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Im Colloquium - Hero or Villain: The Holts and the Korean Adoption Boom, 1955-60

Im Colloquium - Hero or Villain: The Holts and the Korean Adoption Boom, 1955-60

Image by Holt International

Join us as Dr. Soojin Chung from California Baptist University gives a talk on the Korean adoption boom seen in the 1950s-60s.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

1222 Public Affairs Building

In 1955 the “Holt Bill” of the Congress enabled the Holts to adopt eight orphans from Korea. The Holts, evangelical Christians in Oregon, received tremendous media attention and opened doors for countless American families to seek out Asian children to adopt. Oregon Senator Richard Neuberger declared that these families were modern incarnations of the “Biblical Good Samaritan.” What explains the dramatic shift from the image of Asians as strange, despicable “pig-tailed coolies” to the image of adoptable and lovely children in need of American help?

This talk examines the Holts’ unconventional method of placing adoptees exclusively in Christian homes. It expounds on the significance of their evangelical theology and the reason for the sharp contrast between their philosophy of adoption and the social workers’ policies. Specifically, the talk examines the significance and perils of the “proxy adoption” that the Holts advocated. Contrary to the prevalent understanding that exalts Harry Holt as the sole charismatic individual who popularized transnational adoption, this study argues that prior to his activities, other key individuals were involved in transnational adoption. Moreover, the study refutes the dominant viewpoint of social scientific works that equate his humanitarian activities to militarized American imperialism.

Dr. Soojin Chung is the Director of Intercultural Studies and an Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University.

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