Our son was a ward of the state. He had been in a foster home for about a year before we met him. At 2-and-a-half years old, he could not walk and he could not talk. He weighed just over 20 pounds. He could sign the words “milk” and “more.” His life had been upended a couple times. Our son, too, knew a little bit about not getting what you planned on in life. The fact he didn’t curl up in a ball of defeat seemed to be evidence to us that this was an extraordinary person.
But we didn’t know any of that then. We had a little of his backstory and a photo of him that we copied: one for the refrigerator and one I carried in my bag. I talked to him constantly in my head before I ever saw him in person. Mostly, I said things like, “Hold on.” “Soon.” “I love you.”