I will never forget the moment I first saw his picture. We had no intention of adopting any time soon. We were coming off of a lengthy bout of medical issues with our daughter. We were finally putting our lives into a semblance of normalcy, and we were, to put it delicately, financially embarrassed. Every single piece of the timing was so very, very wrong, but when I saw his face, I experienced something I had never, ever felt before. It was almost an out of body experience, I knew I was staring into the eyes of my son.
We read his file, it stated developmental delays. I cried when I read his story, and begged God to let me be his mother. My husband got on board, and we fundraised, filled out a million papers, applied for every grant known to mankind, and miraculously, by God’s grace, went to the ends of the earth to get our son.
Our time in his orphanage was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The whole experience in the Philippines was dreamlike in every aspect. He was finally, at long last, our son.
We noticed he didn’t talk much at all, and being an eternal optimistic, I just assumed he needed a family. We would get him into speech therapy and figure it out. After all, love conquers all, right?
I should probably insert here, that I secretly consider myself gifted in the art of oration. Meeting new people, and talking in front of others, is something I greatly enjoy. I am a passionate storyteller, and spending time communicating is my favorite past time. I am not, however, nearly as gifted in the art of listening. God in His great love for me sent me a beautiful six year old to teach me to hear.
As the days passed, I noticed with growing concern that this new son of mine responded oddly if at all to everything I was saying. He would watch my face with great concentration. When I would urgently tell my children that we were going to be late, please get to the car, he would run upstairs and jump into the shower. Many times, when I talked, he didn’t respond at all. It was like talking to the wind.
As he frequently did more and more things that made no sense to me at all, I began to panic. All of the cheerful pictures that I had painted in my mind were rapidly dissolving, as a great silence engulfed me.
I couldn’t even lie to myself and pretend that I was concerned for his future. The ugly truth stared me daily in the face. I was terrified of what my future was going to look like. We had stepped into the great unknown, and in doing so, completely threw off the trajectory of my life. I spent my days crying out to God on my bed. I wondered what in the world I was going to do with this boy who barely responded, and when he did, I usually wished he wouldn’t, because his reactions to my requests were so totally bizarre.
Through all of my ugliness, and daily tears, this beautiful boy loved me with such a great tenacity. Every single morning, he would run into my room the minute he woke up, and stroke my face, and put his forehead against mine. If I had been listening, I would have heard his talking hands long before he learned sign language. As I wept on my bed wondering what was becoming of my life, small brown hands would wipe my tears away, and he would kiss my face. If I had been listening, I would have heard him loving me.
We named him Zachary because his name means God remembers. I thought it was so fitting for him, but as I’m learning the art of listening, I think it was more fitting for me. God remembered me, and I get to be this incredible little boy’s mom.
We did eventually discover that he is deaf. While hearing aids weren’t the instant cure all I had hoped for, I am learning that it is okay. We are in an intricate dance, he and I. He is learning to talk, and I am learning to listen, and I am hearing Zachary.
– guest post by Emily