Deerfield’s Mark Mulert claims that he was strictly left-brained—a linear, logical thinker—until he and his wife adopted their two kids.
He majored in engineering, played soccer at Princeton, married his brilliant college sweetheart, Lee, and worked as a structural engineer and health care consultant for 12 years.
He still looks the engineer-athlete part: Lean, focused, his hazel eyes taking in every detail.
But, in the mid-‘90s, he and Lee adopted Claire, now a Deerfield High School freshman, and Kevin, in eighth grade at Shephard Middle School, through the Family Resource Center in Chicago, and life changed. For the better.
“My wife took 12 days off. I took months. I was the nighttime feeder,” he says.
He kept those babies as close to him as possible after returning to work too—often wearing the baby next to him in a sling. “We didn’t have the kids sleep with us, but I wish that we had,” he explains, “because there is so much nonverbal communication and human touch in that.”
Through having a family, Mulert discovered a basic need to nurture and connect with others that is so fulfilling that he gives back all he can through the Family Resource Center, including answering their phones and leading two-week trips to China with parents to pick up their babies for the first time. “I teach them how to change diapers, feed and otherwise care for the newborns,” he says.
His current work for a health care software company accommodates his family-centric schedule. Mulert relishes his kids activities; he coaches or photographs all of them. He’s posted over 30,000 photos online. He’s also discovered a love for yoga and social-emotional intelligence.
In 2007, to celebrate their 50th birthdays, the Mulerts raised $50,000 to build a school in Angola through Northfield-based RISE International. “We did this [in part] because our kids can’t otherwise figure out what it means to be in the top 0.1-percent of the world,” he says.
Last year they hosted the 25 kids and 10 adults of the touring Matsiko Children’s Choir from Uganda. “Our basement was wall-to-wall kids. It was awesome!” Mulert says, with a grin.
Mulert wants the world to know, “Adoption is second choice, but not second best,” he says. And, it’s right brain enhancing.