An Introduction to Post-Adoptive Interventions, Supports and Resources

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.

Church support Meme

Orange Food, Car Horns and Panic Attacks

This weekend my two sixteen year-old daughters took me camping.  It was a fun weekend and gave me some really great memories: a flooded tent (yes we drove the 35 minutes home to sleep in dry beds), orange food (mac n cheese, Doritos, cantaloupe, and carrots) our car’s panic button set off at 6:30am (thank God the noise from the tent next door was laughter, not yelling), a sopping wet dog, and one amazing conversation.

Mac n Cheese

“Do you want to take the first shower?” my oldest daughter asked her younger (only 8 months) sister on our way home from camping.  We left our campsite, slinking out after we’d awakened the entire campground, at around 7:40 am so that we could get home for church.

“Sure, thanks.  That would be great.”   We were coming home because I work at the church and needed to be there about an hour before the service would start.  My oldest daughter, Artist, said that she wanted to come with me to get the check-in system started.

Filly, her younger sister, listening, asks, “Oh, if you’re going to go early, would you like to take the first shower since I’ll have more time after you leave?”

“Sure, thanks!”

Now, to you this may not be an amazing conversation, but because of some things that happened in their relationship last Thanksgiving, this conversation was a miracle to me and was a balm to my heart.  And especially after they’d planned this surprise camping trip so that we could get away together and had gotten along so well all weekend long.

Small things like this, I have to keep in perspective.  This was NO SMALL THING!  So I was praising God for this simple blessing yesterday morning.

Sadly, though, today has been a bit different, and I found myself in the midst of a full blown panic attack on my return from work this afternoon.  I knew my youngest daughter, Giggles would be home from summer school.  I have been struggling of late with being unable to fill up the deep need inside of her.  And her need would be even greater since she was feeling left out of the “big girl” camping trip.

In my head, I know that I don’t have to/can’t be the one to fill up her little soul, because the Lord is the only one who can truly fill up the whole in our hearts.  But as her sad eyes bore into me, I feel her need and my lack in the face of it and I just can’t seem to step away from my inadequacy.

I am good at pushing myself past negative emotions, having done this much of my life; ignoring them to just get the job done.  Usually, that is, but not today.  I just couldn’t push myself any farther.  And it took a walk with a friend to help clear my thinking.

Life as an adoptive mother can feel like a roller coaster running off the tracks, but it has taught me to be quick to praise God even in the small things, and to accept my limitations as an imperfect mother.  The latter is definitely the hardest for me, because for so long I believed that if I raised my kids like this or like that, then  a certain outcome would be ensured.

But, ever so slowly, I am learning and relearning that this is not the case.  I guess that for this too, I am grateful; that when I can’t fulfill my daughter’s needs, can’t be the mother I am sure she should have, the mother who will love her perfectly, God reminds me that He chose me for her and her for me.   And because of this, I can let go of my panic and let God take control of my emotions and heal even this.

Lying, Defying and Forgiveness

“No, because you have used your siblings’ devices in a way that is wrong and caused trouble for them in the past, you may not borrow your brother’s kindle today either.  That rule hasn’t changed since yesterday when you asked and were told the same thing that I am telling you now,” I sigh.

“Why did you lie when I asked you…” heart heavy because I know she won’t be able to tell me the why of her constant lying (why do I keep asking this stupid question).

“Why are you wearing sweatpants to school on such a warm day?  Oh, I see to hide your sister’s leggings that she said you couldn’t wear the last time you asked her.”

Conversations like these can occur every few hours or even within minutes of each other and parenting some days, especially this summer, feels overwhelming and hopeless as I repeat lessons and words over and over and feel like we are going, well, nowhere fast.

And since I am well-read in the area of Reactive Attachment Disorder, I know that these behaviors are normal and can be explained by the trauma she has faced at such an early age.  And I understand and feel compassion for the losses that she has lived through.

I know that her need for affirmation is so deep and the well of her need is bottomless because children of abandonment often have trust issues.  But knowing and understanding doesn’t make these day to day interactions any less exhausting to deal with on a moment-by-moment basis.

