Love in Action: Holt Supporters Visit the Jeonju Babies’ Home in Korea

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.

Ashley Bawl with a baby in care at Jeonju. “I felt that [Holt] has never lost its intention. Never lost its purpose,” she says. “It’s always focused on the kids.”
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A Difficult and Brave Decision

In the spring issue of Holt International Magazine, staff writer Billie Loewen wrote an article about the unwed mothers’ shelters Holt supports in South Korea. Over the past few days, I had the opportunity to meet a couple of the women who stayed at one of these shelters and who ultimately chose to parent their children. I also got to see where they go after they leave the shelter and start their lives as independent young single mothers in a culture whose disapproving attitudes toward unwed motherhood make life extremely difficult for them.

Unwed mothers spending time with their children.

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