WITHOUT WORDS

WITHOUT WORDS

From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Without Words

Love is everything it’s cracked up to be . . . it really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.

Erica Jong

We flew halfway around the world to adopt a child.

Leaving behind winter-wet Oregon and three sons, we landed in the bitterly cold Ukraine, eager to meet our new toddler.

Our teen daughter accompanied us to the adoption center in Kiev where we viewed files. But it was the folder on almost-three Vladamir that caught our eye. We knew he belonged to us.

Escorted by a hired driver, we left during the night on a six-hour trip to Kharkiv along pot-holed roads in a swirling snowstorm. The director, who spoke only Russian, greeted us warmly at the orphanage. A translator prepared us to meet Vladamir, whom they called Vova.

Then in he walked, a little brunette boy. Handsome and busy, he soon captured our hearts. He touched everything in the director’s office, her telephone, her television and items on her desk. When we gave him a little red matchbox car, he gripped it with delight.

The director invited us to watch a performance in the music class down the hall. As the piano played and the children sang a song, Vova rode around the room on a stick horse, fell over and was rescued by two girls. Language wasn’t a barrier; we understood the plot and fell in love with the hero.

During the week the paperwork was being completed, we visited Vova twice a day. We pointed at objects in books and told him the English words. We showed him pictures of his new brothers, sister, dog and cat, and our home in Oregon. We played soccer together. Fun was a language we all spoke.

Although Vova was quiet, solemn and rarely smiled, we sensed his tender spirit. Concerned, however, we asked if he ever spoke. But our cares evaporated the day we gave him a toy cell phone we purchased at an outdoor market. He chattered to the other little orphans, bragging that his new mama and papa had given it to him. We understood his excitement. It felt the same in Russian as English.

At the court hearing, Vova officially became our son. We renamed him Luke and rode the train to Kiev. The officials complimented his ready acceptance of this American family he barely knew and couldn’t really communicate with.

We arrived at our flat late that night. Luke nestled in the middle of the bed between my husband and I, snuggling a small, stuffed toy. We clicked off the lights, and our sweet son went right to sleep. American and Ukrainian—we were all weary.

In the morning, I woke first and just looked at the precious boy lying next to me. Would he be startled to wake next to virtual strangers? I watched his eyes flutter then shut. He turned his head toward me and opened them again. When he jumped in surprise, I murmured reassurances and handed him our travel alarm clock to play with. He seemed to understand and immediately calmed.

After a bit, he stood on the bed and peered out the window at the busy street and sidewalks seven floors below. Excited, Luke jabbered about “machinas.” Obviously, he liked cars most of all. A mother can tell these things, no matter the language.

Later, he pointed to himself and said, “Luke”—one of his first words in English.

I pulled him into my arms. Luke was our new son, the answer to our prayers. And I knew the love we’d feel for each other would need no translation. Love, you see, transcends all barriers.

Diane Kagey

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