Saints or sinners? You decide.

From The Vance Twins
by Janine Vance

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


God's Reward?

That is one of the most disturbing displays of "dedication" I have ever read.  The worst part is knowing so many adoption agency/workers STILL follow the Holt-technique of "convincing" mothers relinquishment is what God wants these women to do.  What was the motivation behind this "moral (money-making) mission" -- did Holt see Koreans as satan's spawn in need of moral rescuing?  Did Holt see American Christians as the only people worth "future salvation"?  Did no one see "deceptive scheme" written all over him?

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.

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.

It's clear how well the man-with-a-message got rewarded for his "saving" efforts.  I suppose for the mothers, this reward would come to them through death.  After all, according to Holt's practice, it takes a child sacrifice to get into God's Heaven.  [Although I was led to believe God had his son Jesus be that human-sacrifice so ALL sins could be forgiven, but what do I know?]

The Holts, and their ilk, represent something far more serious and complex than something as black and white as "saint or sinner"... these people represent what we should all fear in the human-spirit: deceivers who use God's name to get away with murder. 

I can only hope God DOES have a special place for people like them.

South Korea Debates International Adoption

Just saw this coming up on ´latest news´.

I think Stoker is right in saying that Korea should start supporting single mothers, instead of promoting national adoption.

Because of the Holt´s, adoption has gained a prominent place in child protection in many sending countries. Countries that did not know adoptions traditionally. Never ever will all children be able to be raised by their parents, nor be adopted. There will always be families that will temporaril toy not be able care for their children. It is Korea's responsiblilty to provide suitable alternative care, and to support the families to return the child. If not possible, foster care, proper residential care, needs to be available.

The push for permanent solutions, for often temporary problems, is one of the main factors that drives children into intercountry adoption. And this permanency policy is an American adoption agency invention. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child does not even contains the word permancy. Instead it speaks of the importance of CONTINUITY. Continuity of religion, of language, of culture...

Shame on Holt. And I pray that Korea will finally stop intercountry adoptions. And that one day the families that were torn up by these American imposed permanency measures - while selling the children abroad as orphans - will stand up and call Holt to order. Preferable in Court.


South Korea Debates International Adoption

13 August 2008

Strother report - Download (MP3) audio clip
Strother report - Listen (MP3) audio clip

Since the 1950's, South Korea has sent more than 150,000 orphaned children to live with Western families. That is in part due to a prejudice that many Koreans have against taking in children who are not their own. But a growing number of advocates are calling for an end to international adoption and are trying to encourage Korean families to adopt. Jason Strother has the story from Seoul.   
Han Yeon-hee, her husband and their seven children climb into the family's minivan.  

Their children range in age from seven to 28. But only one is the couple's biological child.

Han says she adopted six children because she did not want to see any child grow up without a family.
She says even before she was married, she not only wanted to have her own child but to adopt one also. She never thought she would end up adopting so many.
Aside from its size, Han's family is unique because most Koreans do not consider adopting.  
At an orphanage in Seoul, about 40 children sit down for lunch.  
According to adoption advocates, thousands of South Korean children live in these institutions. Most were abandoned by unwed mothers or parents who could not care for them.
Once a child becomes three months old, the chances it will be adopted are slim.  
Chun Soon-gul, is the director of MPAK - the Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea.  He says prejudice is the main reason Korean families do not want to adopt.  

Chun says that many Koreans have this idea that they have to maintain the family bloodline, so it is hard for many people to have an open mind toward adopting children from another family. He adds that many people have prejudices about orphans, thinking they have genetic defects, or their parents were alcoholics or had mental problems.

Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, South Korea has relied on Western families, mostly from the United States, to adopt its orphaned children.
But the practice has a growing number of critics.  
Leading the opposition are adopted South Koreans, who as adults, have returned to live in the land of their birth.
Kim Stoker, who was adopted by an American family in 1972, represents a group called Adoptees Solidarity Korea.  She says the government should try to help unwed mothers, rather than encouraging them to send their babies abroad.    

"In lieu of developing its social welfare programs, [the South Korean government] it has become reliant on the international adoption program to take care of some aspects of society, and they never had to develop any kind of social safety net because they have international adoption," said Stoker.

Stoker considers international adoption a violation of not only the mother's human rights but also the child's. She says that is something people from adoptive countries do not understand.

