The Reason We Disrupted Our Son's Adoption

Sometimes there are parts of our story that are just plain hard. No one can truly understand unless they have walked a similar road. This makes sharing incredibly difficult because we might be judged or ridiculed or misunderstood. There are so many risks to sharing a difficult or even controversial story. Sandra's story is one of those. It's hard, it's controversial and it's honest. Her courage to share such a difficult part of her journey is commended and it's an honor to feature Sandra's story in this space today. 


A piece of my story began nine years ago when two little boys entered our home via the local foster care system. Joseph and Barry were 6 and 17 months old at the time they were placed with us. These little boys came starved for love and nutrition. My husband, Dean, and I poured our hearts into filling their lives with love and their tummies with food. We were court ordered to attend twice weekly visits with their bio parents as is typical for children in the foster system. Barry quickly grew to hate those visits. His little body would grow stiff in protest while silent tears rolled down his cheeks as we drove to the visits. I bought a side by side stroller to use at their visits with their bio parents. Barry would reach over and hold his little brother's hand as though to comfort him. It broke our hearts to see them in such pain but there wasn't anything we could do about it. Those visits continued for two years.

Knowing the pain and neglect they suffered prior to coming into our home increased my desire to show the boys what a godly, love-filled home is like. But Barry rejected that love. At first, I thought it was just me. Maybe his negative experiences with his birth mom made him unable to trust women. However that thought was crushed when I saw him reaching out to other women, it seemed it was just me that he fought against. I couldn't understand it and tried my best to get close to him but the harder I tried, the more he pushed me away. He didn't let me hold him, would struggle when I hugged him and grew stiff and anxious if I placed my hand on his shoulder or tousled his hair. Barry allowed my husband to get a little closer emotionally but not much. He seemed determined to hold us at arms length.


Disrupting Adoption God's Faithfulness


This broke my heart. I couldn't understand why God would give us a child who seemed unable to accept love. Or was it me? "Maybe something is wrong with me," I worried. We began seeking professional help which included having Barry undergo a neuropsychiatric evaluation. We were told Barry had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). A child who suffers trauma in utero or doesn't bond with someone in the first weeks after birth essentially begins to view the world as an unsafe place. He guards his heart because, in his mind, people are unsafe and to protect himself he cannot grow close to anyone emotionally. The person who spends the most time with him meeting his needs and caring for him is the person he feels is the biggest threat. "These children will fight against getting close to their primary caregivers with every ounce of strength they have," the doctor explained to me. 


Now that we had a diagnosis it was time to begin therapy so Barry could learn to trust us. By now we had adopted both boys and were doing all we could to bring healing to Barry's heart. Barry and I went to therapy weekly where I learned how to manage Barry's behavior in ways that would encourage him to trust me and he was taught that a mommy is someone to trust, not someone to fear. Sadly after several years of therapy Barry's inability to trust became more entrenched. He was hurting himself and others, which made us realize he needed therapeutic housing that provided therapy 24/7 versus one hour a week. While our hearts broke at the thought of sending him away, there was also a sense of relief. Maybe this would be the answer to Barry'sdeep-seatedd emotional turmoil?

While Barry was receiving intense therapy, we were able to get various professionals on his team. They provided wisdom and prayed for our family as we sought healing. Sadly, despite many interventions, Barry made no lasting progress towards healing. His team sat down with my husband and me to discuss what direction to take concerning continued treatment. Their recommendation was finding Barry a new home. We were told that taking Barry for visits with those who abused and neglected him had profoundly damaged his ability to ever trust us. "You took him in your home and he felt loved and cared for, then you took him to see his birth parents and left him for several hours a week," they explained. "In his mind, you were abandoning him." My mind went back to all those visits, Barry's silent tears as we drove and his screams of panic when I left him with his birth parents. My heart broke even further (if that were even possible). "Barry needs a fresh start with someone whom we can fully trust," His therapist said gently. I knew she was right but I couldn't help but wonder why. "Why God?"  I cried as I processed the full meaning of the words we were hearing. "You know how hard we tried to help Barry, you know we love him, why can't we be the ones to bring him healing?" I felt rather than heard God reply, "Trust me, my child."


We contacted an agency that finds new families for children when their original placements do not work out. I could hardly bring myself to make the call but my husband reminded me, "Remember this is for Barry, if we keep him in our home because we feel it is too hard to give him up, are we helping him or hindering him?" I knew he was right and when a wonderful Christian couple came forward and offered to give Barry a home, I knew it was God's doing. When our family went to say our final goodbyes to Barry, his therapist said with tears in her eyes, "When I asked Barry what he needs in a new family he mentioned everything that this new family has to offer! God has this, trust his plan." Those words were a healing balm to my troubled soul.

Today Barry is making progress in his new home. He is learning to trust because his new parents never broke that trust like my husband and I had in the very beginning. Would I have chosen this path? Absolutely not! Have we been drawn closer to God? Yes, a thousand times yes! God can take broken pieces and make a beautiful tapestry. One that is far beyond anything we could ask or think. Today I look back on the lessons I learned during the years I was Barry's mother and while going through the disruption process and I thank God. I learned to trust that God always has a plan even though that plan may look different than any I would choose. I learned that with God's help we can endure great emotional pain and come out victorious. God is good!



Sandra writes at Tales From Our House & lives in Pennsylvania with her husband of nearly 15 years, Dean, and their 4 children. Their oldest child is 13, TWO are 9 (not twins!) and their baby is 5! She loves Jesus, mentoring other parents who are parenting children with early childhood trauma and researching how this particular form of trauma can affect a child. Her hobbies include reading and connecting with others walking a similar path in life. Sandra is in the process of writing their life story with the hopes of publishing it one day!

4 comments

  1. I am heart broken reading this. You absolutely did the right thing by that poor little boy and I'm glad to read that he's making progress now. It just pains me to imagine such an innocent little being experiencing hurt and trauma so deeply. It's just not fair. I hope God's plan for him is great and miraculous.

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    1. Thank you for reading, Klara. It's such a difficult story but it's so beautiful to see how God is redeeming it!

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  2. It's so unfair for the courts to require visits like they did to you and potentially destroy any chance of helping steady and secure the child with trusting you. It makes me so sad to read stories like this, but what a beautiful God we serve, that he can be trusted in the most heartbreaking and unfair instances like this! I'm sure this story will be an encouragement to other mamas who are in the very midst of a similar story. ❤

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    1. Thank you for being so kind with your words. It's such a hard story to share but you're right. God can be trusted with the hardest of things!

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