For the Love of Jamie

Cheryl Moore expected a healthy baby to come off the plane from Korea. She got Jamie instead. And then she and her family made a surprising choice.

The baby is listed as the healthy product of a spontaneous vaginal delivery after a full-term pregnancy.

But the paperwork Cheryl Moore's attorney, Richard Plattner, got when he hired an investigator to go to Han Hee Kyung's doctor's office tells a different story.

The birth mother told Dr. Kim Chul Ho that she dropped out of the fifth grade, not high school. Much more significant are the results of an ultrasound the doctor performed six days before the birth. In part, the diagnosis reads, "pregnancy, near term with hydrocephalus."

Vivian Spiegelman
Jamie was in and out of the hospital (top photo) during his first months in the U.S. Above, part of his mom's collection of hospital bracelets.
courtesy of Cheryl Moore
Jamie was in and out of the hospital (top photo) during his first months in the U.S. Above, part of his mom's collection of hospital bracelets.

Eastern's attorney, Don Peters, says his client hadn't seen the ultrasound report until Plattner showed it to them.

"They don't routinely get medical records on birth parents," Peters says of his client. And he points out that days later, the same doctor certified the baby as healthy on his birth certificate -- a document Eastern received and eventually shared with Dillon.

But what Eastern did know -- it happened while the baby was in its care, and is documented in its own records -- is that the boy did not gain any weight during his first two months, although his head did grow considerably. Eastern took custody of the child when he was just one day old. A social worker named him Han Jin Ho -- Han for his mother, and Jin Ho, which means "bright jewel."

Han Jin Ho lived with a foster family but at one point was hospitalized for almost two weeks with a fever and diarrhea.

Peters acknowledges that those records weren't sent to Dillon.

"The evidence will indicate that Dillon did not get all of the medical records from Eastern," he says, simply because Dillon didn't ask for them. "They kind of left it up to Eastern to decide what to send."

Eastern's social history of the child, dated May 31, 1996, lists Han Jin Ho's growth as "slow," even though he had not gained any weight. And under a section about any history of illness, it says "none" -- even though the baby had been treated two days earlier for a high fever. That's the record Dillon Southwest shared with the Moores, even though Han Jin Ho would continue to be ill and grow slowly -- except for his head -- in the three months that would pass before he was put on a plane for Los Angeles.

The Moores could not afford to fly to Korea to pick up their baby -- few people choose that option -- so Cheryl and Colleen flew to Los Angeles to meet the plane from Seoul.

Cheryl recalls waiting at LAX that morning in September 1996 and learning that one of the babies had stayed behind with a fever. She was relieved to hear it wasn't her baby, who soon came off the plane in the arms of a Korean serviceman trained to transport children. Jamie, as the family called the boy they'd eventually name James Patrick Moore, was lethargic and warm. Cheryl figured it was the long plane ride.

She changed him into American clothes and "the most expensive diapers in the entire world," she says. There'd been a huge shower at work. "Everything you could possibly want for a baby, I had it."

And now her friends at Phoenix Memorial were waiting to meet little Jamie, so Cheryl and Colleen rushed to feed and diaper him and catch the plane to Phoenix, where a party was planned in her office. Dennis was waiting there, too.

Jamie was still warm, and threw up on the plane. They got him to Phoenix Memorial, but instead of going to a party, they went to the emergency room where the baby was diagnosed as dehydrated, with pneumonia and a temperature of 103. Jamie wasn't even on the Moores' insurance plan yet, so her friends got him signed up as Cheryl rushed the baby across town to Phoenix Children's Hospital. Jamie's condition was too severe for a normal hospital that did not specialize in treating children.

By now it was 2 a.m. the next day, and Cheryl was hysterical. Her other kids had never had any health problems, and here, suddenly, was this tiny baby she'd never seen -- and he needed a spinal tap. And she couldn't get in touch with anyone from Dillon Southwest.

"I'm just totally losing it, I'm just crying and crying and crying and just holding him," she recalls.

Jamie was in the hospital for four days. He had a strange bacteria and wouldn't eat. The longest he slept at a time was an hour and a half. He had arrived with an odd, shaved spot on his head that Cheryl was later told was a place where a boil had been removed.

The months that followed held little sleep for the Moore family and a lot of diagnoses for Jamie.

Sitting in her living room five years later, Cheryl points to a spot on the carpet where the infant once slept for three and a half hours -- a milestone. The doctors told her to feed him formula that cost $38 a can (more than three times the price of the normal stuff). She barely made it to work, and when she did, she was always in the day-care center, looking after Jamie. The other kids noticed how much of Cheryl's time the baby consumed. Jacob started getting into trouble. Dennis was frustrated. This wasn't what any of them had bargained for.

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