AMY LEE VERMILLION
One day I met Mary Phillips, who had adopted a Korean orphan through the Holt International in Oregon. I said to Mary, "I'd like to have one of those." Her answer was, "They are easy to get." She gave me the address.
Well, I found out they were not so easy to get but I am getting ahead of my story. I went home and mentioned it to my husband, Sam Vermillion. He said, "I don't know." Did you get that? He had not said "No!" so that meant I had a chance. I can't remember when he said okay, but I started the paper work to Holts on July 1, 1961. They sent me the information and what I'd have to do. The bill had expired that allowed these children to come to the United State and that meant I would have to go through Congress to ask for an extension of the bill. I really did not understand this "bill" but it must have to be renewed every few months. So finally, we were granted a 3-month extension to the old bill.
Before we even started on this, Sam wanted me to check with the kids to see what they would think of it. Orpha was 14 and Sam was 9 years old. They were all for it. Then he had me ask a psychiatrist what effect this might have on every one involved, since the baby would be a different race. He could not see a problem unless we made it one.
Holts do not just send a baby into a home without checking us out in the best way they could without welfare help so we were to write our testimony of our relationship to Jesus our Savior. We also needed four letters of recommendation. We were able to supply letters from a doctor, lawyer, pastor, and a neighbor as to what they felt would be the advantages of this child to come into our home.
Things went along smoothly, even though there was a lot of red tape to cut. But the Lord and Congress worked with us. Then came time for the man from Immigration and Naturalization to come and inspect our home. I can't remember that this upset me too much. Guess I thought that either we qualify, or we don't. He ask all kind of questions, looked the house over, even under the beds. Since the bill we had just ask an extension to was to expire the next day (again) I ask him if he would cable Korea if we were approved. He said he would and that he would bill us for it. When he got back to Omaha, he called me and said he had forgot why my maiden name was different than my fathers. I can understand that. I told him that my mother and father were only married 6 weeks and by the time I was born, I already had a stepfather. He was satisfied with that and all systems were go after that.
Then we started to think of names. I had told Holt International that we wanted a baby girl, the younger the better, full-blooded Korean with light complexion. Holt sends pictures of the child for our approval. They first pick the child through prayer. The picture of our baby, which was found on the steps of city hall in Seoul, Korea when she was 4 days old, was sent to us. On the front of her was a sign that said, Kang Shin Yong, 7-11-61 and I thought, "That sounds like a winner. We will take her.
She was adopted to us in Korea on September 14. They hire us a proxy lawyer in Korea to take care of this. As time went on and arrangements made, I got anxious to see what she looked like by now so I sent some money to the orphanage and ask if they could send me a recent picture. And they obliged and she was so beautiful, I could not wait to get her home.
In the meantime, we started picking out names and we just could not come up with one we all liked. I did not want her name to sound too American but when I would say Kim, Kipp, Veronica (to go with her last name of Vermillion) I just could not get an okay from anyone. Then I thought of Amy and that was an instant winner as Amy was the name of her great grandmother and Lee would be her middle name, which is very Korean. There are lot of Lee's there, so Amy Lee Vermillion would now have a name…and Kang Shin Yong would be forever in the past. That was a name that Holt's gave her, as she had no name before that.
They called me once and gave a date but something happened and they had to abort that flight. To bring a planeload of babies meant sponsors were needed to escort them.
Finally, things were ready. I was to pick her up in San Francisco at the International Airport. I had never flown before and I would be going out there alone. Did I care? I never gave it a second thought. I was going after my baby. The strange thing in all this is how I actually felt pregnant. Grandma Amy paid for the plane ticket - I wonder if the name we gave the baby had anything to do with this. Sure did not hurt. Smile. I had thought of taking a train but that would involve sleepers, etc. and I finally felt that this baby needed to get home as soon as possible so our family doctor (Ambery) could look her over to see if she needed any immediate attention.
