On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Friday, February 12, 2010

Is it really all about faith?

Is it really all about our faith, or is there an element I'm missing, some piece to the puzzle of life that didn't come in my box so that I have a complete picture, minus one piece?

I do have friends here that have kids with needs, in fact, most of the people I hang out with have kids with needs. It's just easier. Strength in numbers kind of thing. Only one of my friends is an adoptive mom and only one of her kids has RADs. Her daughter suffered trauma by both her biological and foster families. She's now 19 and better, but will never achieve full functionality. She is still very RADical.

Last night we went to a benefit concert, Winter Jam Tony Nolan was hosting the concert, drumming support for the charity he's partnered with, Holt International. Holt helps families adopt internationally as well as running a sponsor-a-child program. Nolan of course, has adopted a child from China, assuming custody this past summer, their daughter now three having spent the first few years of her life in an orphanage. They brought the cutie pie on stage and put the microphone in her hand so she could say thank you for people helping the children.

Nolan's own story is wrought with RAD-worthy trauma. You can read the whole story on his web page but the summary is he was severely traumatized by his biological and adoptive families, became a troubled teen and suicidal. His story changes when he made a commitment to Christ instead of killing himself. According to the website, he was instantly changed and healed. At the concert, I looked at my friend, our adopted kids with us, in all their special needs glory, including RADical fun-ness and I said to her, "I don't get it. How is he functional? How is his daughter not traumatized? How is his life not ruined by RADs?" She just shrugged his shoulders.

So I lay awake last night thinking about it. How does God choose whom will be miraculously healed of RADs? Tony Nolan's mother was severely emotionally disturbed. How did he not get mental illness too? If God can heal RADs, why doesn't Cindy have an amazing healing story for all 39 of her kids? Why are so many of us scrambling to find the best plan to help our RADishes but never a magic cure even when we actively pursue God for the answers? How the heck does a RADish that won't receive grace accept the grace of God's forgiveness? Is Tony Nolan exaggerating about his story?

I woke up to these thoughts running through my head, scrambling to put things in place in an attempt to trigger Sissy so we can buy another 30 days from insurance. Processing all the phone calls I made to the county and school yesterday to figure out how to get a more appropriate placement for Sissy when she returns, alerting them to our truncated time frame. Tutoring a math student, running to banks, grocery shopping, it's now snowing, tudusamom and I just getting off the phone with each other, laughing about the insanity of 3" of the white stuff in Georgia, of all places.

I read his hands his feet's post today and I thought, here it is, more faith that I'm lacking in. or maybe God just isn't choosing to bless our family that way. Where is that missing piece in my life and how the heck do I find it?!? As my debit card was denied at the grocery store earlier and I had to put the food I purchased for our weekend long snow-in on credit so I could reimburse the card on Monday when my checking account posts the deposit I made this morning. Fielding a phone call from the Homeless Veterans and the soliciting caller was not sympathetic when I said, "now is not the time in my life for me to be donating to others' causes. now is the time for MY family to be getting much needed help" and all he said was, "Yes ma'am, times are tough for everyone now." (I can't wait for the time technology advances to the level that I can put my hand through the phone and strangle the caller on the other end)

And I read corey's email and I ponder the question she posed, Is the best place for Sissy at RTC; irrespective of insurance, is that where Sissy should be right now and if so, is she really at the best place to meet her needs and yours? and I can't honestly answer that question, because I don't know. I know nothing, apparently, if Tony Nolan can be miraculously healed in an instant and then adopt a daughter that doesnt' have RADs. Or what about some of the other amazing families I know that have adopted kids and none of them have RADs? How did that happen? How did I end up in this place in my life, loving a child but hating the thought of her return because she hates that I love her? Knowing that she will be impaired for life and like it or not, I'm the advocate God appointed for her?

Will Sissy be miraculously healed of RADs and mental illness because I pray hard enough? will the bills be paid and my pantry fill up because I pray hard enough? will God choose to call us to adopt more kids because I pray hard enough? Am I even HEARING God?

Am I?

Is the missing piece my lack of faith? There are too many unanswered questions in my life, past, present and future for me to believe it could really all be balled up in our faith. But what if I take that tiny step toward faith alone and discover that's been my missing piece all along?


Meg said...

I like this post. I'm not sure it's always for us to understand what happens in life and/or why but rather just to do the best we can in any given situation. God's time is not our time. I've had 2 people in my family commit suicide. Did they not believe enough? I don't know. But I do know it's not for me to say. You don't know that what happened to Nolan won't eventually happen with your daugther. It very well may at some point when she is ready. He was ready.

Christine said...

If someone has actually led you to believe that your daughter is not healing yet because you don't have enough faith ... send me their address so I can go there and punch them in the mouth.

Or slap them. Whatever suits me in the moment.

Jennie said...

lol, Christine! no one has ever said that, it's just my own ruminating. Because sometimes I wonder if I'm missing the boat somehow. I feel so very stuck in this moment (hearing U2's song playing in my head) and trying to figure out what is hindering the outpouring of ... what? i'm not sure. something has to give, right? Right?!

Jennie said...

Hey Corey, rereading my post it might seem like I'm dissing your help, actually, I'm referencing it because your question gave me a ponder thought. I really don't know if Sissy should stay, if it's helping her. i really don't know any more. Anyway, I meant my reference to you with kindness and affection, not anger or frustration, FYI. :) xxoo

J. said...

I don't have any answers but I hear you. Sometimes I wish the answers were a little easier to come by.

marythemom said...

