OUR HISTORY

Helping Children in Crisis for 50 Years

Wide Horizons For Children has a rich and storied history, beginning a half century ago as the war in Vietnam continued to rage — and as Saigon fell. For the last 50 years, we’ve operated in places where children and families have been pushed to the edge, and worked under the belief that every child deserves a family — whether a new, adopted forever family or the one they grew up with, fortified with a holistic approach of funds and services. Read below to see a timeline of significant moments in the our story.

1974 – Today

1974 – 1983

Palmeri Center

Our Beginnings

In 1972, Massachusetts couple Don and Marilyn Scott, relief workers in Vietnam, build My Friend’s House (MFH) in war-torn Saigon and establish a nutrition center to help starving, abandoned children. The Scotts also engage Pam Larsen, an adoptive parent, to pursue licensing for adoptions in Massachusetts.


1974

MFH becomes licensed for adoptions in Massachusetts — the first secular adoption agency in the state. This marks our start in the US.

MFH Adoption in MA

1975

whfc began in Saigon

Tom and Diane Palmeri, colleagues of the Scotts who run the nutrition center, leave Vietnam on one of the last commercial flights out before the fall of Saigon. MFH ceases to exist—but not until administrator Faith Pham returns every child to his or her family and places orphaned or abandoned children in foster homes.

India adoption history

International Adoptions, Inc., the adoption arm of MFH, starts its India adoption program. And places the first child! By the time the India program stopped, we had placed 300 children in loving families in the US.

Guatemala adoption history

International Adoptions starts its Guatemala adoption program. By the time the Guatemala program ended in 2009, we had placed 250 children in their forever families


1976

International Adoptions opens its South Korea adoption program. To date, along with our partner Holt Children’s Services, Wide Horizons For Children has placed more than 4,500 children with loving adoptive families.

adoption in South Korea

adoption in Colombia

1977

International Adoptions opens its Colombia adoption program. Today, Wide Horizons For Children has placed 1,750 children from South and Central American countries — including 400 children from Colombia — with loving adoptive families. Learn more about adopting from Colombia.


1978

International Adoptions opens its U.S. (domestic) adoption program and begins to counsel expectant birth parents. Today, Wide Horizons For Children has placed almost 900 children with loving adoptive families.

Partnership with Family Service Center in India begins with an adoption case of a 6-month-old baby girl. Over the years, we placed 300 children from India. 

1984 – 1993

1986

International Adoptions opens its Philippines adoption program. It is one of the very first US organizations to work in adoption from the Philippines. 

online adoption support groups

International Adoptions begins to offer post-adoption services to its adoptive families, which today includes support and counseling, search and reunion services, and networking and cultural opportunities.


1989

International Adoptions changes its name to Wide Horizons For Children to better reflect expanding programs in family preservation, orphan care, adoption and post-adoption support.

wide horizons for children

adoption in China

1991

Wide Horizons For Children opens its China adoption program. To date, Wide Horizons For Children has placed almost 2,037 children from China with loving adoptive families.


1992

Wide Horizons For Children places its first child from Moldova. Over the years, we placed 100 children from Moldova in loving adoptive families in the US. 


subsidies to families who are adopting children with special needs

1993

Wide Horizons For Children begins to offer subsidies to families who are adopting children with special needs.

1994 – 2003

adoption in India

2000

In partnership with Family Service Centre, Wide Horizons For Children starts a Child Sponsorship program in India.


2002

Wide Horizons begins to support two family orphanages, called hogares, in Guatemala.

hogares in Guatemala

adoption in Ethiopia

2003

Wide Horizons For Children begins to work in Ethiopia with an initial focus on adoption and family preservatiom. Today, the Child Sponsorship program supports families and children living in poverty.

2004 – 2013

2006

Pete Leppanen becomes CEO of Wide Horizons For Children, Inc.


2007

In partnership with Family Service Centre, Wide Horizons For Children launches a Community Development program in India to preserve and strengthen vulnerable families.


2008

Wide Horizons For Children begins its support of vocational training for orphans aging out of institutional care in Moldova.

Wide Horizons For Children begins its Child Sponsorship program in Guatemala to support families living in poverty and their children who are at risk for abandonment.


2010

Wide Horizons For Children opens its Burundi adoption program.

adwa clinic in burundi

Wide Horizons For Children builds Adwa Health Clinic in Ethiopia, giving the community their first access to medical care and treatment.


2012

Wide Horizons For Children builds the Leku Primary Hospital in Ethiopia to help reduce maternal mortality and prevent children from becoming orphans.

Janice Hoffman becomes CEO of Wide Horizons For Children, Inc.

2014 – Today

2014

The Education through Wellness School Nutrition program in Ethiopia

The Education through Wellness School Nutrition program began, providing school lunch and holiday rations to 40 school children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At its peak, it served more than 150 children. It was discontinued in 2021 when the Ethiopian government instituted its own school-nutrition program in Addis.

Accelerated Learning for Africa program in northern Ethiopia

Wide Horizons begins our partnership with Geneva Global to implement Accelerated Learning for Africa program in northern Ethiopia. The project continued until 2021.

granny program in Moldova

Granny program opens with 80 children in 2 orphanages in Chisinau, Moldova.


2015

family sponsorship

Wide Horizons gives first small business grant to sponsorship family in Ethiopia, catapulting them out of poverty.

last adopted child in Ethiopia

Our last adoptive child from Ethiopia is placed in their forever family in the US.


2017

Leku Hospital is recognized as a leading training and teaching hospital in Ethiopia, providing support for other hospitals in the region.

Leky Hospital Ethiopia

2020

Ethiopia food support during covid

WHFC begins emergency feeding campaign to support families in Ethiopia during the COVID pandemic and civil war in the north.

Child Sponsorship program in Las Minas, Guatemala

Child Sponsorship program in the rural community of Las Minas, Guatemala, starts up.

feeding program in Busiga, Burundi

Wide Horizons puts feeding program in place in orphanage in Busiga, Burundi


2021

Las Minas Community Center

Las Minas Community Center opens in Las Minas, Guatemala, providing educational and nutritional support for the community.

Emergency Relief Tigray

Wide Horizons expands emergency feeding initiative to stave off starvation for families in Tigray during the civil war. This stays in place until early 2023.


2022

Las Minas Medical Clinic opens in Guatemala

Las Minas Medical Clinic opens in Guatemala, providing medical access to this community – for many, for the first time ever.

Family Reunification and Preservation program in Busiga, Burundi

Wide Horizons starts our Family Reunification and Preservation program with 7 families in Busiga, Burundi.