It was eighteen years ago in South Korea when we first met Teresa. To our great astonishment, we recently met her again in Evansville, Indiana.
My wife, Barbara and I had been in South Korea, lecturing in a number of cities to a variety of pro-life groups. On this particular night, we had talked at the 7th Army Headquarters near Seoul. After our appearance, our host told us that we must visit Major and Mrs. Ippoliti and see their newly adopted daughter. So we went there. They were very gracious and said we must see their eight month old, Teresa. She was rather small for her stated age, and was just beginning to crawl. It seemed that she might be somewhat developmentally disabled. But as it turned out, her mental and physical state was understandable. This is Teresa’s story:
Her mother had gone for a late-term abortion. The technique used back then was to inject poisonous salt into the bag of waters around the baby. The baby then would breath and swallow this poison and would die. Soon after that, the mother’s body would get the message that her little passenger was dead. She would go into labor and deliver a dead baby. In this case, however, the delivery surprised everyone. For this little girl was born alive.
There was an order of Catholic nuns nearby, Good Shepherd Sisters, who had recently visited this abortion facility and told them that if they ever had a live birth, the good sisters would take the child. That is exactly what happened, and one of the sisters hurried over to claim the little girl. There she was, wrapped in newspapers, but still alive. The Sister took her to a Catholic hospital where she was put in the intensive neonatal care unit. She was not able to suck or swallow properly and had to be suctioned frequently. Failing this she would have developed pneumonia, which would have been fatal. She did well for her three months in the hospital and then was welcomed into a home where foster parents were able to give her the type of care and suctioning that was needed. After she had improved more, Major Victor Ippoliti and his wife, Susan, adopted the little girl.
Back then, we had been fascinated by the little tyke, and deeply admired the Ippoliti’s, the nuns involved, the foster parents and everyone who had worked so hard to save this little girl. But a few days later, we were airborne again, this time to Taiwan, and our attention was diverted elsewhere.
It is now eighteen years later. Barbara and I had just finished a stimulating meeting in Evansville, Indiana. Our host came over to us and said, “Before you go, I want you to meet a gentleman with his adopted daughter.” He was a middle-aged gentleman and nestled under his arm was a shy Asian girl. He introduced himself as Victor Ippoliti, which did not ring a bell. He then explained that we had met eighteen years ago at the 7th Army Headquarters when we had visited his home. Did we remember the little girl that they had adopted? Here she is. My dear Barbara about jumped out of her skin. She spread her arms, looked at the girl, and said, “Are you Teresa?” And Teresa demurely nodded and said, “Yes.” Barb gave her a big hug. Then the two of us stepped back and looked at her and her adoptive father. Of course, we wanted to know the details to fill in that time gap. Victor is now a practicing attorney and they live in the vicinity of Evansville, Indiana. Teresa is a high school sophomore.
Needless to say, we were totally delighted and spent the next half-hour catching up on eighteen years. Who would have imagined, half a world away, and eighteen years later, that our paths would cross again!
Note that Brad Mattes, my colleague, will be interviewing the Ippoliti family for our weekly half-hour television program to be aired next season on Facing Life Head-On.