Many people associate blindness with sadness, darkness and inability. But our experience with this need has been the opposite. Adopting our sweet boy who is legally blind has brought our lives so much joy, light and recognition of his amazing abilities.
We did not set out to adopt a child who is blind. We sincerely thought a child who could not see would be very difficult to raise. But over the past two years we have found quite the opposite is true.
From the very first day we met our seven year old son in the capital of his province in China, he engaged us with a gentle hug to get a “feel” for us. We brought him a light up car and he loved getting it so close to his eyes so he could see the light. His orphanage had prepared him well for his new family, and he was happy to go with us. He immediately began learning English. I would count the steps as I held his hand and we went up or down.
Within a few days, he was counting with me. We listened to music and he would dance and begin to sing the English words. He learned English at lightning speed and refused to even listen to anything in Mandarin because he wanted to learn to communicate with us. Since learning English, he has talked non-stop. He is curious to learn about everything around him and how it works. He has such a creative mind and wants to be an inventor one day!
While in China, we were able to go back to his orphanage to say good bye. He was able to say good bye to his best friend. Earlier this year we were able to visit his friend who was adopted by a family here in the US. It was a sweet reunion!
The first weeks home were wonderful and tiring all at the same time, as he transitioned into our family and we were all exhausted from jetlag. We were prepared for the transition to be difficult, but he fit right into our family from day one! I was able to stay home with him for several weeks and we spent lots of time bonding over Christmas music, baking cookies, and playing toys.
After about six weeks home, with some trepidation on my part, he went to his first day at school. Our area has one of the absolute best programs for the visually impaired and he began to learn Braille and orientation and mobility skills immediately. This has been amazing for him and he is picking up on both Braille and cane skills quickly. Learning to read and get around independently has opened up a whole new world for our son and he has flourished in his new independence.
I am thankful every day for his wonderful vision team who loves him and pushes him to do everything to the best of his ability. They set high standards and he works hard every day to reach those goals. He doesn’t love school (because he would rather be home with mom), but he goes every day and puts in his best effort. In just two years, he has almost caught up to his third grade level in all areas.
Many people are concerned about how a child who is blind can keep up the pace with others in the same class. We have learned about so much new technology for those who are blind. Our son is learning to use refreshable Braille, which connects to a tablet and he can read what is on the internet. There is audio description for movies and voice over on many devices. The possibilities are endless, and it helps that our son loves technology of any sort!
We know that adoption is not always easy, but the adoption of our son has been nothing short of beautiful. We have worked through some difficult days, including sensory issues and overwhelming feelings at times, but most days with our son are wonderful. We sometimes even forget he is blind. He is a normal boy who loves to ride his bike, ride his scooter, and ride horses all at a fast speed!
He loves to climb up high on the playground equipment and swing as high as he can. He loves to play video games and we often hear him laughing as he plays. He loves Christmas more than anyone I know. He loves the lights, the music, and especially the gifts. His favorite Christmas movie is Home Alone 2, and hearing him laugh while watching it will undoubtedly light up your day.
Our son is light and joy to anyone who meets him and gives smiles that will melt your heart. He is happy, smart and funny. He is generous and kind to others. He has a heart that is filled with joy, despite his circumstances. He is definitely a treasure and we feel so blessed to call him son.
I often look at the faces of other kids who are waiting for families and wonder what other treasures are just waiting to be found. Children with visual impairments or who are blind are often overlooked because of the stigma of blindness.
Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from stepping out. Our lives and the lives of those around us have been changed by adopting this precious little boy, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
– guest post by Jenna