‘I’m sending over a file. It’s a little boy with medical needs.’ I was in the middle of a Waffle House. The day, the time, the minute came when I could finally hold him.’: Family adopt boy with facial difference, hearing impairment, ‘We will continue the torch’

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“’I am sending over a file. It is a little boy with a few medical needs. You and your husband take a few days to think about it and let me know.’ I wasn’t ready for this email yet. I mean, I was ready. My heart had been aching to get the ‘You’ve Been Matched’ notification. But I was sitting in the middle of Waffle House. I was meeting my husband and two boys for breakfast. I was sweaty from a workout. It had snowed the night before and our little town had completely shut down – North Carolina does that you know, we can’t handle the mysterious white stuff. This wasn’t how I had envisioned it. I thought we would be home, cooking dinner together, giggling with the boys and our emails would chime simultaneously and we would give each other the look of ‘this is it.’ But alas, this was our moment. Unexpected, unconventional, and yet absolutely perfect within its own perspective.

I gave my husband the look when they walked into breakfast. He didn’t even have to ask, he knew exactly what my giddy raised eyebrows meant. We waited to open his file until we got home. His file was filled with medical details, developmental milestones, and a lot of untranslated jargon even Google translate gave up on. Being in the medical field myself, I did what any good medical momma does – I got to work. Sending his file to friends, colleagues, and trusted mentors who could help me ‘see’ our boy in between the lines of needs. We met with medical teams who foreshadowed our surgical future, but it was his surgeon who spoke of our son as just that – our son. She was gentle and kind. She gave me permission to fall in love with this little face on a single picture. It was all I had until I could get to him. His eyes were filled with hope and a story only he would know.

We snuck away for a weekend getaway where we told our older boys that finally they were getting a little brother. We showed them his picture and as only children can do. They looked past his facial differences and fixated on how precious and tiny he was. ‘When can we go get him?’ ‘Does he know he has two older brothers yet?’ ‘Does he know we love him already?’ ‘Does he like Chick-fil-A?’ (the most obvious and important question).

It would be another 2 months before we could pack too many bags, that weighed far too much, and travel halfway across the world. We soaked in those 60 days, cherishing our time together as a family of 4. We filled our time with much planning, more meetings, and tons of checklists. It was finally time to go, and I couldn’t get there fast enough. We spent 3 days touring China. It was beautiful, breathtaking actually. But I couldn’t concentrate. Some 12 hours away from Beijing, our tiny little one was preparing to say goodbye to all that was familiar to him. It was a mixed bag of emotions, including elation with an undercurrent of grief for my little guy.

Courtesy of Katie Krist

The day, the time, the minute had come when I could finally meet and hold him. It was as if the floodgates had opened. All of the paperwork and waiting came down to this minute. And it was perfect. He was perfect. But you know what else happened in that minute? His life and his initial story, most parts of it we will never have the fortune of knowing, came to a crashing end. As I held our son, I thought and wept for his first mommy and daddy. Their sacrifice and dedication to love were beyond unfathomable. I slowly earned the right to kiss him on his little forehead, and I quietly promised to first mommy and daddy I would continue the torch lit by their sacrifice. I would adore our son. I would honor his story. And teach him about sacrificial love. They would forever be woven in our framework through his framework, despite us never getting the opportunity to meet. They would be in his personality, in his perfected DNA, in his gentle spirit, in his laugh – oh his laugh. Is that from you, first mommy? It is pure.

Courtesy of Katie Krist

We soaked in as much of the beautiful motherland of China as we could. We loved the people, the culture, and the traditions that were so rich in history there. When we got home it felt as if the appointments started right away. Measurements, amplified feedings, therapies, surgical consults, ultrasounds, and lab work. It became a new norm to our family. The big boys were amazing. It was as if they had been preparing for this always. They started tagging along to appointments, offering insight on safe feedings, snuggling up close to offer comfort during needle pokes, and comic relief when we all needed a good giggle. They came to the hospital after our first big operation and were the key to our first earned smile.

Courtesy of Katie Krist
Courtesy of Katie Krist

During several appointments it was mentioned there might be a mild hearing loss. ‘This can be typical with some of his medical implications.’ ‘Let’s keep an eye on it.’ But we knew. He wasn’t responding to his name. He wouldn’t turn around to look at you unless you were close enough that he knew you were present. He couldn’t find you if you called him from another room.

Courtesy of Katie Krist

We met with our beloved surgeon again. She analyzed his audiograms and in her gentle way normalized the inevitable. The day arrived and it became official. Our boy would need the assistance of a hearing aid indefinitely to optimize his ability to hear. The moment his aid was placed will forever be timestamped in my mind. Have you ever in your life gotten to witness a child grasp a new function fully? We did. And what a humbling experience.

Courtesy of Katie Krist

We had missed so much of his little life already, but to know he still had never clearly heard me tell him I love him. Or heard his daddy tell him how special he was to us. Or his older brothers marvel at his character. It was almost too much to take in.

Now we never miss an opportunity to sound off our admiration. It’s the torch we vowed to continue carrying. It is the continuation of love that was birthed the night he was born. It is the chapters of the story that were started before us, initially written without us, but will be continued with us. And in case you were wondering, he does in fact love Chicl-fil-A!”

Courtesy of Katie Krist

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Krist of North Carolina. You can follow their journey on Instagram.  Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories like this:

‘I want to be normal.’ People around me were always talking. I felt so lonely in my own world. I struggled to accept my deafness.’: Woman becomes hearing loss advocate, ‘I can do anything’

‘Your son is deaf.’ We were praying it was a huge mistake. They wheeled him out. I lost it.’: Mom shocked by newborn’s severe hearing loss, ‘we had no family history’

‘I yelled across the house, ‘I just found our baby!’ My husband went silent. We both knew we needed to say YES.’: Adoptee turned adoptive mama urges ‘love knows no boundaries’

‘We got THE CALL. ‘Would you be willing to accept a 3-month-old baby with serious medical needs?’ We couldn’t say yes fast enough.’: Couple adopt baby with Microcephaly

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