The Story Behind the Photo: What Social Workers Actually Do…

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With stern faces and plastic inspection gloves, adoption social workers Kris Bales and Kathie Stocker illustrate what prospective families THINK they do — not what they ACTUALLY do.

Social workers. They come into your home with a white glove and a watchful eye. They check under your bed for dust mites. They go through your medicine cabinet. They call your neighbors to inquire how long you wait to mow your lawn. They take note of every imperfection, just looking for a reason not to approve your family for adoption.

Is that about what you had in mind?­­

Well meet Kathie Stocker and Kris Bales, two of Holt’s most devoted — and beloved — social workers. Kathie has worked with Holt for 23 years and Kris for 14. K­athie is often the first person families hoping to adopt from Korea will speak to, while Kris advises families interested in the China program. Both and have guided hundreds of families through their adoption process. At Christmas time, their walls are covered in cards from families and photos of children they’ve helped place. Both will be the first to tell you that the job of a social worker is not to be taken lightly — entrusting a family with a child is no small decision. But they will also tell you that the homestudy process is not about judgment. No family is perfect. And neither are they.

Above all, their passion — and their role — is to find the right family for every child.

Today on the Holt blog, learn more about what Kris and Kathie ACTUALLY do as adoption social workers for Holt.

Continue reading “The Story Behind the Photo: What Social Workers Actually Do…”

Their World Has Opened Up, Because of You

In southern Ethiopia, in a town called Shinshicho, there is a special school where children from all over the region come to study. Some walk up to six miles every day just so they can learn there.

It is the only school for deaf children in a community of over 250,000 people — a community that also happens to have the highest rate of deafness in all of Ethiopia.

Six years ago, the deaf children of this region had no school to go to, no teachers to teach them, no knowledge of sign language — or even an awareness that a language existed for those who could not hear. Without a way to communicate with the outside world, they lived lives of loneliness and isolation — completely unable to express their intelligent thoughts and complex emotions even with their own families. They were barely recognized as human.

But when the Yesus Mena School for the Deaf opened in Shinshicho, suddenly a world of possibility also opened up for these children. Today, with the support of Holt sponsors like you, 395 students who are deaf or partially hearing are finally receiving the sign-language-based education they need and deserve.

The video above tells the story of one boy at Yesus Mena who, with the support of his sponsors, can finally share what he was holding inside, all along.

Thank you for all you do for your sponsored child. Wherever they live, whatever their struggle, your sponsorship has opened a world of possibility in their life.

Recognized as human for the first time…

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In the Kembata-Tembaro zone of southern Ethiopia, the prevalence of deafness is the highest in the country.

Deaf children in this rural community face multiple difficulties that hinder them from reaching their full potential. Marginalization, limited participation in their community and exploitation for child labor are a few of the hurdles that affect their lives.

Today, deaf children in this region are able to pursue their education at the Yesus Mena School for the Deaf enabling them to communicate with their families for the first time, and empowering them with the skills and knowledge to overcome poverty.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 8.37.25 AM Continue reading “Recognized as human for the first time…”

For waiting kids, it’s all about “reach.”

We need your help!

During the summer, we consistently receive fewer applications than throughout the rest of the year. Maybe it’s because families are going on vacation or their lives are full of activities, but whatever the reason, lower application numbers mean that we are finding homes for fewer children overall. We want to counteract that trend and we need your help.

One of the major ways that we find prospective families for children is through social media, and when working with social media, it’s all about “reach.” This is where you come in.

