FAMILY ADOPTS TAIWAN CHILD WITH DELIGHT

Published: Thursday, Sept. 1 1994 12:00 a.m. MDT

The story of Lin Cheng Yi and the Arden Schmitt family is a story of hope, joy and love. It's also a story with a happy ending.

Karen Schmitt saw Lin's photo in the paper last September. The story was on the West-Sands Adoption Agency, run by Weston Whatcott of Provo, and his son Dan Whatcott of Burley.The story also featured two boys. Lin was a 9-year-old with major hearing loss living in a Taiwan orphanage.

"I hung the paper on our wall," said Karen Schmitt, a nurse at the Walker Center. "I felt like God was leading me in that direction."

Karen Schmitt's three children, Rebekah, 17, Katie, 14, and Aaron, 10, became excited about the idea, too. Arden Schmitt was more hesitant.

"I work with hearing-impaired children all day long, and I know how involved it can be," said Arden Schmitt, an instructor at the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind. "I figured we were doing good to maintain three kids, so I decided this was a fad and put it on the back burner."

But forgetting about Lin soon became the impossible task.

"The Lord woke me up in the middle of the night and said, `I love you and accept you just the way you are and you're not perfect and you can accept him,' " explained the devoutly religious Schmitt. "I knew without a doubt that was God's will for this family, and I was as excited as the rest of them from then on."

Meanwhile, Lin was waiting to go home. He just didn't know where home was. He was born of a mother who contracted rubella during her pregnancy. His grandmother cared for him the first four years of his life. When the task became too great, they took him to a Catholic orphanage in Taipei.

Lin was born hearing impaired and with a cleft palate. He underwent reconstructive surgery, but his speech patterns were erratic.

As the Schmitts worked to bring their prospective son to Gooding, more tragedy struck. In March, a fax arrived from Taiwan. Lin had meningitis and was in a coma. But the tough little guy pulled through.

On May 29, Lin arrived in Salt Lake City. He seemed immediately drawn to the Schmitts.

"When he got out of the car here, he acted like he knew this place," said Karen Schmitt of her Gooding farmhouse with the big front-yard playhouse.

He certainly does now. Lin, renamed Caleb Lin Schmitt, but still called Lin, races his matchbox cars across the carpet of his new home with abandon.

Sometimes he plays "Taipei traffic jam" with them. Lin shares a room with Aaron, sleeping soundly on his bunk bed. He loves to feed the farm animals. His new dad built him a rickshaw.

"We want Lin to know about his culture and retain his heritage," said Karen Schmitt, who plans to send progress reports to Taiwan.

The first few nights Lin spent in his new home, he cried and asked his new mother to take him to see his mother and grandmother in Taiwan. The homesickness soon eased.

Soon, Lin will begin his new life at school. Initial tests show that he has mild to moderate hearing loss in certain ranges, more severe loss in others.

He's already become proficient at sign language. In fact, Lin made up his own signs for his new brothers and sisters. For Katie, he uses the sign for "cute." For Rebekah, it's the sign for "beautiful." For Aaron, he touches his cheek, because Aaron had catsup on his cheek the first time the two boys met.

Lin will begin the school year in the third or fourth grade. He will be 10 in October, the same age as Aaron.

When Lin first arrived in Utah, on a hot day, he was bundled in knit pants and a turtleneck and was still cold because he was so thin. Once at the Schmitts, Lin started making up for lost time.

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