Called to Adopt Part IV

My cousin posted this video last week on her Facebook page:

Wendy’s has done AMAZING things for those stuck in the foster care system.  For those children that are “unadoptable.”

It seems like what they do works and that is why I posted this video.

Because most often

It DOESN’T work.

I shared those statistics last week.

I SO wish it would.

I wish every child that had been abandoned, pulled out of their homes, and “rejected” by those people who should love them would be able to enter an adoption home and instantly be healed because they are now loved, They are now wanted.  They now belong.

But it’s not that easy.

I don’t like labels!  In fact I really hate labels.  It’s not fair to a child to scar them for life with a label that may or may not be true.  That label ends up defining that child, often for the rest of their lives.  Instead of looking at a child, we look at ” autistic chld” “sexually abused child” “RAD child” etc.  Labels give a reason for an excuse; a reason a child can’t succeed.  Enough said. That’s a topic for another day…

I’d rather just say that an adopted child has attachment issues.  In fact, I’d not hesitate to say that most, if not all adoptive children must struggle with attachment.  Even those removed at birth.  They’ve suffered a great loss in their little, young lives, but their struggle doesn’t have to define them.

Some are more severe than others:

Some just want to know why their birth mothers “abandoned” them.

Some want answers.

Some are filled with rage!

ANGER that they do not understand!

ANGER that they cannot control!

ANGER that comes from being abused, drugged, or abandoned.

VERY few actually heal from that anger.

Out of all the children that our counselor worked with over the years OUR son was one of the ONLY one that she had ever gotten to the point of forgiveness.

He was 7 years old.

I have to think that is the norm among adoption/attachment counselors. True success is rare.

Quite frankly, most families are not equipped to handle a child with so much rage that they cannot let go.  We certainly weren’t.  We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was ONLY God’s amazing grace that saved our family and healed our son.

Most often the social workers don’t tell you everything you NEED to know to make an informed decision. Some key phrases are:  “Must be placed with older children” “has challenging behaviors” “an experienced family with no other children”  “needs patience”  But unless you know, you don’t know…

These kids cannot forgive.  They cannot understand that YOU love them.  They have been forced to learn to take care of themselves.   They are convinced that they have to take care of themselves, that you cannot take care of them.

And they p u s h  y o u  a w a y.

Often times, these children are the nice, kind, obedient children that everyone loves in public; but  in the privacy of their own home, they become ugly and some become EVIL in the privacy of their own home.

Sometimes, they don’t care where they act out.  It can be in public, or in private.  It is hard to remember that their behavior is not a reflection of you when all those judgemental eyes are upon you.

Not surprisingly, the adoptive Mom is usually the target

Sometimes the child is so good at manipulating that the husband that is away at work doesn’t even believe the wife.

These are the children that can tear apart a family.

These are the families where physical harm can come to family members.

I know two families that were torn apart (one still is separated) because a child with severe attachment issues convinced a social worker that the parents were lying.

Yep, one family spent a year with their children in foster homes (in fact, several different foster homes and one group home).

One child almost destroyed the entire family.  It was so bad that the Dad was charged with a felony that he NEVER committed and spent the better part of that year in jail!   Thankfully, God has restored this  Dad to his home.  But, they’re still rebuilding.  Still trying to move past the pain. The adoption has been dissolved and last heard the child is in a therapuetic group home.

The other family is still separated over a year later.  These are seasoned parents with grown children and grandchildren.   Torn apart because one child lied so convincingly that the social workers believed them.  Now tied up in the court system, even though it seems that the social workers have realized their terrible “mistake”  These children were adopted children. Yes, they’ve already been in the system once, and here they are again.  Fortunately, these children are blessed to be with family friends that have similar values as the adoptive family; but I can’t help but wonder what struggles they’ll have to face when (if) they are ever reunited with their parents.

These children.  The ones with severe attachment issues are the children that kill, that destroy, that abuse others (and themselves, although they don’t realize it)

They take out their pain on those that want to love them the most.

It takes a very special family to “hug the porcupine” as Nancy Thomas calls it.

Nancy Thomas is an internationally acclaimed expert on parenting emotionally disturbed children.  She has been a Therapeutic Parenting Specialist since 1974.

Ninety percent of the children placed in Nancy’s care have been kids who had KILLED!  ( YES!  KILLED people!)   She has an eighty-five percent success rate with these high-risk children–which is one of the highest in the country.

Here is what she says on her website: 

“There is no higher calling in life than raising the children God has entrusted in your care,” says Dr. James Dobson.  He is so right!  The challenge of raising an emotionally disturbed child has its agonies and its ecstasies.  We call it ‘hugging the porcupine’.  Baby porcupines need to have touch and love, and their mother must find a way to do it safely. Parenting these children is very different from parenting ‘normal’ children. The star charts and smiley face charts have proven ‘worse than useless’.  When people ask me what I do for a living, I often reply that I work with ‘abused’ parents!  These children CAN heal! When we stand together, we can make a powerful difference!  You are not alone.  There are many of us finding ways to hug our ‘porcupines’ to health.  The parenting techniques I use have proven very successful with children with:

Reactive Attachment Disorder
Developmental Trauma Disorder
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD & ADHD)*
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Tourette Syndrome*
Bipolar Disorder*
Character Disturbance*
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The WAY you do the techniques is important.  Remember to keep your eyes filled with love, and be a parent they feel safe enough to bond to.  Yes, there will be times when it is extremely challenging, and you would rather not hug them.  But, they will not feel safe enough to trust and bond to you if they see anger in your eyes!  We can’t heal their wounded hearts with anger and pain!  We must be powerful and loving–in a balance, to help them heal.

So YES!  Success can be had, but let me tell you from personal experience it is not an easy road.  It is NOT for the faint of heart.

Nancy Thomas and Wendy’s is working to have success with those un-adoptable  children.

God bless them both for helping those children that aren’t the easiest to love.

Stay tuned for next week, when I talk about some specific difficulties and disruption.