By Ohilda, mom to Kai from China with cleft lip and palate
As we entered thru the front doors of the building, there standing with his nanny, was one of the most precious gifts I have ever received in my life. To this day, I am filled with shivers down my spine thinking of how God orchestrated such a perfect reunion of hearts.
Every pain and tear shed during our long arduous wait of almost three years melted away as I bent down and scooped this tiny blessing into my arms. His adorable little face was pale from the lack of sunshine from having been kept in a crib without any stimulation, yet his eyes were soulful and took in every movement that surrounded him. He shed no tears and was so brave and courageous for his short 22 months of life. He just intensely observed everything around him. Half frightened and half in awe of the complete strangers who were probably showing emotions he had rarely encountered, his little arms slowly wrapped around my body.
The moment I had envisioned and played out in my mind over and over again had arrived. We had traveled half way around the world for this blessing. And here it was. This was my son, our son. That first moment I held him, took us to a place where we were the only two human beings on this planet, and a moment that will live forever in my heart and mind. He molded himself into our arms as we left that Civil Affairs office that sunny April day and has never looked back.
There was so much that I looked forward to teaching Kai prior to our arriving in his birth country, yet, the Lord in His glorious awesomeness has humbled not only me, but so many around us and has again shown us that He wants us to come to him as a little child, the way that Kai came to us. We have learned so much from Kai. So much more than what we could have taught him.
He has taught us humility and humbleness. He came from an orphanage completely stark of toys, nutrition and everything we take for granted; yet he openly and lovingly gives of whatever it is he has, to others.
He has taught us to love unconditionally. It hasn’t been an easy road, yet it is one that I would do over and over and over again to feel the love that this little boy gives. The depths of his appreciation for small signs of affection like being told “I love you” or being given a hug is unexplainable. When these moments occur, and they occur often, he stops what he’s doing and smiles. The glimmer in his beautiful, almond-shaped eyes reflect every feeling that has swollen my heart to overflowing. He has taught us to love from the soul. He has been so brave in allowing us to one-by-one knock down that wall of protection that he had built for fear of being abandoned again. Now a year later, that wall has crumbled. There are only fields and fields of open space waiting to be filled with immeasurable amounts of love from his family.
He has taught us the importance of family. Something that for the first 22 months of his life he never had, yet he came into our lives and showed us each how important it is to have a family and how much we learn and offer to each family member by just being there. He has made each of us an integral part of his life.
He has taught us the virtue of patience. His open palate was one of the worst his surgeon, who has closed palates all over the world, said it was one of the worst cases he had seen. Kai’s speech was severely delayed, yet he spoke 1000 words without uttering a sound. He can fill a room with smiles and have complete strangers carry full conversations with him. He has a spirit that soars and an aura that fills those around him with amazement and hope.
I was so concerned in the beginning about all of those “firsts” that I had missed in his life. Yet, he was truly a baby in a toddler’s body. His need to be held, loved, nurtured, cared for, fed, were the needs of a newborn. I didn’t miss any first, because everything in his life was and still, a year later, is very new. One of the most poignant moments in our first year together, was the first time he saw rain. Something we take so for granted and try to run from many times. Yet, it was something that he allowed me to see as if I were seeing it for the first time myself. We both ended up standing in the midst of a downpour, my tears blending with raindrops, as we stood in total awe of one God’s miracles happening right before our eyes. A miracle I never even thought about until I experienced it with Kai for the first time.
I was concerned about all of the losses in his life when he came to live with us, but he’s taught us that those losses truly are just stepping-stones to all that we have gained. He came to us only with the clothes on his back, but yet he has filled our lives to capacity with wonder, amazement, and a God-given charm that we could only thank the Lord and his biological parents for.
He has been through 2 cleft surgeries to repair his palate and his resilience and spirit have allowed him to recover in a manner that only heroes do. He is my hero. He has grown into a little boy from that toddler with the baby ways that we first held. He is confident, happy, assertive, compassionate, sweet, loving and filled with a zest for life that has no boundaries. We would adopt another cleft lip/palate child in heartbeat, if we could.