Community support. Let’s be a village of change.

We all have things that ignite our souls and also things that send a justifiable rage through out our bodies. For me they are both of the same thing. Injustice to children and the pursuit to help children. This is undoubtedly my life’s purpose. Any one of us can get on social media today and see so much anger behind what people strongly believe in (usually political these days.) Everyone has a passion, a conviction and a drive in them. But I think there might be better ways to fight our battles and that is together. We as a community can ignite actions for real and tangible change. Change that will help so many families and vulnerable children in our very own communities and back yards. From the beginning of this storm our family has been in the fight of our lives against a system designed to fail families like ours. While simultaneously also fighting against mental illness that is bigger than I ever knew possible. We have heard over and over how our situation is so unique or there aren’t protocols in place for families like ours. We have been told over and over that no one knows what to do. We have fought to clear our names, fought to keep our family intact and now we are fighting a fight that is so big, so powerful and perhaps intimidating that if it wasn’t for the truth that God is bigger, I would have surely crumbled by now. But here’s the thing. We are not the only family in this situation. Many don’t raise their hands and publicly say “me too” and I don’t blame them at all. The ridicule, the judgments, the lies and slander, the false allegations, wrongful charges and so much more that came upon our family with standing up against our very own Goliath has been beyond what most of you know about. There really are SO many of us. So many families that said yes to bringing big traumas, devastating abuse, horrific neglect, and some of the most severe complex mental illnesses one will ever experience in their lifetime into our homes. Families that adopt children from super hard beginnings don’t need your judgment, they need support from an educated community. These families are not the problem, they are fighting desperately to heal the child filled with the devastating problem. You can give real and tangible help to these families by showing your support. Showing up when many others have walked away, because the journey is long. I will never stop fighting or be silenced about the injustice of our story. Because it’s not just our story. It’s a story so many families are living or more appropriately said, barely surviving through.  So here is how you can be part of change for families and children like ours in your very own community. If you can’t foster or adopt children, please support the families that are. We are not saviors or heroes. We are ordinary families with callings on our hearts in which we said yes too. Here is my dream for my community. If you’re in the mental health system, a first responder, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a pastor or personnel in the legal system, please educate yourself and your work place on what severe complex trauma and mental illness in children really looks like in a family setting. Don’t just read books or go to classes that teach about reactive attachment disorder, disassociate identity disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, sociopathic tendency or so on. Talk to the families living with these very real, preventable and devastating mental illnesses. Dig deep with your time, love and resources to learn, support and engage in ways that will really help them. By helping the family that are being the cast around the child filled with trauma, you are helping to change generations to come from more trauma and preventable mental illness. All of which will forever change our communities for the better. This problem is big, devastating and affects families in every state and corner of America and beyond. If you know a family that has adopted children from hard beginning, even if you don’t see the trauma first hand, go today and tell them you see them and you are with them through this long, beautiful and sometimes devastating journey that God has called them to. Ask them questions, learn ways you can help, listen to their hearts for their children and respect the boundaries that must be put in place for everyone’s safety.  And if you already have a purpose that is bigger than yourself. I support you, I see you and I’m proud of you for chasing after it. People with a purpose bigger than themselves inspire me and people that come along side others to help carry those purposes further along are true saints and the kind of people I want and need in my community. Imagine how beautiful and strong our communities would become if each of us picked something that God has already put into motion to get behind and support. To help ignite the fire of change and be part of something bigger than any one person could do alone. Maybe I’m naive and thinks the impossible is possible.  But my heart believes strongly in the notion that my pastor Ed Waken often says, “When a lot of people do a little, much is accomplished.”  We as a family are going  to accomplish something bigger than ourselves, so no other family ever has to be in this horrible situation and separated from each other. Families belong together. I strongly believe that education is our first step in achieving this goal. I can put professionals and families in your path for you to learn more and help enable change for one family and child in the trenches of trauma at a time and let’s watch and see what God will do.

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We found hope in surrendering.

