60 years later, will you carry on the legacy of Harry and Bertha Holt?


On August 11, 1955, Bertha Holt was distracted. She had children to feed, guests to entertain and dinner to prepare.

Her phone rang, and she answered without expectation. It was a telegram, delivering the news she had been waiting for.

The Holt Bill had passed the House — allowing Holt International founders Bertha and her husband Harry to adopt eight children from Korea! It had passed in the Senate just two weeks prior, and this news meant that it would now become a law!

After months of advocacy, lobbying and fighting for God’s plan, it was done! History had been made, and with one bill, the definition of family would forever change.

Bertha’s first words in response were so telling of her character: “We need to have a prayer meeting,” she told her children and guests.

Together, the Holts got down on their knees alongside their friends and family and poured out the thanksgiving that was dwelling in each of their hearts.

Today, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of that special day, and we reflect on all the ways we’ve continued to fight for every child to have a loving and secure home. We also look to the future, and pray about how we can continue to help children waiting for a permanent, loving family.

On this special day in the history of adoption, please consider giving to Holt’s Special Needs Adoption Fund! Your gift will ensure that finances never stand between a child and a loving family — showing the world that 60 years later, you join us in carrying on Harry and Bertha’s legacy. Together, we can advocate for every child to have a home of their own.


Honoring Dr. Joseph Ha

For more than a decade, Dr. Joseph Ha was an important part of Holt — a friend and ambassador, a supporter and advocate. When he died in 2010, after only a year of service on Holt’s board, he left behind a remarkable gift — one that continues his mission to bring education and opportunity to those less fortunate, and defines his personal legacy.

Dr. Joseph Ha with his three granddaughters, who he doted upon and loved dearly. In the last few weeks of his life in the hospital, Dr. Ha asked his eldest granddaughter, 12-year-old Lainey, what she most wanted, and she replied that she wanted a dog. Dr. Ha wasn’t necessarily a dog person, and his daughter Karen even recalls times when Dr. Ha would feel confused how people could lavish dogs in gifts as if they were people.
Yet, every morning, Lainey’s dog Pepper runs into the kitchen dressed in clothes and with braided ear hair. She’s become the inside joke in the house, and also a beloved member of the family.

THE FIRST FEW TIMES Dr. Joseph Ha spent Christmas at Holt’s Ilsan Center — a long-term care facility in Korea — his wife and daughter had no idea what he was doing.

Perhaps they thought he was away on business, which was common in his role as Nike’s vice president of international business and government relations. As a Korean man himself, with an extraordinary talent to make and connect friends, Dr. Ha spent a lot of time overseas, particularly in Japan, China, Korea and Southeast Asia.

However, Dr. Ha wasn’t in Korea for business — he was there for a party, one that he threw every year for more than 10 years.

Ilsan is a very special home, and one of Holt’s most historically significant programs, since it was the first care facility in Korea to offer a loving, permanent environment to orphaned and abandoned children with special medical needs. Dr. Ha‘s passion for Ilsan and Holt International’s work in the region prompted him to come every Christmas bearing gifts — Nike coats and shoes, toys and treats — and anything to make the residents feel special. Susan Cox, Holt’s vice president of policy & advocacy, says that Dr. Ha came to know many of the children, as well as Harry and Bertha Holt’s daughter Molly — who devoted her life to caring for the residents at Ilsan.

“Most years, he would be there to celebrate with the kids, wearing a Santa suit and laughing and having as much fun as the children,” Susan says.

Dr. Ha’s daughter, Karen Chi, says the orphans inspired her father.  This is perhaps rooted in the fact that Dr. Ha was himself an orphan.

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