He used to laugh at the wind. For his first 16 months he lived in a baby home in Northern Russia where it was too cold, too dark, and the overstretched caregivers never took the little ones outside. Our guy used to laugh when he felt the wind on his face because he had never felt it before. He came into our lives silent, not walking, unable to know when to stop eating, rocking, jumping, falling, throwing himself into walls, and clinging desperately to me once he understood he had someone of his own, finally.
We knew. We knew from day one. And we loved him. We chose him. We accepted him even though we knew that we didn’t know it all. As older parents, we had talked long and hard during my earlier successful pregnancy about whether or not we would have the tests, since the risks to the pregnancy were high. We decided then, and we decided again in Russia, that we would love any child that came our way.
We knew, but we didn’t know all. We didn’t know then that part of our son’s brain was damaged forever as a result of his birth mother’s drinking. We knew. But we didn’t know then that no amount of sensory therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, physical therapy, or love could wind its way deep enough to readjust the wiring of his brain.
We watched him grow, from the first day in the hotel room where this kid who could not walk started to run. We watched as he showed us how he coped on his own – tucking his arms and legs into onesies to rock himself since no one else ever did. We watched as he learned to share, learned that not all surfaces are flat and that some things can indeed spin wonderfully. We watched him search our eyes from our very first encounter. We watched him literally feel his way into a whole new world, not always comfortably.
We know this boy. He is determined. He is brave. He is strong. He is a fighter. He cannot be kept down. He jumps up with more energy than he yet knows how to channel. He teaches us how to teach him, but we are too slow. He makes connections he cannot yet explain. His brain is quick to grasp and hold melodies and rhythm and words and images. His body is fluid, centered and so strong, making him an exceptional dancer and gymnast.
We know this remarkable child. He is ours. We are his. And this blog is going to be about our journey. A journey I know will defy the numbers slapped upon his test scores. A journey I know will lead to a caring, contributing adult few can yet envision. A journey that I know will make all who walk with him just that little bit richer for having shared a bit of the path with our son. He stopped laughing at the wind, but he creates exhilaration as he runs, rides and flips down every path he takes.