In the Old testament it says that Abraham had been given a promise of a son. For Twenty-five years he waited for God to keep that promise. God kept his word and gave Abraham a son named Isaac. And then this happened in Genesis 22:2

“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’”

Can you imagine what Abraham must have felt. He begged God for this son, he waited so long for this child and he finally had his boy, and now God was asking Abraham to give this child back to him?!  And somehow Abraham mustered up the faith to do just that. 

The Bible says it was a three-day journey that Abraham and Isaac took together. I wonder how many times during their journey, Abraham looked over at his son with tears streaming down his face knowing what was to come. 

For the last year we have cried, more like sobbed, with many of you, but to one person in particular, it has happened more often. I would tell her that I couldn’t do what the Lord was asking of us, that it was going to shatter me, shatter us and change everything and I desperately did not want it to change. Every time this conversation would come up between her and I, she would respond to me with, “I see a vision in my head of Abraham and Isaac and the faith it took for him to obey God.” And each time she would say this to me,  I would respond back with, “I do not have that kind of faith, I am not that strong. I can’t do this.”   I wonder if Abraham said something like that internally to God during his three-day Journey with his son to the top of the Mt. 

But still Abraham and Isaac eventually did reach the top of the mountain and In Genesis 22:9-12 it says, 

“He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy.”

A few Monday nights ago, Ben and I reach the top of our mountain. I was laying on our bed and Ben was on his knees next to the bed. With a pen in his hand and a document between us that we both knew once signed would change everything forever. The grief was unbearable. I started sobbing in ways I have never cried in my entire life. Ben was also crying and he didn’t know what else to do, so he prayed. He asked the Lord to give us strength to hand our son over to him and that we both knew that He loved our son more than we did and to help us to trust that.  Then Ben stopped praying and said, “I feel that the Lord is asking us to dedicate little man’s life over to him at church this coming Sunday.” So after talking for a while together and with others people we decided that we would take that week and on that Sunday we would dedicate him and his life to the Lord. We went to bed that night smiling and something was lifted from us for that moment because, we knew we had a few more days with him, a few more days before our hearts shattered in ways we can’t describe. But three days later on that past Wednesday, we woke up like any other day and seemly out of the blue things came to light and transpired quickly regarding him and about where he was staying. Everything got flipped upside down and by 4 o’clock that afternoon he was home, in our house for the first time in 18 months. We still do not know what the future holds for him or for us as a family. But we did find hope in surrendering. 

God didn’t ask Abraham to surrender because he wanted to punish him, but because He wanted to bless him. And God did exactly that. When Abraham surrendered to God, God blessed him above and beyond. When we surrender, God blesses us and in our case he blessed us with hope. This doesn’t lesson the pain or struggles of this journey but it does give us hope and a trust that we needed in order to continue on. So no matter what God does in all of this, we are learning to trust and believe it will be good and perfect because God really does love him more. 

So in this moment and for the last 12 days, we are a whole family, under one roof and my heart is more at peace than it has been the last four years combined.IMG_2611

….no mountain unturned


Would we still say yes to being our little boy’s parents knowing all that was in store for our family?  
Goodness, that is such a loaded question, one I have sat and thought about on some really hard days. I mean on one hand, if I never met him, I would never have loved him, so not saying yes might have been much easier at the time. On the other hand, if I never met him, I would never have been able to love him and that is equally as devastating to think about. I did meet him and I did fall completely in love, so here we are, and this much I know, I will never regret loving him but loving him is the easy part. The darkest and most painful days of our lives have came with bringing one of our sons past traumas into our lives and home. We have second hand trauma from living in the chaos mental illness brings. It’s not our boy’s fault, not even close, which makes some of the choices we have to make, even harder. My childhood of abuse doesn’t hold a flame to the anguish of the last couple years, but especially the last six months. As a women your identity too a degree is wrapped up in being a mother, at least it is for me. The nurturer, the safe place, the person that fixes the boo-boos, the one her child runs to when they’ve had a bad dream and I can’t be that for him and it’s so dang painfully hard. As his mom, my arms should be his safest place and they are actually his scariest place to be. No matter how much it is explained to him, his basic instinct kick in and his soul screams, ‘moms can’t be trusted.’ Which is ass nine backwards for most of us to comprehend but his early years taught him it was true at a primal level. Each day, I wake up and still choose him, I choose him over my own selfish needs and wants. I choose to do the hard things over the comfortable things for him. I choose my other children too and place our family as a priority above all else right now. I choose to put on thick skin and fight the clueless folks trying to hold us back as we are trying to push forward. Daily I still choose him. We have to leave no stone or mountain unturned in the fight to save our boy and then one day, hopefully I will have a heart that is at peace of knowing we have done everything within us to give him the life he always deserved and hopefully that life will be somethjng beyond what we ever could have hoped for him. IMG_1391

