This past August, Holt’s director of adoptee services, Steve Kalb, attended a gathering in Seoul, Korea with over 700 other Korean adoptees. Together, they made meaningful connections and looked toward the future.
They came from Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, France and the United States to celebrate and learn about the one thing they all had in common — that they were all Korean adoptees.
The International Korean Adoptee Associations (IKAA) is an organization that connects Korean adoptees with each other to form community, learn about their roots and make a stand together on adoption-related issues. Each of these countries has their own IKAA group, but every three years, Korean adoptees from all IKAA groups gather together in Seoul, South Korea. Last month was the three-year mark for this gathering, bringing over 700 Korean adoptees to the country of their birth. Continue reading “IKAA Korean Adoptee Conference in Seoul”
At the end of the 2016 Holt Heritage Tour to Korea, adoptee Kora Hanson spoke with the tour group about her personal perspective on adoption. Here is what she said:
After hearing some of the adoption stories from the older adoptees, I felt compelled to share my experience with adoption, since I am one of the youngest adoptees here.
My mom is an adoptee herself; both my mom and dad are actively involved with Holt on the Board of Directors and have traveled around the world on Holt missions; I have attended Holt picnics, auctions, and Holt Korea trips since grade school; and more recently I’ve witnessed my mom’s nonprofit organization, Love Beyond the Orphanage. I have grown up with adoption being a daily topic around the house.
With that being said, I have pretty much always viewed my adoption as empowering. As a child, I always had a fun fact to share about myself during show and tell. As an athlete, I stood out not only for my talent but for my distinctive features. And now as a young adult, I feel it is empowering to experience moments like these with other adoptees and their families, watching everyone see Korea and embrace our beautiful culture.
Adoptee Megan Green just returned from the 2016 Holt Family Tour to Korea, a trip she had dreamed of for many years. The experience and the personal connections she made while in Korea will always remain close to her heart.
I recently had the pleasure of being part of the 2016 Holt Family Tour of my motherland, South Korea. It was a life-changing experience that I will never forget.
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of seeing my motherland of South Korea, but I never thought I would see this dream come to fruition. It was always a lofty ambition far off in the distance and nothing more. But as I progressed further into adulthood, that once-quiet yearning deep inside of me became such that it could no longer be ignored. So this year I set a goal to finally see my motherland, no matter what the obstacles may be.
You see, my viewpoint of the tour was unique because I was born with cerebral palsy. I have to use crutches for mobility purposes, which made me a bit apprehensive of this trip. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Before this tour I had never traveled outside of my home state of Nebraska, let alone outside of the United States.
After her trip to Korea, adoptee Megan Green felt compelled to write a letter to her birth mother. This is what she said.
Dear Birth Mother,
The last two weeks have been the best two weeks of my life thus far. I have been blessed to be part of the 2016 Korea motherland family tour through Holt International.
The conclusion of the tour compelled me to write you a letter. I have written you many letters before, but now as I reflect back on them they all seem cold and distant — something I would write to a stranger. This letter is different than the others in that it is one of gratitude, empathy and understanding.
As you already know, I came into your life on February 21, 1984 at about 3:26 p.m. I was about 2 months and 21 days premature, I weighed a little over two pounds and I was born with cerebral palsy.
Adoptee Krista Gause continues to share about her experience on the Holt Heritage Tour in Korea. In this entry, she tells about a meaningful gift she received from Holt staff in Korea.
Today we went to Holt Children’s Services office in Seoul, and a lot happened! But for right now I’d like to share just one of the dozen experiences we went through today.
Within a small auditorium we were greeted by some of the post adoption services members. Each of them incredibly kind. We are formally greeted by Esther who I’m excited to finally meet because I’ve heard her name thrown around so many times during my search. After watching a quick video we are assigned a case worker and we divide up into groups (I’m assigned to Esther). But before that, Holt informs us that they have a gift for all the adoptees. It’s a bag with various items within it, but the most sentimental piece is a necklace with our Korean names engraved on it.
This summer, Holt adoptee Krista Gause will travel on the Holt Heritage Tour to Korea. Before her departure, she writes an honest and heartfelt letter to her birth mother, sharing about her life and grieving the fact that it is too late for them to meet.
My name is Krista, and I’m your daughter.
The adoption agency, Holt International, suggested that I write you a letter. I told them that I didn’t know what to say and they advised me to tell you about my life, explain my intentions, let you know that I’m okay and that I’m looking for you.
You last saw me on February 19, 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. You spent one day with me before you said goodbye. What you don’t know is that I was in foster care once you left and my foster mother, Mrs. Na, took good care of me. I was underweight and my crying was “vigorous.” But Mrs. Na and her family took such good care of me that after a few months I left their home and boarded a Korean Air flight to the United States. On June 8, 1988, four months after you said goodbye, I met my family. We met and fell in love at JFK Airport and every year we celebrate this day, my Airplane Day. Continue reading “Krista in Korea: A Letter to My Birth Mother”
Yesterday on the Holt blog, Holt President and CEO Phil Littleton explored Holt’s gradual shift over the years from serving children primarily through adoption to serving tens of thousands more children every year through family strengthening and preservation programs. Today, Phil shares how Holt’s pre- and post-adoption services for adoptees, birth parents and adoptive families have grown and evolved — becoming one of the cornerstones of our organization. Read part one of this blog series here, and part three here.
This year, as Holt celebrates 60 years of serving children and families, we look back on all that we have learned and all the ways that we have grown and changed as an organization.
When international adoption began in earnest in the mid-1950s, it was entirely new territory. From the child welfare professionals who placed the first children, to the first families to adopt children from overseas, to the first generation of international adoptees, there truly was no real precedent for this model of building — and blending — family.
Needless to say, the concept — and need — for post-adoption services was not known in 1956. But as the first generation of Korean adoptees began to come of age, they naturally began to ask questions and to show an interest in exploring their past. In the years since, our post-adoption services have grown into one of the cornerstones of our organization — and our robust offerings continue to set us apart today.
This December, a team of Holt adoptive families, sponsors and supporters from all around the United States traveled on our annual Korea Gift Team to deliver special Christmas gifts to children in our partner’s care in South Korea. Holt Development Associate and Korean adoptee Courtney Young traveled on this year’s team, and below she shares about her experience and why it was so meaningful.
If Christmas spirit is contagious, then I must catch it every year the day after Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday! I love the twinkling lights, the trees, the hope for snow and baking up a storm to give holiday treats to all of my friends and family. I’m like a real-life Buddy the Elf.
During the trip, we traveled south of Seoul to visit the Jeonju Babies Home and then to Daejeon to visit the Holt Morning Garden Mother and Child Shelter. While the whole trip was indescribably life changing, there were a couple of days that were particularly special. The first of these days was at the Jeonju Babies Home.
Returning from the 2015 Holt Ambassador trip to China, Liz Larson reflects on the activities she and her team led there to educate HIV+ children about adoption before traveling home to advocate for them.
Last week I had the privilege of traveling to Nanning, China with the Holt Ambassador team where we focused on advocating for HIV+ children who wait for families. We spent the week getting to know 10 children affected by HIV, learning more about the stigma that HIV carries in China, and considering how to advocate for the kids to find families once we returned to the U.S.
Each member of our team came up with an idea for an activity to do with the kids in order to help get to know them in spite of our language differences. We played soccer and badminton, did puzzles, drew pictures, made friendship bracelets, looked at cool stuff with magnifying glasses and took walks. It was beautiful to watch the kids come out of their shells and show off their personalities. As the kids opened up, we took time after lunch one day to educate them about what adoption means.