Being Sheep

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep."John 10:14-15

Monday, July 8, 2013

Birthdays and Trauma

Sometimes being a "trauma mama" involves canceling your birthday boy's lunch at a restaurant because birthday boy is hiding in a closet to get away from his screaming brother. Your other child hid in his room for some peace and quiet and the trauma boy is still screaming.

Birthdays are often hard for kids with trauma histories. We've never had quite this much of a problem before though, so I didn't plan ahead with a baby-sitter or anything. Now I know better.

Birthday boy got pizza for lunch (that we could eat at home!), a couple of presents he wanted, and a special dinner. He also played a ridiculous amount of Minecraft today. ;) Trauma boy went to bed early and the rest of us enjoyed dessert.

I told birthday boy I would make it up to him later this week; he handled it so well, but it made me really sad that his birthday ended up like that. Gotta love my boy who said, "It's ok, Mom. It's not like it was your fault or anything!" 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


This morning was a little frustrating. I was staying calm, but Nathan had melted down for almost an hour already, and it wasn't even 8:30 yet. I finally got him calmed down after suggesting that he be the baby lion and I'd be the mama lion. He was willing to let the mama lion take care of the baby lion, but me taking care of him was just too much. I got him changed and dressed, gave him some milk and cuddles, and then he started melting down again.

I got up a bit later than I should have this morning, so hadn't yet gotten dressed, brushed my teeth, or eaten breakfast (ya know, all those things that help me feel like a human!). I knew I'd be able to keep myself much more regulated if I just got those things done. So I went to my room to change, expecting Nathan to follow and whine the entire time. After a few minutes of whining though, he went out to the living room by his toys.

I finished in my room and came out to check on him. My 8 year old was working on his math while Nathan told him, "Ok. I gotta go check something and then I will come back and help you. If you need anything, call me."

David said, "I didn't want him to start crying again, Mom, so I played with him for a few minutes--then I asked him to "help" me with my math."

Such sweet kids I have. :) 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


It was a day full of little miracles. In addition to the events I describe below, we had some answers to prayer regarding finances, Nathan actually played with other children at a McDonald's play place, and friends of ours noticed just how much happier he seems. All those were amazing things! But combined with what happened right before Nathan's bedtime, it was an amazing day. 

This morning Nathan and I were looking at pictures together of our trip to Ethiopia. He was very interested in seeing pictures of him as a baby. "Look, there I'm sleeping!" etc. It was so sweet. 

All of a sudden though, he started sobbing. Not screaming--but deep, gut-wrenching sobs. 

"Why weren't you there? Where were you? I needed you and I was crying! But you were gone." 

Then he said over and over, "I want to be a baby! I want to be a baby!" 

It was heartbreaking. I tried to comfort him, but still he sobbed on. 

"I wanted to be there with you, baby. I wish I could have been there."

Tonight we were on our way home from a school concert and he asked me to carry him. He again said he wanted to be a baby. When I suggested that I carry him in the baby carrier I used when he was smaller, he readily agreed--with a big smile on his face! 

So I picked him up, and here's what happened: 

Amazing, right? Two years ago he barely tolerated being held by me. He was still raging for many hours each day. Today, he seems to genuinely like me. He's so much happier--genuinely happy, not manic-happy. Healing. It's happening. There may still be a long way to go, but we're getting there. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Lately I've started many posts, but never finish them; I just feel like I can't get everything into words. Some days are super hard and depressing, some are full of hope and excitement at the new progress he's made. Most are a mix of the two. So here are some of my miscellaneous thoughts: 

Inexact quote from the therapist today, who is the director at the center we're going to: "I remember just how bad he was [meaning attachment/sensory-wise, not bad as in naughty] when he first came for the evaluation. I felt awful asking you guys to drive so far for therapy, but I didn't think you could get the services he needed anywhere else. I even insisted that he mostly see only me, and I never do that." 

We had a meltdown Monday morning that lasted for 90 minutes. It sucked. But a year ago we were having meltdowns almost every day that could last for three or more hours. That really sucked. So this is better. :) 

It's been really hard to watch Nathan with other kids his age. As he gets older, it seems the gap only gets bigger. For example, while other kids will run, jump, play, have fun at a fast food play place, Nathan stands back and watches, occasionally venturing a few feet into the tunnel, then running back out again. 

At church on Sunday, a lady noticed a cross necklace he was wearing. She commented on it and reached out toward him. He didn't run away or scream, he just said, "Don't touch it!" He used his words. He used words when he felt threatened. That's HUGE!!!

A few more inexact quote from the therapist: "They always take it out on the moms. In their eyes, it's always the mom's fault, no matter what. In all my years of practice, I've only had one child who was mad at his dad. Everybody's mad at their moms, even if what they're mad about took place before their mom was ever in the picture." 

"And that would be the reactive part of reactive attachment disorder you're seeing." 

"He's three and a half. Most two year olds would be on that crazy cart (a sort of bike where you use your arms to push you around) and going all over the place. He's afraid to put his feet on the footrest. He doesn't really know where his body is in space. I hadn't realized just how bad that was until now." (That one is from today.)

So, we continue the therapy. We continue to see progress, though sometimes it is slow. We take a few steps forward, then a few more back. Nathan realizes something is helping him, then decides to hate whatever that is. We try to trick him into doing activities, because if he thinks it's my idea it won't happen at all. 

Many people have said how great it is that we're willing to do so much for Nathan, but honestly I feel like we don't have any choice in the matter. It's either give him the help he needs or watch him get worse and worse. And that second option is not really an option at all. 