Victories and Struggles

Your child’s story is his to share….

It is and much of it is also our story.  Trust me when I say this, only those closest to us know the deepest and darkest parts of our story. There are valleys of sadness that aren’t shared, mountains of victories left unsaid, days of desperation that only a few have held us through. Moments of great grief that Ben and I were literally carried, like, physically held me and carried me, because, I. Just. couldn’t. There are things ahead of us that most know nothing about. But I strongly believe our lives are meant to be shared and I hope I always share our story with dignity and truth, without compromising anyone’s own story. Sharing the hard parts comes with sharing the good. Isn’t that deceiving just a little, to only share the victories and blessing, while leaving out the valleys and the storms? I shared very openly of my childhood abuse but, I also left out a million pieces to the story and yet, what I did share, helped many, healed myself deeper and led me to a healthier and better version of me. A book came from it, a non profit was started and friends were made that will hopefully last a life time. All because I chose to share my heart. We live in a world of secrecy, privacy and where we only share what is safest with those that are safest. But what if our stories have bigger purposes than just for ourselves to learn from? What if what we walk through can help another person? Would you share differently if you knew it would? I know for me personally I am drawn to people that let folks into their own struggles and not just their victories. I share our world openly, because that’s me, I enjoy writing, I love what it has done for me personally and I love you all enough to let you in. One day I hope to share more of it and I pray it helps someone that’s also in the trenches of life. So many of your struggles and victories have blessed me and encouraged me to do more, love deeper and be braver than I was the day before and I am thankful you trusted me enough to let me in. Sharing parts of most areas of our life isn’t a bad thing, it’s an okay thing to do, even if it’s a little terrifying. Each and every time I have shared a part of us, I have always been scared with being so vulnerable, but so far, I have never regretted letting folks in.FullSizeRender

I had nothing left

Four weeks and two days ago, I looked up to see the strongest man I will ever know, weak in his knees, filled with overwhelming pain and desperation. In that moment, I knew it was as bad as I had thought. We were drowning trying to save our son. Our other children were seeing their parents fading away in front of their eyes, lost deep somewhere in a broken, dirty, trauma filled trench, desperate to save their son. I didn’t know where to turn, or how to get help, I just knew we needed it. I had nothing left.

Four weeks and one day ago, I screamed out in desperation for help. I was sinking, losing and terrified. My breath was gone, my endurance had been pushed to a ability above anything I could ever have envisioned. I had nothing left, but an empty bed.

