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must’ve been destiny

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I think the following poem should be required reading by anyone considering international adoption, and it’s a fine companion piece to John Raible’s spoken-word piece on transracial adoption, Better Off, Better Smile.  It was written by my KAD sister, Myung-Sook, from her unapologetic and profoundly heartwrenching blog, Holt Adoption Product.

It was Myung-Sook who heard my small scared voice three years ago and comforted me, and it is Myung-Sook who holds my hand today when I am frightened or alone.  If I hold your hand too, it is because of her.

Please read her blog, but as an intro, please enjoy this poem presented in the same manner she did and be sure to start the music while you are reading.

Because 사랑해요 means I love you

November 30, 2010 by myungsook

당신은 사랑받기위해 태어난 사람 means
You were born to be abandoned,
because 사랑해요 means I love you.

You were born to be abandoned
Because you were born to a wrong father
You were born to be rejected
Because 사랑해요 means I love you

Do not worry
There is a married woman whose womb has been closed by God; her name is Hannah.
Hannah has great faith in God and she is praying hard to have a child

You were born to be abandoned
Because your were born to a poor parent
You were born to be tagged with a price
Because you were born in a poor country

Do not worry
Hannah lives in a rich country.
And she’ll pay any price to have a child

You were born to be abandoned
Because you were born to a sinner
You were born to be sold
Because you were born in Korea

Do not worry
There is man who heard Hannah’s prayer; his name is Eli
Eli will fix your mother’s mistakes in the name of Jesus

You were born to be abandoned
Because God placed you in the wrong womb
You were born to be shipped off to strangers
Because you were born in the wrong country

Do not worry
The followers of Jesus will fix God’s mistakes.
And the followers of Confucius will send you off with an escort

Be grateful that you are not useless
Hannah’s is happy now, because of your existence in this world.
Followers of Jesus made huge sum of money, because of your existence in this world.
And the followers of Confucius will be happy, the day you’ll visit your birth country to spend your money.

당신은 사랑받기위해 태어난 사람…

The Contemporary Christian use of adoption for personal gain obliterates the fact that we international adoptees are a product of social injustice, and both Myung-Sook and John Raibel’s pieces give voice to the children who were silenced during this process.  International adoption capitalizes on social injustice and benefits from its continuation:  it is no charitable act.

Written by girl4708

December 1, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Dear Expectant Parent

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Excerpts from the two page (yup, that’s it) guide to taking care of your new adopted child from Korea, circa 1966.  (from my own personal files) Bold added by me for highlighting.  Portions omitted are about plane arrangements, clothing to send, documents which will arrive, medical exams and immigration.  Sarcastic comments are fully mine.

Dear Expectant Parents:

This letter is to prepare you for your child’s arrival.  First of all, be sure you have all the fees paid…We must have this money before your child comes.

Because it’s all about the child’s welfare…

As soon as we know when and where the plane will land, and who will be on it, we will let you know.  We will call you “collect”…

Because you owe us money…

There are a few Korean words that are necessary to know.  “Aboji” – father.   “Amoni” – mother.  A-sound as in father and accent is on first syllable.  “Moga” long O and accent on first syllable – to eat.  “Ojum” – to urinate.  “Dong”- bowel movement.  “Mul” – water.  “Mul-kogi” – fish.  “Pop” – rice.  “Hongkuk” – Korea.

That’s all they included.  I guess nine words is all any child almost three needs to communicate…and actually, the last three weren’t really needed, since we never ate fish, rice, or talked about Korea.

We pray that you will raise your child in the nurture and admonition of our Lord.  There will be adjustments for both you and the child and it may require patience and understanding and prayer.

At least they’re up front about their motives.

Please remember that the child has missed out on part of his life.  Many of them have never known parental love and affection.

Never mind that the part of their life they had missed out on was due to their time in the orphanage, because the orphanage existed, and that they had a life before the orphanage.  Never mind that they had a family before the orphanage.  Never mind that from this day forward they will be severed from Korea, their culture, and their language.

They may be suspicious of you and everyone else,

Could this be because the adoptive parents are TOTAL STRANGERS?

or they may not let you out of their sight for a moment for fear that you, too, will desert them.

Or could this be FEAR they will end up in yet ANOTHER totally FOREIGN situation to adjust to?

They may demand all of your attention and be envious of any affection you show toward other children.  It is better to know this ahead of time, so you can expect it.  This is not because he is Korean;  it is because he is an orphan, learning for the first time what parental love is.

Note here how they perpetuate the myth that we never had parents.  Note also that the child’s anxiety is blamed on the first parents’ lack of love.  There is no mention of the Certificate of Orphanhood they must apply for in order to turn children into orphans.

These children are usually more affectionate than our children by birth.

What the?  Some last minute selling, just for good measure?

Because the children do come from Korea, many of our customs will seem rather strange to them.  For example;  they are not used to sleeping in beds and normally sleep on the floor.  It may therefore, seem strange when you present him with that “odd thing” on which he is expected to sleep.  Just bear in mind that our “ways of living” are new to your child and that he will adjust quite rapidly.

What other choice does the child have?

