“I was basically invisible,” he said. “People came into the group home, mostly couples looking to adopt, and they totally didn’t see me.
“I was like a puppy in the pound that you don’t notice.”
He had low vision. Although the U.S. government would’ve called him “legally blind.”
The kid was 9 years old. He could see, but not much. His peripheral vision was nearly non-existent. He had—to use an oversimplified cliché—tunnel vision.
“I could see a tiny bit,” he said. “The glaucoma left me with an itty-bitty circle in the center of my visual field.”
But nobody wanted to adopt a kid with glaucoma. It was too much work. He needed extra care. Extra attention. He could only read large print. He had special teachers at school. And someday, he would probably go totally blind.
The volunteers at the group home were nice to him. But they weren’t parents. Not even close.
Every evening, when group-home volunteers would leave for home to be with their real families, with their actual kids, he would be stuck there
at the home. Alone.
He would lie in his bunk with the other parent-less kids. In relative darkness. Crying. The reality would sink in. He was an orphan with a capital O.
An orphan, you see, grows up without confidence. You and I take confidence for granted. When you have a measure of confidence, life is okay. The world is one big opportunity. You have options.
But when you have no confidence, the earth is dangerous and unforgiving. Life is a manure sandwich. Eat it or starve.
“I didn’t like my life,” he said. “I wasn’t even 10 years old and I hated being alive.”
It was the Christmas season. A long time ago. A young woman came into the group home. She was young. Brunette. She was dressed in a fast-food uniform. She was on break and she smelled like cigarettes.