09/16/11

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I recently went on a trip with BigHouse Foundation.

Many of the foster/adoptive families from our county went to the beach together. It was a great weekend for all.

It was there I met Benjamin, a young man who was staying in the same retreat facility with a church group. When I first saw him, he was introducing himself to the BigHouse volunteers who were entertaining my children.

These are some wonderful human beings and it was obvious Benjamin recognized this.

Within a few minutes of my observation I realized Ben was special. I have often heard people like him referred to as “special needs.”

He was outgoing and talkative, sharing the kinds of games he liked and joking with the college students playing in the pool with the other BigHouse kids. Everyone welcomed him into the group (as is the practice of these volunteers) and he gladly made himself at home.

I saw him later in the dining hall. I was cleaning trays and he insisted on doing something to help. Since I am not accustomed to turning down offers of assistance, I showed him a towel and our friendship began. He was curious about my family.

He asked me to tell him the ages of my children several times, he would repeat the ages while interjecting comments about which ones were adopted and which ones were not.

A little while later I got the chance to meet his mother. He repeated what I had told him about my children as if we were old friends. He continuously patted my shoulder saying, “She has seven kids! Seven!”

After we finished the trays Ben volunteered us to wipe down tables. I didn’t mind, by this time I was enjoying his rambling conversation. He told me a little bit about himself.

He has a job that he is very proud of. He works at Chik fil-a in Birmingham — the lunch shift. He refills drinks and clears tables. I am certain he does an excellent job. He was allowed to text for a while but after he messaged one particular friend 49 times, realized maybe he shouldn’t be. He took it a little personal that they told his mother to stop him but seemed to understand that it was not reported out of malice. Things like texting are just too much fun for a mind that is constantly clicking and thinking of wonderful things to share.

I gave him my e-mail address and assured his mother that I didn’t mind him sending me messages since I don’t get emails on my phone.

I loved watching Ben take a little foster baby in his arms to bounce. He patted and comforted and was thrilled to hear there had been an open heart surgery. “I’ve had open heart surgery,” he told the foster mother. He wanted her to see that these things work out.

I never heard what it was that made Ben a person with special needs. I realized after the three days we spent all together what it was that made him special though. I have seen it before in the eyes of special kids.

People like Ben have no filter when it comes to love. To them, everyone is good and special and worthy of love. People like Ben are close to the heart of God.

I am glad I met him.

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