A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. —Lao-tzu
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. —Lao-tzu
Lifting the veil on international adoption to help potential adopting couples make an educated decision to adopt or not adopt based on worldwide newspaper articles, mourning unacknowledged families and adoptee experiences instead of being solely influenced by multimillion dollar adoption agency advertising campaigns, which target the child and abandons the family and community.
**Raise global consciousness on the hidden side of adoption.
**Share enlightened and heartfelt perspectives on adoption issues based on real experiences.
**Offer preventative and alternative solutions for an industry currently in flux.
**Protect vulnerable families from a lucrative industry that has targeted children and abandoned mothers (and fathers) on a worldwide scale.
|Adoption Truth & Transparency|
*A worldwide meeting place, news hub, and human rights advocacy space for families separated by adoption. We shed light on the hidden side of adoption.
Suggestions while participating include:
Due to the sensitive nature and very personal experiences, we cannot be responsible for the attitude and actions of members. The discussions can be heated so please be considerate of everyone's life experiences. No threats please. If discussions explode out of control or defeat the purpose of our mission then we have the right to 1.) Delete threads 2.) Remove members
To track complete adoption news and CEO earnings, go to: http://poundpuplegacy.org/
|"I got really addicted to reading Janine's book. |
It was fascinating and worth my time.
It opened up a totally different world to me
and made me think about a lot of things.
Just a little note: prior to my trip to S. Korea to look for my Korean family, I was a typical advocate of adoption. In fact, I had no idea that anyone contested it at the time—who would have the audacity to question the great people who professed that they were "saving orphans"? Of course, I had only been aware of the one-sided perspective of the practice. I had no idea that profiteers used megapreachers and its members to attract potential adopters under the veneer of doing "God's work." Some even profess and preach that adoption is the "Christian" thing to do and that GOD wants you to adopt. Adoption has become more about targeting children and abandoning the rest of the family.
It's time to offer a perspective that comes from an orphan > adoptee > mother > human rights advocate > activist. Before you think of adopting, watch out for high agency fees! Many adoptive parents have discovered that agencies are really wolves in sheep’s clothing. Even "ethical" adoption facilitators have been known to have potential adoptive parents (PAPS) fill out all sorts of documents in an attempt to prove that PAPS are upstanding citizens capable of raising a child. But also scrutinize the "ethical" adoption facilitator. Do not be afraid to demand that they prove to you that the children they are showcasing are really ORPHANS--without a mother, father, siblings and extended family, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins who could later disrupt the family you are trying to make.
Potential adoptive parents, be sure to police the agency! Make them prove to you that the children are literally orphans--and not what they call "paper" or "social" orphans, which means that they really do have a family that also needs support--who are really kept in the background. Have the agency employees provide you with the DEATH CERTIFICATES of the children's parents or family members before you apply give them your money. Do not be surprised if these agencies continue to ask you for heavy fees--some people have been drained of their savings. You will read that some couples who have hoped and prayed for a child have even paid up to $60,000--money that could have helped to preserve families and help with kinship care, where the children do not lose their identities.
Also, do not be fooled by religous adoption agencies who advertise beautiful brochures exhibiting what they call in adoption rhetoric "languishing" or "withering" children, like in times past. The great majority of the children's families are alive. In fact, because of the worldwide web, we now know that many families (from the other side of the world) are missing children. Some vulnerable families see intercountry adoption as glorified white-collar child trafficking. Adoption lobbyists, lawyers and special interest groups, even some beneficiaries have been able to change laws in the countris they've entered to side with them, and legalized the removal of children from vulnerable families. It is very sad to see this happening in a world that is supposed to be evolved and enlightened enough to know better.
My book, The Search for Mother Missing: A Peek Inside International Adoption is an introduction to the adoptee community based on my trip to Seoul, South Korea for the 2004 Adoptee Gathering where more than 400 Korean-born adoptees (sent to fifteen countries) traveled back to our homelands--some for the first time--to celebrate and contemplate intercountry adoption. That was only the beginning of my quest into the world of adoption. I had no idea at the time that I would discover adoption from the other side. All I had wanted was to hear my own Korean mother's voice. Well, like they say, watch out for what you ask for!
Still looking for our Korean family, born 1972.
Visit www.vancetwins.com to learn more about me.
We encourage mothers (of adoption loss) to release any residue shame or guilt and share your side of the story—don’t let the adoption facilitator speak for you! You will find that it was not uncommon for mothers to have been heavily influenced, coaxed and cajoled by a money-making industry. The Girls Who Went Away, the book by Ann Fessler, showcases how mothers have been (unnecessarily) forced into the relinquishment of their newborns in the U.S..
Adoption facilitators do not want us to find you. There’s a risk that the truth will be revealed if we do, although very recently (and after considering the voices of empowered mothers) many “ethical” adoption agencies have changed their campaign to make appearances and therefore gain public approval. They would like you to think that intercountry adoption is “in the best interest of the child” or “child protection” and they will continue to use adoption rhetoric claiming that “every child deserves a family,” until someone calls them out on it.