If you have any troubles with your child, please let us know.  We want him to grow up in a Christian home for our Lord’s glory.

So if you have any troubles, you must not really be Christian…nice way to only get positive feedback.

Please pray urgently for the plane, the pilots, the escorts, the children’s health, for the safe take-offs and safe landings and for traveling mercies on the way.

Gratefully in our Lord’s service,


Mrs. Susie Nelson

Supervisor of Adoptions

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  Deut. 33:27.

Written by girl4708

December 21, 2008 at 4:19 am

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I can’t recall how old I was when the book started crossing my path.

“What’s this?”  I asked my mother.  She explained about Harry Holt and how he and his wife Bertha saved eight Korean war orphans and started the adoption agency where I came from.  It was clear she idolized them.  After she had left the room, I looked at the photos of their ridiculously huge family.  I only looked at the photos because I was too young to read all the big words.  It didn’t pull my heartstrings at all.  Harry Holt kind of looked like Clark Gable, though, and I wondered what kind of man he was.  Bertha looked like she should be milking cows somewhere.  They both scared me.

Over the years, I would run across the book time and again.  It would be sitting on the desk in our family room, out of place, off the shelf.  Or it would move and be on the shelf.  Or it would be on the side table next to the couch.  It kept popping up, in my way.  I was old enough to read now.  I knew someone in the house wanted me to read it and believe.

Isaiah 43:5

Fear not: for I am with you: I will bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west;

I did it.  The pressure worked somewhat.  I opened the cover.  I read the captions under the photos.  I even read a paragraph or two.  That was all it took.  I vowed to NEVER read that book.

I was never an agry child, a tempermental child.  I was docile and obedient, perfectly mannered 99.9% of the time.  Adoption never came up in my thoughts, and it was never discussed in my home.  I couldn’t dwell upon nor could I explain my refusal to read this book.  But now I can.

I will NEVER read that book.  It was an offense then, and it is an offense now.  It is the rationalization for the taking of almost two hundred thousand children from their families in Korea.  It was done in the name of God, in the name of bringing us unwashed heathens to God.  I can’t believe in a God that would do that.  I can’t believe in charity that would rather condone the separation of parents and children over assisting families in need.

I have been told by other adoptees that the books written by Mrs. Holt are astounding in their rationalizations, and that they are a must read.  But I don’t need to do that, nor do I want to support the Holt adoption agency with one penny.  Even as a child I could recognize propaganda when I saw it.  Even as a child I could distinguish those with true faith over those that were self-serving zealots.  Even as a child I knew deep down in my heart that my identity had been irreparably violated by this act of charity.

I am PROUD to have never participated willingly in embracing my adoption.  I am PROUD of my personal sense of justice.  I am PROUD I never submitted, and PROUD to have preserved this one small sense of self through this one act of rebellion.  I will never relent.

I am NOT NOW and NEVER WAS a seed from the east to be gathered from the west

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's standing by the water
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
The union is behind us,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
We're fighting for our freedom,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
We're fighting for our children,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
We'll building a mighty union,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
Black and white together,
We shall not be moved

We shall not, we shall not be moved
We shall not, we shall not be moved
Young and old together,
We shall not be moved

Written by girl4708

November 30, 2008 at 9:29 pm

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Grandma Holt, why would you let people like this adopt?

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I wrote about my mother in my personal blog, but its subject matter crosses over into Holt territory, so I am linking to it here.


Man, that ceramic figurine on the record table is such a trigger…My dad used to always point it out, touch me a little too sweetly on the head, and say, “you know you’re my little Siamese kitty kat!”

Didn’t he see the cloud pass over my face as I shrank from his touch and thought, “I’m not Siamese.  I’m not your kitty kat.  I’m Korean.  Whatever that is.”

Written by girl4708

October 7, 2008 at 4:41 am

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Mother of all Korean Orphans admits not every adoption perfect

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from Yonhap News

혻혻 By Kim Young-gyo
GOYANG, South Korea, May 8 (Yonhap) – A daughter of Harry and Bertha Holt, who founded South Korea’s largest adoption agency in the aftermath of the Korean War, has been following her parents’ path of encouraging adoptions of abandoned children.

While nursing children at South Korean orphanages and helping them get adopted by new families since 1956 when she was 19, Molly Holt says she has always felt that a family is the best gift an orphaned child can have.

혻혻 At the same time, however, the head of Holt Children’s Services knows that not all adoptions have a happy ending.

혻 혻 “Like this family in Iowa, you know, where a father killed his wife and all his children, it was so horrible,” she said in an exclusive interview with Yonhap News Agency Thursday.

혻혻 In March, the members of the family in the U.S. were beaten to death by the father, who had been charged with embezzling nearly $560,000 from his former employer and with money laundering. He later committed suicide. All four of his children were adopted from South Korea through Holt Children’s Services.

혻혻 With tearful eyes, seemingly feeling guilty about the children’s deaths, Holt continued.

혻 혻 “I got the folder. It was this big, because there were four homestudies. Before each child was adopted they (did) homestudies again and again. Four yearly reports with post-adoption reports done every three months for a year. Still, this happens. I looked at it, and there was nothing wrong. The only wrong was that the father was too perfect. He never had a traffic ticket. He never made mistakes.”
A homestudy is a detailed written report on a prospective adoptive family, assessing the home environment before a child is placed in the family.

