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Blind Orphan Gets Fresh Start With Adopted Parents: 'It's Incredible'

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A little boy who started life, blind and abandoned in a Chinese orphanage had his life turned around right here in Philadelphia.

While this little boy is special, it's his adoptive parents who made it all happen, and the doctors at Wills Eye Hospital.

8-year-old Jon Paul easily navigates the ropes, in his neighborhood park. This kind of free playing is something nobody every expected from the little boy who was blind for the first 3 years of his life.

"I think it's really incredible how far he has come," said Faye Corman.

Faye Corman and Michael Corman, who live in Camden County, adopted Jon Paul from an orphanage in China 5 years ago. They felt they could help because Michael is blind.

"I thought I could provide him with all the knowledge I had acquired," Michael said. "I wanted to help him achieve his full potential."

Not knowing exactly what was wrong with his eyes they turned to Wills Eye where Dr. Alex Levin determined one eye was damaged beyond repair.

But there was hope for his left eye, where they found a cataract and other issues, which theoretically could be fixed surgically. The problem was they didn't know what had caused the eye issues so it would be risky.

It was a complete unknown whether the surgery, a difficult complicated surgery that had some risk associated with it, would yield any vision at all," said Dr. Levin. "It was a difficult decision."

In addition, Jon Paul had no language skills and nothing was known about him, or his background. But the risky surgery worked and the day after he could see.

"It's really an incredible thing to see a kid who has blossomed in many ways. He is making unbelievable strides."

Jon Paul is in the second grade now, where his favorite subject is social studies.

"It's really been an emotional roller coaster ride I'd have to say. He's done so well and accomplished more than we anticipated."

That includes doing gymnastics in the New Jersey Special Olympics, where he won several medals.

"It was more than a pleasant surprise it was a miracle," Michael said.

And Michael says he'll still teach his son about all the things visually impaired people can do.

In addition to learning to play the piano, Michael was the first blind person to graduate from Rutgers Law School in Camden. He's now focusing on helping John Paul, not with blindness but with overcoming some developmental issues related to being abandoned in an orphanage.

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