Katherine and Marshall Massena
`I WAS writing to everybody and anybody,'' says Katherine Massena. ``I just wanted children.'' This young, extroverted woman got her wish. Andrew, aged 2, and Casey, 3, now romp around this 100-year-old house on the banks of Lake Chautauqua.
The preschoolers are relative newcomers to this suburban community. It was just two months ago that Jeong Joon (now Andrew) and Seung In (now Casey) stepped off a plane at New York's Kennedy airport to meet their new parents, Katherine and Marshall Massena.
Placement of the Korean siblings with the Massenas was arranged by New Beginnings, a Mineola, N.Y., agency that specializes in foreign adoptions for US couples.
After learning that it might take six-to-eight years to find an American infant to adopt, the upstate New York couple was told that, if they qualified, a Korean youngster might be placed with them within a year.
``It was refreshingly simple,'' says Katherine. ``They [mainly] wanted you to be good citizens.''
The Massenas passed muster. They were under 40 and in good health. They were infertile. And they were prepared to pay $5,000 for a child.
But suddenly they found they could be doubly blessed.
Katherine and Marshall were told about Jeong Joon and Seung In, then living in an orphanage in Seoul. And last Christmas Eve when they received pictures of the toddlers, their anticipation soared.
At the airport, Marshall was introduced to his new adopted son as ``Aba'' (father). Katherine was their ``Oma'' (mother).
``They accepted us readily,'' says Marshall. ``There was no fear or withdrawal.''
``We still don't know how much they know [about their Korean parents],'' Marshall adds.
The Massenas will tell the boys when they are older of their Korean roots. ``They should know what we know,'' says Katherine.
But for now the adoptive parents and new sons are spending a lot of time getting to know one another.
Katherine and Marshall share parenting and child-care responsibilities. He works out of the home as a sales representative in general merchandising. She is a part-time secretary for a local Lutheran church.
Friends and neighbors of the Massenas have accepted the boys with enthusiasm. ``This is a small, quiet community - a good place to raise kids,'' says Katherine.
When the Massenas came to New York from San Francisco 2 years ago, they were seeking such an environment to start their adoptive family.
Life with the boys is lively. As in most families, there are problems - tantrums, nightmares, and difficulties in communicating, particularly with the language barrier.
But Katherine and Marshall have learned some Korean, and the boys are picking up English words.
``We have had some funny meals,'' says Katherine with a laugh, ``like hot dogs and rice.''
``Rice, rice, and more rice,'' teases Marshall. One of Casey's favorites is seaweed crackers.
``They just respond to our love,'' Katherine explains. ``But maybe at 2 or 3 you are going to love who loves you.''
The Massenas used to concentrate on their jobs. ``But our work life isn't our focus anymore,'' Katherine stresses. ``This is our focus,'' she smiles, nodding toward the boys busily playing with a toy truck on the living room floor. ``And we feel great about it.''