Monday, December 31, 2012



What a year this has been.

I think 2012 just might have been the craziest roller-coaster-ride of a year that our family has ever traversed upon, and really...that's saying something.

We've seen some pretty crazy years.

The year began with the knowledge that sometime, somehow, we were going to have to uproot our family of seven and move to a bigger house.  Our 940-square-foot, single bathroom home was nearing the breaking point as it tried in vain to contain all the prancing little feet of our children, and yet even the thought of sorting through, packing and moving all the stuff in our lives was enough to send this ADHD girl into a pickled frenzy.  I lamented the thought of the looming move, knowing in my heart of hearts that I simply was not capable of the stick-to-it-ativeness required for such a feat. 

And yet, it was somehow accomplished.  I fell in love with the farmhouse of my dreams, which lit a fire under my stuck-to-the-sofa backside and provided the motivation needed to start packing for real.  I actually, for the first time that I remember, asked God for a material possession...and God answered my prayers and blessed our family with a beautiful new home full of history and character, reminding me of His delight in being my Father and in fulfilling some of the deepest desires of my heart.  And I learned that when it really counts, I truly am capable of more than I think...even if the progress is painfully slow.

2012 also marked the first full year of homeschooling for our daughter Miss M, who has Reactive Attachment Disorder.  The experience of schooling her has had so many ups and downs, I often feel like I'm in a tailspin.  I've had to come to terms with some pretty big flaws in myself, and have been incredibly thankful for God's unfailing love in the midst of my failures.  There have been some horrendously awful days, when I've had to cling to God and to the blessings He's given me instead of allowing myself to focus on the trials of raising Attachment Disordered kids, but there have also been bittersweet days of pondering what should have been, and beautiful, hopeful days of witnessing first-hand the miracle of healing in a broken child.  Both Miss M and I are continuing to learn, trust, and thrive together...through good days and we move onward down the path of building and healing our relationship.

So there's homeschooling...and then the actual moving into our farmhouse, of course, which we did officially in May...and then on the heels of our moving week, there was our little family announcement that stirred up more than a few people as we have now been officially deemed "one of those really crazy families".  Blessed, we like to call it.  But that same joyful announcement resulted in months of Mama-sickness, which made the first trimester seem like an endless fog of nausea and fatigue.  And our unpacking and all our big plans for a huge garden and a homemade chicken coop were put on hold as Daddy stepped in to play Mama for a while. 

And then over the summer, as the rest of our family began settling into our new surroundings, it became increasingly obvious that our oldest son, Mr. J, who also has RAD, was struggling with unseen demons from his past.  His behavior was back-sliding; his respect for authority was nearly non-existent.  He became angry at the slightest insinuation of error on his part, and with every necessary parental correction.  The rage, which he had previously held in check for months at a time, was almost always bubbling near the surface, and our family began to live in fear of when his next explosion would occur. 

Looking back, it was a perfect storm for our son.  We anticipated that moving would be difficult for him, as feelings of instability and unpredictability had always thrown off his sense of security and affected his behavior.  What we did not factor in was, at nearly thirteen, the onset of puberty which coincided with our move.  A rage-filled adolescent with raging hormones to boot.  New house, new chores, the prospect of being homeschooled in the fall, new in-depth talks with Mom and Dad, preparing him for life as a teen, and a body pumped full of testosterone.  He simply couldn't handle it; couldn't pretend to be "perfect" and "normal" any longer, and the rage and trauma of his first six years took over.

And so we entered what has probably been the darkest period in our family's history.  Lots of uncertainty, lots of violence coming from our son, terror from our younger children, despair from Scott and me.  Mr. J spent the better part of a month in a mental hospital, where he got worse instead of better.  He came home unwilling to try at all and refused to go to school, trying to force me to homeschool him when everyone agreed that it just wasn't safe for the rest of the family.  He was out of control, threatening in detail to kill Scott and me and our baby, and was ultimately arrested for assaulting police officers in our home. 

We left no stone unturned to find help for our son, seeking out a placement in either a RAD facility or a nearby boys' home that understood the manipulation that goes along with RAD.  With four younger kids and a baby on the way, the option to bring him home was simply not there, yet we were bogged down by loads of red tape wherever we turned.  He remained incarcerated for more than two months, when God miraculously opened a single door for us.  Mr. J was (without incident!) transported to his new therapeutic boarding school just one day before the charges against him would have given him a permanent criminal record.

2012, you have been a year full of surprises. 
Of excitement, anticipation, joy, anger, faithfulness, frustration, fear and pain.

You have held great beauty.

You have held great sadness.

You've held great joy and silliness and love.
You have taught lessons of humility, and have revealed moments of clarity amid ordinary chaos.

You have given me opportunity to share in the burdens of others, and occasionally to offer wisdom I've acquired on my own Christian walk.

You have taught us about true friendship and the Body of Christ, teaching us to humbly accept love and hugs and prayers and meals and unexpected gifts and so many instances of personal sacrifice when we've had nothing of our own left to give.  When we've been drowning.  Our real friends and family...those who truly care about us...have held us up when there were no words of advice or comfort they could give.  Our Jonathans and Aarons.  We are so very blessed.

Above all, 2012, you've shown us God's goodness and His faithfulness and have given us opportunity to step out in faith.  And while we've got a long way to go, you've given us ample practice at trusting God in all things; things beyond our control and more difficult than we ever could have imagined. 

Yes, we'll remember you, 2012.  

But instead of the year when our lives fell apart, we'll remember you as the year of miracles.  A new home, a healing daughter, a new baby son growing inside me, a happy family in spite of all we've been through, a new appreciation for true friends and family, a vibrant marriage that's coming out stronger because of its trials, ever-increasing faith and reliance on God, and so many answers to prayer.

There is nothing too big for our God.

And so we start 2013 with a new prayer request.  We pray for a healthy family.  Our new baby son, who will be here in two weeks time, our daughter Miss M, who has so much healing yet to do, our little ones, Miss J, Mr. C, and little Mr. K, who have seen and heard so many hurtful things from their siblings in their short lives.  Both my husband and myself, who have symptoms of PTSD.  And please...pray for Mr. J, away at this school...that something will change in his heart, that he will begin to heal, and that he will desire to live for Christ.

We appreciate you more than you could know.

Have a blessed New Year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


So, we did it.

We took the giant leap of faith.

Are we crazy?  I have the feeling some may think so.  I understand that it sounds crazy and irresponsible to the world in general to send your son away to a boarding school when the funds aren't in your bank account. 

Perhaps it would have been a better financial decision for our family to let the courts have him.  It would have required less trust and blind faith, that's for sure, but it also would have required leaving all the decisions about our son's future in the hands of people (albeit competent and over-worked people) that don't know our son, don't love our son, and don't really, truly care about our son's heart and his long-term healing.

We felt it was best to leave the decision-making to God, whose love for Mr. J is as incomprehensible as a galaxy full of stars.

And so, in the last few days, we began this new journey of trusting God; of stepping out in faith, and believing beyond a doubt that somehow, God will provide.  Funding, yes.  But mostly, we're trusting God to provide a measure of healing in Mr. J throughout this next year.

We're placing our son, whom we love, securely in the hands of God. 

Yesterday morning at about three o'clock, my husband, my dad, and two of the best friends my husband could ask for set out to pick our son up at Juvenile Detention and to transport him to the facility.  It's about a twelve hour drive, and no one expected Mr. J to be compliant.  In fact, because of his recent violent behavior while incarcerated, everyone feared the worst.  I have to say, though, that God showed up in an incredible way.

And so I share the story of the first miracle of our journey, although I'm going to let my husband tell it, as written to our group of prayer partners last night:

Hello friends, family and prayer warriors,

Forgive me if this rambles a bit or doesn't always make sense - I got about 2 hours of sleep last night.

