December 14, 2005 21:44
Star couple Cha In-pyo and Shin Ae-ra have adopted a baby girl. Married since 1995, the couple also have a seven-year-old son of their own. While celebrity couples not infrequently adopt, it is rare for couples with children of their own to do so.
"My pretty baby daughter keeps us busy. It's not a big deal that merits a compliment," said Shin (36).
She says she gave birth to one child, but God has given her another in a different way. "I thought it would be good to adopt a child who would otherwise have to make her way through the big wide world all by herself." They named the baby Ye-eun, meaning "the blessing of Jesus."
The couple mulled adoption for a long time. The idea has its roots in Shin's unusual fondness of infants during her girlhood, when she used to bathe the babies next door. Shortly after getting married to Cha (38), she was busy as a volunteer taking care of children at orphanages and welfare centers, and soon made up her mind to adopt one of them. Cha agreed but doubted it would really happen.
"It was extremely hard for us to pick one out of so many children," Cha says. "The adoption made us ask the fundamental question by what right we choose a child's path of life."
Shin also balked at the thought that by picking one, they were abandoning a host of others to an uncertain fate. But she came across Ye-eun three weeks ago while babysitting some 50 babies at the Social Welfare Society, a nonprofit organization in Seoul. The round-faced baby in the cradle often came to her mind and even appeared in her dreams, so she finally sent a text message to her husband in the studio. "The time came to adopt her.' Shin says, "Since I was often told I and Ye-eun look alike, maybe I felt more attracted to her."
Their son Jeong-min is excited to have a little sister. He went to school in the afternoon, vowing to boast it to his friends. "Boy, he doesn't have any idea of the storms that lie ahead," Shin laughs, saying Jeong-min may feel jealous if all his parents’ love goes to the new baby.
When she grows up a little bit, the couple will tell Ye-eun that she was adopted, they say. "She would find out on her own sooner or later, and it would be a bigger shock that we've been trying to hide things from her," Shin says. "When she starts to understand speech, I'll tell her, 'You are a god-sent gift I received for my prayers.'"
Since adoption is relatively rare in Korean society, didn't their parents object? Cha says it took no time for his parents and father-in-law to agree with them. Shin's mother, who died of stomach cancer last year, said, "If you two insist, I agree."
"Adoption is not an easy choice, but once I decided to share my love without asking anything from her in return, it became easy," Shin says. And her husband adds, "Preparing a nursery for Ye-eun was delightful and made me very happy. I'm sorry I didn't think of such a pleasant thing earlier." Shin plans to put her acting job on hold for some time to devote herself entirely to the baby.
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