Holt adoption baby

sell by 12/19/66

Posts Tagged ‘Holt

An orphan struggles to overcome abandonment

with 6 comments

Joong Ang Daily
October 09, 2009
Jin-hee, played by Kim Sae-ron, in the movie “A Brand New Life.” Provided by Seoul Film Commission

Jin-hee’s morning begins on a bicycle, her arms wrapped around her father’s waist as he navigates the streets. She enjoys the ride and the warmth of his back as she presses into him.

It’s a big day. Her father bought her new clothes, which she is now wearing. He also bought her a large cake, though it’s not her birthday. She is so happy that, during lunch at a restaurant, she sings a little song for her father.

The day, however, takes an abrupt turn. Jin-hee’s father drops her off at an orphanage, where she’s left with a dozen children she has never met. It’s the beginning of a brand new life for her, one she tries desperately to escape until she realizes that there is nowhere for her to go and that her father is not coming back.

She quickly learns that life at the orphanage is full of separation and sadness, as other children are adopted and leave her life, one by one. Her best friend Sook-hee (Park Do-yeon) lands in the arms of an American family and is whisked to a land where she apparently can eat cake every day. Although Jin-hee eventually gives up on the idea of going back home, she can’t shake the memory of that bike ride and the warmth of her father’s back.

The French-Korean film “A Brand New Life,” which will be screened at PIFF under the World Cinema category, narrates a heartbreaking story about overcoming the sorrow of separation and accepting fate. The film beautifully illustrates the process that Jin-hee (Kim Sae-ron) goes through as she slowly realizes her fate and then learns to embrace life as an adoptee. Every moment is tear-jerking, but at the same time it gives you hope that one can find a new path.

The film is based on the true story of Korean-French director Ounie Lecomte, who was born in Seoul, Korea, in 1966 and was adopted by a French family when she was 9. She spent one year at the Saint Paul orphanage, run by Catholic nuns, in Seoul. It is the first French-Korean joint production and is Lecomte’s debut film. It was co-produced by renowned director Lee Chang-dong and was filmed near Seoul. It was presented for the first time at the Cannes International Film Festival in May.

Lecomte said in an interview at the Cannes festival that she tried to portray the emotions of a little girl facing extraordinary circumstances – abandonment and adoption – rather than simply replicate her childhood. “The year at the orphanage is the time and place of an intervening period between two lives: a life in which she didn’t have to learn how to let go and then a life in which she will learn how to desire,” Lecomte said.

The film will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 and at 11 a.m. on Oct. 11 at Lotte Cinema at the Centum City complex in Busan. It will also be released nationwide on Oct. 29.

A Brand New Life

Drama / Korean

92 min.

By Limb Jae-un [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]

See the trailer to the movie below:

Written by girl4708

October 14, 2009 at 1:24 am

More unsolved mysteries

with one comment

I’ve been up thinking about this number problem…

I’ve never been good at solving mysteries, and so this is keeping me awake.

notice how my age is much heavier than all the other writing on this document, as if it has been written over and changed from a “2” to a “3.”

Also, Kim Sook Ja’s name is written in different handwriting.

WHY would someone add another child to my document and then CHANGE my age to something older?  A whole year older?

The little square photo of me was taken at the same time as the photo of me and the nurse.  However, all the Koreans here and most people in general say that even if that was taken soon after I was found, there is no way I am 3 years (2 years American) Korean in that photo.  And if it was taken before I was found, then my family was one of the few rich families that could afford a camera. (Not likely.  That is a statue of Jesus in the background, btw… )

I asked Mrs. Seol how she could know Kim Sook Ja was younger than me by 6 months, and she told us that children’s ages were estimated by their physical examination and usually the number of teeth they have.

It says in my medical report documents that I had 16 teeth.  That would place me at 13 to 19 months age.

Clearly, with no Second Molar, I was probably not already two years old. So WHY would they list us as the same age?   Kim Sook Ja’s photo clearly shows she is at least a year older than me. (if not older)  A year’s difference between children at the time in development is HUGE.

It seems to me that the age discrepancy on the document was intentional.

In most cases I have heard of an orphan’s age being changed, it is changed to a younger date to make the child more desirable for adoption. So to change me to  year older at such a young stage in development is bizarre, as more adoptive parents would rather have a 14-18 month old old than a 24+ month old child.

Unless perhaps there was some child identity swapping going on? AND, it is much easier to change a “2” to a “3” than it is to change Kim Sook Ja’s age “3” to another number.

Or maybe if I was stolen, or more likely – my abandonment might have been contested?  (I’m sorry Mrs. ____ there are no 2 yr. olds here, and no sisters either.  We only have 3 yr. olds from that week)

This little document just gets weirder and weirder every time I look at it.

Written by girl4708

June 22, 2009 at 5:34 am

Posted in Dealing with the Devil

Tagged with ,

Reports coming in

leave a comment »

Four days later, I am beginning to be able to gather the impressions people have had of the show.

It’s been very difficult to ascertain because of the communication gap that exists due to most people’s English speaking levels.  Mostly, I hear how sad it was.  But I am coming to believe that “sad” is a catch-all word, and that the impression is more nuanced than that.

At lunch my Korean friends told me they had never heard about the bad side of adoption before, and that this was important for them to hear:  they had often said in the past that they wished they had been adopted to America.  One of my adult students said he was in tears.  Just now on the roof, a Korean English teacher, with an excellent command of English, told me he hadn’t realized how frustrating it was to be separated from ones identity.  He opined that he felt it was the fault of the Korean government for sending children away with no regard to how it affects the children and separates them from their country and culture.  He expressed how now he can see things from the adoptee perspective and his opinion was greatly changed.  Many students in my classes mentioned the show and several of the boys wanted to talk to me about it.  One offered to teach me Korean (maybe I should take him up on it) and another said, “my country is (makes crazy sign at his temples).  Not me/us, but the country.”  I asked him to help me change it, and he nodded his head.

I am, to say the least, very very ecstatic over this.

People are asking me about how the adoption fees are spent and where the money goes.  Seven Star spoke again about the time he escorted children to Europe for Holt.  There were two escorts, and each were in charge of three children.   He said they were not paid for this.  I told him how Holt charges the parents escort fees.  I told him about Myung-Sook’s being forced to escort children to be adopted (for free while the adoptive parents presumably still paid for escorts) and how emotionally heartbreaking it was.  Everyone was outraged and said that the Korean people need to know.

Yes, they do.