As one with experience, I’d like to be “stuck” with my own family—the one I was born into. I do not approve adoption. To erase a child’s identity without that child's approval (falsify birth records, “legally” remove us from our own family of birth—a family and country in which they deem incapable of raising us—to a foreign one they deem “capable”) has hurt thousands of families left behind.
Many couples flaunt the idea of children from Africa, South America and Asia. You have no idea what it is like to be used as a life-long charity decoration. If you did, you would stop the insanity. Facilitators target the children and abandon the children’s families. Poor parents are unable to fight back. I have for 40 years adored the adoption agencies and their facilitators. But now that I know how some have operated (within their organizations), I am siding with the voiceless. Please promote the UNCRC because everyone else has ignored it or manipulated the whole story of adoption into something useful for themselves. Issues that I believe need to be addressed are:
- US ratification with United Nation Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC),
- Adoption policies and procedures should be re-examined from the viewpoint of families of adoption-loss, which includes scrutinizing the Council on Accreditation and Joint Council on International Children Services,
- Include and place priority on the voices of families adoption loss: Adoption would not be considered “child protection” but more along the lines of cultural genocide, child trafficking, human exploitation, and an UNCRC violation against vulnerable first-mothers, first-fathers, first-families and children and other members of the first-family (like aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents),
- Re-examine the need for adoption from secrecy to total transparency,
- Correct the adoption documents given to the adoptive parents for children who were claimed to be orphans by agency facilitators, when in-fact the children were not orphans,
- Follow and endorse the investigational work of Against Child Trafficking (ACT),
- Redefine the word “orphan” back to its original meaning,
- Ensure (or enforce) that the US respect that all other countries (except Somalia) have ratified the UNCRC,
- Act as UNCRC Guardians ensure proper implementation of the UNCRC (without the interference of adoption lobbyists, special interest groups and adoption beneficiaries),
- Create a place for adoptees to report adoption abuse and the right to revoke their displacements (which happened without their consent)
I believe that children should have a right to their "own" family--not "a" family or "any" family like the agencies have used in their rhetoric to obtain the rights to children and create laws to sanction their business.
*credit needs to be given to the Against Child Trafficking Team for their expertise and insight into the issues concerning separated families worldwide.
To help reunite Masho with her Ethiopian family, join Operation Masho - Rejoin Masho with her Ethiopian Family: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/273612776105357/?bookmark_t=group
To discuss and critique intercountry adoption, join the Adoption Truth and Transparency Worldwide Network Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/AdoptionTruth/?bookmark_t=group
Documentary puts Danadopt on the spot27. nov. 2012 12.54 English
Adoption agency Danadopt is facing fierce criticism after the premiere of a new Danish documentary that features an Ethiopian couple reluctantly giving up their two children, aged 2 and 4, for adoption in Denmark.
"To me, it looks an awful lot like human trafficking," said documentary filmmaker Katrine W. Kjær, the maker of the film Mercy Mercy.
A number of MPs now feel adoptions to Denmark from abroad should be put on hold, until evidence shows that no-one is being coerced into putting their child up for adoption.
Danadopt denies accusationsA representative from the Danadopt organisation was present when the children were removed from the home of their biological parents in Ethiopia, but the organisation has denied all accusations of wrongdoing.
"We can prove that this is not a case of human trafficking and that everything occurred above board. No-one has done anything illegal," said Director of Danadopt, Marianne Wung Sung.
Minister for Social Affairs, Karen Høkkerup has expressed a wish to look into the matter, but the opposition at Christiansborg is calling for tougher action.
"We want this area thoroughly investigated, and the minister will have to delve deeper than just an individual case. There may be similar issues in other countries," said Anne-Mette W. Christiansen, deputy chair of Parliament's social welfare committee.
The case is further complicated by the fact that the eldest of the two children currently lives in a children's home after problems with the Danish foster family. Today, the Social Appeals Board opened an investigation into the case, including whether the eldest girl should possibly be returned to her parents in Ethiopia.
Link to the Film: http://mercymercy.dk/
Text from http://politiken.dk/indland/ECE1938219/mashos-biologiske-foraeldre-vil-ophaeve-adoption/
De biologiske forældre til den etiopiske pige Masho vil have omstødt adoptionen.
Det oplyser DR Nyheder.
LÆS OGSÅDanAdopt: Vi kendte ikke til børnehøstere
Mashos biologiske forældre ønsker at genetablere relationen til deres datter, men det betyder ikke nødvendigvis, at de ønsker at få hende hjem.
»Vi vil have kontakt med hende, fordi vi er bekymret for, hvordan hun har det, og vi er meget bekymret for, at hun ikke har kontakt med sin bror«, fortæller forældrene til DR Nyheder.
Hun faldt aldrig til i DanmarkMasho blev sammen med sin yngre bror adopteret af et dansk par fra Holbæk, da hun var fire år gammel.
