Together, Mrs. Yang and Mrs. Kim have fostered over 140 children in Korea. Last month, they visited Holt families in Oregon — an experience they, and the adoptees and adoptive families they met, will never forget.
Mrs. Yang sat in a room at Holt’s international headquarters in Oregon — sobbing.
She clutched the glossy photobook to her chest then set it down to cover her face with her hands. The photobook was sent to her by a Holt family, and full of pictures and descriptions about how their son was doing. Her shoulders rose and fell with emotion and a Holt Korea social worker and translator, who was helping me with the interview, put an arm around her. “Separation is not easy,” she said to me. Continue reading “140 Children, Forever Loved From Korea”
While traveling on Holt’s 2012 Adult Adoptee Heritage Tour of Korea, Kim Buckley met the foster family that cared for her before joining her family in the U.S. This piece originally appeared in The Daily Nebraskan, the daily newspaper of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
I found out why there is a stereotype of Asians being bad drivers during a trip to South Korea this summer. As it turns out, narrow streets and speeders make for impatient drivers who narrowly avoid accidents.
In Korea, unwed motherhood is one of the leading reasons for child abandonment. When a single woman becomes pregnant, she could lose everything — her family, friends, career, education, housing and the hope of these things in the future. This stigma is so strong and enduring that often women feel like they don’t have a choice except to relinquish their child for adoption.
Through our partner agency in Korea, we work to empower women and show them that they do have a choice. Holt Korea operates several shelters for mothers and their children where they can receive free housing, nutritious food, counseling and educational support in a safe and positive environment. The overall mission of the shelters is to help each mother gain the skills she needs to successfully parent, provide for her child and care for herself. The following story is written by a woman who lives with her son at the Holt Morning Garden unwed mother and child shelter. Because of the support she and her son, Ji-ho, receive, this young woman decided not only to parent her son — but also to pursue higher education despite the discrimination she would likely face in the admissions process. Defying all odds, she was accepted to college and is now studying to become a social worker so she can help other unwed mothers like herself as they work to overcome the stigma that is so firmly entrenched in Korean culture.
Last April, several Holt supporters traveled to Korea to see our work and meet the children, families, single mothers and others we serve in the country where Holt was founded. After visiting the Jeonju Babies’ Home — a temporary care center for young children waiting to reunite with their families — they felt inspired to do more.
One boy was the son of a refugee. Another, a little girl, witnessed her father die tragically. Some are the children of single mothers who struggle with the stigma of unwed motherhood and the financial and social barriers it creates. Others come into care because their parents lost jobs. Or homes. Or each other.
Children in care at the Jeonju Babies’ Home in Korea all have a unique story to tell. But for all of them, the ultimate goal is the same — to one day go home.
“The goal of the babies home is to keep families together,” says Paul Kim, Holt’s director of programs in Korea. Some children stay for a week. Others stay for years. Some of their parents may choose to relinquish them for domestic adoption. But most will eventually rejoin their birth families, once they have overcome whatever caused them to place their child in care in the first place.
Since 1981, Holt International and Holt Korea have operated the babies’ home as a haven for families in crisis — a place where they can bring their children for temporary care and support while they work to get back on their feet. While Holt Korea manages the babies’ home, Holt International finds sponsors for every child in care to help provide food, clothing and other basic necessities. With the support of their sponsors, the children at Jeonju have everything they need to thrive while they wait to rejoin their birth families, or if that’s not possible, to join a loving adoptive family in Korea.