So I asked my adult Korean teacher student what Holt said in the documentary, and he said Mrs. Seol blamed their poor record of helping adoptees on the Korean government, that they needed financial help and the Korean government didn’t give it to them. Not true, said my student, they give some money towards Post Adoption Services, just not a lot.
Well, I don’t think the government should give Holt ANY money, as it won’t be accounted for. It only takes a couple seconds to photocopy their skinny records. It does, however, take half a day to defend your lame excuses for NOT being helpful to t.v. stations once you’ve made a big mess and are trying to get out of it.
I don’t have the raw footage, but I know it exists and so I can paraphrase what transpired in my meeting with Holt Korea and know that none of it is slander or libel. It’s recorded on film, these are my impressions of what was said, and the footage on file will corroborate it.
- At the beginning of our meeting, prior to my even asking these questions, Mrs. Seol began by saying all these problems were not Holt Korea’s fault because I had never spoken with Holt Korea directly. I told her Holt International told me they would talk with Holt Korea, and that it was they who offered to be my liason.
- When asked why Holt Korea said there was “nothing important” as an excuse not to send me my documents, Mrs. Seol defended Holt for keeping records when nobody else bothered. (I will concede this point) She also said that nobody ever imagined adoptees would return wanting to find out about themselves, so nobody bothered to take a lot of information. (again, this may be true, but that does not exonerate them from not providing the information they have to the adoptees upon request) I countered that what little information was there was MINE and ABOUT ME and shouldn’t be controlled by some company.
- When asked why there weren’t copies of these documents with my Holt International child records, Mrs. Seol said that documents include contracts between relinquishing parents and therefore they are confidential. I told her of course, and they still would be at Holt International, but it is a false claim if Holt International says they have all of our documents or that Holt Korea has, “nothing important.” There is no good reason a copy can not exist at Holt International, especially since they also have total control over what we adoptees can and can’t see.
- When asked why confidentiality about relinquishing parents made any difference in the case of an abandoned child, there was no answer.
- When asked why they couldn’t photocopy the contractural documents and white out any identifying information, there was no answer.
- When asked for more information about girl #4709, they said they could not do that because there was no way she could be my sister because of our age difference. I pointed out that they had my age wrong, that our names were made up, and that it was highly unusual for two girls to be on one document from the same place on the same day. Mrs. Seol claimed this was not unusual and flipped through the book for that year and showed us a couple documents that had lists of many orphans on them, with no specific information. However, these documents were clearly designed to list multiple children. Mine was very specific and asked specific information and was designed for one person. I challenged her to show me another document of the same format as mine from Wonju that listed multiple children. We flipped through the entire book, isolating each of the documents from Wonju that were of the same format, and NOT ONE of them had two children on the same document.
- When asked where Holt Korea ended and Holt International began, and why there had to be two separate companys, she said something like it became too difficult for Holt to coordinate what was going on in Korea. (which causes me to question their management skills, and why make it separate corporations unless there are financial reasons? To me, this was the end of transparency – yet another reason)
- When asked why their policy was different from Holt International’s, Mrs. Seol told me it “wasn’t my place” to ask about their operations. Mrs. Seol is younger than I am, so Confuscian respect standards have nothing to do with this, and asking about their operations is very much my place, since I am a pawn of their operations.
- When asked why they didn’t just give me my documents freely, Mrs. Seol said that Holt Korea is happy to give out documents when they are asked for, and that it was my fault because I didn’t ask her for that specific document by name. I told her I didn’t know there were more documents to begin with and how could I possibly ask for a document I didn’t know existed and, even more impossibly, ask for it by name. (I still don’t know the proper name of that document)
- When asked why I never got a translation of my documents as requested, Mrs. Seol produced a translation sent to Holt International, which I had never received. She said it should be up to me to get a translation where I lived, and that I didn’t ask for it when I asked for my documents.
- When asked why Mrs. Seol could not provide a list of orphanges near Wonju, Mrs. Seol said nobody had asked her for that. I told her I had emails from Holt International and INKAS saying they had asked her for that, and they told me she had said it was, “not possible.” She maintained that she never heard this request and that it was my fault because I didn’t contact her directly. (OK. Somebody here is lying, is it Holt International, INKAS, or Holt Korea?)
- “Can you imagine how it feels?” I asked her, going through this process? I told her that I lived in America, that I didn’t even KNOW there were multiple Holts at the time, that Holt International said they would contact Holt Korea, which is appropriate since I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SPEAK KOREAN, and that of course I needed a translation of any document from Korea, since I DON’T KNOW HOW TO READ KOREAN EITHER. Why does this have to be so hard?
Mrs. Seol was silent after this. Which was a pleasant change, because she didn’t allow me to get a word in edge-wise, and even though I repeatedly asked her to give me equal time or to break up her talking so I could get a proper translation, she barreled on. So for every five minutes of her talking, I would get a two sentence synopsis, and it was nearly impossible to get my questions inserted. Nearly every question I asked was met with a nasty attitude and on several occasions, eye rolls. She repeatedly said she didn’t have time for all this, and that if I didn’t have any questions about personal history, then she would have to leave. And I hear she even said she didn’t have time for abuse from an adoptee.
Abuse from an adoptee.
In my later conversation with Steve Kalb, when I asked him why Holt couldn’t get me a list of orphanages near Wonju, he said that Holt doesn’t have a comprehensive list of orphanages. I didn’t ask for a comprehensive list. I only asked for help with the names of orphanages near where I was abandoned, so I could begin a search in person. I told him that by searching on the internet I had found a couple myself, but why is it that Holt Korea says it’s “not possible”? I asked him, “Doesn’t Holt know where it gets its human bodies from? How is it Holt doesn’t know which orphanges they work with? Or isn’t Holt in the orphan business?” Silence on the other end.
These are the kinds of questions I and anybody in my situation would ask. And these are the kind of lame answers we get in response. Again, the lack of responsibility on Holt’s part was criminal. The history of abandonment and relinquishment in Korea was soul crushing. The lack of information was understandable. But to continue in this practice and to make it so difficult for adoptees in search to get information about themselves is NOT ACCEPTABLE. The past was the past, but the creation of orphans and sending them out of the country, as well as this continuing injustice and maltreatment of adoptees HAS TO END NOW