While traveling on Holt’s Christmas gift team trip to South Korea, Holt sponsor David Kaufman makes a special delivery. 

On day three of Holt’s 2015 Korea Christmas Gift Team trip, we traveled to the Jeonju Babies’ Home. About sixty children live at this Holt-supported care center for children whose parents are unable to care for them. The hope is that one day, they can return home or in some cases join an adoptive family.

Like the two girls I currently sponsor, So Mi and Yun Seon, each of the children I have sponsored through the years have lived at Jeonju. I was excited for the incredible opportunity to share Christmas with So Mi and Yun Seon, and I brought them some special gifts.

As we entered, we saw some children sitting patiently in bright costumes. After seeing the third face, I froze. There she was. Without a doubt, I thought, that’s So Mi.  I was stunned. She’s here… She’s grown so big. I managed to keep walking and was a bit overcome by how real it just became.  She was not just a photo, not just a report updated from time to time.  She was here, as she had been for the past four and a half years since she was just a week old. And now, I was here also.

I waved to So Mi and called her name. She was shy at first and I could not help but sense a bit of sadness in her eyes. We talked a bit, laughed and joked, using the little Korean I knew.  I gave her some of the gifts I brought from home and she put on her new soft pink fleece sweater.  Immediately, her eyes brightened and lit up with a huge smile from ear to ear.  Handing me her toy cellphone, I answered it in Korean to her amazement.

There was some momentary confusion when I asked one of the teachers about Yun Seon, slightly mispronouncing her name — Yun like Sun.  Perhaps she no longer lived here.  I showed the teacher a photo and she smiled, correcting me — “Yun as in Yoon!” She grabbed my arm and raced me upstairs. Again I was stunned. There she was, unmistakable, Yun Seon… How big she’s grown.

We played with some toys and it was clear she was a smart and inquisitive little girl.  She was so serious at times with her toys that it looked like she was trying to figure out how to build one.  It was time for the special presents I had brought. Yun Seon was now all smiles, the seriousness in her eyes abated to pure joy. She hugged her new stuffed golden retriever puppy tightly, and our hearts melted.  After a while, the teachers reminded her to say thank you for the gifts.  She stood straighter, looked directly into my eyes, and bowed respectfully.  It was one of the sweetest things I had ever seen, and a moment in time I shall never forget.

David Kaufman | New York City, New York

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