I told them how HOLT thinks its okay for them, a COMPANY to hold our information from us.  I told them how it’s okay for HOLT to drop a bomb on girl #4709, but that it’s not okay for any of girl #4708’s sentiments to be passed along, because that constitutes CONTACT, even though only HOLT knows her identity and contact information.   What would be more shocking, a phone call from Holt after 40 years out of the blue?  Or a letter from Holt that included a friendly note from me with an explanation of why I was inquiring after her?  Because of the way they handled this, they have scared her away and possibly ruined the only chance I have to learn the truth.  I told them that there is a special place in Hell for HOLT, and they all agreed.

I am, to say the least, feeling very very good that I’m not the only one that thinks so.

Some more information has come to light about my search that I’m not at liberty to publish, since Holt is reading my blog now, but I guess I can say that this chapter is not quite yet closed.

It was a mistake for HOLT to treat me so callously.  It was a mistake for HOLT to lie to me.  It is a mistake that HOLT continues to put policy over human decency.  They say they are protecting girl 4709, but really, what are they really protecting?

Answer:  their own self worth.

Written by girl4708

June 18, 2009 at 4:23 am

Conversations with Holt: all falacy and no logic

with 4 comments

So I asked my adult Korean teacher student what Holt said in the documentary, and he said Mrs. Seol blamed their poor record of helping adoptees on the Korean government, that they needed financial help and the Korean government didn’t give it to them. Not true, said my student, they give some money towards Post Adoption Services, just not a lot.

Well, I don’t think the government should give Holt ANY money, as it won’t be accounted for. It only takes a couple seconds to photocopy their skinny records. It does, however, take half a day to defend your lame excuses for NOT being helpful to t.v. stations once you’ve made a big mess and are trying to get out of it.

I don’t have the raw footage, but I know it exists and so I can paraphrase what transpired in my meeting with Holt Korea and know that none of it is slander or libel. It’s recorded on film, these are my impressions of what was said, and the footage on file will corroborate it.

* At the beginning of our meeting, prior to my even asking these questions, Mrs. Seol began by saying all these problems were not Holt Korea’s fault because I had never spoken with Holt Korea directly. I told her Holt International told me they would talk with Holt Korea, and that it was they who offered to be my liason.
* When asked why Holt Korea said there was “nothing important” as an excuse not to send me my documents, Mrs. Seol defended Holt for keeping records when nobody else bothered. (I will concede this point) She also said that nobody ever imagined adoptees would return wanting to find out about themselves, so nobody bothered to take a lot of information. (again, this may be true, but that does not exonerate them from not providing the information they have to the adoptees upon request) I countered that what little information was there was MINE and ABOUT ME and shouldn’t be controlled by some company.
* When asked why there weren’t copies of these documents with my Holt International child records, Mrs. Seol said that documents include contracts between relinquishing parents and therefore they are confidential. I told her of course, and they still would be at Holt International, but it is a false claim if Holt International says they have all of our documents or that Holt Korea has, “nothing important.” There is no good reason a copy can not exist at Holt International, especially since they also have total control over what we adoptees can and can’t see.
* When asked why confidentiality about relinquishing parents made any difference in the case of an abandoned child, there was no answer.
* When asked why they couldn’t photocopy the contractural documents and white out any identifying information, there was no answer.

sells better separately, easier to record as one

easier to sell individually, less hassle to record as one

* When asked for more information about girl #4709, they said they could not do that because there was no way she could be my sister because of our age difference. I pointed out that they had my age wrong, that our names were made up, and that it was highly unusual for two girls to be on one document from the same place on the same day. Mrs. Seol claimed this was not unusual and flipped through the book for that year and showed us a couple documents that had lists of many orphans on them, with no specific information. However, these documents were clearly designed to list multiple children. Mine was very specific and asked specific information and was designed for one person. I challenged her to show me another document of the same format as mine from Wonju that listed multiple children. We flipped through the entire book, isolating each of the documents from Wonju that were of the same format, and NOT ONE of them had two children on the same document.
* When asked where Holt Korea ended and Holt International began, and why there had to be two separate companys, she said something like it became too difficult for Holt to coordinate what was going on in Korea. (which causes me to question their management skills, and why make it separate corporations unless there are financial reasons? To me, this was the end of transparency – yet another reason)
* When asked why their policy was different from Holt International’s, Mrs. Seol told me it “wasn’t my place” to ask about their operations. Mrs. Seol is younger than I am, so Confuscian respect standards have nothing to do with this, and asking about their operations is very much my place, since I am a pawn of their operations.
* When asked why they didn’t just give me my documents freely, Mrs. Seol said that Holt Korea is happy to give out documents when they are asked for, and that it was my fault because I didn’t ask her for that specific document by name. I told her I didn’t know there were more documents to begin with and how could I possibly ask for a document I didn’t know existed and, even more impossibly, ask for it by name. (I still don’t know the proper name of that document)
* When asked why I never got a translation of my documents as requested, Mrs. Seol produced a translation sent to Holt International, which I had never received. She said it should be up to me to get a translation where I lived, and that I didn’t ask for it when I asked for my documents.
* When asked why Mrs. Seol could not provide a list of orphanges near Wonju, Mrs. Seol said nobody had asked her for that. I told her I had emails from Holt International and INKAS saying they had asked her for that, and they told me she had said it was, “not possible.” She maintained that she never heard this request and that it was my fault because I didn’t contact her directly. (OK. Somebody here is lying, is it Holt International, INKAS, or Holt Korea?)
* “Can you imagine how it feels?” I asked her, going through this process? I told her that I lived in America, that I didn’t even KNOW there were multiple Holts at the time, that Holt International said they would contact Holt Korea, which is appropriate since I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SPEAK KOREAN, and that of course I needed a translation of any document from Korea, since I DON’T KNOW HOW TO READ KOREAN EITHER. Why does this have to be so hard?

Mrs. Seol was silent after this. Which was a pleasant change, because she didn’t allow me to get a word in edge-wise, and even though I repeatedly asked her to give me equal time or to break up her talking so I could get a proper translation, she barreled on. So for every five minutes of her talking, I would get a two sentence synopsis, and it was nearly impossible to get my questions inserted. Nearly every question I asked was met with a nasty attitude and on several occasions, eye rolls. She repeatedly said she didn’t have time for all this, and that if I didn’t have any questions about personal history, then she would have to leave. And I hear she even said she didn’t have time for abuse from an adoptee.

Abuse from an adoptee.

That’s rich…

In my later conversation with Steve Kalb, when I asked him why Holt couldn’t get me a list of orphanages near Wonju, there was a long pause and then he said, “yes it is true that Holt doesn’t have a comprehensive list of orphanages.”  I didn’t ask for a comprehensive list. I only asked for help with the names of orphanages near where I was abandoned, so I could begin a search in person. I told him that by searching on the internet I had found a couple myself, but why is it that Holt Korea says it’s “not possible”? I asked him, “Doesn’t Holt know where it gets its human bodies from? How is it Holt doesn’t know which orphanges they work with? Or isn’t Holt in the orphan business?” Silence on the other end.