And wearing on our relationship!  I’ll admit it.  I am human and when these types of incidents come fast and furious some days, I struggle to be the mother that I know God wants me to be.  I don’t like to be lied to, stolen from, defied on a regular basis and it is hard to keep forgiving over and over again when there is no true repentance.

On days like this when I am struggling with spiritual warfare and can become almost paralyzed with anxiety, while knowing, just knowing, I am failing my other children while trying to deal with the emotional train wreck this child is leaving behind her, I can sink into despair .

Because I know that God forgives me, I must (and can in His strength) also forgive her. But I’ll be honest: with each new lie, it becomes harder and harder to keep my heart responding to her with love.

It is also difficult at moments like these to look ahead and attempt to have hope that “all things work together for good for those who love God.” (Romans 8:28) Unfortunately, it is not as hard to make the leap from what I see happening in front of me to the many negative ways these moments could affect the futures of all six of my children.

God made me the mother of my child, with the wisdom and help that I can give her to grow and heal.  There are many ways in which it is impossible to fulfill all of the needs of my child, but only God can fill our needs anyways.  When I am struggling with the constant lying, defying, arguing, disobeying that have become the stuff of my days with my daughter, it is hard to love her in the way she needs to be loved, because I am her human mother.  I thank God, that He is her Eternal and all loving Father, who can love her through me even when I am struggling just to like her today.


Riding the Waves of Anxiety

As the storm surrounds me and the waves keep coming and coming, I find myself one day saying, “Life is so much better that it was nine years ago!” (Gotcha Day is August 1) and the next feeling such despair that I just don’t want to keep fighting to keep my head above the water.

God has brought me to a place where if I look back over the past nine years, I can see that things are better than they were even two years ago.  But the reality of my life as someone recovering from anxiety attacks and depression, means that almost every single day is spent battling inside my head.  This is an absolutely exhausting endeavor, even if it is worthwhile.

This week I have been fighting thoughts that relate to difficult past relationships and how they affect my present one with one of my children.  I am realizing that I have to forgive those with whom I have difficult relationships in my past in order to not project onto my child the same attitudes that were projected onto me.  This work is hard, takes a lot of emotional time and energy, and on days when my daughter’s neediness surpasses my ability to pour into her the love she needs, it almost becomes too much to bear.

My child, as a coping mechanism from all of the early losses she has suffered, lies almost constantly because she cannot trust anyone to meet her needs.  I find it hard to trust her in return, and find myself struggling to forgive her untruths so many times a day that it just breaks my heart.  I blame myself for not being trustworthy enough to keep her from lying.  For both my daughter and myself, it is a circle of mistrust and feelings of unworthiness left by circumstances beyond our control.

Why has God, knowing the relationships in my past and how they have negatively affected me and my parenting style, given me a child who reminds me of those relationships (her neediness mirrors that of my own parent’s)?  For healing, I presume.  And for both of us, I hope.

And when this work is slow, I have to just keep pressing into the Lord, living out loud with those few friends who have been sharing this life with me, so that they can encourage and convict when needed.

I hate the really low days; those days when I can’t seem to think straight and feel like I am drowning. However, without them, I would not be really thankful for the good days but fear I would simply take them for granted.  So, even when I am riding the waves of anxiety, I have found Jesus walking across the water, saying, “Come, Taryn,” and I reach my hand up to His.

Hand reaching

For my Friends Who Write; About Vulnerability

Sarai’s Lesson

“I’m scared, Lord.”

“I know you are, but I want you to write your story. Remember Sarai.”

“Sarai? From the Bible?”

“Yes child, that Sarai. Read her story again.”

I found it right there in Genesis 16:2 (NIV). Even though she knew the Lord’s promise she, “said to Abram, ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.’”

“So, Lord, Sarai went charging in, taking the bull by the horns so to speak, to make Your promise to her come true. She couldn’t wait on your timing. Lord, how does this pertain to me? To my writing this book?”


“Where am I pushing too hard Lord?”

I answer my own question with a question, “You don’t like the changes?”

