Sunday, June 16, 2019

Dear Daddy, Just Some Words!

Dear Daddy,

It's what's for Father's Day this year.

In thinking about what to get you, I was kind of at a loss this year. I've given you the perfect coffee mug, gift cards, suspenders, pictures, and many other perfect things for my Daddy who is so close in my heart, but so far away in miles.

The truth is, it gets harder and harder because through the years you've now gotten most anything you want. I mean seriously, does another grilling tool show love more than another item?

Maybe, but I decided to give you something that won't wear out or fade. I decided to give you words.

Thank you for being the first man I loved. It's no secret - anyone who knows me knows that I am a Daddy's girl.

One of my favorite memories from childhood is when you would read to us on Christmas Eve. I will also never forget the moving of the rock pile. I might not have all the details seared into my brain, but I remember moving the pile; and then immediately moving it back. The playhouse with real windows and floor that you built us still brings a smile when I think about it.

I did not like, ever, that you made us shut our bedroom door when we went to bed at night.

The divorce- is what it is. None of us are mistake free; and while it changed so much about our life; because of those changes my life is what it is today. Because we moved from Tennessee to Virginia, I met Rex. Because I met Rex, we gave birth to Shayne. And we adopted two boys. All, beautiful gifts from God; He is in control.

I remember standing hand in hand next to you at old fashion tent revival meetings; and going to church night after night for revival meetings. I often grab my son's hand during church and think of you. You taught me, at an early age that the foundation for life is God alone. Everything is built on our relationship with Him; and He forgives us, strengthens us and loves us unconditionally. That foundation has helped me stand through some difficult storms of life.

Having to return the stolen Luden's cherry cough drops to the lady working the register at Cherokee Market, with an apology, also left an impression on a little girl that stealing is never worth it.
Thank you, Daddy.

You taught me that writing in my Bible is okay- dates, short notes, definitions- all leave a road map for my kids and anyone else who picks up my Bible, just like picking up yours and flipping through the worn pages does for me.

You taught me to work hard and not make excuses, just do what needs to be done. It might be your fault that I'm not good at sitting and doing nothing.

You taught me to cook a turkey and fry chicken- a little Tennessee Sunshine is the perfect secret and what every cook needs in their kitchen.

You also taught me to be fine. Every day is a good day and complaining is a waste of time, so focus on the positive things. So much of life is how we look at it.

You're a glass full kind of guy, and that helps me to be a glass full kind of girl.
Thank you, Daddy.

I don't think you have any idea how well respected and loved you are. I see it, on our trips to visit, even sitting in the Cracker Barrel.  The way you put people at ease, bring a smile by your kind words- you have a way of making everyone you come in contact with, feel important. Not everyone has that ability, Daddy.

I never wondered if you loved me.

I hate that we are separated by so many miles and I don't get to see you more often; but I am thankful that you are such a huge part of my life and I can still talk to you often, just hearing your voice brings comfort- and your hugs are worth the several hours in the car for.

Thank you Daddy for your love and support, guidance and wisdom through the years. I'm so grateful for you!

Daddy, I love you so much!
Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Your Petition is so Granted.

KUNK one, two, three, four - KUNK one, two, three, four, five - KUNK one, two, three, four -KUNK...

Sleep is interrupted these nights with dreams. Unlike the nightmares in the recent past, they are just crazy dreams that don't make sense, dreams that wake us up looking for each other- wake us up angry until we figure out, it was just a dream.  But, because the clock taunts us with the reminder that it is only 1:00 am, 2:15 am, 4 am, 6 am- I lay here and keep time to the KUNK of the fan, and think about my son.

The fan isn't supposed to make that noise as it oscillates from side to side; but the fan was in the wrong place during one of his rages and became just another object in that days path of destruction. It survived the rage and still functions, but not without struggling to do what it was designed to do and the audible reminder of that night.

The last phone call I had with Elijah, he kept saying It isn't supposed to be this way...I want to go back and be a baby again, to start over, and I choked tears back over the lump closing in on my throat and told him he was right, it isn't supposed to be this way.

Kids are supposed to trust their parents.
Kids are supposed to know that Mommy and Daddy are going to meet their basic needs; which is learned by their needs being met when they are very young.
Kids are supposed to feel safe with Mommy and Daddy.
Kids aren't supposed to be taken away from birth parents who, aren't supposed to abuse and neglect them.
Kids aren't supposed to have their earliest memories of police officers pulling them out of a closet where they were hiding.
Kids aren't supposed to spend years trying to gain the affection of a parent who continues to ignore in a system that is supposed to protect them.
Kids aren't supposed to be adopted by strangers, but when they are, kids aren't supposed to hate them. Kids aren't supposed to be confined to inpatient psychiatric hospitals- or spend months in a residential treatment facility.
Kids aren't supposed to hate the parents who love them deeply.
Kids aren't supposed to abuse or physically hurt their families.