These are the kinds of questions I and anybody in my situation would ask. And these are the kind of lame answers we get in response. Again, the lack of responsibility on Holt’s part was criminal. The history of abandonment and relinquishment in Korea was soul crushing. The lack of information was understandable. But to continue in this practice and to make it so difficult for adoptees in search to get information about themselves is NOT ACCEPTABLE. The past was the past, but the creation of orphans and sending them out of the country, as well as this continuing injustice and maltreatment of adoptees HAS TO END NOW.

All of the above begs the question, Why does the adoption agency act this way if there is nothing to hide?

What kind of people are they?  What kind of ethics do they have – not yesterday, but today?

Written by girl4708

June 17, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Posted in Dealing with the Devil

Tagged with ,

Holt unscathed despite suffering of thousands

with 16 comments

The SBS documentary crew and I paid a visit to Holt Korea last Tuesday. Unbeknownst to us, Holt has a couple of buildings. The first building we went to didn’t house Post Adoption “Services” but did include a HOLT TRAVEL AGENCY.

My goodness, what other business ventures does Holt Korea have? It must also have offices where, apparently, Foster Moms come with the babies prior to dropping them off at the airport, as we met a foster mom with a six or seven month old baby on her way to take a little boy to his flight to America…

The SBS producer wanted to know if I wanted to talk with the foster mom or see the baby, and no: I did not. I won’t tell you what I wanted to do, but it might have involved me getting arrested, so I thought it best to just stand and watch them drive off.

And so, we got back in the van and drove to their other building.

Now, I have no idea what their definition of a healthy family “support” center is. Or even what their definition of “family” is in this case. But it seems kind of ironic to me that it’s on the same sign as Post Adoption “Services.” It’s also kind of sick to me that they have a guest house, because the baby’s new owners don’t live in this country, because they’re foreigners. All three items on that sign seem like one-stop shopping, a multi-plex of services all centered around an anonymous child whose fate is in question. This process of theirs doesn’t stop. It just becomes more sophisticated.

I didn’t take a photo of the big multi-story banner Holt put up on the building behind the sign, but basically it is a photo of a young man in traditional Korean garb sitting on the floor at a table dining in a traditional setting, and it is celebrating Korean culture. Again, disturbingly ironic to me as an adoptee that they sell the adoptive parents on Korean culture, when the babies will soon be stripped of it as soon as they get on the airplane. Inside the Holt offices as well, are little artifacts of Korean culture everywhere. Things that will delight the adoptive parents but be forever lost for the children. Things that will be totally meaningless to the children unless they come back here to live. Even then, they will be academic concepts. A souvenir shop is not necessary I guess, since they’re coming home with the ultimate souvenir.

Even more sick is that Holt is blind to the fact that international adoption hurts those babies/little people. They are so damned convinced by their own arguments that they are saviors doing God’s work, they think they are above reproach. May they all be orphans in their next life, since that’s what it seems it will take for them to see anyone’s perspective other than their own.

When (if) you see Holt defend themselves in the documentary, I think their patriarchal attitude will be evident. They have historically offered, “we have nothing to hide” even prior to anyone accusing them of that. And I don’t believe they DO have anything to hide. But they DO have a culture of paranoia and non-transparency, presenting theories as facts, being arbiters of what is and isn’t important, obfuscation of the facts, protectionist policies, and stone-walling attempts to gather information: so that tells me they have a conscience, they know they have things to answer for, and they are ashamed of themselves.

They are like children caught in a lie. It’s easy to rationalize ones actions. It’s easy to act in the name of God. It’s easy to tell less than the whole truth. (otherwise known as a lie) And once you have lied, you have to support that lie at all costs. Until your life has become so complicated by the lie and you’ve invested so heavily in obscuring the lie that to confess would destroy your life as you know it. And so the lie never existed. But your entire life becomes tainted by the lie that never existed. And it doesn’t matter who you hurt by denying the lie, because it’s better 200,000 children feel a loss of identity and culture than it is to admit you’ve done something bad. Even if it weighs heavy on your heart.

Again, Holt, you say you are Christians. What would Jesus do? What did Mary do? What did the Innkeeper do? Did he try and convince Mary that giving Jesus up would be better for her in the long run? Did he try and convince Mary that giving Jesus up would be better for Jesus? Did he offer to broker a new family for Jesus? No. He offered to let them stay out of the cold for free.

And do you know why my family felt secure leaving my possible sister and me alone in the market? Because the whole country knew that Holt took babies and sent them to what was supposedly a better life in other countries. That’s the only reason. HOLT’s PRESENCE is what made my abandonment an option. And do you know what would have happened if you weren’t there? I might have been malnourished, I might have had a hard life for a very long time, it’s true. But without that option, my parents would have had no choice but to keep me or find someone in Korea who would. Basically, HOLT’s PRESENCE was the catalyst for abandonment.

from dictionary.com:


1. Chemistry. a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.
2. something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.
3. a person or thing that precipitates an event or change: His imprisonment by the government served as the catalyst that helped transform social unrest into revolution.
4. a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.

It’s true I might have become malnourished and lead a hard life. But I would have known my parents, my country, my culture my language, and somebody here would have loved me. You took advantage of a nation during times of hardship. You really should feel a deep deep sense of shame for this.

As catalysts, you’ve managed to live unharmed and even put a spin on the mass scale separation and dislocation of thousands of children into a saint-like activity. But the chickens are coming home to roost. The time for making excuses is over. The apologies are long overdue. The time for restitution is now, and you can start by making it easier for adoptees to find out ALL the information about themselves. And please put an end to giving this gift that keeps on hurting. Please stop exporting babies.

Written by girl4708

June 7, 2009 at 12:59 am

Posted in Dealing with the Devil

Tagged with ,

Disbursed and Returned

leave a comment »

Am I anywhere different?

The scenery doesn’t really change. I’m still inhabiting this body. I’m still outside looking in.

This is my first myspace generation type narcissistic self photo, taken in the bathroom of the Seoul Folk Flea Market. I like how it could have been taken anywhere, and I am standing still and the rest of the world is moving around me. It just seemed like what I should do at the time. And later, after attending the Disbursed and Returned exhibit about returning adoptees, it wanted me to post it and write about it.

