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
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.
MFH becomes licensed for adoptions in Massachusetts — the first secular adoption agency in the state. This marks our start in the US.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
International Adoptions opens its Philippines adoption program. It is one of the very first US organizations to work in adoption from the Philippines.
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.
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 opens its China adoption program. To date, Wide Horizons For Children has placed almost 2,037 children from China with loving adoptive families.
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.
Wide Horizons For Children begins to offer subsidies to families who are adopting children with special needs.
1994 – 2003
In partnership with Family Service Centre, Wide Horizons For Children starts a Child Sponsorship program in India.
Wide Horizons begins to support two family orphanages, called hogares, in Guatemala.
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
Pete Leppanen becomes CEO of Wide Horizons For Children, Inc.
In partnership with Family Service Centre, Wide Horizons For Children launches a Community Development program in India to preserve and strengthen vulnerable families.
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.
Wide Horizons For Children opens its Burundi adoption program.
Wide Horizons For Children builds Adwa Health Clinic in Ethiopia, giving the community their first access to medical care and treatment.
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
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.
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 opens with 80 children in 2 orphanages in Chisinau, Moldova.
Wide Horizons gives first small business grant to sponsorship family in Ethiopia, catapulting them out of poverty.
Our last adoptive child from Ethiopia is placed in their forever family in the US.
Leku Hospital is recognized as a leading training and teaching hospital in Ethiopia, providing support for other hospitals in the region.
WHFC begins emergency feeding campaign to support families in Ethiopia during the COVID pandemic and civil war in the north.
Child Sponsorship program in the rural community of Las Minas, Guatemala, starts up.
Wide Horizons puts feeding program in place in orphanage in Busiga, Burundi
Las Minas Community Center opens in Las Minas, Guatemala, providing educational and nutritional support for the community.
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.
Las Minas Medical Clinic opens in Guatemala, providing medical access to this community – for many, for the first time ever.
Wide Horizons starts our Family Reunification and Preservation program with 7 families in Busiga, Burundi.