“Alex, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
“Are you sure? This really is a big step…”
“It’s just that, I’ve never felt so certain about something in my entire life. And you always say to follow my heart right?”
“Alright, let’s do it.”.
Five months since mourning the loss of our baby-girl, Hope, and we are finally ready. To give the love we have been holding onto for so long, to a child who really needs it. Vivian and I couldn’t be more excited. Moving on towards the path of healing and recovery, the memory of Hope lives on still. In our hearts, till forever.
He captured our hearts during our first visit to Lighthouse Orphanage. While Vivian was interacting with some of the children playing out in the classroom, James, a two-and-a-half year old toddler came running and hugged Vivian from behind.
“Come, sing. Sing me song, sing me song,” he said, with the biggest smile on his face.
He was a walking ball of love. I looked on while Vivian sang ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ to James, as he tried to sing-along. As we gave our attention to him, Vivian and I looked at each other and couldn’t help but smile. It was just like the scene I would have envisioned Vivian and Hope in. We felt a connection with James.
This was it. The light we had asked for. The turning point in our lives. His eyes could not have showed otherwise.
Finally, when all is said and done, we welcomed James into our lives with open arms. He’s one of us now – 2 February 2014
It was time to introduce him to everyone, families and friends. A small family gathering sounds about right. We fitted James in the most adorable white on black polka-dotted shirt and it’s as if his smile couldn’t get any wider.
As both Vivian’s parents and my parents got seated in the dining room, anticipation filled the room just as quickly as the aroma of food. The table, reminiscent to our standard family Thanksgiving setting, decked with a large whole roast turkey, asian salad and whipped potatoes on the side, Vivian and I went all out to prepare for today’s dinner. After all, James definitely is someone to celebrate and be thankful for.
As Vivian and I walked into the dining room holding James hand in hand, James being the ball of energy that he is, giggled, smiled and even said hello.
“Mom, dad, so here he is…our son, James!”
Silence ensued. Not the reaction we were expecting. Vivian and I looked at each other.
“Alex, can I have a word with you?” my dad asked.
We both left the dining room and went into the kitchen. He grabbed my arm and tugged it hard, saying, “Is he what I think he is? Retarded? Alex are you out of your mind?! What makes you think you and Vivian have what it takes to care for a retarded child? You’ve no experience at all.”
My heart sank.
“Dad! Just stop! First of all he is not retarded. James has down-syndrome. You think Viv and I didn’t think long and hard before coming to this decision? We’ve done lots of research on how to care for special children such as James. He makes us very happy. Likewise, we feel that we can make him just as happy too. Yes, he has some difficulties, and it’s not going to be easy but he is no different from anyone of us.”
“Let’s be realistic here Alex…”
I wasn’t hearing anymore of this. Everything felt like a big blur. Then I looked at James. Sudden realization kicked in. The eyes of a child, such innocence. We are doing the right thing. I have no regrets. We’ll just give the rest time. I pray that in time, they will see it too.
As a novice father, obviously I have concerns, doubts and fears. We’re all human after all. I may not say it or show it, but I do try to express it. In the form of words. I’ve started writing a journal, addressing all my feelings. I hope that one day, with this, James will be able to read and understand it.
18 January 2014; 2315
Will I judge him or love him
Put nothing above him
Help him to see what he’s worth
Can I tend to his needs
When he’s down on his knees
Can I still see the light in his eyes
Can I lend him a hand
Let him still be a man
Will I run or stand by his side
21 January 2014; 2230
Can I help him to think with his heart
When he’s wrong when he’s right
I’ll be there to remind him
That he’s made in the image of God
When he struggles with troubles
He needs to know
That his mistakes don’t define his life
I hope he sees that his dad was not a perfect man. I hope he sees that there is no such thing as perfect and we all simply have to do the best that we can. I hope he sees that his dad was a strong man who overcame all the odds. I hope he sees that his dad loved him unconditionally no matter what people said.
10 February 2014; 0500
I feel you on the bottom of my feet
The very blush in my cheek
You’re a horse running wild
You’re the cracking open of a heart
You make me feel so alive
I am honoured to know
The twinkle of your star
If we can bless this child by being his parents, then we are blessed. No matter what colour, ethnicity, disability or religion, love is the mission. I am my brother’s keeper.