I Take it Back

Everything I said about Juri after our first visit was totally wrong.  When we first met Juri, I thought he was very delayed, more than just the typical orphanage delays.  This boy could not count or remember any numbers without assistance, he could talk a little, he didn’t know how to play properly with toys, he couldn’t drink from a water bottle, he could not balance himself well and certainly couldn’t stand without substantial support.  Mentally and emotionally he seemed to be two or three years old, and we know that the lack of therapy had caused his CP to flare uncontrolled for some time.

We were expecting an essentially cognitively typical six year old boy with some weak legs.  What we found instead was a semi-responsive child whose entire body was affected by his CP and who appeared to be much younger cognitively than was his biological age.

Of course, we were not disappointed in him, but in the circumstances we knew had led to his deterioration.  We loved Juri and knew he would always come home with us – no matter the condition we found him in.  We were undeterred, but overwhelmed nonetheless.  We accepted his referral and we have come back each day to visit him.

Today was my fifth visit with our Juri.  And today I take it all back, everything I said on day one.  This boy is not the same child they handed me last Friday.  That boy was merely a shell, a glimpse of the child that once was and the child that can be again.  Juri is sweet and tenderhearted, he has a sense of humor and a brave soul.  He is persistent and independent.  He has ambitions and dreams.  But even more than that…

This kid is smart!  He is so smart.  And he is capable.  After just a few days of counting with me, he can now count to five almost completely on his own.  This child they told me had a poor memory and could not learn to count.  He can talk, oh can he talk!  When he is engaged and focused his speech sounds very typical of every other little Russian-speaking boy I have seen on our trip.  He plays wonderfully!  There is a learning curve, but he’s getting there.  He did drink from the bottle today, refusing to use the straw. He was going to teach himself how to do it!

Juri can walk with minimum assistance.  I hold his hands and he goes.  He can stand for long periods of time holding on to a table and he can sit totally unassisted.  When we first came his legs were so tightly scissored together that it made many of these things probably more difficult.  But after a few visits they are looser than they were and I even was able to carry him on my hip with one leg in front and one in back!  I was ecstatic, and he seemed more comfortable that way too!

Mind you, I am no therapist.  I have very little knowledge of CP.  All I am doing is caring for him a bit and inspiring, encouraging, loving him to do and to be all that I know he is.  Juri does not have a mental delay.  Not at all!  I just don’t believe it.  A speech delay perhaps, but that is common for his condition and speaks nothing of his intelligence.

After just five days of love and attention he is breaking out of his shell.  The child who would pretend to not hear me when I told him affectionate things or praised him now smiles when I compliment him or love on him and has even repeated the phrases once or twice.  I am not fooled.  His road to healing will be an incredibly long journey and we’re only just getting started.  But friends, what a great start!

So I take it back.  I take everything back that I thought and said after day one.  He isn’t incredibly delayed.  His physical situation is worse than it was, but already getting so much better!  Bringing him into our family is going to look very much like we thought it would.  He is the little boy I was expecting, and oh my goodness SO MUCH MORE!  I cannot wait to see his story unfold, may God continue to write it just as masterfully as He is now.  How very blessed am I to have a front row seat.


  1. I can’t wait to see how Janna blossoms for her mommy and daddy! She has waited for so long, but from what I have heard she is “in there” just like Juri was! I bet after seeing him grow so much in less than a week you will be able to see so much potential and hope in your daughter too!

  2. I just want you to know I am reading here too and I agree….The change from the first day in country to the last is amazing….Love does heal a LOT!

  3. Joy Heidbreder says:

    I’m so excited for you all. I can’t wait for you to bring him home. Looking forward to posts about Janna. God bless you all and know that you are in our prayers and we love you.

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