The face of a child hearing for the first time
“Beep-beep”, those were Patrick’s first words not long after “hearing” for the first time. Mom, Kelly had said, “look at the car - beep-beep” as many mothers might, but this was on the way out of the Montreal Children’s Hospital, where Patrick had just been fitted with a hearing aid that opened up a whole new world to him at two-and-a-half years old.
Kelly and her husband, Rafael, adopted Patrick from China six weeks earlier. Patrick was born in June 2015 with a congenital deformity called Microtia. In Patrick’s case, his ears are tiny and completely closed on both sides; he is bilaterally deaf. While non-special needs adoptions in China can now take as long as 15 years, people willing to adopt special needs children such as those with cleft lips and palates, surgically repaired heart conditions, hepatitis B, club feet etc. can expect a much shorter processing time. Patrick appeared on a “special focus” adoption list given the severity of his bilateral hearing loss and the adoption process took just over a year.
Kelly had lived and worked in Beijing from 1997 to 2004. During that time, she had volunteered in an orphanage and knew first-hand what these children face. When it came to expanding their family to a third child, the couple agreed to help one in need.
Kelly had contacted Dr. Sam Daniel, Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology and plastic surgeon, Dr. Sabrina Cugno, both at the Children’s, for advice before finalizing Patrick’s adoption. “I cannot say enough about these doctors and the teams working in their departments,” Kelly says.
They arrived home with their non-verbal child on November 6th, 2017. At their first appointment with Dr. Daniel, on December 1st, much to Kelly’s surprise and delight, Patrick was fitted with a band that held a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) in place on his head. She watched as her little son “heard” for the first time. “Shock, joy and excitement” is how she described her son's experience.
Patrick is now at the Montreal Oral Preschool for the Deaf where his vocabulary is developing well and he continues to work on his articulation. With an 8 year-old brother and a 5 year-old sister at home, Patrick’s mastery of English is not a problem. Attending a French daycare in the afternoon, Patrick is well on his way to being bilingual.
Next year he’s scheduled for a procedure to surgically implant the hearing devices behind his ‘little ears’. And when he is 8 or 9 years old, he will have cosmetic ear reconstruction surgery. He will never be able to hear from his ears, but they will look like normally formed ears!
Kelly was so grateful to find out this first hearing aid was funded by generous donors to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation, and that her son will continue to receive support from the amazing team at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.