The parents of a partially deaf girl in Yamagata hope to re-create in Japan the supportive atmosphere for parents of disabled children that they encountered while living in the United States.

Andy and Junko Meeko took their family — two daughters and one son at the time — to Oregon so they could be together when baby daughter Sophia underwent a cochlear implant in December 1999. Sophia, now 5, was born deaf and spent the first half of her life in complete silence.

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