Update 1/14/15: After the popularity of this original post, I wrote a follow-up, specifically for those who are married and parenting in the trenches of trauma. If you find this original post beneficial, you will probably want to read the follow-up as well. You can find that by clicking HERE. Blessings, Prayer, and Much Solidarity, heidi


Update 1/4/17: A reminder that this post is for ADOPTIVE PARENTS in the trenches. If you are wanting to lecture, chastise, or empty your emotional trauma here and you are NOT an adoptive parent in the trenches, your comments will be deleted. There are countless other forums and blogs for you to do that in. I will continue to protect this as a safe space for ADOPTIVE PARENTS IN THE TRENCHES. Thank you for respecting that boundary, heidi

Preface: This is not a how-to-parent-older-adopted-kids blog post. This is not a why-kids-of-trauma-inflict-trauma post. This is not even a this-is-what-life-is-like-with-trauma-kids post. This is not a feel-sorry-for-us or toot-our-own-horns post. It’s most definitely not a rainbows and unicorns post. However, I want to stress that—no matter how hard adoption can be or sometimes is, I still believe in it. I’ve got an incredible husband and a slew of kids I call my own who agree. So this is not an anti-adoption post. On the contrary, this is a RALLY CRY for those adoptive parents in the trenches answering the call that others refuse to hear, being judged, shunned, and persecuted for their already very lonely and difficult road. This is a no-holds-barred, bare-it-all solidarity-seeking attempt. This is for you, adoptive parents of trauma kids, because you are most definitely NOT alone.

So I’m sitting here spitting nails. I’ll be honest about that from the get-go. And I’m typing a hundred miles a minute. And probably not going to edit a whole lot. BECAUSE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. There is not a week that goes by that I do not receive multiple emails, phone calls, Facebook messages, or texts either from someone currently in the trenches or someone who knows someone who is. They’re at their wit’s end. They can’t take much more. They’re lonely. Grieved. And scared. And while I could spend forever trying to explain to those NOT in the trenches what it’s like down in the trenches, I’m not going to waste my time. Because the truth is, as you all know, that unless you have lived it, you will probably never get it. You just won’t. Oh, how we parents of trauma kids wish that weren’t so.

And if you’re reading this because your friend or family member passed it along, now’s your chance to erase your presumptions and shred your judgments and just take a listen and try to understand.

But if you’re reading this and already nodding, I’m trusting that you already get it. That you know what it’s like to step out of your comfortable American Christianity and choose one of the unwanted ones. The older, “broken” kids whom no one else said YES to. You know what it’s like to have that kind of compassion, faith, and willingness, that open heart and open home, that open-to-come-what-may. You know what it’s like to love the unlovable. To say yes to a call from God that no one else wants to hear or acknowledge. To take in a child of trauma. And you know what it’s like to be hated—and all but destroyed—by that child in return.

Trauma Kids

You wake up every day exhaling a supernatural prayer to inhale supernatural peace and supernatural strength, because it’s harder than hell to navigate this dark and untrodden road. You are depressed because darkness and strife have taken over your previously semi-docile home. You are scared because you never know what the day will hold—violent threats? police visits? psychiatric hospital? having to gather up your littles and leave the house in a moment’s notice—But the eggshells are a guarantee. Always the eggshells. So you’re always on edge. Anxious. Waiting for the shoe to drop. Because it always, most definitely does.

And you’re so damn tired of having to put your other kids on the sidelines while every ounce of your energy and every second of your time are devoted to the one who demands all. You feel like a neglectful parent because you see your other kids withering away, living in their own fear, sadness, trauma. You miss your old life and can’t even remember what it was like to just be you. And all because you said YES.

You’ve lost countless friends to the lies and manipulation. Countless. And you fear that those who stick around are susceptible to departure when the going keeps getting tougher than tough. Your church small group doesn’t understand. Your co-workers have no clue. Your mom group just gives you a collective puppy dog sad face and tells you they’ll be praying. You’ve been to therapist after so-called “expert” therapist, and their best suggestion is take a breath or read a book or play a game or—better yet—to take your six-months-pregnant self and rock your larger-than-you 14-year-old to sleep at night (true story). Or the worst, to flat out accuse you of totally sucking as a parent. You try to explain to your relatives what it’s really like to live with this child, but they don’t get it. No one does. Because all they see is the charm. The smiles. The public display of model behavior.

Teachers at your kid’s school tell you how sweet he is. Youth group workers gush over how precious she is. All the world feels pity for your “innocent” child. But no one seems to care or notice that life at home with them is sheer hell. And if you let them in on it, they don’t believe you or think you’re just not trying hard enough. They completely judge you. So you’re further screwed than you were before.

And those of us who get it would all agree that reaching out for help often hurts worse. So we’re scared to speak up or reach out, because it’s often better just to suffer alone than have it piled on by others too.

Forget the fact that your other kids are perfectly decent, kind individuals (most of the time). Forget that you used to be esteemed as a wonderful parent. Forget that you used to actually teach classes on parenting and adoption and the like. Forget that people loved you and lauded you before. Before you said YES.

Forget the fact that you’ve spent tens of thousands of hard-earned and worked-for dollars just to bring this child home. That you’ve dropped everything for their redemption. That you have spent countless hours and dollars on therapy and treatment and hospital stays and literature and counseling and so on. That you and your spouse are drowning in debt because you will stop at nothing to help your kid. What choice do you have?

Forget all of that, because no one gets it. They don’t understand that adopted kids of trauma are often the most master of manipulators. By definition, they know how to survive by lying, charming, manipulating. They push away those that care the most. But you already know that. Because you live it.

If your kid had cancer, they’d stand up with you. If your spouse passed away, they’d rally around. But try to parent a kid of trauma who inflicts trauma at home, and it’s crickets, crickets, crickets.

Oh, my heart just breaks at the injustice of it all. And for the thousands upon thousands of you parents who just.totally.get.it.

You’re pushed away. You’re spat upon. You’re punched. You’re hit. You’re rejected. You’re lied to and lied about and often. You’re the scapegoat for all of their pain. You’ve supposedly ruined their life before you were ever in it. You’re screamed at, yelled at, and victimized.

You’re looked at with suspicion under a microscope. CPS questions your intentions. The world outside of your inner circle has painted you as a failure who just didn’t know what you were getting into.


I have lived it and survived it and am here to tell you now, that those are all LIES. Because you’re doing a damn good job. You said YES when the rest of the world (and even the Church) said NO. You sacrificed EVERYthing. You put it all on the line. You gave all and still do. You risked reputation for the sake of redemption. (Hmmmm, Jesus, anyone?)

You chose this road in the first place because you have good in you. You have the love of Christ. A love for humanity. A love for the least of these. For the forgotten. You wanted to make an impact for eternity on the life of someone who needed you to step up. And so you did.

But right now you’re crying out and screaming Forget eternity!, because you don’t even think you can make it through today.

But you will. And you are sure to come out on the other side someday with fewer friends, less pretense, and more grit. You might not (probably won’t) have the storybook, fairytale ending. Others will swoop in to be your kid’s knights-in-shining-armor just when you’ve almost made it. Everyone on the outside will want to be your kid’s hero, to rescue the poor, troubled orphan that you supposedly “just couldn’t get through to.” And it will truly suck to accept it.

But the thing is, the truth is, those on the outside, those who swoop in to “save,” well, they have it easy. They have the relationship without the commitment (the very thing these kids reject). They have the hero complex without really getting their hands dirty. They can pat themselves on the back and feel like a savior when it’s on your back that the real burden lies. They haven’t sat for hours while your kid rages. They haven’t stood in courtrooms while they listened to false accusations. They haven’t had the bruises. The injuries. The heart pain. They haven’t been YOU.

And even if your kid never acknowledges it, even if they never come around, even if you never live to see their healing, even if someone else claims credit, YOU’VE DONE AN AMAZING THING. You’ve walked a painful road, but you didn’t have to. You knew it wouldn’t be easy. And you said YES anyway.

You’ve made tough choices for your kid when others just took the easy road. And your Heavenly Father is proud. SO VERY PROUD. Believe it!

So hold up your head. Raise your eyes. Gird up. You are an AMAZING PARENT. And if you have to wake up every single day and look in the mirror and say that out loud, so be it. You were never guaranteed the outcome, but that doesn’t change the kind of warrior you are.

You keep on keeping on. You, in the glory of His favor. He is PROUD.

And if and when your friends abandon you. If your family forsakes you. If the world judges your intentions and decisions. If you have nothing left but the cross you bear, know that Jesus smiles upon you. Because you are AMAZING.

You love well and you love hard. You are doing the nearly impossible. You aren’t getting a break from your ministry. There’s no respite for this battle. You can’t take a vacation from this pain. You can’t go home at night and simply call it a day, because your home is no longer your home.

And of course you already know that you can’t force results. Coerce cooperation. Or manipulate circumstances. So you simply carry on. Because you are a WARRIOR.

You should be revered instead of crucified. Rewarded instead of critiqued. Uplifted instead of judged.

But nothing is ideal on this side of eternity. Nothing is fair.

So until then, or until redemption rains down, HOLD UP YOUR HEAD and JOIN MY HAND and KNOW that you KNOW that you KNOW that you are GOOD. I’m serious. Did you get that? YOU. ARE. GOOD.

You said YES. Even if no one understands. Or hears. Or sees. It’s enough that Jesus does.

In the meantime…

Don’t back down. Stay the course. Don’t give up or in. And even if you have to disrupt this adoption or say you’ve had enough, you are STILL an amazing parent. No one will ever know what you know. NO ONE is your Holy Spirit.

And you must attempt the ABSOLUTE ONLY thing harder than the parenting job you’re already doing: Forgive those who mistreat, malign, slander, or betray you.

“The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” -Mark 15:3-5

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” -1 Peter 2:23

For those on similar roads, please cling to these verses. Jesus didn’t retaliate against the lies. He let God avenge. God will make right. He is the ultimate Judge. He IS justice. Lean on that. It will take you to a greater level of trust and faith than you ever thought possible.

And you will make it. More like Christ. Press on.

So here’s your chance…

You’ve got the mic. This is your platform. Comment away. You’re safe here. Share your thoughts. Raise your voice. Speak out loud. Don’t hold back. Post anonymously if you wish. Or find me on Facebook and message me. Email me heidi@outofshemind.com Just let it out.

And unlike other posts where freedom of comments will be allowed, I’m going to take the authority here (well, seeing as it is my blog) to turn off the judgers. If you don’t get it, don’t post it. If you are here to tear down, go away.

This is for solidarity. And solidarity alone.

Pass this on, re-post it, and do whatever you feel helps you survive. Share it with your loved ones, for even if they don’t understand in the end, at least they can know that YOU are not alone in this. That thousands rally around. Thousands in the trenches. Thousands walking the hard, hellish lonely road of adoption of older, traumatized kids. This post is for YOU. Only YOU. And it’s about time.


God never uses

Testimonials from the Trenches

I’ve been frustrated by this at our church. A church that is SO gracious to ‘sinners’ visiting and needing Jesus. Yet, when one of their own has a challenge, there is not the same support.” -Sandy


I think the hardest part is that until you have lived with that bullseye on your back people just can’t grasp the life you live. I mean I know that people have hardships and difficult relationships from time to time but to have it strung together for so long, so often. I mean, I can mark it down to the day and you can just see the path of destruction the enemy has left in our wake in a very strong attempt to destroy us.” -Bill


I was appalled at how little social service people, who work day in-and day-out with foster kids, understood the effects of trauma, the rages and the secondary trauma that families experience by welcoming this into their families. I am traumatized by their trauma.” -Monica


Most people (including professionals) cannot grasp the idea of ‘children’ mastering that level of manipulation and triangulation. Not to mention the idea of a child feeling completely threatened by the intimacy of a family. After all, what child would chose to be in foster care or on their own rather than be in a loving family? THE loneliest, abandoned, hopeless, etc. I have ever felt! -Melissa


“Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words. When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.” -JESUS (in Matthew 10:16-23, The Message)


A few links. Because yay for education.

And a final—yet essential—note:

To those of you who DON’T walk this road, who AREN’T in the trenches, who haven’t parented a child as described, but YET haven’t abandoned, betrayed, or turned away…GOD BLESS YOU IMMENSELY AND FOREVER. We hold you close, dear, and high.

You can’t IMAGINE how just your “being there,” your validation of the pain, can be the very thing to keep our heads above the water. You are TRUE and LOYAL. And God will no doubt reward you for standing up when so few stood with at all. You are gems.

Keep standing with your friend. Listening to them. Trusting their testimony. Supporting their tough decisions. And whatever you do, I beg you, PLEASE please PLEASE do not sabotage their efforts to bring healing and redemption to their child. Your best intentions might be the worst of devastations. And know that if you choose to engage in activities and behavior that the parents feel is detrimental to their child’s longterm healing, you are forsaking a friendship for your own feelings. Please reconsider. I sincerely thank you. And the thousands of others committed from the beginning thank you as well.

To the finish,


Oh, and P.S. My apologies, but I was never before a cusser. Not until, well, you get it.

622 thoughts on “Dear Adoptive Parents walking the hard, hellish, lonely road of trauma…THIS POST IS FOR YOU. And ONLY YOU.

  1. Adoptive mom of teenager with PTSD

    Thank you, for being real and reminding people like me we’re not alone… I love my daughter but it’s draining to love her. Other people, even other adoptive parents most times don’t understand what we are dealing with… Trauma triggers, violent rages, threats to hurt us and herself, ER visits, having to call the police on your own child – it’s darker than anything I ever imagined. It helps to know I’m not alone. Thankful for solidarity and those who follow Jesus to the darkest of places with us.


    1. Nancy

      I have an adopted daughter just like that. I went through what you are going through and will go through. My daughter is serving a second felony sentence for assault, has now lost her own child to the system and may never be out long enough to have a “life” as we know it. In her time in prison, she has never maintained non-violence long enough to receive visitation or telephone contact. We communicate by mail only. Raising her and her siblings cost me my entire savings, my own physical health through violent abuse and almost my sanity. Bottom line. I still love them. I haven’t given up and I won’t. Grace is a wonderful, priceless gift and it is available to her and to me. It is supernatural and defies human logic. I know this, because without it, neither my kids or I would still be here. You’re right, Jesus was/is there in the dark with us. He was and is the light and only He can judge us or them fairly.


      1. Claire Kirby

        Nancy, my heart goes out to you. I have had similar experiences. People have often commented on how brave we are to hang on in there, or even suggested we can abandon them as we have “done our bit” now, not understanding how deeply we love our adopted children with a God-given love. I hope things are improving for you but I know these struggles can go on and on, with a very real price to pay as you have found out. God bless you and your family, Nancy.


    2. Michelle Goad

      I’ve have been where you are – the hell was unimaginable. I had a 1/2 brother and sister ages 6 and 8 when we got them. They are grown now: distant, I do not know their addresses, I know more about my son than my daughter. You’re so right…it was darker than anything I ever imagined. My faith sustained me. This website was such a blessing to me. I remember two children that were sweet and then they grew up and hell reigned supreme. I tried everything I could. Love was not enough. It’s nice to know this place exists. Unless they’ve lived it, people have no earthly idea about the depths of hell a family can descend into. We have made it through alive, but scarred and very guarded. The fantasy was NOT the reality. Thank you Jesus for being there in the depths of hell with us. It’s why we’re here today.


      1. Martha Sue Pritchard

        Even now I feel free to be honest about the pain. My ex husband and I adopted a 23 month old child of trauma and torture. She was and is remarkably beautiful. I was naive in believing the therapist who said because she was p reverb al at time of abuse all could be well. Not true. Last week she threw in my face that I favor her sister who we also adopted. It broke open an old wound and I was devastated and furious. From the time of her adoption I took on her pain and experienced secondary trauma. Only recently realized.
        Pastors and most friends thought me tiresome . I knew she instigated trouble with my slightly older child but only recently did she admit it. She refuses any outside help. Until she is in major crisis. Heart of my heart as all of you know and now I turn her over to God because I have to. You sound so wise and so compassionate
        And God bless for this forum . Expectations are deeply attached aren’t they?


        1. Laura Mazoch

          My husband and I adopted twins at the age of 2 1/2. They were abused and tortured by their previous foster parents. They are now 15 and want to kill me. After years and years of therapy… they have managed to break almost every material item I own. I give them a gift and the next day it is broken. I started to paint to deal with stress and found my finished canvas stabbed with and knife sticking out of it on the kitchen table. My husband and I don’t live together anymore. He lives with them in another house because things became so dangerous for me and my biological daughter and I didn’t feel safe at all. I still dont feel safe and think one day they will kill me and my bio daughter. They are master manipulators, fake crying and have trianguled my marriage, stole my wedding ring on Christmas Eve 7 years ago and still won’t admit it. Everybody thinks they are wonderful. They have managed to split my entire family up and I am a scared mess all the time. They are Constantly telling me they want to kill me. My husband is in severe denial and takes their side over mine. I don’t know what to do and just want to get away from them. They live in a house about 100 yards away from me and I don’t think I can stay here any longer. I need to get a divorce and move far away from them and change my name.


          1. Reva Fowler

            I sit in a quiet house for the first time in 13 years. As of today, it is only my youngest daughter and I at home and it seems peaceful but strange. My husband and I, along with our three biological children adopted two children that were in my day care home since infancy when the parents rights were terminated. Our family has been through so much of the fear, anxiety, hurt and stress that so many speak of. In fact, after 20 years of marriage, my husband left me with all five children and took off across country. Now three of the children are adults and moved out of the home. My adopted son was in residential treatment with only weekend visits for 4 1/2 years until he aged out and returned home a year and a half ago as an adult. He moved back out on his own today after being home for four months again. Same games different age. My concern is his sister. At the age of 171/2, she realized she could run away with no reasoning. No one can help me to get her back and her decisions scare me. Police, prosecutors, probate all say she is old enough to leave but legally I am responsible for her. It is peaceful at home, she has what she wants but I’m worried. She left home to move in with a boy and his mother, two days later, the mother overdosed on heroine and passed on. She moved in with the boys aunt and uncle and by the end of the week, they were evicted from their house and she moved in with the biological family that abused her, for a week and a half. From there, she contemplated moving in with my oldest biological daughter’s family but quickly changed her mind. She has been staying in a home with a convicted pedophile for the past three weeks with 6 other children that are all home schooled and she stopped attending school. One week after she moved in, a domestic violence occurred and the teen-aged friend was arrested and has been out of that house for two weeks and my daughter is still there. When I reported my daughter living in the home to the adoption worker she suggested calling Central Registry. I was informed that they would file an investigation against me for letting my daughter stay in that home. I don’t understand, I want my daughter home desperately and at the same time fear how the Reactive Attachment will present if she does return home. For now, I will enjoy the quiet, rest, try to repair my reputation, and breath deeply. I know the next year before she graduates will be taxing and if she doesn’t return home, I will be equally scared.

    3. J

      Boy do I understand this! I have tears rolling down my face right now! I just keep reminding myself that we are here on earth to love…. To love the broken, to help the orphans, and do whatever it is that God calls us to do. Sometimes… it is amazing… Sometimes it is flat out hellish.. sometimes we feel like we won’t survive it….. But…. God is the God who is walking this path with us!


    4. Lainey

      I have a 12 year old adopted daughter. She came to us at 10. Trauma, neglect and abandoned by her original adopted family (this is her third home). I thought the worse part of this was going to be teaching her good hygiene, getting past the lost of her siblings and teaching her proper “people” skills. Oh my, I was so wrong and the honey moon stage stuck around for over 8 months! We now have a very poor student on our hands, a child that glares a hole right through me when I correct her and a child that draws the most disturbing pictures I have ever seen. Later I have found out through numerous doctor appointments that she has rad and ADHD. Not to mention that she will pee her pants and not ever wipe so the hygiene is such an issue now. Sometimes I feel she does it on purpose to get a reaction from me. My friends do not sympathize or the other kids in my home. My husband thinks she is incapable of loving us and I am beginning to agree. I feel like we are going backwards not forward. Thankyou for this wonderful passage though. It helped me a lot. I now feel like I’m not alone, maybe I just took on too much and am simply overwhelmed. She doesn’t need all
      This therapy, I do.


      1. Milissa

        Oh how I feel for you! My AD is exhibiting what you said above, but she is only 4 yrs old.
        Please, us parents need each other so much.
        This is such a hard cross to bear alone.
        If anyone wants to converse through email, don’t hesitate. I would LOVE to have someone to talk with.
        God Bless all of you.
        God is my refuge <3


      2. Mandy

        I can so relate! Amen to your comment “She doesn’t need all this therapy, I do”. Exactly how I am feeling today!


    5. reginamommy

      So grateful to have found this group. Although our RAD daughter moved out on her 18th birthday (3 years ago), I still get anxious and stressed out whenever I hear her name or her voice. She continued to harass me after she moved out, so we have little contact, but when we do it is rough. Our family is recovering from the 15 years spent trying to parent her, with her 7 siblings getting very little of what they needed because it all went to her. One thing I realize as I look back on those nightmarish years is that, while I loved her, I did everything I did for her out of obligation. My other children (oldest 2 bio, five others adopted) were parented with a very true and deep love, but not a sense of obligation. Most of her multiple therapists rolled their eyes when I told them she was RAD, and her issues stemmed from that, I think only one of her therapists really understood the devastation that diagnosis can create in a family. So many of you have expressed my feelings perfectly, just survive it and hopefully get through it. No one truly understands unless they have lived it. My children lived with it, and I’m sure they were resentful that so much of my emotional resources went to just one child. Most don’t care to understand. You’re basically on your own. My marriage was destroyed also. One of my friends with 3 adopted children, 2 were RAD, ended up with cancer, as well as a failed marriage. I truly believe that the constant assault of the stress of raising her children was too much for her, so her body was unable to fight the cancer that attacked her. I am just grateful to have survived, although the person I am now is broken and fragile, compared to who I was before the experience of living with RAD for 16 years.


  2. Sam Odegaard

    Hi Heidi-

    I have been a ‘fan’ of yours for quite sometime! I’ve followed you via facebook and this blog. I also ran into you in the airport when you were returning with your second set of three from Ethiopia (I was traveling with my sister and brother-in-law as they picked up their daughter in Ethiopia). Anyways, my husband and I started foster care this past year. We currently have a 9-year old daughter who we have had for just six months, but fits this description to a T! She is so manipulative and can put on the best show I have ever seen in public but at home snaps at the smallest of things and sets off the whole family as she has a meltdown. No one can see this except my husband, our other kiddos (9-month old baby boy and 3-year old boy), and me. Even grandparents give in to her sweet, charming behavior. It is so nice to know that we are not alone and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reminding me of that today. Forgiving these people who betray is sooo hard! I wish you the best of luck and again thank you for the reminder that I have a family out there of fellow warriors dealing with kids from trauma.



    1. Rose

      I have been a foster parent to a 10 year old boy for a year and a half. Hes had multiple placements and Im convinced he has RAD. He is overly compliant and sweet but behind our back he is very deceptive and manipulative. He craves attention all day from everyone, he is very touchy and huggy with any adult. THE HARDEST PART OF FOSTERING HIM IS FEELING ALONE AND EVEN JUDGED: Everywhere he goes, people say he is so adorable and sweet. His teachers fall in love with him. I have conferences with the teachers to explain our struggles with defiant and extremely manipulative behavior and they pay attention for a few days and then a week or two later they literally report that he is being an angel. Then he gets student of the week for one good thing hes done. Those good deeds tends to be showy. He is over the top with his friendliness. The same day he gets student of the week he hit a young girl. Its like he balances it all out. I find toys he has stolen from school in his backpack, he hits other kids at school, he bribes kids to bring him money and has been inappropriate and they still think he is the sweetest child in the world. People feel sorry for him and always tell us well “its what he has been through.” We are well aware of the theories of development but it doesn’t change the situation. Well now my sweet two birth children are getting the bad end of the deal…no one seems to care how they are being affected. They cringe with all the glowing reports of him after they have spent a week of him lying, stealing, bullying young kids etc. People DO NOT REALIZE how there constant glowing comments about him really hurt our family. It discounts everything we are going through. We don’t see them fostering any children. They are the heroes who are going to change him forever. We choose to LOVE him everyday but we do not like him. He tries to hug us and cling on us all day and it feels gross. I know that sounds terrible but it is true and it really is difficult to deal with. I pray for God to give me some affection towards him if Im supposed to.