I don't know how else to say it - we experienced a miracle today.  From the moment J was released from Juvenile Detention to the moment I said goodbye, we had NOT ONE issue the entire 12 hour trip.  I'll say it again - NOT ONE!!!  After all of the violent and assaultive episodes of the past 4 months, there wasn't even a single attitude problem, let alone a violent act.  Considering the God we serve, though, we shouldn't really be surprised.  According to several facebook messages and emails, God was waking people up at various times all over West Michigan, just as the trip was beginning, to cover us with prayer.  On top of all of this, it just so happened that the detention center employee assigned to help J as he was being released was R.  You may remember that R was the believer who prayed for J and talked him through an angry outburst during a visit a few weeks back.  It was no accident that he just happened to be with J this morning.

All of us on the trip were impressed with the facility and staff.  It is absolutely founded on rock solid Biblical principles.  They believe that they are not the ones to help these boys but it is the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God that will accomplish it.  Rather than spending a year away from God in a faithless institution, J is going to be absolutely surrounded by the Word of God and strong men of faith.  It will not be an easy place for him as they require complete obedience in everything, even down to the exact way each student's bed is to be made.  Pretty soon, possibly tomorrow, he begins physical exercise and work detail. 

Please continue to pray for J.  I am sure he is completely terrified right now.  After he said goodbye, he began his time at the facility with Julio, a staff member.  J attempted to manipulate Julio with lies about us, deflecting all blame to others, intimidation (which, considering Julio is built like a Sherman Tank, proved fruitless), tears, and bragging about being tough by assaulting police officers.  This manipulation did not work on Julio, who has seen it all before.  Julio deeply challenged him after J reported that he was already saved.  These challenges actually brought out some real emotion and sadness, which I haven't seen or heard in a long time. 

Please pray for safe travels home tomorrow for four very tired and joyful guys.  We can't get over the fact that God showed up in such a huge way.  I am full of hope because J is where the Lord wants him right now.  After the events of today, I firmly believe it and have more peace than I have had during this whole ordeal.

Thank you for praying.  Please don't stop!  Though we finally can rest a little knowing where J will be, this is only the very beginning of the long road to healing. 

In Christ,

So that's where it stands right now.  And have I mentioned that I adore my God-fearing husband?  I love him like crazy!

And speaking of those who think we are crazy to trust some "supernatural being" with providing for our family and healing our son, I would challenge that you simply do not know the God we serve.  His goodness, His mercy, His depth of love and faithfulness...they are unfathomable.  It's impossible to "foolishly" trust in Him, as long as you are walking in His will.  I would absolutely love to introduce you to the Almighty God of the Bible, and specifically to His son Jesus.  Just drop me an email at, and I would be happy to explain our brand of crazy to you!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Stepping Out in Faith

Earlier this week, we celebrated our little daughter's seventh birthday.  I can hardly believe that it's been a solid seven years since that beautiful moment when they placed that tiny squalling baby on my chest, when everyone commented on the generous amount of hair on her darling peanut-shaped head.  Seven years have passed since I first cradled that tiny pink bundle in my arms, since I sat in a hospital bed and watched as her daddy changed his very first diaper ever, little limbs flailing every which way, creating a bigger mess than the one that needed to be changed. 

Yes, seven years have flown by since that nerve-wracking snowy car ride, the one when I sat in back and checked every few seconds to make sure she was still breathing.  And those first few hours when I couldn't believe they would just send us out the door with a tiny little person that we had no idea how to care for. 

My first baby.  The first piece of my heart that left my body and took on a life all its own.

And it's been seven years now since I first had to let go of my previous belief that I was in control of anything.

I wasn't in control of whether or not I could nurse this baby, of the weight she would or would not gain from one appointment to the next, of the jaundice that forced her to be lit up like a glow-worm for days, or the constant blood draws needed to check those dangerously high bilirubin numbers.  I wasn't in control of how long she would sleep at one time, how much she would cry or spit up, or when a blow-out diaper would put a wrench in my plans for the day.  And as I fell into a routine of checking in on my little baby daughter every hour to make sure she was still breathing, I was painfully aware that I was not even in control of the next breath she would take.

I had to place her in God's hands and learn to trust in Him.

Having a baby required us to step out in faith.

When our daughter was only a few weeks old, we felt the pull from God to pursue adopting Mr. J and Miss M, who were foster children in my sister and brother-in-law's home.  In all honesty, it seemed like a really outrageous idea, considering that we had just given birth to our first child and were perfectly content with our new little family.  And these children had been through so much; we knew they would be challenging for anyone to raise, much less young, inexperienced parents like us.  But God's will for our family was blatantly strong and evident, and the pull would not diminish no matter how much we tried to reason it away.  So we began our next journey in faith and trust, knowing full well we didn't have all the answers.

When the kids came to live with us, our baby daughter was almost eleven months old, and we learned pretty quickly that we were not in control of these new children, either.  We weren't in control of whether a tantrum would cause us to be several hours late for Thanksgiving dinner, of whether or not requesting that a child brush her teeth would result in hours of rage, or if we would be hit, kicked or bitten by a raging child.  We couldn't control whether or not our son had a melt-down at school or kicked the teacher's desk, or whether he would steal money from the girl he sat next to in class.  And as some of these behaviors and attitudes threatened to dominate our lives and our family, we became painfully aware that no matter what we did, we were not in control of whether or not these traumatized children ever began to change or heal.

We had to place them in God's hands and learn to trust in Him. 

Adoption required us to step out in faith.

And now, we're being stretched and tested yet again.  Coinciding with puberty, our traumatized son's internalized rage and fear has finally caught up with him, and he is out of control.  First in our home, then in a mental hospital, and now at Juvenile Detention, where he is currently locked in his room because of his violent outbursts.  He continues to insist that he'll kill us if he comes home, and so obviously, it isn't safe for him to be here, either. 

We want him to get help.  We want him to learn to take responsibility for his actions.  We want him to be forced to work hard on getting himself to a place where he can even begin to let God heal the hurt that lies deep inside of him.

And we feel that we've found the best option: a highly structured, highly disciplined, military-style therapeutic boarding school that is built on the truth of God's Word. 

Getting him to this school before his court hearing on Wednesday would cancel the hearing and essentially drop the charges that are against him, which are severe enough that they will otherwise follow him into adulthood.  It would also keep him out of the juvenile criminal system for at least another year, giving Mr. J the chance to allow God to work in his life before then and to make better choices upon his return home.  Our hope would be that our son would come back from this school with the desire to be a part of our family again and to finally begin to work on healing the wounds from his past.  But we realize that we are not in control of his choices, his actions, or in how much he allows God to influence his life.

We aren't even in control of whether or not we can afford to send him to this school.

Here is the struggle of trust and faith that we're currently facing: our church family has offered to pay the admission fees and the first month's tuition.  They have also set up a fund within the church to continue raising money for tuition, but there is no guarantee that the $2,400 per month tuition will be there each month when it is due.  We are currently strapped and have very little income to spare, yet would be required to sign a contract stating that our son would be at the school for at least one full year.

So the question we're asking ourselves today is
                             "How much do we trust God?"

Do we just leave our son in the juvenile court system and allow them to do with him as they choose?  We don't believe this gives Mr. J the best chance to succeed.  It feels more like giving up and allowing him to start his life as a criminal at age thirteen.

Or do we place the needed tuition solely in God's hands, knowing that He is in control and trusting that the money will miraculously be there in the fund each and every month? 

Please pray with us for God's wisdom and clarity in this situation.  We only have a couple of days to decide, and we struggle with the possible financial ramifications for our family.