Rev. Kim Do Hyun, speaking to the Korean audience of subway go-ers passing through the exhibit, wrote:

Having to continuously explain your existence is not necessarily a pleasant thing….When international adoptees no longer have to explain and justify their existence, the returnees are liberated from the coercion of continuous self-explanation.

And yet I don’t have to do that here, not really. I recognize Rev. Kim is trying to elicit understanding from the Korean people, and the point he made later was that it is not us adoptees who have explaining to do: it is the Korean people who should be making explanations to us.

Here, I WANT to explain my existence, but nobody really wants to know. As soon as you open your mouth, they can tell, and they’d rather not talk about it. You are a reminder of their shame. And in the United States, with every new encounter, I had to explain my existence. And the best one of all, that I got with alarming frequency, was, “What ARE you???” I am not one of you, obviously…

Here, I blend in. Here, I am not one of you, though it’s obvious I should be.

I really liked what Maria Hee Jung, returning adoptee from Denmark wrote.

I think most adoptees realize that they don’t really have a country that is truly theirs, when they come to Korea. I think it would actually be easier for me to be accepted and to feel comfortable in a third nation without blood relation and anything else.

Tobias Hubinette, Swedish adoptee, wrote in Comforting an Orphaned Nation

It is precisely in the interstitial space, oscillating between this still unfinished reconciliation with the past and still on-going imagining of the future, that the adopted Koreans are appearing as comfort children in order to ease and console the homeless and orphaned Korean nation.

Our return, for the 500+ of us who have done so, is perhaps even more important for Korea than it is for us. We adoptees were sacrificed in exchange for a better life: because they couldn’t see that they were already free, that it was only their colonized mind-set that enslaved them, and that they had the power to make change within themselves. They need to see and recognize us so they can move on to the next phase of their personal development.

A particularly well-written assessment of Korea’s desperation to do ANYTHING to get ahead, the later shame of such desperate acts, and the denial of desperation and erasure of those acts, was written as an article entitled, The Korean Adoption Syndrome by Dr. Kim Su Rasmussen, PhD in History of Ideas, Seoul National University:

International adoption is a vector of deterritorialization in modern Korean society. The Korean adoptee syndrome is a politico-historical phenomenon that involves more than 150,000 adoptees who have been subjected to involuntary migration. And with the exception of a hyper-sentimentalized portrait of adoptees and their reunions with their birth families, which merely functions as a screen-memory, it is a phenomenon that has been wiped from the collective awareness in Korea. There is no mention of international adoption in Korean history books, nor is it part of the curriculum in Korean elementary or middle schools. Myths and deliberate distortions of the history of international adoption are widespread. Only the most progressive elements of Korean society are able to see international adoption as a dark side of the militarized industrialization of the modern Korean society. International adoption is a constitutive blind spot in the modern Korean society. The Korean adoption syndrome raises a number of questions about the phenomenological experience of adoptees returning to Korea and their historical and political position in the Korean society. While the traditional approach is to explain international adoption by referring to various antagonisms in the Korean society, I maintain that the study of international adoption provides a unique opportunity for us to gain understanding of modern Korea and its phenomenal rise in the international order of industrialized nations.

My journey to Korea has been forty years in the making. My radicalization has been forty years in the making. It is not enough to sit back and observe and let this life happen to me. Fatalism is not productive. And people who read my works volley back to me that I am negative or angry. And to that I say: Sorting through this morass of complicated issues is a positive action. Coming here to live is an act of bravery. Confronting Korean society and questioning the world’s assumptions about adoption is based upon a love of humanity and a faith in the capacity of people to change for the better. You must turn over the soil and make a new bed before you plant new seeds.

Dr. Kim Su Rasmussen also wrote about Self-Rejection and Emancipation:

Returning to Korea is a journey of discovery. It is a discovery of an entire world of sounds, smells, and extraordinary sensations. The magical country that was only a vague fantasy during childhood and adolescence suddenly becomes very concrete: the pushing and jostling in the subway during rush hour, the army of impeccable suits and high heels, the ringing of a bell in a Buddhist temple, the unbearable hot and humid summer. It is a pleasing shock to discover that for some people, the Koreans, this is the center of the world.

However, returning to Korea is first and foremost a journey of self-discovery. It is an experience of radical disjunction between the past and the present, the West and the East, the mind and the body. It is a threatening experience that destabilizes and decenters the world of the adoptee: returning to Korea is an experience of oneself as an other; it is an experience of radical deterritorialization in which everything, including the very core of our self, is being questioned; and it is, at least potentially, an experience of emancipation and empowerment.

So yeah, I’ve been abandoned and exiled and abused and marginalized and silenced and OF COURSE that makes me angry! But once upon a time, I didn’t know I was angry. I was uncomfortable, but couldn’t verbalize it. Later, I realized that internalizing discomfort was really hurting me.

I can ignore my discomfort and swallow my anger and hurt myself, or I can work to make it so no child in the future has to experience such avoidable trauma. Righteous anger has powerful energy, and channeling that energy is how the world changes for the better. I am certainly destabilized here, and it effects me. But I try to learn from the past and persist into a future where I can contribute to society in the most meaningful way possible.

This is what optimism looks like.

Written by girl4708

May 23, 2009 at 11:30 am

Holt Baby in Korea

leave a comment »

It’s 6 am, the first day I teach English at the high school in Anyang, S. Korea. Too early to get ready for work, yet too late to go back to sleep, I turn on the television and there on channel 2 are photos of adoptees running like missing person ads.  I guess actually they are missing person ads, aren’t they?  Missing part of us ads.  G.O.A.L. is everywhere adoption is, and there is no escaping adoption.

Going to the G.O.A.L. office was impressive.  Here are three or four staff I saw and many volunteers tirelessly working to ease the transition for returning adoptees and assisting them in their birth family searches.  And then there is TRACK, keeping our presence in the forefront as we try to get recognition for the facts surrounding who we are, what we’ve gone through, and how adoption has changed Korea and continues to affect this country and their people.

Seeing all these faces of children makes me want to create a living memorial to US.  This sea of little faces, all these names, all these disrupted lives.  Casualties of war, casualties of the economic fallout of war, casualties of industrialization, casualties of baby trafficking, casualties of a torn social fabric.

What a way to start the morning.

Written by girl4708

March 1, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Posted in Bittersweet Hope

Tagged with ,

Dear Expectant Parent

with one comment

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

Posted in Saving Babies for Jesus

Tagged with ,

First Trip Home

leave a comment »

OAKs in partnership with G.O.A.L. sponsored the First Trip Home adoptee search trip this December.

See the Youtube posted videos below:

Written by girl4708

December 13, 2008 at 3:37 am

Posted in Scattered Seeds

Tagged with ,


with one comment

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

Posted in Saving Babies for Jesus

Tagged with ,

Not the only one

leave a comment »

I’ve heard this same story from so many of my fellow adoptees.