      1. Melanie

        This is what I hate so much for my bio children in the home as well. We are at a complete loss on how to parent them and allow them to feel safe, happy and at peace in their own home as well while anything and everything precious to them is destroyed, all outings and vacations ruined by one child. Then having to hear countless times how sweet and cute he is. We are hoping therapy helps because I’m not sure how much more or family can take. I’m sorry your family is dealing with this as well as so many others.


      2. Bonnie Casner

        I know EXACTLY how you feel. There are times when my 9 year old adopted son clings on to me, that I am screaming inside my head “No! Not again!”. He needs me so badly and I know the expression “die to self” when I Have to hug him. In those moments I realize that because Christ died for me, (and because my boy is my son) I cannot, NOT, give him what he needs. It does feel creepy. Most days are easy with the mutual affection. Just occasionally, I have to force myself to be the mother he needs me to be in the extra affection he truly needs. I strongly feel that to NOT hug him in that moment, would undermine my efforts and what God has burdened me to do for Him. Think of it as Stewardship. You will do the right thing even though the flesh cries out. It is a truly bizarre and at times unnatural feeling that is truly REAL! I feel your pain and know how hard this is. Keep fighting the good fight and running the race! I hope this has helped a little.



      3. Michelle Goad

        Oh, I feel your pain! Yes, the heroes give themselves too much credit. They think it is so easy. You are the heroes! Mine are grown now. Believe me I literally counted the days. I felt bad because I just wanted everything to be good. Even after they grow up, the distance is still there. I don’t think it’s ever going away. I am still insulted, punished, and put down by my daughter. She only wants to see her sister (my biological child born after they were adopted). She has her own child now, is not married, nor gainfully employed to be raising a child. She is mooching of some poor soul. It makes me so sad. I wanted both of the kids to be people of consequence – go to school, have profitable careers, be fine upstanding citizens…but it didn’t work out that way. I still hope for the best for them, however.


        1. Karen Overton

          As I’m reading your post, I’m saying to myself, this is my story. Your words are mine and its validating to know that someone else has experienced my pain but it’s also heartbreaking. My husband and I adopted siblings;half brother and sister aged 3 and 4. They are now 20 and 21. Both of these children have broken our hearts. So much devotion, love, advocating, time and yes, money have been given to them. We raised them in a Christian home and with a church family and led by example. Now we feel all has been lost. Daughter left home with no warning to live with a boy we knew nothing about. She was gone over 2 years. She threw away her opportunity for a college education. Along with her reputation. Son flunked out of the college of HIS CHOICE his freshman year. He didn’t go to classes and failed every class. He DID begin smoking “weed” and drinking alcohol. Lying through it all that he didn’t do these things. He has always lied and seemed to get pleasure from it. He will not work and has no vehicle of his own. But he has had three and wouldn’t keep one serviced and traded another one for what was a piece of junk and the engine went bad. He throws away every cent he gets his hands on and I haven’t mentioned that he has stolen from us. Constantly lying and never taking responsibility. Everything is always someone else’s fault; never his. He had been stealing money from us for a while before we knew it was him. The last time was approximately $700.00. He is not interested in personal hygiene and hangs around the wrong crowd. He will not do anything we ask. Let me correct that. He sometimes will go along until he thinks he’s out of our “radar” and then it’s right back to old ways. Both of these kids are out of touch with reality and will not consider going back on their meds. I will not delve into their psychological history but I will end my story here by saying I know my husband and I have fought the good fight and we’ve championed for these two all these years. Daughter told us tonight after moving back home last July, that she is leaving to go back with the same boy. Son is a constant problem. It’s only a matter of time before he is arrested or dead. We have given them the best of everything we have and also, the best years of our lives. We stay in prayer believing GOD is in control and knowing we must turn these children and these problems over to HIM. Please pray for us and these children, including our biological son who was born 13 years ago, after several years of trying to conceive. I found out I was pregnant three weeks before the adoption was finalized. I am now on an antidepressant because I have been devastated by their actions and I’m trying to hold on.


          1. Alisa

            I am in the beginning of my journey and already tired after three years of my adopted child at home…. Reading your story, make me so sad as I know what is waiting me in the future! She is only SEVEN but I am already suffering from her manipulative behaviour, even through I understand she is only child: ( Sometimes, I wish I could turn clock back and never have an experience of being an adoptive parent. I do understand how you upset after giving so much love and care to your children and how disappointing to feel the way you feel…Bless you, stay strong!

          2. Martha Sue Pritchard

            I am older now but still involved in both of my adopted children’s lives. Only one had very early trauma that could have killed her.
            I still take an antidepressant without shame now…finally . I see a therapist who works with traumatized children and she actually believes everything we talk about . It is so strange . She gets me once removed. I get you like in the same skin. Never felt this connection except to my ex husband about the pain for my child and for my other child and for me. I thank God for all of you !

          3. Janie

            My heart and my love go out to you! I am now dealing with the same issues with my 37 year old daughter..I worked for over 2 years to get her into MHMR services…it has been a struggle even with her in their care to keep her satisfied. Tonight she ran off with a 44 y/o man who was recently released from prison. I have just had it. My heart is broken, I feel cheated. I don’t want to love her, but I do….I am trying to understand why? She was 3 when we adopted her and everyone but me has already given up on her.

      4. Holly

        I am going through the same thing with my adopted daughter. We adopted her when she was 5, she is 11 now and is such a nasty, lying and manipulative child, i love her and want the best for her, but dont like her and cant stand to be around her, I hate what my life has turned into, I am miserable and angry all the time now, and that is the opposite of who I have always been. I am so overwhelmed!


        1. Gena

          I feel your pain and I’m sorry for it…Every word you said is identical to what I would say, except age. I was a vibrant, happy, fun loving & calm career woman. I am none. I loathe her waking up and seeing me and coming home yet I love her more than words can describe. She is so verbally abusive to me, rude, obnoxious, non empathetic & I’ve become a prisoner in my own home & body 🙁


          1. Tired

            I am lying here in bed wondering how my life ended up this way. Between my husband and myself, we have 3 bio children. We adopted a sibling set, twin boys and a sibling. We got them all as babies, but there was abuse and neglect with all 3 as infants. All 3 have mental health issues, behavioral problems and/or learning disabilities. I am feeling extremely overwhelmed and alone. We have already had one adult child cut contact with us due in large part to not feeling safe around our kids. My husband is losing patience with the mental health system as the behavior problems are just getting worse as they get older. At first, it was just one exhibiting problems and we were coping well at the time. Then a 2nd was diagnosed with depression and now the 3rd is having behavioral issues and has started urinating on the floor of his room. I am confident one will end up wirh a bipolar diagnosis, but they are still too young. The signs are all there. Oh, and cute as a button and every one just adores them. They can even fool the therapist. I don’t know how much more we can handle. We have already paid a steep price. With another 10 years to go, I’m beginning to become very concerned about the future for all of us.

          2. Kathy Varner

            Help your adopted kids, your bio kids, your marriage and yourself. Contact Three Point Center which is a facility that only works with adopted children and understand attachment disorder, treat the children very well and with love and dignity and family needs. It will save everyone, I promise. We have been there. Funding is the hard part for facility placement but with an IEP you can force schools to help pay for this or foster care systems / adoption agencies in certain states. WA state has a safety net program that provides schools with this funding. It is meant to be used to help these children. In the big picture we need to solve the root of the problem of child neglect but in the mean time we need funding from Congress that will be an investment to help these children and will save money since they will then become productive members of society rather than in prisons, criminals or homeless or government supported individuals. It will also allow you to remain a productive part of society.

          3. Jhon

            All yal’s commits are nasty. How dare you guys just believe story that is on the Ethernet and don’t even know if it is true. How dare you guys talk about adopted kids that way. Shame on you guys all. maybe next time don’t adopt.

        2. A.Marie

          Holly, I totally get what you are going through. Believe me…..I do! We adopted our foster daughter when she was 4 years old. When she turned 11, all you-know-what broke loose. My life was a living nightmare for years. Fast Forward to today. Dear Daughter is now 25 and seriously my best friend. She knows me better than I know myself and I am her best friend. She still has her “melt-down moments” when I could cheerfully drive off into the sunset and never return…..but, overall, I do feel that we are over the worst. At least, I hope so.


          1. Debi

            I read a lot to help me get through tough days, but nothing has been as important to me then reading that you and your daughter are friends. I hope my son will be in my life when he is older. Right now, I can’t see it. Mostly, I can’t see wanting to have him in my life. He’s now 11, and I’ve been schooling him at home since kindergarten. We adopted him at the age of 2, and had NO idea what was going on with him, other than everyone telling us we were horrible parents. School was not an option, so I began schooling at home. I hate doing it, but I have to – for him. I am a strong person, in part, thanks to post like this, and I will keep doing what I need to do, but damnit, sometimes it’s so incredibly hard.

          2. Martha Sue Pritchard

            I am so happy to hear this . My traumatized child began being hateful to me as a young teen. Sometimes it was overt sometimes subdued til she started cutting. Hard for me to even realize how much help I needed. This forum is a true God send. She is 30 now and still can destroy
            me in a few words but sincerely apologizes these days. I adore both of my children and, now , their children too. You are my heroes .

        3. Shelley Hansen

          I completely understand. You are not alone. It’s hard to explain to those who’ve never been through this. We adopted a 10 and 14 year old from Ghana 8 1/2 years ago. I loved the 14 year old immediately, but the 10 year old was a challenge. I never bonded to her, or her with me. I never felt love for her. I still don’t. My friend, a nurse who worked in a facility for emotionally disturbed youth, couldn’t stand to be around her. That said something. The 14 year old was better behaved, but still had some emotional issues from leaving her sister, her country…and her mother was still alive (and had given her up). I have 6 other kids…a son I had before I married my nice husband 🙂 30 years ago….and he had a daughter from a previous relationship. We had 4 together, and at the end adopted the two from Ghana ( that’s a novel in and of itself). They were treated fairly, as equal children, were given opportunities. The 10 yr old just got worse. Even our sweet dentist told us she couldnt go to his office anymore. She has no sense of intergrity, no sense of morality, no compassion. She’s a sociopath. She’s a narcissist. She’s 18 now. I don’t love her. Recently she started secretly dating a 27 year old ( she’s still a senior in hs). One of her former friends ( she now only has 1 friend) told me last week that her boyfriend is a convicted child rapist who has been in prison twice. She brought him into our house, twice, without me knowing ( when I was at work, and my 15 year old daughterand her friends werehome). She said she loves him, and that the 13 year old girl he raped attacked HIM…and he’s a good guy. It turns out she has been using friends to go see him. Once they found out his criminal record they warned her, then dropped her like a hot potato. The 14 year old we adopted? She’s not the 10 yr olds bio sister, but they have a bond. I learned about 6 mpnths ago that they have secretly despised us this whole time…thinking we aren’t fair,and that we treat our “white children” better than them….which is not true. I have felt triple betrayal during all ofthis ( and this isn’t even all of it). I am angry. I want them to be out of my life. The 22 year old is married, living on her own. Have a nice life. The now 18 year old? I would kick her out tomorrow if I could. We told her that day after she graduates from High Schoolshe’s on her own. She said she’s going to go live with the convicted child rapist. She makes me sick. I’ll stop now……I’m feeling like she is going to give me a nervous breakdown, because she has been lyung to EVERYONE telling people we are mean ( we aren’t) that we are kicking her out ( but not why…), etc….I’m sick of it. I dont love either of them anymore. It sounds terrible to people who haven’t lived it.


        4. Lou

          Same here right now with my 10 yr old. So tired of the crying screaming tantrum to get his way. The bad thing is my husband gives in to shut him up, then we fight!


        5. RebaH

          Holly, I’m in a similar situation with my daughter, adopted at age 5 and just turned 13. Everyone else outside of our family thinks she’s the sweetest thing. Her issues have made the lives of my other kids a nightmare and my less than perfect marriage even worse. We’ve tried so much and don’t know what else to do except get an attorney and make the state take her back. I’m so burned out and find it almost impossible to feel any happiness.


          1. Bristol

            So, so needed to read all these today! I really was feeling like a complete failure!!!! Feeling so alone in the world. It’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one, but I’m devastated that so many people have the same sad story. We adopted three siblings, 7 years ago. The oldest is my worst struggle. I have tried so hard to be a good mom, to be loving and nurturing, but the more I try to love her the harder she pushes me away. She is so mean and hateful to me, and she acknowledges it in counseling, which she now refuses to go back to. She is 17 any I feel like an awful person but all I can do to get through this last year with her is to ignore her existence. It sounds awful but she is so hateful and mean to me when I am nice to her, the nicer I am, the meaner she gets (she doesn’t treat my husband this way, just me). If I act depressed that is when she is the happiest. She has made me -a seriously happy, caring, loving person- bitter and depressed. I so wanted to be a person who made society better by intervening in some children’s lives. I thought that we could fix their past just by loving them. Boy was I wrong! She is a bully to me, lies constantly (which my husband and everyone else can see, thank goodness!) Steals, is super lazy and unmotivated and generally does the exact opposite of anything I ask. I’ve given up, I can’t take the constant rejection. I did this thing for awhile where I “wiped the slate clean” everyday. I can’t do it anymore…. I can’t keep being nice to someone who is so mean and unloving back to me. I was going to therapy myself for this and I know that she is projecting on me her feelings for her birth mom, but it’s so exhausting! I literally just have to tell myself, only 10 more months but it feels like an eternity. I feel like a prisoner in my home, she sucks my happiness and joy from me. My hubby says, just don’t let it bother you. I can do it short term but so hard to do day in and day out. Thanks for listening and for sharing your stories. It helps to know that I am not alone!

          2. Ellen Adkins

            Hi Reba! I feel that ‘your story’ is MY story! We are at our wits end with our now 12 year old adopted RAD son. We also have 5 other children (3 of them are still in the home.) We had him Baker Acted Monday night late and the psychiatrist was calling me Tuesday morning saying that we needed to come get him because he is not a threat “at the moment”. We were lied to during the adoption and were not able to see 60+ thousand documents that were “stripped” from his file that would have explained everything I needed to see to make me NOT adopt him. Our lawyers uncovered those 4 years after the adoption. I sincerely hope and pray your situation has gotten better. I wanted to ask if you ever got an attorney and pursued anything with the state and what was the outcome? We have contacted our attorney and are getting in front of the judge today to hopefully and prayerfully grant us a “stay” and then go from there. Our other option….to put him on the front door steps and call the sheriff to come get him and be arrested for child abandonment…per the Department of Family and Children Services. Every time my phone rings, I start feeling the dread and anxiety overwhelm me…knowing it will be someone telling me to come get him and bring him back home. No one we talk to seems to understand our side! So glad I found this blog! Blessings!

        6. Sarah Doerfler

          Holly, I know you posted this two years ago, but this is what my life looks like too. We have three biological kids, and our youngest (adopted) daughter came home when she was 5. She’s now 11, and the words you wrote are straight from my heart! I hope that in the two years since you wrote these words, you have seen hope.

          Heidi – thank you for this post. I’ve read so many posts and articles about how hard it is, but how magically everything changed one day. I’m literally soaking up puddles of tears from my laptop after reading this post. Yes to it all. Thank you.


        7. Kandi

          Oh my gosh this is me. I just sit and think sometimes “ who in the world have I become?!” I really don’t like myself or my life anymore.. I am bitter and angry and tired… and how can I be this person that can’t stand to be around.a child…


      5. Annette

        Dear Rose,
        I am so sorry for all of your struggles. I have 6 kids, age 5-14 that I adopted. It has been quite a while since the adoption and now their ages range from 14-24. I wanted to caution you to be very diligent in protecting the other kids in your home against being sexually molested by your adopted child. I don’t say this to scare you but some of the things you mentioned – being overly touchy, freely, doing things that are “inappropriate” at school, obtaining money from kids at school – remind me of some of the behaviors I’ve seen. All of my kids came to me with “no prior history of sexual abuse” but this simply wasn’t true. The three oldest molested younger children in the home. The youngest was later accused (when he was 13) by a family friend of molesting their 8 year old at a back to school swimming party. I really am a very vigilant, watchful parent. You would be amazed how quickly these things can happen. I’ve found the behaviors you do see such as inappropriate sexual / touching / exhibition are usually only the tip of the iceberg. Just be careful. You never can watch too close. Wish you the very best.


    2. Sally

      This applies to biological children with mental disorders. Thank you for posting. I don’t feel quite as alone.


  3. Anonymous

    Hi there! And thank you for posting this. I feel for and pray for you. We have a child who was kicked out of the children’s programs at our church indefinitely when they were 3 – home for 4 months (you know, until they started acting like the other kids. Hahahahaaaa!! Almost 5 years later and still waiting for that to happen!).
    The irony was not lost on me – that the church creates a nursery and children’s program to be a blessing to parents, and then kicks out the child who is too much work, resulting in the EXHAUSTED parent losing the privilege to sit through a service without a very active toddler at their hip; yelling loudly for the church to hear when the parent must walk out with them, further stressing and humiliating the parent. A parent who is 24/7 in the trenches. Can’t even get inside the church and get a breather. I am not bitter…but it stung very badly. And I wondered who else had adopted and eventually been hurt deeply by the church.
    And speaking of irony, “Hi! How are you doing!” said as someone walks quickly by can sometimes be translated, “Hi! I am off to serve the Lord this morning! Gotta run! Can’t really stop to find out how things really were for you this week! The body of Christ needs me!” I know, I know…not everyone is like that. 🙂 But I love irony.
    We’ve lost friends right and left because of the difficult behaviors of our child. I mean, we’re still friends with everyone, but all but a few are superficial.
    I could say so much more. But it would take all night.
    Thank you for encouraging others in comparable journeys. It’s a horrible, lonely road…but we aren’t alone, really. Just spread out a bit. 🙂


    1. L

      I can relate to this very much. You are spot on with the “Hi how are you?” as they walk quickly by. You are NOT alone.


    2. Believe in you

      In our Church we have a team of 6 to 8 now volunteer trained adults who are on a sign up list. If you are bringing any kind of child to the church nursery that you feel needs a one on one for that service( special needs, belligerent, visiting etc) signing up the week before gets your child a one on one so you can drop them at the nursery , enjoy the service and not get the petty backlash of the rest of the nursery users. That is how we solved your very real problem. You can also sign up every single week if need be. Your call as the parent.


      1. James Bruce McNaughton

        Excellent idea! My wife and I experienced the “don’t bring them back” scenario at our church many years ago. The child workers were just not aware of the need, prepared for the need or understood the need. Our church has a growing adoption ministry that will create a dramatically growing need for the solution you have found. Thank you for the idea.


    3. Michelle

      They say to me, “Hi, how are you?” and then without waiting for an answer they bend down and hug my little one and ask her how she is doing and offer her some type of candy. They feel bad for her when I am so strict but yet come and get me when she doesn’t listen to them or is acting out.


      1. SLA

        Yes. And to me, “You must be so glad to have such a sweet little girl after that BOY of yours.” The boy has ADHD, but is loving and responsive. The sweet little girl screamed, kicked, bit, spit, hit, and scratched on the way to church — but shut it all off the second the car door opened.


    4. Judy

      So thankful that my church chose to help us rather than hinder us. In 4 year old class my son given a mentor. By 5 he moved to the special needs and was one of only 3 kids. Men & women of the church (some with special training) came by his side every week & worked with us one on one. Now in 3rd grade he has merged into a regular classroom with no mentor. Praise the Lord and Thank you church for working with him. Yes we are still struggling but thanks to those at church he’s a “regular” kid at Sunday school. The Wednesday night 345 club has helped the most – the boys & girls or 3,4,5th grade play for 45 minutes and have a bible study for 45 minutes. Doing the exercise first is very helpful. Still having to home school but at least church is somewhat “normal” and I am not feeling like quitting.


    5. Kim

      My heart goes out to all of you adoptive parents. I am one of the tribe as well. I adopted my son from Kazakhstan when he was 1 (he’s now 8), as a solo parent, and an older parent as well. To say it’s been challenging raising my RAD kid is an understatement. During the last year, I finally have been reading Nancy Thomas’ work. Her website is http://www.attachement.org. I highly recommend her book, When Love is Not Enough, and any or all of her materials on her website. It’s simple and powerful stuff. It has helped us so much and given me so much hope for our future.
      Good luck everyone and stay strong. <3


      1. Reva F

        I have been to her seminars, read her book, met her daughter Beth and frequently watched the video series, to stay grounded. I have raised two RAD diagnosed children. One is now 20 and the other 17. The 17 claims I’m mean and abusive. She ran away 6 weeks ago and has been staying in very bad places but no one can help bring her home. She does call everyday fortunately. My 20 year old boy has been staying at home for 4 months again to avoid homelessness. I just found out he was also claiming that I was neglecting him and not feeding him. Even as an adult, he plays the pity card and tries to convince others of how bad I am. When does it stop? At least, he moved out again today after I spoke to several of the people this week that he confided in about my neglect of my 20 year old employed son that was staying with me. Grrr.


    6. Louisa

      Thank you for your words. I can relate too well. After over 20 years in the same church, members sided with my teen to provide a safe way for my child to derail herlife and hook up with a nightmare guy. They blamed me and believed whatever she told them. When I asked what she was saying, they hid behind “confidentiality” . I left the church, they barely noticed. They have no idea.


    7. Mary

      Same thing happened here and I had been on staff at our church part time for 10 years. I was heartbroken. I still can’t figure out how This is ok. We answered the call. We said yes. And this is how our church supports us?


  4. megan

    hi there! I couldn’t stop nodding my head through this entire post. ITS SO TRUE!! I am so tired of hearing ” she’s such a sweet girl. I just love her.” You don’t love her, you feel sorry for her and think she’s cute, there’s a huge difference. I “love” my daughter and yet can’t stand being around her…when you can be that honest then come talk to me…until then shut up and stop acting like she’s the cutest thing ever. Sorry, end rant…I am just done with the crap and the constant uninformed junk people spew from their mouthes.


    1. Christine

      I often wish my second adopted daughter had some disfigurement to show the damage of trauma so that people would stop with the “You are so pretty!” and the “She takes my breath away!” and the “She must be a joy to your home with that beautiful smile!” She hears all of that when she knows perfectly well what a brat she’s being at that very moment – it only they could see that they are affirming BAD behaviors and the motives behind them. They’re well-meaning abusers of my child. I really wish they could see the harm they do with these “kind” words, to say nothing of what it does to the psyche’s of my other kids who look on.


      1. Janeen

        I often thot it would be so much easier to deal with others remarks if my daughter had been in a wheel chair! Emotional disturbance led to her being a bully. Now she’s incarcerated for 3 yrs. My heart aches.


      2. Christina

        Honest question– how should fellow church members or aquaintance-level friends talk to a child? Clearly it is hurtful to say over the top surface nice things, but what else could be said that would be helpful and not rude? I mean, saying “I sure hope you are being kind to your family and not a brat” isn’t really an option either! So what would be some good “safe” conversation starters?


        1. Ami


          Just being friendly with the child while still letting the child know that you are on the same team as mom/dad. An attachment disordered child will likely not be buddy-buddy manipulative and charming with an adult who has clear communication with the child’s parents (and as long as the adults don’t start believing lies). Even the littlest things should go through mom/dad first (gifts, hugs, candy, etc.). “Let’s make sure that’s okay with Mom.” I think all small talk is fine, just be aware, be informed, and be on the same team as the parents.


          1. Kathie

            This is EXACTLY how it should be. We adopted Three kids (ages 11, 14, and 15 at the time) 3 years ago and they are experts at saying lies and acting so sweet to people at our church, family, neighbors, friends, etc. but making our life a living hell. If ANYONE ever used those words “is it okay with your parents?” or “why don’t you ask your parents first” I think I would faint! Even when the kids are grounded and not allowed to have visiting time at church, they are to sit and wait for us to leave, other people will approach them and start engaging them in conversation without asking. We look like tyrants because we come and stop the conversation and remind them that they are in conversational lockdown because of the way they were speaking to us or acting before we arrived at church. It’s not something we love to do, but we understand when they are in that rebellious, angry, out to get you mode, they are bound to be even MORE manipulative and dishonest. We cannot get our church to understand that these kids are not what they seem to be. The weekly frustration and judgement we receive regarding these “poor orphans” who have us nazi tyrrants as parents makes me want to skip church altogether.

