It was such a lovely day when we brought Andy home. The warmth from the sun filled the car. Six-year-old Bethany sat in the back seat with her new brother. She talked aimlessly about his new room, our house, and how much fun he’d have living with us.
Four-year-old Andy sat staring at the back of my seat. His brown eyes were empty. Emotionless from the day we met him, we were all determined to lather him in love and affection. He deserved it more than any child I’d ever met.
Andy had witnessed the brutal murder of his mother at the hands of his father. When he was only three years old, he watched as his mother lay in her own blood, and he called 911 for a woman he’d never see again.
His mother obviously taught him everything she possibly could in those short years together.
Since I’d been unable to conceive after Bethany, adoption became the next option to pursue. We longed to provide a child with a happy, healthy home. Our family and friends were delighted when we told them our plans to adopt Andy, though some cautioned us to be wary of taking on a child who had witnessed such an awful act of violence. They were afraid he might never be the same again.
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My husband, Seth, Bethany, and I were all filled with excitement over the thought of loving another child. We’d lost three children, and Andy was the blessing my family was looking for.
When we first brought him home, he was very shy and timid, and he wouldn’t let us get too close to him. If any of us tried to hug him, he’d stand straight, stiff as a board, his arms down by his side. His brown eyes were always empty.
I began to worry that maybe my cautious friends were right. Maybe we wouldn’t reach inside Andy and cure him of the pain he felt. Maybe he’d never overcome the horror he had witnessed.
Seth and I tried a little bit at a time to show him the affection he deserved. Even Bethany attempted to cherish her new brother.
As time passed, Andy grew receptive to our hugs and kisses to the point that he put his arms around us, too. His arms wouldn’t grip us tightly, but we were ecstatic that he attempted. Yet we were gravely disappointed that Andy never said “I love you” when we said it to him.
His eyes still looked empty.
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We never gave up hoping that one day Andy would express his love for us. Each day we lavished him with words and gestures of love.
One November day, the first snowfall began. Bethany and Andy went out to play. I watched them from the kitchen window, their mouths open wide as they tried to catch the snowflakes on their tongues. A tear came to my eye at the sight of my two children playing together, laughing, and having a great time.
A short while later, Bethany came running in the house out of breath and pulled frantically on my apron. “Mommy, Mommy, Andy has something he wants to tell you.”
“Okay, sweetie.” Laughing, I turned to Andy, his little button nose red from the cold.
“What is it, darling?” I asked, bending down to greet him eye to eye.
Suddenly, he wrapped his chubby little arms around me and cried out, “I love you, Mommy!”
Holding on to Andy as tightly as I could, I cried, “I love you, too, baby. Mommy loves you so very much.”