Joel and Tate: I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Two Decembers ago, a couple of very special boys entered my life in a rather unusual way. They arrived in my email.
The first was two-month-old baby Joel, who came to LWB’s Heartbridge Healing Home on the 12th. He had a complex set of heart defects that would need staged surgeries; the first to take place when he had reached eight months old. He was sweet and smiley, and settled in immediately. This was one alert and precious baby boy!
Five days later, seven-month-old Tate arrived. I took one look at his adorable face, laughed aloud at his expression, and decided that this little guy needed a comical nickname. Ever since that day I have thought of him as “Tater-Tot.” Tate had a number of medical mysteries, including a small heart defect, spleen and liver abnormalities, tummy troubles, unexplained fevers…doctors couldn’t pin down exactly what was causing Tate’s troubles, so we brought him to Heartbridge for some TLC and a special infant formula.
Over the following months, Tate’s heart healed itself and his digestive system slowly straightened out. In the meantime, Joel went to the hospital for his first-stage heart surgery. He recovered quickly, and both boys grew stronger and more active over the coming months.
Not yet old enough to be true playmates, Tate and Joel were never far from each other, as can be seen in their update picture below. This was taken last September when Joel was 12 months and Tate was 16 months old.
True friendship began to bloom this summer when the boys were a little older. Tate had been gone for several weeks, having adoption paperwork processed, and when he returned the more mobile Joel took it upon himself to teach Tate all sorts of new tricks. Climbing all over the couch provided countless hours of fun!
Tate’s transition to official “toddling toddler” was also an endless source of amusement. Before Tate gained directional control, he often ran into Joel, knocking him to the ground. Seeing his friend on the floor, Tate would then throw himself down as well, and the two would laugh and laugh. Toddler humor: there is just no explaining it.
The boys have been constant companions; sharing toys, food and giggles every day. We knew that both boys had been chosen for adoption, and I began to worry as Joel’s December adoption grew closer.
We had no idea when Tate’s family would be coming, and it was hard to imagine one of the boys being left behind without their best buddy for several months.
As it turns out, those precious little boys who showed up in my email two Decembers ago are highly attached to that particular month. They are BOTH expected to be united with their families next month, in time for the holidays. Joel will be coming home to the US, while Tate is joining his family in Sweden. We don’t yet know the exact timing, but we are hopeful that neither boy will have a chance to get lonely before his own parents arrive.
We wish both boys and their families good health and a long, happy lifetime of love. I am going to miss their weekly appearance in my email terribly, but I am so incredibly happy for them! I love you guys!
~Jan Champoux is the Associate Director of LWB’s Healing Homes Program.