        2. JudyG

          Our church has been so helpful to me in similar situation. Thankfully our elementary pastor is also a foster parent and was raised in a home that had foster kiddos. They have helped me enormously. Even making the topic of the club 345 be things like “treating others with respect”, “being a friend to make a friend”, “what it means when the Bible says Honor your Parents”, and similar. Setting it up that way makes it good for the whole class to learn as well as helping my son. Since I am single I am so happy they can help me on this journey. So in answer to your question I think mine would be able to relate to “how are you doing today”, “was I able to help you learn the lesson today”, and things like “how is your week, school, sport…. et al”. But mine is a talker and a sensory seeker so might not work on attachment kiddos. I have seen my best result when fostering by just being open to listening.


      3. lydia

        Amen. what does being pretty have to do with it anyway? I can’t believe the number of people who say that to me, as if beauty trumps trauma????


      4. lydia

        amen. i am so tired of people saying how beautiful my daughter is. It’s usually after I have had to tell them something about my child to explain why she isn’t free to do what the adult is asking about (none of their business) and they say, “oh but she is so pretty”. HuH? what does that have to do with anything? As if beauty trumps the trauma.


      5. Michelle Goad

        You hit the nail on the head! Those well meaning “abusers” made a monster out of my daughter. They had no clue, but thought I was the bad one. If I’d have known this was what I was going to go through, I’d have run the other way. God did use the years of hell to grow my faith though.


    2. Jenn

      YES, THIS! All of it. Finally someone who understands. Tears of bewilderment, you get it, you all really understand.


    3. Jerry

      I am a dad of a older traumatized adopted daughter. I have to say it’s freeing to know there are other people out there going through the same thing my wife and I are. After 11 years, we are still learning. This past weekend, our birth daughter, grandson and her fiance’ were visiting from California. We gave our adopted daughter a heads up two weeks ago, she was showing no signs of a meltdown, so we decided to just go with it, hoping she was finally healed. (she is now 24 and more then capable of controlling herself) But Saturday night came, and so did the meltdown, the worst in years. Many times it is directed towards my wife, but this time it started with me, then to my wife and daughter. It went on and on for the rest of the weekend. What we learned is that no matter how good things look from the outside, the RAD, PTSD and anxiety are always just below the surface. We have given up trying to integrate her into the family, it’s just not worth he pain she puts us through. Next time family visits, we have to book her a hotel room and keep her separated from the family.


  5. Desiree

    yes!! Living this and have lost family, friends ect. However I see improvement in my child!! Can I get and amen?!?! And will continue the course… Thanks for
    Saying what everyone else is afraid to say!


  6. just surviving, over attaching

    I feel alone often because I don’t know anyone else who has a child who they can honestly say they don’t love. Some say, “I don’t like them, but I love them”. I hate that I am jealous of whatever that means. I love Jesus. I daily ask for him to miraculously give me love for my daughter. My relationship with him brought me to her. I’m supposed to love everyone. I love kids. I try to love and forgive my crazy neighbors. I love (would die for!) the 3 kids he gave me by birth. I love other people’s kids. I was scared to death of God’s plan for us to adopt for so many reasons (telling my husband, $$$, parental and friend reactions, traveling to a VERY far away country, 1 more child to parent, no friends who had adopted, etc.), but none of which were lack of love. I thought that would be the easiest part. My heart is broken for orphans. I mentally, emotionally and physically ached in pain over the wait for this child. I cried an innumerable amount of tears and prayed the same for her. I WANT to love her. I can completely mentally understand why she is exactly the way she is, but I am numb. How do you teach attachment to a child you have no desire to attach to? My husband gets me and all of this and for that, I am so thankful. I have 1 friend who admittedly doesn’t get it because she hasn’t lived it, but continually loves me through it, listens and tries her best to relate and not judge. I don’t even get it. People tell me I’m awesome/good. I’m SO NOT! I resent those comments. I can’t even love this CHILD! Feels like failure. I want rainbows and unicorns and pretty bows on all of it! This sucks, dammit! I post happy shit on Facebook because I like to be light for other’s sake. I am also thankful for a recently awesome doggy adoption. I love him and he loves me! I believe God gave him to me maybe to help me to know I, at least, have one successfully attached adoption. Heidi, thank you for your solidarity and bold honesty! Prayers never cease!


    1. Sabess

      I can’t completely relate to Heidi’s post because our son has always been superficially compliant. We’ve never had the rages or the physical aggression. I am very thankful for that, but the battle is still there in a more passive way and the majority of it is aimed directly at me. I won’t go into details, but trust me, I can relate to a lot of it. But anyway, the reason I am commenting here is because as I was reading the last comment by “just surviving over attaching”, I wanted to grab you and hug you!!! I want to talk with you in person over a cup of coffee, to weep with you, and to share the weight of your burden!!! I’ve lived what you wrote for several years – the numbness, the guilt, the fear. I remember clearly people would tell me how adorable my child was, and he really really is…and I would just feel completely numb. I had no typical motherly delight in their admiration of my child. I wasn’t attached and struggled with the desire to attach…which brought on the guilt. And I would laugh to myself when people would ask “how’s it going ” as I thought about what the look on their face would be if I told them how it actually was going. “Um, yeah, see that adorable little kid there? Yeah, he absolutely hates me. And I think I might feel the same way.” I mean who couldn’t love that adorable kid, right?!? I was in shock because I knew bonding would be gradual for him, but I really thought it would happen much more quickly for me. And then came the heart-wrenching fear…maybe I CAN’T do this? Maybe I really CAN’T love a child that didn’t come from my body?” And then swallowed up by guilt again. The guilt that I couldn’t love him in spite of his hate for me. I mean, isn’t that exactly what Christ did for me? Oh boy, and then it hit me…for the first time in my life as a “good little Christian girl” from a “good Christian home”, I began to truly see the depth of my weakness…I can’t even love a traumatized little child apart from Christ! My “natural” mommy love isn’t natural at all – it’s a gift of God! And I started to truly see the depths of my depravity and what my sin did and does to God…and He loves me anyway. He loves me unconditionally. And He did so infinitely much more to redeem me than I did or could ever do for my son…and I rejected Him. I continue to push Him away.

      But I want to tell you, like heidi said, we know there are no guarantees, frankly, with any of our children, but I want you to know, things have gotten better for my son and I. Still hard, but God has given me glimpses…opportunities to see that my love for him has grown. To experience that mom, natural reaction that you just can’t fake. And I still struggle a lot of days to love someone who shows little to no attachment back. I know love is a choice and, by God’s grace, I can continue to make that choice whether I feel it or not. But there are many days that I fail. And many days where it just feels like I can’t give one more ounce of love while receiving so much hatred in return. Keep going, keep praying and laying all of your burdens at the feet of our Heavenly Father who knows all too well exactly what it is to love those who only hate in return. And know, you are not alone!!!


      1. Holly

        I’m you! My daughter attached to my husband right away and I just let that be. Then he suddenly died a few months after she came home and I didn’t have anything to give her attachment wise, while grieving and raising three little kids by myself. She took about 80% of my energy, which never translated into her getting enough. However, it is getting much better and I am becoming very thankful for her and my love for her is growing (in waves). I believe she makes our family complete, even without my husband and I believe our adoption story is a success story, even though it is far, far, from a fairy tale story. There is so much more growth, compassion developed and dependence on God in the hard stories. Right????????


      2. just surviving, over attaching

        Your words mean so much! I cannot even express to you how much! Thank you!


      3. Emma

        yep my 17 year old, we have not had many problems but he also seems to just be there and follows our request as a robot. When we have tried therapy he is very good at holding all his feelings in that the therapist can’t even get through him. Reading your post nailed it!
        “son has always been superficially compliant. We’ve never had the rages or the physical aggression. I am very thankful for that, but the battle is still there in a more passive way and the majority of it is aimed directly at me”
        I’m trying to get through him before he leaves off to college or out to the world but its hard!


        1. debbra hunt

          My sweet friend is going through that right now… Her son was always compliant (strange, had to be taught to not stare that kind of stuff but nothing really large) until now… he has moved out and he is scary…come to find out it was all a lie…He has always hated his mom. He complains how she made him pick up his shoes etc. It is sad watching her heart break. Knowing she has launched 3 kids before and this one the RAD is finally really showing itself. He is totally wrecking the younger kids still home (also who have been adopted). I just wanna hug her every week and say..we can do this!
          it is so different from my other friend whose little girl is full on the deceptive-angel-she is so cute-type……….. I made it my ministry to support my friend no matter what she had to do..
          My kids have learned to have compassion and be a safe place for this family… My eyes were opened… I too thought just love them enough.. YEAH well NOT… eventually.. GOD is working we just don’t have the time zone..


        1. Maria

          You are not a lousy parent. You are a deeply challenged parent that can only do this work through the deep, deep love, mercy, and grace of God. I can’t even begin to imagine your pain but putting yourself down does not help anyone including yourself to keep going.


        2. Shelley Hansen

          You are not a lousy parent. God understands the innermost part of your heart and soul.


      4. lily

        As a mom who has adopted 8 kids from foster care I have learned so much more about Christ’s love for us. When I sat outside a courtroom humiliated by my daughter’s behavior, I was reminded of Christ’s shame he faced for us. When I was in a hospital waiting room because my child was being put on a psych hold and refused to have me in the room, God took me to passages in my Bible about all of those who rejected him. Even Jesus did not get 100% acceptance. I guess I should not expect better. When they are awful to me, I ask the Lord how he puts up with my sorry attempts at love for him. I guess they treat us much the same way we treat God. It leaves me in awe of his grace towards us.
        After all the years, if I could do one thing different I would work harder to allow myself a life and identity more apart from these kids. You have to have something to give and quite frankly they might not fair any better with 100% of your attention than they would with 75%. Do not neglect yourself. Have hobbies. Spend some time with people that remind you that you are normal and valuable. This is a marathon life and we live like it is a sprint.


        1. grandma

          I devoted myself 100% to our grandson when he came to us as a 5 year old. I scaled back some of my ‘stuff’, but kept the important ones and took him with me. I added in stuff for him, Scouts, music, art, library, going to livestock shows, etc. He absolutely could not stand for it if I did something without him. As he entered the teen years, he flipped out even more if I had a life that didn’t involve him 100%.
          He started setting up situations where he thought I might get upset with him, like claiming to be gay. No, I just told him 13 was too young to be having sex, and we discussed it more. He told everyone that I beat and screamed at him! He complained to school counselors and made them call Childrens Services, but with not a mark on him, they never bothered to call us. Until he got some twit just out of college who played up the ‘mental abuse’ angle. He jumped on that! Bottom line, CPS traumatized him again, isolating him from friends and family, moving him from foster homes to a group home, and finally to a relative he never knew where his mentally ill maternal grandmother also lives. At least he is with ‘his kind’, because they can’t tell the truth either.


          1. Mom

            We are in same situation now. Can you tell us how you progressed thru legal system? Reading your post sounds like our daughter. We are at lost about what to,do. Keep trying to reunify with a lot of counseling or cut our losses by adoption dissolution. Any advice?

        2. Martha Sue Pritchard

          I completely agree with you and applaud your ability to recognize and accept the reality. Having grown up in a large family of all girls it never occurred to me that I might not be able to conceive . I was much more selfish than some of you. I simply wanted to be a Mom and raise children with my then husband. I thought maybe that’s why my traumatized child wanted to hate me. Grateful she doesn’t these days ! God is the miracle worker not me.


    2. Emma

      “How do you teach attachment to a child you have no desire to attach to?” Oh my God you just said what I’ve been feeling/doing with my now 13 year old. We’ve adopted him when he was 4. I think now it’s to late to attach since their is sooooo much resentment between us. need more prayer for God to truly help me forgive him and remove the resentment in my heart for all the pain he had caused us! 🙁


      1. Just me

        Same situation here. Adopted at 4 yrs, now a teen. I tried so hard to attach, she’s not capable. We are distant and superficial. I’m angry because she’s abusive to other family members. She no longer lives with us but the damage is done and will ripple and wave for eternity.


        1. Josey

          Am in the same situation. My adopted daughter is no longer in my home but the damage she has caused will linger for a long time.


          1. Amy

            I hope it’s not rude to ask, but where does your adopted daughter live? (Not location). We are in a really terrible place and not sure what our options are…

      2. Michelle Snow

        Emma, we did attachment therapy. It helped a lot. It isn’t too late too attach, but yes, the struggle may always be there. My 21 yr old daughter, we have had since she was 4 1/2, and we still struggle. I feel our relationship is superficial too, but I realize it is the best she can do. I just keep keepin on, knowing I am doing and have done my best. I have had to work through the resentment many times over, maybe just try to keep it at bay! I am thinking of you and pray you stay encouraged.


      3. Michelle Snow

        Quey, he is a child, but the truth is, unless you have dealt with the crap these kids throw on us every minute of every day, it really is hard and if these were not our children, we would have been able to walk away from such a toxic person. I would not have chosen to keep a relationship with such a person if she weren’t my child. So yes, feeling resentful is a very common and even yes, normal, reaction.


        1. Lee

          I’m posting again because I have had success in working with my traumatized foster kids (it has not been easy – it’s been hard – so hard and painful). I think we need support networks of experienced parents who can counsel each other during the traumatic times. My counselors have used 2 books (I know we’ve all been told to read so many – but these were the ones that worked for me). The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog (to understand the traumatized brain) and Beyond Consequences (which was my bible). I wish I had it in me to figure out how to set up a system of peer counseling based on these philosophies because I could not have gotten though these past years with the 4 kids we’ve had without it. We have another teen moving in with us this week and I feel so much better equipped than when we began this journey. We need each other to help us when our brains are drained and we can’t remember how to handle these potentially devastating situations. I am so lucky I’ve had this support and I desperately want others to have it as well. Anyone have any ideas on how to set up peer counseling?


          1. liane

            I have 2 Korean adopted children from a few months old ..now teens and I am a single adoptive mum. I have been abused, ridiculed, hated, raged at my entire life with them. My daughter constantly defied, argued controlled every situation. I changed in to this pacifying, unsure and tentative mother. My daughter lied to my sister and her family and now they believe I was the cruel uncaring one. Both children have detached from me. My son is withdrawn, mute nearly, dabbling in drugs and street life.. devoid of family, living with his dad, wandering the streets and uncontrolled. My daughter is at uni trying to study but all consuming, attaching to any one who comes near and at the same time no one. drinking heavily and only contacting me when she wants money or me to do something. I have had no contact from them, that has been determined by me. If I organise anything they will endeavour to change it or not turn up.I am a teacher and work with children.. I hide my story,pretending everything is ok, hiding myself away.. there is no ‘other’ for them… they don’t even see me as a person who loved them and needs care back. I feel trapped in this weird world . I wish I had known about RAD earlier.. I could have changed this.. I sensed something was wrong early but we were not informed about it .. It feels its too late now and I have to let go to survive.. I have no partner and no family support .. very fearful of what is ahead for me…

      4. Jade

        That quote and this one sum up my relationship or lack thereof with my daughter: “has always been superficially compliant. We’ve never had the rages or the physical aggression. I am very thankful for that, but the battle is still there in a more passive way and the majority of it is aimed directly at me”. My daughter was 4 when she entered foster care, adopted just days before her 5th birthday, and is now 11 years old.


      5. Linda

        I know exactly how you feel, resentment for what our adopted son put us through, unbearable. We adopted at 3 andwas hell ever since. We went through so many theapists with no help, actually they helped us more than him. All I can tell you is you cant fix it, I never could. And don’t feel guilty for how you feel. God understands, loves you and ur child. Our son is now 23 and still has so many problems but I don’t let his issues affect my life anymore. I could write a book on this topic but just know although it might seem you can’t forgive them now. as they age they do attach, you are all they know no matter how bad it is now. But PLEASE don’t put YOUR life and what God has for YOU on hold until then. God bless you warrior


      6. Ami

        Some of the kids (especially those with reactive attachment disorder who have a disorganized attachment style) will NEVER be able to truly have healthy, secure relationships (true attachment). I think the best you can do is be the best damn caregiver you can possibly be and hope that the child will accept you in that role.

        It sucks.


    3. Jo Moseley

      I hear your words. And, I WILL pray for you. You may never feel love for her. I “want” you to be able to feel that, but in reality, that may not happen. You are honest. I heard you, More importantly, Most importantly, He Knows. And, He will give you what you need to make it to the other side of the heart-pain that is so obvious in your words.
      You are Loved.


    4. rubi

      Just so you know, we fostered a boy for 10 months when he was 4. We had his siblings too (2 and 1) and we deeply loved them, but he was so difficult, and I mean a new level of difficult, and I never felt love for him. We did not get to adopt, because he want home to his mom, but we are fortunate, and get to see our former foster kids whenever we want. Can I be painfully honest? I never truly am dying to see him. I never bonded, but HE DID. He loves to stay the weekend with us (he;s 10 now), and We do fun things together (not that they are fun to me, I don’t really enjoy basketball games or laser tag), and I felt guilty. I told someone “I have never loved him” They replied, “yes you have all the time. Commitment to him all these years is love. We have adopted 2 others since then and thankfully I feel love for them, but it is nice to know, I can say I love him, no guilt. You are an amazing person, keep on at it!


      1. Chris

        How true, that you loved him through your commitment and care even though you didn’t feel love. Comforting truth.


    5. Donna Holmes

      I totally understand your pain in not being able to attach. We got our daughter at age 4 1/2 and she is now 32 and no one ever understood how someone who looked so “normal” on the outside was so cold and “unattachable” on the inside. She had split personalities for us and for others. She ran away a few years ago to live with a 19 year old “man” with special needs and his parents. I have finally been able to realize what a burden has been lifted from me in not having her with us. We fostered 141 children and adopted 3 along with 2 birth sons. I know we did what we could for them all and my heart feels good. We have to understand that there are some people that we just can’t connect with in our hearts. God does bless us with others to love to help out weigh those unlovely ones. Prayers for your situation as well.


    6. Michelle Snow

      I know you want those feelings of love for your child and I pray it does get there. But what you have already done for this child IS love. You may not feel love, but your actions for this child ARE love. “We are known by our actions.” Your care and devotion of your child is love, even if you don’t feel it!


      1. Heather

        You are right. Love is not a feeling, but a commandment and action. It is putting the interest of another above the interest of self, and you have all done it and continue to do it. I am not capable of providing a home to a child such as you describe due to my own issues related to childhood abuse, my issues are too great and healing too incomplete. I am thankful to all of you for the love and devotion you show to the “unlovable” in the name of Christ. May the Lord bless and keep you.


      2. Terri

        Thank you, I needed to hear that. Have two adult kids with rad along with other things, then when a third became explosive we just had enough, 7 years fighting through and trying to survive the rad behaviors was too much, the child only got worse,when her refusal to eat or drink became life threatening we did what be thought was unthinkable, we found her a new family, we dissolved our adoption, we split up twins. The world sees this as awful, how could you do such a thing, our motives were for our survival and sanity , because of love, we came to a point of realizing living with us was not good for anyone, especially her, she needed a do over, she had not attached to anyone and to this day still has not, but she is no longer in fear of someone getting too close, she was happy to go, when asked how she could leave me, the only mama she ever knew, she replied ‘because you know me’. thank you for your post, so many times i had not felt i loved her. Love in action, no one felt it but it was all done out of love.


        1. DW

          This sounds like something we are struggling with now. We have lived the nightmare for 3.5 years with sibling brothers. The youngest having FASD, separation anxiety, explosive disorder, ADHD. My partner does not love either but fortunately is willing to adopt the older sibling with me, but we are considering letting go of the younger one if possible. He has turned our life around 360 degrees and not in a good way. I’m sad because I want this to work but no one is happy. It breaks my heart to think about letting him go because he does occassionally call me mom and he seems more connected to me than I am of him. I like many others don’t like him at times. It’s hard to fake being happy when I’m numb inside. We’ve worked hard getting him all the services available. However, it may be better for him to go somewhere else where someone can truly love him.


        2. Holly

          How did you go about dissolving the adoption? My husband and I are at that point with our almost 11 year old adopted daughter. She’s on antipsychotic medication, she lies, is a master manipulator and threatens to hurt us (by saying”voices” are telling her to do it) our biological sons and our pets. She’s already been in a psychiatric hospital and seems to find great joy in telling the kids at school she spent time there. This child THRIVES on sympathy, yet everyone thinks she’s this beautiful, little saint. Our family is falling apart. My mentally handicapped son is staying with my parents until we get her out of here because she’s made these threats and isn’t nice to him. Her therapist agrees that at this point it may be time to let her go live with the biological aunt she so desperately wants to live with. We feel she is doing everything in her power to sabotage her life with us so she can have her way. We’re ready to let her have it. It’s heartbreaking, to say the least. We’ve spent all of this time loving her, trying to make her feel safe and loved and spent thousands of dollars on, not only the adoption, but therapists, doctors and the psych hospital. Enough is enough!!


    7. Beth

      Ok literally. Literally. I have had this EXACT conversation with my husband.

      Love kids? Check.
      Would die for my own biological ones? Check.
      Have no clue how it happened that I can’t even love this kid? Check.

      Seriously. I have blamed myself over and over and over for not being the type of Christian that I know I should be—love like Christ. How can I love like Christ??????!!!! I keep trying and keep failing so I keep praying desperate prayers for help!!!!!!


      1. Celena

        I think a couple comments just above yours really hit the nail on the head. Love doesn’t have to be a feeling. Love is an action. Every time you serve that child, every time you place their needs above yours, every meal you make, every need you meet… that IS love. You may not FEEL love, but you are ACTING in love. We are known by our actions, not our feelings… so I am sure that you really are doing much better than you think you are.


    8. Vicki vogt

      Sometimes you need to not worry about the feeling of love so much and just concentrate on “doing” love. Adopting parents often feel that they will instantly fall in love with their child and many times that doesn’t happen. So you might have to think in terms of being the very best caregiver you can be. Like the best baby-sitter you would love to have for your kids. Being kind and caring and aware of their needs….often by taking the focus off whether you feel the right amount of love for the child and focus just on taking good care of them, the love starts to grow naturally.


    9. barely making it

      I could have written every single word you wrote. I don’t love this child. It’s been 4 years and I just can’t make myself, despite praying every single morning for God to give me HIS love for this unlovable, manipulative, destructive monster who has shattered our beautiful family. I have no answers (obviously) but I know, I know, I know. xoxo


      1. Linda

        Surviving what you are going through now. I’m reminded of a therapist who told us that some children did better off not living in a family. I sometimes wonder if we should have taken his advise and honestly think our adopted son would have done much better not living with a family. Its not so much you can’t love them, it’s you can’t live with what their pain has caused your family. God bless you


    10. Julie

      Hang in there. Sometimes God answers prayer slowly and sometimes all at once. Praying for you tonight 🙂 may you have his perfect peace and in his perfect timing and wisdom receive your answer.


    11. Kelley

      Everything you just said is me. I completely get it. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love their adopted child. I thought I was the only one. Even though just about everything in Heidi’s beautiful blog post is the story of my life, i still feel different because of not loving my adopted child.
      Thank you so much for sharing this. I honestly thought I was the only one out there who struggled with this. I so needed you to write this. I can’t tell you how much. Thank you for your courage, Thank you, thank you.


    12. Susan

      I know exactly what you are feeling. Every ounce of my being wants her out of house. But I have to add, after 3 and a half years of hatred toward me, she was nice to me yesterday. Of course I’m thinking what is she up to, but I decided to see it as one moment of light. Doesn’t mean I like her, but Jesus showing me His grace.


    13. now parenting adults...

      to “just surviving”:
      I have been where you are. I still am in many ways, because love with trauma is so very different from love without trauma. What I have done, and what my excellent therapist also did with me, is remind me that love is what you do, whether you feel it or not.

      If counting up the time and commitment and willingness to suffer, I would have to say that I had favorites, and they were the children from trauma.

      If counting up the easy relationships, the fun interactions, the warmth of deep affection, I would also have to say I had favorites, the children who were able to enter into deep mutual relationships because they began life in a stable family.

      It is still a struggle, even now that no one lives at home, because I have to deal with how I feel about visits, when there is not conversation but only monologues that are only occasionally true; when there is accusation in their voice about why do I not trust them to _______; and so on.

