"The most expectant mother in the world."
"The most expectant mother in the world."
So Mrs. Harry Holt of Creswell, Ore., was called as she awaited the arrival of "octuplets."
She and her husband were already the parents of six children. Now they knew they were to have eight more — four boys, four girls, all orphans from Korea.
In mid-December, 1954, the Holts heard a lecture during which Dr. Bob Pierce and Dr. Frank Phillips of World Vision, Inc., showed a film called "Dead Men on Furlough." The movie, which touched the Holts deeply, depicted the desperate plight of children left behind by G. I. soldiers in Korea. "I couldn't forget those under-nourished bodies, those tiny outstretched arms," Holt says today. "Neither of us could And then, suddenly, without either of us mentioning it to the other, we knew we could and should do something about those little unwanted creatures."
The Holts were secure financially. Though there had been some years of severe struggle when they first came from South Dakota in 1937, a sawmill Harry built had prospered and now they lived comfortably on a large farm in a 13-room home called the Pink mansion. It was here that they held a family meeting to talk H. P. Sconce about the Korean orphans. The family in conclave decided at first to sponsor several orphans by sending funds to Korea. But gradually the Holts concluded that they should adopt a Korean child and bring him to this country.
Harry flew to Korea. There he traveled by jeep throughout the war shattered country he saw children starving to death on the streets and even in orphanages. He learned that many of the children were being hidden by | their ashamed mothers. The Koreans had never had a race problem, but when these fatherless children played with Koreans, trouble ensued.
The Korean kids often mobbed their playmates of mixed blood and in some cases murdered them, leaving their bodies to be found in irrigation ditches or to be washed up on the beaches. Harry Holt decided that he must personally bring home as many as possible of these pathetic youngsters and get others to do the same. He had a problem, however, because the government would not permit an American family to adopt more than two foreign children. Harry wrote his wife. She, in turn, got 78 of her neighbors to help petition Sen. Richard Neuberger to sponsor a bill in Congress which would authorize the bringing home of at least eight orphans.
The Senator responded vigorously by personally contacting senators and house members and arranging for a special meeting of the Judiciary committee. Exactly seven minutes before midnight of the day Congress adjourned in 1955, the bill was passed by a unanimous vote of both Democrats and Republicans. By October, 1955, Harry had gathered together 12 little ones. Arrangements had been made for a family in Michigan to adopt one of them. Another was going to a couple in Corpus Christi, and two children were ready for adoption by a family in Portland, Ore. All the rest were to belong to the Holts.
With the help of an Irish nurse. Harry and his charges headed for home. It was a topsy-turvy trip. Some of the brood got stomach flu. A three-year-old lost his shoe; a 16-month-old fell out of a chair in a Tokyo airport. All of them seemed to have colds: their noses ran. Diapers were changed on an ever-rotating assembly line. A typhoon held up the plane for two days. Engine trouble sent it back to Wake Island for the loss of still another day. Finally they landed at Portland.
More than a thousand people were there to meet them. There were newsmen, radio and TV people. And Mrs. Holt was there with her son and five daughters. It was 1 a. m before quiet came to the Holt farm. But just before they retired, Harry and his wife tiptoed into the nursery. Stepping between the rows of cribs, Harry gathered up an infant and cradled her lovingly in his arms. "Lord," he prayed, "you know how much we love these children. I've done my best to care for them so far. Help us to take care of them in their new home and bring them up for Thee."
The Holts are now directly supporting 36 orphans in Korea and have an office force there for other adoptions. Mrs. Holt and a neighbor handle American details at the farm. More than 350 adoptions are now in different stages of completion, and about 150 families are waiting home investigations.
Occasionally Mrs. Holt will be asked to show the birth announcement the family sent out to friends in October, 1955. A large stork carrying eight children in its bill is super-imposed upon the outline of an airliner and the name of each infant is listed above a note of welcome and thanksgiving. But the spirit of the Holts' contribution is crystallized in the three verses from Isaiah printed at the bottom of this card:
"Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up: and the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the end of the earth; . . for I have created him for my glory."
(From the magazine Guideposts and copyright, 1957, by Guideposts Associates,Inc., Carmel, N. Y.)
(Distributed by The Register and Tribune Syndicate)