Amid an orphan care crisis in South Korea, Holt sponsors and donors help care for children in greatest need — and support a long-term solution.
In South Korea, a 1-year-old sits in a crib. Surrounded by other children, in identical cribs, she lifts up her arms as her caregiver walks past. Her caregiver lovingly picks her up, then places her on the floor to play with the toys that she shares with everyone else. She cries, desperate for one more moment of attention.
She’s healthy, developing well, “a lovely child,” as her caregivers describe her. But she will most likely never have a loving, permanent family of her own.
Last summer, I traveled to South Korea for the first time since being adopted at 3 months old. I traveled with the Holt Heritage Tour, which included a group of Korean-American adoptees and their families, and Paul Kim, director of programs for Holt. While in South Korea, we visited the country’s major cities, experienced Korean cuisine and visited Holt facilities. This once in a lifetime experience greatly exceeded my expectations. It’s a trip that I will never forget.
I am a law student living in Brooklyn and was adopted by a loving family from the Mid-Atlantic region. I have a younger sister who was also adopted from South Korea. Since I can remember, my parents have encouraged me to travel to South Korea with Holt International to search for my birth parents. They raised me to understand that this was an important experience for my own growth, and something that I should do when still young. For most of my life, I wanted to travel to South Korea with my parents and sister, but a couple years before going, I decided to travel by myself. I wanted this to be a personal experience. However, as the departure date approached, I grew very nervous and wished that I had someone to go with.
I flew out of Philadelphia to Seattle, where I would stay the night and meet with the Holt group the next day. The minute I met the other adoptees traveling to South Korea, I felt an instant connection. This was the first time that I had interacted with a large group of Korean-American adoptees. As we waited for the plane to the Incheon Airport, we shared stories about our childhood and what our expectations were for our trip. I soon realized that even though we varied in age and came from very different places in America, we shared a similar perspective of South Korea and were all nervous about our upcoming visit. After quickly making friends, I felt more comfortable and excited about the adventure to come.
Being in South Korea
I was surprised by how much and how quickly I fell in love with the country. Although I had no recollection of Seoul, I immediately felt comfortable being there. I looked like everyone around me, which I never experienced in America, and the urban atmosphere made me feel more even more at ease. Continue reading “An Adventure to Remember”