It's really hard, this stepping out in faith.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Perfect Plans

It's been a while since I've updated, since I've even felt enough emotional energy to write, and I guess it's partly because I feel like very little has changed.  We're still dealing daily with the ups and downs of Reactive Attachment Disorder in the form of Miss M, who's done so much healing in the past eighteen months and yet still saps so much of her pregnant Mama's ever-decreasing patience and energy. 

On the bad days, enhanced by the pregnant emotions brought on by another RAD child that I love, I can hardly hold myself together.  No doubt Miss M is effected by her brother's behavior and absence as well. 

On the really bad days, I wonder why God ever chose me to mother these hurting kids.  Blunt, matter-of-fact, stubborn and strong-willed me...who has so much trouble exchanging my selfish will and my sinful feelings for His perfection.  What could He possibly have been thinking?

And yet, on the good days, I'm so profoundly encouraged by the bond that I know is blooming between my eldest daughter and myself; the hot tears of remorse and the hugs of forgiveness, the ease of conversation and the honest questions, the non-existent lapse of time between frustration and transitioning back to that crazy new love-and-acceptance-thing again.  I'm so thankful for the new-found evidence of compassion, empathy and conscience that I see awakening in my daughter.  And, if I'm being honest, I'm thankful that God is growing these things within me as well.

Two years ago, when God asked me to spend nearly every waking moment with a disrespectful, controlling, rage-filled, attachment-disordered child, I thought there was no way that we would both make it through the year in one piece.  And now we're well into our second year of homeschooling, and, minor daily difficulties aside, I am really proud of how far we've come.  Slowly and often painfully (for both of us), Miss M is healing.

All glory to God for miracles I can't even comprehend.   

For the present, I'm keeping busy at home with school and toddler-wrangling and Christmas shopping and gathering recipes and craft ideas for the upcoming month, and our minds are turning to decorating and organizing and preparing for the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus...and also for the upcoming birth of our own sweet baby boy in less than seven weeks.

The irony is not lost on me that at the same time my heart feels like it's losing one son, I'm preparing to welcome another into my arms. 

Trusting is so hard.  I lack the patience and the discernment needed to see what God is doing in my family right now.  I miss my oldest son...the son he used to be, the son I thought he was.  I ache that he's missed his birthday, the anniversary of his addition to our family, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and countless family memories so far.  My heart cries at the thought of celebrating the birth of Jesus...and the birth of our littlest son...without him.  I can't see how God is working in this.

But two years ago, I laughed at God when He told me to homeschool Miss M.  I fought him.  I tried to tell him that it wasn't possible for me.  That there was no way.

What I found out is that God's plans often don't make sense to me.  But they're perfect plans.

I'm putting all the energy I can muster into trusting God right now; trusting that somehow all this junk and suffering and senseless hate and violence has something to do with healing Mr. J.

Join me, and the rest of my family, in trusting that God has a perfect plan for our oldest son.

And please continue to pray for us all.

There is a hearing scheduled for December 12th where Mr. J's near future will be decided.  Because he is a threat to our family and to the community, he will most likely be made a temporary ward of the court if other arrangements are not made for him before then, in which case he would also be assured of having a criminal record follow him into adulthood.  Our hopes are for God to intervene before then, providing funding to allow us to send him to a therapeutic boarding school (where he has already been accepted) and retain our parental rights.  There is a strong chance that the charges would be dropped if this happens.  We hope that in heading this direction, our son (who is only thirteen) will be given a second chance regarding his criminal history, his relationship with his family, and his journey towards healing.  Pray that God will reveal His perfect plan for Mr. J's future. 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Finding the Funny

My funny bone has been fractured and is in dire need of repair.

That's a common side effect to living in crisis mode, I would suspect.  But for someone who thrives on seeing the humor in life and who loves almost nothing more than a long drawn-out fit of giggles, having serious, grown-up issues to digest and comprehend and sort out at almost every waking moment is getting a bit old. 

My current default emotions are anything but funny.
And it's wearing me out.

If we don't find something to laugh about, it's all too easy for my hubby and me to mentally curl up in a dark, cob-webby corner and lose ourselves in sorrow.  So we're having to make a conscious effort these days to "find the funny" in our lives...even in our current situation.

Let's face it: there is very little humorous about our son going off the deep end, assaulting people, and being locked up in Juvenile Detention.  We get this.  We understand.  Our son's future, his choices and his violent behavior are not a laughing matter...

               ...but sometimes...

                                  ....we still need to laugh.

For starters, it's amazing to hear how every single thing that's happened is not our son's fault.  I'm beginning to see how the jails are full of people who 'didn't do it', but I'm also a bit concerned about all the seemingly law-abiding people walking around know, all the ones who are actually to blame.  Like me.  And my husband.  And the police officers.  And the caseworkers.  And the cat. 

It's just a teeny tiny bit humorous (to borrow our son's rationale) that it's acceptable to threaten to report people to CPS just for looking at you funny, and that when any authority figure doesn't do what you want, it's perfectly logical that you should threaten to kill them. 

We also discovered recently through acquired documentation of his hospital stay, that after our son had been ripping up all the carpet squares in his hospital room, he went into a rage and furiously demanded that he be moved to a room with nice carpet.  How dare they keep him in a room with ruined carpet?  Seriously?!  I find this hilariously unbelievable, and yet so consistent with what we see at home.

A few weeks ago, we came upon a question on a form asking us: "What five things concern you the most about your child's behavior?"

Without missing a beat, my husband writes in:

#1.  He wants to kill me.    

The absurdity of it all sent us both into peals of laughter until tears were nearly running down our faces.  I mean, really, is it necessary to list four more concerns after that one?

#2.  He wants to kill my wife.

#3.  See #1 and #2.

#4.  "

#5.  "

Hee hee.

And then there's the funding issue.  The payer of last resort.  We're still researching residential treatment facilities and therapeutic boarding schools and what-not, and have participated in at least ten twenty thirty gazillion different conversations with various people about what is going to happen and who is going to fund it since insurance won't.  The state of Michigan adoption subsidy?  Community Mental Health?  The Juvenile Court system?  The Department of Human Services? 

After talking to countless places in-depth, each of them has claimed to be the "payer of last resort".  How can this be?  How does that even work?  If they all can pay, but are only the "payer of last resort", are they all going to refuse to pay until someone else does?  Or are they all going to decide to pay at the same time?  Is that even possible?  I don't think it makes any sense...but at least we've got an awesome new catch phrase in our home.  And when we're grocery shopping, you better believe that I'm gonna let my husband get his debit card out before I do.  I'm pleading my case as the "payer of last resort".

In all seriousness, there have been very few things to laugh about with everything our family has been through in recent months.  But laughter is therapeutic, and we believe that God made us with an innate need to laugh and to seek out joy in every we're trying. 

I've started to look around at all the other little people in my life with an incredible thankfulness for the joy that they offer to me freely, whenever I remember to watch and listen.

Just this morning, my 10-year-old daughter asked me what date the Fourth of July was on..."Is it July 24th?"   Hmmmm.

And my six-year-old has a new fondness for knock-knock jokes, none of which make sense to anyone besides her four-year-old brother.  And they laugh and laugh and laugh until they're both red-faced and teary.

My four-year-old son insists that counting by tens and reciting the days of the week can only be done while hopping up and down on one foot, ending up in a heap of giggles on the floor.  :)

And my 21-month-old continues to lift up my shirt regularly (even in public) to "see" the baby, demanding that "Baby come out!"  How great is that?  I don't think he really gets it...but he sure does love to pat my belly, say "Baby!" and ask to "See it?"

And I'm learning that joy really can be found in the midst of every "hopeless" just doesn't always come as easily as I'm used to. 

Usually, the world is knocking on my door, waiting to reveal the next episode of silliness to set me off laughing... 
...but now that the world is turned a bit upside-down, sometimes I just have to work a little harder to find the funny.

