her time at Holt Fontana Village
by Lori Simmons, adoptive parent and Haiti vision trip member
I didn’t know what to expect as we pulled up to Holt Fontana Village. This was the first orphanage that I had ever visited. Driving to the Village was a short and bumpy ride, not far from where we were staying. The gate to enter the grounds was locked for the children’s protection. Once we entered, I saw a truly beautiful oasis. The rest of the vision trip members and I walked down a narrow path to a concrete stage where we met the children. They performed a special “welcome” dance for all of us. Music, singing, dancing and laughter filled the stage. It was truly the most memorable welcome I had ever experienced. The girls all had matching skirts and tops. You could tell that someone had spent a lot of time and energy putting this together for the vision trip members.
After the song and dance, we spent time with the children and met some of their housemothers. The children had big smiles and were excited to get to know us. After a short while, we all had children on our laps, clapping and singing. It was a very special time for me. All of the children were so welcoming and made us all feel so special, when we were really there to let them know how special they all are.
It’s clear that Peter Fontana, president of the Hope for Haiti foundation, and his wife, Shay, have put their hearts and souls into making this a unique and truly special place for children. Each home has a housemother who takes pride in both the appearance of the children as well as the immaculately kept homes. Each child’s outfit fits perfectly; their shoes match, and the girls’ hair is all so beautifully braided. The housemothers are nurturing, thoughtful, and all of the children respect them.
Holt Fontana is a beautiful oasis for children who have had a difficult journey in their lives. Thank you Peter and Shay and Holt International for all that you have done and continue to do to support these very special children.
John and Sandi Polzin of Cadott, Wisconsin brought their daughter, Mazie, home from Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. This week, the Polzins return to Haiti with eight others on Holt’s inaugural vision trip! While in Haiti, the vision trip members will visit with the children in Holt Fontana Village, as well as a family in our family preservation program. They will also take part in a service project at a school we help support.
by Sandi Polzin
Arcahaie, Haiti — We arrived at Holt Fontana Village mid-evening and were greeted and entertained by the children. If anything melts my heart, it’s a child in song and dance. The three precious little ones that we are adopting were placed in our laps and tears, of course, came naturally for John and I as we hugged and played with them.
Several of the children treated us to a song and dance — such a great way to start this journey. We then received a tour of the grounds. What a sight to behold. You can tell the amount of love, effort, money and time put into this precious, sweet little orphanage and village. We hugged, and walked and played with the children until almost dark. We then went to the Kaliko Beach Resort to find our rooms and get to know the property that we will call home the next five days. The sights, sounds, and smells become familiar again, as the comforts of visiting this country we love begin to reform in our souls.
We are getting to know the fellow team members and the wonderful guides and leaders quite well. It is a joy to be around such visionary people who love Haiti just as we do.
Today we will go back to the Village to work, play and discover, and then off to the school project that Sarah, Holt’s director of Africa & Haiti, has in store for us. We are blessed to be a part of this amazing journey.
Vision Trip member and Holt adoptive parent Sharon Boyd arrived in Haiti on Monday. Here, she shares about her time at Holt Fontana Village. The vision trip members will also take part in a service project at a school. Holt provides sponsorship for 500 children at seven different schools in Haiti.
by Sharon Boyd
Arcahaie, Haiti — After a crazy day with my flight yesterday, I hopped out of bed and caught the 4:30 AM shuttle back to the airport. After catching my flight to Port-Au-Prince, I breezed right through immigration, and believe it or not, my bag was there waiting on me!
Holt sent a driver up to the airport to meet me. He had a nice little sign made up for me. We swung by a hardware store, and then took the 2-hour drive to the Kaliko Beach Club. We tried to hold some very short conversations with each other (for the record, I don’t speak a lick of French, but he was very gracious). When, oh when will I learn that I can’t use Spanish every time I’m in a foreign country?
The resort has a beautiful view. I took a walk down to the beach and was amazed not to find sand, but rocks. Big rocks.
I also saw a giant lizard and nearly screamed.
Our group leader, Sarah Halfman, Holt’s director of programs for Haiti and Africa, tracked me down after the group’s trip to the school, where I hear some good manual labor went down. Evidently they plan to work me double-time tomorrow (just kidding – I think). The group was finally complete, and we all enjoyed a lunch out on the patio, before heading over to Holt Fontana Village to visit the children.
When we arrived at the Village, Mr. Peter Fontana, founder of Holt Fontana Village, gave me a tour of the facilities. They have a large water tank imported from Australia, which holds thousands of gallons of water that are collected through dams, on the mountaintops behind the Village. Occasionally, a farmer will break the line up the mountain in order to irrigate the crops. This, of course, creates a problem for the local area. It must always be repaired quickly, and finding the location isn’t always easy. The Fontana facilities have a large diesel generator, which supplements their solar-paneled system that they quickly grew out of. They have several smaller homes with 3 “housemothers” that rotate through, with several children per house. This gives the children more of a home-type environment. You can definitely see that the children are well loved, secure, and behave exceptionally well.
We played for several hours with the children in one of the houses equipped with play facilities, and I think it might have even been calmer than my house, which has only four children. The children enjoyed one-on-one time with each of the visiting adults as we colored, played with toys and sculpted play-dough. Having had a daughter in an orphanage in Ethiopia, I can say that my impression of these children was very, very good. The nurturing care in this facility could not be better. The children were even writing their ABCs quite well! Continue reading “A Trip to Remember”