I modsætning til sin lillebror faldt Masho aldrig til ved de danske adoptivforældre, der siden hen opgav at opdrage hende. I dag er hun anbragt på et bosted i Danmark.
Mashos forældre har ifølge DR Nyheders oplysninger længe været i en proces, hvor de har overvejet, hvordan de skulle agere i forhold til det faktum, at Masho i dag er anbragt på et bosted.
LÆS OGSÅEkspert om Masho-adoption : Det er ren børnemishandling fra starten
Og fredag tog de så et endeligt skridt og bad en advokat om at gå ind i sagen.
Helle Mariager, der er børne- og ungechef i Holbæk Kommune, siger til DR Nyheder:
»Vi er i gang med at evaluere den her sag til bunds, og de her oplysninger må vi tage til efterretning«.
Dozens of orphanages in Cambodia, including some run by Australians, have been accused of exploiting children to attract donations.
The government in Phnom Penh is cracking down on the booming multimillion-dollar orphanage industry after investigators discovered shocking abuses of children and a list has been compiled of centres targeted for raids and closure.
Children in one orphanage told investigators how they were forced to crawl while they were beaten with sticks and had to eat rice from the ground as punishment for failing to recite Bible psalms, according to SISHA, an anti-trafficking and exploitation organisation working with government agencies in Phnom Penh.
Another orphanage offered children for local adoption to avoid laws prohibiting foreign adoptions in the country, said SISHA's operations director Eric Meldrum, a British former detective. ''They told me to go over there and choose which one I want,'' Mr Meldrum said.
Investigators say Australia has a greater involvement in Cambodia's orphanages than any other nation through Australians running them directly, volunteering or donating.
About 72 per cent of the 10,000 children living in Cambodia's estimated 600 orphanages have a parent, although most are portrayed as orphans to capitalise on the goodwill of foreign tourists and volunteers, including thousands of Australians, research shows.
Up to 300 of these centres are operating illegally and flouting a push by government and United Nations agencies for children to be reunited with their parents.
The managers of several respected Australian-run orphanages are alarmed by the situation and note that the number of orphanages has increased 65 per cent in the past five years while the number of orphans has reduced dramatically as Cambodia recovered from genocide, invasion and an AIDS epidemic.
The largest Australian-run centres include Sunrise Children's Villages, Hagar, Hope for Cambodian Children and Kampuchea House. Fairfax Media is not suggesting any of these homes is being investigated.
One of the first orphanages investigated was the Love In Action centre, an Australian-run orphanage in Phnom Penh, where there were allegations of children being beaten and neglected. The centre's 71-year-old Victorian founder, Ruth Golder, is under investigation after 21 children were taken away from her centre in a raid on March 22. She strongly denies any abuse took place.
The orphanage, which has links to the Christian Outreach Centre in Australia, had operated illegally for years from donations from Australians.
There is growing criticism in Cambodia and other developing countries about so-called ''orphan tourism'' and ''volunteer tourism'', where thinly disguised businesses exploit both tourists and volunteers.
Visitors who have undergone no background checks can walk into dozens of Cambodia's orphanages and be left alone with children who are being described by child welfare workers as Cambodia's stolen generation. Donors also take children away for outings - sometimes overnight - leaving them open to sexual abuse, investigators say.
In the Children's Umbrella Centre Organisation orphanage on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, children were lined up last year and strangers who had donated to the centre were invited to pick any before driving away with four, investigators say.
The centre, which had an open sewer in a compound where children slept, has been closed.
While many orphanages are well run, enforce child protection policies and have strict rules for visitors, almost all are largely unregulated in a country where state institutions are weak and no qualifications are required to set up an orphanage or children's centre.
On the streets of Siem Reap in north-western Cambodia, children playing traditional instruments are led by men with signs declaring ''support our orphans''. Anyone who donates is invited to visit nearby orphanages.
''We believe this is dangerous because the children are not orphans and should not be there in the first place,'' said Sebastien Marot, executive director of Friends-International, a non-government organisation conducting a campaign to warn tourists and volunteers that children are not tourist attractions.
Mr Meldrum said unscrupulous orphanage operators had adopted a business model where the centres got more money from international donors if they had more children.
He said orphanage recruiters would approach poor, often rural, families promising the centre could offer their children education, food, clothing and a chance for a better life.
''There are many reports of cash transactions for the child, though it is usually referred to as a donation to the family,'' he said.
Several international studies have found that children should be living in their communities with family members, relatives or foster families except in extreme circumstances.
A study by Save the Children found that institutional care should only be used for children as a ''last resort and only then if it is of a high standard and in the best interests of the individual child''.
Studies also show that in most orphanages children are taught a foreign language, religion and Western culture that leaves them struggling to cope in Cambodia's Buddhist community when they are eventually released, often when they turn 18.