Keep laughing with us, keep loving us, keep believing alongside us.  As read in a comment on this very blog:  You, our prayerful friends and family and concerned strangers, are our "Aarons"...holding us up with your own strong arms while Scott and I are at our weakest.  It's a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ at work, and we're so blessed by and thankful for each of you.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Fall

My son will be spending his thirteenth birthday in Juvenile Detention. 

I've thought about this "thirteenth birthday" milestone for the better part of a year; tossed around ideas of what would be appropriate gifts for such a significant birthday.  I've wondered what kind of cake I would bake and how I would decorate it, which is a big thing in our family.  My husband had even been planning a sort of "man trip" this fall to mark our son's passage into the teen years.  They were going to go to a professional baseball game and a car museum and eat big burgers and do all things "manly".  They were going to discuss Biblical manhood and what that looks like in this fallen world.

And now our son is incarcerated. 

Of all the ideas whirling around in my head for Mr. J's thirteenth birthday, I can honestly say that this scenario never entered my mind.

Now I can't get it out of my mind.

How do you celebrate a birthday when your child has been threatening to kill you?  When he's threatened your baby and your husband and is smashing windows in your home?  How do you say "Happy Birthday!" and "Welcome to the next stage of becoming a man!" when he's assaulting police officers and being arrested and refusing to cooperate or even be civil to any adult charged with his care?

How do you celebrate that?

2010 - and a very pregnant good witch!
And there's even more than that on my mind this month.  Mr. J and Miss M came to us two days before Halloween.  On that first night, less than two weeks shy of six years ago, we carved our family pumpkin together, ate donuts and apples and drank cider, and watched the Charlie Brown "Great Pumpkin" movie.  It was the first thing we did as a family, and it became our first ever family tradition.  We always make a big deal of "family togetherness" at Halloween, completely avoiding any of the dark aspects of the holiday and focusing on being together.  As the years have gone by, we've turned costume-hunting into a family affair, too, choosing a theme and doing it up in grand style.  All of us.  Together.

We have so much fun this time of year.  Gathering final costume pieces, warming ourselves around a bonfire, apple orchards and cinnamon donuts and pumpkin pie and hot apple cider.  And there are hayrides and snuggling barn kittens and the crunch of cold apples plucked from the tree, piles of freshly-raked leaves just begging for romping children, Artprize and Halloween at the zoo and hunting out the perfect pumpkin from the pumpkin patch...always an agonizing decision.  This year, for the first time, we're choosing from our very own pumpkin patch that we planted as a family in the spring. 

And then we don our coordinating costumes, and tramp through the store to get our picture taken amid laughs and cheers of intrigued on-lookers.  We soak it in and laugh along, because this is our family, and it's what we do.  Our family is happy and silly and fun.
And this year, our family is broken.

We'll be celebrating half-heartedly, doing our best to keep our traditions and our smiles for the rest of the kids, hoping that next year there will truly be a happy birthday and a season of whole-hearted celebration. 

I'm choosing to trust that God is doing something big right now, in His own time, and that the joy will be overflowing in the morning.  I'm clinging to this with everything in me.  Begging God to make it be so, to keep the hope alive inside me and inside my husband and our kids.

Please God, give me the faith to believe that this time of suffering will someday come to an end, and that there can be joy for our family in the morning...

...and if not in the morning, Lord, then maybe by next fall.

Mr. J will be incarcerated until the end of the month.  He has five charges against him, and remains hostile towards staff.  We have had very little contact with him, although my husband was able to visit him for a short while this past Sunday.  Mr. J maintains that he is doing "good", and would like us to believe that he's having a grand time, although the reports from staff, his probation officer, and social worker prove otherwise.  He continues to blame his actions on anyone and everyone else, and seems unable to relate consequences with the choices he's made.  His cause and effect thinking appears nonexistent.  We have been working tirelessly to make arrangements for him when he is released, are working with many agencies and Mr. J's therapist, and are exploring every avenue we can find.  The unified goal is residential care, but the timing and funding are yet to be determined.  He may still be coming home.  Please continue to pray for God's guidance and wisdom, and for healing and safety for our family...especially for Mr. J.   

Monday, October 8, 2012

Laughter, Hope and Anguish

We had a really nice weekend.  In the past few months, there have been times that I've wondered if we'll ever have a peaceful, happy life again...and this weekend was just a beautiful promise that there is still life and joy and happiness that can happen alongside all the heartache.  We just have to try a little bit harder to find it, trust the guiding hands of friends and family who love us, and then hold on like crazy and let the joy swallow us up for a while.

Our kids need it.
Our marriage needs it.
My heart needs it.

Saturday we had a beautiful visit from good friends, who made a long drive just to be with us and to love on us.  Our united army of children and good conversation made it impossible to dwell on ugly things, and later we joined with more friends as we watched our girls ride horses, held our boys up to pat velvety noses, and assisted in carving pumpkins and mixing hot chocolate and warming little hands by the fire.  We laughed and talked with friends, shivering in the cold, and for a moment here and there almost forgot that one of our family is missing.

We went to church and worshipped with many of those same friends the next day.  When we walked through the halls of God's house, the church came alive with the support and love and hugs of shared burdens, as it has every week during this season of our lives.  We are so very loved.  The afternoon was spent in fellowship as well, eating and laughing and talking and just being surrounded by so many who, while they can't understand what we're going through, are choosing to walk alongside of us.  They're such an incredible blessing to our family.

It was a weekend of hope.  A much-needed time to get away from the constant barrage of phone calls and emails and dead ends and closed doors.  A time to remember that God is good and gives us good things and will never abandon us in our suffering. 

We are not alone.

And yet, this morning I awoke with a sharp pain in my heart and with tears welling in my eyes.  I'm feeling the loss of my son greater today than I've felt in a long time.  I've spent weeks walking around in shock and disbelief, running on adrenaline, numb to the pain of it all, simply surviving from moment to moment.  And today the numbness is gone, the anger and the injustice and the shock are melting away.  Today the anguish is setting in.

I'm losing my son.

God, please perform a miracle in the heart and soul of my son.  Remind him of the joy our family has shared, of the thousands of good times and the laughter and the traditions and adventures.  Teach him, Lord, that a lifetime without close relationships - without family, without friends, without You - is empty and meaningless, and that he will only ever be complete and happy when he learns to love and trust.  Please infiltrate his little cell at Juvenile Detention, wreak havoc on his heart and soul, and leave him aching with the desire to try.  Lord, please give me my son. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Red Tape

Red Tape.  Lots and lots and lots of it.

We're trying to cut through it, trying to go around it, trying to avoid it. 
But they don't call it red tape for nothing.  And right now, we're running into it every step we take.

Mr. J is currently at the local Juvenile Detention facility.  On Sunday, he began threatening to kill my husband and myself as well as our unborn son, and he even went into explicit detail as to how he planned to accomplish this.  And if it says anything about the mental state of our son, after screaming "I want to kill you!" over a hundred times, he paused in mid-threat and said calmly "I want a drink.  I'm thirsty.  Can I have my water bottle?"


Because of the length of Sunday's rage and the huge scale of the threats Mr. J was hurling at us, we had no choice but to call the police...again.  For the fourth time.  We're actually getting to know a couple of the officers now, and they are familiar with our situation.  The difference on Sunday, though, was that Mr. J didn't shrink into a ball and choose to calm down.  This time he made the same threats against us in their presence, smashed his fist into his bedroom window in anger, shattering it, and then assaulted two police officers.  They were not amused.

Our son was arrested. 
Put in the back of a police car.
Driven away.

And now he's locked up in Juvenile Detention for ten days...supposedly enough time to figure out how to keep our family safe, and to (hopefully) decide what the next step for Mr. J is going to be.