The view of Holt is quite different from this side of the triad…

from Seoul Searching

As some of you may already know, I’ve been patiently searching for birth family during the past eight months here. After much time, patience, arguing, persistence, and waiting, my adoption agency finally released some information to me. If anyone plans to adopt in the future, please refrain from adopting through Holt. Dealing with their post-adoption services has been perhaps one of the most frustrating experiences in my life. They deal with adult adoptees who return to Korea seeking their files in a completely cold-hearted, insensitive and distant manner.

The first time I met with the social worker she treated me as if I was creating this huge burden for her and all of Holt for asking to see my file. It is apparently “against Holt policy” to release any personal or identifying information of the birth parents, and besides, “why do you want to search for your birthmother anyways?” After being denied information on countless occasions, I realized that following the Korean model of persistence is the only way you will get what you want. By American standards it would be called stalking, but culturally in Korea, if you really want something in life it’s better to show your commitment and desire for it by being persistent, rather than waiting for that thing to come to you. (And yes, that is why I have found so many Korean guys to be stalkers. But apparently in Korea they’re not being freaky stalkers, but rather showing the girl how much they respect and like her).

To make a long story short, I’ve spent the last three months relentlessly calling, visiting, and emailing this one social worker who is dealing with my case. I don’t think she means to be a cold-hearted, insensitive bi*** (excuse my French) but that’s how she comes across. Anytime I have dealt with her she makes me feel like a complete stranger, treats me as if I am inconveniencing her life, and is completely ingenuine. One of the worst feelings in the world is sitting across from this woman as she clutches onto my file for dear life, as if I am going to leap across the table, snatch it and run away with all of my birthmother’s information. Yes I realize it’s Holt’s policy, but I cannot quite grasp the concept that this complete stranger can hold the answers to my life, yet can deny me anything and everything that I yearn to know. After 9 grueling months, I have finally found just enough information to begin piecing together the puzzle of my life. It’s barely enough information to know anything, but it’s hopefully just enough to lead to the answers of my unanswered questions….

Written by girl4708

November 11, 2008 at 7:38 am

Posted in Dealing with the Devil

Tagged with ,

Hard to Believe

with one comment

Take a look at these statistics from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which I found on the Overseas Adopted Koreans (OAK) website:

Stats on Adoptees > Background of Adopted Koreans, 1958-2007
☞ Background of Adopted Koreans, 1958-2007
Year Abandoned Split family Single mother Total Male Mixed Disability Total
연도 기아 결손가정 미혼모 남자 혼혈 장애
1958~60 1,675 630 227 2,532 734 1,159 1,588 3,481
1961~70 4,013 1,958 1,304 7,275 2,254 2,659 2,064 6,977
1971-80 17,260 13,360 17,627 48,247 17,320 4,598 21,918
1981-90 6,769 11,399 47,153 65,321 30,460 16,378 46,838
1991-2000 225 1,444 20,460 22,129 12,009 8,987 20,996
2001 1 1 2,434 2,436 1,364 743 2,107
2002 1 2,364 2,365 1,679 827 2,506
2003 2 2 2,283 2,287 1,367 649 2,016
2004 1 2,257 2,258 1,385 705 2,090
2005 4 28 2,069 2,101 1,353 737 2,090
Total 29,950 28,823 98,178 156,951 69,925 3,818 37,276 111,019

Look especially at the 9 years from 1971-1980.

17,260 ABANDONED children!

Now, isn’t that a little hard to swallow?

I’m sure the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s matrix is not wrong – I think we have to consider the source here. I would venture to guess that source is none other than the adoption agencies.

They are the same ones who call babies of coerced expectant mothers “orphans”, even though their mothers are still alive. I’m sure they called a lot of those relinquished children “abandoned” as well.

Let’s do a little math here:

17,260 children divided by 9 year is 1,918 children per year.

The cease fire of the Korean War took place in 1953.

1971 – 1953 is 18 years. Many of the “abandoned” children from 1971 -1980, their mothers were even too young to have been directly affected by the war.

In that same period, 17, 627 single mothers relinquished their babies, as opposed to 1,304 the decade previous? What the heck changed? Along with split families (whatever that is), adoptions shot up to 48,247 from 7, 275 the decade previously.

Written by girl4708

November 10, 2008 at 9:35 am

Posted in Dealing with the Devil

Tagged with ,

Holt Korea Family Registry

with 5 comments

I just discovered Holt Korea’s website.

On it, is a family registry. I had ASSUMED that when I registered with Holt headquarters in Eugene for their passive registry, it would include being placed on any Holt affiliated registries.


Why in God’s name don’t they tell you about this stuff? Holt is soooo helpful with their Post Adoption SERVICES.

Anyway, I’m there now. You too can add yourself.

All the other KAD’s who found the registry can be seen on it here.

You can register yourself for it here.

Written by girl4708

November 5, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Tools for Searching

Tagged with ,

YTN 24 Hour News Channel

leave a comment »

Adoptee Search Page

I’ve copied a couple so you can get a glimpse of what you’ll see on the page in the link above…


There are about 150 from all over the world…each one is a little video letter…

> 뉴스 > 글로벌 코리안 > 입양인 영상편지 Home> News> Global Korean> Adoptee video letter

[2008-10-25 12:37] [2008-10-25 12:37]
[2008-10-18 09:13] [2008-10-18 09:13]
[2008-10-11 10:31] [2008-10-11 10:31]

Written by girl4708

November 1, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Finding Home: Fifty Years of International Adoption

with one comment

50 Years of International Adoption

50 Years of International Adoption

In the past decade, the number of foreign children adopted by Americans has nearly tripled to more than 20,000 a year. Most come from poor and troubled parts of the world, and a life in America offers new hope. But it also means separation from their birth culture. Fifty years of experience with international adoption has led to new approaches in bringing up a multicultural child, but the success of international adoption brings perils, too. The past few years have seen an explosion in adoption groups and companies competing for clients, often over the Internet. Finding Home: Fifty Years of International Adoption explores the pull of adoption across lives and borders.

Please go to American Radioworks to read/listen to this great series on Adoption

Finding Home: Fifty Years of International Adoption

Written by girl4708

November 1, 2008 at 9:34 pm

sung su shin – orphan #KA12486

leave a comment »

Holt adoptee looking for birth mom.

Written by girl4708

November 1, 2008 at 2:50 am

Posted in Bittersweet Hope

Tagged with ,

Latest Letter to Holt

leave a comment »

Steve Kalb of Holt International,

I entered into this search process not unlike most every other adoptee, naively thinking Holt would help me out as stated on your website.  However, this process, though friendly, has been continuously frustrated by your methods.

