Warning bells tolled and lights flashed as the arms of the railroad crossing barriers came down across the road to block our way. Looking in the rear view mirror at the backseat occupant I was surprised to find, not curiously bright eyes on the noisy freight train barreling past, but a 5-year-old boy totally oblivious to the racket going on outside the car. “He’s deaf.” I said out loud even though there was no one to hear me.
The little boy’s name was Christian and he was brought to Portland for donated heart surgery by the Seattle-based charitable organization Healing The Children, and I was his foster mother. The donated care included dental cleaning, surgery at Emanuel Hospital by a large team of medical professionals including Portland’s renowned heart surgeon Dr. Albert Starr, and hearing aids by Starkey Northwest Laboratories. American Airlines donated his transportation.
My children loved having a new brother. My mother sewed flannel pajamas for the boys who shared a room. Christian was a happy child; he never complained, and we loved having him in our home.
The day he arrived he carried only a child-size backpack. It wasn’t much, but he would repack it and carry it with him everywhere he went. He didn’t want it left behind. After surgery and post-operative care the doctor released him, and before we were ready for it, it was time to for him to return to his home and family. He left with two suitcases!
We never heard from Christian or his family again. But last Christmas a now 25-year-old Christian located all of us on the social media site, Facebook, and we reconnected on Skype. He is a handsome young man and we happily communicated with signs, typed messages and the universal language of smiles, tears and hugs. We were especially excited to tell him about our upcoming trip to South America.
Because Christian Esguerra Pavi came to us in Portland, Oregon all the way from Cali, Colombia.
Twenty years later we reconnected with each other over Skype.
Signing over Skype with Christian and some photos we sent home with him.
The next year we were foster parents for another child, Thiffany Lara, from Cali, Colombia, who also needed heart surgery. She has reconnected with us on Facebook as well and we will be reuniting with her and her in Bogotá where she currently lives.
We are presently with Christian and his family in Cali. Details next week!