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Holt board chair Derek Parker as a child in Korea

Meet Derek Parker, Holt’s New Board Chair

The Holt Post-Adoption Services Team is excited to debut a new profile series featuring members of the adult adoptee community. The first profile highlights Derek Parker, the newly elected chair of the Holt Board of Directors. Derek was introduced into his new role during an adoptee reception at Holt International Headquarters.

Board chair Derek Parker headshot

Derek was adopted from South Korea and joined his family in Portland, OR at three and a half years old. He currently resides in San Diego, CA, where he is a Vice President of Finance and Administration at another non-profit. Derek and his wife have three children. Throughout his life, Derek has been involved in the adult adoptee community — as a member of Facebook groups and also as a member of Holt’s board of directors, which he joined in 2018. After four years of serving on the board, he was recently elected to serve as the new board chair of Holt by his peers on the board, including many fellow adoptees.

Derek was initially motivated to serve on Holt’s Board of Directors to “give back to the organization that gave me my life.” And when asked about the most essential part of his story as an adoptee, he said, “God had a plan and used Holt to fulfill His plan.” This plan included being picked up by Molly Holt, daughter of Holt founders Harry and Bertha Holt, after he was left as a child on the steps of the Ilsan Center, a care home in South Korea for children and adults with disabilities. Sick with polio, Derek was brought inside for care and treatment. At Ilsan, Derek received surgery on his leg, as well as rehabilitation and therapy. Only a few years later, he could stand up and take steps using leg braces. Today, he uses a wheelchair primarily for longer distances, but he can walk.

In 2016, Derek traveled back to visit the Ilsan Center as part of the “Happy Together” tour for adoptees with special needs. While at Ilsan, he reunited with Molly — a nurse who devoted her life to advocating and caring for children and adults with special needs. “Molly said there was something there that she saw [in me],” Derek shares. “She really loved children. So she took me in, and that’s how I came to Holt.”

Derek also shares that he “is grateful for the Holt family and wants their vision and commitment to children to continue through their organization.”

In addition, Derek has said of the care he received as a child, “I am an example of being able to get this. I was able to be adopted. And because of that, able to live.” “

Thank you for your service to Holt, Derek!

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Did you know Holt provides support to all adoptees?

Every adoptee has a unique and complex life experience. Holt strives to support all adoptees, regardless of their placing agency, by providing help with birth search, citizenship and more.

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