Choose Love Series
Every year on July 15th, I take the time to say a prayer and toast to the beautiful woman who gave me the most loving and selfless birthday present she could: a better life. My birth mother relinquished her parental rights shortly after I was born, and I was adopted by my family in the United States when I was five months old. Fast forward exactly 28 years later: I returned to South Korea for the first time as part of a mission trip with Holt International to serve and honor current birth mothers and children who are ineligible for adoption.
This trip was many “firsts” for me. It was an introduction to Korean culture, food, and my past. While we toured the country and ate the best bibimbap in Seoul, my memories remain on the children and mothers under the care of Holt International. According to South Korean law, children are only eligible for adoption if the mother registers the child in the national registry. Due to the stigmatization associated with being an unwed single mother, many women choose to abandon their child and, thus, eliminate the child’s opportunity for overseas adoption. These children are forced to grow up in institutions with limited resources and funding from the public sector because they are not acknowledged by the government. Holt International sponsors and provides housing and care for children who are ineligible for adoption, educates and supports young single mothers who are in high school, and owns a facility that shelters Korean children and adults who are handicapped. Their work in Korea is widely respected and renowned as one of the largest and most accomplished voices for international adoption services.
For six days, I was immersed in an organization that values and celebrates women and children in a country where they are ostracized and met with resistance at every turn. Relinquishing one’s child for adoption In South Korea is much more than a desire to give the child a better life. It carries the heavy weight of social discrimination, family abandonment, and potential loss of marriage prospects. My birth mother chose her love for me over any personal consequence that was to follow; for this I say thank you, and I will forever love you for your sacrifice, selflessness, and choice to choose love.
This post was written by Kayla Covert
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