And now comes the Red Tape.

There are very few facilities that specialize in treating RAD children and truly understand the different methods needed to reach these traumatized kids.  Most residential treatment facilities use a "behavioral modification" method, which is a series of privileges earned and lost by the child as he/she chooses behaviors.  When the behavior is good, privileges are gained.  When it's not good, there are consequences.  This is not a bad method.  In fact, it's the method that is used in most families, including ours.

The problem is, it doesn't work with attachment disordered children.

If you're interested in learning why, here is an excellent explanation that I found:

We desperately want our son to be in a facility that will actually help him, not one that will give him the opportunity to feel in control by manipulating the system as he has done at home.  If he is going to be away from us for a year or more, we want him to spend that time healing!  And in the meantime, now that we understand how sick he is, we need to implement some of those same attachment techniques into our home in order to ease a transition back into our family. 

But all of the facilities that specialize in attachment are in other states, and all are astronomically in up to twice the cost of our home.   

Insurance will do anything to get out of paying, or so it seems, and adoption medical subsidy will only pay for facilities within two hundred miles (all attachment facilities are significantly further).  To our knowledge, school funding will only help pay if our child has an IEP or has been labeled as emotionally impaired at school, which will not happen because our son has his "mask" on at school.  We need to get him a proper childhood trauma assessment, but the waiting list is months long.  We need to somehow get the attention of people who know the right people who are willing to help.

It seems that all the avenues of getting funding that we are exploring are more interested in money and documentation and red tape than in what is best for our son.  We could get funding for one of those behavioral modification residential treatment centers (those within two hundred miles of our home) that would probably do nothing but make him sicker, not addressing any of the attachment issues that are at the root of all his problems.

This makes no sense to us.  Why is the state willing to pay for something nearby that won't help, but refuses to pay for something further away that could change our son's life?  Why won't they give him a chance?

We want our son to heal.  We want to give him the best opportunity at life that we possibly can, and we want him to become who God created him to be before the trauma and neglect of his early childhood wreaked havoc on his brain. 

We don't just want to send him away...
get rid of him...
get him out of our hair.

He's our son. 
We want to help him heal.

Somehow, God, please help us cut through all the Red Tape before we lose our son for good, before his choices take him in a direction from which he can't escape.  And if we, as his parents, are not following the path you've chosen, please make that clear, too...and then show us where you want us to go from here.

Feel free to pass this on as you feel led.  We never know what ways God will use to provide us with the wisdom and advice and help that we need to accomplish what He wants to accomplish...and we're in need of as many prayers as we can get!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I'm not feeling particularly eloquent at the moment, but that probably has to do with going to bed at one-thirty and waking up at five.  I'm not even sure that I have a whole lot to say that I haven't already said.  But I somehow feel compelled to write what's on my heart in the hopes that it might help someone understand our situation.  Or maybe...might help someone understand their own situation with a traumatized child...before it's too late.

We're beginning to realize that we've never truly known our son, not for the entire six years that he's been with us.  He isn't the child we've thought him to be:  the one with the sense of humor that matches ours entirely, with interests in the same sports, the same taste in music, the same clothing styles, the same opinions, the same strong-held Christian beliefs.

We're beginning to see that that child never really existed at all.

He was a facade.

Mr. J has spent his entire six years with us pretending to be what he thought we wanted him to be.  Pretending to be the "perfect" child for us.  In his eyes, a miniature Mom and Dad.  If he played the part well, he knew we would leave him alone.  We wouldn't try to "fix" him like we did his sister, we wouldn't put him in more therapy or try to parent him differently.  He would get all the benefits of happy family life without ever having to talk about who he really is or about how he really feels.  Without ever having to acknowledge that he isn't perfect or that he struggles or that he isn't what he desperately wants to be: "normal".

And if he was good enough, he would never have to be corrected or disciplined or be made to feel as if he wasn't solely in control of himself and everything to do with his life. 

Perfectly in control, perfectly poised, he played his part so convincingly that after that first hectic six months with us, we only ever saw glimpses of the sickness that lay beneath the surface. 

A perfectly crafted surface.

A surface that, as his body is beginning to swarm with the new hormones of adolescence, he can't hold together anymore.

The facade is gone.

He held it together for six whole days this time.  Sure, there were times when we could see the anger boiling in his eyes, but he held it in check for six days.  That's a record for the past few months, but we all knew it wasn't going to last.  Last night, Mr. J went off again.  About power.  About having no control over what we will or won't give him, when he thinks he deserves whatever he wants because he's been mostly "good" for six days.

Control.  Calculated control.  He got angry before dinner, yet chose to push it down so he could enjoy family movie night, pizza and ice cream.  As soon as it was over, he let it all out.  On purpose.  Calculated and controlled.  The police arrived as he was trying yet again to break his window out, and they got to his room just in time to hear him threaten to kick me in the stomach so he could kill our baby.

I don't think our family can take much more of this. 

Sobbing six-year-old, hugging a cat on her bed, not understanding why her big brother is screaming again.  Nothing happened!  Why is he so angry?

Wide-eyed ten-year old that's still too fresh in her own healing to comprehend what's going on, but reaches out to hug her Mama when she sees the tears coming.

Sweet four-year-old that misses his big brother and keeps calling for Mama and Daddy from his bed, scared to be without us, hearing the rage from the other room.

Oblivious one-year-old, innocently repeating "Bubba! Bubba!" as his brother screams and pounds and swears and threatens.

Precious tiny baby boy, little miracle, receiving a death threat before he even lays soft gray eyes on the world.  Is his world even safe?

We have to protect them. 
We have to protect our family. 
And we have to protect Mr. J from himself.

We can't do this anymore.

Please pray that we find the direction God wants for us, that it becomes painfully clear, and that doors are supernaturally opened for us to get our son and our family the help and the respite that is needed.  We know that God is in this and that He has been from the beginning.  He will not abandon us now.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Broken Little Child

He threw a rage at the hospital tonight.  A big one.  He kicked and screamed and threw a chair at the receptionist.  His super-human fury-driven strength required five men to contain, an empty "time-out" room, a bed with restraints, a "burrito wrap", and some emergency medications.  And somehow, he still managed to spit on people, hit, and slap the doctor across the face.

Of course, we've seen this sort of thing before.  Many times.  At home.  We aren't surprised by his actions, just surprised that he finally lost control enough to show this very real side of himself to other people...the same people he's been trying to convince that he's perfectly compliant and well-mannered.  He wants them to believe that this is our problem and not his.

We stand by the truth.  We are not, have never been, and never will be perfect parents, but the responsibility for the behavior our son chooses does not belong to us.  It belongs to him and him alone.  The responsibility for the trauma that caused his brain to work the way it does also does not belong to us.  It belongs to another set of parents that failed him many years ago.

And yet, I concede to my son's way of thinking on at least one point.  Although not in the area of responsibility, this problem does belong to us as well as to him.

Because we love him.


Tonight, as I was putting our other kids to bed, Miss M, who is our troubled son's biological sister and who is currently winning a long battle with an attachment disorder, got really serious.

"Mom, why did you adopt us if it was going to be so hard?"

"Girlie, we've talked about this before.  Everything that's worth doing- everything really important - is hard."

"Do you wish you could change it?"

"Sweetie, I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever go back and not adopt you, because then you wouldn't be my daughter."

I walked over to her bunk bed, reached up, cupped her head in my hands, and planted a few kisses right in the middle of her forehead.  Those big brown eyes as dark as chocolate were sparkling with genuine joy as my voice filled with tears and I said to her,

"You are mine.  Forever and ever, you are mine.  No matter how hard things get, you are my girl.  Forever." 

"I love you, Mom."

