This week I’m handing my column over to a friend who has a lovely story to share.
In 1984 she and her husband were a young couple well into their 30s.
Both had come from loving families and really wanted children. She wasn’t able to have them, so they began the adoption process. In Atlanta, where they lived, plenty of options were available, but they wanted to find a safe and reliable organization.
They quickly learned that adoption was expensive and required more money than they had. They decided to explore international adoption, first meeting with the Children’s International Adoption Agency. They applied to adopt and went through years of studies and home visits.
The adoption agent showed the couple a photo of a chubby little baby boy with almond eyes. Tears brimmed in their eyes. After three years they were to be a whole family.
The baby was born in December 1986 in Seoul, South Korea, but didn’t arrive stateside until May 1987. There were so many challenges with adopting from a foreign country, so many delays. They had to have all of their money ready in a bank account; no loans were allowed. It took hours and hours to wade through the immigration paperwork.
Finally he was on his way to the U.S. An escort traveled with the babies — in total, six — but she could not leave the plane. Several servicemen were aboard the same flight, one choosing to hold the couple’s new son all the way from Korea to the U.S.
The couple waited in Atlanta for the infant’s arrival. Once the 5-month-old baby was handed over the mom looked him over, falling in love with her son.
The boy was very curious, his eyes fixated on the faces around him. He would put his hand on his mom’s chest and push back just to look at her.
Having been born in South Korea, a 14-hour time difference, the baby would sleep during our days and awaken in the night. Everything was different for the child who was born halfway around the world.
He developed slowly. The new parents knew he was special but didn’t know how to gauge his development. He didn’t speak until he was 14 months old. He was slow to walk, so they carried him. He wanted for nothing.
It was hard raising the boy in Atlanta, where some prejudice lingered from the Korean War. The Southern city was large and still growing.
The parents decided to take a chance, moving their small family to Jackson, where some good friends lived. The boy was 2 at the time.
The mother didn’t work, at least not until she was able to find suitable day care. The father worked all the time. Once the child went into day care the parents started to hear about behavior problems. Eventually they found a place at the Children’s Learning Center.
This wonderful little fellow had issues they could not fathom. With help from the school system and countless friends, they began to discover their boy had some disabilities. The school system stepped in to help, and the family traveled to Salt Lake City for an evaluation and diagnosis.
The state offered help not only to the child but also to his parents. The boy is now 30, living on his own and getting around Jackson on the START bus system. He has a job and continues to make new friends along his way.
Wyoming, especially Jackson Hole, is a wonderful state to raise special needs children. The parents received an outpouring of love and support from everyone they worked with, from the Children’s Learning Center to teachers who went above and beyond, from a Medicaid case manager to the Jackson Town Council, from churches to every neighbor and friend.
We are blessed to live in a very giving community.
— Sincerely written by
Mary Obringer, the mom