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Adoptees at an adoptee reception before Holt history display

Adoptee Reception Held at Holt Headquarters in Eugene

Adult adoptees gathered to connect, share stories and build community during the event co-hosted by Holt’s board of directors and adult adoptee community outreach coordinator, Carmen Hinckley.

The Holt International Board of Directors held their annual meeting in Eugene in early November. On the evening of November 5th, a reception was held for adult adoptees in the lobby of Holt International’s headquarters. Nearly 75 guests, including young adults through older generations, attended the reception.

As guests began arriving, some stopped to look at the wall composed of photographs just inside the entrance to the building – a tribute to David Kim, president emeritus of Holt International and one of Holt’s founders who helped unite thousands of Korean children with families in post-war Korea. The mural features images of children who Holt helped unite with families over the years, and some guests took a moment to try and locate their photograph.

Current Board Chair Derek Parker with Holt’s departing board chairperson, Margaret Fitch-Hauser.

During the event, Immediate Past Chair Margaret Fitch-Hauser introduced Derek Parker as the new board chair. In 1973, Derek was abandoned at the gate of Holt’s Ilsan Center, a long-term care center for children and adults with disabilities and other needs in Korea. He was personally picked up by Molly Holt, daughter of Harry and Bertha Holt who devoted her life to advocating for people with special needs. Adopted in 1976, Derek now lives in Southern California and works in finance. He says that he is grateful for the Holt family and wants their vision and commitment to children to continue through their organization.

A special guest also attended the reception – Nancy Kim, wife of David Kim. Also a longtime Holt ambassador and supporter of Holt’s mission in her own right, Nancy was recognized and applauded.

Holt's interim CEO, Dan Smith, with honored guest Nancy Kim, wife of late Holt president David Kim, during an adoptee gathering at Holt.
Honored guest Nancy Kim with Holt Interim CEO Dan Smith.

As both a host of the event and the Adult Adoptee Community Outreach Coordinator (AACOC), I noticed a familiar shared understanding that I’ve come to know in groups of adoptees. Our stories often have both uplifting and sad or unfortunate elements. When we gather together, sharing these details is optional, but we know that the company we’re surrounded by will always take the time to listen, care and show empathy. I also felt a sense of comfort and belonging, from being in a room of primarily adoptees, which has become second nature for me in that setting. This is a profound hope of mine for fellow adoptees, too. Part of my role as AACOC is to develop opportunities for the adult adoptee community to start conversations, share experiences, find support, celebrate our community, and uplift our voices.

Over the past few years, we often couldn’t gather in person, and I missed the feeling of being surrounded by these close friendships in the adoption constellation. The reception brought a significant opportunity to remember the special sense of community and rapport that I believe we desire as adoptees. It also recognized the need for friendship, understanding, and creating new connections among adult adoptees.   

Holt's interim CEO Dan Smith with adult adoptees at Holt's adoptee gathering in November 2022
Interim CEO Dan Smith with adoptees Tami Kraske and Cheryl Myers, who is also a member of Holt’s board of directors.
Margaret Fitch-Hauser points at a photo of herself as a child in a tribute to David Kim that features images of children who Holt has helped join families through international adoption over the years.
Adoptee gathering in the lobby of Holt's headquarters, November 2022
Holt board members and guests in conversation in the lobby of Holt’s headquarters.
Adoptee Jenifer Jacobus shares a binder full of newspaper cutouts from when she or Holt was in the news, and photos of her that her mother kept from her childhood. Jenifer was adopted from Korea in 1956.  
Adoptee Jenifer Jacobus (second from right) and fellow adoptees stand before Holt’s historical display in the lobby of Holt’s headquarters.
Adoptee gathering at Holt International in November 2022
woman smiling

Did you know Holt provides support to all adoptees?

Every adoptee has a unique and complex life experience. Holt strives to support all adoptees, regardless of their placing agency, by providing help with birth search, citizenship and more.

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