Sunday, February 27, 2011

Can I really love her?

One Sunday over the summer during the height of Little R’s tantrums we had arrived at church with a tantruming child on our heals.  No one saw this because she was able to put on the charm when we arrived in the building most of the time and no one knew that for 2 hours prior to arrival she had raged.   We were just surviving each day and taking each moment as they came.  We never knew on any given day what was going to set of a tantrum and that morning was no different.  I was feeling drained and just going through the motions of the day and honestly feeling less and less connected to little R because of the tantrums and abuse we were sustaining at the hand of her tantrums.  This particular Sunday our Church Worship Team sang a song and the lyrics to this song spoke to me in such a personal way.  How appropriate that it was played on this particular day.

Here is a section of the song that I found most moving to me:

The Little Girl with the broke heart
her mommy and daddy, they've split apart
O what a place to be
To live in a home without a family

Something I see in her big brown eyes
Her world has been crushed by the fights and the lies
She just wants to be loved
O how she's longing to be loved

And I know she needs something more than just a prayer
She needs to be loved, she needs to be shown that I care

 I want to love like you, Lord
I want to have compassion in my life
I want to love like you Lord, I pray
I want to love like you, Lord
O won't you give me passion in my life
I want to love like you, Lord
Help me to love, teach me to love like you

There were days that I felt like we were just going through the rhythm of just staying afloat and not showing God’s compassion and love and I wanted her to see God’s love. I wanted her to know how much she is loved by God but also by us and that we will love her and show her compassion even through her tantrums and the distance she was putting between us. Loving a child who does everything in her power to push you away is taxing on your emotions and physically exhausting to go through the tantrums. That day as worship continued I cried with Little R in my arms praying silently that God would help me to reach this little girl

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Father's Love

When I watch Mike interact with Little R I fall in love with him all over again.  He is a gentle, quiet, soft spoken, and unassuming person.  From day one he was smitten with Little R. 
We were told by all the different powers that be that Little R would probably have the hardest time attaching to me because she had so many failed mom figures in her life.  The only two father figures she had was a stepdad and one foster dad for a few months.  Almost immediately into our visits with her we noticed that it was not going to be me she struggled with, but Mike.
When Little R moved into our home she began to manipulate and do everything in her power to keep Mike and me apart.  We fell for it at first seeing it as her needing me more.  Then we started to notice the deliberate way she would push between us or step between us if we tried to get close.
Little R began to disrespect Mike is significant ways as the weeks went on.  When he would arrive home at night she would scream at him as he came in the house and say “go away we don’t want you home”.  “No one wants you here”.  She would tell him “don’t touch me” and pull away if he tried to be affectionate toward her.   She wouldn’t obey or listen to him and she refused to sit next to him, ride in a car with him, and ostracized him as much as possible.  He would smile through all of this and continue to show her that he loved her.  Rarely did we go through a day when she would allow him to hug her or touch her in a loving father way.    He just smiled and continued to pursue her and love her through this.
The weeks turned into months and the disrespect became worse.  We did discipline during these times but it never got through to her.  Until One Day………
It didn’t matter the situation or the venue but Little R would throw temper tantrum rages.  This day was completely targeted at Mike, which started in the car and ended in the house.  She screamed and hit him and head butted him and at the top of her lungs screamed "stop touching me, get away from me, I hate you, I hate you”.  Mike was sitting with her on the couch. We had been at this tantrum for well over a hour, and he was trying to calm her down. This was our normal process.  He released her immediately and walked away and disappeared.  Little R continued to rage I sent her to her room and shut the door.   I went to look for Mike to find him lying on our bed sobbing uncontrollably.  He said “I can’t do this, she doesn’t want me, she doesn’t love me... I don’t know what to do”.   After a long time of talking and calming down he came out and showed me the most amazing thing.  He went and  embraced Little R and forgave her, and the healing began.
After all of this happened it reminded me of the love that our Heavenly Father has for us.  He loves us unconditionally; he cares for us and wants the best for us.  He desires for us to love him and follow him.  How many times though do we say “I don’t need you, I don’t want you in my life”.  How many times do we turn our backs on him and forget he is even there?  How many times do we forget what he has done for us and the amazing gift of eternal life he has given us?  I thought about how he must cry and weep for us and for the lost and say “they don’t want me, they don’t love me. What else can I do?”   Every time I am tempted to turn away from God and do my own thing I am reminded of Mike on our bed weeping and a Fathers Love.
John 3:16-17 --NIV   For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not parish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,but to save the world through him.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The RAD Momma