"Love you, too.  Now go to sleep!"

There was a time, less than two years ago, when I no longer had any idea what I was fighting for.  When I felt like giving up.  There was a time when that same little girl that hungers so much for her Mama's love and approval couldn't get through the day without throwing a tantrum about something, without hitting or biting or screaming, couldn't let her guard down long enough to show us the real Miss M that she kept hidden inside.

There was a time when all things felt hopeless, when every thought of our daughter brought on panic and despair, when constant talk of her dominated our marriage, and when we couldn't see God working through all the pain and anger and frustration.

There was a time when I couldn't see the scared, broken little girl underneath all that spewing hatred; the little girl that I now love with all my heart.


I am convinced that there is a terrified, broken little child inside every traumatized, angry, unattached child. 

Inside my son.

It's that thought that allows me to feel sorrow for him tonight, in an out-of-control rage against people that he doesn't know and have done nothing to him.  How scared and panicked and all alone that little child inside must feel!  And as silly as it sounds, he's never been without my husband and me when he's been in one of his rages.  Does he care?  Does he feel abandoned?  Does he even notice?

I know God is working in this situation.  I don't know how yet, but I do know that when all seemed lost with Miss M, He showed up in amazing His own time.  He's healing my daughter.  He's changing who I am.  He's strengthening my marriage and my faith and my family, and best of all, He's reminded me what - who - I am fighting for.

That scared, broken little boy or girl inside every traumatized child is His precious child.  Not ours, but His...created beautifully and wonderfully in His image and for His glory

And they are people worth fighting for.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


We have never claimed to be perfect parents.  When you spend so much of your time fighting on the frontlines of a traumatized-child-versus-authority-figure war, there are many times that you end up parenting on the fly, enforcing the first and best thing that pops into your mind at any given moment.  Sometimes, the impulsive ideas are brilliant and work beautifully.  Other times, you look back later and think "Hmmm...that was definitely not my best parenting moment."

We're human.

Parenting a child that is constantly looking for the next chance to one-up you is tiring.  Constantly looking for the next way to gain power over you, the next opportunity to control what you do, the next way to manipulate a situation to make you squirm.  Control is everything to kids with attachment problems, even if gaining perceived control causes them to hurt themselves down at their very core.  Even if it causes them to lose the things that they love the most.  If they feel triumph for even the briefest of moments, they feel

But then what?  How do they feel afterwards, when the damage has been done?  I mean really, truly, deep down in their do they feel?  Happy?  Independent?  Thrilled?  Exhilarated?  Powerful?

I honestly don't think so. 

I think they feel alone.

Totally and completely alone.

Today our son probably felt more powerful and more alone than he's ever felt. 

He doesn't like living here, at least when it comes to being held accountable for his actions, which he is perfectly capable of being held accountable for.  We have raised this child for nearly six years, and we know for a fact that he knows right from wrong and understands what consequences are for.  His ability to discern appropriate behavior and his ability to understand consequences is not in question here.  Of course, like most children, he doesn't enjoy consequences, but his disdain for them is massively aggravated by the fact that they are handed down by us...the very ones that he desperately wants to control.

The problem comes to this: he can't stand it when we, as his parents, exercise authority over him.  He may let it go for weeks at a time, and honestly, when he's been in a calm, regulated state of mind, he doesn't need correction very often.  Maybe that's even part of the problem.  He tries so hard to be perfect so that we never need to tell him that he isn't.  So that he never needs to be corrected. 

Because being corrected by us feels like death to him. 

And sooner or later, it gets too hard to pretend to be "perfect". 

He can't hold it together forever. 

Eventually the pent-up emotions blow, and we find ourselves living with a child we don't even know: a child that isn't respectful for more than a moment at a time, rages about everything, instigates fights about the most insignificant of things and refuses to comply.  This is the child that often needs to be restrained as he bites, head-butts, digs with his nails, and pulls out hair.  A child that so badly wants to be in control of us, that he can't even control himself. 

This is the child that we voluntarily put into the mental hospital. 
So they could help him.

This is also the child who, in typical Attachment Disorder fashion, has not shown one single behavior like these to anyone there, and has painted a picture of life with our family that simply isn't true.  While he is quiet and sad and compliant there, his exaggerations and outright fabrications are easy for non-RAD-trained (or even non-RAD-endorsing) people to believe.

And so our power-hungry, will-do-anything-to-make-Mom-and-Dad-pay-for-the-crime-of-trying-to-love-me-and-raise-me son has scored a big, controlling, painfully earned and significant point today.

And I bet that tonight, this little boy becoming adolescent, the one that I love more than my own life, is lying there in his sterile hospital room...

feeling totally and completely alone.

Our hearts are breaking.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I'm finally going to try to post something, although I warn you that I'm not feeling the least bit up to the task.  I fear that my ability to string two thoughts together in written form is currently buried beneath a thousand other things - thoughts, feelings, worries, half-finished prayers, anger, sadness, regret, confusion, heartache, panic, pain, hopelessness, fear. 

I don't know how to explain what Scott and I are feeling right now, don't even know if there are words big enough and powerful enough to capture our present reality.  I can only say that there is no escape.  Not in laughter, not in a date-night movie, not in a good book, not in a beautiful day spent with loved ones and happy kids and flowers and sun.  Not even in sleep.  Especially not in sleep. 

No escape. None. 

My Bible, my cute little purple Bible, has become my safety and my life.  I find myself carrying it around with me throughout the day, needing desperately to keep it near.  Purse, couch, van, table, bed.  I panic when I cannot remember where I left it.  Frantically searching, scrambling around in near tears until it's been found, until it's once more in my possession, once more alive and vibrating in my hands.  I feel the weight of it like almost never before: a physical weight, not an imagined testament to the enormous truths within that describe both the heaviest of life's burdens and the entirety of life's hope.

And yet, so often I feel powerless to open it.

Nothing has changed with our son since I last wrote, except perhaps that he seems to be giving up on himself and is even more defiant.  He is still a volcano biding his time until his daily eruption, which comes faithfully with little or no provocation.  He seems unable to equate any consequences as having come from his own choices, believing that everything is happening to him and not because of him. 

After being discharged from the inpatient program last Tuesday, he held it together for all of a day and a half before raging again on Thursday and being admitted to the day program again on Friday.  And after refusing his medication and threatening to bite me "like you've never been bitten before" (don't worry, he was restrained at the time), we checked him in as a full-time patient again at about midnight last night.  On our daughter's birthday.

And so life goes on for us.  Calmer for the moment, yet with a piece missing that is our eldest son.  I cling to my husband, who clings to me, and together we cling to God and cry out for His mercy.  And we laugh, and we pray, and we live, and we love our kids and play with them, all the while hoping that they don't notice that our smiles fall short of our eyes.

And I carry my Bible with me.  Although there are many of these days that I can't bring myself to read a single verse, when I can't process the letters that are spilling from the pages and can't even begin to drink deeply of its truths, I trust that God will give me exactly what I need. 

I am powerless, but He is not.

Please continue to pray for us. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dreary Days

It's been a dreary day today.

Fitting, I suppose, how the drops falling from the sky are mimicking the tears falling from my tired eyes, and the chilly gray of the out-of-doors is painting a picture of my heart for all to see.

I can no longer hide from the thoughts that until recently, my flit-from-this-to-that brain could turn loose...set free like little butterflies into the sky, never to be seen or dealt with again.  Those same thoughts press down on me now like the cold gray world, and today I just cannot send them away. 

I am weary.  Weary in my very bones, physically sore and emotionally spent.  Spiritually worn out from battles too numerous to mention, too daunting to even recall.  Exhausted to the point of aimless one-word prayers.