Then I decided to drive to St. Joseph, Missouri, leave Orpha there with some friends of mine and then drive on to Kansas City and fly out of there for San Francisco with one stop in Denver. But I wasn't going to sit by a window, as no way was I going to look out. As I said, I had never flown before. At that time, seats were not assigned so as I walked up the aisle, I got to thinking how much that ticket cost so I said to myself, "I am going to see everything I can," and I sat by the window. It was awesome. I loved it. As we passed over the Rocky Mountains I could not help but thinking, "So this is what God sees!" I don't remember the exact date but it was in December.
I got a room at the Hilton Inn which had limousine service to the airport, as it was sort of on the airport grounds. I look back at what all I got for $14 a day. The room was fantastic. I met one lady at the airport from Ohio that did not have a room and she had never been off the farm before so she was scared and I told her that I'd share my room with her. It was sort of cute because the bellboy brought her luggage up and he stood there for the longest time, waiting for a tip and finally gave up and left. She did not know why he was standing there and I did not want to embarrass her by telling her.
The next day the plane was to arrive. How excited we were! So we gathered in a special room at the airport for International travelers. Finally the plane came but after it landed, it stayed out there, and it stayed and it stayed. We wondered what was wrong as no activity was taking place. Finally a little van drove over to it and someone went on board. What is going on? Then we got word that chicken pox had broken out on some of these children. The health officials had to be sure of what these babies had. So then we all wondered, "Will mine have it? Will mine? Finally, they started coming in but we would not get them until the folks from Holts dressed them in the clothes that we had brought for them and they would then be given to us. I think I had brought her a yellow terry cloth jump suit so she would be comfortable. When they handed her to me, she gave a little smile, then kicked and went to sleep, and SHE WAS NOT ONE WITH THE CHICKEN-POX!! I can remember just looking and looking at her. I looked at her all night. When she cried, the tears ran from one eye over into the other because the bridge of her nose was so flat. She had so much hair and it stuck straight up. Speaking of chicken pox, the airline allowed all babies to go home on their planes, despite having it.
I had plenty of diapers and canned milk for a couple days and planned to be home by then and then terror struck in all our hearts as we found that we would not be able to leave San Francisco. Almost every airport in the nation was ice covered. I found out though that if we could not go, that the airlines would provide additional motels, food, and supplies for the baby, so I felt better.
Finally, they said that I could get as far as Denver but they did not know about Kansas City and did I want to go. At first I hesitated but I realized if I stayed, I would be on my own. The airlines would no longer be accountable for me in San Francisco, but they would in Denver so I said okay. The airline in Denver was notified that I would need help if we could not get out of there but as luck would have it, we were able to leave and get to Kansas City where a full blown blizzard was going on. So here I am with a baby, and my car is somewhere out in the Airport parking lot. A very wonderful air port worker carried my luggage and helped me to the car and I was on my way to St. Joseph where I would pick up Orpha and start for home the next day. Yes, of course, I tipped him.
I don't remember how long I stayed there but the weather seemed to be non-threatening when I left but somewhere along the line, it started snowing again and I could not see the road. I wanted so much to get off and get a motel but I could not even see the road, let alone a way to get off it. I was always thrilled to see a bridge as I knew I was still on the road. How foolish I was to drive in weather like that and I have learned to not do it anymore. Somehow by the grace of God, I made it to Keokuk, Iowa safe and sound.
In the meantime, Sam was on a trip in his truck out west and was in a restaurant in Reno. There were newspapers by the cash register with pictures of a bunch of these babies lying on the floor in their little flight outfits, when he went to pay for his food. The cashier asks him, "How would you have liked to have one of those for Christmas?" Sam answered, "I got one." She did not believe him so he got out a picture and showed her. Imagine her surprise.
A few days after we got home, the newspaper reporter came to our house and got the story and pictures and we made the front page of the paper. I was on the couch holding Amy with Sammy and Orpha looking at her. Quite a nice write up, really.
Amy quickly adjusted to our family. Her Grandpa George Vermillion always called her Princess Snow Flower and one of her other nicknames was A-Moo. Isn't it strange how a certain name just comes to mind for a person? Then from there, sometimes it was just "Moo" . As she grew up, she picked up others like "Amos-Moses", but the one she enjoys most now is "Mommy."
Author: Mary A. Layman