I entitled this post Loving Luke because before Luke came home from China in May 2007….
he didn’t know love.
He never knew love.
Love doesn’t even capture all of what he was missing.
He wasn’t fed, he wasn’t held, he wasn’t touched, he was totally and completely neglected.
NEGLECT: to be remiss in the care or treatment of; to pay no attention
There was not one person who loved on the boy. Not one. Ever.
So he came home to us as a shell of a person. A little boy so deeply buried in himself that he operated within his own set parameters. He was not willing to let anyone in. Why should he. Everyone had failed him.
We loved Luke. Desperately. And slowly…slowly he allowed us to be part of his life. And part of me desperately wanted OTHERS to love Luke to. Family is obligated to love and care for its own.
I wanted others to assign value to Luke, to invest in Luke, to see great things in Luke.
The doctors and professionals treated him like an anomaly. His past educators gave the minimum and when his progress wasn’t fast enough or consistent enough they backed off. Like the kid was too much work. It was like he was experiencing neglect all over again. Like the message was being repeated to him again and again: you are not worth it.
Until this year.
In September 2009 we switched Luke from an inclusive pre-school classroom to a small elementary school based pre-school classroom. Prior to the school year starting…I was nervous. VERY nervous. Luke had failed to make any progress for the previous school year.
My worry would eat me.
Is this as far as he will go?
Can he not learn and process any additional information?
What does the future look like for him and for us?
And then a few weeks before school started we met his teacher, Ms. Teri.
From the very.first.moment she was vibrant and engaged. She was immediately interested in Luke. She wanted to know all about him. About his beginnings and about his progression since he came home. She got down on the floor and communicated with him.
And because she was interested…Luke became interested.
And over the last year Ms. Teri poured herself into Luke. She was gentle but structured. She taught him from her heart. She invested herself. Luke never experienced that before with a non-family member.
And once he did…a lightbulb turned on.
It was almost as if he knew the people before had no real interest in him.
He’s Intellectually Disabled but he’s not stupid. He feels it. He understands it.
Being able to trust a person outside of family has been instrumental for Luke. He is learning how to trust others. A piece of his protective shell that colored his interactions with people has been torn away.
Because of Ms. Teri.
She taught him more than how to cut with scissors, recognize his shapes, and the ability to identify his written name. She taught him about love. Love outside of family. That is the greatest gift she could have ever given to him. And to me.
My heart needed that and so did Luke’s.
A orphan boy who was unloved and uncared for has a family and now has a small group of folks (Ms. Teri and her team) that completely and utterly care about him.
Luke has come so far.
Because we answered God’s call to invest in him and because we finally found a wonderful person who was willing to do the same.
We all will never be the same.