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!