      Now that there is more distance, it is sometimes easier to be able to affirm that because of what they lived, they have done what made sense to them. Who in their right mind would open themselves up to the kind of pain and rejection with which they started their lives? And because they started that way, it is part of who they are, not a conscious decision. They reject me because they don’t know how to not reject me. For them to accept me would mean for them to live every moment deciding to live opposite to their most basic instincts to keep themselves safe. When your first parent is not safe, it is so so hard to find a feeling a safety from any other parent. And when you are angry at that first parent, the person who absorbs that anger is the next parent. So they make sense.

      But I make sense too. For me to feel love in the traditional sense for someone who instinctively pushes me away with all that is in them, also is living contrary to instinct and to self preservation. After this many years of the things we have lived with, I experience panic episodes somewhat regularly when anticipating a visit or conversation, even when I know that it should be a simple and safe event. My body is used to not feeling safe and it reacts with anxiety to the trauma I lived with. Love for someone who brings that kind of anxiety is rarely warm or cozy. It is choices to treat with respect and to stay in some kind of relationship that is safe for everyone, and sometimes it is even choices to not be in relationship.

      We have to give grace to them for what they have suffered, and also give grace to ourselves. We have been adults willing to try to live contrary to our instincts in order to do what is best for (or to “LOVE”) a child who has been hurt. Willingly suffering IS love in the most meaningful sense of the word.

      Please know that you are not alone and that your effort has great meaning.


      1. Jennifer

        For My Kindred Friend “Now Parenting Adults”
        [It is still a struggle, even now that no one lives at home, because I have to deal with how I feel about visits, when there is not conversation but only monologues that are only occasionally true; when there is accusation in their voice about why do I not trust them to _______; and so on.]

        Yes! I have parented four older adopted kid from traumatic backgrounds. Three are young adults out of the home and we have one at home that I actually have to be locked away from for my own safety and my husband has taken up as sole caretaker for him. You hit the nail on the head with my experience with any contact with my adult kids. I minimize my contact with them, little to none. Sick of listening to the poor me long monologues dotted with how their woes are our fault. They remind me of the Israelites shaking their fists at Moses. “Why did you bring us here to die? We had everything we wanted and needed in Egypt. We ate leeks and garlic and onions and were satisfied…” Just had to go in person to help one daughter who had a car accident, her third in less than a year, and her monologue was about all of the hard drugs she has been doing, how the universe is against her and why do bad things keep happening to her…

        Too much to identify with on this post and amongst the comments. We need to make an actual support group with one another. Just the feelings of care, identification and solidarity here have buoyed our spirits and brought comfort and grace to all of us hiding with our skeletons in our closets binging on wine and chocolate, feeling alone. We are obviously not alone. Let’s continue this comment thread in some supportive, productive way to multiply the blessings we’ve experienced here.

        Much love, grace, peace and a gargantuan measure of perseverance to each of you. ❤️


        1. Michelle

          I can so identify with your post. My daughter, age 20 and living on her own for two years because we gave her the choice of not smoking pot in the house, or find yourself another place to live. But we “kicked her out”. And so what if she made all those mistakes as a teen, why should she have to keep on paying for them, how dare we adopt again instead of taking care of her, etc…Manipulative guilt, so know how that feels, but choosing not to play any more…you made your choices, deal with it. I will love you, but I will not enable you any more. And if you don’t like that answer, then don’t bother coming over to visit.


    14. Kelli Denman

      Dear just surviving over attaching – I think, dear person, that you have the wrong word for LOVE in your mind. LOVE is an action. Do you feed that child? Do you sacrifice? Do you provide every opportunity for that child to heal and to grow? I bet you do. Do you lie awake at nights worrying about this child’s future? I bet you do. That, THAT is love. Love is a verb. Love can be a feelings, but feelings come and go. The love you feel for other children – and your dog – is both the verb and the feeling. The love for this child is only the action. The feeling part – it may come, it may not. But that’s what people might mean when they say they “love” the child but don’t like them. That’s what I mean when I say it. Do I still buy him new clothes along with his brothers even though he destroys them on purpose? Do I make sure he has a good lunch in his lunch box every day, that he has well fitting clothing, a warm coat, shoes that fit, boots in the winter time, eats balanced meals, make sure he drinks enough milk, brushes his teeth, combs his hair, gets his hair cut, takes baths…. yes. Those are actions that are love. You may think, well, everyone does that. No they don’t. Neglectful parents – aka those who “say” they love their children but are too wrapped up in their own desires and wants that they don’t pay attention to the needs of their children – they don’t pay attention to these things. They don’t read blogs on how to improve their parenting of special needs children or find groups to get support for themselves so that they can be better parents to their children. Do you love your child? Yes, absolutely, you do. You act out that love EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. You just don’t feel it. Most of us don’t. How can you feel mushy gushy warm love feelings towards someone who abuses you and uses you? We’re not built that way for good reason. That is where our supernatural strength, our faith, comes in. To know that we are doing what God wants us to, that we are bearing pain no one should ever bear, just like those children bear pain no child should ever bear. Will it leave us scarred and changed? Yes. But we can wear those scars with pride – because we said YES.


      1. Emma

        Thank you Kelli. I don’t feel as guilty now. I to struggled with that feeling of not loving my 13 year old but I do care for him the way God wants us too! Thank you.


      2. Steph

        Thank you! I will re-read this later. You are right, that is what it means to “love but not like” a child. We are giving constantly, but 2 years later I feel some things get better while others get worse… and it is strange to have so few people really understand what is going on. The worst part (my biggest fear) is I do not want to fail my bio kids. I wonder constantly if having the constant passive-aggressive presence of their little sister (she is 6 now) will permanently change them and their memories of their once idyllic childhood.


        1. In your shoes

          I have been dealing with that same feeling for years – for 12 years now. Unfortunately, I know it has impacted their lives. When our adopted one “starts up” they all leave the common area of the house and hide in their rooms. No one wants to go anywhere as a family with her anymore. They are teenagers and they are done. Bridges upon bridges have been burned. Certain things got better over the years, but the nasty, vile words got worse. It is hard to go home some days.


    15. Michelle

      Not loving 3 out of 8 of our adopted kids is the worst of the worst. I beat myself up daily wanting it to be different, but it’s not. When we said YES I never thought I would struggle to love any of them. It’s so hard to accept that i cant even just love this broken kid, that’s why I continue to pray. It’s been almost 10 yrs since we started this and it’s been nothing like I thought it would be. All the training in the world will not prepare you for this. Just this past year I heard my Lord say to me, “stop beating yourself up. You said yes, send me, and that’s enough.” Some days those words are all I have to hang onto. So here goes another day. The tears never cease for long. With God’s grace we will all make it thru. As long as I have hope ………….


    16. farmacademy

      just surviving…

      I have to tell U, I have been there for years. He was my 1st adoption so I really thought something was wrong with me. And yes, I resent the “ur so awesome!” comments as well, esp. when I know how many times I screamed @ my kids TODAY! But I do want to give U hope about coming to love that child. My son is now 15 and after 2 yrs @ boarding school, we brought him home, for one last chance to finally try to win his heart (still oblivious to RAD b/c we got him @ birth & all the books say U can’t have RAD if u were adopted @ birth). After just a few months, I was screaming, “either he leaves or I leave.” Now, I have had times where I truly hated that child. And times where I knew I loved him & just didn’t know how show him. Or it felt like it cost too much to try to show him. But when my husband stood up & sent him away to a group home, I thought I’d be relieved. Instead, I sobbed. I wanted him gone. I refused to even come home until he was gone. But I’ll tell U, what the Lord did in my heart in that child’s absence was amazing. Admittedly he IS easier to love when he’s not here. And we have had visits (here@home) where we had conflict & ended in screaming. And there have been times I was so ready for the visit to end. But there has never been a doubt about my love for him anymore. GOD did that. Not me. I had nothing left. Couldn’t have tried any longer if I wanted to. Other things have had to come into play to help me heal in the meantime, & I truly don’t know if my son will ever be able to live @ home with us. But I know that I know that I love him. And HE knows, no matter what, I love him. He is finally beginning to accept that. He doesn’t yet know how to handle that. How to live in a family appropriately. But I fully believe he really DOES know that we (hubby & I both) love him. As do all of his sibs. It is truly a miracle! Wait for it, keep praying for it. And do what U have to do to heal in the meantime. Blessings!


    17. Anne Marie

      Just surviving…I could have written your post…I hate to even admit how I feel to myself…I never imagined after almost 9 years not feeling love anymore for my adopted daughter when I so deeply love my biological children. I feel like it was all stolen from me and was drained away over the years…I don’t even know how to try anymore. My husband is a saint and pretty much took over parenting her as I couldn’t after so many years of conflict, raging and arguing…it is just not in my nature. I crave the calm when away from her so avoid being with her most of the time. It helps a little to know I am not the only one. Thank you for your honesty as I know it is brutally painful.


    18. AnonymousToo

      There are people who will read this and think I posted it! Except we have a cat. I hear you. I get it. You are not alone, even though you are “anonymous” like me, because even here, we both wonder if it really IS safe to be this honest. Amen and Amen sister! It may never get better, but I won’t quit because God can do all things – even change my emotions towards this 4th child, 1st adoption ever in my family of people who do.not.get.it.


    19. Amanda

      My prayer is what I am about to say encourages you. Love is a verb. You are daily choosing to lay your life down for this child. That is love. I know you don’t feel the emotions and that is hard. But this daily prayer and sacrifice for this child echoes God’s love. God sent Jesus while He found us repulsive. Our good works were like used feminine hygiene products. That doesn’t sound like lovey dovey emotion to me. Yet while we were in that state He sacrificed Jesus. He loved when we were unloveable. That is what you are doing for this child. You are living the Gospel. It is hard and painful. God knows the deep rejection and betrayal you feel. He feels it too. I am praying that something refreshes your soul today. That you feel God’s ever abiding love for you in real and physical ways today. It is hard to love someone when there is no emotional reward from it, but the sacrifice of keeping on shows how deeply you love them even without the emotions.


    20. another mama

      Dear just surviving, over attaching:
      I hear you.! I hear you loud and clear and I don’t know how long you’ve been at it, but I do know this: Jesus hears your heart, collects your tears and He absolutely will give you the strength AND the love that you need for each moment of the every day. You said YES, so give yourself a hug and offer yourself up a long drink of grace. You are becoming more Christlike just from being in the trenches and you love Him so He will work this all for good. Despised and rejected. I would venture that’s how you feel from your daughter at times. Jesus knows all about that. He will bind up your broken heart and hers too. Keep praying. Keep seeking His eternal perspective. Have hope. Know that He loves you so very, very much and He is proud of you.!!!


    21. Just Surviving Comrad

      I can relate and say there are times in our journey that I did not LOVE my adopted children. I have 5 of them and right now, once specifically that I can honestly say I am struggling with looking into their eyes and LOVE them. Praying and lamenting because I FEEL so wrong for NOT. Moving forward, striving for HIS love to overtake my superficial human love or lack their of.


    22. Ellie

      So you have a ridiculously difficult to parent child that you continue to include in your family? Continue to try and meet her needs? Continue to be there for her even when you feel like taking the rest of your family and running away? Sounds like love to me. I wish you were my neighbor so you could come hang out and have a break. Since you’re not, let me just say you’re not alone, you’re not weird or bad or a failure and I believe the commitment you made to your daughter will bear fruit eventually. Love looks an awful lot different with our kiddos who come from trauma. Don’t sell yourself sort and please know I’m wishing for the unicorns and rainbows for you very soon.


    23. Theresa

      I rarely reply or write to someone I don’t know but after reading your post on Heidi’s blog I felt compelled to write.
      My husband and I are the adoptive parents of two children. They are not biological, but were our foster babies. My son is the joy of my life. I thank God everyday for the gift of his life in my life Now my daughter is a different story. I constantly ask God in my prayers “What were you thinking”. She came to live with us when she was two weeks old. Both children were exposed to drugs before they were born. My daughter also exposed to alcohol. We had no idea what that meant so after two years when her mother’s parental rights were ended we adopted her. About a year later it began to hit me that something was wrong with her. Since that time life with her has been extremely difficult. Sometimes a living hell..She is ten now! I don’t like her and I always struggle because I don’t love her either. Yet, I love Jesus and try to do the right thing. At different times during our life with her I have wanted to dissolve the adoption. My husband couldn’t do it. It has strained our marriage and our life. I totally understand the “I don’t love her”. I have lost friends and family members. I have been reported to our state agency for not caring about my daughter. It is so hard to understand that she has 0 ability to care or relate to another human being when you look at her smile and the twinkle in her eye. Her school thinks we are crazy, not her….So I get what you are feeling. Remember you are not alone. God loves us all…your child and you. He loves us all even at our worst. That always gives me hope..


    24. Monica

      dear “just surviving”: if I may offer an alternative view point: love can be an action verb too, and if that is the case, then it appears that you are spending every moment loving this child. A lot of society spends so much time talking about falling in love and feeling love. When that happens, great, that’s easy, good for you. But you have chosen a harder road and sound like a good person. Please be gentle with yourself.


    25. Lany

      You are not alone… I’m right there with you. We have permanent guardianship of our teenage nephew. My heart breaks for him, I feel sorry for him and what he’s been through, and intellectually I understand why he is the way he is, but try as I might I can’t bring myself to love him. I want to love him. I’ve taken it to the Lord countless times. People say what a blessing we are to him, how great we are, blah, blah…. But it’s not true! If they could see inside our home, they’d see we’re barely even functioning. I’m not speaking the truth of Jesus into him- I’m barely speaking to him at all. And most days I wake up just wishing my family could go back to how it was before. They say the Lord is working, but I feel like all he’s doing is showing me how hard and unloving my heart is. And then there’s always the constant fear in the back of my mind that he will do something to hurt my biological son. I’m sorry for the pity party. I’m tired and stressed. And I’ve felt so much guilt and self-condemnation and loneliness for so long. I’ll be praying for all of us.


    26. Mandy

      Totally relate with everyone who has struggled with not feeling “love/attachment” with their adopted child. Being a mom of an attachment challenged child involves so much rejection which connects with all the other times in life we’ve felt rejected. Feelings of failure when you try so hard to create that attachment to no avail is very discouraging. Heather Forbes has two audio CDs called Affirmations that have helped me to not take it all so personally and creates some self care time for the emotional burn out. The short book “The Chemistry of Connection” about oxytocin research has helped me a lot as well. Also, letting go and realizing that I, in and of myself, cannot “fix” him and cannot force the love or attachment between us, is a huge burden off my shoulders. I think it takes time and God. Our children, my husband and I have been so hurt and traumatized by our AS that its easy to feel very resentful and no love toward him. I’ve had to acknowledge and validate that hurt in myself and ask God to help me to forgive him and give up/release/let go of my hurt and anger and resentment. I’m trying to help my bio kids do this as well. If you can think of anything that you have intentionally or unintentionally done that might have hurt your child, giving them a very heartfelt apology can also make great advances in the attachment. One time I thought about how angry he is with me and thought maybe I should apologize again for having to leave him in his country before the adoption. I stopped the car, got out, sat in the floorboard in front of him and apologized and just bawled. He finally started calling me mom the next day. When I can connect/relate his hurt/feelings to times in my life when I have had those same feelings, this also helps me to feel more love toward him.


    27. taking one day at a time

      I don’t know you are and you don’t know me BUT your words describe how I feel. I’m actually struggling with the same thing. My husband and I have 1 biological child and we adopted 3 siblings almost 2 years ago. I like 2 of them but dislike/don’t love the youngest. I hate it. I hate that I feel that way. Anyway, I know this was from a few months ago but thought I’d say you are not alone.


    28. Tammy

      You are not alone. I feel the EXACT same way. Thank you for putting into words what I think everyday.


    29. Janeen

      Oh how I relate! U r not alone. Im so afraid to give in and love my daughter like I WANT TOO. Im taking the risk. Im all in…..may God be merciful to us all.


    30. RDW

      IDK how much time has passed since your adoption, but I want to say that you are NOT alone!!!! I did NOT love our son for a VERY long time after he joined our family. He’s been in our family for nearly six years now and I would say at some point in the last two years I truly fell in love with him. Like would step in front of a bus for him kind of love. He was 4 when we adopted. I liked him loooooooong before I loved him. And even liking him took me almost a year…and even longer for my husband. But truly, with time, this child…he is the crown jewel of our family. Hang in there and know you’re not alone.


    31. K

      Thank you for your honesty. All of you!! I’m numb, ashamed, angry, and fearful because of my feelings towards my 10year old adopted son. I can relate to EVERY single one of your comments. I’ve been very depressed not knowing what to do. I don’t even know myself anymore. I feel like I’m neglecting my other children and my husband just because of this kiddo who doesn’t seem to care about anyone else- At
      all! I wonder why God chose our family for him about every day. I see no good in this, and am exhausted.


      1. Kathie

        I’m so sorry…I have tears in my eyes because that’s how I feel too. I don’t know who I am or how I got this way. Some days I have literally felt like my family would be better off without me, whether that be through death or just simply walking out never to return. I have never felt like such a failure in my life, so hated, so tortured. You are not alone, you are not a bad mother, you still have you living in you. Know one thing: your son will be better off because of what you sacrificed and did even if he never thanks you for it. You are amazing. Big hug


    32. Teresa

      I so understand how you feel! I have prayed that God show me His love for my child. We have been in a battle for over 13 yrs with two adopted children. It has just worsened to the point I am feeling hatred for this most recent act. Lying and deception from my child. No words can explain except the pain caused by them toward me and now my husband. Feeling overwhelmed sad and scared.


    33. Kathie

      I can so relate to what you are saying. I don’t love our adopted children (3 siblings), not because they’re adopted but because since they arrived in our home they have worked diligently to make our home life chaotic and joyless. Only one of them is outright defiant (kicking things, throwing things, breaking things, yelling, talking back, etc) while the other two will be outwardly compliant while devising their next move to lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, destroy, belittle my birth daughter, bully younger siblings, and so on. I feel nothing but contempt for them. They came to us at ages 11, 14 and 15 three years ago.

      As soon as the oldest turned 18 we took the steps to enroll him in the military, the next one is now 17 and is at a military-style academy and we will be pushing her to join the military as well (I just can’t have this daily hate and chaos in my life anymore) and, even though we homeschooled our three birth children (24, 20 and 16) their entire lives and tried to homeschool the others, we’ve enrolled the 14 year old in public school to get 11 hours of relief every day during the week.

      I feel like a terrible mother, even though I taught parenting studies and mentored other mothers in homeschooling, godly parenting, and homemaking. We worked our asses off to get these kids: tens of thousands of dollars, loss of privacy, interviews, traveling, much prayer and here we are 3 1/2 years later working almost as hard to get them out. I want to love them, I feel like I should, but how do you love someone who has expressed hate, anger, and rebellion from the moment they arrived? How can I be the reason they are the way they are when they were that way LONG before they came to me??? But they blame me…all of them and I (more than my hubby) have been their target.

      For the first couple of years they played my hubby against me because he wasn’t home the first year (he was in the military and was deployed a lot of the time) and the second year, when he was home he just saw how I was losing it with the kids and thought I was the problem. It took quite a while before he realized what they were doing and the extent they were going to – lying to him, getting orders from me to do something but instead of doing it going to him and asking him if he wanted them to do such and such and him not knowing I TOLD them to do it, he’d respond with no, I don’t need you to do that. So they’d disobey me and when I caught them they’d say “dad told me not to do it” obviously this did not bide well between my hubby and I. After an argument we’d finally figure out what happened but by then, they’d achieved their goal and we were the only ones suffering.

      These kids are angry and always take aim at me. Even if all I do is give them a verbal reprimand, they go away angry and hateful. I can’t wait until the last two are gone, out of my life forever. I know this isn’t the “Christian” response, I know that…it’s part of the reason I don’t want to attend church and the other is because the people at church don’t understand what we’re going through or respect our parenting. I have to keep reminding myself that love is fulfilling your obligation to someone, not a feeling. We have fulfilled our obligation – we gave them the opportunity for a family and security, education and training so they can be successful adults. It doesn’t mean we have to have warm, fuzzies for them, desire to spend time with them, or even like them because that’s all I have left to offer now. After 3 1/2 years of hell from three individuals committed to destroying me, I feel done, exhausted, and frankly, physically aged way beyond those 3 1/2 years.

      I wanted the dream, I got a nightmare. I need respite and recovery time to heal from it all and, maybe, now that I have all day with just my husband, birth daughter and youngest adopted son I will be able to start. I know I’ve just vented and maybe a lot of it is not understandable but for once I feel like I can talk to people who understand, who are there with me, and I’m not alone. So thanks.


      1. Bristol

        Kathie- just want to say that I totally get wanting them so bad and now just wanting them gone! I just want my life back! I just want to be the person I was before them! I wish I could turn back the clock and undo this awful mistake!!!!


  7. Oti-Lisa

    Thank you! I have been going through it with my teen since I have had her. 2014 has been the worse. I have allowed her to wear me down to nothing. I have lost family, friends, support, and my reputation as a good safe home. 2015, she is still running wild and it seems there is no one to back me or support me. So thank you for sharing this was right on time!


    1. Janeen

      My daughter ran wild for over ten years. Wouldnt listen, obey….only spit in our faces, laughted at us and ran away. I would call the police over and over again…each time. Finally at age 33 she was in jail and we did NOT bail her out this time. 3 yr. sentence. We can see her now, touch her and r beginning a NEW relationship with her. God RESTORES. We remain cautious optimistic as we have chosen to connect with her…today…today…but I will NEVER be held hostage by her again. We hear the words and see her tears. We trust out living GOD to do a transformation in her heart while she’s incarcerated. We’ll see.


  8. Jen Alexander

    You are BRAVE, and it is infectious! Thank you for writing this. Some of us are mired down in this so far that it’s hard to see out or even remember there is an “out” there. I have had a break while my kiddo is in residential, but I am coming off an extremely difficult visit. Your words spoke to me. I have said them too, but you are standing up and shouting to the mountain tops with confidence–unashamed. Imagine me standing up to join you!


  9. Momma

    That’s me. Standing alongside you saying, ” me, too. ”
    *quietly raises hand while bending under the weight of crushing sobs*


  10. Linda

    Thank you so much. I’m crying.

    We adopted two children from foster care. They’ve been with us for eleven hard but wonderful years. I won’t get into the details, but we had to move in order to protect our teens from bad influences and events in our previous neighborhood. It was a good thing, and though the teens complain, they are doing better. I love our new home but I am more lonely. One of the kids doesn’t want people to know he’s adopted and gets angry if I talk to others who would understand. And what do I have in common anymore with the neighbor who is upset that her daughter got a B in a math test and might not be able to make it to her college of choice? I’m just hoping my kids don’t leave the house the day they are eighteen to live with the birth family or some other family that they shopped for. Yes, the kids “shop” for families that they like better than us. Of course it’s not all bad. There are times that the teens are doing well and we are a family. But then I let my guard down and the craziness starts up again.
    So thank you for writing this. I so need the encouragement. I’m sure others do too.


    1. Bugs316

      My daughter took off at 17 and a half for the “shopped for family.” They don’t even have to be 18. This is the story of every adoptive family I know.
      We are not alone! It just feels that way.


      1. Laurie

        As soon as my 22 yr old found a boyfriend -engaged within 2 months of knowing him, she no longer wanted us. I was told –thanks but I am done with you…and his family treats me how I deserve to be treated. It was like the moment she met him, I just watched her walk away from us, she couldn’t seem to understand that she could love him and us at the same time. I kept telling her –it’s like you are throwing us away…and she didn’t care. It’s been 4 years, I spent the first 2 years broken, but each time she has a kid, it just reminds me of how much this really does hurt —her not wanting anything to do with us.


