'Mother of all Korean orphans' admits not every adoption perfect

Yonhap Interview: 'Mother of all Korean orphans' admits not every adoption perfect

??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.

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

? ? "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.

?? 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.

?? With tearful eyes, seemingly feeling guilty about the children's deaths, Holt continued.

? ? "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.

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

?? "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.

?? "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.

?? "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.

?? "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.

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

? ? 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.

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

?? ygkim@yna.co.kr
(END)

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I would like "mother Holt" to read my comment about this...

"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.

If they had an investigating agency, I wonder what kind of investigation they made about my A-parents.
  • The application for adoption was filled on Jan 1975 and I was sent to USA the same year, on Dec 2nd. My Aparents wrote that they were US Citizens. Strange, strange, how come the investigating agency didn't notice that it was a lie. The day of my arrival, the US immigration noticed that they were not US citizens but Canadian citizens. I was allowed to stay in USA for one year for humanitarian consideration of case. What happened to the post adoption service when they moved back to Canada with me 7 months after my arrival when I was not adopted yet?
  • My Afather had 5 children from his first marriage but in the application, they only wrote they had 3 children. Wasn't it important to check how many children they (or he) had?
  • When a social worker (in Canada) asked them the reason why they wanted to adopt me, my Afather answered: "Because my wife is jealouse of me". Holt had lost track of me so they couldn't care for me. But was this a good answer to give a child to a couple?
  • The following years (starting the 3rd year), I learned that my Afather ran away with his mistress before my arrival. Since they were married in 1970, it happened at most 4 years before my arrival. Their employees and neighbors in US knew about this extramarital situation.
  • I also learned that before my arrival, my Amother was often beaten to my Afather. (My A mother kept a picture of her with a black eye result of the domestic violence, in case where she would sue him some day). Once, he threw over her a pot of boiled water. Many of their employees in US were aware of this situation. Some best friends of my A mother living in Canada were also aware of it.
  • Only a year after my arrival, my Amother though of asking divorce but she didn't (for me). I learned few months before her death.

So, the homestudies, investigation agencies or whatever else are all BS to me.
I was 11 years old when I first read my adoption paper. There was absolutely no information about me except about my health. Where were all the informations that I gave myself at each place where I was place? They just wrote "unknown" everywhere. Unknown parents, unknown birthplace, abandoned and a fake birthdate.
I found all the informations (address, parents names, etc) at my first orphange. They promised me to find my house but I learned that they never even try to find it.  Why the 2nd orphange and Holt didn't write the informations I gave them? Is it because an "abandoned" child is not supposed to have any information about it's family, no matter it's age?

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.

Despite my horrible experience of adoption, I believed that my adoption was only one mistake made by Holt.
I believed Molly Holt to be a perfect woman helping disabled people and orphans. I was a christian like them, I didn't want to believe that born again christians could lie. I wanted to believe that my adoption was only one mistake that you made.  That's why I stayed at Molly's house when I went to Korea and when I went back for a second time...

"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."

( Molly, do you remember me?)

When I told her that I was abused by my A-father, she didn't seem surprised. She even told me a story of another adoptee who had been abused by her A-father. "...but you had a better education". Education! It's all that counts for her!
Even before I learned from my family that I was not abandoned, she told me of a story of a child who learned he was not abandoned but only lost. She didn't seemed to feel guitly of lost children sent for adoption except for three siblings whose father's found them right on time before they were sent for adoption.

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."

Even if the Lord would tell her  to stop adoption, she would not listen to Him. Stopping or reducing international adoption in Korea or anywhere else by helping the families to stay together (like any born again christian should do according to the Bible) would mean losing an important source of income. For Molly, it would mean losing the confort and the security of the only life she knew until now.

Kuddos, Kimette...

for your bravery, posting such a powerful message!

I, for one, am very proud you chose to share this information with us.  I pray it does not fall on blind eyes, because so much wrong has been done for far too long.  These stories need to get out so the legacy of neglect and "acceptable abuse" can stop.

Pound Pup Legacy