Most of us cannot remember the first time we heard our mothers say our name or bring to mind the first time we started crying because we laughed so hard. For Malachi, though, these memories are not so distant. On a momentous day earlier this year, he began to hear the sounds of the world, including the wonderful music of his mother’s voice and his own ringing laughter, which he could hardly contain.
Malachi is a six-year-old boy with Treacher Collins syndrome, born without some of the bones in his face and neck. For the first several years of his life, he lived in a group home for medically fragile children, where he did not have the attention that he needed. Without an ear canal, he could not hear, and no one at his group home worked to get him the surgery that he needed to have hearing aids put in. The nurses had to care for many children, and Malachi’s surgery was not pursued.
Then, in 2012, Amy and Derron saw Malachi for the first time and fell in love. They already had a child with Treacher Collins syndrome and knew that they could offer the love and stability that would allow Malachi to thrive. Having already adopted three other children through LSG, Amy and Derron worked with LSG’s case managers to finalize the adoption of Malachi. Earlier this year, they welcomed him into their family.
With parents now to advocate for his care, Malachi underwent surgery to have a hearing aid put into his ear. The effect of this surgery was remarkable. Five weeks after the surgery, Malachi returned to the doctor to have the hearing aids turned on. When the doctor pressed the right button, Malachi suddenly began to giggle. He could not stop giggling. New sounds flooded his ears for the first time, and he could not do anything but giggle. And then his parents laughed until their stomachs hurt and tears of joy flowed from their eyes. “It was literally a miraculous moment,” Amy recalls. “The overwhelming joy that came from that child was unbelievable. Other than the moment that a child calls you mom or dad, this was the most important moment for Derron and me as parents.”
With his new hearing aids, Malachi is now thriving. Although in kindergarten, he reads at a first grade level and has begun to write and speak. He loves to run around outside, color in his coloring books, and play with his trains. He also relishes his role on the special needs tumbling and cheerleading team, The Renegades. He is the “flyer,” the child who is on top of the pyramid and in the middle of the stunts. Before the surgery, he could feel the beat of the music, but now he can hear the music. The music, the noises, the sounds: everything is clearer to Malachi now that he can hear. But perhaps nothing is as clear as the love of his parents, a love that surrounds him every day and shows him that he is accepted as he is.