What Would Harry Holt Do?

Here is the awesome spoken word, by permission of the author, poet Christy Namee Ericksen.

Please support the work of Christy and other poets of color by purchasing their collective CD, of which this poem is part of.  You can purchase it here.

(You can listen to her spoken word by following the link below which takes you to another page)

What would Harry Holt do?

(or, you can try wordpress’s audio player below so you can read along, but it takes a year to load)

And here’s my transcription:

What Would Harry Holt Do?

Everyone knows what Harry Holt would do:

as a businessman

who wanted to be a hero,

as a father

who wanted more;

as a Christian

with connections.


Well I want to know:

What would Harry Holt do

if he knew about all the good Korean adoptee Christians

that are hooking up all over this town?


What would Harry Holt do

if Buddhist black people started to adopt in thousands?

Or if suburban white babies were being left at Lunds & Byerlies?


What would Harry Holt do

if all the adoptees knew a song,

and the song was, “How much is that baby in the window?”

and at night we could look through our story on the bookshelf —

see the letters, see the bills; see how much it cost our parents

to buy us.


What would Harry Holt do?


What would Harry Holt do

if Korea had to shut down general operations in the summer,

just to handle the influx of adoptees —

the migration of Koreans from all these continents —

back to the land they were taken from:

looking for their roots, looking for their mothers; looking for their answers?


What would Harry Holt do

if our birth-mothers wanted to write us a letter,

but they didn’t know what Korean name the orphanage gave us,

or they didn’t know how to spell the American name they heard about,

or they didn’t know how to write Roman letters?

How would they start?

How would he start to tell them?


What would Harry Holt do

if all the Korean mothers started to cry one night,

beginning at sunset and ending at sunrise,

in the corner of each of their homes,

in the quiet of each of their secrets,

under the floors of the floors of the floors of their stories?

And their tears were so many

that they began to flow into the streets

of Seoul, of Busan, of Daegu.

And the country woke up to a new river

that everyone saw,

but no one talked about;

that sparkled like wishing stars

but filled everyone with sadness.

What would Harry Holt do?


What would Harry Holt do

if a Korean mother

and a Korean daughter

could only understand each other

if  a white woman missionary from Utah translated?


What would Harry Holt do

when the only thing adoptees can really call their own from Korea

is their Korean name,

tattoo’d on their bodies somewhere,

and they can’t even read it?


What would Harry Holt do

if Korea made a new reality t.v. show,

still about Korean adoptee reunions,

but this time all the adoptees

are reunited — with him?


What would Harry Holt do

with the stress of 200,000 questions?


What would Harry Holt do

with the results of a customer service survey?


What would Harry Holt do

if we started to write our own research?


What would Harry Holt do

with all the prayers

young adoptees whisper

to Harry Holt’s God?

With all the wishes burnt on birthday candles,

all the letters sent to Santa

asking, requesting, begging for

whiter skin or bigger eyes or less flat face or

to be Megan Nelson or Camile Jarvis or

Heidi Farrington, who’s a little chubby

but everyone still likes her.

That’d be all right.


What would Harry Holt do

about love?

When money turns to shame

and an Iowa man beats his four Korean adopted children to death

with a baseball bat.


What would Harry Holt do

about love?

When things change

and a child loses their shine,

when a Dutch couple visits Korea,

picks up a daughter,

and returns her to the orphanage seven years later.


What would Harry Holt do

about love?

When adoptees are saving their allowance

for surgery to cut a fold in their eyelids,

when they’re only dating color-blind white men

who have a thing for Asians;

when they’re holding their own



in their arms,

as she breaks?


What would Harry Holt do

about love?

When their families

don’t want to hear about it anymore?

Don’t want to hear about it anymore.

You were never our Korean child,

you were just our child.


What would Harry Holt do then?


And what would Harry Holt do now?


To save us?


15 thoughts on “What Would Harry Holt Do?

  1. What would Harry Holt do if all the Korean mothers started to cry one night,

    We don’t know what Harry Holt would do, but we know what he did when he saw Korean mothers cyring: he prayed, he told them God luvs them, and he continued to search for more babies, and he prayed/worked for a new bill.

    Below are quotes from Bring My Sons From Afar, by Bertha Holt.