The book had been sitting on my shelf for two years now. Encouraged by my husband and his sister to write my story to help other adoptive mothers cope with raising children with Reactive Attachment Disorder, I’d written the book, but because of my fear the book had become something different entirely from what it had started out to be. I’d begun researching, going down rabbit trails, fueled by the challenge of focusing on something other than the chaos of my home. Like Sarai, I wasn’t waiting on the Lord to guide my steps in the writing.

“I know you want me to finish it and publish it, Lord, but I am afraid, because if Filly reads it when she grows up, then she may become angry.”

“Is the book about her?”

“No, but I may have to write some
things about her in order to tell my story.”

“Can you trust Me?”


“Can you do as I ask each step of the way?”


“Then write.

“But… what if she reads it someday, Lord?”

“I will take care of that. Now finish the book I gave to you.”

“Yes, Lord.”

And so I begin again, this time not rushing ahead but waiting and listening more closely.

We have to be willing to let our readers see into our hearts when we write

The level of vulnerability we must share when we write can be downright terrifying to me when I stop to consider all of the implications of putting myself “out there.”  I open myself up to judgment, ridicule and fear of how writing my story could affect my family.

I have been thinking about this vulnerability and how we have to be willing to embrace it as writers if we are going to really connect with our readers.  One of my favorite blogs right now is written by a young woman, who is recovering from anorexia and shares her journey through God’s healing on her blog Beauty Beyond Bones.  Her vulnerability in a recent post called VCard was inspiring to me and speaks to a younger generation on a topic that must be on every teenagers’ mind, in a way that is amazingly honest and consistent with the truth of God’s Word.

I admit that many times as I begin to write, I get stuck–paralyzed by Spiritual Warfare, my own doubts, raising 6 children, serving and loving my husband, and the amount of time writing can take out of my day.  For several weeks now, I’ve written sporadically, but in the past few days have felt the Lord’s nudging along with some friends’ timely encouragement.

Probably not coincidentally, I found the above article that I wrote for back in 2013 when I first began my current book project.   If you are a Christian writer, check out FaithWriters where you can improve your writing by entering the weekly challenge.  The article above was for the topic: Like a Red Rag to a Bull. 

Sixteen, the Struggle and Seeing God

Today is my daughter’s sixteenth birthday.  Looking back 8 years ago to the first birthday we celebrated with her, I am amazed at the confident young lady she is becoming.  Gone is the girl who would walk into class, slink silently into her chair, wrap her hoodie tightly around her so you could barely see her eyes.

Faith, Katy and Paige

There have been so many times over the last nine years that I have wanted to just quit. So many mornings after dropping Filly off at school following a tantrum, Plumb’s song on the radio, Need You Now (How many times),  would express all that was in my heart, so that as I was driving I was almost yelling the lyrics at God: ‘How many time have I cried out, “Lord, please take this.” How many times have you given me strength to just keep breathing?’  Knowing that He wasn’t going to take this cup from me, but that he would (and did) always give me the strength for the next moment, has been hard to accept during the times when discouragement reigned.

The thing I know now that I didn’t know back then?  I know that God will do as He promises, but it might not look the way I hope it will.  In fact it might look just the opposite from what I expect Him to do.

When our children were small we believed that if we raised them well, according to biblical values, they would someday grow up to serve the Lord in mighty ways.   As our children grew through the tweens and now with five of them in their teens, our discipline looks a lot different, but we still hope that we will have influenced them to walk through life following God’s lead.  But God doesn’t promise that to me, rather He promises only that He will walk through it all with me.

I have seen many of my friends’ older children turn away from their values and faith in God, and it wasn’t because they weren’t faithful or didn’t find the right balance between love and discipline.  Quite the opposite, I know that they did all of those things, and probably much better than I did.

As  younger parent, I was naïve and really thought that if I did this then that would be the outcome.  But after years of striving with and for my amazing daughter, I know that she will make her own choices, some good and some bad.

Right now, as I look at her sitting with her brother while they are working on her new laptop, her brown eyes are smiling at him and they are laughing, and I am grateful.  Just a day or two ago, a friend marveled at what a different girl she was from just a few  years ago.

