Before I was a photographer, I was a beleaguered internet executive, trying to make sense of 9/11.
I left my job and in 2002, became a St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home volunteer homework tutor for foster kids, becoming known as that lady who traded pictures taken with my 1.3 megapixel digital camera, for completed homework.
I met some amazing kids there, including three brothers: Demetris of the soulful eyes (age 11), Kevin with the easy laugh (age 9) and Terrance who sported the biggest smile I had ever seen (age 8).
About 2 years after I met them, the brothers were still floundering in foster care, sometimes living together, mostly living apart. During their foster care years, Demetris lived in 3 homes, Kevin 4 and Terrance 5. In just two of the homes were all three boys together.
Social workers wanted to find a permanent family where the three brothers could be together and so they were scheduled to appear on Wednesday’s Child on NBC-4/DC, a successful weekly segment for placing foster children in adoptive homes.
I had lost track of the boys after they left St. Ann’s and was delighted to be reunited with them during their Wednesday’s Child shoot in 2005. Demetris was the most excited to see me. “Miss Joan. Miss Joan! I still have my photo album from St. Ann’s!” I remember him exclaiming. Those pictures were the only pictures the boys had from their childhood.
Enter J. TraVey McCullough who had always known that he wanted to adopt. When he saw this picture on adoptuskids.org, he felt he had found his kids and began the process to find out more about the boys.
The next time I saw the brothers, it was at something called a “matching” event. There prospective adoptive parents met and mingled with kids available for adoption. There are heated debates as to whether these kinds of events are in the best interest of the children, but that is not a discussion for this post.
In the case of Demetris, Kevin and Terrace, then about 14, 12 and 11, it was the place where they met the man who would change the course of their lives. Here they are on that day, pictured with the man who would become their father. Soon after, the boys moved in with TraVey and their adoption was finalized on June 19, 2008.
I am not always able to keep up with the foster children I meet, but the wonderful social worker for Demetris, Kevin and Terrance, occasionally sent me pictures and updates from their Dad and I was thrilled that they seemed to be thriving.
Last week NBC-4/DC’s Barbara Harrison taped a piece on how the boys are doing since the adoption. My husband and I are living in New York for a few months, but not wanting to miss the chance to catch up with these terrific boys and to hear from them how their story has unfolded, I raced back to DC for the shoot.
Several years ago, the boys were going through their father’s DVD collection and stumbled on a DVD of K&K Mime, a miming group that spreads the gospel through their performances. They were intrigued and put together a performance for a school program. In 2009 they began miming in earnest, forming their own group, TDK Mime. They have 100 performances scheduled at churches and other religious organizations around the country, this year alone. See one of their performances here.
One day, the boys would like to perform with the group that inspired them, K&K Mime. But for now, when asked how they feel about the work they are doing, they each had an answer. Terrance, now 17, is “happy that the ministry is reaching out to people of all race, ages and genders, all over the country.” Kevin, now 18 is “glad that people say they can feel God in our mime ministry.” And Demetris, now 20, “enjoys that the young people we meet say that they want to mime like us and be famous.”