        1. Kathy

          Glad to know we are not alone. It was enlightening and comforting in a weird way to realize that we weren’t the only parents experiencing the kind of pain that we feel.
          I have two adopted daughters one is 28 and one is 23. My 23-year-old just got engaged. What should’ve been one of the happiest days of my life turned out to be embarrassing and even humiliating. Her friends and the sister of the fiancé and the parents of the fiancé planned a surprise engagement party. We were not included in any of the planning. We were the last to be greeted by our daughter. Most of the people there didn’t even know we were her parents and we didn’t even know that the house that we were at was hers. My point is for many years, since she became a teenager she has kept us at arms length making our lives a living hell with the way she has treated us. She acts ashamed and embarrassed that we are her parents leaving us to feel terrible. We hear high praises from teachers,church members, coworkers, friends how wonderful she is and what a good Christian girl she is…everyone singing high praises of her. We are left baffled to some degree because they have never seen the other side of her that is manipulative,mean,hateful and sometimes violent. We are like some of the other commenters on your blog in that no one believes us because she is just so nice and sweet. She has made it clear, By not sharing details,that she does not want our help with her wedding because her community, her church, is there to help her do everything. I have no idea what she’s told other people or what kind of a victim she claims to be other than my poor child has parents who are not wealthy and could not give her everything that she wanted. What we gave her was stability, a set of morals, nurtured her and structure. As biological parents do, as well, we sacrificed and supported her in activities in school that were important to her helped her with college. We love both of our children very much. But I’m tired of feeling like I was a temporary or substitute mother, needed only when they are in trouble and need help financially. I’m realizing that part of that feeling comes from the fact that I was never able to have children and so my children mean everything to me and my own mother was not around growing up or even as an adult and I wanted a different kind of relationship with my daughters . I realize this is a rambling post but I’m at my wits end and emotionally distraught and don’t know what to do. I’m crying all of the time and depressed.
          I’m glad I came across this blog and saw the post of other parents who are in those trenches and I can relate, finally.


      2. Dawn

        You are not alone, my adopted son shocked us with his first run away at 17 years old, didn’t even know that was legal…but it is – he was gone for 4 months, came back for a miserable 6 months and has been gone for 9 months. Has found his biological mother after shopping for and manipulating numerous families. Being the victim is his go-to move, it works on all these families. I’m sickened, sad, and unlike a lot of these parents I did attach over the last 10 years but it was not reciprocal. I knew he didn’t really care about me, but I couldn’t allow myself to accept it. Still working on that. I’m heartbroken, betrayed, and feel alone too. So thankful to find these posts.


    2. argie

      Mine left home at 15, after we raised her since age 7. Years of hard work, pain, endless tears all for her to go to the path of least resistance. Looked for a while like that path would lead her to become just like her on and off incarcerated, drug addicted bio-mom. Thanks be to God, she has realized that all of our “ridiculous rules” and”overly strict parenting” were, in fact, our best efforts to teach her to want and to do better. Her leaving was one of the greatest heart breaks, and also greatest reliefs I’ve ever experienced. Having her back in my life, knowing our sacrifices were not for nothing, and hearing that she now understandsand appreciates the effort we put in is one of the greatest gifts God has given me. I know she’s not out of the woods yet. I know I’ll probably take more emotional slaps in the face, but I feel like this is the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe my hard work will pay off in ending this cycle for my daughter and her future children.
      Hang in there! You are not alone!


    3. Jennifer

      Yep-I have four family shoppers. After the first experience, fighting the other family tooth and nail and still losing our daughter to them, as well as losing our reputations and church family and on and on the list goes, we got wise. Another has shopped himself out and we smiled and waved good-bye, with love and relief. Sadly, another shopped herself out to ones who were not as caring and invested as the families our other two kids found, and she has had a rough go of it, bouncing around and not landing anywhere safe until just recently, and even that, she has managed to jeopardize and will likely be moved out of there too.


      1. Jeannie

        Just find a different project like I did! I love my miniature horses. I’m much more carefree and have more peace at the ripe age of 73 ! Even better than when I sent her to boarding school when she was 13. ( my miniature horses never outgrow cuteness, nor have schizophrenia and taking their eyes out ) YES, IT’S TRUE! But lets not go there . I do regret that I agreed before the adoption to it being an open adoption and I had to use a lot of charm and gain a lot of trust to get the final paperwork finalized. So sometimes you must do what you need to do ,for YOURSELVES! even if you have to crush POOR “selfless” hearts . So back to square one . She is 23 and living across the country in Kentucky , where we can wipe our hands clean. And my worst fear , living down the street from her bio mom and city of bio father. No more my problem or embarrment . She got sent back as damged goods ! Completely blind and zero self worth. Maybe that was a genetic fluke. Not my monkey not my circus. They should be more grateful that I came into their lives and had money to provide what she couldn’t. Thank you soo much for having an outlet for us adoptive heroes.


  11. Mom of many

    Not all this is my experience, but hv been in trenches with many much deeper. I am VERY grateful to belong to a church that reaches to these kids or tries. I like it that the student pastor recognizes a bad kiss up behavior in my child and flags me if it needs flagging so I can coach (mine is coachable, but hasn’t always been). This has not always been. We went for years to a church that made zero attempt to understand resulting in neglect and bullying behaviors that would not be tolerated in a public setting. I relish in my few friends who get it and I make it my priority to stick by and defend those in these trenches. Education helps with some people. It doesn’t make the kid less psycho but it helps others realize that trauma is brutal.


  12. jennie

    Thank you for putting the words down that I have wanted to write for so long. We are only a year into our “addition” the adoption was final just a couple months ago, I have asked myself if I made a mistake by taking this kid in. He was 16 when he came to us and we knew he needed permanency after 15 years of foster care. His trauma is layered and runs deep and has never been addressed-until now. He is so charming to others- to teachers (until they figure him out) to our extended family- (who think we are being pessimistic and too hard on him) he has turned our house upside down- just at the point where it should be beginning to calm (my other kids are 20 and 17)
    To top it all off our church betrayed us. After 8 (off and on) years of my husband being sick with cancer with unbelievable support from our church family, we were nearly shunned when we decided to take this child in. We were told that “we had enough on our plates already.” and that they just couldn’t support our ‘choice’ to bring him into our family- we were asked to step down from ministry positions (which would have been necessary anyway- due to how much time he needs from us.) The response was as if we had just announced we were going to have an abortion, rather than adopting an orphan. MIND BLOWN- We tried to explain how God ordained this situation, how we clearly heard HIS voice and there wasn’t a “Choice” for us- Our son is not going to Age Out of a horrible system that abandoned him already, he is in a loving family who wants to guide him the best we can before he reached full fledged adulthood. We have changed churches, but my heart is so broken that I cant find it in me to even connect with anyone.
    Meanwhile my other son who still lives here has continued to attend the old church, he struggles with the guilt of attending a church that has hurt us so bad, yet he is so Immeshed within, surrounded with friends that have walked with him forever.
    This post is long and rambling, but I am grateful to be allowed to speak what my heart is feeling.


  13. L

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been in the trenches a good year. Really longer. But the last year was the worst of the worst. I am not sharing it here, because I recently posted a comment on another blog as “anonymous” and a gravatar deal showed up that gave ID info. Anyway, suffice it to say we were kicked out of a Bible study group, that still stings, because one of our children didn’t fit their “perfect” child mold. I have no friends really. I long for a day when I’m not fighting every day for the love of at least two of my kids, one of them being a birth child who has been traumatized himself just by the fact we adopted so many children when he was still little. Had I known what I know now … I just don’t know. And if one more well-meaning Christian friend tells me I’m on the path God has led me to … that doesn’t help AT.ALL.


    1. Anne

      I agree wholeheartedly, our birth children – 29, 27, 15 have been devistated by the trauma, havoc, family shopping & meaness that was once a safe & secure home by our 2 adoptive teens.


    2. Kathie

      Our birth children have been traumatized as well, particularly our youngest birth daughter who was 13 when we adopted 3 children (2 of them older than her and 1 younger) they have hated her, mistreated her, talked about her, lied about her, stolen from her, yelled at her and, on top of all of that, replaced her peaceful refuge with a daily war zone and taken my time away from her because it all had to be focused on them. We have finally taken steps to get them out of the house as much as possible and are working on rebuilding our family with the two kids we have left. It’s not only traumatic for us as parents, but traumatic for our birth daughter. I can’t wait to get back to semi-normal and not have to deal with them on a daily basis. I miss my daughter and the fun times we used to have.


  14. Momto6

    An amazing post…. And yet, “they” still won’t get it. You are absolutely right — unless one is living this 24/7/365, they can’t even remotely understand this journey. Our beloved daughter is now 16, but we brought her into our lives as a tiny, premature, abandoned infant. Nothing too terribly unmanageable there, right? Right?? WRONG!! We’ve been to every specialist, in and out of therapies, on and off of meds, diagnosed with every imaginable disorder and then undiagnosed, in trench warfare with regard to school, lied to, abused, alienated, manipulated, accused. We’ve spent a lifetime researching answers and seeking effective, meaningful intervention through endless professionals, all of which has educated and given us insight into things we never even imagined and, ultimately, done nothing for our child. We are beaten, confused, angry, hurt, alone, and utterly exhausted. We admittedly have lost control of our home and our very lives. The eggshells are a given and we don’t live from day to day, but hour to hour, knowing that at any given moment our plans will be upended — so, we don’t plan, we don’t go out, we don’t have people over, we don’t get involved or commit — we can’t. And it’s BEYOND hard. As of this writing we are once again preparing to jump head-long into yet another intervention — higher level and more intensive. Even though we’ve been through the wringer, we remain hopeful. We have to. It’s what parents do. They sacrifice, pray hard, and never give up. Even in the darkest moments. Even when the child before us becomes unrecognizable in her rages. Even when the behaviors boggle our minds. Even when we collapse in our grief and exhaustion. Even then we push forward, more finely tempered, focused on the next leg of the journey, and ever, EVER hopeful. How much easier this road would be if we didn’t have to travel it judged and alone…


    1. Celena

      Wow. I’ve heard people talk about wanting to adopt babies because ‘how much baggage can a baby have’? I never thought it would be as easy as some of them seemed to think, but never imagined it could be as challenging as what you’ve described. Judged and alone… sad. I’d love to say I’ve never judged another parent, but it would be a lie. It’s so easy to make assumptions without knowing the whole story. I’m sorry that you haven’t had people come alongside you and fight with you. You’re hope above all is inspiring though. I pray that someday this child can comprehend even a portion of your dedication to them.


      1. ASP

        Adopted infants through the foster care system do often come with a bag full of trauma, which might include the separation from the birth mom, prolonged hospitalization from illness and complications at birth, neglect, etc. And some people may not realize that newborns (and even babies in utero) do remember the trauma that they have gone through, but it is remembered within their bodies and very being. This is the case with my daughter whom came into my home at 2 months and is now 8, and the roller coaster is just as real and devastating to me as a mother as what Heidi and MOMto6 describes. I love my daughter by all the care I have given her over the years, more than anyone admittedly could or would have done for her multiple issues, but feeling that love is a confusing thing. She seeks to destroy or sabotage any joy, fun, normalcy we might have at home with the 2 of us (single parent), and most days I count down the hours until bedtime or the school day starts. When she is here, I wish she were elsewhere, but when she is gone from home for a longer period of time after I have reached complete exhaustion, I can’t stop thinking about her and what my next step will be to get through to her or help her.

        Being me is a very lonely place to be, but being her has to be absolutely frightening, so I keep plugging along. The hardest part is the years of trying to educate the ones you love about what is going on and what is or isn’t helpful, and being told that your wrong, she’s just like the other kids, you just need to relax, “they’ve raised “x” number of kids and why can’t I do it right with her?” I finally just recently accepted the fact that my near and dearest will never “get it” and I will not waste my energy on it any longer. Even normal conversation with other adults is difficult for me because I have been isolated with my daughter and all of her “providers” for 8 years. 8 years without going to a movie, out to dinner with friends, or most any activity with friends who have “normal” families. My one outing a month if I can get a babysitter is to our adoptive mom support group (for families with kids from tough places).

        My heart is for children and I have always wanted to foster more in my home, however, I worry that my daughter has exhausted my spirit, and I fear that I might not have the ability to give the love to another child that they would desperately need. When it has been so long since I have felt that given back to me, I’m afraid it may be hidden to deep to fro me to express anymore.


    2. Nancy

      We adopted a very traumatized teenage girl. She was almost 14 when she came to live with us. She is now 24. She has made great gains but she is triggered by my biological children who are 31 and 35 whenever they visit or call. She isolates herself and then rages on eveyone. So many family events graduations, engagements are ruined by her. We like almost eveyone else has given up everything, to help our traumatized
      kids. She has had years of counseling, pysch units, in patient behavioral home, make a long story short I am done. I feel like she destroys families. It is sad, part of me loves her but I hate how she treats my birth kids and grandkids. When is enough enough?


  15. grace

    We have fostered and adopted and have so many knives sticking out of our back its unreal. Been at this for 41 years and damn I don’t want to play anymore. We have had 5 teens (in the process of adopting 4 ) put us through total hell!!! 4 ran away, accused us of abuse, unfounded after investigation. Then a month ago we called our 17 yr old was called on shit regarding bio family, ohhh 2 days later we get another call the same as three yrs ago. Crap!!! And of course she is nicest girl you can imagine to everyone else. So we very strongly suspected it was her that called directly or indirectly to social services. We have had this girl since 7 and wow she only has 6 month of school left. yesterday another row with her ad she hasnt come home since. She is staying with our ‘FRIENDS” the people who have not walked the road. We of course are being made out to be these horrible people. Im glad she isnt here and will not feel bad if she doesnt return. It would be relief, as we still have 3 more fasd, rad, adhd, and my baby (11) doing better than the rest so far straight A student. Thank you for a place to vent.


  16. Debora "Rusty" Speake

    I just want to Thank You for this post. I could relate to almost everything you posted. I adopted my first trauma baby in 1999, his sister in 2000 and their brother in 2004. I got them all as infants so I really thought it meant it would not be as hard as an older child. I was so wrong. All 3 were born to the same birth mom and were born with drugs in their systems. As you can imagine we have been to all kinds of specialists and therapy over the years. I am still raising my oldest son but I had to dissolve his younger sister and brother’s adoptions in 2012 after 12 and 8 years due to safety issues. Did I mention I adopted as a single parent? I really tried and did everything I knew to do to help them. In the end, I feel I failed them but I did recognize that they needed more than my home could provide. I did what I honestly felt was best for them and for my oldest son. I miss them everyday and I pray that God continues to watch over them and keep them safe. By the time they were out of my home, I had given all I had to give emotionally, physically and financially. I went through bankruptcy. Thank you again for putting to words what I could not. May God Bless you…


    1. Emma

      Hello. How do you dissolve an adoption? We adopted 3 in total and the middle one, Eric when he was 4, he is now 13 and has been in and out of mental hospitals for the past 4 years. Presently in a hospital now. We adopted his half sister when she was 2 weeks old and the bond is so real and same as my biological son. Eric has hurt his half sister and my husband snd I don’t want him back home for the fear he would do it again. Although we feel guilty we know it’s what we should do to save her. 🙁


      1. Kim


        Emma, We are a group of mom’s who have disrupted/dissolved adoptions due to mental health/behavioral issues. Some of the women are in the midst of dissolving their adoptions. You can contact me and I can add you to our group if you need resources or advice. Also, there is Second Chance Adoptions on Facebook, they are a licensed adoption agency that helps to find new adoptive families for kids who’s first adoptions are not working out. I think their fee is $2,000. They have good results finding families for these kids. We also have some resources women in our group can give you but most are expensive residential placements.


        1. Anonymous

          I had no idea such a group existed on Facebook. Thanks for posting the link. I sent a request to join just a bit ago.



          1. Kim

            I sens an e-mail to everyone who wants to join just asking about your situation. This is to protect the mom’s in the group. Please check your “other” folder on Facebook, as the message may go there. I won’t add anyone until I get a response to the message. Thanks!

      2. Kim


        Emma, We are a group of mom’s who have disrupted/dissolved adoptions due to mental health/behavioral issues. Some of the women are in the midst of dissolving their adoptions. You can contact me and I can add you to our group if you need resources or advice. Also, there is Second Chance Adoptions on Facebook, they are a licensed adoption agency that helps to find new adoptive families for kids who’s first adoptions are not working out. I think their fee is $2,000. They have good results finding families for these kids. We also have some resources women in our group can give you but most are expensive residential placements.


  17. Emma

    Yes! WE ARE NOT ALONE. But what can we do to help them and help us when you have tried everything and you don’t want him back in your home for the fear of him hurting his young half sister, again? I really wish there was help to put him back in state system. He has been in and out of mental hospitals for 3 years and nothing has changed. 🙁 We adopted him at age 4 he just turned 13.


    1. Mel

      We just went through this as well. Our daughter was adopted at age 6, spent 4 years in our home abusing her siblings and us. We finally got her into a residential at age 10. She was in and out for 4 years until she was kicked out for sexually abusing other residents and making false allegations of sexual abuse by staff. We were told by the state we had to pick her up or they would arrest us and charge us with child neglect and abandonment charges. We refused, were charged, and she is now in the custody of the state. We could not bring her back in to our home around our 5 other children! They also told us after they found out how abusive she was that we needed to rent another house/apt and one of us live with her separately because if we let her back in our home they would charge us with failure to protect our other children! It was a LONG HARD road but so worth it. We hired an attorney and she was our lifesaver. It can happen. If you don’t pick your child up because of fear that they will hurt your other children, the state has to step in. They (DCFS) will threaten you but just know that sometimes in order to protect your other children, you have to do some pretty hard things. If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me meliharp8 @ gmail.com


  18. Julie

    THANK YOU! I came unglued today in a way I have never experienced before. I was literally hiding in my bedroom, crying, questioning my sanity and vowing to quit this godforsaken work of fostering four siblings ages 8-12. The decision to adopt had been made and yet today I revoked it thinking I couldn’t do it, didn’t want to do it, and clearly am a total failure at parenting. I cried out to God asking where He was in this situation. I know I can’t change these kids, but am I even making a difference? Can I change myself or accept my circumstances? The Lord used your post today to minister to me in a way no one else has. God spoke to me through you and answered so many of the questions I cried to Him about. So thank you for your post today. It truly made a world of difference to this failure, who is now beginning to view herself as a Warrior.


  19. P. Sharp

    Wow. Someone finally said everything I felt. I used to carry paperwork everywhere I went that explained my son’s condition. You know, for when police were waiting outside the grocery store after I had to restrain a small boy to keep him from hurting himself or me while he screamed at the top of his lungs “you’re breaking my arm”. And there was the 14 year old girl who along with a friend of hers, lied to the friends mom saying I hit her so she could spend the night with the friend several times each week. Imagine my surprise when I learned social services was investigating me. Friends disappeared, people I knew would turn the other direction when they spotted me in a store. I hung in there. I loved, cried, and loved some more, cried, and prayed. I survived and happily so did the kids. They are all grown up and living their own lives. And sometimes, every once in a while, they let me know they love me and appreciate me as a mom. And then, everyday of pain and turmoil was worth it. Reading this however, is the first time I ever felt like anyone had a clue, like anyone had even the slightest idea what a day in the life of a mom raising kids of trauma is like. So, thank you.


  20. Kristine Owen

    Yes! This is the path I walked! You hit it exactly! Wow! I have been through so much my mind is numb. It is too much to even explain to someone. It is all a jumbled messing my head. It feels great to put it in perspective with your blog.


    1. Kristine Owen

      P. S. I started a Facebook page called Parent Warrior, just to remind me that I am normal and a good person. I am not the terrible parent they’re trying to portray me as. It reminds me who I am and to keep fighting for my adopted child.


  21. Candace

    This article is a big glass of cold water to a thirsty heart. Wish we could be besties and hang out. Heck, wish I could be besties with all of the fellow commenters. We have a houseful of beautiful, broken little souls and two biological kids headed for sainthoood against their will. Feels good to see my heart ache and overwhelmed (at times) spirit described so perfectly. I’ve told God many times all I have to offer Him some days is my obedience. Other days are better, and every once in a great while we friggin nail it and I get a glimpse of why He chose us for this work… We can do it because He says we can! Love you for writing this. Solidarity, sista!!


  22. SAB

    Wow! You nailed it! Almost as if you have been living my life. You did miss the part about being thrown under the bus by my own spouse because my daughter had manipulated the situation so severely and planted herself smack dab in the middle of my marriage. It is a daily walk of forgiving 70 x’s 7. Choosing to love and praying to love like Jesus with mercy and grace, yet being so angry at times….I truly wish we all could sit for a cup of coffee.


    1. Heidi Weimer Post author

      I’m actually writing a follow-up with my husband and the effect on spouses and how spouses can support each other. Because, as you described, these kids know how to divide and conquer like nothing else.


      1. Exhausted

        to me the hardest part is how she tears my husband and I apart. Thank you so much for this place to share, I was praying yesterday that I wished I had just one person outside of God who understood. Our child was adopted at 4 1/2 now just turning 18. Never physically violent, good student just mean and nasty towards me hateful and yet I know she’s hurting. We are older parents, 71, and successfully parented three bio children, and I fear that this truly may be the death of me and then what would happen to her?


  23. Jenn Watters

    We adopted a 11 year old boy whom is now 20. This article made me cry simply because you hit tbe nail right in the head. It is such a lonely feeling and no one gets it. You are right! You get to the point where you clam up and don’t talk to people at all. Our story is a rough one, lots of legal fees, police visits, psych hospitals, outbursts, etc. however we are in a good place now but it is still lonely. Whenever someone ask me how he is doing I have learned to smile and say fine. Why waste your time talking to people who don’t get it or won’t get it! Thank you for writing!


      1. Kelly Williams

        Please don’t not share. I’m not an adoption parent but I know parents who are. This article is really helping me, even if it’s just to see them struggle and understand how they feel. I can easily see how these people could feel this way, how they feel such guilt for their feelings, and that simply saying”it’s okay to feel this way”might be huge for people who are used to just getting judgment.


        1. michelle waddell

          I shared with this comment “Anyone who does not understand what it is like living with a reactive attachment child please read this. I would love to feel more understood this year too.”
          I got no responses….. so disappointed in my friends and family.


  24. AF

    This came at the perfect time. Thanks for speaking our truth and for giving a voice. The validation is a appreciated.


  25. Tanya

    thanks for this. I have 5 trauma kids so I have never know “normal”. Needed your words for sure! It’s such a long, lonely journey.


  26. Sammy

    I’m so tired of the anger and darkness that is part of my life now–how mean and vindictive everyone is because of our little one. No one understands how one little person can radically alter the trajectory of a previously “good” family. Thank you. Because at least today, I have the reminder that I am a good parent.

    (Funnily enough, I’ve struggled lately with what my mission is–thinking it needs to be some officials ministry in our church. However, this helped me realize that really, every day is a ministry. Even if no one will pat me on the back to tell me what a great ministry it is.)


  27. Mario

    Thank you for this forum, ms Heidi. Didn’t know that others walked our road, too. In a place where I’m not sure we made the right choice. I have damaged, caused hurt and pain to my other children, in an attempt to help our trauma kiddo. And, to say find that our attempts have failed, would be the biggest understatement ever.

    I don’t not know what is the right decision. Do you know what I mean, when I tell you I. TOTALLY. DO. NOT. KNOW. WHAT. TO. DO….so, I take splice in what I do know:
    The Good Lord is AWESOME
    The Good Lord see our heart
    The Good Lord is SO MERCIFUL
    The Goodd Lord is SO FAITHFUL
    The Good Lord is SO KIND
    THE Good Lord LOVES me SO MUCH, and I’m so unlovable
    The Good Lord forgives….HE forgives me, and so very grateful for that one!!!


  28. anna

    My adult daughter forwarded this to me. This is spot on for our home right now. It helps to know we are not alone. AND the eggshells….yes yes yes


  29. Sarah Bauer

    Thank you for this great post! I wish there was a post like this before adopting, it wouldn’t have changed our decision, but more prepaired us for what was to come.
    This has been our house since 2007 when we adopted our two sons. I could explain this to friends and family and they would just say, ” he’s a good child”. So he would spend a weekend with family and be a perfect angle. He knows and still knows how to play them. At times when I tried to explain he’s chasing me with a broom and wanting to beat me, family wouldn’t understand. There was times when our youngest would have to call for help, so nothing serious would happen.
    There’s hope, I have to say this has been our best year with him. It’s the first time I’ve ever gotten a wanted to give hug from him. At times it’s a little weird tucking in a 14 year old boy at night, that’s what he needs, but what we need too.
    Prayers to all.


  30. Robbie See

    Thanks so very much for your story and advice. I just can’t do it anymore. I have lost friends and family. People see me as the mean one. What is wrong with me? People want to know how I can feel this way. My heart has been broken. Our daughter does not care about anyone but herself. She told us last night that her THINGS mean more to her and we do. She doesn’t want to be a part of the family at all. My husband and I can no longer give her the help that she needs. I am praying that the girls home will do some good for her. Once again thanks very much for sharing.