The body of this letter has been removed since Holt has decided to DO THE RIGHT THING and assist me.

I would like to close my dealings with your organization on a positive note.  Please give me reason to do so.

I’m glad Holt chose to do the right thing and fully explore every available avenue of reunion.  I hope it is based on conscience and not becuase of public disclosure.  Fully exploring every available avenue of reunion should be the first response, instead of the last resort after a long arduous triage. I hope this is a new beginning for Holt, and that future adoptees in search benefit from our difficult relationship.

Written by girl4708

October 21, 2008 at 2:12 am

Posted in Dealing with the Devil

Tagged with ,

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

with 2 comments

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

Posted in Saving Babies for Jesus

Tagged with ,

Sunny Jo beats the devil at his own game

leave a comment »

Sunny Jo encountered the same kind of deflecting and stone-walling from Holt that every other Korean adoptee encounters.  I wish I had written my “Be Tenacious:  How to get your identity back” article for her back then.

Persistence, my KAD brothers and sisters.

Read Sunny Jo’s story here

Here’s her website

I think I’m following in the same tradition.  Only there are thousands of us now.  Our voices must unite.

Written by girl4708

October 2, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Dealing with the Devil

Tagged with ,

Mother of all Korean Orphans admits not every adoption perfect

with 38 comments

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

Posted in Saving Babies for Jesus

Tagged with ,

SOLD !!!

with 2 comments

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

Posted in Saving Babies for Jesus

Tagged with ,

Must-reads about Holt’s Impact on International Adoption

leave a comment »

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

Posted in Saving Babies for Jesus

Tagged with ,

Adoption in Korea and Birth Family Search

leave a comment »

from OAKs : Overseas Adopted Koreans

Very interesting article about the history of adoption in Korea, international adoption overview, adoption and Korean culture, as well as provocative questions every adoptee in search should consider, followed by resources to assist you.

Check out their website – there are resources to introduce you to your lost culture, as well as a search board, understanding Korean law, statistics, adoption agencies, and media resources.

Here’s their publication for you to download:

Adoption in Korea

Written by girl4708

September 27, 2008 at 8:05 pm

Saints or Sinners? You Decide

from Janine Vance, of The Vance Twins, author of The Search for Mother Missing; a peek inside international adoption

Saint or Sinner?

Harry Holt: Saint or Sinner?

A Brief Historical Overview of the Life and Times of Harry and Bertha Holt and the Origin of International Adoption.

  • 1954-1955 Discovering Amerasian Children
  • 1956 “Having Trouble Finding Little Ones”
  • 1957-1958 “Swamped” with Requests for Children
  • 1959 Counseling More Mothers
  • 1960-1964 “House Slaves?”
  • For the Love of Children
  • How are the Mothers Today?

1954-1955: Discovering Amerasian Children

Bertha Marian Holt was born in 1905 to Clifford and Eva Holt. She married Harry Holt, a first cousin (Mark Baker, 2006), on December 31, 1927 and eventually they had six children together. In 1954, Harry and Bertha Holt were convinced that God had sent them on a mission to obtain and raise eight South Korean-born Amerasian (American-Korean or mixed-race) children, in addition to the Holts own. (p. 4 & 8) By Autumn of 1955, hundreds of fellow Americans visited the Holt farm in Oregon each week “begging” for a child. The public’s main interest was to “see what the children look like” since they, too, were considering adoption. (p. 9) There was so much media attention that the Holts continued to receive at least 50 daily letters and applications from every state but two. They used this national interest to publicize their loyalty to Christianity. Due to being evangelists and “born-again” Christians, it was the Holts’ desire and priority to give the Korean-born Amerasian children to Christians only. (p. 12)

The Holts used an inexpensive and efficient procedure called “Adoption by Proxy,” considered (what the Holt’s called) a Christian “triumph” against the United States Government. (p. 12) The wanting Christian couple would give Harry Power of Attorney. He would then represent their desires and obtain the children under Korean law. The children would finally come to the U.S. as sons and daughters belonging to the wanting couples. Determined to fill the demand of numerous letters from wanting adopters, the Holts set up post in Seoul hoping to get their hands on more children. Famous friend and reverend, Billy Graham, dedicated their Reception Center. By Christmas of 1955, the Holts receive “thousands” of letters, including 50 inquiries for children each day for a week. (p. 12)

The Holts mention some minor setbacks in 1955. Many established missionaries in Seoul had already reserved the children for their friends. (p. 12) Also, some Korean mothers wanted to wait for the return of their children’s American fathers instead of agreeing to release their children. Other problems came in the form of letters or crank calls, accusing Harry of bringing home “slant-eyed Orientals” or “slant-eyed monsters.” (p. 13) Harry and Bertha dismissed the issue of racism when it came to the incoming children, not realizing that it existed and that it could become the crux of many issues for the inter-racial adoptee to face, isolated. They also did not recognize that their biological daughter made a racially insensitive remark when she affectionately called a Korean-Black child “monkey-face.” (p. 28)

The biggest upset for adoptees and adoptive parents, when reading Bertha Holt’s book Bring My Sons from Afar published by Holt International Children’s Services, was to learn that the Holt’s had called the children  “orphans” even though the Holts had collected the children from mothers and they continue to do so today. According to Bertha memoir, in 1954 Harry Holt (with the help of a Korean liaison or a team of followers) actually “hunted” for Amerasian children and “talked to mothers,” sometimes showing photos of children in the United States, while passing out religious pamphlets. (p. 13) Harry wrote that one mother was almost hysterical when taking her child off her back. (p. 16) She misunderstood Harry’s intention, believing that she would be able to stay in touch with her child. The mother didn’t realize that adoption was, as Harry Holt told Bertha, according to her book, “a clean break and forever.” (p. 13)

1956 “Having Trouble Finding Little Ones”

Harry mentions how a “sobbing” mother unable to speak, was “afraid” to give him her baby and some children were “kicking and screaming.” He attempted to comfort the mothers by preaching to them his Christian beliefs, leading many to believe that they would be rewarded by God for giving away their children. After Holt took the children, he sent them to his compound, labeling and showing them as “orphans” in the West so he could send them overseas via the Orphan Bill, a process that he and his cohorts introduced to Congress. The Orphan Bill gave the impression that the children were parentless. This was a lie. Early on, Harry had set up a non-profit bank account and called it “Orphan Foundation Fund” (p. 18) so he could take tax-deductible donations from fellow Americans to help fund the Holt’s desires. Gifts to this account helped to enlarge what would become their empire.