Mr Marot said Cambodia was particularly vulnerable ''because it is suffering from the victim syndrome where everyone thinks the country is still coming out of war. Everyone comes here with this attitude towards Cambodia as this victimised country where all the children are in miserable and horrible situations, which is not the case any more.''
But Geraldine Cox, who runs two Sunrise Children's Villages in Cambodia, said while the Friends' campaign had merit it ''does not take into account the many orphanage centres which are well run and rely on visits by tourists to survive''.
She said visitors should be discouraged from visiting centres where receipts for donations are not given, photo identifications are not requested and where a visitor cannot see annual financial reports.
American missionary Cathleen Jones came to Cambodia 20 years ago to run an orphanage with 120 children but soon ''started realising these kids had parents and families and they wanted to be with them''.
Now her Children In Families organisation works to find Cambodian homes for children through kinship or permanent and long-term foster care for children who cannot be reunited with their parents.
''If there is no imminent danger to the child he or she should not be removed, even if the family is dysfunctional,'' Ms Jones said, adding that many orphanages refused to release children once they were in their care even if a family environment was available.
''They are kept for years,'' she said.
Mr Marot said the people who ran some orphanages ''keep the kids looking poor … badly dressed in order to attract sympathy from you in order to get your money.''
''It's a lucrative business. The children are the assets,'' he said.
Volunteer placement organisations promote volunteer tourism as a way for travellers to ''make a difference'' and have experiences that are ''life changing and rewarding''.
Volunteers pay several thousand dollars for a two-week visit, while some stay many months.
But Mr Marot said visitors were doing things with children at the centres that were banned in their own countries.
''Imagine if a busload of Chinese turned up at a school in Australia, played with the children, spoke to them in Chinese, pushed them to eat rice and fish and took photographs with them and splashed them all over Facebook?'' Mr Marot said.
''The parents would go berserk.''
Cambodian government agencies, including the Ministry of Social Affairs, and SISHA late last year set up a committee to identify, investigate and close harmful unregistered orphanages, while adopting guidelines for standards of residential care in registered centres that are comparable with those in Western countries...
■Lindsay Murdoch is Fairfax Media's south-east Asia correspondent.
Read the remaining article: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/stealing-a-generation-cambodias-unfolding-tragedy-20130406-2hdy2.html#ixzz2PnNPZtRc
Adoptions from the the Enat Alem orphanage in Ethiopia were recently halted by the social and integration minister, Karen Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), based on reports of children being deprived of food, basic care and medical treatment at the facility.
Now new reports have surfaced that the home used ‘child harvesters’ to lure local families into putting their children up for adoption at Enat Alem in violation of the Hague Conventions.
A local man, Gimma Kebele, told the DR News programme ’21 Søndag’ that he worked at Enat Alem and that, along with his duties as a night watchman, he went around local villages visiting families in an attempt to persuade them to put their children up for adoption. Kebele says that he has been involved in 145 adoptions at Enat Alem.
According to local authorities, Kebele received a reward for collecting the children that was quite lucrative by Ethiopian standards. He was allegedly paid between 75 and 110 Danish kroner for each child he brought to the home. By comparison, his monthly salary as a guard at the orphanage was about 150 kroner.
A local official said that many parents who were seeking a chance at a better life for their children never fully understood that they would most likely never see them again after agreeing to an adoption through Enat Alem.
“They did not know what the separation meant because they were pressured and tricked and promised many things,” the official told ’21 Søndag’. Other sources have said that biological parents were told that their children would receive excellent educations and then be sent back to Ethiopia to help their biological families.
“I am completely shaken,” Steen Andersen, the general secretary of UNICEF Denmark, told ’21 Søndag’. “This is unethical and illegal. These children are not orphans, and many of these women belive that their children are going on an extended holiday in Denmark.”
Records show that 21 children have come to Denmark from Enat Alem via DanAdopt since 2009. The agency said that it had no knowledge that the the orphanage used child harvesters. This past weekend, DanAdopt sent a letter to the parents on the waiting list for Ethiopian children in Denmark, saying that the moratorium on adoptions from Ethiopia was “temporary”. The letter goes on to say that there have been no problems with Danish adoptions from Ethiopia since 2009 and that they had not been allowed to see ’21 Søndag’ before it was aired in order to verify its claims.
Kebele denied that he was paid to find children for adoption and said that he was simply doing outreach work in order to assist poor families. Soliciting children for adoption for profit is punishable by imprisonment in Ethiopia.
Janine Vance author of The Search for Mother Missing: A Peek Inside International Adoption
|Romania for Export Only: |
The Untold Story of the Romanian Orphans
By Roelie Post
Former Civil Servant of the European Commission
Seconded to Against Child Trafficking
Click here to buy the book!
Roelie writes the book in a diary format, which starts on the first day of her new position for the European Commission. Diary entries document and demonstrate how the adoption lobbyists infiltrated Romania, and as a result –just like in Asia and now in parts of Africa– created a “child protection” mess that Human Rights Activists and adult adopted people are currently trying to clean up. Her book is informative, suspenseful and shines light on the adoption corruption that has intentionally been kept hidden from the mainstream.
