Speaking Without Words
Language is the key to communication. This, however, isn’t the case for Adam and me. Since I am not able speak but a couple words of Chinese, there are very few people that I can actually verbally communicate with in China. Like in the United States, children from China learn to speak at a fairly young age. Most Chinese three year olds, like Adam, are able to speak fairly well. Adam, however, cannot speak at all. Due to his ear deformation, Adam is deaf. In kindergarten, I went to an elementary school with quite a few deaf children from all over the district, one of them being my best friend. Being around deaf children for a whole school year taught me that you can communicate with someone through more than just speaking. Adam and I communicated in many ways, whether it was laughter, smiles, playing, hugging, or exploring together.
This past summer, I went on a mission trip to Langfang, China, with a small group from my church. Earlier that year, our group decided to visit a small Christian orphanage named Sheppard’s Field. The children of Sheppard’s Field are divided into five houses. The House of Blessings was my favorite house to visit because Adam lived there.
I loved visiting Adam and the rest of the children at the House of Blessings. When I would walk across big freshly cut, green lawn from the inn where the visitors stayed to where the children’s homes are, the only thing I could hear was the giggles of children enjoying themselves and playing outside. As soon as I would round the corner of the colorfully decorated concrete fence that separated the children’s homes from the lawn and playground, I would see all the happy children from each home playing on their “blanket” made of flattened cardboard boxes just outside the house in which they live. In front of the House of Blessings, I would see Adam, Bea, Robert, and all the other children from that home, along with their nannies. I would immediately make my way towards the familiar faces that I visited everyday. When I got close enough for the children to notice someone was coming, Adam’s deep brown eyes would light up like the sun and he would run full sprint with his arms spread to their maximum ability. I would bend down and scoop him up into a giant bear hug.
How could anyone abandon this precious baby boy that I’ve fallen in love with? This reoccurring thought would almost never leave my mind every time I looked into his luminous deep brown eyes and saw his enormous smile that flashed all of his newly grown baby teeth. It was very easy to make Adam smile from ear to ear, all I had to do was tickle his belly or make a silly face and he would giggle and smile as big as he could. Every so often, I would be holding Adam and he would look me in the eyes, then grab my cheeks and lean in for one of those open mouth, sloppy baby kisses we all know and love. The nannies at the House of Blessings saw how well I looked after Adam and would sometimes let me look after all the children while they went in to the house to prepare snack or a meal time.
Before leaving for China, a lot of people told me that this experience would change my life forever and not a day would go by that I wouldn’t think about the children that I would meet at Sheppard’s Field. Thinking that those words were nonsense, I just ignored them.
Walking into my boyfriend’s house the day after I returned to the United States, his mother asked, “How was your trip?”
“It was so amazing! The whole experience was so… umm… I can’t really explain it.” I said struggling with my words, “But I brought some pictures I can show you!”
“That sounds wonderful.” she said with an anxious glimmer in her eyes.
As I pulled out the thick stack of pictures that had just been developed, I began showing her all the faces I quickly grew to love.
“This one’s Adam, and here’s Bea, his name is Lucas, and this one’s Hayden.” I began naming off all the now familiar faces to my boyfriend and his mother until I realized they were staring at me blankly.
“How do you know the names of all these kids?” he asked astonished.
A smile crept over my face and I said, “I just do.”
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