Photo Release: Further_Marketing_Use Adopted Child's Country of Birth: China Report Month: : 24 Month Adoptive Parent's Info:  Adoptive Father's First & Last Name: Brian Murphy Adoptive Mother's First & Last Name: Jessica Murphy State: IN E-mail address: mrsjessicamurphy@gmail.com Adopted Child's Information:  Child's Original Name: Yu Bing Yan Child's New Name: Alaina Murphy Child's DOB: 01/16/2013 Arrival Date: 05/30/2014 Caption for each photo:  AlainaMurphy-01.jpg The Murphy family on vacation in Brown County, Indiana. We love spending time outdoors together. AlainaMurphy-02.jpg Alaina dressed in as a princess for Halloween. AlainaMurphy-03.jpg Alaina and Jessica (Mother) spending time together at the beach. Our family visits the same place in Florida every year! AlainaMurphy-04.jpg Alaina, excited to ride the train at the Cincinnati Zoo. AlainaMurphy-05.jpg Alaina and Brian (Father), together on a beautiful nature trail. AlainaMurphy-06.jpg The Murphy Family on vacation together in Florida. We spent the week swimming and playing together on the beach. AlainaMurphy-07.jpg Alaina dressed as her favorite Disney character, and holding one of her "babies". AlainaMurphy-08.jpg Alaina dressed in her beautiful silk dress for Chinese New Year. We celebrated together with our extended family and ate some delicious food.We often use our Facebook page to advocate for children on our waiting child photolisting. In order for our Facebook campaigns to be successful, however, we rely on people like you to spread children’s stories through sharing, liking and commenting. Facebook thinks it knows what people want to see on their feed, and it figures that out by looking at what is getting the most engagement. So the more shares, likes and comments that our posts get, the more Facebook assists in spreading them around. Basically, the more engagement that a post about a child receives, the better chance we have of finding them a loving and secure home.

Take Suzanna. Like many other children on our waiting child photolisting, we wrote a blog post about Suzanna and then posted it to Facebook. Here is where it gets exciting. People like you started sharing it, liking it and commenting on it, and within the first day, 40,000+ people saw it! That number is still climbing.

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Now, that is a lot of people and we get excited about that. But what we are really excited about is that we had 40+ inquiries about adopting Suzanna, and one family is going through the process to adopt her now!

Helping us spread the word about children who need extra advocacy has a real and tangible impact on the lives of the people that we “reach” — and most importantly, on the lives of children who are waiting for a family of their own.

 

Sincerely,

Emily Lund

Adoption Counselor

Holt International
Ready to advocate for children? Hunter, Gabbie and Brady need your help right now:

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A Clear Path to Success

With the generous gift of an anonymous Holt supporter, a 6-year-old girl in Ethiopia receives treatment and glasses for a debilitating eye condition.

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Birhanesh and her father.


Birhanesh walks along a dusty, broken sidewalk in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Holding her father’s hand, she frolics down the uneven ground — bringing up gravel that dirties her pretty white flats. She wears a pink, pleated skirt and a forest green zip-up jacket. Her eyes, already teary and red, fill with dust as she strains to see on this bright day in November, one of the driest months in Ethiopia. Standing at almost 7-feet-tall, Birhanesh’s father holds his daughter’s hand tightly as the heavy Addis traffic rushes around them. The father and daughter are almost 200 miles away from the place they call home, a traditional mud hut in the Wallana district of southern Ethiopia. Accompanying them on this long-awaited journey is Miruk Alemu, then Holt Ethiopia’s child sponsorship coordinator. They have arrived in Ethiopia’s capital for a very special reason. Today, 6-year-old Birhanesh will, after years of discomfort, visit an eye specialist for the first time — hopeful that he can finally give her some relief. Continue reading “A Clear Path to Success”

Just look at the striking differences in these children and families…

Holt’s supporters are amazing. Because of gifts to our President’s Top Priority Fund last year, we have seen striking changes in the lives of children and families we serve. Hopeful adoptive families have been able to offer a loving home to children with special needs, while children with special needs living with their families around the world were able to receive the vital medical care and therapies they need to thrive. Through family strengthening initiatives, many struggling families now have the tools and resources to independently support their children. Holt’s supporters created pathways for children to go to school, provided lifesaving food to orphaned children in North Korea and created hope and opportunity in the lives of children and families as near as Haiti and as far as Mongolia and Vietnam.