Most of my first posts will be focused on our earlier days with our girl Little R which wasn’t too long ago.  It helps me to see how far she has come and to find healing in seeing her growth and the way God moved in our lives in the past 8 months.

I remember distinctly the day that Mike and I sat in friendly’s Restaurant in March 2010 and we read through Little R’s profile and history.  I looked up at Mike with tears in my eyes and said “How did she survive? How did this little girl endure all that she went through?”   What I didn’t realize at the time is that she did just that, she learned to survive.
When a baby is little their brains are developing at a rapid pace.  They learn early on that if they cry someone will come, if they are hungry they will be fed, if hurt someone will love them and if in need someone will meet that need.  They get touched and loved and coo’d at and during those times the brain is registering all of that information, and determining that they are safe and the bonding and trust develops for the caregivers in their life.
For some babies and young children when they cry no one comes, when hungry they just continue to be hungry, when hurt no one wipes away the tears or kisses a boo-boo, when an adult is angry there is fear and often then hurt. When multiple caregivers say they will love you forever and then you move away again. These babies and children then close inside themselves and learn to self soothe and survive.  They learn that they must NOT trust adults because they are not trustworthy and they close off to feeling love and affection because if they give their hearts they are sure to have it stomped on and that is too much to bear so they harden it instead.  
In severe cases these children will develop a disorder called RAD (reactive attachment disorder).  Check out the link to help describe this disorder.

Little R was diagnosed with RAD when she was 7.  She exhibited and still exhibits many of the symptoms associated with RAD.  We are fortunate that she is not a danger to others or animals and is not prone to the more violent side of RAD which is scary.  She struggles with being in Charge, Tantrums, Social skills, Trusting adults, Adult authority, respecting self and others, living in her own world at times and many more symptoms.
In the early days of dealing with Little R’s behaviors I remember locking myself in my bedroom and sobbing and crying out to God.  “I can’t handle this, I can’t do this, you picked the wrong person!!!!”  I was convinced that we had made a mistake and that God had made a mistake by placing this child with us. I spent a long time trying to convince God that I was not the woman for the Job.   But, I know that God doesn’t make mistakes so I was just giving way to all myself doubt and fear and as I sat on my floor sobbing listening to the screams of my newly arrived foster daughter tearing her room apart I was reminded of a few verses from scripture that helped me through the early days of raging tantrums and behavior issues.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  I personally did not have the physical strength to hold off a raging 60lb child and to emotionally meet her where she was at but God sustained me and I was able to go there with her and hang in there during the tough times.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,  and he will make your paths straight  I was floundering and not Trusting that my God would guide us through the storms, but he knew every moment of every day what we were going through, and helped us to sustain during those trials.  I needed to be reminded that no matter what we are going through in our lives we can Trust that the Lord God Almighty knows and is guiding our path if we will just allow him to.
So as the weeks turned into months of RAD behavior and daily if not hourly tantrums I needed more than anything to lean on the one that knows my every thought and my future and Little R’s future so that I could be the momma she needed me to be.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Can I Really Trust You?