Because I was labeled an “orphan” by an American-owned adoption agency and then sent overseas in 1972, I am motivated to investigate inter-country adoption’s underworld. I am able to recognize how Roelie’s attempt to protect the Romanian children correlates with my attempt to find my Korean family. The diary entries confirm the feelings I’ve had as an adult adoptee, but have been unacknowledged and resisted by those who profit from the industry. I applaud Roelie for having the courage to detail her time, working on Romania’s child protection efforts.
After researching adoption and participating in adult adoptee groups and discussions for years, I have watched the concerned voices of adult adoptees be ignored, demeaned, insulted and attacked by zealous adoption lobbyists and facilitators. In the global effort to “save” children under the veneer of love and protection, inter-country adoption has exploded into an operation that finds homes for children who already have families. It is not about the abandonment of children, but shaming and deserting vulnerable mothers, fathers, family units and communities.
By the time I had finished Romania for Export Only, Roelie had earned my respect. I admire the author’s empathy for the children and her ability to stay focused and tenacious throughout the story–especially when faced with adversaries. Readers will understand how challenging it was for the Romanian Team to protect the children against an intentional, strategic and determined force. We all know that when history is ignored, it is bound to repeat itself. And it has. Adoption profiteers have spanned its web into every continent on earth. Let us not ignore this account.
Today Roelie Post runs an organization called ACT (www.againstchildtrafficking.org). This organization is vital in the movement to protect the family and recognize the crimes committed. ACT promotes the UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child), which first and foremost gives children the right to be cared for by their families and to stay within their original communities. In order to end inter-country adoption abuses—also deemed “glorified” child-trafficking by many adult adopted people and survivors—we must follow the money and hold the guilty accountable. Governments are being deceived. Families are being coerced and manipulated. Child trafficking is a crime. It is time for the voice of the severed families and our advocates to be heard. It is time to take action.
Romania for Export Only: the Untold Story of the Romanian ‘Orphans’ is a must read.
|Click here to get your copy!|
As an adult he returns to Germany believing happiness will come when finding his German family and reclaiming his cultural identity. But Peter's hopes are crushed as his search descends into a desperate struggle to escape a labyrinth of hopeless despair. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, this is the true story of a man's transformation where the protagonist must ultimately confront himself.
Click here to watch
Peter Interviewed on Youtube
1956 “Having Trouble Finding Little Ones”
1957-1958 “Swamped” with Requests for Children
1959 Counseling More Mothers
1960-1964 “House Slaves?”
For the Love of Children
How are the Mothers Today?
1954-1955: Discovering Amerasian Children
Bertha Marian Holt was born in 1905 to Clifford and Eva Holt. She married Harry Holt, a first cousin (Mark Baker, 2006), on December 31, 1927 and eventually they had six children together. In 1954, Harry and Bertha Holt were convinced that God had sent them on a mission to obtain and raise eight South Korean-born Amerasian (American-Korean or mixed-race) children, in addition to the Holts own. (p. 4 & 8) By Autumn of 1955, hundreds of fellow Americans visited the Holt farm in Oregon each week “begging” for a child. The public’s main interest was to “see what the children look like” since they, too, were considering adoption. (p. 9) There was so much media attention that the Holts continued to receive at least 50 daily letters and applications from every state but two. They used this national interest to publicize their loyalty to Christianity. Due to being evangelists and “born-again” Christians, it was the Holts’ desire and priority to give the Korean-born Amerasian children to Christians only. (p. 12)
The Holts used an inexpensive and efficient procedure called “Adoption by Proxy,” considered (what the Holt’s called) a Christian “triumph” against the United States Government. (p. 12) The wanting Christian couple would give Harry Power of Attorney. He would then represent their desires and obtain the children under Korean law. The children would finally come to the U.S. as sons and daughters belonging to the wanting couples. Determined to fill the demand of numerous letters from wanting adopters, the Holts set up post in Seoul hoping to get their hands on more children. Famous friend and reverend, Billy Graham, dedicated their Reception Center. By Christmas of 1955, the Holts receive “thousands” of letters, including 50 inquiries for children each day for a week. (p. 12)
The Holts mention some minor setbacks in 1955. Many established missionaries in Seoul had already reserved the children for their friends. (p. 12) Also, some Korean mothers wanted to wait for the return of their children’s American fathers instead of agreeing to release their children. Other problems came in the form of letters or crank calls, accusing Harry of bringing home “slant-eyed Orientals” or “slant-eyed monsters.” (p. 13) Harry and Bertha dismissed the issue of racism when it came to the incoming children, not realizing that it existed and that it could become the crux of many issues for the inter-racial adoptee to face, isolated. They also did not recognize that their biological daughter made a racially insensitive remark when she affectionately called a Korean-Black child “monkey-face.” (p. 28)
