Boys are fun.
Boys make their mamas fall in love with them. Head over heels, hopelessly, crazy in love with them. The bond between a mama and her boy is special.
And boys are heartbreakers. There have been at least two times in my life that I can recall preschool boys bringing me to my knees. The first was at an orphanage in Ukraine almost two years ago. We were in a common room where a little party was being hosted by volunteers who were also passing out Operation Christmas Child boxes. So many children were there - some with mild special needs, but most were able to run around and dance to the music. Still, there was an almost indescribable look of uncertainty on their faces, even as they were having fun, even as they were laughing and playing. I call it the orphan face, because I have seen it over and over now, on the faces of many children there (and even adults who have spent their entire lives in the system). It's a look that is void of self-confidence, full of meekness. It is a look that says to you "I am not loved, not really. I WANT someone to love me, but I am afraid." Some still dare to hope, others dare not.
This little one, THIS boy, oh how he tugged at me. He kept peering over the chair, smiling at me. We played peek-a-boo a little, I took photos and showed them to him. He grinned a big grin. He was young enough not to comprehend the gravity of his situation, not to understand what his future likely holds. His innocence, that's what killed me. He was too young, yet still he intrinsically understood that he wanted a mama. Once he looked at me and asked "Mama?". I looked at him and shook my head no. At that moment, if the orphanage staff had said "Go ahead, take him", I would have grabbed his little hand and walked right out the front door, no questions asked. I didn't need to know what was "wrong" with him, what landed him in this groupa at the orphanage. I would have adopted him and brought him and been his Mama, and given him a dad, and a brother, and a sister, and a home. And matchbox cars to drive recklessly around my living room.
The second time a little boy brought me literally to my knees was last December. It was my own boy. Bella and I made our way to baggage claim after 30 hours of flying, and there my family and many friends were waiting. It had been a good journey - Bella was outstanding on all the flights! Still, I was full of a strange mix of excitement and angst, chomping at the bit to get to my Buddy, who I hadn't seen in a few weeks. We were the last ones off the plane. When the group of people who'd gathered to greet us came into sight, I scanned them quickly, but all I could focus on was finding my little boy. When he saw me, he came running up and I scooped him into my arms. In that moment it was all I could do to contain myself. I was so relieved that our family was together again, and so very, very thankful that my boy never has to know the loneliness and pain of growing up parentless in an orphanage; a timid little soul wandering around asking any new woman who walks through the doors, "Mama?".
The bond between a mama and her boy is special.
And now - well, now I find my heartstrings being tugged yet again, by another little boy. One far, far away but in a country that is part of my soul. Though he resides in a baby house in the same city that Bella is from, I never got to meet him. But I have friends who have spent a lot of time with him, and here's what they have to say:
**"Ezra" is absolutely precious! He is sweet and adorable and oh so lovable! He laughs when his toes are tickled, or when someone around him laughs or talks or sings to him. He often smiles or laughs so hard his chubby cheeks make his eyes close. He has learned to blow spit bubbles and coo. It is hard for me to tell if he is able to use his limbs normally, but he is able to move from his back to his side with little or no assistance. He has not yet learned to play with toys, but he has a very strong grip and enjoys holding my finger. I was told he can see, but not very well. I observed his eyes moving rapidly from side to side, and sometimes appearing to be looking in two different directions. In spite of this there were other times in which he appeared to be quite focused and looking right at us. He has absolutely stolen my heart, and I hope that he will find a family that can help him meet his full potential!**
Look at that big smile - when I look at his photos one word repeatedly comes to mind: SWEET! It was the same thing that I always thought when I saw photos of Bella. Turns out, she is the very essence of sweetness, and I bet Ezra is too. Photo after photo after photo of Ezra, all have one thing in common: a smile that is pure joy. Yes, he has hydrocephalus. So does Bella. Yes, his head is large. So is Bella's. So what? It doesn't stop her from being bright, affectionate, playful, and downright loveable. This tiny boy still has a chance to live a remarkable life, if given a family and proper care. I can just see him driving little trains around a track in his bedroom, sunlight streaming through the window. Or giving his Mama a big hug and saying "I love you". Having her wrapped around his finger. The bond between a Mama and her boy is special.
Ezra is just over two years old now. That means he has the opportunity to receive needed medical care and interventions at a much earlier age than Bella did, and that can make all the difference in the world for these children. I can only imagine how different Bella's life would be today if she got a family SIX years earlier, at age two instead of age eight. It makes me sad to know that she waited so long and suffered so much. Ezra has already waited, he's already suffered. But a family can change this for him. HE doesn't have to wait six more years if someone has the courage to step forward and claims him now. He has already had a shunt placed to treat his hydrocephalus, which is good news for anyone interested in adopting him. It means that as long as the shunt functions properly, his hydrocephalus will not get any worse.
I'd also like to add that not knowing how to play with toys - as mentioned in the description above - is quite common among young orphans. It isn't something to be alarmed by - it stems from lack of opportunity (no toys available) and lack of peer modeling (they don't see any other kids playing with toys either). My daughter didn't know how to play with most toys, but learns quickly and loves playing now.
Want to see a little more of "Ezra"? Then click on this link and take a look at the video made by a volunteer, featuring this sweet baby. You can also go HERE to read his description and take a look at his adoption grant. He already has over $2200 in his grant that will go toward the cost of his adoption.
If you are interested in learning more about Ezra, please leave a comment (I will not publish your comment in order to respect your privacy) and I can connect you with people who have spent time with him. I know many families who have adopted from this region, and we can answer questions about travel, court, etc. there. Ezra is young, he is social, he is happy. He needs out. I'll be honest, if I could hop on a plane and bring him home...well, I'd do it. I would bring him into our home and make him part of our family. His older sisters would teach him the art of snuggling and his older brother would teach him the finer points of Matchbox car-driving. He would pile onto the couch with everyone for Friday night movies. He would learn what being cherished feels like. Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to adopt him. So here is my Christmas prayer: that a family somewhere sees this beautiful child and has their own heartstrings pulled. I pray that Ezra receives what would likely be his first gift: the gift of a family, of love, of a special bond with a mama.