But we can't go back and start over.

What if the not supposed to be - really is.  Oh, not in our plans because we are humans who will always want our stories to be one of happy endings and pretty packages, togetherness and joy. We wouldn't write a story full of grief and disappointment if we knew we had to live it.

But, in God's plan- it is in our brokenness where we find His promises to draw near.

And the biggest not supposed to in our story, is the lie the enemy wanted us to believe, the one that says if we really love our son we aren't supposed to give up on him or give him up.

We have been transparent over the last decade or so about our adoption story. We have felt isolated and alone and didn't know there were other people fighting the same battles. We wanted to share so that other people in the trenches wouldn't feel so lonely. That has made it a little tricky in continuing to tell our story over the last year because there is no happy ending- at least not at this stage in the writing of it- in our story. But we can't throw it out as damaged, defeated or failed either.

On February 22, we petitioned the court for Relief of Custody for our Elijah.

Both of our adopted sons have their own challenges, but for Elijah, we knew from the very first days something was different. His rages started before he was two. We thought it was adjustment, then learned it was attachment, officially Reactive Attachment Disorder from early childhood trauma. We have had some good days, but never easy.

In 2014, things spiraled out of control.  Many of you remember that year; but even then we kept much of the reality of our war zone private. Our closest friends, even our family had no idea what life was really like inside our home. Especially for our oldest son who was now married and starting his own family, we tried really hard to protect him from as much of it as we could; he had already lived through so much.

After a short period of time where we thought things had improved, we soon learned that he couldn't sustain progress or stability. Since 2014 things have continued to spiral to an unsafe and out-of-control home. Kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder, RAD, specifically our son, develop aggressive controlling behaviors, a lack of conscience, self-gratification at the expense of others, failure to take responsibility, lie, steal, a total disregard for our family rules and the rules in society, chronic anger, impulsivity, lack of remorse and a skewed perception of reality. And as he grew in size and age, so did the rages. He got smarter and more intentional with his abusive behaviors and words. Any simple request or change in schedule could trigger his rages which now had become violent and impulsive. And because he learned when to be charming and engaging, sharing any of our story often made us seem crazy.

If you don't live it you can't understand it. By late 2017 our home had become our prison yet we would rather fight alone than have other people think badly of him, or worse reject him. So we continued to try and hide our reality but that became near impossible by early 2018.

We still can't wrap our heads around the fact, that all the love we have given, the huge circle of friends and family who also love and support him and the highest level of professional services available for the last 12 1/2 years, hasn't been able to undo the wiring of his brain that took place during the first 18 months of his life, due to the trauma, abuse and neglect he experienced before we knew him.

Our son isn't a monster. He is an amazing kid trapped in his own trauma; but the reality is that it is unsafe for him to live in our home. Our bodies, our minds, our property, our marriage and our family has been bruised and battered- nearly destroyed.

We were asked recently by the staff at Grafton, how much more abuse were we willing to take? They could see what we couldn't accept yet- sometimes, love is not enough.

But through some intensely ugly visits with him, he made it clear. We could finally answer, no more.

Our family is broken and grieving and trying to figure out how to live without our son who is part of our very beings and scattered throughout our lives - constant reminders of what wasn't supposed to be, and what was, but isn't.

All our brokenness, and the scars of the supposed to's can immobilize us and land us in a useless heap of nothing (and we have spent some time there) or they can serve as reminders that we have survived and are still functioning...KUNK....KUNK.....KUNK.

On Tuesday of this week, 4/9/19- with the overwhelming support of Child Protective Services, Grafton, the Guardian ad Litem and the Attorney for Social Services- the judge granted our petition; transferring custody of our son to the people we once fought desperately to gain custody from.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

The first question we're asked is will we ever see him again, and the sad answer is we don't know. What we do know is that we will keep telling our story - one built on the foundation of hope and one that we believe will end in redemption of what wasn't supposed to be.

But for now, we are putting one foot in front of the other and taking it one day at a time as we grieve for our son; learn a new normal and simply try to sleep through an entire night to the sound of the KUNK, KUNK, KUNK.

Happy Saturday y'all,

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