Tung-Dubois Family Hosting Testimony Summer 2014 – China

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My husband and I hosted a 5.5 year old boy this summer from China listed as having developmental delays. We were under the impression he could walk, had some communication skills and although behind would be only a year or two behind. When he was wheeled out at the airport in a wheelchair with one of the other host kids, we were almost in shock. My husband took an involuntary step backwards. Most of the other kids we saw had some form of expression on their face, but our little guy looked completely blank. Not afraid, not happy, not sad… nothing. One hundred things went through my mind for which I hadn’t prepared. The little boy next to our host son in the wheelchair bounced out of the seat after seeing the balloon his host family held with a HUGE smile on his face. I still remember the look of pure joy that little boy had as he moved quickly towards them. Our little guy stood up next to the wheelchair and stared at the ground. When I went to say hello, he didn’t acknowledge me. When I tried to get him to hold my hand, he didn’t hold it back. I tried to get eye contact with no response. We tried to get him to walk and he seemed like he could barely walk so I had to pick him up. I think we expected him to be afraid, crying, running, a million things but not indifferent. A few days into hosting, he finally started moving from the spot where we placed him in our house. He started to explore. New light up sneakers and lots of practice and he was just beginning to walk like an experienced toddler.  We took him to the playground multiple times and the little boy who could barely walk began climbing everything. Smiles, giggles and reaching up to hold our hand soon followed. He even refused to be carried because he wanted to walk! Another week or so and he’d learned to jump and catch a large ball. He was smiling, laughing and starting to make great eye contact. Each week brought more development. He did lack some language skills, but we learned to negotiate nonverbally. He blossomed into the most expressive kid with the funniest faces and even started hugging us back very tightly. This all happened in four weeks! Peering into the backseat while driving to the airport, I see him talking on his make-believe cell phone, smiling, giggling and kicking. There will never be a photo or description that could do his amazing transformation justice.

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