Monday morning, our son was checked into a day hospitalization program at a mental health facility.  After nothing short of a miracle breakthrough with him in the wee hours of the morning, we brought to the hospital that first day a nearly cooperative child that seemed ready and almost willing to be helped.   We were hopeful.

Monday came and went.  He was compliant and pleasant in the evening, although we kept him separate from the other children.  It had only been a day, after all, since he had terrorized the entire family and inflicted harm on several of us both in word and action.

Tuesday came and went.  His team - doctor, therapist, social worker - believed he was doing well and was responding to therapy, opening up a bit.  He seemed to be trying.  Tuesday evening, we gave the other kids a say in whether he would be invited to dinner with the family.  Our four-year-old son didn't think it was a good idea "because he might hurt us."  He felt safer when his chair was moved between Mama and Daddy, who could protect him. 

The baby was not as easily won over.  He stopped smiling the moment his biggest brother came to the table, and was clearly unsettled at his presence for the rest of the evening.  The little boys' reactions and fear sparked the first glimmer of remorse we've seen this summer on the face of our oldest son.  Again, we were hopeful.

Wednesday came...and Wednesday never seemed to end. 

We picked him up, ran some errands as a family.  He was awkwardly, shamelessly trying to rebuild his little brothers' trust, which had been a therapy topic for the day.  When reminded that he wasn't yet trusted with the little ones, that rebuilding all the relationships he had crushed would take time, he became angry.

As the evening wore on, anger overtook him.  Turned to rage.  Turned to loss of any rational thought.  Turned to hatred and evil spewing forth from the child we had thought was trying.

There comes a time when enough is enough.

Last night, at eleven thirty, we admitted our son as a patient to the mental hospital.  He'll be there for about a week.  Longer, if needed.

The stress my husband and I are under has been causing stomachaches, knots in our chests, fatigue, sleeplessness and anxiety.  I can't begin to fathom the toll it's taken on our little ones, including the tiniest one that's supposed to be feeling nothing but safety and security within me.  We can't keep on this way, waiting for the next insignificant thing that will set him off, dreading the rage and fearing for the well-being of our family. 

Right now, our son needs more help than we can give him. 
And so we did what we thought we never would.

The rain and gloom of the day was a perfect background for this solemn, emotional first day without our son.  The entire day seemed dreary, and yet somehow the evening clouds knew to break rank in the west at the perfect moment to wreak pink and orange havoc across the sky.  An unexpected, beautiful sunset.

It was a glorious end to a dreary day. 

We hang on to hope.

We hang on to Jesus.   

We absolutely know that God is at work in this situation.

And we hang on to the knowledge that the most beautiful of things are often found at the end of the dreariest of days.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Hang On

I wish God would give me just a glimpse of the future.  Of what my son's future will be.  I wish I could see for just a second that someday, everything will be okay. 

I just want something to hang on to.

These past few weeks - months, really - have been some of the most uncertain of our lives.  Our home has turned into a sort of twisted war zone, with unprovoked hostility hedging in on every side.  Every word has become an argument, every request has become a fight, every demand has become a full-blown rage. 

Each "I love you" has been met with hatred and fury.

Thus has begun our life with a traumatized and Attachment Disordered child on the brink of adolescence.

We've seen it all before...kind of.  We've seen the anger and the disrespect and the hatred, we've heard the screams, felt the kicks and the bites and the scratches and the pulling of hair, dealt with the heartache and muscle-ache of restraining a child-turned-animal as he unleashes every ounce of venom from within....unleashes it on those who love him the most.

Yes, we've seen it all before, but not quite like this. 

He's never thrown furniture before.  Toys, yes.  Small objects, yes.  But never a lamp.  Or a chair.  And never in the direction of his pregnant mother. 

We've never had to call the police on him before.

He's never refused to go anywhere with us before, much less to church; never jumped from his loft bed to escape, needing to be chased through the house and forcibly put into the van.

He's never jumped from a moving vehicle before, never run in stocking feet through a cornfield and had to be chased down by his father.

He's never kicked his sisters and thrown pop bottles in the direction of the baby, insisting that he doesn't care if he hurts him.

He's never treated his grandparents with the same hatred and disrespect that he usually reserves for us.

He's never had the Elders of our church pray over him.  He's never needed to be moved into an empty room with nothing more than a mattress and bedding, for his own protection, and never needed an alarm on his door for the protection of everyone else.

I've never felt the need to hide my knives before.

And he's never been checked into a mental health facility. 
Until today.  

I haven't written for many weeks now.  Just like the groanings of my soul that have replaced my words uttered in prayer, there is no language to express the feeling of hopelessness that lingers in our home, the evil that seemingly permeates our walls. 

My son is tormented.  I see it in his eyes. 

We are tormented, too...and sometimes, when the knots in my chest...and in my husband's chest...threaten to choke out all hope, when we feel nearly sick to our stomachs with anxiety and can barely cope...some of these times, we are tempted to believe Satan's lies that our son will never be healed, that our family will never be happy, and that we will never be good enough parents.

But God's voice can drown out all others.
We hang on to Him. 

His peace envelops our home when there is no peace to be found. 
His love surrounds us when we cannot give love on our own. 
His strength endures long after our own strength is spent.
He is our protector, our shield, our stronghold, and our very hope.

While not free from the world's pain, we are free from despair and hopelessness.

Our son can be, too, if he chooses to believe it. 
His future is not devoid of hope, even now.
And that gives me something else to hang on to.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and He will come near to you.  James 4: 7-8a

Our children's struggle (consequently our struggle) with Attachment Disorder and trauma is physical, mental, and spiritual.  We have seen this evidenced over and over throughout the past six years.  We are seeking help from our church community as well as from the medical community, as we strongly believe that RAD (as well as other mental health issues) cannot be solely "fixed" by the ways of the world.  Our children, who endured so much pain and trauma in their early years, need to be equipped to fight off the spiritual attacks they encounter and the memories, dreams, and fears that haunt them.  Our kids need to learn to hang on to Jesus.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Five-and-a-half years ago, I sat in a courtroom for the first time in my life.  I didn't have to be there, was not required to be there, and many people thought I was more than a little crazy for choosing to be there.  But I went anyway. 

For weeks prior, I had had this "unexplainable" feeling that I was supposed to go.  I didn't want to go, and I tried to ignore the feeling, but the persistent urging just kept coming back.  Stronger and stronger and stronger, until I could no longer deny that for some reason, God wanted me to be there.

So I found someone to watch the kids (my husband was at work), begged my dad to accompany me, and we ventured into the city courthouse to witness something that both broke my heart and empowered me.  I left that courtroom that day determined to be the best parent I could be: to set a Godly example for my kids, to make up for all the instability they had ever experienced, and to be the one to set them on the path to becoming who God created them to be.

Parental Termination hearings are brutal.

Our kids' biological mother was (under the circumstances) willing to give up her parental rights.  She acknowledged that she had not followed through with the requirements for reunification, and admitted that she had trouble even taking care of herself.  She said that she knew her kids were happy and, having been in foster care for much of her own youth, trusted that they would be well taken care of.  I believed then, and I still do now, that their biological mother was fully aware that she had failed her kids in many ways and truly wanted what was best for them.  I don't think she tossed them away lightly.  I don't think she did it for selfish reasons.  She was unable to be a responsible mother at that time in her life, and was able to quietly and respectfully admit it.  In my opinion, that takes a type of humility that deserves respect.

The birth father, on the other hand, was exactly the opposite.  Prison escort in tow, he was as loud and belligerent as his girlfriend was quiet.  While she denied nothing and calmly accepted what seemed inevitable, he refused to acknowledge that he had ever done anything wrong to have his children taken away.  In fact, he flat out accused the judge, the case workers, and the attorneys present of removing the kids for their own reasons, telling them it was their fault and that they never planned on giving the kids back no matter what he did. 

