The SBS documentary crew and I paid a visit to Holt Korea last Tuesday. Unbeknownst to us, Holt has a couple of buildings. The first building we went to didn’t house Post Adoption “Services” but did include a HOLT TRAVEL AGENCY.
My goodness, what other business ventures does Holt Korea have? It must also have offices where, apparently, Foster Moms come with the babies prior to dropping them off at the airport, as we met a foster mom with a six or seven month old baby on her way to take a little boy to his flight to America…
The SBS producer wanted to know if I wanted to talk with the foster mom or see the baby, and no: I did not. I won’t tell you what I wanted to do, but it might have involved me getting arrested, so I thought it best to just stand and watch them drive off.
And so, we got back in the van and drove to their other building.
Now, I have no idea what their definition of a healthy family “support” center is. Or even what their definition of “family” is in this case. But it seems kind of ironic to me that it’s on the same sign as Post Adoption “Services.” It’s also kind of sick to me that they have a guest house, because the baby’s new owners don’t live in this country, because they’re foreigners. All three items on that sign seem like one-stop shopping, a multi-plex of services all centered around an anonymous child whose fate is in question. This process of theirs doesn’t stop. It just becomes more sophisticated.
I didn’t take a photo of the big multi-story banner Holt put up on the building behind the sign, but basically it is a photo of a young man in traditional Korean garb sitting on the floor at a table dining in a traditional setting, and it is celebrating Korean culture. Again, disturbingly ironic to me as an adoptee that they sell the adoptive parents on Korean culture, when the babies will soon be stripped of it as soon as they get on the airplane. Inside the Holt offices as well, are little artifacts of Korean culture everywhere. Things that will delight the adoptive parents but be forever lost for the children. Things that will be totally meaningless to the children unless they come back here to live. Even then, they will be academic concepts. A souvenir shop is not necessary I guess, since they’re coming home with the ultimate souvenir.
Even more sick is that Holt is blind to the fact that international adoption hurts those babies/little people. They are so damned convinced by their own arguments that they are saviors doing God’s work, they think they are above reproach. May they all be orphans in their next life, since that’s what it seems it will take for them to see anyone’s perspective other than their own.
When (if) you see Holt defend themselves in the documentary, I think their patriarchal attitude will be evident. They have historically offered, “we have nothing to hide” even prior to anyone accusing them of that. And I don’t believe they DO have anything to hide. But they DO have a culture of paranoia and non-transparency, presenting theories as facts, being arbiters of what is and isn’t important, obfuscation of the facts, protectionist policies, and stone-walling attempts to gather information: so that tells me they have a conscience, they know they have things to answer for, and they are ashamed of themselves.
They are like children caught in a lie. It’s easy to rationalize ones actions. It’s easy to act in the name of God. It’s easy to tell less than the whole truth. (otherwise known as a lie) And once you have lied, you have to support that lie at all costs. Until your life has become so complicated by the lie and you’ve invested so heavily in obscuring the lie that to confess would destroy your life as you know it. And so the lie never existed. But your entire life becomes tainted by the lie that never existed. And it doesn’t matter who you hurt by denying the lie, because it’s better 200,000 children feel a loss of identity and culture than it is to admit you’ve done something bad. Even if it weighs heavy on your heart.
Again, Holt, you say you are Christians. What would Jesus do? What did Mary do? What did the Innkeeper do? Did he try and convince Mary that giving Jesus up would be better for her in the long run? Did he try and convince Mary that giving Jesus up would be better for Jesus? Did he offer to broker a new family for Jesus? No. He offered to let them stay out of the cold for free.
And do you know why my family felt secure leaving my possible sister and me alone in the market? Because the whole country knew that Holt took babies and sent them to what was supposedly a better life in other countries. That’s the only reason. HOLT’s PRESENCE is what made my abandonment an option. And do you know what would have happened if you weren’t there? I might have been malnourished, I might have had a hard life for a very long time, it’s true. But without that option, my parents would have had no choice but to keep me or find someone in Korea who would. Basically, HOLT’s PRESENCE was the catalyst for abandonment.
1. Chemistry. a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.
2. something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.
3. a person or thing that precipitates an event or change: His imprisonment by the government served as the catalyst that helped transform social unrest into revolution.
4. a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.
It’s true I might have become malnourished and lead a hard life. But I would have known my parents, my country, my culture my language, and somebody here would have loved me. You took advantage of a nation during times of hardship. You really should feel a deep deep sense of shame for this.
As catalysts, you’ve managed to live unharmed and even put a spin on the mass scale separation and dislocation of thousands of children into a saint-like activity. But the chickens are coming home to roost. The time for making excuses is over. The apologies are long overdue. The time for restitution is now, and you can start by making it easier for adoptees to find out ALL the information about themselves. And please put an end to giving this gift that keeps on hurting. Please stop exporting babies.
ADDED: The comment thread on this post is worth checking out…