    1. M

      Don’t be too hard on yourself. What you gave those kids had an impact for good. Now is the time to recover. Some kids honestly feel safer in a setting where they do not have to return love. It is so foreign to trauma kids. Know that God respects the sacrifice you made and counts every tear you have cried.


  31. Connie

    Thank-you. Just Thank you for speaking my heart and my life. I was just sitting here contemplating how my RAD teen will be as a Mom. She is 15 and due any day. Oh the judging, the gossip, the whispers. Good thing I am a tough old broad or this adopting 5 kids would have killed me a long time ago.


  32. L

    This was our life for so many years. We have just dissolved an adoption. It was a hard decision to make. We could no longer keep the little children safe. There is a support group on FB for moms of disrupted adoptions. If you have disrupted or dissolved an adoption please find this group.


  33. Stephanie Seifrit

    Thank you! It is a lonely defeating and hard road and I needed to read this today. Thank you! (Adoptive single mom of sib group of three older international children)


  34. mom of two that we adopted

    we did all of the above & more. They were “damaged” when they came into our home & we did not know. They tried to kill us- have RAD + Bipolar, Antisocial personality & other dx of which I am sure the adoptive parents out there know of. Talking-sharing your own journey with “normal” people- they just don’t get it- have to live 24/7- 365 to understand.
    Both of our sons are lost- we tried- courts tried as did psychiatrists- Residential homes- Hospitals- therapy…… one Therapist ( trained in RAD & adoption issues (came close till the adult boys got in contact again. ) Not long after that – one son was arrested. Neither one is in contact today & stepson moved out of our home for intense dislike of 1- I almost wished I could go too!!! So when we hear of children being “gods gifts” I shudder to think of it that way. Adopted kids ( some) are in a class by themselves.


  35. Mary TheMom

    We have lived through this and come out the other side. Our sibling pair came to us from foster care at age 11 and 13. They are now 19 and 21 (although emotionally MUCH younger than their calendar age) and diagnosed with every letter under the sun (RAD, BD, BPD, C-PTSD, ADD/ADHD, LD, ED… but “present well” and most people believe it is all in “MY head ” — even when my daughter was leaving school weekly to be checked in to a mental hospital for 4 days until insurance kicked her out! My son is now in prison getting the support and structure that we could no longer legally give – and that everyone claimed he didn’t need.

    They are by no means “healed,” but my daughter is anxiously attached and most of the time able to live at home with much less “walking on eggshells.” I will never love my son. That’s hard to say, and I don’t admit it to those who don’t “get it,” but I have learned to accept that my role with him will always be Caregiver and Case Manager, because that is all he will ever (probably) be able to handle – and you can’t Love someone who can’t love you back.

    With a Master’s in Social Work and experience working with kids with mental illness and in psychiatric residential treatment, plus my two bio children (now 15 and 18 – yes, we adopted out of birth order), I thought I knew what I was doing. WRONG! Nothing is like living with it 24/7 (especially with kids going through puberty) and for a long time I had no support from Hubby, because he didn’t see it either. Luckily I found the blogging community (I blog at Muddling Through Mayhem), a local support group (COAC – http://www.nacac.org/), then BeTA (http://www.momsfindhealing.com/), and finally FaceBook groups. Now I moderate a FB group called Moms of Attachment Challenged Children (https://www.facebook.com/groups/147916451954056/) and try to help others. This has helped me grow and learn to Find the Joy (http://marythemom-mayhem.blogspot.com/2013/01/finding-joy.html). I hope it’s OK to link to this post on my blog.

    Thank you for this reminder! Mary


  36. RuthAnn Wahlgren

    Only those of us who have wallked it understand ~ my youngest daughter cost me lots of friends and a 20 year marriage. Even the ones who stuck with me really don’t understand. I went into it so blind ~ RAD was minimized & I was told love & structure would be enough ~ what a crock. I have had her for 15 years ~ she is 23 now. I have been told when they get older it gets better ~ again, another crock. She has been kicked out of every group home she has been placed in. No one can deal with her. Lies, stealing, food hoarding, threatening & assaultive behavior ~ she stole a cell phone off a dead man & couldn’t figure out why we were horrified. No conscience at all ~ and the world evolves around her. I am tired. I really don’t like her & if I wasn’t her mother, I wouldn’t deal with her. My husband tries to make me feel better by telling me she was broke when I got her & that I have done everything possible. My mother’s heart says there has to be something else I can do. I know it isn’t true, but I can’t give up on her. Altho if I were to die tomorrow, it wouldn’t phase her one bit…


  37. anonymous

    Thank you- I was at my end this week (again) so as usual God’s timing is perfect in bringing me to this post…..


  38. BJ

    We’ve raised one adopted child since age 4. Now 21he still has multiple psychiatric and developmental needs. Beginning the path again by planning to adopt 2 siblings ages 10 and 12 who we have fostered more than once. We are reacquainting ourselves with mood disorders and all that goes with them. The path is rewarding but sooooooo painfully stressful at times. Thanks you for your letter. God bless you all.


  39. Alone

    manipulated. Almost destroyed – personally and our marriage. Lied about. Lost friendships -CLOSE friendships. Anger and bitterness. Alone.
    So grateful for this email. So thankful for the friends WHO HAVE STOOD BY while the others believe unimaginable things.
    This was a gift to me. This post spoke to the depths of my soul.
    Our adoptions are dissolved. They lasted about 7 years (a 15 and 17 yr. old). Countless years eaten by the locusts. We are Still suffering from PTSD.


    1. mom of two that we adopted

      ours are dissolved also- doesn’t mean we don’t love them or we couldn’t still see them ( well one wanted this- not the other) we phoned, emailed & son stayed at our house ONCE- he stole $1,000 from our business ( office) & did pay us back a whole $100. We had contacted the police before & they knew the drill & also that son was ” sick”.
      Really, in time the PTSD gets better. Sometimes it does sneak back…… even after 7 yrs.
      We were also told “it gets better in time.” also “love conquers all.” Been to 3-4 group homes- we had one in court ( under oath) caught in lie about our sons they did really believe it was “poor parenting” as we tried sticker charts – never did as they TOLD us to. Cornered our poor s.w. & kicked the our sons out!!!
      Maybe the “blessing:” is that they do not contact us but yet we were almost killed a yr ago by a Natural Gas leak? The gas co was called- tech came & the pipe leading to the gas was screwed or twisted VERY loose by a tool & he asked me “what did u do?” We did nothing but the back door was unlocked & yes, he has the street smarts to do this- we have no doubt. Everyone thinks we are nuts or want to blame the “poor kids” for our bad parenting, but the police have records on this kid & were patrolling our home almost nightly for a very long time. Our home is ALWAYS locked! now!!! ( live in a rural area) Anything is possible with these kids- anything. I love them but don’t necessarily like them- understand?????


    2. Linda

      Thank you for this blog. It makes me realize there REALLY ARE OTHERS out there living my life, or at least, my thoughts and feelings.


  40. Kaci - BasketKace

    I’m sitting here broken and in tears trying to decide if today is the day I put my daughter in a psychiatric hospital because I just can’t take another moment of being afraid of a nine year old. Thank you.


    1. Mom to two

      Our son is in a residential program just for adopteds with trauma. Called CALO. Check it out. Insurance covered 5 months so far. But much better than a psych hospital.


      1. Beth

        Wish we could afford CALO…insurance won’t cover it. We have been trying to raise funding but it is so massive that the dent we have made is minimal… 🙁


  41. Rena

    Unwanted tears came to my eyes reading this. It hit too close to home as I work longer hours at work to avoid going home to the abuse and neglect of my now-teen adopted boys who express their hatred toward me every day in both blatant and subtle ways and I have almost given up trying to convince them of how much I love them and want the best for them and want to see them thrive and not be victims forever. Some friends get it and I do feel supported, but they don’t have to live it every day, day in and day out. I look forward to the day when my “children will rise up and call me blessed”. I believe this day will come and it will be worth all of the trauma of the past to know that they have come full cycle and understand the love that motivated the sacrifice and endurance.


  42. Donna

    I thought I was alone for years. I kept to myself because no one locally could “get it”. RAD? What is RAD?
    Thank you for being REAL & helping those who “get it”. I am in the trenches again now, it is bad bad bad.
    Prayers appreciated.


  43. The Perfect Mom of 5 until we adopted #6

    You speak directly to my heart. We had four children. I taught parenting classes and coached new moms through terrible times. I had it all figured out. We adopted #5 around the time that we got pregnant with #6. She was dropped into our lap. Her mom was in trouble with CPS. We took her in short term. Mom never came back. She steals. She bangs her head on the floor, the wall, the bed until she forehead is bruised. She set a fire in her bedroom and smashed holes in the walls. I’m called abusive because she sleeps on a mattress on the floor after the 10th time she smashed her bed. She pees or poops and then rolls in it, and I was told that making her shower is abusive. Compared to what?? Compared to letting her walk through the day with her own feces on her face? Oh she hates showers but only when covered in her filth. Any other time showers are fun. She has mastered the hunched over, puppy dog eyed, shiver that makes the whole world rush in and then I’m blamed because I don’t rush in because I ask other people to not rush in. It’s not because I want her to never know what affection feels like. It’s because I want her to know what appropriate affection is and that she’s loved even when she’s not being doted on and that being doted on doesn’t happen when you manipulate people. She refuses to eat and tells the world that I starve her, and then she gets caught eating out of the garbage can until she pukes. For a long time we kept a food journal just to prove to the world that we tried. I long for the days of our honeymoon when we could rock and talk and enjoy life. Before the rage. Before the real. Before the hate. I wish people could see that it is the desperation of our love that keeps us going. I wish people could see that we are firm because we know what happens when we’re not, and more than being liked and accepted by the world we want to be liked and accepted by our child. I wish the world could see that they don’t need a hero, they need to learn that they are their own hero. I wish the world could see that I might not be good enough, but neither are they.


  44. Jen Wells

    We aren’t on your road, but we love all of you who are and support you. It’s just so broken, all of it, as I see friends and family obey the Lord and sacrifice and get beat almost to death for it. All I know to do is ask Jesus to come and redeem it.


  45. Traci

    Thank you! I am nodding my head and saying, “Amen!” There are days in which I barely survive. And then there are days where we really do thrive. But the work it takes to get to those good days is the hardest thing I have ever done.

    I was so sure I could love any child. Especially love a child who had a broken heart. My love would surely be enough to heal a broken heart!

    But, it wasn’t. And then I had to admit that I didn’t even really love my new son. How do I possibly tell people that I don’t love my son? How will they understand? And the shame I felt for even thinking these thoughts was almost paralyze

    So I turn to my church for help. The pastors and leaders line up offering help and support. But funny thing happened; when we were at a point where people are getting hurt and police are being called or son has run away, no one even answered their phones. But, if a new mom is under the weather, the prayer chain is activated and meals prepared. I have learned my hurt and pain and “sickness” is not the acceptable kind.

    The result? I have very few friends. I refuse to be in that small group crap. And I feel very alone.

    I am beyond thankful for forums and boards and conferences where I can “connect” with other women. Sometimes, I just wish that woman was next door and could pop in for a cup of coffee and a hug.


  46. alison neagle

    Thank you so much for this encouragement. After one of the worst weeks I really needed to hear this. Ready now for a new day tomorrow!!!!!!


  47. Just Me

    Btdt…..lied about, holes in the walls, bruises on me, bio kids sexually abused, pets abused, CPS reports, kids pulled out of my home (including victim bio kids), a year long of getting kids back, dissolving some adoptions, kids getting pregnant while out of our home and getting kicked out of foster homes, kids in psychiatric hospitalizations, losing our home,massive debt, more lies,loads of friends, false media reports and blackmail by social workers. Absolutely unreal what we’ve been through because we said yes. All but two of the adopted kids are adults now and we finally have breathing room. I now know that I can have appropriate boundaries with the adult kids and I have a good relationship with most of them. Life has been tough for them with arrests, jail,prison and probation now keeping them in line while I get to be the sympathtic,encorager. Hang in there people. It’s never all roses, but it does get better. AND grandkids are amazing!


  48. Laura DeVault

    Thank you! I sat crying as I read this. It was like reading a page from my life this past year. Thank you for putting into words what I feel on a daily basis.


  49. Kristy

    I needed this today!! My church seems to love my adopted daughter with RAD so much while I am nearly invisible to them. Most of the time I feel so weak, beaten and never enough for this child. I needed to be told I am a warrior for saying Yes to her because I have told myself I was stupid and foolish for thinking I could step in, take over the role of being her parent and things would be okay. I needed to hear I was and am a warrior for what I have done and what I continue to do despite what I get or don’t get in return. I have needed someon to tell me what I am doing matters to God when it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone else. I cried as I read this.



    1. Wendy

      Dear Kristy,
      God knows. God sees. God loves you for all you give. I pray you can find the support and help you need. A supportive, nonjudgmental therapist was helpful for me!


  50. J W

    I am losing my husband because he can’t understand why the kids can’t just be disciplined and controlled. Our son who is 15 has been in residential treatment for RAD for 9 months now. My husband acts like it is a voluntary thing like a regular privileged boarding school. We couldn’t keep him at home anymore safely!! If it was cancer we wouldn’t be fighting about getting my son help. My husband just wants to disrupt and get past the trauma. Never mind that we have this boy’s biological sister in our family. That she and I will never want to push this boy from our lives. So heartbroken. This boy did act out sexually and abuse our biological daughter so I can understand my spouse’s anger and his position and am not fighting him except about getting my son help. I wish so much that people understood that this is caused by brain changes that occurred the months and years he was abused as a child. And could show some compassion.


  51. A trauma momma

    Thank you. Just…thank you. While we do not deal with the physical violence, the emotional vomit thrown at me (only me) makes me feel like I’m drowning some days. I get the egg shells. I have spent months looking forward to bedtime because sleep was my only escape. I’ve had her counselor tell me that my parenting was the problem, never mind the PTSD, FASD, and RAD our daughter is burdened with. I have learned that there are really very few safe places or people for me to be real with about what life is like 24/7. I feel guilty and question myself daily. Thank you for saying something positive about us parents in these trenches. There isn’t enough support out there for us.


  52. I get it

    74 comments agreeing with this so far. I see I am not alone! And I could scream out loud everything you wrote to everyone I know. I did not read all the comments, but I wonder how to deal with the regret (why did I ever do this) and the guilt of not loving (or even hating) someone you’re supposed to love. I hate my life now, and I hate what it has done to my family. And there is no escape. It has challenged EVERYTHING I believe in. So thank you for writing this.


  53. Sandy

    Thank you. We are just starting this journey, waiting for the day we can bring our 13 year old girl home. And while I can’t imagine doing anything else – she is already ours in our hearts – I am terrified. We have some good support, but I am already feeling the judgement and pity and isolation, and I am scared. But this is the place to where I have been called and I can’t say anything but “yes” or walk any other path but this one! It’s good to know that I’m not alone, and I can continue to be inspired by you and so many others who have gone before me!


    1. Janeen

      Stay connected here, Sandy. U might need it!! Feelings of hopelessness can be overcome. Truly. But u will need this support. May Gid go before u and grant u wisdom.


  54. Lena

    THANK YOU!!!!!! My child was adopted at birth, but we still live everything you described. EVERYTHING!! He has a dx of high functioning autism, but I have no doubt there is also some FAS and mental illness. We are in a crisis mode right now and no matter where we turn, we get turned away. I guarantee that the police officers who refused to arrest him the other night when he beat the crap out of me and shoved a 4yo to the floor would certainly arrest me for neglect if that 4yo had been hurt. How about giving us some help when we are asking, rather than waiting until something traumatic happens?? 🙁 There is so much more I could say, but…you know it, everyone here probably knows it… Lifting all of my fellow warriors in prayer!


    1. Janeen

      Stay connected here, Sandy. U might need it!! Feelings of hopelessness can be overcome. Truly. But u will need this support. May Gid go before u and grant u wisdom.


  55. Carrie

    Thank you. I am so very thankful for the rising tide of adoptive parents coming out to say, “THIS IS HELL.” I can’t go so far to say I wish it would have come before we started our journey 3 yrs ago, because despite everything, I still trust God knows more than I do about what I need. I might kick and scream and yell at Him because of it, but He is still good. We are in the process of placing our son in a boys ranch in-state catering to kids with trauma so that we don’t have to dissolve our adoption. That word was one that we swore up and down we would never utter. At the beginning, you know, when we used to villafy people who sent a child on an airplane because they couldn’t do it anymore. Things change when you live trauma with a child. You go to lengths to help your kid- and the other kids affected by that kid, that you never could have imagined. And blog posts like this one are the blessing of God that remind you that you are not a horrible person. We are NOT the solution to fixing these kids. We have been blessed to be part of their redemption BY GOD, and that part may be forever and it may be shorter. Saying yes is the only committment required. He WILL take care of the rest.


  56. Allison

    Oh my gosh, there are other people out there that feel like I do? So many nights I have sat on the couch across from my husband and said, “if one more person tells me how cute and wonderful our son is, I will punch them in the face. Where were they tonight when he did this and that and this? And if they saw it, then it would be my fault for poor parenting, or something.” And you so badly want to answer peoples questions openly and honestly about the process or situation, but you do not want to be the story that people pass around about why they won’t consider adoption, “Oh, remember Allison, she had this horror story, so I wouldn’t adopt that age child, or from that country, or situation.” This has been a lessen in mortification and humility. I have become defenseless because even when you try to defend or justify your emotions or actions, nobody will get it. You learn suffer in silence, fake smiles and half answers, while feeling like a tiger stuck in a cage that is way to small. Sometimes I feel crazy, and bitter and angry over the million other side effects that the situation has caused myself and my family; stress, weight gain, clutter, backed up projects, lack of social life and free time, the constant ‘on-edge’ feeling. My wonderful husband acknowledges that my feelings are real and justifiable, but then he reminds me that God did not ever say that we were supposed to live an easy comfortable life. We are supposed to embrace the crosses we are given, but hearing that makes me feel so guilty because by the end of most days, I want these crosses to disappear, while other days, I’m sad because I just want to ‘be enough’. I don’t want to need answers from doctors or therapists or specialists. I do not want to need the help. I’m tired of being late, tired, messy, and I want to stop drowning in inadequacy without lowering my self-imposed standards. I’m so thankful for this post today. I am not the only one out there.


    1. Wendy

      I don’t think you should feel guilty for feeling loss. You are suffering a lot of losses. You are doing something hard. You can perservere. You can keep the faith. I don’t think most of the examples in the Bible who suffered were thrilled to be in a crappy situation. The psalms are filled with people crying out to God for relief. Hang in there. Be kind to yourself.


  57. Michelle

    This post and the comments ring so true with my family. I have a few friends that have stood by us and truly helped but were very eager to give them back at the end of a respite. The ironic thing is our pastor talks about how God adopts us and loves us but his wife does not agree with adoption (I know this because she told me this when talking to her about us wanting to adopt again, she feels the kids are trouble and brings trouble to your life). *Sigh* So frustrating! Prayers and hugs for all going through this!!


  58. Jen

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. 2014 has literally been the hardest year of our lives and most of my “friends” have judged and rejected us. All based on ignorance. You’ve encouraged me tremendously. I wish you lived closer. 🙂


  59. Joy McClain

    I’m an author, blogger, speaker…blah, blah, blah…adoptive mom to a child of trauma. I’ve written so much about adoption, been an advocate for decades. I tell you – this was the most beautiful, raw, honest, real blog post I’ve ever read. I wanted to stand up and applaud and melt onto a puddle on the floor as the pain you described was so, “me.” I don’t usually leave comments on blogs or have time to read many others…but, I not only read yours and relished over the words, I shared and wrote and wrote and wrote about his post. Don’t stop being a voice for those of us who are beaten, weary and wondering, “Why did I do this?” We know why, but your honestly allows that conversation – the realities of our own trauma that translates from them to us…to begin and that, is a very good thing.
    There were a lot of deep exhales as hearts learned that they aren’t alone…
    well done,
    Grace & Peace,
    Joy McClain


  60. Shelby

    I saw your post and I was going to scroll on by . . . I have adopted an older child and have lived much of which you speak. I guess the wounds are to raw and the scabs to fragile. I was afraid your blog would pull them all off. And it did!! Weeping here!! We seem to be in that beautiful valley of lull right now, but I know, only too soon, the storms will rage again. I am conserving energy and stock-piling tears to face the next trial. Whenever we are in a peaceful place, I think maybe this is the time that it will stay, but I know, ultimately the grief and rage will return. So I will enjoy this time, because I know soon it will come to an end. I will keep loving my girl even when, if the world could see in our windows, they would see . . . tears, snot, sneering, spitting, other children sadly moving to the outskirts, exhaustion, desperation, and the small sliver of hope that our God is a healing God and he hears our prayers!! To all of you wonderful families who share our boat . . . I hear you and I understand!!


  61. Sheila


    Thank you!!! I want to scream, cry my eyes out, and laugh all at the same time. I want you to be one of my best friends. I want to share this and hug all those who really support me. This was the best e-hug I’ve had in years. I am beyond grateful. And, yes, I get the damn cussing, the bruises, the pain of difficult decisions, the anguish, the fear, the compassion. I know what unbreakable means. I know what faith is. I understand “it is well with my soul.” Love and hugs to you and all the Moms.



  62. Heather

    From the depths of my soul, THANK YOU!!!! You just blogged my everyday life and I am grateful to no longer feel so alone.


  63. Anonymous

    I am not in the trenches with everyone else in regards to this, but I have a very special friend who is very near and dear to me that is in the trenches. Your article has helped me to understand just a bit more what she and her husband and the rest of their kids are going through. I pray for them each day and try to find ways that I can help her out and to maybe take some of the burden off, even if just for a short little while. I may not be in the trench with her, but I am right beside it, holding out my arms for support, strength and a shoulder to cry on. My friend and her family mean the world to me, and my heart aches every day for them for what they go through and the knowledge that I can’t take their pain away. Thank you for this article because for every little bit more I understand maybe I can find some way to help her through this.


  64. **THAT girl's mom**

    Thank you for this post! While I’m not raising an adopted child of trauma, I am raising my biological 13 yr old daughter with RAD (as well as several other children). I can relate to this post in many many ways. In addition to all that comes with loving this child, I’ve also struggled with overcoming the guilt of knowing **I** did this to her, her struggles are a direct result of **my** inadequecies as a young, selfish, irresponsible, clueless, parent. Our Heavenly Father has been so good to save me from my past, to open my eyes and fill my heart with determination for her healing. But man it’s tough!! No one in my family understands, my decisions and approaches are constantly critiqued and judged. I have finally moved past the guilt (PRAISE GOD!) and transformed that guilt to determination and drive… But it took many years. She is in the mental hospital now, as I type, with more family counseling scheduled for tomorrow morning. My prayer at this point is that she will realize her goals are within her reach and make the choice to fight for them. The compilation of stories here, the parents struggling through this heartache and contestant turmoil, is encouraging! Thank you all for sharing and for loving these broken children who have no one else. Someday, we will all reap what we sew.



    WOW! As I am sitting here on my bedroom, trying to hide from the same old- same old stuff , day after day. Then I read this, I’m crying……. I am truly grateful for this post. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


  66. Lisalou

    All I can say is “thank you”! It’s been a long, hard road for our family. Not that I would wish this kind of pain on anyone but it’s comforting to know we are not alone in this “battle”.


  67. S

    While I didn’t bring home an older child the child we brought home at 6 months has more trauma we ever imagined. Coupled with 3 years of crises my husband has decided that dealing with the effects of trauma and stress on our marriage isn’t for him…so he left. Parenting kids from hard places “isn’t his calling.” Now I get to deal with another round of trauma to my son. My circles continue to get smaller. My life looks nothing like I imagined. I fear the abuse I may endure as my son gets older. The lack of a consistent father will just make it worse. Many days I just wish Jesus would just come back. I’m weary. I want to hope but hope is painful.


  68. AJ

    God’s perfect timing. I am a single mom of 1 and a foster mom to 5 teens. I cried thru this post. I needed this today. The “heroes” part was what got to me today. Especially when those heroes are the bio parents. The bio parents who’s rights have even been terminated on, and we still make the efforts to call them or text them. And there’s always an “I love you” there. So why does that make me so bitter?
    Thank you for your honesty. Yes, the rest of us are in the trenches with you.


