Korean Baby Changes Life For Deep Run Couple

Adoption Brings Joy, New Culture Into The Family

February 23, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

DEEP RUN — Jamie Taylor didn't sleep much his first night in America.

No wonder.

He had endured an 18-hour plane ride, then was handed to strangers who looked and talked differently than the people he had known. Andthe strangers were pointing a video camera in his face.

Eight-month-old Korean native Jung Hyun Kim had become James Richard Taylor.

When his new family took him to their two-story house in the woods of Carroll County on that late November night, sleep was not a priority. So, he and his new mother played.

"That's when we forged our bond," said Laurell Taylor, a first-time mother who was nervous about bringing a baby home to live with her and husband, Bernard Taylor, and their dog, Bobbie Lee.

"The bond happened so fast, and it's so strong," she said. "I don't even realize he's Korean anymore."

Jamie is a pink-cheeked cutie with a smile that makes it impossible not to smile back. Laurell says he's a flirt. He has soft black hair that stands straight up.

He was born without a right hand, but his parents are optimistic he'll be able to use the stump. Later, they may have a prothesis fitted for him.

"He'll be able to do a lot," Berniesaid.

Jamie has made a quick adjustment to his new life.

"It'slike he's always been here," said his paternal grandmother, Anne Taylor, who lives next door.

"This is the nicest thing that's happened to me in a long, long time. I'm glad I'm a grandmother.

"He's really changed my life. He's added so much to our lives. If you can't have a child of your own, this is the way to go."

Laurell's mother,Valerie Mailander of Belfair, Wash., visited soon after Jamie arrived.

"She fell in love with him," her husband, Richard Mailander, said.

"When she got back (to Belfair), she said she missed waking upto his laughter."

Laurell and Bernie said they feel lucky to haveadopted Jamie so quickly.

The couple endured infertility tests and treatments for two years before trying adoption.

Last spring, they began working with Associated Catholic Charities in Baltimore to try to adopt.

They were willing to adopt a baby from another country and one with a disability, which sped up the process.

It cost between $7,000 and $8,000 to adopt Jamie, they said.

"We're both 40,and I didn't want to wait too long to be a mother," said Laurell, anassistant attorney for Carroll County government.

"I just wanted children -- biological children or not, it didn't matter."

She andBernie -- married for four years -- met in law school at the University of Baltimore. He is chief of the narcotics unit in the Howard County state's attorney's office.

Before the baby arrived, Laurell said she listened to tapes to try to learn a few Korean words.

They also have studied Korean culture because they want Jamie to know about his heritage.

For his first birthday on March 22, the family is planning a special celebration.

They'll have a traditional Korean celebration called "tol" for which Jamie will be dressed in a traditional Korean robe and a headdress worn by unmarried males, Laurell said.

He'll sit at a table with three objects placed before him. The object he chooses first will indicate what kind of life he'll lead, she said.

If he chooses a spool of thread, he'll have a long life; a writing instrument, such as a pen, means he'll be a scholar; money means he'll be a merchant or employed in commerce.

"It's vital to share both nationalities," not just on holidays, but every day, Laurell said.

Between 250 and 350 families in the Baltimore area adopt children from foreign countries every year, said Ellen Eckhart, a program administrator for Catholic Charities.

Most of the children are Korean, she said. After the Korean War, Americans began adopting Amerasian children and the adoption system in the country became well-organized, she said.

Parents of adopted foreign children have many adjustments to make, but it's important they feel comfortable with the fact that they've become "an interracial family. They've become a minority," Eckhart said.

The Taylors have become involved with a group called Families Adopting Children Everywhere and they've met other families in their situation, Laurell said.

The couple would liketo adopt another baby, possibly another Korean child, but they're interested in adoption programs in what used to be the Soviet Union, Laurell said.

"It's important for him to have a sibling," she said.

If the family adopts another child, maybe Jamie can teach him or her the games his father now plays.

The one called "happy feet" makes Jamie laugh the hardest.

"I'm a dancing fool," Bernie says as he stands Jamie up and lets his feet swing around, a big smile coming to both of their faces.

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