I have to agree.  She has made the marvelous transformation, from an overwhelmed, angry, hurt child, to a confident, happy (well as happy as a teen can be in the midst of being a teenager:) soccer playing, running girl.  She has worked hard to get where she is today, and my hair is more grey than brown these days, but it has all been worth it; these last nine years through the angry tantrums, hateful words and much struggle to simply get through every day moment by moment have changed us all in ways I could never have envisioned nine years ago.

And now, I am different too.  I know God, while He may not take the cup from me that I think I cannot bear, will give me “strength to just keep breathing” (Plumb, Need You Now) anytime I call out to Him.  I know He will walk with me through anything and everything.  I know He loves me more than I could ever have imagined.  And I know He loves you like that too, no matter what you may be struggling through today, He is the only hope you have and it will be worth whatever suffering you have to go through to know Him better.

Today I know that I can say like Job did, “my ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)  And because of that I can have joy as I look at my daughter, hoping for all that she will someday be.




The Rusty Sword

Last week was a terrible, no good, rotten week, because I wasn’t taking my thoughts captive as I ought.  It seemed that the attacks came in never ending waves until I felt like I would rather just let go and not reach out for the hands offered to pull me out.

Of course that wasn’t an option, but I just felt so tired of fighting the enemy so that I could keep serving my family.  Lately, I have been focusing on the fact that my life was mostly made up of facilitating everyone else’s life (in my family).  I am good at this:  my marine husband often tells me that I would have made a good logistical officer.  But, when life falls apart with issues that can’t be put off until a better time and I still can’t stop to breathe or pray, I  begin to come unglued; self-focused, self-pitying and fall prey to ungratefulness and discontent..

On my worst day, a friend emailed that she had been praying this song for me,

“I’ve tried to win this war, I confess

My hands are weary, I need your rest…

When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move,

When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through,

When you don’t give the answers as I cry out to you,

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you!”

                          ~Lauren Daigle

As I listened to this song, I realized that my tools had become rusty.

About a two weeks ago, I had been praying through and rereading my notes from that Sunday’s sermon and trying to again decipher the pieces of the armor of God.  These weapons have always confused me a bit, but as I prayed they became clearer and I can see the lesson God is trying to renew in me.

Last week, it became clearer to me that I had somehow forgotten that my “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).

I did not stand firm in the truth of who I am in Christ; I had forgotten that I can stand only because of His righteousness.  Instead I was struggling in my own power to work out my righteousness and I let my shield fall to my side, allowing the flaming arrows of the Liar pierce my heart.

I didn’t claim the peace of the gospel (Ephesians 6:15) for myself, much less share it with anyone else.  And at the same time I realized that I had stopped polishing my sword (daily Bible reading),  and this is when those spiritual forces attacked me with a vengeance.

I often find that besides my breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the belt of truth, the sword of the Spirit and the helmet of salvation, God often uses music and scriptures I have memorized to minister unto my hurting or broken heart.

I often can remember certain times of my life related to a particular song.  Oftentimes I would wake up in the middle of the night with an attack of anxiety over some issue and as I would come to wakefulness, a song would be playing over and over in my head.  Words like, “The God of angel armies is always by my side,” or “You’re a good, good Father“, or “You never promised me that this would be easy…You are faithful“.

Other times, scripture ministered to me, reminding me that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) or that God “rejoice[s] over [me] with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17) depending on my need in that moment.

So even though I lost the battle last week, I am removing the rust from my sword, vowing to stand firm once again, all of my weapons at the ready for the next battle.


Labor Pains

Some days you just have to praise God for even the small stuff in your life.

Thinking about how our lives were going to change over the next few years as each of our teens would start to graduate and leave our home one after the other for the next five years, my husband made  a comment about the six babies I had given birth to and how they were growing up fast.

Then he amended his statement, “Well, you gave birth to three of them, and…” trailed off.

My response?

“I may only have given birth to three of them, but I have lived through labor pains with each one of them.”

My youngest daughter has an extremely low pain tolerance.  We’ve talked about giving birth to a child and how painful that is.  But we always follow it with how every pain is worth it once the baby is born.  In most cases, the mother pushes aside her pain for the joy of holding her newborn child in her arms.  This is the beginning of bonding and attachment for biological children and their parents in healthy families. Giggles has sworn she will never have a baby, and when  she says this I just smile.