The biggest upset for adoptees and adoptive parents, when reading Bertha Holt’s book Bring My Sons from Afar published by Holt International Children’s Services, was to learn that the Holt’s had called the children “orphans” even though the Holts had collected the children from mothers and they continue to do so today. According to Bertha memoir, in 1954 Harry Holt (with the help of a Korean liaison or a team of followers) actually “hunted” for Amerasian children and “talked to mothers,” sometimes showing photos of children in the United States, while passing out religious pamphlets. (p. 13) Harry wrote that one mother was almost hysterical when taking her child off her back. (p. 16) She misunderstood Harry’s intention, believing that she would be able to stay in touch with her child. The mother didn’t realize that adoption was, as Harry Holt told Bertha, according to her book, “a clean break and forever.” (p. 13)
1956 “Having Trouble Finding Little Ones”
Harry mentions how a “sobbing” mother unable to speak, was “afraid” to give him her baby and some children were “kicking and screaming.” He attempted to comfort the mothers by preaching to them his Christian beliefs, leading many to believe that they would be rewarded by God for giving away their children. After Holt took the children, he sent them to his compound, labeling and showing them as “orphans” in the West so he could send them overseas via the Orphan Bill, a process that he and his cohorts introduced to Congress. The Orphan Bill gave the impression that the children were parentless. This was a lie. Early on, Harry had set up a non-profit bank account and called it “Orphan Foundation Fund” (p. 18) so he could take tax-deductible donations from fellow Americans to help fund the Holt’s desires. Gifts to this account helped to enlarge what would become their empire.
The American Social Agency “denounced” proxy adoptions “furiously” and the Holts perceived opposition or criticisms as “devilish schemes,” accusing the American agency of printing “propaganda” against overseas adoption. (p. 16) Bertha even complained in her memoir that due to the long governmental process, some Korean mothers took their children back home even though the Holts had already assigned these children to American couples. She believed legislatures were “shameful” for making adoptions so difficult. In Seed from the East, the Holts earnestly prayed for their way, even saying “the devil and all his angels can’t keep them [wanting adopters and Korean-born children] apart.” The Holts depended on proxy adoptions to continue their business.
By the summer of 1956, Harry reported that he was “having trouble finding the little ones”. (p. 27) At this time the Holts had already given 750 wanting Christian couples approval for a child. By fall, the Holts were “deluged” with additional inquiries. (p. 29) In October, Harry made a radical decision to go ahead and assign full Korean children to Caucasian families (instead of only mixed race children) “since the numbers of families wanting children increased far beyond the number of Amerasian children available.” (p. 33) Before Christmas of that same year, they received 300 letters including 96 more inquiries for children. (p. 35)
1957-1958: “Swamped” with Requests for Children
The Holts feared that the U.S. Welfare Agency would make “serious trouble,” (p. 37) which could possibly slow down or halt their business activities. They mailed 6000 cards, advising their followers to write their Senators regarding the “Orphan” Bill. (p. 37) The Holts wholeheartedly believed that they were working God’s will rather than selfishly fulfilling their own stubborn wants. Harry used Samuel 2:8 to affirm his activities:“Surely He raiseth the poor out of the dust and lifteth up the beggar from the dung hill, to set him among princes and to make them inherit the thrown of glory.” (p. 36) He believed that adopted children were “the first fruits of this Christian labor of love.” (p. 39) In contrast, however, the well-being of the Korean families were not considered. The Holts focused solely on giving the children to wanting and waiting couples.
Harry also traveled to Mexico to see if there were “orphans” available (p. 39) but the Mexican authorities were “insulted” when he asked if he could send the children to North Americans (p. 40). Eventually he found a governor who was favorable to the idea. He also traveled to Germany and Austria but was unsuccessful there (p. 40). Upon returning from a worldwide search, he decided to build a compound in Mexico within that year. (p. 41)
During the first few years, the Holts continuously introduced extensions to the Refugee Act and the Orphan Bill. Once during this time, Harry blew up at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul for their delays in issuing proxy adoption visas. (pp. 51-52) Seventy waiting Christian couples had already paid their fees. The Holts mailed 92 letters from people who had already adopted. Only 22 visas were issued on October 22 but on Oct. 31, the Holt team still managed to take 80 Korean children. (pp. 51-52)
The Holt’s “Glad” file (consisting of records showing processed adoptions) expanded to five filing drawers in their home office. (p. 62) When an American newspaper included a photo of an adopted and barefoot Korean boy eating from a paper plate and sitting on the ground of his American home, Harry told Bertha “never let anyone in Korea see the picture.” (p. 72) Ultimately he feared the Koreans would stop allowing the children overseas because the child was pictured barefoot. (In today’s advertising campaign geared to potential parents and financial donors, the children are shown smiling with their new parents. It is also interesting to note that in many cases the wanting couples are led to believe the child belongs to them even prior to obtaining the child. This is the agency’s deceptive way to get the couple emotionally attached prior to receiving the child so that the couple will pay “whatever it takes” to follow through with the adoption. Big bright and beautiful photos of children are shown in Holts marketing campaign, but rarely happy children with their Asian families. Some might consider this type of advertising as propaganda)
The Holt team prepared and mailed 3500 New Year greetings, finding this an effective way to gain a solid following and gain requests for more children. (p. 78) By the end of 1958, the Holts had joyfully sent 1069 Korean children to foreign Christian couples. (pp. 79-80)