I love this boy with all my heart. He can fight, he can kick, he can scream, he can break things--but no matter how hard he tries, I can't and won't stop loving him like crazy. So bring it, baby boy. Game on. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I delighted in my baby boy this week. We are in the second week of our new therapy. Tomorrow (Wednesday), we have one occupational therapy session, then we drive an hour to our attachment therapy session, then go home.

Monday morning was horrible. I was trying to get school done with Alex and David, finish packing for me and Nathan, and get everything ready for me being gone. But there was screaming all morning. All. Morning. It wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been, but it was bad. Made worse because I knew I was about to take him out of town for two nights. By myself.

I was rather depressed, anxious, and discouraged. I finally left for therapy (a bit early in the hopes he'd fall asleep in the car and then be done screaming. That backfired when he just woke up screaming and we got to therapy 30 minutes early.). We had an awesome therapy session. It ended with him cuddled right with me eating a sucker. It seriously was great. We headed to our hotel and had a "picnic" supper on the floor: sandwiches and soup. Nathan was sweet, loving, and absolutely adorable.

And in the pool I just... delighted in him. Delight is the best word I can come up with. He was so happy, and not a frantic and anxious happiness, but a genuine "I'm happy to be here, and I'm happy to be with my mom" happiness. We swam, we played, we giggled. It was amazing.

And so I have hope. Hope that things will continue to get better, hope that more healing will occur. Hope that this therapy and all the craziness it brings is not in vain.

It's a wonderful feeling to be able to completely delight in my son. I know we will still have more days like Monday, but I'm going to cherish the happy times, and delight in knowing that there are more happy times to come. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thoughts From Steve

Steve was telling me about the sermon at church this morning, since I was helping in the preschool room during the service. I liked what he was saying so much I asked if he'd be willing to write it down. Here's what he had to say: (credit to David Flowers at who preached this morning's sermon.)

Jess noted a few months ago that humanity acts toward God in ways consistent with attachment disorder in adoption. Several times since then, sermons at church have reminded me of this observation.

Some inexact quotes from today's sermon (1/6/13):
"All religious activity that does not come from quietness" (peace, attachment) "is neurotic. The problem we're trying to solve with religious activity is the problem of feeling distant from God."
"That is the basis of our spiritual neurosis - living in constant self-recrimination because of our failure to acquire God, whom we already have."
"We spend so much energy rubbing the lamp, hoping to get God to come out, when he's already with us. God was never confined to the lamp."

Something Nathan has been doing a lot lately is yelling out "Mommy!! Mommy!! I NEED you!!!" He will do this when he's supposed to be going to sleep. He'll do this randomly when playing with his brothers. He will do this when he is already being squeezed in Jess's arms. He's convinced that he doesn't "have" her, when in reality it is that he doesn't know how to understand that he has her, doesn't know how to feel close to her and feel her love for him. The love and closeness are there, he's just not understanding it. He doesn't need to do anything in order to be loved. He's not in danger of being abandoned, he doesn't need to keep watch for signs of her leaving him. He doesn't need more of her, he doesn't need to ask her for more, he just needs to see and understand that he has her, that he is loved by her.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Therapy and Ways You Can Pray

We have some awesome things in the works therapy-wise for Nathan! In a couple of weeks he'll be starting occupational therapy for his sensory processing disorder. The previous OT we did was not very successful because the therapists there didn't have much (if any) understanding of attachment disorders and they were very difficult to communicate with regarding Nathan's specific needs. We did make progress, but we were not very happy there and after a couple of months we decided to be done.

Our attachment therapist got us in touch with an occupational therapist who is very knowledgeable about attachment disorders and who specializes in sensory processing. We did an evaluation with her and she is WONDERFUL. This therapist has worked around the country training others, she has written parts of textbooks, etc. She's very well-trained and was so great to work with.

The problem? She works at an office about two hours away from our house. After much discussion, it's been decided that we will definitely be going there for therapy. Because of the severity of Nathan's issues (we were told we're the toughest case she's worked with!), we want to get in this therapy as soon as possible. In order to make good progress, they require that clients come in at least twice a week for sessions. That's a lot of driving!

Our current plan is for Nathan and I to go every week for 3 days: we'll stay overnight for two nights and get four sessions in during that time. This is going to be crazy in some ways, but really great in others. The hope, of course, is that we see lots of progress very quickly with such intense therapy.

The whole thing is a bit overwhelming though. We'll be doing 30 sessions before the end of March, and then re-evaluate to determine if more therapy is needed. We could really use some prayer during this time.

Some specifics you can be praying for:

  • My two other kids. We home school, so someone will have to be with the boys while I'm gone these days. We have family members stepping up to help, but in some ways this will still be a strain on them. Please pray they will do well, be able to get their school work done, and have good attitudes through this time. 
  • Our family members who will be helping us. 
  • Steve, who will be stepping up a lot to help with schooling the boys, giving me breaks from Nathan while I'm home, etc. 
  • That our marriage will remain strong and we'll have good communication with each other. 
  • That the therapy will be very effective, that we will see big results. (!!!!)
  • That Nathan will sleep at the hotel. 
  • That I don't lose my patience. Ahem. Guess I don't need to go into detail on that. 
  • That I'm also able to get good rest while away from home. 
  • Our finances. We are thankful that we're financially able to do this, but it will certainly be a strain. Pray that we will make wise decisions, that we will get good rates for a hotel room, etc. 
  • Safety as we're on the road. 

I know many have prayed for us through this entire adoption journey, and we so appreciate it. You are wonderful; thank you for supporting us!