65th Anniversary of foundation, Holt Children’s Services, Inc.
Holt Children’s Services practices its love for humanity with child-focused social work services. In 1955, right after Korean War ended, Holt Children’s Services (HCS) had started its adoption-social work services to find new families for children who had lost their parents during the war. The founder, Mr. Harry Holt and Mrs. Bertha Holt devoted their lives to taking care of Korean orphans. After Korean war ended, they adopted eight orphans who had suffered from the war with poverty. They had willingly donated their property and cultivated bare lands to make safe places for orphans. Throughout their whole life, they dedicated themselves to take care of the children who lost their families. Mr. Harry Holt was buried in Holt Ilsan Town, where he had taken care of the children until his last moment.
Scars the war has left
The Korean War, started in 1950, left countless scars of tragedy. Countless people were dead and injured, and children who lost their homes wandered about the streets. The Children who lost their parents increased every year, the number is reached 4,453 in 1961, and so did the baby care centers and child nurturing centers are increasing to accommodate orphans. Most of children needed to be cared for in facilities, because they were orphans, disabled, or born in poverty home. The Korean government lost the administrative function due to the aftermath of the war. They could not even accurately grasp the situation of children who need emergent reliefs. Therefore, a lot of facilities which protected the children, they had no choice but entirely rely on relief supplies supported by social・religious organizations and foreign relief agencies. Also, the rapid increasing of mixed-raced children of UN Army had emerged as a new social problem after the war. Therefore, that children faced situations that were more alienated and tough rather than protected.
Adopting eight war orphans
In 1954, Bob Pierce, the President of World Vision filmed a video of Korean children who suffered from the war. He put on theaters across the U.S. With the fund raised, he helped orphans in Korea. The Harry Holt family watched the film in which Korean children after Korean war were looking for food in trash cans. Felt deep pity about the children, the Holt family sent the donation fund to Korean children. Moreover, they had decided to adopt eight Korean mixed-raced orphans. They were already a 50- and 51-year-old couple with six biological children but they believed that children had to need a family for their bright future.
However, Mr. and Mrs. Holt had faced several barriers. People were restricted to visit Korea at that time except soldiers, the United Nations gave special permission for Mr. and Mrs. Holt to admit to Korea. Also the Refugee Relief Act enacted in 1953 USA restricted the number of adopting children as two per family. The only way to adopt eight children in Korea was to obtain the President’s signature and pass of the law, “A Bill for Relief of Certain War Orphans”
Harry Holt sent a letter to Senator Richard Neuberger of Oregon of his adoption plan. He submitted a petition to allow eight mixed-raced children to be adopted.
In May 1955, Mr. Holt finally could arrive in Korea and travel around the country to meet eight children he would adopt one after another. After he saw the difficult situation of children in Korea with his own eyes, he felt deeper sadness and pity. He decided to devote himself to help not only eight children he adopted, but also many other children who were not ‘chosen’.
A Journey of being a dream of others
When Harry Holt was visiting an orphanage in Korea, a " A Bill for Relief of Certain War Orphans-as known as Holt Bill" was being presented to the US Senate led by Senator Neuberger. In his speech at the Senate, Richard Neuberger pitied to permit Mr. and Mrs. Holt to bring eight children immediately. He made a speech about "The Refugee Relief Act restricts the issuance of visas in the case of bringing more than two adopted orphans. And it would take about three years to bring those children whose country is classified as a fourth-ranked immigrant county. His speech sparked that the special legislation passed the Senate unanimously. President Eisenhower signed the bill, so all the legal issues related to adoption had been solved.
On October 12, 1955, Harry Holt came back to USA after his first visit of Korea, which was a turning point in his life. He was with 12 children, including eight children he adopted and four whom he arranged adoptions to other families. This special day is marked as the beginning of the history of the Holt Children’s Services Inc. and also a further milestone of the child welfare services in Korea. The story of the Holt family’s adoption of Korean War orphans had spread throughout the USA and adoption inquiries had flooded from all over the country. They realized the best way to continue helping children suffering in Korea was to find a new family. In 1956, Holt family finally founded the agency that would become Holt Children’s Services. Eight years later, in 1964, Harry Holt received divine call from Heaven. His funeral was held in ‘Ilsanwon’ (as known as Holt Ilsan Town) in Korea, not his hometown in the United States. Having devoted his life to find a family who take care of children with love for children who lost their parents and lived in wounds and pain, he fell asleep forever nearby the children he loved so much. His dream has become the dream of others pursuing love, and has been passed on until now.
"Children are the most beautiful when they are being loved."
Mrs. Bertha Holt filled the empty spaces of children with her ‘grandmother's love’. After her husband Harry Holt's passing in 1964, she lived at Holt Children Services as the mother of 14 children - 6 biological children and 8 adoptees. As a generous grandmother of many children who need protection, she ran the welfare services with love and passion. She had stayed in Ilsanwon (as known as Holt Ilsan Town) since 1978 and lived and served for children with intellectual disabilities. Mrs. Bertha Holt, who has practiced her love for children around the world, passed away at the age of ninety-six in 2000.
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