The first tantrum for that day lasted about four hours and all I had asked her to do was move her shoes from in front of the door to beside it so people would not trip as they entered the front door. I don’t even remember what sparked the second, much longer tantrum (keening, whaling, heart-rending screams) only a few hours after the first one ended. I honestly never knew anyone could scream that long without stopping.
And over the next few weeks post adoption, as these tantrums continued and showed no signs of abating, with everything we tried failing miserably, I found myself wondering just how any of us would survive this.
We tried homeschooling in the beginning but three months into the school year, it was clear that no one could learn anything in that environment. I began to feel like a captive in my own home, because going out was unthinkable, and staying home meant the torture of listening to the endless tantrums and being powerless to soothe them.
Thankfully, the tantrums have become quieter over the years, and now are mostly silent, with months between them instead of just hours.
The hard part was that most people, except a privileged few, never saw any of this, and most had a hard time believing that my very charming children could ever throw such a tantrum. Even those others , who did see and believe, still didn’t really know how to help.
Those members of our Sunday School class who prayed with us regularly tried to help in whatever ways they could; by bringing meals, helping us with winter clothing since we’d just moved from a hot climate, babysitting, and listening.
As the years wore on, we began to meet other families who were in the process of or were in the waiting phase of adoption and formed a support group of sorts, sharing life and listening with a cup of tea on the really hard days.
So, we did receive some support, but as I have looked back over those most difficult early years, from my perspective, families like mine may receive a lot of support prior to and during their adoption process, as well as directly after bringing our new children home. Often times, though, when our hurt children begin acting out, friends and family may not know how to continue to support a family in crisis.
When we realized that our girls needed more support than we knew how to give them, we began searching for help and found that the list of possible resources and treatments were varied: play therapy, mindfulness, attachment parenting methods, counseling, support groups, respite care, therapeutic residential treatment and probably more.
However, as we tried to find help for our family, we found that often what could have been a wonderful resource was either not available in our area, not within our budget, or just plain not really helpful.
In the next few posts I hope to open a discussion on each resource we have tried and the effect on our family and particularly on those children in our family diagnosed and suffering with RAD. I hope that you will share any experiences you have had, both good or bad, as I’d like to ultimately hear from you how a church adoption ministry could best serve your family’s needs, at any stage of the adoption process.