You put this very eloquently. Wish I had the answer.

Hugs and prayers,
Mary in TX

Lisa said...

I ask myself these questions over and over again. I don't understand WHY and maybe never will. I have a 16 yo son and 17 yo daughter who I KNEW had attachment issues (but was constantly told "they're just fine!!"). They were so....good at hiding their RAD when they were younger. I never even knew what RAD was until they were around 12-13 and at that time, I just sobbed with grief at what had been staring at me for so long. I recognize it for what it is now and am constantly beating myself up for "giving them too much credit" when it comes to certain situations - they always correct me very promptly when I start thinking too highly of them.

Is RTC the best place? I don't know either. I don't think it is for my son because, although I desperately need him to go live somewhere else for many, many reasons, every time I try to find services for him (very pitiful in MI as well) they either don't exist or the benefits are very questionable. Right now he has a behavior aid who is "supposed" to be teaching him acceptable social skills. Well, I don't see them doing anything that would facilitate that. In fact, the things they do together only seems to keep my son in a perpetual state of lying and stealing (right under the aids nose of course). Is this helping him heal? nope, just gives us a break from him.

Your husband was right (in another post) about how you haven't really had respite while Sissy is rtc. When my son was in a psychiatric hospital (was supposed to be 3 days - turned into 17), they called every day, I was supposed to call him every day as well, I never knew from one day to the next whether he would be discharged the next morning, and if he was, I needed to get there immediately, so I couldn't plan anything. I was welcome to go visit him from 7-9 PM every day (what the heck? I had 8 other kids at home to get ready for bed) but I didn't a single time (my little bit of rebellion). The worst part was that every time I talked to him, he was so darn HAPPY. He wanted to stay longer because it was so fun there (i.e. no limit on tv, air hockey, food, later bedtime, etc). Who wants to stay longer in a locked psych facility? His behavior towards the staff contributed to his lengthy stay and after it was all done - he just learned new ways to "get back at us" from his new best friends there.

I want to know how we got so lucky as to have 2 RAD kids (same bio family) and 2 others with attachment issues as well. I want to know why God things we can handle this - and why our kids haven't been cured by our constant prayer. I don't believe my kids will be cured by man, only God can save them.

marythemom said...


You describe the exact experience we had when our daughter went to a locked psych ward. We called it Club Med. She loved the freedoms (later bedtime, food, TV and movies we wouldn't let her watch) and all her new friends. "Luckily" her second visit wasn't as fun, there were apparently a couple of really scary teens there.

By the time she ended up in RTC her attachment issues were much improved (thank goodness for a great attachment therapist) and she was homesick and scared the whole time (although if I hear one more time about how she wants to see Twilight 2 now when I didn't think she needed to see the first Twilight, but the RTC saw no problem with it...).

I like to think we have some influence on our kids' healing, but I also know that nothing will happen without God's intervention.

Hugs and prayers,
Mary in TX

Anonymous said...

No offense taken, Jennie.. I posted about this post today.. it has had me thinking for days now..

Nobody said...

Nolan decided what he wanted for himself, and then he reached out for it. Not that he did it on his own, but he definitely decided to reach for one thing, and reject the other. My faith is big enough for me. It's big enough to share with someone who wants it. It is not big enough to drag my RAD child to wellness and freedom and redemption. They have to want to reach out and catch hold of it themselves. RAD breaks the part of them that makes them want to do that. How can we know if that will be "fixed" somehow, or strengthened somehow? How can we know how long it might take? It seems we can't know. Is my faith big enough to keep trying, and not lay down in despair? I hope so.

Beth said...

Dear Jennie, I'm a friend of Corey's. We have 8 kids, 4 bio and 4 adopted from Russia and Haiti (adopted at older ages). All of them have issues, but our oldest daughter from Russia (adopted at age 7) has severe RAD and PTSD. She is almost 16 and has been a part of our family for 9 years. She has spent the last 9 years in an awesome family who loves her and who has shared the love of Jesus with her -- not only has she spent time in an awesome family, but she has an awesome extended family through our church family. All of us have prayed and prayed and prayed for this child. But she's still very RAD. She has never been in RTF, but she spent 5 months in a Christian facility for troubled teens. It was supposed to be a 1 year program but she got kicked out in December and is suddenly back home with us. And despite the fact that she says she turned her life over to Christ in October, she is still the same person she has always been. And, we are still scrambling to get her the help she so desperately needs. But guess what, Jennie? She DOES NOT WANT the help! And, I think that is the key. Somehow, when Tony Nolan heard the Gospel, he must've desperately wanted to change. If he didn't, he would've just walked away or succeeded in ending his life. Ok, maybe I shouldn't say that some don't want to change -- I don't think it's about want -- I think it's very rooted in fear -- they are afraid to change. But somehow they have to bust through that fear -- Tony Nolan apparently did. Honey, I don't even know you, but I can tell you that your daughter's lack of healing has NOTHING to do with you or the RTF that she's in or any other person that has tried to help her. It is possible for her to heal, but she's gotta make all the first steps. I know that might not offer you much hope, but there is hope in there -- because we can have faith to believe in what we cannot see -- we can continue to pray and hope that someday they will "get it" like Tony Nolan did. I am praying for you and your family today. ~ Beth