He was not at all a stupid man.  He understood how the proceedings were supposed to go and was well aware of his rights, and while his language was harsh and sometimes colorful, he was also very articulate.  I was shocked that a reasonably intelligent man seemed completely incapable of admitting any fault.  Even when facts and witnesses and prison records stared him in the face, he accepted zero responsibility for any of his actions.  Zero. 

Because he contested the termination of his rights, the hearing became a sort of macabre parade of all of both his and her failures.  I had known about the rotting teeth, the horror movies, the lack of bedtimes, structure, and regular meals.  But that day, my eyes were truly opened to the lives that my kids had come from.  Surrounded by drug addicts and dealers, being taught theft as a family "trade", living in more than a dozen places in a single year, being raised by two parents with criminal records; but more specifically, an arrogant man who had never done anything wrong but somehow had a police record longer than the Nile. 

Looking back, there are two things that stand out in my mind from that day as being the most significant. 

First of all, I discovered exactly why God wanted me to be there so badly.  After the belligerent birth father had been forcibly removed from court (following a colorful spewing of disrespect towards the judge), the downtrodden birth mother sat there all alone.  She had not a single person in the courtroom that was there to support her, had not even wanted to contest the termination herself, and yet she was forced to quietly listen to an endless list of the things she had done wrong.  Brutal.  Once the ruling was made official and her children were taken away for good, the lawyers and caseworkers all came back to talk with congratulate me as if what had happened had been a joyous occasion and not the tearing out of another woman's heart.  I watched as the lonely, unkempt woman shuffled down the aisle and to the door, and suddenly I knew what I was there for.  I was there for her.

I excused myself and followed her.  In the hallway, I gave her a hug and cried with her, and I explained that my husband and I had been approved to adopt the kids.  We talked for an hour or more, and I was able to reassure her that our kids would be fine, and that I would never try to make them hate her.  She shared some of their family medical history and described to me the kids' births.  I told her about Jesus and his love for her, and then I drove her home, as she had no money for the bus.

I'm not condoning her actions or making light of the damage she did to my kids, in fact, I still struggle with the thought of her neglecting my babies and causing them so much suffering.  But the first significant thing that I learned that day was that God truly loves all of His children...even the ones that are so messed up they can barely get up in the morning.  Even the ones that can't get themselves off drugs or show up on time to parenting classes.  Even the ones that hurt people that we love.  He loves us all.

The second significant memory that has become even more significant with each year that passes is the image of that angry, arrogant man that fought the truth with every fiber of his being.  The man that was obviously intelligent, yet lacked the ability to admit or acknowledge any wrongdoing or to accept any responsibility for his actions.  What happened to that man in his life that caused him to become a wild animal at the first implication of error?  What was it in him that associated mistakes with attack and weakness and forced him to so vehemently fight for what were so obviously lies?

I don't understand.  And yet, I do.  The truth is, this is a significant memory because I live every day with the image of that arrogant man. 

It sounds brutal, but my son acts just like him.

Please pray for us.  This has been an extraordinarily difficult few months with Mr. J, and it is so difficult to live with someone who is arrogant and unremorseful and whose problems are always someone else's fault.  We are seeking guidance as we begin this journey into the adolescent years, but it has become very apparent to all that Mr. J is simply better at hiding his issues than Miss M ever has been, and while she's been working hard to heal, he has been festering for years.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Christian Controversy

***Note: this entry is intended for Christians.  If you are not a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, this issue most likely does not pertain to you, as God is far more concerned with your heart and soul than with your choices of entertainment.  Please email me at if you are unsure of what I mean and would like to discuss it*** 

I'm going to be courageous enough to address an issue that is mostly ignored within Christian circles.  I've touched on the issue of television and movies before, but in the past year (on several different occasions), I've been saddened by sisters in Christ who have recommended shows to me (which I have sometimes looked up on Netflix or online as a result...hoping to find something wholesome and entertaining), only to discover sexual content, homosexual relationships, inappropriate dress, blatant disregard for Christ and foul language, among other things. 

It seems that many Christians have become desensitized to the filth intertwined with their entertainment and don't even think twice about it.  They not only feel that it's acceptable to watch these things themselves, but also that it would be fine to suggest them to others.

Early on in our marriage, my husband and I were sucked into the same familiar routine of coming home from work, turning on the TV, and staring at it until bedtime.  We weren't overly selective about what we watched, as long as it was entertaining, and looking back, I'm ashamed of the blatantly immoral shows that we not only watched but also "couldn't miss". 

I understand the lure of television.  I understand the temptation to kick back and relax at the end of the day, or to zone out while folding laundry or while the kids are napping.  I totally remember the feeling of justifying a little sin for the sake of a favorite show, and then slowly justifying more and more sin as the show became more and more captivating.  It's a slippery slope, and once I justified the sin, the next step was ignoring it altogether.  Eventually I didn't even notice it, and then one day (I don't even remember it happening) I was laughing at it.  Being entertained by it.  By my actions, approving of it.

Slowly, God began working on us to clean up our television viewing habits, but the last straw was when a woman had a heart attack at my work and died in my arms.  Once I had experienced the actual heartache of death, I could no longer turn a blind eye to the "entertainment" of death I saw on TV.  Death and human suffering are not entertaining!  Sin is not entertaining!  Watching unholy and vile things over and over and over does have an effect on your life and on your ability to have a deeper relationship with God, no matter how much you may think it isn't harmful. 

"I will be careful to lead a blameless life
when will you come to me?

I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile."
Psalm 101:2-3a 

God spoke to us through so many situations during that one year in our lives, including a new-found desire in my husband to keep his eyes and heart pure...and we've been television-programming-free for almost eight years now.  We play games, talk, and have fun together way more than when we were TV watchers; we get a lot more done, and we enjoy each other's company.  To unwind at the end of the day, we do watch movies together as a couple on occasion, but have set strict guidelines for ourselves there as well.  We read detailed reviews on anything we watch beforehand, and have discovered that (with a few exceptions) PG movies are the most we can handle.  Why?  Because if we wouldn't invite Jesus over personally to watch something with us, then we shouldn't be watching it. 

In reality, Jesus is there watching everything with us anyway.

So, we have more time for each other, a closer relationship with God, and we get more accomplished than we used to.  Are there any other benefits to turning off the television?  Definitely.  All five (soon to be six) of our children have incredible imaginations.  They play, read, craft, and never whine about watching TV because it isn't a part of their lives.  They don't see commercials, so they never beg for certain toys or cereals or experiences; they are content with what they're given for gifts, and ask for the types of things that interest them, not the latest "fad".  Family movie night is a treat for them, and they associate movies with togetherness and special occasions. 

The best part?  When they have seen TV shows (mostly at relatives' homes), they've noticed the temptations and sins we've talked to them about...prepared them for...and they've pointed them out to us themselves.  They recognize sin for what it is and are not fooled by the coating of entertainment.  Their innocence and perception is truly a gift, and we pray they will never become desensitized as we once were.

If you're on the fence, I would encourage you to try turning off the TV.  It certainly can't hurt anything.  Yes, it was incredibly hard at first, but as with all obedience, it has reaped such joy and spiritual growth into our family.  We still use wholesome movies/Netflix as an educational tool and as an occasional family treat, but getting rid of the constant bombardment of violence, impure images, immorality, greed and worldliness, along with the temptation to be lazy, has been the best thing we ever could have done for our family.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

Whatever convictions God lays on your heart in regard to keeping your eyes, minds, and hearts free from vile things, I wish His blessing on all of you as together we walk this journey of life.  And since I've shared something that God has been working on in my family, if anyone would like to share how He's cured you of anger, tardiness or facebook addiction (to name a few), I would be eager to hear you out!