(not the teenage kind)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Serendipity Maybe?

The other day I went on a job interview even though I'm not really looking for a job. It all started out because I thought I was talking to them about a consulting assignment and that led to me agreeing to at least talk to people in the organization to see if I could become interested in working for them full time.

I was scheduled to talk to four people and the night before the interview I did some computer research on all of them. I found that one guy I was talking to was on the Board of a non-profit that was started by a woman who had once started a different non-profit with the help of my dad. And if you're thinking that this is the serendipity part of this post, you are wrong although I thought so too at the time.

The name of one of the guys on my schedule was very familiar to me but I could not figure out why. I was first interviewed by a woman who walked me over to meet the familiar name sounding guy who we actually ran into as he was standing outside talking to the non-profit guy who I was going to meet last. The woman introduced us and he started shaking my hand and saying "nice to meet you" when he stopped himself and said "Wait a minute, I know you!" He then turned to the other two and said, "She took care of my boys before they were my boys." And in case you are now totally confused, here is part of a post I wrote on February 2, 2005 which explains it all:
More than ten or so years ago, I used to volunteer at an Infant-Toddler shelter. One night I went over there with my boom box and some tapes thinking I would have a dance party with the kids. As I was walking in, one of the staff members was walking out, on her way to the hospital. She told me that two new kids had arrived that morning and one of them had bitten her. Hard. And she wasn't the first staff member to have to visit the hospital because of this kid.

Well, the new kids were two brothers - 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 years old - and I have never before or since seen two kids in worse shape. The older one, the biter, was emaciated and unable to speak. That is why he bit and banged his head and screamed. He had no other way of expressing himself. The youngest was a lump. There was no joy in that kid. He just sort of sat there. It still surprises me to say this but I was terrified of the older child. He was wild and uncontrollable. And how weird is it to say you're scared of a 2 year old? But there was a staff member, Marla, who fell in love with this boy and turned everything around. Meanwhile, I just adored the little one. In fact, Marla and I really got in trouble with the agency for favoring these two boys. But they needed it.

The full story of these boys is for another time but let's just fast forward and say that they were adopted by two men who by coincidence live just blocks away from me. Between Marla, the foster family they were placed with initially, and these two men who adopted them, they have more than thrived. They are doing great. And they have been very important to me as a symbol of hope and the resilience of children. Because I really, really thought there was no hope for these boys.

Anyway, over the years I have not talked to them often. Maybe there's a Christmas card here and there. Marla moved to Maryland and she came back about two years ago with her little girl and we all met at Jerry's Deli. The boys said they remembered the Infant-Toddler shelter and us. I asked them if they had any questions about when they were little. The youngest one asked what his favorite color was and one of the dads said to say "purple." That's the last time I saw, talked to, heard from them.

I get home last night and check my e-mails. After the adoption day and the ride home and thinking about all this stuff there, out of the blue, is an e-mail from the oldest boy. I open it. It just says "hello."

Yep, he was one of the dads. And I can not believe it but the boys are now 15 and 16 years old. He says they ask about me sometimes and he wants me to come by and see them. They are still living in the same place, pretty much walking distance from my house. When they were about five or six years old, I stopped by to see them one Christmas Eve. They were out of the group home and living in foster care. As I was walking to my car, the youngest boy came running after me and handed me a tree ornament he had made. It was gold sprayed, in the shape of a Christmas tree with his picture glued in the center. The reason I can describe it so clearly is that it hangs from the lamp in my office and I look at it every day. don dokken thinks this all means that I am meant for this job. I just think it means that I am always meant to know what happens to these boys.

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