Thank You for Choosing me First

posted in: Choose love | 28

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


Instagram: @beherguest.





Do you have a personal story for our Choose Love Series? If so, we would love to publish it. 
Submit stories to Learn more about our Choose Love Series here.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

28 Responses

  1. I love this!! What an amazing program for kids and disabled adults. I wonder if anything like that exists in America. I would totally want to become involved in a program like that.

    • Hi Melanie! Holt International has several offices across the States. You should check to see if they are near you! Also, they host several trips per year to various parts of the world where they have a strong presence. Such a great organization 🙂

  2. What a beautiful post! I have a friend who was also adopted from South Korea. What a selfless act your dear mother made!

  3. I love this sweetly told story. I never knew that South Korea has such amazing programs like this!

    • Thank you 🙂 yes, Holt International is a truly amazing program and organization. I am proud to be associated with their work!

  4. Terri Steffes

    What a beautiful story! I hope this story teaches others who might benefit from hearing it

    • Thank you and yes, I hope that my story can inspire others to embrace their past and realize how strong birth mothers must be to relinquish their child, regardless of the circumstances. It took me a long time to reach this type of acceptance and it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from me!

  5. Such a lovely post and a wonderful thing to say thanks for, we should all be thankful x

  6. I have never heard of Holt International but be assured I will be checking them out. They sound like a fantastic organization and one I could get behind. This is an absolutely beautiful story and I admire your strength in recognizing that your birth mother loved you ENOUGH to give you a better life.

    • Yes you definitely should! They offer so many opportunities for support and involvement in multiple communities. Such a great way to widen your perspective on adoption and love for all children 🙂

  7. You are so brave and vulnerable. Thank you for bringing awareness to this and for sharing your story.

    • Thank you for your words and recognizing the vulnerability that comes along with being an adoptee. So many of us share similar issues but embracing the past is the first step towards moving forward!

  8. Beautiful story. As someone who has friends who were adopted, it’s interesting to see how they go about navigating in the world. I am happy you have found peace and found the ability to see things from your mother’s perspective, and love her even more for it.

    • Thank you, Debbie-jean! Being an adoptee can have its moments, but the personal journey is worthwhile and has made me so much more appreciative of every birth mother’s gift.

  9. Elizabeth O.

    It sounds like a lovely organization that helps children find the family that they deserve. I can never give my children up for adoption, it’s a great sacrifice for a mother to do that.

    • You’re right-it’s an amazingly beautiful sacrifice and I am so happy that I found the maturity and acceptance to see it from your viewpoint!

  10. What a wonderful programme to be part of! I’m not sure UK has any programmes like this, but it totally should. Thank you for sharing your lovely experience! x

    • There are programs like this all around the world! It’s such a great feeling to be a part of an organization that is larger than all of us 🙂

  11. How neat that you were able to travel there and see your origins. What was your favorite part of the trip?

    • It was an AMAZING experience, Catie! My favorite part was visiting the mother’s shelter, which is a special home and daycare for mothers who are still in high school. Holt sponsors and houses them while they are finishing school and studying for the college exam. While the girls are in school, the home also provides care for their babies. It was special for me because these are women who considered abortion or adoption but decided to care for their child without any family and social support. I admire their courage and spirit!

  12. Your story is truly a testament to you as a young woman. You’ve chosen to embrace and celebrate your birth mother’s choice rather than resent her for it. I went to Korea in the 90’s. Even then I could see the social injustices put upon women. Men never suffer in this way do they? Nevertheless, I’m glad you had a chance to give back, see your heritage and experience bimbimbap…mmm.

    • Thank you for your touching comment. I am saddened to hear that the political climate has not softened its views on mothers and adoption, but Holt Korea is a truly powerful organization that is making waves in this industry!

  13. What a truly touching post. Your birth mom was indeed very selfless to make sure you were able to be adopted and I think your outlook on this is just wonderful. I am an adoptive mom and I have similar feelings of gratitude toward my kids’ birthmom for bringing them into the world when she could have made a different choice.

    • I really appreciate your comment and willingness to share your thoughts! I cannot express my love and appreciation for every adoptive family; I truly believe that the type of love in such a family is special and to be cherished. Thank you for being one of those people!

  14. Any program that takes stewardship of children to help them find loving and caring parents and a family is a great program, I feel. I’m glad you found your family but was still able to return to your heritage to pay it forward.

    • I completely agree, Tayler! Holt International is an incredible organization, and I will be traveling with them again as a part of a medical mission trip in late fall to their new mother/child hospital in Ethiopia. Will be another memorable journey!

Leave a Reply