by Jackie Lantry
Morning Edition, August 1, 2005 ·
I believe in the ingredients of love, the elements from which it is
made. I believe in love’s humble, practical components and their
We adopted Luke four years ago. The people from
the orphanage dropped him off at our hotel room without even saying
goodbye. He was nearly six years old, only 28 pounds and his face was
crisscrossed with scars. Clearly, he was terrified. "What are his
favorite things?" I yelled. "Noodles," they replied as the elevator
Luke kicked and screamed. I stood between him and the
door to keep him from bolting. His cries were anguished, animal-like.
He had never seen a mirror and tried to escape by running through one.
I wound my arms around him so he could not hit or kick. After an hour
and a half he finally fell asleep, exhausted. I called room service.
They delivered every noodle dish on the menu. Luke woke up, looked at
me and started sobbing again. I handed him chopsticks and pointed at
the food. He stopped crying and started to eat. He ate until I was sure
he would be sick.
That night we went for a walk. Delighted at
the moon, he pantomimed, "What is it?" I said, "The moon, it’s the
moon." He reached up and tried to touch it. He cried again when I tried
to give him a bath until I started to play with the water. By the end
of his bath the room was soaked and he was giggling. I lotioned him up,
powdered him down and clothed him in soft PJs. We read the book One Yellow Lion. He loved looking at the colorful pictures and turning the pages. By the end of the night he was saying, "one yellow lion."
next day we met orphanage officials to do paperwork. Luke was on my lap
as they filed into the room. He looked at them and wrapped my arms
tightly around his waist.
He was a sad, shy boy for a long time
after those first days. He cried easily and withdrew at the slightest
provocation. He hid food in his pillowcase and foraged in garbage cans.
I wondered then if he would ever get over the wounds of neglect that
the orphanage had beaten into him.
It has been four years. Luke
is a smart, funny, happy fourth-grader. He is loaded with charm and is
a natural athlete. His teachers say he is well behaved and works very
hard. Our neighbor says she has never seen a happier kid.
I think back, I am amazed at what transformed this abused, terrified
little creature. It was not therapy, counselors or medications. It did
not cost money, require connections or great privilege. It was love:
just simple, plain, easy to give. Love is primal. It is comprised of
compassion, care, security, and a leap of faith. I believe in the power
of love to transform. I believe in the power of love to heal.