1959 Counseling More Mothers!
By winter of 1959, the Holt compound grew to 7000 square feet, including multiple buildings. 50 Koreans had been trained to help and Bertha boasted many American adopters asked for a second child after receiving the first one. The Holts were “flooded” with phone calls and nothing seemed to discourage Bertha–not even an article reporting “bad” adoption cases such as death. (pp. 44, 45, 66, 68) Instead she praised that controversy brought “an avalanche of inquiries” from interested people. (p. 81)
That same winter, the Holts biological daughter wrote that their Korean liaison did a “good job” talking to mothers when they went to the country in search for children. (p. 82) The Holts would introduce themselves, give a reason for the visit, hand out a religious brochure and preach such stories as “Buddha’s bones are still in his grave, but Jesus’ grave is empty.” (p. 87) Sometimes, the team might show photos of smiling Korean children with Caucasian families, and then ask the Korean mother if she had ever thought of letting her child go to America. Molly wrote that the mothers had always admitted to thinking about it. That particular May, Bertha reported that 20 “quietly sobbing” mothers watched their children leave for the states by airplane. (p. 88) Bertha documented how another Korean mother remained calm while signing the paperwork, but “sobbed convulsively” as the Holts pulled away and her child waved good-bye. (p. 88)
Bertha’s accounts at the Holt compound causes us to become disturbed over the amount of children who died in their care. Were the children really orphans? We wonder why the Holts did not suggest for the Korean parents to help wean and tend to their children in their commune. For example, it is mentioned by 1959 that 85 children died. Was this death rate higher than normal? Could the deaths have been prevented if the Korean parents were allowed inside the commune and involved with their children’s care.
At times, it is mentioned that the Holts admitted children to the compound even without acquiring written permission from parents. For instance, they took a child from a grandmother and from the orphanage superintendent based on his fear that the child’s mother would “sell her as a slave” because the child’s father was an African-American. No proof of this fear was ever given and the child was taken into the compound. (p. 89)
The Holts use their evangelical friends to peruse and pursue more children, scouring the country regularly to promote their program in neighboring orphanages and by talking with fellow administrators. Their efforts expanded to any area they could reach. Harry even traveled to Baja California where he hoped to find children who “might be made adoptable” after a flood had hit the town. (p. 100) Instead of looking for extended family members who could provide care, the Holts hurried to devastated or rural areas with plans to immediately send children to waiting couples who had paid the fees.
The Holts wanted to make a clear distinction between them and other agencies. They would maintain that they did not “sell” children but rather provided a “service” of obtaining children for wanting couples. The November Newsletter of 1959 became the Holts first official regular mailer, in which children are continuously called “orphans.” (Today, they are called children “served”) The current news of the day was that the Mexican Government did not allow resident missionaries. The Holts had found a way into the country by working with the “orphans” thereby “preaching” with their actions. At this time the Holts planned to provide care to pregnant women via what they called “unwed” mothers with “illegitimate” children. Their hope was to provide services “through this difficult time” of pregnancy.
In December of 1959, Harry wrote home concerning his idea of sending “our orphans” to Paraguay, a country he believed to be “begging for immigrants” with plans to start a “colony with girls” due to having a friend who owned “several thousand acres.” (p. 101)
1960-1964 “House Slaves”
The Holts found that using fellow Christians to further their program was an effective way to distribute awareness of their work, gain money and expand their practices. January of 1960, the Holts received $7000 in donations from Newsletter recipients and others. (p. 108) In the Fall Newsletter, Bertha wrote her interpretation of Korean culture, spreading false information, generalities, and stereotypes to their readership. One such sweeping statement told by Bertha was that since “orphan girls” were without fathers “no one will want to marry her.” (p. 118) This motivated Mr. Holt to start a “teenage program” for older females where the girls would “work eight hours, cooking, cleaning, serving, helping in the office, or with babies and children, or at various other tasks.” (p. 118) She wrote, “They attend an adult school in the afternoon until 9:00 P.M.” This program, in the eyes of Holts, would prevent the girls from becoming “house slaves.” (p. 118)
That year ended with the Holts sending out 4000 New Year’s Greetings with 2580 Newsletter to their American supporters. (p. 124) In the West, the Holts were hailed as modern-day saints. A made for television movie, several newspaper and magazine articles helped to increase the family’s wealth and boost their reputation.
