By Jane Bleam
One Sunday we had Jennifer dedicated in my church in New Britain. At this special event Brian and I were asked to bring our child upon the platform where the minister stood. We handed Jennifer to the minister for the dedication. We and the members of our family present were overjoyed. Friends and members of the church were admiring the love we had for our daughter.
Every Sunday at church, Irma, the lady who carried our baby off the plane from Korea and who was an escort for Welcome House, would ask me, “How is Jennifer doing?”
Adopting a child was different than having our own biologic child. Because Brian and I were not able to have a child due to my heart condition. It was better to have two live parents than only one. This could have been the situation if we had had our own child!
At about five months of age, Jennifer was legally adopted. We met our lawyer Steven Lees at the Doylestown Court House. It was exciting to know after these proceedings she would be “our child.”
It seemed like an eternity until we were finally called in to see the judge!
The late Honorable Harriet Mims was the presiding Judge. She welcomed us with a great big smile which put us at ease.
After going through the legal part of the adoption, Judge Mims turned to us saying,“Young people, you have given this child a very loving and caring home.”
We said, “Thank you for your kind words on our special day.”
When we arrived home my husband asked, “Do you want to work part time?”
I replied, “No, I would have the same amount of work. As a part time professor, I still would be responsible for working in clinical, teaching, grading papers, and I’d lose my benefits. My benefits are very important to us now.”
Brian said, “That is right, we would have two different insurances to use if something would present itself. I never thought about it.”
The summer was coming to an end. In September the college would be starting again, and we realized the need to find a babysitter for Jennifer. We were looking for a person who would have the same values as ours to take care of Jennifer. A friend’s wife was running a day care which would help us because we both would be working. I visited her day care to see how she supervised and cared for the children.
Betty, the daycare owner, said, “To run a day care, one must follow the state regulations.”
The day care was geographically located so I could drop Jennifer off and continue to my work where I supervised nursing students. If there would be a need, Brian could drop her off or pick her up too.
Everything went well, except the time Jennifer was to be potty trained. She would not pee all day until I walked in the door of the daycare. Jennifer wanted her mother to be present before she would use the potty! This happened only one time for Betty, Jennifer’s caretaker.
When Jennifer was three years old, we went to the Welcome House’s picnic. She was dressed in her native Korean attire. There was an older girl dressed the same way. The photographer could not get Jennifer to smile! This may have been due to the many pictures we took of her as she was growing up. We had at least three books of pictures showing Jennifer’ growth and activities.
A few weeks later she became an American citizen. We traveled via train to the Federal Court House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where a large group was waiting to become citizens.
One person present was a doctor who was very impatient.
He said, “Why are they taking all this time getting started? I must get back to my office!”
My father-in-law turned toward the doctor saying, “We have to wait when we come to your office. Why do we have to wait before being called into your office? We are here to see our granddaughter become a citizen of our nation.”
The doctor got the message that he was not the only person receiving citizenship and stopped voicing his opinion. When the proceedings started, all present had to repeat an oath. When the formal ceremony was over, they gave everyone a small American Flag. After the ceremony, we learned that Jennifer was the youngest to become a citizen and another lady was the oldest. We took a picture of the two them together. This was a wonderful day which we as a family shall never forget
We had gotten a book telling what adoption meant. Often my husband and I would read it to Jennifer. The book contained pictures which were worth a thousand words for a child.
Outside the usual “Mommy” and “Daddy,” Jennifer learned many new words. We were going into the post office when a helicopter flew over us.
I turned to her saying, “That is a helicopter.”
She replied, “HELL – eee – copter.”
We had many funny moments. As our daughter grew we placed her in a private Christian School. The students were required to learn a Bible verse each week. Brian and I would take turns putting Jennifer to bed and to listen to the Bible verse of the week. The week of Christmas was my turn.
Having taken care of the usual bedtime chores, Jennifer began saying her Bible verse to me. In the process of saying the Christmas story she stated, “He was crapped in swaddling clothes!” I began laughing so hard that my husband came running down the hall from the kitchen to Jennifer’s bedroom.
Brian kept saying, “What happened, what happened?”
I replied, “I’ll tell you when I return to the kitchen!”
Jennifer received her usual kisses and was tucked into bed.
After giving her a kiss, I said,” If you need anything just call me. Daddy and I will be in the kitchen and we’ll come if you need help “
In the kitchen Brain asked, “What were you laughing about?”
Jennifer was saying her Christmas Bible verse. She said, “And he was crapped in swaddling clothes.”
Brian replied,” I guess he did that too!” We both had good laugh.
As adopted daughter Jennifer was given many opportunities which she would not had have access to in Korea. She took piano and tennis lessons, excelling both.
Jennifer would listen to music on the radio or television, sit down and play what she just heard on the piano. This is a real gift – not everybody has this ability.
When the cost of the private school got higher, we had to transfer her to public school. The transfer did not give Jennifer the educational challenge she had at the private school. Her interest in education began disappearing and her group of friends changed drastically. Other problems seen in schools today such as the drug epidemic appeared in our family too.
Laura Jane Michie-Bleam is a retired Professor Emerita of Nursing at Montgomery County College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, who served the college for thirty-two years. She traveled extensively, and was often required to write or speak to groups about her travels. Her interest in children led her to take writing courses from the Institute of Children’s Literature.