"You know, people have this attitude that adoptees should be grateful," she said.  "Grateful for what? Not being raised with the woman who gave birth to me? Should I be grateful that I was taken away from my culture, my language, my fellow, the people who share my race?"

Chun Soon-gul from MPAK says that he too would like to see the end of international adoptions someday. But for now, more work needs to be done to  help the thousands of South Korean children who grow up in orphanages. He says without the money or family support to enter university, it is easy for orphans to fall behind.
Chun says that after an orphan turns 18 and has to leave the orphanage, it is very difficult for them to lead a normal life. It is tough for them to find a good-paying job and they end up being pushed to the bottom of society.

Chun says Korea needs to have more families, like Han Yeon-hee's, who are willing to give orphans loving homes.
Back at Han's home, eight-year-old Hannah practices her piano lessons.  
Han says she knows it will take a long time for other Korean families to overcome their prejudice toward orphans. She hopes that her family might be able to change attitudes toward adoption.
She says in Korea, there are not any good role models for adopting. She says that people thought adoption was a shame or they kept it secret. She hopes her children can be good examples.
There is evidence that the work of Han Yeon-hee and MPAK might be paying off. Last year, for the first time since international adoption began in South Korea, more children were taken in by Korean families than sent overseas.

The latest, from Korea

"I pray that Korea will finally stop intercountry adoptions. And that one day the families that were torn up by these American imposed permanency measures - while selling the children abroad as orphans - will stand up and call Holt to order. Preferable in Court."

Just to update, almost two years later, Korea Times offers readers the following:

Orphans on Children's Day

By Hannah Kim

In a perfect world, there would be no orphans. Every single one of the world's 2.2 billion children would be doted upon by their parents. And every day would be like May 5 in South Korea when nearly 8 million kids are sure to be spoiled on the national holiday set aside as Children's Day.

But obviously we do not live in a perfect world. There are currently 143-210 million displaced children worldwide, and nearly 15 million who will ``age out" of the adoption system and consequently lose their chances of finding a home. And the excruciating reality is that these kids are innocent victims of social ills induced by adults, which is why we have a communal responsibility to care about it.

In Korea alone, there are nearly 10,000 new-born babies every year who are abandoned for various reasons, and only 3,900 of them are adopted into new homes. One may naively assume there would be very few neglected children in the prosperous modern Korea, or at least none being sent abroad. Inarguably, there has been a declining rate in overseas adoptions in the recent years, but this is only due to a precipitous drop in the Korean birth rate. Still, roughly one of 250 Korean children is adopted into an American family.

As commonly known, the Korean War (1950-53) orphaned thousands of lost children and ``G.I. babies" found themselves out on the streets. Hence since 1955, the Holt International Children's Services and other groups have placed about 150,000 (out of 200,000) Korean children into American homes. It started when Harry and Bertha Holt, a devout Christian couple from Oregon, became concerned for their fate ? after watching a documentary about their plight ? and lobbied Congress for the passage of the Holt bill. As a result they adopted eight Korean children in 1955 when international adoptions were virtually unheard of. The children's arrival garnered media attention, and prompted American families nationwide to seek Korean children.

But what trended as a result of war and poverty morphed into a system that remained even after economic conditions ameliorated. Social norms of Korea's traditional society emphasized paternal family ties, bloodlines, and homogeneity; therefore biracial or fatherless children were not easily accepted, and the stigma associated with single motherhood forced many women to abandon their offspring. Most families (who secretly adopted) chose babies under a month old to pass them off as their own. The concept of ``open adoption'' with sharing information between birth and adoptive families is still an unconventional practice in Korea.

Nonetheless ? and perhaps inspired by to the likes of Madonna and Angelina Jolie who have 'flaunted' their adopted children from Africa and South Asia on the front cover of national tabloid magazines ? Korean society is warming up to the idea of adoption. Each year when the charity photo exhibition titled ``Letters from Angels'' features stars posing with babies available for adoption, almost all of them are adopted. More than 80 celebrities and 150 babies have been photographed since 2003 to promote awareness.

The US Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System approximates there are 510,000 children in foster care (who are temporarily placed in foster homes, group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities, pre-adoptive homes and with relatives). The good news is that 70 percent of the children leave the system to be reunited with their families or permanently placed with relatives, mostly in less than one year.

