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Deaf Adoptee Takes On Life And Wins

Posted April. 12, 2006 02:59,   


“I hope that Koreans will open their hearts to young children who need family, love and home,” said 23 year-old Teiya Getman (her Korean name is Kim Ja-young), who was adopted by a family in Minnesota, 10,000km away from her mother country, Korea when she was nine months old, in her e-mail, “The day I was adopted to a family is the luckiest day in my life.” She wrote this email in anticipation of the first Korea Adoption Day on May 11.

On October 22 1983, a taxi driver found a baby in front of an obstetrics and gynecology clinic in Geumsan, Chungnam Province. As the information about her mother on a hospital chart was fake, the police could not find her parents.

The child was transferred to a domestic adoption agency. But as she was a premature baby, weighing only 1.8kg and born with hearing impairments, nobody wanted to adopt her. Finally, she was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Getman, both teachers, the following August.

Her adoptive mother Mary Getman said, “We adopted Teiya without knowing she has hearing difficulties, but we thought we could learn sign language.” And she added, “She is the most adorable girl.”

Teiya was awarded the ‘Key Award’ for the best leadership at the 4-H Club, which is a club of rural young people from 80 countries. She also plans to participate in the U.S. deaf beauty contest, representing Minnesota. She has grown to be a responsible member of society.

However, her childhood as an Asian adopted girl with hearing disability was not uneventful. As she turned six and realized that she has a different look from her neighbors with blue eyes and blond hairs, she started to question about her identity. Her adoptive parents tried to explain the meaning of adoption to her, “your biological parents in Korea did not abandon you. They sent you to us because they wanted you to grow in better conditions.” Despite such words, Teiya could not help but miss her biological parents.

She used to ask herself, “Do they still remember me?” and picture her mother in Korea whom she has never met, thinking, “My mother must be the most beautiful woman in Korea.” But sometimes, she got angry when she wondered why they abandoned her on the street.

Whenever she got mad about her biological parents, she felt more grateful for her adoptive parents and pulled herself together. In high school, she won prizes in sign language oratorical contests and biathlon. She graduated high school with six prizes.

Last year she visited Korea for the first time with her adoptive mother but did not actively looked for her Korean parents, worrying it might disturb her adoptive mother.

What would she want to say to her biological parents? She said, “I have a lot to say. But I believe that adoption was the best choice they could make for my own good at the time. So when I meet them, I would thank them for getting me an excellent family. ”

She wants to be a teacher for the deaf and she hopes to adopt two children after she marries. She said, “Whether you are a biological or adopted child, what is the most important is you are in a family. In that sense, adoption is a blessing as it provides a child with a family.”

ditto@donga.com peacechaos@donga.com