Then, through a series of events, I was able to meet a woman on-line who had recently adopted a 13 year-old girl from our son’s orphanage. I e-mailed them our boy’s picture to see if she knew him. The daughter jumped and squealed and called him “DiDi!” (little brother). She’d known him from infancy and even helped him learn to walk. I felt blessed to have this window into our son’s life, but didn’t think it was fair to ask a thirteen year-old using a hand-held translator to assess a three year-old’s mental potential. I did ask what I felt like was an innocent question, but one that would tell me a lot, can he talk? It was two weeks before I heard a response. I wondered if the mother was delaying her reply because she didn’t know how to tell me that he was very delayed. Finally when I heard back, she said that her daughter told her that he could speak very well for a small boy. To me, that didn’t sound like a mentally handicapped child. But still, the doubt had been planted.
When he’d calmed down enough to sit next to me on the couch, he looked quietly through a photo book we’d made for him. He paused for a long time, staring at a baby picture, his baby picture.