Summer of 1961, Bertha and children moved to the South Korea to join Harry. (p. 133) Bertha experienced firsthand life at the commune. One day that summer, she mentioned that Harry had “wasted” an entire day waiting for a toddler “whose mother didn’t bring her.” (p. 139) A few days later Bertha reported that the Korean teenagers were becoming more disrespectful, refusing to carry out “orders” and even formed a “self-government,” leading their own. (p. 139) By fall, Bertha complained in her diary that they had even more teenagers who refused to work. She wrote “Now we had 100 teenage girls who were a big headache.” (p. 143)
January of 1963, the Holts held “evangelistic meetings” four nights a week at their compound. One sermon asked whether the listener would go to heaven or hell. (pp. 179-180) Scare tactics? The isolated Korean children were solely under the influence of the Holts and their evangelists. The Holts got licensed to operate an agency in Oregon. By this time they had transported 2734 Korean children overseas. (p. 180) Summer of 1963, the Holts sent out 4000 additional Newsletters to their American supporters. (p. 180)
In 1964, ten years after the Holts first became motivated to visit Korea and take eight Amerasian children for their family and thousands of full-blooded Korean children for fellow Christians, the Holts had finally run out of wanting Christian families. (p. 199) Instead of stopping their activities (that began with the intent to give children to Christians only), they “reluctantly” changed their policy to allow NonChristians to adopt. Bertha ended her book, writing that this change was of great controversy back then and still today. (p. 199) She prayed “even more earnestly that every adopted child would become a born-again Christian.” Harry Holt died April of 1964.
For the Love of Children:
Bertha Holt tirelessly continued adoption work, accumulating at least forty awards in her lifetime. She is so revered and renowned in the West that there is even an elementary school named after her. This tenacious woman passed away August of 2000. Harry and Bertha Holt did not only find new families for children but they changed the laws all over the world to allow children to be dislocated from parents easily and economically. A total of 157,145 South Korean children have been removed from his or her family between 1958 and 2005. For every child, there are several family members who are impinged upon for the rest of their lives. No adoptee that I know of, have been given their parents’ death certificates, proving our status as orphans as claimed by the agencies.
The Holts have penetrated their practices into countries all over the world. Holt International’s 2005 Annual Report shows that with the help of their partners, they have “served” 47,942 children just for that year. That same year, it’s interesting to note, Holt International received almost $20 million dollars in revenues and other support. Adoption agencies have already established businesses in one hundred countries. Rather than advocating family counseling, support and resources (which would have made less profit–although they now show an attempt due to being scrutinized), the agencies get paid very well when they send the child overseas. Their non-profit status helps to deceive the public into believing they are providing a service for everyone involved. While it was intended for the adopted children to live utopian lives, how are the parents left behind still coping?
How are the Mothers Today?
The Holt agency has a published book called To my Beloved Baby: Writings of Birth Mothers, which cannot be found in the U.S. Unlike the stereotypical birth mother, these women were not teens, like the public has been led to believe. These mothers believed they had no right to offer their own “inferior” love to their babies. In fact, these modest women assumed that they would receive God’s blessing for releasing their children to the agency as if it was GOD who had arranged for their babies to be placed with a more “admirable” family. Sadly, these mothers assumed their children would come back for them. One mother shared how the doctor, nurse, and birth father tried to reassure her decision to relinquish her rights by reminding her she needed to be “cheery” for when her child returned as an adult. (Mothers, 2005) A false promise? Another 32-year-old mother told of how she cried for days after leaving her baby with Holt. (Mothers, 2005) A 37-year-old mother confided that the pastor had named her son out of the hope that the baby would be a follower of Jesus. (Mothers, 2005) Another mother cried, “Why did you take after your unworthy mother?” (Mothers, 2005) Counseling sessions led her to believe her baby might have an easier life by being adopted abroad, so she chose that route. (Mothers, 2005) These mothers hoped they were doing the “right” thing in conjunction with the agency’s religious beliefs.
Did the Korean parents know that they were relinquishing all rights from ever having future contact or a reunion? Did the agency educate them over the long-term ramifications and the impact resulting from sending their child overseas? Were these vulnerable mothers given a pressure-free choice?
Using a belief that God had ordained the Holts (and still does) to move children to “new” and “improved” families, the Holts have radically changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of families and children worldwide and continue to do so. This article is dedicated to all adoptees who have committed suicide, including one of Holt’s adopted sons, Joe (1984), and another Korean-born adoptee (Eric Lew Jones) sent to the infamous Christian cult leader Jim Jones (best known for inducing his 900 followers to drink cyanide-laced Flavor Aid, which led to their death). May these two young men and all families separated by adoption be nurtured by the Great Mother of the Universe.
Bertha Holt, Bring My Sons From Afar, Holt Children’s Services,
Eugene Oregon, 1986
Writings of Birth Mothers, To My Beloved Baby, Holt Children’s Services, Seoul South Korea, 2005
Mark Baker, The Register Guard, Children Changing Lives,” OregonLife, 2006
http://www.nndb.com/people/026/000031930/Harry and Bertha Holt, International Adoption, Holt International Children’s services