혻 혻 Holt, along with many Korean adoptees, attended the memorial service for the dead, which was held March 28 in northern Seoul.

혻혻 “Sometimes people think in the beginning that we didn’t have any investigating agencies, but we did. We had an agency that investigates, and we would get the reports to see if they were suitable families or not…They check their credit ratings, their police records, their backgrounds and their educational backgrounds,” Holt said.

혻혻 “We tried to find all the best families for our precious children, but sometimes they didn’t have good families. They divorced, or they abused children. But it’s amazing sometimes how wonderful the children turned out even in sad circumstances. Sometimes there were wonderful families and children ran away.”
Unfortunately some adoptive parents give up their adopted children, as in the case of a Dutch diplomat in Hong Kong who drew public criticism last December for giving up his seven-year-old ethnic Korean daughter, whom he and his wife adopted at the age of four months.

혻혻 “Sometimes they (adoptees) are brought back to Korea. We had maybe ten brought back to Korea. Some went back to orphanages, and some are here. Some are still here.”
Often dubbed “Mother of all Korean orphans,” Holt has been living at a 51.7-acre facility in Goyang, east of Seoul, where Holt Children’s Services offers a home for over 250 homeless disabled people.

혻혻 “One girl, she had several polios, she fell down a lot. She was normal mentally. She went to school. And we adopted her into another family. And she did fine,” she said. “But people are all different. You can’t say everything is perfect. But you do what you can.”
“Some did have hard times. We are sorry,” she said.

혻혻 She said she will continue helping orphaned children get adopted, both internationally and domestically.

혻 혻 When asked about her plan for the future, she replied, “To make happy families. Adoption has always been our central piece, because adoption is the very best way to have children cared for, who do not have living parents or parents that can care for them.”
Adoptions from South Korea began soon after the 1950-53 war and peaked in the mid-1980s when over 8,000 children a year went abroad, mostly to the United States, to join their new families.

혻혻 The government has recorded about 158,000 foreign adoptions of Korean orphans in the over 50 years since foreign adoptions began.

혻혻 ygkim@yna.co.kr

I’d say MOST adoptions are not perfect, and if MY family was any indication of their screening and FOLLOW UP skills, then Holt had a lot of improvement to do.  Perfection is always suspect – the only person I’ve ever met who looked perfect is my brother, who is now in jail for murder.  What kind of psychological testing did that Iowa father go through?  Clearly, inadequate testing.  Clearly, they do not profile psychos like they should.

Holt started operations by taking advantage of a humanitarian crisis.  Yet long after the crisis was over, they continued to perpetuate their operations by creating a demand for international babies.  Long after Korea had become a first world nation, they continue to encourage and promote a market for babies there.

Without this market, Korea would be forced to improve their social services and bring their backwards cultural stigmas forward into the twentieth century, to match their first world status and because they can now afford social programs.  It is Holt’s easy presense and the market for babies which provide an easy way out for the government and its citizens.  Holt needs to get out of Korea once and for all and let Korea take care of its own.

Written by girl4708

September 29, 2008 at 2:24 pm

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SOLD !!!

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Above are the wrist i.d. tags they put on me for the flight to America.  Old name on one arm, New name on the other.  Kind of like being born, yet dying at the same time…

And then there’s the little square photo.  The one we all have.  The one with our orphan cattle number identifying us from all the other cattle being sold.

I’m getting this number tattoo’d on my chest, btw…

Along with the sell by date tattoo’d on my backside.

Extreme?  I don’t think so…when I read accounts like Janine Vance’s critique, Saint or Sinner? you decide or when I read the statistics on somewhere between 160,000 and 200,000 children shipped out of Korea since the Korean war (that’s almost a quarter of a MILLION babies!) that staggering figure first brings me to my knees in silence, and then makes me want to scream from the mountaintops and carve my number into my chest.

I was SOLD.   I had a family for two years.  I wasn’t an orphan!  Nobody gives up a fat, happy baby unless they are under duress.  My parents were unsupported.  Holt Korea exploited their weakened state.  My country shirked on their duties to protect its citizens – both me and my parents – and I was purchased by a couple who wanted a new plaything.

the living doll with her new owners

I was emotionally deprived by my mother and sexually abused by my father.

Damn right I’m an angry adoptee.

Written by girl4708

September 29, 2008 at 10:31 am

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Must-reads about Holt’s Impact on International Adoption

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from the Adoption History Project

An overview of International Adoptions

An explanation of what Proxy Adoptions were, (infamously used by Harry Holt)

Because these adoptees entered the United States as the legal children of parents who had never met them, proxies avoided the requirements of state laws and flouted the notion that child welfare was the dominant factor in adoption.

About Bertha and Harry Holt

Anrold Lyslo, “Impressions on meeting the Harry Holt plan” 1958 some pretty shocking account of the quantity vs. quality approach of the proxy adoptions

Written by girl4708

September 27, 2008 at 9:16 pm

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