The American Social Agency “denounced” proxy adoptions “furiously” and the Holts perceived opposition or criticisms as “devilish schemes,” accusing the American agency of printing “propaganda” against overseas adoption. (p. 16) Bertha even complained in her memoir that due to the long governmental process, some Korean mothers took their children back home even though the Holts had already assigned these children to American couples. She believed legislatures were “shameful” for making adoptions so difficult. In Seed from the East, the Holts earnestly prayed for their way, even saying “the devil and all his angels can’t keep them [wanting adopters and Korean-born children] apart.” The Holts depended on proxy adoptions to continue their business.

By the summer of 1956, Harry reported that he was “having trouble finding the little ones”. (p. 27) At this time the Holts had already given 750 wanting Christian couples approval for a child. By fall, the Holts were “deluged” with additional inquiries. (p. 29) In October, Harry made a radical decision to go ahead and assign full Korean children to Caucasian families (instead of only mixed race children) “since the numbers of families wanting children increased far beyond the number of Amerasian children available.” (p. 33) Before Christmas of that same year, they received 300 letters including 96 more inquiries for children. (p. 35)

1957-1958: “Swamped” with Requests for Children

The Holts feared that the U.S. Welfare Agency would make “serious trouble,” (p. 37) which could possibly slow down or halt their business activities. They mailed 6000 cards, advising their followers to write their Senators regarding the “Orphan” Bill. (p. 37) The Holts wholeheartedly believed that they were working God’s will rather than selfishly fulfilling their own stubborn wants. Harry used Samuel 2:8 to affirm his activities:“Surely He raiseth the poor out of the dust and lifteth up the beggar from the dung hill, to set him among princes and to make them inherit the thrown of glory.” (p. 36) He believed that adopted children were “the first fruits of this Christian labor of love.” (p. 39) In contrast, however, the well-being of the Korean families were not considered. The Holts focused solely on giving the children to wanting and waiting couples.

Harry also traveled to Mexico to see if there were “orphans” available (p. 39) but the Mexican authorities were “insulted” when he asked if he could send the children to North Americans (p. 40). Eventually he found a governor who was favorable to the idea. He also traveled to Germany and Austria but was unsuccessful there (p. 40). Upon returning from a worldwide search, he decided to build a compound in Mexico within that year. (p. 41)

During the first few years, the Holts continuously introduced extensions to the Refugee Act and the Orphan Bill. Once during this time, Harry blew up at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul for their delays in issuing proxy adoption visas. (pp. 51-52) Seventy waiting Christian couples had already paid their fees. The Holts mailed 92 letters from people who had already adopted. Only 22 visas were issued on October 22 but on Oct. 31, the Holt team still managed to take 80 Korean children. (pp. 51-52)

The Holt’s “Glad” file (consisting of records showing processed adoptions) expanded to five filing drawers in their home office. (p. 62) When an American newspaper included a photo of an adopted and barefoot Korean boy eating from a paper plate and sitting on the ground of his American home, Harry told Bertha “never let anyone in Korea see the picture.” (p. 72) Ultimately he feared the Koreans would stop allowing the children overseas because the child was pictured barefoot. (In today’s advertising campaign geared to potential parents and financial donors, the children are shown smiling with their new parents. It is also interesting to note that in many cases the wanting couples are led to believe the child belongs to them even prior to obtaining the child. This is the agency’s deceptive way to get the couple emotionally attached prior to receiving the child so that the couple will pay “whatever it takes” to follow through with the adoption. Big bright and beautiful photos of children are shown in Holts marketing campaign, but rarely happy children with their Asian families. Some might consider this type of advertising as propaganda)

The Holt team prepared and mailed 3500 New Year greetings, finding this an effective way to gain a solid following and gain requests for more children. (p. 78) By the end of 1958, the Holts had joyfully sent 1069 Korean children to foreign Christian couples. (pp. 79-80)

1959 Counseling More Mothers!

By winter of 1959, the Holt compound grew to 7000 square feet, including multiple buildings. 50 Koreans had been trained to help and Bertha boasted many American adopters asked for a second child after receiving the first one. The Holts were “flooded” with phone calls and nothing seemed to discourage Bertha–not even an article reporting “bad” adoption cases such as death. (pp. 44, 45, 66, 68) Instead she praised that controversy brought “an avalanche of inquiries” from interested people. (p. 81)

That same winter, the Holts biological daughter wrote that their Korean liaison did a “good job” talking to mothers when they went to the country in search for children. (p. 82) The Holts would introduce themselves, give a reason for the visit, hand out a religious brochure and preach such stories as “Buddha’s bones are still in his grave, but Jesus’ grave is empty.” (p. 87) Sometimes, the team might show photos of smiling Korean children with Caucasian families, and then ask the Korean mother if she had ever thought of letting her child go to America. Molly wrote that the mothers had always admitted to thinking about it. That particular May, Bertha reported that 20 “quietly sobbing” mothers watched their children leave for the states by airplane. (p. 88) Bertha documented how another Korean mother remained calm while signing the paperwork, but “sobbed convulsively” as the Holts pulled away and her child waved good-bye. (p. 88)

Bertha’s accounts at the Holt compound causes us to become disturbed over the amount of children who died in their care. Were the children really orphans? We wonder why the Holts did not suggest for the Korean parents to help wean and tend to their children in their commune. For example, it is mentioned by 1959 that 85 children died. Was this death rate higher than normal? Could the deaths have been prevented if the Korean parents were allowed inside the commune and involved with their children’s care.

At times, it is mentioned that the Holts admitted children to the compound even without acquiring written permission from parents. For instance, they took a child from a grandmother and from the orphanage superintendent based on his fear that the child’s mother would “sell her as a slave” because the child’s father was an African-American. No proof of this fear was ever given and the child was taken into the compound. (p. 89)

The Holts use their evangelical friends to peruse and pursue more children, scouring the country regularly to promote their program in neighboring orphanages and by talking with fellow administrators. Their efforts expanded to any area they could reach. Harry even traveled to Baja California where he hoped to find children who “might be made adoptable” after a flood had hit the town. (p. 100) Instead of looking for extended family members who could provide care, the Holts hurried to devastated or rural areas with plans to immediately send children to waiting couples who had paid the fees.

The Holts wanted to make a clear distinction between them and other agencies. They would maintain that they did not “sell” children but rather provided a “service” of obtaining children for wanting couples. The November Newsletter of 1959 became the Holts first official regular mailer, in which children are continuously called “orphans.” (Today, they are called children “served”) The current news of the day was that the Mexican Government did not allow resident missionaries. The Holts had found a way into the country by working with the “orphans” thereby “preaching” with their actions. At this time the Holts planned to provide care to pregnant women via what they called “unwed” mothers with “illegitimate” children. Their hope was to provide services “through this difficult time” of pregnancy.