Me and Faith

I didn’t get to hold three of my children right after their birth, and bonding and attachment has been slow in some ways.  But as I see the amazing young woman my soon-to-be sixteen year old daughter is becoming, I know that all of the labor pains (a heart pain that has been far more invasive than any physical birth could have been) have definitely been worth it.  We are bonding and still doing the work of attachment everyday, but I can feel that joy more and more everyday.

And perhaps because it is hard-won, it is all the more precious to me; this heart connection that is growing between us.  It gives me hope as I continue to help our youngest grow into an honest and loving grown up.  Just because the labor pains are beyond any pain I had imagined I could bear, doesn’t mean that they won’t be worth the joy in the end.  Perhaps God knows that in all things, pain births joy if we are willing to see His perspective and beauty of the gift.

Though I know it is kind of cliché to say that my children weren’t born from my womb, but they are being born in my heart , it is still true.  Over years of pain mingled with love and the joy that must be chosen, even as the pain still comes in waves, I have learned love.

I can almost pin point a time when these labor pains with my fifteen-year old, Filly, changed to joy .  It was in the aftermath of two and a half months of almost constant pain and daily battles during one of my husband’s research trips to Africa.  The pain was significant and the battles so hard, yet afterwards, the growth was unmistakable.  And now even though we may still have some small skirmishes, the joy has been worth all of our pain.

And knowing that is just as sweet as the day my biological daughter and sons  were born from my womb and placed into my arms.

Fighting the Demons: Fear and Anxiety

Fighting the demons again today.  How about you?

Last Sunday in church a gentleman gave a brief testimony about his  journey through addiction and mental health.  One of the things he said was that none of the medications really helped in the end because his problem was spiritual.

But how do you really know that your problem is spiritual?  How do you know it is not biochemical?  Can Christians really have endogenous depression or anxiety?

Endogenous depression is the kind of depression that can be passed  between generations in a family and is biological in origin.  According to Dr. Archibald Hart in his book, The Anxiety Cure, it should be differentiated between psychological or reactive depression.

Hart explains that depression and anxiety come from an imbalance of GABA and cortisol in our brains.  GABA (gama-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter in our brain that keeps us happy, while cortisol is the hormone our brains produce in a fight-or-flight situation (Hart 24).

So stress causes the brain to release cortisol, a response that supports our survival instincts.  When we are overly stressed, cortisol begins to deplete GABA and the result is a hormone imbalance in our brains.

Because of a family history of depression, I had always vowed not to take any medications for my depression and had been determined to just keep fighting and praying.  After a friend shared Dr. Hart’s book with me, I began to see a path toward healing.

Realizing that my anxiety had caused a hormone imbalance in my brain, I began to work toward healing using medication, GABA supplements, essential oils, Christian meditation, Scripture memorization and journaling.

But for today, how do I know whether my struggles today are biochemical or spiritual?  Because of my journey through healing, I am able to trace my panic and fear to a specific situation and know that my solution needs to be spiritually based.

And the medications? Well, they have simply allowed me to get to a place where I can choose the spiritual solution instead of breaking down, overeating, or allowing my negative thoughts to affect my relationships with my girls.  It is not the cure, but it has enabled me to look to the real Healer for true healing.

So after a morning spent walking the dog (exercise that enabled my disordered thinking to clear), I prayed and waited on God to change my heart.  He took away my fear and placed within my heart joy in His creation, and in His plan for my life.

And this afternoon when my child came home from school?  I grabbed our adult coloring books, colored pencils and went to Dunkin Donuts for some eclairs.  As we talked about what had happened the day before, I could share how she could do what I had to do that morning.  We colored and talked about what it means to “…take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.”


My Hurting Child Didn’t Learn That From Me

“The trouble is that they usually go right back into the same environment they were in before they came to us, so our success rate is sometimes small.”

This weekend, I was volunteering at a local festival along with other members of my church.  A young lady volunteering with me said the above words (though they are not her exact words, rather the best my flagging memory can muster) to me after I mentioned that I had looked into their services.  And because I needed to help the children who had stopped by, I said little in response.

