Warning bells tolled loudly and red 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 shocked 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 exclaimed 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 heart surgery donated 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 – due to this new diagnosis – 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.
Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating!
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 every time we left the house. 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 full suitcases!
We never heard from Christian or his family again, that is, until last Christmas. Now 25 years old, Christian located us on 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.
It was perfect timing! We were especially excited to tell him about our upcoming trip to South America and that we would meet up with him.
Because Christian Esguerra Pavi came to us from Cali, Colombia.
Twenty years later we all reconnected over Skype.
Signing over Skype with Christian and photos from 20 years earlier.
The next year we were foster parents for another child who also needed heart surgery: Thiffany Lara, from Cali, Colombia. She has reconnected with us on Facebook as well and we will be reuniting with her in Bogotá where she currently lives.
We are presently with Christian and his family in Cali. Details next week!