Like everything else in Nanjing, meeting Nathan threw me for a loop. When we first met Olivia, there was oodles of paperwork to complete which took nearly an hour so we had plenty of time to prepare for the “Gotcha” occasion.
Not this time.
First off, the van driver was late which put me on edge a little. Then…and this could be my sensitivities talking, the dude acted like mom and I were dragging our feet. I need to change the way I’m thinking in Nanjing cause a lot of people are rubbing me the wrong way. Anyways, instead of a quiet room with paperwork to be complete, mom and I walked into a packed place filled with kids and families. Nobody seemed to notice us so mom and I wandered around not knowing what to do amongst this awesome chaos. We were trying to find a space to sit when our guide tapped me on the shoulder. She had a look in her eyes as if to say “what took you so long?” but after sitting down, I realized why she was looking at me this way….I had walked right past Chen Chen without noticing him! As our eyes met, I called out to him in surprise. There he was, standing with his new walker, slowly making his way to me. I didn’t see fear, surprise, nothing in him to indicate hesitation. Instead, he smiled faintly, focusing on making his way through the crowd. When he got a few feet from me, I scooped his little body up and put him on my lap…..surprised as hell that my son was with me. We sat there together a few minutes while mom scrambled to get some video and photos. It was an imperfect moment made perfect by love. I was totally thrown off, but it didn’t matter….my boy was now in my lap and smiling.
He’s a real charmer this one. He smiled and laughed practically the whole time. I had a long talk with his caregivers who knew him at the orphanage and they were relieved that Theresa and I were therapists. Still, being a therapist is different when it’s your kid. But I already see that Nate has a lot of catching up to do. (Sorry but I’m putting on my therapist hat now) He is extremely weak, especially in his trunk and legs. He will need leg braces, botox, surgery…a stander, wheelchair, toilet set up and possibly a bath chair although he did well in the tub later on. His movements are slow but sure with his walker. He’s able to sit cross legged and in chairs fairly well although he’s unsteady and collapses forward, he’s mildly kyphotic in his thoracic region of the spine and has not crawled or scooted yet, he uses his hands and arms well, but his grip/grasp is weak (I’m taking off the hat now).
All of that aside, he’s a melter…that is, he will melt your heart when you meet him. He hasn’t talked much as of yet, except to tell me when he has to use the bathroom but he did show me his writing book where he was practicing Chinese characters. When we were driving home in the van, he started to rustle through his little book bag that he kept from the orphanage.I thought he was looking for papers to show me or his stuffed Panda Bear, but instead he pulled out a tattered set of pictures. It took me a moment to realize it, but the pictures were all of our family….the ones we sent to him months ago. We both sorted through them…Nathan pointing at each person in the pictures while I explained who they were. It was a beautiful moment…one that made all the days craziness fade away.