South Korea's efforts on behalf of orphaned, abandoned and impoverished children are well recognized in the international aid community. Children of unwed mothers and those of mixed race, conceived from relationships with American or British soldiers during the Korean War, were shunned; many were abandoned and ended up in orphanage care. After the war, Holt Children’s Services (HCS) began finding homes for these children.
WHFC established its partnership with HCS in 1979, and we continue to have a wonderful relationship with HCS today.
In 1986, South Korea had 18,700 orphaned and abandoned children; today, estimates place that number around 10,000. Medical care for orphans is among the best in the world, and children’s services are expanding. Despite these successes, many challenges remain. Less than 20 percent of orphaned and abandoned children ever find permanent homes in Korea or overseas.
In fact, although more Korean families are adopting, family lineage and direct blood lines remain deeply held cultural values in Korean society. In addition, unwed mothers continue to face discrimination, and many require counseling and medical services as they make the difficult decision about whether to relinquish their child for adoption. Children with special needs are the least likely to find a family, and orphanages are in desperate need of aid to provide life-long care for these children.
Funding Child and Family Welfare Programs
Holt Ilsan Center
Located in Goyang, Gyeonggi-do Province, Ilsan is a world-renowned residential facility specializing in caring for homeless children and those with special needs. The center currently serves the needs of about 300 residents of all ages, most of whom are disabled. In addition to providing life-long rehabilitation services and medical care, the complex includes apartment-style group homes, therapy services and vocational training. A K-12 school is also open to those living outside the center. Many graduates hold jobs at Ilsan or find employment in nearby factories or on farms. They often marry and have families of their own. Ilsan depends upon our continued financial support to carry out its mission.
Holt Unmarried Mother Homes
To prevent child abandonment, Holt Korea began counseling services for birth parents and families. Through guidance and support, Holt empowers these individuals to decide whether to parent or relinquish their children. Many who decide to parent stay for a year at one of seven homes across the country, receiving food, community housing and training. If a mother decides not to parent, Holt provides additional counseling and post-natal care for her and places the child for adoption by a Korean family.
Foster Family Training and Support
Foster families provide attentive, nurturing care to children awaiting permanent placement, enhancing their opportunity for growth and development over that typically seen with children in institutional settings. Funding covers family recruitment, screening, education, monitoring and regular reporting on the child’s growth and development. In addition, funds cover diapers, formula, milk, clothing, toys, blankets and other items related to caring for the child. Approximately 600 children are in foster care at any time.
Medical Care for Abandoned Babies
We support Holt’s Well- and Sick-Baby Clinics. Funding covers administration of the clinics, education and supervision of medical staff, regular developmental check-ups, medical testing, treatment and supplies.
We can continue to transform lives for Korean children with your support. Please visit our online donation page or contact us at 781-894-5330 for more information.