It has been almost two months since the last post to my blog, so I am feeling a little rusty. As a matter of fact, it feels as if my poor family has been trapped in a very dark place for so long, that our eyes will takes weeks to finally adjust to the light. Although we are happy to be basking in that glorious light, we are still weak and battle scarred. Many times throughout this deafening silence, I wanted nothing more than to escape to my computer and unload all of my thoughts, fears and frustrations on the proverbial page……yet, I knew I would not allow myself the release…..could not do so with grace…..until the storm that raged in my home had finally and blessedly passed.
Many of you that follow my blog are aware that I am not in the habit of posting much information about the foster boy who came to live with us this past summer. We nick-named him ‘Blue Eyes’, and he was placed with the hopes that we might adopt him. When the agency approached my husband and I, they were quite certain that he would be a perfect fit in our home even though he was older than our preferences. In the name of serving God, we were happy to oblige, never imagining that our failure to obtain all of the facts would prove to be disastrous.
In hindsight our mistake could have started with the false sense of pride that we held in our work with Coconut and Goldilocks. Although we firmly believe that it is only through God’s grace that any work can be successful, and that He alone has the ability to change a person’s heart, we couldn’t help but feel on fire for the ministry of helping children in need, especially after witnessing the amazing transformation that He performed on behalf of our sweet foster babies…….yet, perhaps it was the smoke from such a fire that clouded our vision and prevented us from seeing that we were about to fall.
In all of our training, not once were we advised that some children simply cannot bond, whether for a short time or ever…….which in the foster care and adoptive world is referred to as an attachment disorder. A ‘psych evaluation’ was a term we had only heard on television, and we were completely ignorant of the fact that children as young as five could display sociopath tendencies. Caring for Blue Eyes, as it turns out, was to serve as our very large spoonful of humble pie.
We didn’t get a very long honeymoon period with him, as the unsavory behaviors started almost right away. With this child, we quickly learned that constant love and affection along with consistent discipline was nowhere near enough to undo the damage that his prior experiences with neglect had inflicted upon him. The more we loved and nurtured, the worse it got. Instead of becoming more and more connected with us, he used the time to find our weaknesses, our trigger points and what could hurt us physically and emotionally…….and he was not afraid to use that information. In the end, our home became a prison, with a six-year-old as the jailor, and the rest of our family as his prisoners.
Had I read such a post as this a year ago, I would have been sad for the author, but confident that it could not happen to my family. After all, we had done our homework on what type of child that we thought we could handle and we relayed that information to our social workers. Now in our 40’s, we did not feel that we could offer a home to a child with high physical or mental needs that required life-long supervision, as their care could ultimately fall to our older children on the event of our deaths. We had also heard that older children, over the age of 6, oftentimes have developed behaviors that could take years for them to overcome…….again we thought of our older biological children, and their last few years in our home as children.
Even though things crumbled quickly in our once very happy home, Dave and I remained dedicated to this little lost boy for over six months. Many, many books were read on how to help him, therapists were consulted and met with on a continuous basis, and lots of prayers were prayed. Dave and I were forced to realize that we had been beat when his two therapists recommended the removal from our home for the safety of the other children and animals. Despite all of our efforts, we could not reach Blue Eyes. Keeping our young foster children safe was a minute-by-minute affair, the dogs could never be in the room with him unsupervised……ever……and our sixteen-year-old daughter is still traumatized by the treatment from this child.
In the end, we had to be persistent that time was of the essence with his social worker, as finding him a therapeutic foster home took over a month……during which his behaviors escalated to unimaginable new heights. We were warned not to let on that he was leaving, for fear that he would become even more agitated. Those last few days were indescribable.
I will write more about some of the specific behaviors that we witnessed, the books that I have read and that were recommended to me, and about the sources that proved the most helpful to us………I will do so in the hopes of bringing about more awareness of the dangers of not knowing what type of foster child you are dealing with, knowing the limitations of your parenting style, and for being the most helpful to a child with severe trauma……but it will be slow, as I pray that God walks us through this time of healing.