The foster care system is not a silver bullet: there are still 114,000 children in the U.S. waiting to be adopted from foster care, with 20,000 children turning 18 annually and no longer eligible. Nevertheless, I agree ``a family within the country, preferably a relative, should be sought before international families'' as dictated by the UNICEF-inspired Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, and the Korean government should concurrently adopt a better foster care system to prop up its efforts to cease international adoption from Korea in addition to enforcing the domestic Adoption Promotion Law (2009) and other effective means.

Clearly, it is easy to respond numbly and view these figures as mere statistics. But the silent tears of the orphans and grief of the parents who cannot indulge, or let alone care for, their beloved offspring on Children's Day should compel us to coalesce in tackling the roots of the problems that cause the vicious cycles that make orphans out of innocent children.

In a perfect world, children would stay with their biological parents, and remain connected to their roots. Neither adoption nor foster care will solve the underlying issues of war, poverty, disease, famine, and neglect. But each of the 2.2 billion children is precious and deserves a place where they can call home.

Hannah Kim is a 2009 master's graduate at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, specializing in legislative affairs. She spearheaded the passage of the ``Korean War Veterans Recognition Act, U.S. Public Law 111-41," which was signed by President Obama on July 27, 2009. She can be reached at

The Holts

I met Grandma Holt several times.  She was treated like a queen and I must admit she did not seem humble about it.  This is just my opinion of what I experienced.  She sat each child on her lap so they could have their pictures taken,  after the doting AP's had waited in line for a LONG time.  It was like show and tell on both sides with the baby/child as the coveted trophy:  See what I bought?  See what I sold? 
The Holt's could not help but be affected by their status as people who could do the impossible; yet I must say they gave God a lot of credit.  They were the symbol of power that Americans saw as a quick fix for their dreary lives.  At the picnics, down through the years, NO ONE saw the negative side of adoption because those families didn't show up.  I remember the organizers trying to get people to bring their teens to the picnics but very few were ever seen.  By the teen years it was apparent that adoption was not perfect and these young people rebelled against being paraded around.  Really, people who came were only interested in the babies and not what they would look like as teens or the problems these teens had with racial prejudice and being the only Asian within miles.  EVERYONE loved the adopted babies and young children, but were deaf and blind to the older adoptees.  It was almost like they were in denial that these babies would grow up.and look different than a baby.  It was a very strange atmosphere. 
Each year, HiFamilies would publish a magazine with the pictures of the graduates.  I would search the pictures but could never find a face that looked like what I THOUGHT my children would look like at graduation.... What does that tell you?  Our babies would always be prettier than those in the magazine.  NOT reality!  I do believe my children are absolutely gorgeous! I believe this because I love them unconditionally, but I had to go through the process of learning unconditional love.  With biological children I believe the unconditional love comes faster and easier. 
I have always felt so sorry for the first adopted children by the Holt's.   The older Holt children were expected to raise these babies in a dorm atmosphere and sacrifice their own teen lives for the sake of these adopted babies.  Harry lied to these babies because, in Korea, he made them think he would always be there for them, and when he arrived home he left continually to further his vision of adoption.  Those babies were bonded to him and he left them time and time again.  He HAD spent TIME with them: feeding them and cleaning them and changing them and loving them... only to take them to America and leave them with his biological children to be mass fed and clothed and bathed..
Bertha did take time in the evening to rock each one of them before bed; but where was she during the day?  Working on the Holt adoption dream.
They ate together as a family when Harry and Bertha were home.  But I can't help but wonder about the heartache of Harry's absence from those babies who had trusted him.  It almost seems like there was abuse involved because of no time being taken to raise these babies personally by Harry Holt.. Bertha was there to supervise, but her biological children did a lot of the daily raising of those eight children.  Even the Holt's had a dysfunctional home life, if you ask me.  What would the modern day CPS think of it?

One Step Up From Bottom,

i totally forgot to send

i totally forgot to send them my check!  they just published their book.  i'll tell you how it goes.

"If I had been God... I would be very rich"

I had two copies of  each book of Bertha Holt, including Bring My Sons From Afar. The first copies were bought by my adoptive mother during a family tour in Korea. The second copies were given to me directly by Molly Holt (for free!) Three years ago, I wanted to throw them all but I don't know why I kept one copy of each book.

That's why I have been able to check by myself the exactitude of Janine Vance's critique. Some pages she gave are not correct but every quotations she gave are in the book. 

