The Secret of Their Lives

A little girl at the HIV group home looks out the front door to a sunny courtyard.

Most of the children here don’t know they are HIV+. It’s too risky.

Their teachers don’t know. Their neighbors definitely don’t know because if they did, they would have to move again. They’ve moved eight times in ten years, all 28 children. If their teachers knew, they would be isolated and discriminated against or even kicked out of their pricey private school — a school they attend because they don’t have to inform the principal of their disease.

Most of these children don’t even know about the disease in their blood, the disease that killed many of their parents, robbed them of their life in their villages and that was likely passed to them at birth.

They just know that they have strict rules to follow.

Absolutely no fighting. No rough housing. If they get a cut or a scratch, they have their own first aid kit. And they have Mr. Huang.

“The kids are happy now,” Mr. Huang says, his face worn and tired, his spiky, graying hair hinting at his age.

When children pass through the living room of the apartment, they stop to grab his hands or talk to him and his eyes soften as he greets them lovingly.

“They are too young,” Mr. Huang says. “They don’t understand their fate. But as they get older, they will learn. The discrimination will start. They will always have to keep their secret.”

Continue reading “The Secret of Their Lives”

Care That Brings Kids Back To Life

At one special medical foster home in China, orphaned and abandoned children from all over China with severe medical needs, health conditions and special needs receive such amazing care, they blossom right before their caregiver’s eyes.

Peace House is not an actual house, but rather a small apartment on the 26th floor of an otherwise unremarkable 31-story brick building in sprawling Beijing. But inside, the space is anything but unremarkable — it’s a miraculous, life-changing place every day. A place where the contributions of kind and generous donors make a world of difference to the children — often babies younger than 2 — who spend weeks or months here.

A caregiver plays with two children, both growing strong enough for surgery, in the living room of Peace House.

“The thing that most stands out to me about Peace House,” says Jessica Zeeb, Holt’s China waiting child coordinator, “is that the name really describes the environment. When you walk in, you get a sense of peace. It’s calm. The nannies aren’t standing, working on lots of tasks. They are on the floor with the children.” Continue reading “Care That Brings Kids Back To Life”

Life Inside the Caves of Northern China

Through Holt’s child sponsorship program, dedicated sponsors create pathways for orphaned and vulnerable children to escape poverty and chase their dreams — an especially rare opportunity for children living in caves in northern China.

China child sponsorship — Pei
If 15-year-old Pei ever hopes to escape the poverty and stigma associated with living in a cave, she will need to stay in school as long as possible.

Only the poorest families still live in caves.

Some families use the dusty, mountainside rooms as animal pens to protect their sheep or goats from the freezing winter cold. Others store grain or farm equipment in their cave, and live nearby in a more modern brick or concrete home.

Until she was 4 years old, Huan Yu Pei had never lived in a cave. She didn’t face the stigma cave families feel as the bottom of society. She never felt the draft from the makeshift door.

In the cave-dwelling community where she grew up in China’s Shaanxi province, Pei’s family was considered middle class.

Her father worked in a factory and her mother cared for the house. Pei’s grandfather spent his days harvesting their large plot of land, where they grow sweet apples. Their life was comfortable.

Then, in 2006, Pei’s father was in a motorcycle accident on his way to the printer manufacturing company where he worked as a machine operator. His leg was badly mangled and broken. In this rural, underdeveloped region of northwest China, there were few hospitals and none that Pei’s father could afford without health insurance. The injury never fully healed, and Pei’s father needed crutches to move. He lost his job, and the family fell into poverty and debt.

China child sponsorship — Pei's life.
A view of several cave homes in Ruicheng, an agricultural region about 450 miles from Beijing, China.

Soon after they moved into the cave where they still live today, Pei’s mother vanished. Continue reading “Life Inside the Caves of Northern China”

4 Ways to Celebrate World Health Day

World Health Day is April 7, and we have four easy ways that you can participate in this important global awareness day and spread improved health to the most vulnerable children, women and communities around the world. When you give a Gift of Hope, you provide lifesaving tools and resources exactly where they are needed most. Below are four health-related items of greatest need and with huge potential for impact!

Vaccines-280x3301. VACCINES

Especially in difficult-to-reach, rural areas, many children do not receive routine childhood vaccines that could save their lives — and prevent the spread of deadly disease. Giving one child the vaccines they need has limitless power to reduce child mortality. GIVE NOW!

 

 

 

Continue reading “4 Ways to Celebrate World Health Day”

The Heart Warriors

As Holt’s China team works to find families for a growing number of children with complex heart disease, a partnership develops with Little Hearts Medical — a groundbreaking, U.S.-based organization of cardiac surgeons, cardiologists and adoptive families who are working to ensure children receive the medical interventions they need early on, and while still in China.

Max
Max Preston came home to his family in June 2015 and is now receiving the cardiac care he needs to thrive!

In June 2014, when hopeful adoptive parents Heather and Vince Preston received a referral from Holt’s China program, they were prepared for a child with a heart condition. They had expressed their openness to this special need when applying, and they knew the need was great.

But neither of them were medical doctors. And they knew that “heart condition” could mean a broad spectrum of things — from a minor hole that would close on its own to a chronic, life-threatening disease that would require round-the-clock care. Before accepting the referral, they needed more information. And they needed advice from someone experienced — someone who knew what she was talking about. Someone like Andrea.

But as Heather soon discovered, there’s no one quite “like” Andrea.

“At the time, I was excited to speak with her,” Heather says of Andrea, who often mentors Holt families who are considering an adoption of a child with complex heart disease (CHD). “But I did not realize how valuable this conversation would be.”

A mother of six with five children adopted through Holt — four of whom have CHD — Andrea also serves as executive director of Little Hearts Medical, an organization that brings life-saving cardiac care to orphaned children and children from poor families in China. Needless to say, she’s a busy woman. But not too busy to take Heather’s call.

Prestons
Heather and Vince Preston with their two boys, both adopted from China.

While the Prestons barreled down the highway en route to a family camping trip, Andrea sat on the phone with Heather for two straight hours — answering their questions, from a parent’s perspective, about the referral they received from Holt. Although the child’s medical file had already been assessed by a pediatric cardiologist, the information contained a lot of medical jargon and confusing information. “Throughout the two-hour drive, Andrea talked with us about [our soon-to-be son] Max’s particular flavor of CHD based upon the file review,” Heather says. Continue reading “The Heart Warriors”

She Could Have Been Just a Number…

ViviShe could have been just a number. Just another kid in an orphanage. Just another kid with special needs.

When Holt matched Vivienne with her family three years ago, she was about to receive surgery for her cleft lip and palate — a common condition among children living in orphanage care in China. At the time, she was in care at Peace House, Holt’s medical foster home in Beijing.

“It was hard being so far away, wondering if all was well,” her mom, Catherine, reflects.

Fortunately, Holt’s staff in China regularly sent updates about Vivienne’s progress —including medical records, photos and video. “We knew she was safe and well cared for,” says Catherine. Continue reading “She Could Have Been Just a Number…”