    Later Harry wrote about the hearbreak of the mothers, bringing their babies and leaving them for adoption. He wrote, “One poor girl almost had hysterics in the office. She thought she could keep track of her baby after he had gone to America. I had to tell her it is a clean break forever. Poor girl, her baby wasn’t weaned yet and she cried and cried. Pray for these dear mothers who choose to give up their babies.” (page 13)

    Set up a separate bank account at once for Holt Adoption Program. Sell $10 000 worth stocks to start it. I will hire a Korean lady to travel to the orphanages and to talk to the mothers.(page 18)

    We have trouble finding the little ones, other agencies are grabbing them, and some aren’t released by their mothers. (p. 27)

    And we know that if Harry Holt was alive today, he would go to the third countries to get more babies to sell.

    Harry wanted to plant his crops, but it rained continously so he decided to go to Mexico to see if children there needed parents. (page 39)

    Harry visited an orphanage of 300 children in Mexico.[…] The authorities were insulted when he asked if they could be adopted by North Americans. (page 39-40)

  2. “What would Harry Holt do

    if a Korean mother

    and a Korean daughter

    could only understand each other

    if a white woman missionary from Utah translated?”

    Harry Holt would probably say “It was in the best interests of the child at the time.”

  3. My questions

    What would Harry Holt do if Jesus tells him to not separate children from their mothers?
    Would he ignore the voice of his Lord?

    What would Harry Holt do if he falls on the verse which say “what God has joined together, let no man separate”?
    Would he stubbornly stick to the verse “Bring my sons from Afar”?

  4. There was a time when I searched for other truths in this tragedy. But I never found them. Because they don’t exist.

    As for someone complicit such as myself, the only peace can come from accepting that I cannot be a hero.

    But that actually gives me hope, because if I can see this as clearly as I do, perhaps others will too.

  5. Please everyone, notice I added a link to where you can purchase the CD which has this piece on it. (I do believe starving poets need to once in awhile actually get paid for their poetry and not washing dishes)

    I thought this poem was so great when I first heard it, because many times I have written about/to Holt asking him, “What would Jesus do?” but I never thought to ask what Holt would do.

    I imagine if we met, he would tell me to come sit on his lap or something. Eeuww!

    Come to pappa and tell us all your problems -and- let us kneel and pray and ask the lord for forgiveness.

    Only he would be standing and making me kneel.

  6. This is what I have to say about your WHINING:

    Note from blog author: link has been removed.

    DGB needs attention and will stir the pot to get it. DGB likes to bait people and manipulate situations to feel power. DGB likes to apply his war time savior story to non war-time solutions and canonizes Holt. DGB also feels great guilt for the half-breeds he fears he has sired. DGB is confused and thinks adoption is the antidote to abortion and feels eradicating abortion will somehow absolve him of sins he has committed which probably resulted in abortion or adoptees. DGB thinks he can betray confidences and harass people without consequences. DGB thinks I should man up and take a bullet.

    Screw that.

    We don’t just whine.

    We fight.

  7. but Holt love is blind.

    …because some people’s whole lives are validated or invalidated depending upon it…

  8. Believe me adoption is NOT an antidote to abortion.
    And sometime, it can be an incentive to abortion in the western countries.

    During the short time I’ve been in an infertility treatment forum, a woman got pregnant at her 4th IVF. (In France, they are allowed to 4 free IVF treatments). Unfortunately for her, the test revealed Down Syndrome. So she decided to abort (abortion is free in France). And she became a PAP to get a healthy baby.

    Do you think she’s the only one to abort and adopt after a prenatal test for Down Syndrome reveals positive?

    I was completly shocked because I would accept having a Down Syndrome kid, but it seems for others normal to abort and adopt!

  9. Doesn’t bother me that someone would make that choice. I know a few children with that syndrome and they are doing very well, but it is a very rough road.

    It also doesn’t bother me that parents would think to try adoption. The idea of it is fine if one wants to actually be a good parent. Do I question the motives of someone like Holt? Oh yeah. Definitely.

    But I think the trouble is that adoption doesn’t work as well as parents want it to. I remain unsure if this can be improved on by understanding it better. I will be finding out, though.

  10. Dgb??? This the kind of Kad to Kad support from this old dude? Quite disappointing from an “elder” to say the least.

    When I look at that pic of holt it reminds me how much he looks like all them pedophile priests and serial killer mugshots! I think it’s safe to say he’s been turned away at the pearly gates

  11. harry holt was a pedophile and Koreans selling their infants under the lies of adoption just to use it as chain immigration to u,s ,
    HOLT INTERNATIONAL makes millions of dollars and spreading the lies of their Christian missionaries to collect that.

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