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Learn more about Grandma Holt

Introduction to Holt

A historical perspective

Holt has always been about the children.

In the mid-1950s Harry and Bertha Holt saw a film about Amerasian children in Korean orphanages who were desperately in need of help. Harry and Bertha sent money and clothes, but that didn’t feel like enough. Then they came to an inspired realization – those children needed families.

Harry and Bertha decided to adopt eight Korean children, but soon learned it would be impossible…unless they could get both Houses of Congress to pass a special law. “Then that’s what we’ll do,” Bertha said, and she moved ahead on faith.

The Holts’ adoption was revolutionary. Their example showed that a family’s love can transcend the barriers of race and nationality. At a time when adoption was regarded as something to be kept secret, they adopted children who were obviously not their birth children. Through their deep Christian faith and fierce determination, they showed the world that adoption is a banner of love, not a badge of shame.

Word spread and inspired people across the nation. Many inquired as to how they, too, could adopt. Only five months after he brought their eight children home, Harry headed back to Korea to help other children have families. Holt was officially incorporated in 1956, financed almost entirely by Harry and Bertha’s personal funds.

When Harry passed away in 1964, many thought the Holt agency would simply fold up. But Bertha said, "This work was always God’s work. If He wants it to continue, it will." Her strength and faith persevered, and Holt continued to grow and meet the needs of an increasing number of homeless children.

Bertha worked tirelessly on behalf or children in need until her death at age 96. She was affectionately known as "Grandma Holt" to adoptive families and to the thousands of children around the world whose lives she changed.

Today, Holt International is proud to continue finding families for children. Holt is the largest adoption agency, having united nearly 40,000 children with adoptive families in the United States. We offer our families unrivaled stability, an extensive knowledge bank, a highly successful track record, and proven skills in international relations.

Most of all, Holt always has and always will be driven by what is best for the children. By upholding Harry and Bertha’s ethics, up-front and honest practices, and ongoing support to adoptive families and children, we look forward to finding many more homes for children who need them.

In Bertha’s words, “All children are beautiful when they’re loved.”
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Holt International is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. EIN: 23-7257390.