In December of 1959, Harry wrote home concerning his idea of sending “our orphans” to Paraguay, a country he believed to be “begging for immigrants” with plans to start a “colony with girls” due to having a friend who owned “several thousand acres.” (p. 101)

1960-1964 “House Slaves”

The Holts found that using fellow Christians to further their program was an effective way to distribute awareness of their work, gain money and expand their practices. January of 1960, the Holts received $7000 in donations from Newsletter recipients and others. (p. 108) In the Fall Newsletter, Bertha wrote her interpretation of Korean culture, spreading false information, generalities, and stereotypes to their readership. One such sweeping statement told by Bertha was that since “orphan girls” were without fathers “no one will want to marry her.” (p. 118) This motivated Mr. Holt to start a “teenage program” for older females where the girls would “work eight hours, cooking, cleaning, serving, helping in the office, or with babies and children, or at various other tasks.” (p. 118) She wrote, “They attend an adult school in the afternoon until 9:00 P.M.” This program, in the eyes of Holts, would prevent the girls from becoming “house slaves.” (p. 118)

That year ended with the Holts sending out 4000 New Year’s Greetings with 2580 Newsletter to their American supporters. (p. 124) In the West, the Holts were hailed as modern-day saints. A made for television movie, several newspaper and magazine articles helped to increase the family’s wealth and boost their reputation.

Summer of 1961, Bertha and children moved to the South Korea to join Harry. (p. 133) Bertha experienced firsthand life at the commune. One day that summer, she mentioned that Harry had “wasted” an entire day waiting for a toddler “whose mother didn’t bring her.” (p. 139) A few days later Bertha reported that the Korean teenagers were becoming more disrespectful, refusing to carry out “orders” and even formed a “self-government,” leading their own. (p. 139) By fall, Bertha complained in her diary that they had even more teenagers who refused to work. She wrote “Now we had 100 teenage girls who were a big headache.” (p. 143)

January of 1963, the Holts held “evangelistic meetings” four nights a week at their compound. One sermon asked whether the listener would go to heaven or hell. (pp. 179-180) Scare tactics? The isolated Korean children were solely under the influence of the Holts and their evangelists. The Holts got licensed to operate an agency in Oregon. By this time they had transported 2734 Korean children overseas. (p. 180) Summer of 1963, the Holts sent out 4000 additional Newsletters to their American supporters. (p. 180)

In 1964, ten years after the Holts first became motivated to visit Korea and take eight Amerasian children for their family and thousands of full-blooded Korean children for fellow Christians, the Holts had finally run out of wanting Christian families. (p. 199) Instead of stopping their activities (that began with the intent to give children to Christians only), they “reluctantly” changed their policy to allow NonChristians to adopt. Bertha ended her book, writing that this change was of great controversy back then and still today. (p. 199) She prayed “even more earnestly that every adopted child would become a born-again Christian.” Harry Holt died April of 1964.

For the Love of Children:

Bertha Holt tirelessly continued adoption work, accumulating at least forty awards in her lifetime. She is so revered and renowned in the West that there is even an elementary school named after her. This tenacious woman passed away August of 2000. Harry and Bertha Holt did not only find new families for children but they changed the laws all over the world to allow children to be dislocated from parents easily and economically. A total of 157,145 South Korean children have been removed from his or her family between 1958 and 2005. For every child, there are several family members who are impinged upon for the rest of their lives. No adoptee that I know of, have been given their parents’ death certificates, proving our status as orphans as claimed by the agencies. The Holts have penetrated their practices into countries all over the world. Holt International’s 2005 Annual Report shows that with the help of their partners, they have “served” 47,942 children just for that year. That same year, it’s interesting to note, Holt International received almost $20 million dollars in revenues and other support. Adoption agencies have already established businesses in one hundred countries. Rather than advocating family counseling, support and resources (which would have made less profit–although they now show an attempt due to being scrutinized), the agencies get paid very well when they send the child overseas. Their non-profit status helps to deceive the public into believing they are providing a service for everyone involved. While it was intended for the adopted children to live utopian lives, how are the parents left behind still coping?

How are the Mothers Today?

The Holt agency has a published book called To my Beloved Baby: Writings of Birth Mothers, which cannot be found in the U.S. Unlike the stereotypical birth mother, these women were not teens, like the public has been led to believe. These mothers believed they had no right to offer their own “inferior” love to their babies. In fact, these modest women assumed that they would receive God’s blessing for releasing their children to the agency as if it was GOD who had arranged for their babies to be placed with a more “admirable” family. Sadly, these mothers assumed their children would come back for them. One mother shared how the doctor, nurse, and birth father tried to reassure her decision to relinquish her rights by reminding her she needed to be “cheery” for when her child returned as an adult. (Mothers, 2005) A false promise? Another 32-year-old mother told of how she cried for days after leaving her baby with Holt. (Mothers, 2005) A 37-year-old mother confided that the pastor had named her son out of the hope that the baby would be a follower of Jesus. (Mothers, 2005) Another mother cried, “Why did you take after your unworthy mother?” (Mothers, 2005) Counseling sessions led her to believe her baby might have an easier life by being adopted abroad, so she chose that route. (Mothers, 2005) These mothers hoped they were doing the “right” thing in conjunction with the agency’s religious beliefs.

Did the birth parents know that they were relinquishing all rights from ever having future contact or a reunion? Did the agency educate them over the long-term ramifications and the impact resulting from sending their child overseas? Were these vulnerable mothers given a pressure-free choice?
Using a belief that God had ordained the Holts (and still does) to move children to “new” and “improved” families, the Holts have radically changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of families and children worldwide and continue to do so. This article is dedicated to all adoptees who have committed suicide, including one of Holt’s adopted sons, Joe (1984), and another Korean-born adoptee (Eric Lew Jones) sent to the infamous Christian cult leader Jim Jones (best known for inducing his 900 followers to drink cyanide-laced Flavor Aid, which led to their death). May these two young men and all families separated by adoption be nurtured by the Great Mother of the Universe.


Bertha Holt, Bring My Sons From Afar, Holt Children’s Services,

Eugene Oregon, 1986

Writings of Birth Mothers, To My Beloved Baby, Holt Children’s Services, Seoul South Korea, 2005

Mark Baker, The Register Guard, Children Changing Lives,” OregonLife, 2006


Written by girl4708

September 27, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Saving Babies for Jesus

Tagged with ,