We’ve personally been down this road 4 separate times with one of our kids. It never gets easier. How do you make it through the devastation of placing your child in residential treatment?
In today’s episode of Honestly Speaking, our co-host Nicole Goerges turns the microphone on us, and interviews us over this topic because we’ve walked this road several times in the past. It never gets easy, even when the absence of your child creates peace for the rest of your family.
For most people, summer break with their children is a time to head to the pool, take big family vacations, play with other children in the neighborhood, or sleep in. It takes on an entirely different form when you’re parenting children from traumatic pasts, or with major special needs.
I flip through my Instagram early in the morning before everyone’s awake. I can’t help but feel jealous of the pictures I see. One after another it seems. Perfect families, gearing up for perfect summers, with their perfect children. Yes, I know they’re not “perfect.” Everyone has their flaws. Everyone has their shortcomings. But from my vantage point, and the uphill climb I have every day, everybody else’s situation around me looks….perfect.
It’s extremely challenging to raise children from difficult places, who often speak and behave out of their trauma. How do you keep from losing it when you’re pushed to the edge by your child on a daily basis?
We are parenting multiple children with special needs. Out of those special needs we often see extreme behavioral shifts. We find ourselves pushed to the limits, and beyond, on a weekly basis. We haven’t always been able to keep our cool and peacefully navigate the pitfalls of raising difficult children. We understand this battle all to well. It’s been a process for us, as parents, as much as it has been for our children.
Last month we hosted an online Q&A on FASD with Dr. Ira Chasnoff and Gabe Chasnoff from NTI Upstream and the results were amazing. Two hundred people showed up for the event. We’ve had so many requests for the replay that we’re sharing the audio on today’s podcast.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum disorder affects an estimated 40,000 newborn infants every year. While those statistics are staggering and shocking, FASD as a whole, is often overlooked, downplayed and even judged in today’s society. Our goal at Confessions Of An Adoptive Parent, as well as NTI Upstream, is to give this disorder a voice and share the truth behind FASDs.
Over the course of 9 years as foster parents, we had many moments where we felt hopeless. When we fostered teenagers the hopeless feeling intensified because we felt like our words or actions weren’t making a difference. They were, however, and so are yours.
As an 18-year old kid, Tricia Collins did everything in her power to push her new foster parents, Rich and Ruth, away. She smoked, drank, and even engaged in sexual activity, knowing they wouldn’t approve. What she didn’t realize, however, was the depth of their grace and compassion for her. Instead of judging her, criticizing her, or trying to control her, they simply chose to love her.
It’s a decision we had to make 3 times in 4 years with one of our children. It never got easier. There were only more questions and more what-ifs. Along the way I asked the question…. “Am I a failure as a parent for making this choice?”
Not a day goes by where my mind doesn’t drift to that day. I can close my eyes right now and remember everything clearly. I’m standing in a warm office on the hillside of a residential campus in Missouri. It’s December, just a week before Christmas. I keep noticing how the barren trees on the rolling hills, surrounding us, form a murky gray color. Fitting for the circumstances. In another building, across the campus, my son is meeting the people he’ll live with for the next 15 months. It’s taking all of my strength to hold back tears.
Ten years ago our oldest son was diagnosed with Alcohol-Related-Nuerodevelopmental-Disorder (ARND), very similar to Fetal-Alcohol-Spectrum-Disorder (FASD), and our lives have been a rollercoaster ride ever since. Recently, however, we’ve begun learning new lessons about him, ourselves, and what we need to do differently.
Defeating. That’s the word that comes to mind when I recount the past decade of parenting our son. He is on the fetal-alcohol spectrum. His brain suffered irreversible damage when he was in his birth mother’s womb. The result has been violence, aggression, impulsion, even run-ins with police, the older he becomes.