Before he joined his adoptive family in the U.S., Holt adoptee Jordan Love stayed for a time in Molly Holt’s care at the Ilsan Center in Korea – a time for which he will always be grateful.
When I was asked to write about Molly Holt, I felt honored. Molly is a special woman who has dedicated her life to the Ilsan Center in Korea – helping to improve the lives of those who have mental and/or physical disabilities, and hopefully, placing them with adoptive families. She has changed the lives of so many children through the years.
Molly has had a big influence on my life as well.
At Ilsan, I was fortunate to be one of those children cared for by Molly Holt. I came into care when I was about 4 years old, after I was found wandering the streets alone. I was placed in the “Love Home,” where Molly was my housemother. She cared for me for the next 6 months, bridging the gap between my birth mother and my parents.
Although too young to remember much from my time in Molly’s care, our paths would cross again when I started working at Holt International. While visiting from Korea, Molly came into the office one afternoon about five years ago. Seeing me, the first words out of her mouth were, “Gosh, you’re short.” Having dwarfism and only standing three feet tall, I’ve heard that statement a lot – but was still a little shocked that Molly started the conversation that way. Taken aback, I replied, “Why yes, I guess I am.” She went on to say that she was my housemother and she distinctly remembered me from Ilsan. When asked how she remembered me out of all the children she had cared for – especially since 16 years had passed since we last saw each other – she bluntly said, “Well, there aren’t many people that short who come into the orphanage.”
Even though I was caught off guard by Molly’s first comments, I look back on it with great fondness. I think it really shows Molly’s character. She doesn’t hide behind what’s politically correct, but addresses those unique differences and then warms your heart because she sees them as a special quality about you. I was really struck by how she remembered me out of all the children who had come through Ilsan. That conversation was one of the first times I had ever thought about my time in Korea. It brought up some emotions, as Molly gave me a couple of pieces to my early life in Korea.
I don’t think I fully knew the impact Molly had on my life and the lives of so many children until I traveled to Korea on a heritage tour in December 2011 – my first trip back since my adoption in 1990. Throughout the week, I saw bits and pieces of my time at the orphanage. I visited with my physical therapist, my doctor and my teachers. To reconnect with these amazing people made me realize what a blessing it was that I stayed at Ilsan.
During the tour, I got to see the remarkable facilities for the residents at Ilsan. I also got to observe Molly in action. Molly knew every single child and treated them with so much love. During the visit, I watched and listened as she would ask how this or that child was doing, and then shift gears to tell us about another child who had a major medical condition she was praying would be cured. As I listened to Molly talk about these children, I could easily put myself in their place – because I was exactly in their place 22 years ago. You could really see that these children – children who are outcasts in their society – are Molly’s life and passion. Like me, these children are often referred to as “special needs” children. But I don’t think Molly sees any “need” in the children at Ilsan. I think all she sees is the special part of every child.
So what does Molly Holt mean to me?
I think everyone knows what a special woman Molly Holt is, and how she has dedicated her life to the mission her parents began over 57 years ago when they founded Holt International. But I want to tell you what this wonderful human being means to me. Molly Holt will always be the woman who gave me love when I was at my weakest. She provided me with nurturing care while I waited for my forever family. I truly believe there are not enough kind words to express how sincere and special Molly Holt is.
As thousands of children who have passed through – and still remain – at Ilsan can attest, Molly provided unyielding love to all of us. But it goes beyond just children in the care of Molly Holt. All parents of children at Ilsan – by both adoption and birth – owe Molly Holt a huge thank you. She was their children’s mother during the time they were in her care. Molly could have chosen an easier path to follow, but she let her heart guide her. The heart of Molly Holt has blessed thousands upon thousands of the most at-risk children in Korea.
She has etched herself in my heart, in my life, and I will be eternally grateful for the love of Molly Holt.
Jordan Love | Eugene, Oregon