Historic Holt Photos Displayed in Capitol

Holt international Children’s Services sponsored a historical photo exhibit "Children of Korea – A Retrospective" last week at the Senate Russell Caucus Room in Washington D.C. Julie Crockett of CFM’s federal affairs team organized the exhibit in the nation’s capital. 

Forty photos were selected from the personal collection of Bertha Holt and the archives of Holt International. Most of the photos never have been seen publicly before this exhibit and provide a poignant look into the faces and experiences of children in Korea immediately following the Korean War. Approximately 250 attended the photo exhibit including a number of first-generation children adopted from Korea, now grown.

Honorary hosts for the exhibit included Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, along with honorary co-hosts Senator Mary Landrieu and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Ho-Young Ahn attended the photo exhibit as honorary guest, and Holt Korea President, Kim, Dae Yul traveled from Seoul to view the photos.

"Holt International has served children through our programs in more than 20 countries in the past six decades," says Phillip Littleton, Holt President and CEO. "But the organization began in Korea and that will always be an important part of our history.” 

Susan Soonkeum Cox, Holt vice president of policy & external affairs, herself adopted from Korea in 1956, says, "I will never forget the first time I saw the scrapbooks of these photos. I looked at them for hours, hoping I would see someone or something familiar. It was the closest thing I had to recorded images of life where I came from, a life I didn't remember but was profoundly connected to." That connection, Holt believes, is critical for many adoptees and is the genesis of this photo exhibit.

The modern era of intercountry adoption was pioneered in 1956 when Holt founders, Harry and Bertha Holt of Creswell, Oregon, adopted eight orphaned children from Korea. It established intercountry adoption as an opportunity for orphaned children to have a family — even if it was a family of a different race, culture and nationality. Holt International, which is based in Eugene, remains one of the largest child welfare organizations in the United States.

“The exhibit was a great success, especially for the many Korean adoptees who came from all over the country to see the photos,” Crockett said. “It was a pleasure and honor to assist in organizing the exhibit for Holt.”

CFM has been involved with Holt International for 25 years, representing it on adoption and child welfare issues in Oregon and at the federal level and assisting from time to time on strategic communications.