She is a social worker at a local therapeutic residential home for troubled teens.   I didn’t respond in the way I’d have liked to because it would take way too long to explain why that was  a troubling statement to me.

Also, several years ago, the social worker at my daughter’s school asked me if I knew that our child didn’t feel loved.  I cried at the time, but probably not for the reason she expected.  Yes, of course I knew that; I know very well that every ounce of love I try to pour into my child’s heart runs through it like a funnel.  I knew that for every ounce of love I give her only a miniscule portion of that will remain inside of her.  And here’s something I am sure you know too: THIS IS EXHAUSTING.  The social workers statement cut deep, because I could see that she didn’t get it: she thought that if I could just love my child more, she would be healthier.

What these two women don’t understand is what you and I, adoptive or special need parents, know:  that these hurt children don’t learn to hurt others from us, and that their home environment is not the cause of their aberrant behaviors.  We know that they came to us hurt and in learning to survive developed these coping mechanisms, often long before we became part of their lives.  We know that they don’t feel our love and that they push us away time and time again, until we don’t know how to get them to understand that they don’t have to protect themselves, they don’t have to push those who want to love them away and that they can become all that God created them to be.

Oh, how I wish that those in social service and mental health organizations understood that we, the parents of our hurt children, are not the root of these children’s problems.  Are we perfect parents? No.  Truth be told, we are just as flawed and broken as our children are at times, but we’ve learned to cope with our frailties and we can teach them to cope with their own if they will only let us.  We know where true healing from any hurt comes: Christ!

I am not a perfect parent, and I have made many mistakes with each of our children along the way.  If I let my thoughts get carried away, I can begin to believe what these social workers implied about parents like me: that I am the cause of my child’s behavioral and heart issues.

Part of why I write and share as much of my journey as I do is so that others can learn how to help families like ours instead of casting blame.   Also, over the past few years, I have felt a conviction that as a Church universal, we can and should use our spiritual gifts to help families who are struggling to raise children with RAD, other behavioral issues, and special needs.

When the social and mental health systems offer services that don’t really help because those who are running them don’t really understand our needs, are too expensive for most adoptive and special needs families, and don’t seek to fix the problems at the heart level, the Church needs to step in.

We can and should do a better job.  The Church has called us to adoption, telling us that we must follow James exhortation (James 1:27).  We have done so, and now we need the support of our churches to continue the good works we are called to do.

In order for the church to do this, we need to be able to express just what it is that we need.  These are three needs that I have observed families raising troubled or hurt children may benefit from.

First, and especially because we are imperfect parents, we need support so that we can withstand the day to day stresses of helping our children to heal.  We need respite, time to recover and heal ourselves and the other members of our family, given by a trained provider.

Next, we need a community of support by those who have either already raised special children; we need to be able to share our struggles in a way that does not disparage our children but lets us feel accepted and loved and encouraged to keep up the daily work.  Perhaps through a local support group where Bible Study and Fellowship, and training sessions for the parents would be part of a monthly agenda.

Another support venue could be a closed (private) social media group where resources could be shared and people could feel free to ask questions, seek answers and feel accepted and validated (this idea was given to me through an anonymous  survey on my facebook page a month ago, I cannot take credit for it, and I appreciate the possibilities for help).

Finally, I have met many mothers and fathers who are doing this work as a single parent.  These parents need special afterschool, weekend, and summer programs that will help their children grow in social skills, learn to care for others and just plain have fun.  I have partaken of some such programs through our local  mental health offices, but believe we as Christians, if we put our resources together, can do such programs better.  We can offer not only quality care for their children, but more importantly the healing, hope and help of a Savior.

I certainly do not mean to disparage social workers and our mental health system by my comments.  Locally, these organizations are staffed by caring, well-educated and -intentioned individuals.  But, in our county (and I am sure other counties across our country) funding has been cut or stymied by red tape and requirements , crippling many of the programs that could help families like ours.

I am also not suggesting that Christians cannot partake of secular services and find help there, some can and will do so.  However, I know that the only real hope of complete redemption comes through our savior, Christ the Lord.  We as Christians can share our hope for healing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these three and for you to share your own needs or ideas.  We are starting a ministry to special needs families in our church, so any thoughts and ideas would be great!