Below, we share some of our favorite stories from the year — stories that show the lasting and meaningful difference you made in the lives of children and families in 2015. Thank you, and enjoy! Continue reading “Just look at the striking differences in these children and families…”

Can you guess what gift made children shriek with joy?

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It’s only October. So why are we blogging about Christmas?
Because in order to create an incredible Christmas for every orphaned and vulnerable child we serve, we need you now.

This year, let’s create something truly magical for children. Miraculous, even.

So many of the children in Holt’s programs have experienced so much pain and poverty — hardships that no one should ever have to endure, but especially children. The children in our programs have an adult-like maturity. You can see the worry in their eyes.
Continue reading “Can you guess what gift made children shriek with joy?”

Ethiopia Families Reunite in Tennessee and Oregon

Two Very Special Ethiopian Reunions

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Last month, Holt families who adopted children from the same care center in Ethiopia met at a resort in Tennessee for their second annual adoptive family reunion.  “When we adopted our daughter, Maci, from Ethiopia, she was 4, and we knew that her friendships were very important to her,” Holt adoptive parent and Holt staff member Laura Sykora says. “We knew we needed to do all we could to help her maintain those friendships.”

Fortunately, the Sykoras found many adoptive families who felt the same way. “Everyone wanted to keep those connections,” Laura says.

So, during the last week of June, 13 families, including 25 Ethiopian born children, met at a resort in Nashville for a weekend of fun and memories. “The children’s faces lit up as all the families started to arrive,” Laura says.  “Attendance close to doubled the previous year’s numbers.”

Plans are already underway for next year’s reunions. “As parents, we have developed a connection of friendship as we have drawn together sharing experiences and providing each other with support,” Laura says.

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Reunion with Miruk Alemu

A month later, another special Ethiopian reunion took place, this time in Oregon.

Miruk Alemu, Holt Ethiopia’s director of adoption and sponsorship, spent a full week in Oregon, kicking off her trip with a family gathering at a Portland area park. Fifteen Ethiopian adoptees and their families attended. Some traveled more than four hours to see Miruk and participate in the festivities. Since joining Holt in 2009, Miruk, has worked on nearly every adoption case, and has aided families through their process in Ethiopia. She said the time at the park, reconnecting to the children, was extremely special for her. “I can’t believe how much they have all grown,” Miruk said.

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Along with the reunion, Miruk also spent the week at the Holt office in Eugene, meeting with members of the Holt team and participating in trainings.

 

Interested in connecting with other adoptive families this summer?  Click here to learn more about Holt picnics and find a picnic near you! 

 

For Deaf Students in Ethiopia, the First Day of School is a Major Milestone

Around the world, the extra cost to send children back to school is often an overwhelming amount for parents. Books, school supplies, shoes and uniforms all add up — and on top of already expensive school fees. However, for one special school in Ethiopia, you can help provide children with the supplies they need and ensure the first day of school is marked with joy and celebration.

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In 2009, Holt came to Shinshicho — first renovating a local clinic, and then partnering with the community to build a full maternal-child hospital to serve the region’s nearly 250,000 people. In recent years, Holt also developed programs to strengthen families at risk of separation from their children. Through our work in the community, Holt heard about the need for a school for deaf children and decided to help. A Shinshicho resident donated the land and space, and we worked with the community to build a school for deaf children. Anticipating only 50 students on the first day, we were shocked when more than 200 children showed up to learn. This year, more than 500 students will attend Yesus Mena School for deaf children.

There’s a universal kind of magic in the first day of school.

The potion is simple: mix one new outfit with two cups of optimism for what a new school year may hold — one from the child, one from the parent. Add a fresh-faced teacher and 50 sets of new notebooks and school bags. Blend it all together with a dose of excitement and a pinch of nerves. Add a new best friend and a handful of lunch-time giggles. Drink it up, knowing this school year will be the best one yet. Continue reading “For Deaf Students in Ethiopia, the First Day of School is a Major Milestone”