When Elizabeth and Henry Parker adopted their five-year-old son Ryan in February, he refused to sing. Throughout the day, the Parkers would hum and sing tunes from church or other places. When he heard the music, Ryan would press his hands over his ears, make noise, and tell his parents that he did not want them to sing. Neglected as a child, Ryan entered foster care as a four-year old without having learned much of what his peers had been taught. Still crawling instead of walking, not knowing how to say very many words, he mostly sat in front of the television. His birth mother suffered from substance abuse and was not able to care for him. His grandparents had medical problems and found it difficult to provide the care and instruction that he needed. His teenage cousin often looked after him, but could not be there for him constantly. As a result, he came into foster care. After a year, Lutheran Services of Georgia facilitated his adoption with the Parkers.
Ryan has progressed significantly since he entered foster care and especially since he has become part of the Parker family. He knows how to walk and, thanks in large part to Elizabeth’s dedication as a mother, he knows many more words and is learning about everything he needs to know for school. During a recent lesson on trains, Elizabeth did not just read to Ryan out of a book to explain the concept of trains moving along tracks; she filled the house with duct tape to show him this concept. Ryan is picking up on her enthusiasm and exploring all that he sees and hears.
Except for the songs. Finally, a few weeks ago, Elizabeth asked Ryan why he became upset when they sang in the house. Ryan told her that he did not like singing because he did not know any songs. Elizabeth then pointed out to him that he was learning songs at church and at home. He agreed, but did not immediately change his attitude.
Then during a recent warm afternoon, while Elizabeth and Ryan were playing outside, he suddenly began to sing.