Deaf from birth, Grayson Clamp's entry into the world was a quiet one. But after a new surgery that endowed him with an auditory implant in his brainstem, the three-year-old has begun the journey of gaining full use of his new sense: he heard his father tell him "Daddy loves you."

Grayson's implant is not a cochlear implant. As he was born with no cochlear nerve, doctors found that an implant offered no stimulation.

"We bypassed the area where there is no cochlear nerve, and we applied the electrodes directly to the brain stem," said Dr. Craig Buchman, an otolaryngologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Grayson was born with CHARGE syndrome, a genetic, acronymic disorder that was once used to diagnose children with: Coloboma of the eye, Heart defects, Atresia of the choanae, Retardation of growth and/or development, Genital and/or urinary abnormalities, and Ear abnormalities and deafness. These diagnoses are no longer used, but the name has remained.

Grayson's first sounds came when his father, Len, repeated "Daddy loves you" over and over to his visibly astounded son.

"I've never seen another look like that," Len told WRAL. "I mean he looked deep into my eyes and he was hearing my voice for the first time."

The Clamps do not know whether Grayson hears what they are saying or if it's just noise that his brain picks up. But they're confident that as Grayson continues to work with the implant, their uncertainty will fade.

"We don't know exactly what he hears," his mother Nicole told WBTV. "If he hears everything we hear, some of what we hear... His brain is still trying to organize itself to use sound."

And while they can't know what exactly Grayson hears, they find comfort in that he has the ability at all and has taken a liking to the added sense.

"He likes sound," Nicole remarked. "He enjoys the stimulus, the input. He's curious and he definitely enjoys it."

Right now, Grayson wears a device on his head that straps around the back of his skull and attaches a sensor a couple of inches above his left ear. Doctors have implanted a microchip in his brainstem that communicates with the earpiece, which they will fine-tune over time.

The learning process begins with showing Grayson pictures on a computer screen while the doctors run different frequency tones into his brain for up to 20 electrodes. He will undergo speech and hearing therapy for the next few years.

Grayson was selected for the surgery late last month as part of a Food and Drug Administration trial.

No mention has been made whether Grayson's biological parents had CHARGE syndrome as well, but Len and Nicole say their son fit into the family the day they brought him home. The Clamps knew their son was deaf when they adopted him, and both agreed to proceed with the surgery.

"We got Grayson, took him home from the hospital and he belonged," Len told WBTV of those first moments of his adoption. "He was ours from I think day one."