"Daddy loves you," Grayson's father, Len Clamp, said sweetly as the Charlotte, N.C., toddler pointed and gasped in awe.
The words came as clinicians at the University of North Carolina tested out the auditory brain stem implant they inserted in Grayson last month. He is the first child in the U.S. to receive the implant, which required brain surgery and is part of an FDA investigational device trial.
"I've never seen a look like that today," an exuberant Len Clamp told WRAL of Charlotte after the successful test.
"He looked deep into my eyes and he was hearing my voice for the first time. It was phenomenal," said the dad, "to see him take that sound in and try to figure out 'What in the world is this, I've never had this sensation before.' "
Yet it's a sensation his parents hoped he would experience ever since they took Grayson home from the hospital, first as his foster parents – after they decided to foster medically fragile children – and soon as his forever family.
"We got Grayson, took him home from the hospital, and he belonged. He was ours, I think, from day one," Len Clamp told Charlotte station WBTV.
Today, Grayson's microchip still needs fine-tuning, and his family is still not entirely sure what he hears and what he doesn't, but they are grateful for the strides he has already made and delighted in his initial reactions to his new hearing world.
"He likes sound. He enjoys the stimulus, the input," his mom, Nicole, told WBTV. "He definitely enjoys it."