    1. MOMof6teens

      I am right there with you… I actually looked online today for anything that would validate my hurt about my kids idealizing the bio parents that have not wanted anything to do with them for years. My two adopted teens were removed from the bio parents due to abuse and neglect. There are very few things online that support non-involvement of birth parents in abused children’s lives. It was quite a surprise to me. It is great to hear so many other people going through the same things.


  69. Angie

    Thank you for expressing so eloquently what so many of us are going through. We have loved our daughter from day one of coming into our home at age four. Now at age 15, we have exhausted all physical, mental, and financial resources and have had to involve DFCS to get help for her. It is so hard to love a child with RAD and other traumatic issues and at the same time keep those around you safe from harm. We have fought tirelessly for this child of our heart and had to prove our case over and over. Now that she has been in the system long enough for professionals and case workers to see her issues, I finally feel we are on the right track to getting the help she needs. It is ashamed that so many children and families are suffering through these issues and there is no support from the state. God is the only thing that has helped us through this painful journey. I continue to pray that my daughter will surrender to the Holy Spirit. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!


  70. Jann

    Thank you! We adopted three and attempted a fourth, I thought for sure I heard the Lord tell me she needed a family, not another foster home. I disregarded counsel from people who knew her, thinking she just needed us. Ha! She could be so good and yet so horrible. After 11 months of hell, and our biological daughter saying she was going to go live with her grandmother because she could not take it anymore and me feeling like I was losing my mind, we gave up. Social services just heaped more guilt and condemnation on top of what we were already doing to ourselves. It has been 15 years and it still haunts me, does God hold it against me that I was not strong enough? Now after all of our kids are grown we are in a church that supports and understands foster care and adoption issues. Wish we lived here then! I have tried to help out in this ministry but to be honest, it’s still too close. We have had other smaller issues with our other adopted girls and our bio, but still they don’t compare to sleepless nights wondering what she was going to do next. Thank you for your post and reading the comments of so many others who understand is amazing!


    1. Pam

      Dear Joan, I have felt the same. Did I let God down when I said no I can not adopt this sibling group and protect my family. Why can’t I be stronger. I know other foster families that can do this… What is wrong with me… The older I get the more I see Jesus loves us because we tried. We did our best in a horrible situation. No one should ever be put in a situation that they have to choose between keeping a family safe and intact and the result of that being turn down helping orphans. But it is the falling world in which we live. I too have sadness that no one knows but the Lord and my husband that I/we couldn’t make it work. And you are right social services added more guilt and shame into our already broken hearts. Praying for yours, thank you for sharing.


  71. Esther Massey

    I UNDERSTAND. We have raised over 230 foster children. Gave Birth to 5 sons, 1 died of Leukemia and adopted 7 more special needs children. Yes, it is a lot of work and prayer but God has brought and is still bringing us through. He has given us joy and peace in the darkest trials. I don’t think anyone will actually understand the pain or the joy that we have felt or understood when God says, “If not you then who?” or when your child doesn’t fit in the social norm. This is the ministry that we carry upon our shoulders but only through the strength of Christ. His love is what carries us. To God be the glory as we walk in His Truth. I’m gonna keep on singing and dancing in the rain!


  72. Tracy Chastain

    I am that mom and we are that family. We are in the trenches day in and day out and wondering if it will ever end. We feel persecuted, scared, judged, misunderstood, alone, confused, lonely, broken, drained. Yes, we are still fighting for our daughter, even though she has given up. We are so tired of living alone in this trauma adoption hell, the silence is deafening! Thank you for your honesty. Thanks for your truth. We need each other.


    1. TC

      Just another day of saddness. How can you help a 13 year old that just doesnt want to attach? Three adoptive families, and a lifetime of surviving. She is a victim making more victims. We have spent thousands of dollars, shed more tears than that, and are just not sure what to do. Heartbreaking! Our other kids are tired. Our hearts are worn. Our support system is small. Our pockets are bare. Our nerves are shot. Our health is declining. It is the most difficult thing I/ we have ever had to do. If not for the supernatural power of strength from the living God… I know that we wouldn’t even be standing at this point. Yes, it is that bad.


  73. C.J.

    Thank you so much for posting this, Heidi. It’s definitely something that has to be experienced to be understood. We adopted 2 older children from Africa, a boy and girl, and experienced major problems with our son. I distinctly remember an incident that happened a couple of months after my adopted children came home, in which I found myself and my 4 and 5 year old biological sons in our livingroom, watching as my then husband, who was a policeman, (yes, I am now divorced) wrestled my son to the ground in a police move, in an effort to protect them both. My son had stripped all of his clothes off and was trying to run away/ run down the street naked. He didn’t know his address, didn’t know his phone number, and had a serious, life-threatening medical condition. When my husband stood in between my son and the door, my son became physically violent. I remembered being speechless. Was this what adoption was really like? Being thankful for your husband’s police training? Hiding your kitchen knives in the garage? Spending countless hours searching for door alarms on the Internet? Just waiting for a call from CPS with a false allegation of abuse because you grounded your son for cursing at you? I am so inspired by each of you who live this each and every day. We were lucky enough to have our son accepted into Job Corps, but I honestly don’t know what we would have done if we were not been provided that option. I think the worst part about our experience was the very public nature of our adoption. As I said, my son has incredible medical needs as well (yes, they can be RAD too) and I had a blog for fundraising and advocacy, in which I shared (in hindsight) far too many details of our lives and adoption. My son didn’t start acting up until well after we came home (I had spent several weeks with him in Africa) and I had built him up as a hero to our friends, family, and brothers and sisters at church. It was a hard fall.


  74. g

    The best part was your last line about cussing. Because that’s where we’re at now. Our birth kids never knew daddy knew a 4 letter word until the change. One foot in front of the other. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat…..


    1. Kathie

      sadly, this is me…my birth kids never heard me cuss until the last year with our adoptive children. It’s really horrible and I feel bad all the time but I’m maxed out. I feel like I’m ruining the last remaining birth child we have at home.


  75. M

    Hi. Thank you for your words. I really needed to hear them……I didn’t fully understand what my sister and her family were going thru with their 2 adopted children until recently as we are now going through some similar behaviors with our adopted child. We have been foster patents and dealt with some truly trauma impacted children, but they all went to live with their families. If I knew back then what I know now, I could have helped my sister more. She paid the ultimate sacrifice. While trying to get her son help (psychological exam), her daughter (who had banged) had another seizure. She was accused of horrendous things. …. lost everything and everyone. I am resentful of my AS now as the triangulation and manipulation and “isn’t he so cute” comments from people. They have no idea. I am fearful after seeing what my sister’s family has gone thru what could possibly be a reality for my own family if some of these treatments or therapies just don’t work.


  76. Robin Pettit

    We’ve been in the trenches for 10 years. We are on the cusp of sending him away. He assaulted me in November and assaulted my wife this morning. He constantly curses at us everyday. I don’t feel like going into the details. We still have friends but not too many. Although my family doesn’t fully understand they are understanding and have stood by us and are still trying. It is still amazing to me that we shower him with love and he rejects it with absolutely no regret. He curses at us constantly and yells loudly when addressed. He was adopted at 8 years of age. I am a very rational person so I do not understand his irrationality. But I am starting to grok that much of it is emotional.


  77. Michele

    Oh please don’t hate or judge me. I relate so very deeply. I stopped even trying to go to church years ago because of exactly what you are talking about. I’ve lost my health by using all of my strength to hold my family together. The one who caused the trauma was not my child, but my husband. They looked at him and said, oh you are so great and would not hear me. Judged me. Isolated me. He finally got the therapy he needed but I am still homeschooling my youngest because of all that we endured. And yes, he went to jail twice, moved out for long periods, I did not simply take it or allow it. But always I knew in my heart that the Lord wanted us together and I battled with all that was in me. So much healing has happened in the past few years. God is good and I am thankful for you all.


  78. Donald Gaines

    You hit he nail right on the head. We have been judged, ridiculed and shunned by many we considered as “friends” and it is so painful that people don’t see or understand. All they want to believe the lies from a kid who knows no other way to live. We have followed our hearts and they are slowing being ripped apart and it’s killing our family that we have fought so hard for. It is so reassuring to know that we are not alone in our fight.


  79. Terry

    Sigh. The raw emotional honesty has moved me. You wrote about my life. It is a daily walk in faith and having some very emotional talks with Jesus.


  80. R

    My Goodness – THANK YOU. You were brave enough to put it all out there. This is our life. We adopted siblings, and have no bio kids, and I have to daily, sometimes hourly, minute by minute use my faith to get me through this. Our kids have been with us more than 4 years, and most think “how perfect it must be, they must be healing”, meanwhile wondering and worrying about the changes in us. We have little outside life now, few friends that “get it” and stand by, and as you pointed out, I honestly do not know what will happen from day to day. When daily trips to ER, stays in Mental Units and False accusations to CPS came, along with being almost bankrupt, I prayed HARD. REALLY HARD. Please Please show me the way. Mine is now in a residential program, and for the first time, we can see a difference. Not in the child, but in us. In our home, in our other child (the younger sibling). While we have spent crazy time and money to get them to appointments and therapists, it is deafening when the therapist cannot see past the manipulation. Also, I did giggle (thank you) at the comment to swaddle the teenager and rock them, same here, and Mine is bigger than I am now! I fear daily for her safety and for ours, and even if it were possible, we will never adopt or have another younger child for fear that the newer child would become the target. At the same time, I feel like a negative nelly, as I am tired of people not truly understanding by saying that we “saved our children” or we are “saints”, no, we are not. We are warriors who have put it all on the line for them, in the same way that we would for a biological child. Ironic that I am constantly told by my Angry one that she is treated differently. She has no basis for this, but it is a self fulfilling prophecy. No, I didn’t begin treating you any different, but what would you expect after some of the behaviors and dangerous situations that you put me and our family in? We had NO IDEA. That is ours to bear, but we find it ironic that our children have since been diagnosed with all of the things that we stated we couldn’t handle. Still, after all of this, I want the very best for my child, for both of my children. I KNOW that God has a reason for this, I just don’t have a clue as to what it may be. Irony also is that husband and I chose adoption rather than fertility, as we were afraid of the very same scenarios that we are dealing with now. So, even that part, I know somehow was part of the plan. Is it because he knew that my husband and I could bear it? I am not sure, but I cannot shout enough or cry loud enough to thank you for reaching out to those of us in the trenches. Our stays here used to be less lengthy. We have now been in the trenches fighting tooth and nail since March. It is a long time, and it seems no end in site. Also, while I would love to say that we have church support, that is not the case. I have reached out to other adoptive parents (there is a group) but have not heard back…twice. My younger was in preschool at our church and we were asked to have him not come back due to some of his behaviors. So, in the place that I seek solace, I am also filled with dread going there. My oldest has BPD, RAD, PTSD, and BiPolar, and my youngest has BiPolar and PTSD. At one point, I had a successful full time career, now I am lucky to keep a part time job with all of the appointments and issues that happen pretty much everyday. I only wish that others could see that I am not “living the dream” by being a SAHM, contract working when I can. I am rather, doing the best that I can to help support our family as I cannot manage all of this and a career. Thank You again for allowing me to vent in a forum that people “will get it”.


  81. cheri

    Wow, I needed this tonight. I am so fearful that I will lose my own, to parent the others. I have, too, lost all friends, my church and feel so alone. I feel, at times, that I have failed everyone. Holding it all together is not easy, but I will keep on keeping on.

    Thank you


  82. Zaz

    Thank you. A friend sent this to me even though I have followed you for some time. It meant a lot to me for someone else to see that this might be what I am feeling. I have hated Christmas break because I have had no break in the eggshells and drama and I am so tired and depressed. I am ever so thankful for the moms I have met at B.E.T.A (Beyond Trauma and Attachment – join their Facebook group now). When I feel like falling apart completely, they have been there to pick me up, even though they far away from me. Some day I will join them in Orlando at their yearly retreat so I can rejoice in their friendship in person. I can’t go because I had to leave my job because I am permanently on call for my daughter. Besides, she won’t let anyone but me put her to bed anymore (she has been home for almost 7 years). I am blessed with a school that tries hard for her and a mother that mostly understands and follows my lead. I miss my friends, though. I miss being an integral part of my church family. I miss being part of my community. I miss my son and husband who I don’t have time alone with anymore. I have felt terribly lonely. If my internet went out, I don’t know what I would do. I need these connections. I need to see that I am not alone in this struggle. Thank you for your honesty and posting this. I think I will pass it on to a few who may also need to see it. Prayers for all of the others here that “get it”. I wish I could take you all out to dinner and swap stories. Maybe then we could laugh at a few of them together. 🙂


  83. Dana Derrera

    Thank you so much for sharing. Today was one of those days where I woke up feeling like this is it I really can’t do another day. I can’t face another day being yelled at, accused of being a horrible mother, of ruining her life. But I did it, I did an amazing job of deescalating another screaming yelling tantrum from my 16 year old daughter and we ended our day in a time of peace. You put into words, very eloquently, exactly how I feel. And now I’ll remember, when I wake up tomorrow afraid and anxious about what that day will bring, that there are my fellow warriors out there fighting the good fight. Well done good and faithful servants!


  84. Melanie

    Thank you for the reminder that I am not alone in this isolating journey. Yes, everyone loves my son and sees “what a precious boy he is.” What they don’t see is the life we live at home and the Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde child that we are raising. Your words affirm my reality because sometimes, I even start to second guess myself and my perceptions. If no one else sees it, it must all be in my head, right! Again, thank you. Love is not always enough. 🙁


  85. HollyAnn P

    Thank you for sharing what I had typed so many times and then erased on my own blog because I didn’t have enough guts to post it as you did! As an adoption professional, I have already sent this to a couple of moms who needed to know they are not alone in a fishbowl of just me and them! As a mom of 9 one of whom was a teen adopted out of foster care, there was not a point you made about life with them that I could not shout YES to! We ended up leaving our church because our 16 yea old adopted out of the foster system and living with us less than a year became pregnant. Their response was to kick her out of the youth group with no alternative for her to connect and be a part of a Body with people her age. And this is a mega church that headed up a foster care movement in our community! At the time we needed the support most, we were then embattled in the one place that had been a refuge. And children number 8 and 9 started as our grandchildren until the cycle started up again that we didn’t have time to break in the 18 months their mom lived with us. So we stepped in when CPS became involved with them…and now we are working our way through undoing their first months of life that, well, you know the story! As an adoption professional, I appreciate people sharing transparently about the experience! It was actually one of my adoptive moms who sent me your blog link! I love that through the process, they can get a picture of what their reality will be when a child moves in. So thank you, thank you!


  86. Paige

    Hi there! I came across your post because my BFF had shared it on Facebook and tagged me. She is the adoptive mom of a RAD child. The whirlwind and daily ins and outs have been heart wrenching to watch from the sidelines. I read this entire post with wonder because she could have wrote EVERY word verbatim! I am priveledged to walk this road with her and offer encouragement every step of the way. I have pleaded the blood of Jesus over her and her family more times than I can count and I will continue to do so. This post encourages me to continue to hold her hands up. I sometimes feel as though what I do isn’t enough because sometimes I feel like “don’t keep telling her she’s doing a good job, tell her it will end, tell her it will be over.” Because as her best friend and a human, when we are in the trenches we want to know ok when can we climb out. But there is no easy fix or overnight solution. But your post encouraged me that she NEEDS me to say even 100 times, you ARE an AMAZING mom (and she is!!) you ARE doing everything you can and doing it well!! It’s ok for me to not have answers for her but just an ear :). As I finish this post let me say this, I have always seen her strength even when she completely doubts it but watching her walk thru this day in and day out (tears are starting!) makes me so thankful she is in my life! She truly walks in the strength of The Lord everyday because it would have broken me already!! She is amazing and strong and I want to be just like her! LOL thank you for your post for I know it helped her and it encouraged me! ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS! I am lifting you all up 🙂


  87. James Bruce McNaughton

    Reading your stories gives me great respect for all of the parents who have written, and a feeling of not being alone. And I have great respect for Quey Wagner, an alumnus.

    My wife and I adopted two brothers, ages 6 and 2 in 1997 out of foster care. We had no training, no support and no clue. We were told only that they were “active boys”. The alphabet soup now includes: RAD, FAS, ADHD, Failure to Thrive, and more. Their behaviors are eclipsed by some mentioned above but we felt that we were experiencing the worst of hell.

    The following is from my blog http://i-m-4-u.blogspot.com/

    The great thing about being young and inexperienced is that you know everything. At least I did. Before I had children I knew what every misbehaving kid needed. Before children I had all the answers. After children I don’t even remember the questions. But it is not just the young and inexperienced who suffer from omniscience. Experienced parents who believe that what worked for their kids will work for all kids cause greater pain. And the parents of special needs kids, in my case kids with mental health challenges, feel that pain. Sometimes from the disapproving looks of strangers, but many times from the comments of their own parents, family and friends.

    I was a perfect parent… until I had children

    By Jim McNaughton B.S. (B.arely S.ane)
    (Style inspired by Dr. Seuss, only for parents)

    Some children are brought home and sleep through the night
    They are corrected according to the books
    They don’t fight and they don’t bite
    And fall in line with one stern look
    The parents of these
    Children that please
    Sometimes take the credit
    They write books and give others looks
    When the others just don’t quite get it

    But we are not the parents of these that please
    Our children not only don’t get it
    They study us intently to learn our faults and
    Our buttons in hopes to upset it

    They can weave a lie without batting an eye
    They love the crowds all around
    To yell “you’re hurting me” and “I can’t breathe”
    Though you’re NOT and they CAN
    (And YOU just want to LEAVE)

    Try Love and Logic they say
    It works the best
    (Unless you’re kid has no
    Cause and effect)
    Put up a chart… Charge him for you to do his chores…
    You just need to be firm… You just need to love more…
    We know the answer… (Though we hardly know your kid…)
    We think we know him much more than you ever did

    So the next time you see my child and me
    Struggling while we go through the store
    Please lend us some of your compassion

    Advice… We don’t need any more.


  88. Joy

    WOW. I didn’t know help and friends were out there who were experiencing the same things we do everyday. The only thing I have felt is condemnation from professionals, and anyone I reach out to. I get, “Aren’t things better with the kids yet?” “NO! They aren’t!” AAAAAAAHHHHHH!
    Thank you for writing this truth so my husband and I don’t feel so alone.


  89. Beth

    So the overwhelming feeling I have had since adopting is loneliness and a sense that I was completely alone in these feelings.

    OBVIOUSLY, I am not!

    So…the question remains: Is there a place we can all connect? Is there an existing FB group or anywhere else where we can all chat or go for resources?

    Better question: Is there anyone else in the New Orleans area who would be willing to chat and/or get together??????

    email me at elizabethhouse6@gmail.com


    1. Deb

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I’m not in New Orleans, but have you looked for an adoption support group in your area? Doesn’t the state child protective services have any resources?
      My husband and I used to attend some classes through an adoption support group, since there are several here in NM. I imagine other states have similar support groups. Maybe you can contact someone from this organization and ask if they can refer you to someone. http://www.nmfiestaproject.org/
      We have a VERY difficult “job” as adoptive parents! We just have to get trying.
      God bless you,


  90. laura vaughns

    Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! We have fostered 6 kids, adopted 5, and have one bio child. The biggest shock of my life was the reaction from our church family when we made the decision to become foster parents. I thought we were being very Christ-like in our choice, but we had many people beat us down over it for such a long time prior to placement – and then wait for the slightest sign of trouble so they could “I told you so” with great pride.

    Every day – even on the “I hate you” and “You are not my real mother” days – I am so grateful that we listened to the Holy Spirit and forged ahead. Our family is a mess, but I love them and they love us (most days). God tasked us all with a overwhelming job. He did not ask us to do it perfectly, just to give it our best. Any parent who looks into the hate filled eyes of one of these kids and can STILL see beyond the pain, can grab a hold of their potential to change the world, and repeatedly declare it to a kid who has given up on themself and every one else, has done their duty well…

    Carry on, fellow warriors! The battle may be lost on some days, but the victory, in the end, will be worth the fight!


  91. Donna m hanson

    thank you for being out there to help those of us who feel so lost as warriors. I look in the mirror daily and think why why did I accept this pain from these kids. Asking for help is NOT it is then they charged me with abdonment. Yes they charged me, because I begged for her to be placed in a treatment center. Her bio sibling got court ordered because of his criminal charges. But when the funding thru court placement is done( or it runs out) they want to send him back home here I don’t want him back home here one of his criminal charges is arson. He burned down a home. So my only option is disrupt the adoption. Wish us luck. Oh did I mention that all the lies these kids have told and reported they say are founded. We are fighting that right now also. Thank you all again for being out there for us all to use as a way to express our selfs.


  92. Jo

    Thank you for this post! I cried as I read it because right now I am so very tired of not being enough – ever! I am tired of being told how stupid I am and that I know nothing and then 20 minutes later having the same 16 year old ask me in a baby-talk voice to help her fill out a job application. I am tired of failing at the job that I have strived and faught and struggled to be the very best at, the job that takes everything I have and more, the job that I feel is the most important job I have ever taken on. I am tired of no support and worse than no support, being criticized and further brought down by those around me (and that is after my children have already beaten me down). Everyday I pray for the strength to get through another day and whatever it brings. Thank you for your words of encouragement! We parents of trauma kids don’t hear those words very often!


  93. Pingback: Dear Adoptive Parents walking the hard, hellish, lonely road of trauma…THIS POST IS FOR YOU. And ONLY YOU. | Out of She Mind / heidi weimer | Musings of a RAD Mom

  94. Stephanie

    I came across this post on the Facebook page of a foster mom I met when she was foster caring for my then 11-yr-old step-daughter during a year-long custody battle (my step-daughter’s mother couldn’t handle her daughter’s violent tantrums any more, but refused to let the girl go to my husband and I, she wanted the girl to stay in state custody until someone could “fix” her problems, then get her back).

    Even though she is not technically an adopted child, her mother allowed her so little contact with her dad prior to us gaining custody of her that we face many of the same abandonment and attachment issues as adoptive parents do.

    This article came at the end of a very difficult week with my now 16 yr old step-daughter, and while I admit that I am thanking God that our problems with our teen are not as severe as many of yours, thank you for this message of hope and solidarity, and the encouragement to not give up!


  95. Natasha

    I love knowing there are 140 comments to this entry. At least 140 more people who actually understand. I AM NOT ALONE. It amazes me that there are others who know what I am dealing with. It is so validating, refreshing, freeing. Thank you so much for this article and for those that responded. That you to the person who sent it to me. Mental illness/ trauma is so confusing and hard to deal with. So much of it makes no sense. You doubt your own sanity and capabilities. Thanks for letting me know that I’m okay. I don’t know the outcome, but I pray that God will say Well done good and faithful servant. Even if I “fail” to save her I will go down swinging.


  96. Deb

    What you wrote had so MANY truths! No one truly “gets it” unless they are “in the trenches”, an expression I have used myself. I am very blessed to have a best friend that has listened to me every morning about my adopted daughter for 5+ years now. I believed my husband and I were doing God’s will when we adopted a 9 1/2 year old girl, but it has changed our lives SO much, that it is difficult to believe this is what He wanted for us.
    The manipulation, lying, mood swings, aggression, overall “feeling” in the house is so overwhelming sometimes, I just wish we could bring her someplace and be done with her. Other times I truly feel love for her – but at such a high price. I know that “someone has to do it”…these children need homes, but it really is asking too much to put up with someone like her. It is so discouraging. We had no idea it would be THIS HARD. Living with a RAD child is like living with an alcoholic. You never know what to expect from them. Many days are just a nightmare. It’s hard to believe we have CHOSEN to do this. The sad thing is, these kids need parents who truly love them, and I’m not sure they will ever totally have that, because they make it SO difficult to feel that overwhelming love that one usually has for a child. It is not “blood” that makes me feel differently about my biological son, it’s that he doesn’t make every day SO DIFFICULT. I’ve always said, “I could love any child”…God has really made me eat those words!
    I try to console myself with
    “Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” Mark 9:35-37


  97. Michelle

    Recently we moved 1100 miles. We left all we knew and everyone the knew us, with 4 adopted special needs kids ages 17-12, along with our three biological children. I have said in the last six months at least 100 times, I wish that my kids has some physical disfigurement, some clearly marked disability. When my 12 year old stands in the store and pulls down his pants to show his 15 year old brother his under pants, it’s weird to everyone around us. Weird that 15 year old did not have the common sense to stop him, weird that a 12 year old would be doing that, and oh the looks I got from the others in the store. How do you not have control over your man child? What kind of freak are you raising that at this size and age they would think it is okay to drop their pants in the store. However I knew that he, the 12 year old, was just super excited and wanted to show his brother that he was wearing the exact underwear that were on display in the store. He just did not say to his brother, oh, hey, I am wearing those today… Life is hard. However what God calls us to, he sustains us through. I blog to keep my sanity as well and have chosen a humorous and lighthearted option for looking at and accessing the brokenness in my home. Thank you for being the voice of reality for those that feel that they are alone, or for those that really needed an honest insider view of life in the home with special needs kids. Blessings to you and yours!


