My daughter's story
Adoption -- Not for the Faint of Heart
My husband, James, and I had been married several years before we realized we could not have children of our own. We applied for adoption, were approved, and then waited. We waited for almost four years before deciding to become foster parents. I was hesitant because I knew that it would be heartbreaking to love a child and then see him/her returned to their birth parents. I also knew enough about foster care to know that children in foster care are hurt, damaged children. It's certainly not their fault, but it's really hard to overcome those hurdles they inherit from their birth parents. I wasn't sure I was up to that.
Desperation will cause a person to do many things, including taking in foster children. We applied, and a week or so later we got our first foster child. She was an adorable little twenty-two month old angel. We were told from the beginning that she might be long-term, and possibly even become available for adoption later. Our hopes skyrocketed.
We fell in love with her from the moment we laid eyes on her. James and I thought she hung the moon. We gave her everything we could, and loved her more than words can describe. We did eventually adopt her after a two-year battle in the courts between the Department of Children's Services and the judge over the case.
We provided therapy for a while to help her make the transition from foster care to adoption. When the therapist said she was okay with it, we stopped the therapy. We would later take her back for an occasional "check-up", but were always confident that she was psychologically healthy.
When Kellye was seven years old we were asked to provide an emergency foster care home for a three-year-old boy until they could find a better placement for him. Our subsequent decision to keep Tony would forever change all of our lives. Looking back on that decision has brought me hours of torturous self-examination. Perhaps the attention he demanded caused us to overlook the subtle signs in Kellye that would have alerted us that she needed more therapy. I don't know, and I guess I never will know the answer to that question.
When Kellye hit puberty it was like someone abducted our child and left a different little girl in her place. She displayed all of the typical signs of adolescence, except greatly magnified. We trusted her too much, and she was very good at lying. Through the internet she became obsessed with all things Gothic. She started rebelling at every turn. She eventually got into pornography.
It took me a while to realize how serious her situation was. By the time I knew what hit me she was chatting with boys from all over, and talking about sexual things with them. I found out she even was calling them on the phone. I was mortified. For all I knew they could have been grown men--predators! I tried to explain that to her, to no avail.
One day her school called me to say that they had found a suicide note she had written, describing how she would kill herself. We took her to her therapist who recommended having her admitted to a psychiatric ward for evaluation. It was then that we also discovered she was a "cutter". There were about 40 small cuts on each forearm (always covered by the hooded jacket she wore).
She was released from the hospital a few days later, as they deemed her to be no threat to herself. We started looking for residential treatment facilities where she could get the help she needed. We just wanted her to love herself enough to stop being self-destructive in her actions and in the friends she chose. I probably called a dozen or more facilities and spoke at length to them. I ran into the same brick wall each time—the fact that we simply are not wealthy. Those places charge anywhere from $50,000 a year to over $100,000. I was brokenhearted, but we continued to do all that we could to protect her from her own self-destructive ways.
Try as we may she continued her rebellious behavior. We were wearing ourselves out dealing with Tony's behavior (told in another story). Still, we had to try to do something to help Kellye. We tried several therapists, none of whom seemed to make a difference. Finally, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which was inherited from her birth family, and with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, caused by all the violence she was exposed to in her infancy and toddler years. She also suffers from Attachment Disorder as a result of being taken from her mother at 13 months, and placed into three foster homes before coming into our family.
She was given medication for the bipolar disorder, but refused to take it. She continued her path of self-destruction, promiscuity, smoking, using marijuana, etc... until it all came to a head one Saturday night.
She joined forces with a twenty-two year old woman to steal my debit card from my purse. They took over four hundred dollars out of our bank account and used most of it to purchase marijuana. When we discovered what they had done it nearly put me over the edge. We had to press charges (we would have anyway) so that the bank would refund our money. We aren't the kind of people who can lose four hundred dollars and just let it go. That was a house payment that was already behind.
So, at this moment, she is in a ninety-day substance abuse program for adolescents. When she returns home she still faces charges of identity theft and theft of the money they took. She will, hopefully, be charged as a minor and put on probation, according to the District Attorney. We are hopeful that she will benefit from the program she is in, and that the probation officer will help us monitor her behavior when she comes home. All we can do for her is pray that God will change her heart so she can love herself enough to make healthier choices for her life.
I wrote this because I think it's important for the public to be aware of the obligations adoptive parents have toward their adopted children. Every single adopted child feels abandoned by their parents. They especially seem to be focused on their mother's abandonment of them. They can only think of one reason that explains why their mothers would abandon them: they are simply unlovable. Adoptive parents, I hope you take this message seriously, and get therapy for your adopted children.
At the very least, an adopted child needs therapy for those feelings of abandonment. In addition to that, there are many disorders which are prevalent among adopted children. Some of them are inherited. Some are there because the mother used drugs and alcohol while pregnant with them. Some of them exist because of their environment in the early years of their lives, before they were adopted. Never stop being on the alert for any signs that the child has self-image issues. A healthy self-image will always result in healthier choices.
Please think about these possibilities before you decide to adopt. I am not against adoption. I merely feel that all prospective adoptive parents should be educated about the truth. Then, if they are physically, emotionally, and financially prepared to deal with whatever may come up down the road, they should adopt. Adoption is not for the faint of heart!
October 25, 2010
August 25, 2012
My husband and I finally had to ask our daughter to leave our home just after her nineteenth birthday. That was the most difficult thing we have ever done. She was homeless for about a week in the middle of January. She had to beg her friends for a place to stay. My heart ached for her, and I longed to invite her back into our home. About three days after she left, the temperature fell below freezing. We knew she would knock on our door, and we planned our strategy ahead of time. Of course, we let her stay the night. We fed her a hot meal, and she got a hot shower before sleeping in her own bed. But we told her she would have to leave the next morning when I left for work. I could barely hold back tears as she sat there, dirty and cold, with cold sores. She cried and said that she was sick and need her "mommy." I hugged her and told her how much I loved her, but I held to the plan.
It didn't take her long to find a boy to stay with. That broke my heart too, but at least she was out of the cold. A few months later, she moved in with another young man and his parents. She texted me and told me about her new boyfriend. I couldn't trust anything she said and continued to keep her at a safe distance. Even when she told me she was pregnant, I didn't believe her. She had lied so many times before. This past July I spent almost a week in an Intensive Care Unit. When she heard about it she came flying to my bedside. She cried and said she couldn't bare having something happen to me before we were able to reconcile. She told me over and over how sorry she was for hurting us.
We did reconcile. We met her boyfriend and have come to like him very much. She seems happier, more content than I have seen her in years. They appear to be good for each other. She loves being pregnant, and I believe she will be a good mom. I am so excited about being a grandma in December. I never thought things would turn around for Kellye in such a short time. God had a plan, and it just took courage from James and me to let her go so she could come back to us on her own. I'm so happy to be able to write this update. Kellye and David go to church with us because they want to. We are planning a small wedding in September because they want to get married. We talk every day.
Yes. I'm glad we adopted. It's a challenge to raise adopted children. There were times I didn't know if we would survive the challenges. But here we are today with two loving children.