Each year, Parenting Now! awards the Minalee Saks Parenting Now! Champion of Children award. The award is named after our founder and was created in 2002 to take the opportunity to honor some of the special individuals in Oregon who have made a significant difference in the lives of children — from internationally awarded research scientist Dr. Mary Rothbart, who is a pioneer on infant temperament, to Ted and Marie Baker, who are instrumental in helping to build a healthy community for children. Through the Champion of Children Award, Parenting Now! is able to show our appreciation and gratitude.
This year, we are honoring Susan Soonkeum Cox, who has devoted her life to improving the lives of children around the world as well as in Oregon through her work at Holt International. The work of child welfare and adoption is in and of itself the work of championing children — finding loving, caring families for children in need involves thoughtfulness, compassion, expertise and perseverance. International adoptions also require dealing with vulnerable families and systems, cultural competence and compassion and unwavering persistence through governments and bureaucracy. Cox brings unique knowledge about the reality of international adoption as one of the first adoptees from Korea. We asked her a few questions so we could hear more about her work with children and her journey here.
Question: Can you tell us about your background and how you came to be involved with Holt International?
Answer: My association with Holt began in 1956 when I was adopted from Korea. In 1976, the Holt board of directors decided it was time to appoint an adoptee to the board to gain their perspective. I was the first adoptee to serve on the board, and in 1983, I went from board to employee as director of development and have been with Holt ever since.
Question: What do you think are the most pressing issues for children and for international adoptees and their families today?
Answer: The sad reality is that all children, wherever they are, have no voice, and it is imperative for adults to be unwavering in our support and advocacy on their behalf. Children cannot wait for a convenient time for adults to get involved. There are not always easy solutions, but caring, compassionate individuals must act to find thoughtful solutions when a child is in need.
Question: What can others do to become Champions of Children?
Answer: Champions do things. Be aware, get involved. Know what the issues are for children you care about and take action. Never assume that someone else will step up.
Question: How did you react when you were told you were this year’s Champion of Children for Parenting Now!?
Answer: I was very surprised but obviously honored and humbled to be chosen a Children’s Champion. I’m in good company in this community with many others who are champions for children every day.
A positive impact
It’s no surprise to Parenting Now! or to the many in our community who Soonkeum Cox has had a positive impact on that she would be named Champion of Children.
She has worked tirelessly, effectively and caringly throughout her career to help so many families and children. We are proud to honor her.
Susan has officially been presented the award and celebrated at Parenting Now! Gala on March 17, 2017. We graciously thank her, all the past Champions of Children, and all who work so hard to do so much for children and families of our community and beyond.