A few weeks into “R’s” move into our home the sweet little girl we had come to know for 3 months in the confines of her last residence started to break down.  We were made aware that she had significant behavior issues in her previous foster home and had been prone to kicking and hitting and biting and punching, but we had not seen that yet.  We were made aware that she had been diagnosed with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and also ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) along with ADHD and multiple other diagnoses including a learning speech delay.
Three weeks almost to the day of “R’s” move in the tantrums began.  These were not just any type of tantrum’s they were 65 pounds of 8.5 year old anger, hurt, fear, pain, all balled up coming out in full on rages.  She screamed and kicked and hit and bit and threw stuff and broke things.
One day while she was screaming at the top of her lungs in our pantry where she had barracked herself I remember Screaming at the top of my lungs right back at her.  Now you might be ready to say “really you screamed back” but what I said was “I LOVE YOU, AND I AM SORRY YOU ARE SO ANGRY, BUT I AM HERE WHEN YOU ARE ALL DONE”.   I kept repeating myself which in fact made her angrier at the time.  She wanted to believe that we would be there for her. The fear of us actually leaving or her leaving, and allowing herself to be vulnerable, was too much for her little heart to handle.  She couldn’t Trust that we would be there for her, take care of her, love her, met her needs.  She was crying out in pain.
After these tantrums I would think of how God must feel when we don’t trust him.  When we try to go out on our own and accomplish something. When we think we have it all figured out and we then feel alone and floundering because all along we needed Him.  I think of how God must feel when we get angry and tantrum because we are lost and if only we trusted in his plan for our life we would be content and happy and feel safe.  God keeps saying and reminding us “I love you, and I am here when you are all done”. 
Just as we hoped that “R” would learn to trust and the tantrums would lessen, I hope that I can learn each time from my mistakes and "tantrums" and learn to trust God a little more each time with situations in my life so I can feel content in his will.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

God had other plans

Like most little girls I had a dream of becoming a mom.  I dreamed about how I would look pregnant, what my baby would look like, what I would name our babies.  What I didn’t anticipate was that the plan God had for my life was quite different than my own.
I met my husband when I was 20 years old.  We married two years later and within a year decided to start trying to build a family.  I struggled with cycle issues and pain and didn’t think anything of it until my cycle ended all together.  For two years I lived in silence afraid to talk to a doctor about my issues.
Finally I sought out the advice of a doctor and was diagnosed with PCOS.  I struggled for years with cysts and pain and infertility.  Infertility treatments were tried and all failed.
Again…God had other plans.
On our 10th anniversary and 9 years of trying to conceive we decided that we would pursue adoption, we decided to go through the foster adoption program with our county but only take newborn to 5 year old children.  We didn’t want any children with disabilities or attachment issues, or delays.
Clearly God had other plans.
The wait began, and we waited almost a year with no calls.  I remember feeling the tug to make some changes to our profile so we changed our age to go up to 10 years old. Not something we really wanted but we kept to our plan and said still NO disabilities, attachment issues.
We waited another 6 months with no calls. In December 2010 we told DCYF to put our profile on hold and not consider us any longer we were going to save for an international adoption.
In January 2010 I attended a prayer summit for 4 days.  During time of reflection I poured my heart out to God and gave over all my control of having a family.  I cried out to Him and said “be in control, I can’t do this anymore”.   I left that summit with such a sense of peace for the first time I can remember I truly gave over to God my desires and left them at the feet of Jesus.
God’s Plan was at work; my heart began to soften to allowing God to open the doors to building our family.
Two months passed, and in Late March 2010 I received an email from the local DCYF office letting us know that they were aware that we wanted our license put on hold but they had left it open and had a little 8 year old girl who needed a mom and dad and they thought that we would be perfect for her. They shared that she was troubled and had a tremendous amount of attachment issues and also had several learning disabilities as well as behavioral issues.
My first reaction was to say “NO! We told you we didn’t want these issues” but I stayed quiet feeling that God was at work in this situation. Mike and I agreed to learn about her.  Every disability we had requested not to accept this little girl had, but her story touched us in a way we would never have imagined.
We left the intake meeting and in the parking lot Mike looked at me and said “she is our daughter, the one we have been waiting for”.
In April 2010 our new life began and changed forever when we met our New Daughter “R” for the first time.  She was a hurt, angry, fearful little girl who wanted so badly to have a mom and dad.
What we didn’t know was that the journey to becoming her mom and dad was going to be a long and rocky Road.
God had other plans.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:16