CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The story of a young man taught me today to look for the unexpected. He encouraged me to take preconceived notions, expectations or assumptions and throw them out. What I love about children in foster care who have walked a path that I will never understand or comprehend is that not only does it make them survivors it makes them uniquely captivating.
We filmed Dae’Quan at our most recent shoot and he humbled me to see past my initial impression I made when I met him. We had this young man who walked in, talked with us for hours, completed his interview and I thought I knew exactly what I would come back and write about. I would do my best to paint a picture of a teenage boy who had taken a journey of brokenness and survived. He walked a path where he had to overcome severed relationships, new beds to sleep in, and new families to adjust to and through that journey he found strength. Beyond all logic, he did it.
Dae’Quan took that journey and he uncovered hope. He excelled academically and held tight to dreams of attending Duke and becoming a Neuroscientist. He would study the neurological patterns that create behavior and he would learn about the incredible power that the brain has to heal after trauma.
He could make sense of his story and encourage others to see the brain’s ability to heal. I planned to share this and so much more along those lines about this intelligent, articulate and mature young man. But as I said, my description I planned to write, the image I created of this reserved, intellectual, thoughtful young man was turned upside-down in the best possible way.
After an afternoon of quiet one on one conversations about science and Duke Dae’Quan took all my expectations and assumptions and did the unexpected. Our photographer asked to take pictures of him. I expected the reserved side we had seen all day to come through as she captured photos of him. I thought he would smile just slightly enough to show he was happy, but not so beaming that his teeth showed.
Instead of agreeing to have his photos taken with an agreeable compliance, Dae’Quan chuckled with a deep belly laugh and said “oh you want to take my picture huh? Let’s go.” He proceeded to lay down on the floor like a model and pose. He made various faces and came to life with this goofy, dynamic and charismatic smile as he repeatedly posed and turned into a complete ham right in front of our eyes. This teenage boy had us all smiling and laughing while he posed over and over again for our photographer.
Our children in foster care should not be defined by the brokenness in their past that happened through no fault of their own. It is because of his journey that Dae’Quan possesses a rich and dynamic personality that encouraged me to look past my initial observations. When I did it reminded me of the beautiful, intricately woven stories, hopes and fears that create our remarkable children.
Children like Dae’Quan, are an unpredictable gift waiting for someone not just to see his story, but to embrace those dynamic qualities about him and call him son.