Earlier today, I sat at a table, each chair was filled with therapists, doctors, high needs caseworkers, behavior coaches and family support therapists. I felt okay until I pulled into the parking lot, a instant sadness and grief engulfed me. I somewhat pulled it together and walked into the meeting. After the hello’s and small talk, our high needs laid it all out in front of me. I am not exactly sure when it happened or how, but as she talked, the room felt more and more as if it had been emptied of all the air or maybe it felt like there was too much air and the room was going to explode, I can’t quite explain it but it felt very real. As the room filled with that overwhelming feeling of pressure, I sat trying to listen to each person talk about their client or their patient, but all I was thinking about were his eyes, his empty bed, his untouched clothes and toys, his dry dinosaur toothbrush. I was thinking about my son. I felt such sadness in that moment, I wanted to leave, I wanted to be anywhere but there. I laid my head down as tear flooded my face and in that instant the room went silent for a moment. In these folders were information on therapeutic homes and they wanted me, this little boy’s mom somehow to pick the best home for him to live in. “It’s our home that’s best for him to live in,” I silently screamed inside. Eventually his team and I narrowed the folders down to a few that met his safety level and location. Towards the end of the meeting someone asked me if I had any more questions for the families and all I could think to say was, “will she pray with him, when she tucks him into bed each night, will she pray with him?” A response was given, “we can ask, when we meet her.” I then signed the papers needed and I walked out to my car where I cried the hardest I have ever cried in my life. I eventually went home, where I just couldn’t, so I put on my very dusty running shoes and started to run. I ran until all the emotional hurt turned to physical hurt. I ran until my head hurt as bad as my heart, until my shirt was as wet from sweat, as my face was from tears. I didn’t want to talk, I didn’t want to feel this. This was not how my family was suppose to be. Love was going to fix him, my arms were the safest place and yet it didn’t and they weren’t. I had nothing left, so I ran.

A HTCT home is a family setting with high needs trauma training and safe guards put into place that the average family can’t or doesn’t have the ability to do. The goal of these places is for both families to work together in therapies and in personal life to help heal the child and his family, while also keeping everyone safe. It sounds good on paper, it’s not the hardest thing to admit that this is bigger than us and we need help. But choosing, sending and letting go, there are no words in any dictionary that can accurately describe the anguish and heartbreak that comes with those words. I had nothing left, but to choose.

Our son is so little and so innocent. He didn’t ask for this trauma or how he acquired it. He isn’t able to do any different right now and this is the safest place for him, we know that. Somewhere in this story there will be a chapter that leaves us all cheering and praising Jesus for the victory in little man’s life. I know our son’s story doesn’t end here, it just can’t. He is worth fighting for. This is our hope and we are clinging to it with all we have. So if you are skeptical or not emotional attached, please fake it in front of us, we need that hope and we need others to have that same hope. We need to set our hearts and eyes on the chapter that leaves us all breathless in a good way. Today we are sad and have nothing left but hope and somehow that’s okay.

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Gotcha day

Two years! How can it only be two years since I first laid eyes on our boy L? It feels like I have known him my entire life and then some. It was around 11 pm, when my husband and oldest son brought him home and laid him next to me. He was pretty beat up, and extremely exhausted. He couldn’t talk, was scared to death, so he just screamed. I held him for hours that night as I rocked and tried to reassure him that he was safe and okay. The state had told us that night he was only 15 months old. We never question it because, he was so tiny, walked as a new walker would wobble around and he couldn’t/didn’t say anything besides, mama, over and over as he cried. We didn’t find out until five days later that he was actually 2 years and 7 months old. Imagine how scary that must’ve been for him, being taken from the only place he had ever known, even if it wasn’t the safest, he knew no difference. Then he slept in a DCS office for four days as they waited to find a foster home for him. Finally being sent to a new family, new house that was full of Caucasian people when he had been surrounded by only people with skin tones as beautiful as his. This is just a glimpse of his story, but so many kids in foster care share similar stories. They come with nothing, they are terrified, often hurt and extremely abused.
Today is little man’s gotcha day, for us it’s the day we laid eyes on our son. The day my heart said, ‘oh, there you are, I’ve been looking for you my whole life.” To him it was a scary day, a healing day and the start to a new normal as he grieved his life before us. For many other reasons the journey of foster care and adoption have been one of the hardest seasons so far of our lives and yet, I would do it all over a million times, just to say hello for the first time to each of my babies. I still would tell each of you, if you feel called, jump in headfirst. My life is fuller, crazier, harder and richer because of each of the children God brought into our home. We are ending foster care month, so it’s fitting I get to end with one of my favorite days, the day I met my son! Happy gotcha day, I am so thankful and blessed I get to be part of all your tomorrows. Love you!