Vancouver-based organization helps orphans and children-in-need across the globe
VANCOUVER — When she was 15 and her older sister Heather 18, Hollen Frazier became a part of something that would impact the children of planet Earth.
Heather returned from a trip to Romania with incredible news for her parents and sister. She had found a way to bring home her youngest sister, Hannah. The family adopted her, and with a simple statement to local media by Heather, their lives changed forever.
“I would help anybody who wanted to help a child.”
Dozens and dozens of families wanting to also adopt children from the states and the world began calling Heather and Hollen’s parents. What followed was the birth of All God’s Children International, lovingly known today as AGCI.
Now, in 2021, the organization is celebrating 30 years of connecting families with children from 25 countries who all need homes. Well over 3,500 children have been placed through AGCI, tens of thousands more are sponsored by AGCI partners everyday and the organization is currently intervening for 8 million children living in orphanages.
Heather and her parents ran AGCI for many years, and today, after she says God continued to open the door and nudge her, Hollen Fraizer serves as the organization’s president.
“Everywhere we go it’s all about relationships,” Frazier said. “That connection is really important, from going into new countries and building relationships, at the highest government levels, all the way down to the work that we do directly to children and families. We believe that all of the healing work that needs to be done for the children and families we serve is done through that relationship lens.”
AGCI leverages its vast network of partners in nations they are working in to advocate for children in institutions with each nation’s government. In Colombia, for example, they have been able to secure the transition of 50,000 children from the welfare system to families.
In Ethiopia, AGCI works with many child-headed households, where an older sibling has taken on the role of leadership after the death of both parents. The program side of AGCI works to prevent the cycle of trauma that can break families apart and leave children without a home.
“When we would go orphanage to orphanage and ask these older kids, how did you find yourself here in this institution, and many times we heard these young people respond and say, ‘I was a bad kid. My parents brought me here because I was bad,’” Frazier said. “What we really ended up discovering was these weren’t bad kids, these were kids that were being raised in school systems that sometimes had 80 to 90 children in a classroom. So you had kids with learning disabilities with no infrastructure to educate the parents, or help the child with how they were struggling.”
A GCI really tries to focus on finding the children that might be overlooked by other families. This is often due to developmental or physical special needs. The organization is currently working in seven countries, and has continued its main mission throughout the bulk of the pandemic.
Even though many countries close down their ability to have children adopted by families outside of the country, the process has begun to relax as pandemic conditions improved globally. The situation also allowed for a GCI to be creative and connect families with their new children virtually.
“We have a need for families in all of our countries,” said AGCI Vice President of Adoption Services Jodi Miyama. “Colombia is one of the countries we have a lot of leadership and we do a lot. Another country we really need families for is South Africa. They were hit really hard with COVID, but that program is newer for us. We’ve seen such a great investment from the South Africa team that we work with.”
“The other country that we really would want if it’s on people’s hearts is the Philippines. There’s if there are a lot of children waiting in the Philippines right now.”
There are three main ways that AGCI seeks out partnerships with people and families. The first, obviously, being adoption of a child or children from somewhere in the US or abroad. Frazier and Miyama both admit that adoption is not for everyone, but they encourage anyone who has it in their heart to adopt a child to not be afraid. They encouraged them to reach out, and take a step of faith that will bless them and the child.
The next way to partner is through sponsorships. Every month, thousands of people across the country partner with AGCI for anywhere from $40 to $20 a month. This money goes directly to young people across the world who are in need of financial support for their schooling and living situations. Many of these children grow up and start businesses in the countries they reside.
The third, and what Frazier describes as possibly the most impactful, way people can partner with AGCI is through prayer. Just visiting their website for a mere five minutes, it becomes very clear that AGCI invests time telling the stories of the people they are helping. Dozens and dozens of videos document the lives of children still young and grown-up after being helped by AGCI. Frazier encouraged anyone with a heart to support the organization to pray for their efforts with governments, families and children.
“As a mom, I know how important it is for a child to have a family and so I don’t sleep as well at night knowing that there are children out there who need a family,” Miyama said. “My kids, they want the latest and greatest iPhone or whatever it is, but these kids are waiting in an orphanage, they want a family who they’ll be able to have a sister slumber party or they want movies and popcorn on Friday night. They just want a family. I don’t know how to describe this passion that I have to see each child have the opportunity to have that family, but that’s truly the greatest joy I can’t think of.”