What Happens When

A woman throws her baby away in a dumpster. That is what happened to the man above when he was only hours old. His mother was a drug addict. She said she couldn’t stand looking at him for whatever reason she felt that way.

When he was discovered, the police called child services who immediately put him into foster care. His foster parents took in more than 100 foster kids during their lives. He one, of only two, they ever adopted. They were nearing 70 when he came into their lives. Adopting a newborn baby wasn’t part of their plans. However, they didn’t want to leave him in the foster care system.

The poor little boy growing up in a small town where everyone knows everything was bullied in his public school days and called Dumpster Baby. He was 10 years old when his adoptive father told him his origins story. He thought: did somebody really throw me away? Am I trash or a person? It bothered him for a long time but he did overcome it. He had the love of an adoptive mother and father to assist him.

This is the kind of case where adoption makes sense to me. However, his life with these elderly adoptive parents wasn’t all roses and sunshine. His father wasn’t physically able to throw a football around, so he became fascinated with technology. He read encyclopedias cover to cover. He admits, “We grew up in an impoverished environment. We went to thrift stores; we went dumpster diving. In 1989, when I was eight, my father bought me a secondhand Macintosh, for $24 from a flea market. It didn’t work, so I opened it up and noticed some capacitors were burst. My father was a maintenance worker and had a soldering gun. I took parts from the clock radio to put in the computer. After about 50 attempts, I got it to work.”

This $24 gift and a father with some tools changed this man’s life. He goes on to say, “After that, computers were my escape. I was still being bullied and didn’t have any friends. That computer became my best friend. I was in an education program called Children Are Our Future; the director saw a gift in me and let me work in the computer lab. I’d replace hard drives and add RAM. She encouraged me to start my own business repairing computers.”

“At 12, I got my first job, working after school at the city hall as a computer technician. I helped develop an internet service protocol to tie all of the city agencies together. I pushed myself to the limit. I learned everything I could about Windows. By 14, I’d started writing code; after that, I remember sitting at a computer for two days in a row without even being hungry. I loved it.”

He is inventive and developed a tracking software for elderly people with dementia (because he had to do that find his adoptive father when he would wander off. He passed away in 2014). H also developed a meter to monitor glucose levels in diabetics via Bluetooth. Those are just 2 of over 80 custom software programs he has written. Today at 31 years old, he is the CEO of Figgers Communication. He also created the Figgers Foundation to help children in foster care all around the world. For example, this Christmas they’re buying 25,000 bicycles to give away.

He credits his adoptive parents for showing him compassion and the power of having good people around you.

It Happens

Some kids are simply born adventurous.  I remember once when my family stopped to check out a small county fair.  My older son was climbing around in a structure and wanted us to keep watching him.  He was always connected to us – well most of the time.  The younger boy was quite independent and adventurous.  This particular time, I took my eyes off the older boy and looked for the younger one, only to see him wandering off totally unconcerned.  Thankfully I could retrieve him.

Once in a large structure with lots of climbing around opportunities (City Museum in St Louis if you’ve ever been there, you will understand).  My husband was following our older son around and the boy got into a space too small for my husband to follow.  He then frantically started heading up to the next level.  The boy had been smart enough to go to a staff member and my husband caught up with him quickly.

There was a time when a young boy wandered off from the family home that was isolated in the wilderness that we have ample quantities of here in my county.  He was missing for 3 days, setting off a massive search that finally succeeded in locating him.  While his mom had been on the telephone inside, he had decided he wanted to go and visit his grandmother but  she lived at quite a distance away.  He had been headed in the right direction at least.

Just because an adventurous young child takes it upon themselves to wander away at an opportune moment does not mean the parent is irresponsible and that they should lose their parental rights and the child taken for adoption or foster care.  Negligence is much more than the rare occurrence of a child’s inventiveness.

Case in point –

A woman was driving along on a busy road outside a mobile home subdivision. She found a small child wearing only a diaper walking near road. Fearing for his safety, she stopped and picked him up, putting him in her car and took him home.

Common sense then caused her to worry that she would be accused of kidnapping him. Wisely, she called police. They began searching for his mom. It turns out she had been napping with the child, who then got up and was able to get out of the house.

Of course, the mother was frantically looking for him. She wasn’t a mom who deserved to lose her child. He had never gotten out of the house before.  That day he had just figured out how.  Had wandered off, while his mom slept. Moms get tired. Kids are smart.

Fact is, almost every parent has a story about one of their kids who figured out how to open doors and go off on their own at some very young age.  A very young child often does not know their parents names or phone number.  Of course, as parents we need to keep our children safe.  However, no parent should be judged harshly because their child is an escape artist.  No parent should lose custody over such an occurrence and always all of us should be happy when a wandering child is returned home safely.  True, it is a dangerous world out there but sometimes, even with attentive and loving parents, it happens.