Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Life Outside of Work

There is a woman at my company ("Alice") with whom I rarely have interaction outside of the lunchroom. We say hello and once, she confronted me in the bathroom and asked me why I don't talk to her. I was quite taken aback because there are a lot of other people I don't talk to either. It was quite unnerving and rather high school, considering this woman has probably welcomed 50. After that incident, I made a concerted effort to be more friendly to her and find some small talk topics. However, her bluntness put me on alert, and I knew others had dealt with her bold attitude.

The other day, I was fatigued from sitting at my desk and needed a break. I found Alice in the lunchroom. She asked me about my daughter and I told her some little incidents, and the usual "Yep, they sure grow up fast." discussion. I asked her about her children and she said her two sons were late 20's, but she recently adopted a 12 year old boy. Her eyes lit up and she was giggling about him. Now, we ended up talking for a good 15 minutes about this.

She had wanted to adopt a boy and knew that "God would give me what I could handle." She told me how the boy's mother had died years ago, father was incarcerated and he lived with the stepfather and half-sister. He was moved from relative to relative and finally entered the "system" in March. Fortunately, she was able to come forth in June and bring him out.

She said she will fully adopt him in May/June of this year. Just having a stable home and someone to call "Mom" has helped him so much. When he whipped out the attitude, she stopped him right there. As a church-going woman, she introduced him to a strong community. He spends weekends going to tutors; he used to hang out on the street or riding his bike around.

She saw him work towards his first A and B's on his report card and he was so proud of himself. Having the unstable home life never gave him a chance to focus on school. He saw the immediate rewards and lit his own fire.

Alice pointed out she's very open to letting him see his family, especially his sister. However, the boy is coming to realize that his feelings towards them are not being reciprocated. He would often call his stepfather during the week, but no one would call him. She prepared him that at Christmas time, he may not receive gifts from them, but still went there. He came home disappointed that they all showed off the sister's gifts but no one bothered to get him anything. Alice said that since Christmas, he has not gone back there, making his own decision to distance himself from that environment.

I know that my daughter is very protected and that one little ripple has a profound effect on her. I cannot imagine what children who are not protected must face. Alice pointed out that he had a lot of behavioral problems, but an emphasis on discipline and straight talk helped shape his attitude.

Anyway, it was great talking and learning about her as a person and her life outside of work. Work is a mere 8 hours of our day - we all have so much more to do and accomplish in life. I really admire her for taking on the challenge and helping a child. I mentioned the movie "Born into Brothels" to her and how some kids do not even know they have options in life. But, it's a matter of reaching out and helping them. I have friends who have adopted babies from India. It's so hard to fathom that the little "prince/princess" in their house is one degree away from living and growing up in the harshest conditions. Offering a child a hand out of a situation is the biggest gift anyone can give. Not only do you help that child, but you help the generations that follow him/her.

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