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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It’s a RAD world

Welcome to Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) as we awesome parents like to call it. Take RAD, mix in PTSD, anxiety, conductive disorder and oppositional defiance disorder, add a bunch of good hearted, well meaning adults, and you have the perfect storm for  CPS to be called and investigations to be done and false judgment by pretty much everyone that is not in your inner circle.

Children with RAD are masters at triangulating the adults in their lives. They thrive on controlling the situation, and learn from an early age (like babyhood) how to manipulate folks to get what they think they need. If that means turning the rest of the world against the people that love them, who would die for them and are fighting like hell to help them, that’s ok, it’s all about surviving life the way they think they still have too. You can’t blame these kids for it either, it’s how their little broken brains works after their early years of trauma. But, knowing all this doesn’t make it any easier on the parents who are watching themselves become the no longer good parents of the neighborhood, by child’s therapist, at school, with family. These loving parents that would do anything for this child have people questioning their hearts. Here is why, the child with RAD is telling everybody what horrible parents they are with words and in actions, all day, every day, it’s what they believe they have to do. I call it shopping for parents, when the child are trying to charm and manipulate every person they see. But really what it comes down to, we (the parents) are no longer safe, because we are pushing emotions that scare the heck out of them, calling them out on behaviors that are not acceptable, expecting them to be authentic and feel those big scary attachment emotions. Any outside adult, friend, family, stranger, teacher, mailman etc. RAD is trying so hard to convince them all, they are good, cute, perfectly behaved and that you do want to take them home. For a better or perhaps lack of words, they are selling themselves to you.

My son, that has reactive attachment disorder is prostituting out his heart, his mind and his body every chance he gets, not so much in a sexual way, but in a real way, because you are safe to him, he can control you, manipulate you with his charm, with his sweet voice and perfect manners and soon you will start doubting what we as his parents are saying. You will start wondering what it is that we are doing wrong or why he is so good with you and horrible with us. You will soon start to wonder if our hands are just too full with the other kids and your heart will feel such sorrow for him. You’ll think he’s starving, he will eat so much and keep asking you for more that you will start to wondering if we are withholding food from him. He will tell you lies upon lies, all to see yours eyes soften and for you to pull him closer to yourself. He will come across as starved for affection, attention and love. He will be a model child for you and he can hold this façade together for awhile. He did all those things the first few months he lived with us too, it wasn’t until we started catching on to his behaviors and calling him out, while having real expectations of him, did we start to see the real side of him. Once he started to feel emotions and have true expectations, we were no longer a safe place because, he could no longer manipulate us and that’s when our world turned upside down. Every time we have a new evaluation, therapist, doctor, coach, teacher or someone new come into our lives, I feel I have to over emphasize that we are good parents in the hopes they will believe us, because, I know once they meet him they’re going to wonder if what we were telling them, is even true. Until you have been questioned about your ability to parent correctly, you can’t fathom how frustrating and lonely the road of trauma can be. It isolates you. Your circle of trust becomes smaller and smaller and your world is forever different. You have now seen firsthand trauma, brokenness and mental illness in your child, a child that you love more than anything in the world, in such a real, raw way and you are forever changed. You quickly realized how uneducated the world is on early childhood trauma, and the devastating lifelong effects these children have to face and the families have to walk through. So the parents keep outsider at arms length a little more, they protect their family unit and do what they know is right because at the end of the day they are what matter the most.

Welcome to the world of RAD.

This is the very real world of reactive attachment disorder. It’s not uncommon, they’re so many parents that have adopted children or have biological children that have experienced severe trauma early in life and this is the world they live daily. The parents that are walking this road are forever changed and yet, most of these parents would still say they would do it all over again, most don’t regret saying yes, most go to bed each night exhausted only to wake and ask God for extra wisdom, extra patience, and a giant extra dose of love to make it through another day. Mental illness isn’t just panic attack, depression and ADHD sometimes mental illness in children is scary, it’s devastating and it’s a lifelong sentence. Let’s keep this topic going, let’s shine a light on mental illness and early childhood trauma, so more people understand it, more people show compassion towards it and maybe more doctors and therapist expand their education about it. ribbon