I'm glad to have kept the old copies bought by my adoptive mother.  She always praised the Holts for saving 8 children and after reading Ms Holt's books, she praised them more than ever.  As a born-again Christian, she underlined only the few verses cited by Bertha Holt from the Bible. Now, I understand why she didn't pay attention to "slanted eyes Orientals" and why she never heard my suffering when I was subjected to mockery and racism.

I read the book at 23 years old after my adoptive mother; I read it with anger and bitterness in my heart but I could only see "God's will/Holts saving orphans/APs saving unwanted children/Holts doing God's work".
Now, I undertand why I was so blinded myself by the friendly-generous-saviour-God's-will side of adoption agencies. In my heart, I knew since the beginning that Holt had lied about me but as a believer of Christ, I was saying they "made a mistake", I couldn't/didn't want to believe that they lied until I learned they "made more than one mistake" on purpose. Now, I understand why my adoptive father became a born again Christian at the same time he started abusing me.

Chapter 1 of the book Bring My Sons From Afar begins with God.

It must surely be true that in the beginning God created a plan to rescue the Amerasian children of the Korean conflict in the early 1950's. But God did not forsake them, He made a plan to save them. He could have directed angels to accomplish it, or have done it Himself, but He chose to use men to carry out His plan.
I think, if I had been God, I would have chosen a noted pediatricain, a wealthy philanthropist, a wise lawyer, or a minister of the gospel, to carry out the mission. But God knew who would answer "Here am I: send me" (Isaiah 6:8). So He chose a fifty-year-old farmer weakened by a long scar on his heart. (page 1)

Instead of letting God work, they made the devil's work in the name of God and they praised God for their success.

For awhile, Harry worked with World Vision and they helped us in many ways, but their evident calling was to support the children in orphanages. Harry separated from that organization and concentrated on adoptions only. (page 10)

If Harry Holt had indeed received a call from God, it is clear that he became blinded by his own success and by the money. And to gain more money, he has been using God's name.

I have decided to build a place for 100 more children and will do it under the name of Holt Adoption Program. Up until now we've been associated with World Vision. But I want to be where I can live with the children and help care for them. The World Vision Reception Centere is run perfectly and Dr. Barny is wonderful, but it is too small. Set up a separate bank account at once for Holt Adoption Program. Sell $10000 worth of stocks to start it. I will hire a Korean lady to travel to the orphanages and to talk to the mothers. I thank the Lord for his goodness to allow such an unworthy person as I am to save His little children. It is hearbreaking. I see so many tears she. Sometimes I tell the mothers of God's love for them while they nurse their babies the last time. (page 17-18)

The more they earned money, the more they needed.

Harry wanted to plant his crop, but it rained continuously so he decided to go to Mexico to see if children there needed parents (page 39)[...] Harry visited an orphanage of 300 children in Mexico. It was a beautiful glass-and-steel modern building, and the little ones were clean and healthy. But all the children wanted to be loved like they did in Korea. They crowded around him saying, "Papa, Papa". The authorities were insulted when he asked if they could be adopted by North Americans. (page 39-40)

Now by reading this book again, I see the mothers  who were coerced to abandon their children for the sake of the wanting couples in the name of Jesus. The whole book is about "praising God - saving orphans- finding more orphans-making money - talking to mothers-making more orphans".

Our poor gilrs almost had hysterics in the office. She thought she could keep track of her baby after he had gone to America. I had to tell her it is a clean brak and forever. Poor gilr wasn't weaned yet and she cried and cried. Pray for these dear mothers who choose to give up their babies. (page 13).

According to Bertha Holt, there is a special hell for people selling children.

The root of the trouble seems to be money. I have been told that anyone can buy a healthy American baby for $3000. If we bring in more children, we weaken the monopoly which will cut the price of babies. People in this racket don't want overseas babies brought in. I think God has a special place in hell for people who sell these little ones. I know good doctors help place these babies, but they don't sell them. Our Lord was sold for 30 pieces of silver, but Judas did not have to split it with other criminals (page 10).

Obviously, the money also became the new God of the Holts and the adoption agencies. The did and is still doing what the sinners were doing. Thus, my answer is: Sinners.

Now, my question is: " Is there a special hell in the heaven for "born-again" Christians selling children to wanting couples?"

Pound Pup Legacy