  98. Cindy

    We adopted our daughter when she was 8 and had hosted her through a hosting program. Not a fan of the hosting programs. We saw the biting, screaming, spitting, kicking, cussing me out behavior in hosting, but like so many others thought that love will change this. And there has been growth. But, it’s been five years now. Perhaps the line that struck me the deepest is this. “They have relationship without the commitment.” I think “they” get her affection, but she has no idea how to have real relationship. The level of resentment toward me is nearly palpable much of the time. She doesn’t want to attach to me, and, quite honestly, I have very little desire to attach to her. Our situation has not been as extreme as many – no police, no residential care, no DSS, no abuse of younger siblings. But the the stealing, lying, lack of conscience, hurting/scaring the dogs, the verbal vomit … It’s all there. Thanks for your honesty. You’ve ministered to my heart today!


  99. leah Huber

    I can’t even begin to explain how much I needed to read this. I know this article is saying “older” kids with trauma- but it is the same for “younger” kids with trauma. Sometimes I wonder if it might be even more confusing when the sweet four year old shows up with her pouty blue eyes and long blonde pigtails. Yes she is innocent, they all are- but they act/behave from a different place- a place of trauma. From judgement to discrimination to my kids being kicked out of nurseries/daycares to dirty looks to people out right telling me I’m a shit parent, “advice” on keeping “calm”, to living with and trying to heal from secondary ptsd, to court dates, crap visits, accusations and CPS- I THANK YOU for acknowledging. Not one of us does it for the “credit”- but to know we aren’t alone…that can help us to keep going.


  100. Holly

    How very timely! I read this in my 7th hours of sitting in the ER with my RAD adopted daughter (from China 10 years ago) waiting on psych to issue her 10th 5150 hold in 2 years to then wait many more hrs to find her a bed in a ped psych unit. Thank you for lifting my heart on such a rough, low day.


    1. Barbara Borntrager

      Holly, praying for you. We could not even access psych care because the medical profession would not give a psych dx until she was 18. Now that she is 18, they consider her independent and we can do nothing…


  101. Barbara Borntrager

    Our daughter was only 13 months old when we adopted her from China, but we have been through the same things. That was 17 years ago and one person suggested that we just didn’t love her enough. (That person is lucky to be alive!) Fortunately there is more recognition and support for adoption issues today than when we adopted. Parents of adopted kids are the strongest people around. They have done/are doing what the average person cannot. They love at a level most people do not understand. They are angels on earth!


  102. Linda

    Thank you. Out of 3 adoptions, 2 kids love us, have adjusted well with very few quirks, and are just regular kids. Then – there is #3, who was adopted at age 8-1/2 years. She has been our daughter for over 7 years and has yet to tell us she loves us. (I doubt she does.) Even when I think she is happy, she tells others how miserable she has been, and we hear of this in round-about ways. She is a wonderful student, and we often hear what a sweet, caring girl she has become. (I DO see this with others, but not so much with us.) Even our grown (away from home) children feel that we must be doing something wrong and on occasion step in to become her allies. In the meantime, I put forth more effort with her than any of my other kids, and still it is not enough. I don’t always feel sorry for myself, but right now, I certainly can relate to your post – yesterday was hard. You have been a blessing to me today. Thank you.


  103. Renee

    I am a kid that was adopted. I know I put my parents through alot. To my knowledge there was alot of people trying to be there for my parents at the beginning but at the end when things got bad they left. I’m sorry that alot of us emotionally damaged kids ruin family’s and the people that are helping us the most get the worst of all our anger, frustration and our hate for the word. But let me tell you this what y’all do is amazing. So I want to thank you. And not everything works out the way you want it but maybe one day that child (like me) will come to say thank you for all you have done and that we love you for saving us even from our selves! My story was not butterflies and rainbows. For 8 years I had little to do with my adopted family until about a few weeks ago we got reconnected and building a relationship. But I’ll let you know I’ve always talked about them and thought about them even thought we were not talking!!! See things happen for a reason. So again I want to thank you!!!!!!


    1. Janeen

      Thank u Renee. U give me hope today. Maybe the other shoe wont drop! Peace and love can enter my home???


  104. Stephanie

    A friend of mine has been through much of this. She has 3 siblings, and loves them as if they were her own. We do not live near each other because of our husbands work. But, she should know, any time she needs to talk or just ramble…I am here!


  105. Kristina

    Yes I parent a traumatized child.
    Yes my child has been shunned from churches because she either cannot behave or makes people uncomfortable.
    Yes my child destroys things, hurts people, and does unexplainable things.
    Yes I wake up every day trying to figure out how to do a good job with my other children in the wake of her latest crisis, disaster, her chaos, that she loves.
    Yes I cry.
    Yes I scream.
    Yes I beg for help, knowing that no one can help me.
    Yes I realize that she may never be any different than she is today.
    Yes that makes me feel like a failure as a parent.
    This year I chose to give up worry. I will set a good example. I will pay attention to the good stuff. I will treat my child’s behaviors like pitching baseball. I can only control my actions, my stance, my hands, what happens at the plate is out of my control, so I will not worry about it once the ball leaves my hand.
    My child may turn out to be a disaster. She may turn out to be a success. All I can do is show her how I live, and lead by example. If I show tolerance, she will learn compassion. If I show kindness, she will learn empathy. If I show discipline, she will learn self control. These things I can do. In the meantime, I will spend extra time on the joys. Teaching my other children how to read and write. Playing games with them. Teaching them to cook, and clean up after themselves. Hugging them, playing with them. She will learn that good behavior begets good attention. This is my resolution for 2015. What happens at the plate is out of my control. All I can do is throw the ball.


  106. Lisa

    I never would have sought out counseling had our foster to adopt daughter not entered our family, but it is court ordered. We were led to a Biblical Counselor. (Different from Christian Counselor) She calls it what it is. Sin. Our source is God’s Word. There is where we find the answers. We have to pay for it out of our own pockets because it’s not covered by Medicaid, but it is priceless. We are getting to the heart of the manipulation, etc. (usually selfishness) and correcting the temptations of the evil one. Everyone in the family (seven of us) is benefiting for it. Immeasurable! Hope this helps someone else!


  107. heavenspeas

    Wow. It is so reaffirming to read this and also the COMMENTS. I sometimes feel because our son was 4 when we adopted him (probably, we think he may be older) that he doesn’t really count as an older child adoption. It is reassuring to see how many kids adopted at 4 have struggled to bond. He is a GREAT boy and we love him so deeply but he just doesn’t get a lot of things. To me he is still such a baby so I have questioned why his sister, who was 18 months, doesn’t struggle to be a part of the family the way he does. It has brought peace to my soul to see so many other parents voice their stories of children adopted at a similar age. Thank you for opening up this dialogue, Heidi.


  108. Jenni

    Your comments are breaking my heart! I want you all to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Obviously!

    Hubs and I attended a conference last year put on by Show Hope called “Empowered to Connect”, based on a book “The Connected Child” by Dr Karyn Purvis. Every single one of you should immediately go watch the videos on her website. Dr Purvis has researched the traumatized child’s brain for 30 years and has fabulous ideas for helping you and your family with your traumatized child! The science behind her methods is truly fascinating. READ THIS BOOK! I wish I had been given the book before our first foster child arrived!

    Two immediate game-changing thoughts for working with your kids (that worked for us):
    1. Say YES as often as possible. If you have to say no to a traumatized child’s request, turn it into a “maybe next time we can do that. Let’s do X today.” the NO answer causes their brain synapses to immediately shut down, while the softer “maybe” or “next time” keeps the line of communication open.
    2. Do not ever do “time out”. Bonding with a traumatized kid happens WITH you, not sending the child away. When our last foster kid needed discipline, she and I would go to her room, close the door and sit together. This almost always led to a talk instigated by her, in which we would then discuss what happened and what could be better next time. Discipline is not necessarily punishment, more of teaching a better way to act or think.

    I’m praying for ya’ll!! Tomorrow is a new day, and His mercies are new every morning. =)


    1. Heidi Weimer Post author

      Hi, Jenni-

      Thousands of us have tried connected parenting with our kids, only to find failure when it comes to some of these kids. Some kids are so truly broken that no amount of Purvisizing will reach them. It takes miracles. If it were as easy as a few parenting tricks, none of us would be in this boat. That’s what’s so depressing. Yes, connected parenting is the “right” way to parent all kids, but it just doesn’t bring results with the most severe cases, which number in the thousands.


    2. Barb

      People even giving the perception of judging or having all the answers should show restraint when commenting on things like this. Referring people to information is one thing; giving more advice is just off-putting and makes the rest of us feel even less than we already do.


  109. Cara

    For me, the hardest part is how judgemental other people are. Suggesting we need to lighten up, that we don’t love that child enough, that we treat them differently than “our own” (their words) kids, that we are too hard…etc. if those people had any idea that almost every waking moment of my life is spent in this self reflective hell where I beat myself up over my choice of words, or tone of voice, or wallow in guilt over why I can’t feel the way I think I should or parent easily and effortlessly. I obsess over my child’s future and mental health, I pour over articles on attachment and trauma, I cry knowing I am not the parent I thought I would be. There is so much guilt and blame coming from my own voice, it is more than I can bear to hear it from others. I’m being crushed under the weight of my own guilt.
    And don’t even get me started on the “they are so sweet, I would adopt 10 if they would all be like that!”
    I truly do the best I can.


  110. Kathy Gratrix

    I cry at the honesty of this post.Those dealing with the effects of trauma understand and identify with so many statements in this post and in the heartfelt comments. There needs to be so much more education to the general public about what trauma does to children at any age. As an adoptive parent of 9 year old who was adopted at the age of 31/2,I am exhausted. I try to read everything I can get my hands on about this whole process. I began googling all the behaviors and the patterns and reactions from day 1. Afraid to make an error in my efforts how to help this child through the process. Trying to create the safe and comfortable environment leads to isolation and depression. The reactions of those close to you make you wonder if you have lost your sanity.”Parenting Your Internationally AdoptedChild” and “The Boy Who was Raised As A Dog” ….certainly helps to explain how different children cope with their pain. Feeling alone during this process and fearing to say the truth about this whole subject, speaks to the complexity and misunderstanding of this whole issue. The lack of trust in any human being is certainly understandable when you realize what is important to its formation. Anyone who is the primary caregiver knows that this process is more than demanding. The anger that these little people harbor inside is tragic. They see the world as dangerous and have every right to view it that way, It just kills you as that caregiver that they do not see safety even in the safest of environments. I pray for my little guys healing from the inside out…….That healing will take hold and the charming,sweet, superficial person will give way to a person who can trust and love in a healthy real manner. I also pray that our family can heal from the triangulation that occurs and tries to destroy the family unit. Thank you all for your heartfelt comments and for the writing that is so honest and real. It helps to have those who come along side you through the journey and try not to judge but to be a sounding board that we all need. Thank you!


  111. Kari Crittenden

    wow! I am not a writer so thank you for posting this and putting my life into words. I swear you just described my life this past year especially. Thank you so much! It is so real! I have lived it! I am happy to say though that my mommy group was pretty amazing when we were in the trenches with our 18 year old daughter. This whole experience has helped me to extend grace and compassion when I don’t understand what others are going through. We had to leave our church of 18 years because of a difficult situation with our daughter and I have also learned that there are ALWAYS two sides to every story, how damaging it can be to “friend” a teen without talking to the parents and to most importantly not judge and LOVE others like Jesus. I am rambling, but thank you so much!


  112. Carol Knight

    Where have you been for 23 years?
    We adopted 4 kids all drug effected we adopted them when they were babies. We nurtured them and hugged them and loved them and treated them just like our 3 birth kids. We have fought for help for 3 of them with schools and the dept of mental health and doctors and social services. I am thankful most of that battle is over for they have grown up . One we had to drop off at the Victory Mission after he turned 18 and then he qualified for help now he is in residential and happy and so are we for him we can see him and take him home. The oldest girl 19 now was promised a lot of help when she turned 18 but then the DMH retested her and dropped all help and care. She ran off was raped and molested and had all her money taken we managed to get her back after she was drugged and incoherent for 4 days. We had placed her guardianship with our county administrator and after all that they were able to get her in a facility but it is clear across the state so we have to take a whole day to go visit. The last one is 17 soon to be 18 and we are still working on that right now she is in a facility because we could not keep her safe and we were not safe from her. the oldest of the girls is about to be 20. She has overcome the drugs and is successful learning to be a nurse We praise God for her she is the one who sent me this blog. She and her older sister and brothers are successful and we love all 7 very much. But over the years “friends” have turned their backs on us and our family has never understood. Thank you for this blog. My husband and I have cried reading it because we have been there felt that and no one understands but you do. Thank you


  113. Called to be a Mom

    This whole page, blog and comments, should be required reading for every counselor/therapist/social worker ;-}.

    We had hired a “therapist” to help our then-16 yr old Reactive Attachment Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, BPD-traits-showing child to do some DBT to help her handle the pressures of teen life better. But instead, the “therapist” allowed herself to be triangulated by said child once she turned 18, despite warnings by us and by another therapist, and decided SHE could “save” our child by becoming the substitute mom figure. This therapist went behind the IEP Team’s backs even (yes, in violation of federal law) to gain this child a “permanent pass” to freely skip classes without consequence. She did not warn us of any mental health issues… in fact minimized them, before our child turned 18. And we could not even fire her, because at age 18… our child is an adult legally, and was the only one who could fire this therapist. Of course they didn’t. It’s been a hellish time that ultimately did our child (and us parents) harm and no good. Our child went cold turkey off of 2 psych prescribed meds once they turned 18, and the therapist said she could no longer discuss anything with us, legally, and even refused to take a call. So now we have no clue how severe of a mental illness we’re dealing with. We have zero rights to insist on any evaluation.

    My hard won advice to all parents…. if your teen exhibits mental health symptoms… even if they are stable on medications before age 18… please bite the bullet and wean them temporarily off of their meds at age 17 (if safe to do so) and get a full psych eval done? Why?? As parents setting boundaries, as parents who usually know the child best, you NEED to know what you’re dealing with when they are 18/19 and quit taking meds, or destabilize from other influences. It might not catch an adult onset mental health issue… but then again, it might, and you’ll still have some time, legally, to get them to better helps. Otherwise… it’s a very hard time of “what is disability?”, “what is manipulation?”, “when is a cry for help real and not manipulative”, “is there a real suicide risk, or was that more manipulative talk” that can actually put other children still at home in some degree of danger and/or negative effects. Not to mention how very hard such a time is on a marriage.

    And gee. If you get bad vibes about your child’s therapist, you DO have the right to fire them and find one that will include, and respect, the family. Hugs all!


  114. Terri

    We have adopted nine kids. Our first was a newborn adoption. We then went on to adopt three different sibling groups. We adopted 2 girls and a boy in 1996 who were 12, 10 & 11 at the time. In 2000, we adopted 2 sisters who were 13 & 9. All 5 of those kids had been in multiple placements and had been through an adoption disruption. Those kids are all grown. Some of them call us. Some of them don’t. At least right now, even the ones who don’t call, identify is as their parents. They were so good at appearances and so disfunctional at home. I grieved and blamed myself for a long time. Slowly, I realized it wasn’t me, it’s them.

    So, in September, we finalized on our three little boys. They are 7, 5 & 4. Here we go again.


  115. Terri

    Oh, my. someone who understands the pain. We have lost many friends, and most of our family. But all that matters is that on judgment day, we can stand before the Lord.


    1. Heidi Weimer Post author

      That’s right, Terri. I am grieving one of ours who has left our home prematurely. I did so much, sacrificed so much, and yet might not see the results this side of eternity. Others are going to get credit for saving her, even though we did all the hard work. But you know none of us does this for credit or earthly rewards. We have to keep our eyes, minds, hearts on the Lord. It’s all for Him.


  116. CaryManda

    Holy accurate and empowering. beautiful words. thank you, thank you, thank you. for putting a voice to what has been inside for so damn long. We are stuck in the trenches right now and heaven only knows for how long. Trying desperately not to be a “failure” and not knowing what else to do, where else to turn, with whom else to speak. Thank you. Thank you.


  117. Terese

    Thanks to everyone who posted, and to everyone who lives this! In a nutshell, adopted a boy age 6 from Bulgaria when bio son was 7. Our lives exploded into pandemonium the day he came home. Church became a no-starter. Therapies, team meetings, reading everything we could get our hands on when we thought “all” we had to do is love him and he would be OK.! My husband and I were afraid to speak the words of regret…Then, after 2 1/2 years of trying, doing EVERYTHING to help him have some semblance of a normal person, my husband is killed in a freak auto accident while bringing him home from a therapy session. More irony: we had cashed in my husband’s life insurance policy to pay part of adoption expenses – (I was the primary breadwinner as a physician so we kept mine). After that, finally got son the IEP we had been begging for, and I recall many an IEP meeting that had me in tears because his behaviors were attributed to my lack of a nurturing bedtime ritual with him!!!! I felt so alone. Two years later I moved myself and kids to another city, where adopted one’s behaviors became unmasked by virtue of others’ not knowing our history and making allowances for him. He proved to be a sexual predator of young children. I begged his school psychiatrist to prescribe RTF because I was at my wits’ end, knowing that I could not keep the children in my neighborhood safe from him. Once placed, I looked for a way to have him readopted, as I didn’t know another path to disruption. I completed reams of paperwork to an agency in Ohio (A Child’s Waiting) that promised to help me, but after reviewing his file they never called me back. Three RTF placements later he was pronounced a having completed “the program” (whatever that means), and was discharged. I would not allow him to come home because (1) at this point – age 17- he was way bigger than I, and (2) I was done with being hurt by him and having him suck all the oxygen out of my home, and (3) I did not believe for a second that he embraced anything that he had been taught at his programs. So, CYF took custody, and I officially became a shitty parent. I had worked with his team of social workers etc to develop a transition plan to get him involved in the adult mental health system with subsidized housing etc, but he literally walked out of his placement (which he was allowed to do after age 18). He now drifts among homes of “friends”, is unemployed, and keeps looking to me to bail him out. I have spent many nights awake weighing how allowing him to come home would help him, and I keep coming up dry. In the meantime, I am riddled with guilt for turning my back on him, while he accuses me of stealing his childhood by placing him, and insisting that he has no mental health issues. He has not had any therapy in more than a year.

    When people ask me how many children I have, mostly I now say “one”.

    This was way longer than intended, but I so long for validation and a “blessing” that I am not a monster.


    1. Julie


      You are not a monster. You are kind, caring mom – who has been to hell in back. I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your husband and all the horrible issues that you endured in our quest to help your son.


  118. Pam

    We fostered a sibling group. It was a hard road and I can related to Everything you have said. One of them at 10 years of age was a Master at manipulation. I could not turn my back for a second or she would set up a fight between her sibling and our younger child we adopted. The therapist of the 10 year old, said she had RAD but recanted when we had a team meeting with the therapist and social services. On the way home from therapy one time she wanted me to stop at a donut shop for hot chocolate and a donut. I said no we don’t have time. Her reply was oh really, I looked in my review mirror at her and saw her face I knew she was going to make me pay… I tried to explain that we were late and she didn’t want to hear it. And nothing was the same, she went to school and told everyone we don’t feed her. And her lies just got bigger and bigger… Adoption was the next step and we prayed about it. It was hard we knew they wanted to stay. And yes I had said to one we want to keep you too, but… We had a meeting and said no we can’t. I was in fear that the one with RAD was going to hurt our youngest child. Social services did not believe me/us. Said we were over protective of our youngest and favored her. Even though I had proof the sibs we lying and trying to hurt our youngest they did Not want to hear it. The sib group ended up adopted. This adoptive mom has done Everything she can think of to talk bad about my family. Our best “guess” is she is living the heck we lived and is mad. Other foster parents have come to us to this day 7 years later so and so is still talks so bad about your family. We did adopt another child and all is well. But I think that experience has caused trauma to my family I can say I am not the same and neither is my husband.. sad, sad. Our faith saw us through and a friend. All our friends did not understand and didn’t want to hear about it…


  119. Julija

    Hi! Thank You for this. It was what I thought and went through some years ago with my older adopted son – for now he is 30, he has his own family, but when he was in his teen age, I really recognized all police-men, alcohol traders, criminals in our district… For now – I can smile and say that it were very adventure-reach years. I was really happy when he became legally adult and I did not have obligations to control his life – and he did a lot of mistakes, but for now we have good relationsheeps and he can live his life… He came into my life when he was 15 – and I was only 26, so he was more as younger brother than son for me…Then – the next one – my biological son took him from school to our house. He was 9 than. Again – a lot of traumatic expierences. I hoped it will be more easy – I were more adult, had more expierence… It was well while he became 15. Agein – police, psychatric clinic, educational problems… I try to put knowleges insode of him, but – he just resisted all the tim… For now – he is 22, he has a wonderful wife and a little son… I am happy when they visit me. I healed. My husbend not, he has problems with attitude to past. For now – we have 2-years old. And my husbend is afreid what could it be when she becam 15… Fobia. We have also our biological children – but I think every one of them is winner becouse of our expierence together, we all know one another better and can tolerate more… But – yes, I had so extremly hard moments when I was ready to give child back becouse I just did not know what else to do and how I can help… Only one thought helped me – God never give us to carry more than we can… So it will be possible to survive somehow. But now – I enjoi my little ones; the big ones are over adolescent age. Hope small girls will be easer adolescents… ha-ha-ha. But I can at least hope, can not I? And – about all of my post-trauma kids – I just know that if I would not take them, their life forever would be without this family expierence (the biggest one – becouse nobody wanted him becouse of his misbehavior, and little once – becouse of great health problems). So – I just do my best, and, if God gave this kids to me – so they need me with all my plus and minuses, is not it this way?


  120. Bygracealone

    Thank you for writing this Heidi. It was forwarded to me by a friend – one who gets it. One of the few. I couldn’t stop crying as I read it because so much of it captured exactly how I feel and what we’ve experienced. I have not seen or heard from my son for 6 months. He’s 18 now. Though we are glad to not have the conflict and constant drama and trauma of him at home we grieve the seeming loss of our son and are learning to “let go and let God”. We’ve rec’d a lot of criticism for the letting go part. People perceive it as not loving him. Some of those people arecurrently active in the rescue mode as well. I do not believe we are good though I know that we have done the best we can in difficult circumstances and trust that God is able to bring true good when all we see is tragedy, pain and loss. He alone is our hope and our strength!


  121. brenda

    Thank you so much for this blog post. I have a daughter, it seems as if several of the comments have started that way. We adopted her when she was three. And she was already angry. The last year we’ve had several hospitalizations, numerous meds, several misdiagnosis, police and caseworkers who wondered why we didn’t just ‘spank her’ and tell her no, because she seemed like a normal teen to them. I had a caseworker who told me what a bad parent I would be if I signed my daughter over to the state to get her the help she needs. I had juvenile and police not show up when I couldn’t control her. She has hit me, kicked me, thrown things and controlled me. And I became a mom I didn’t want to be because I was tired, frustrated and constantly being told that ‘she just a teenager, she’ll grow out of it.’ I had a therapist tell me to use my I words and that good communication would fix everything. The last day in our home, when my daughter went at me, kicking and screaming, she told me “Use your I words like the counselor told you to do.” Effective communication doesn’t work on a child with reactive attachment disorder and borderline personality. I felt like a failure. Now I feel like a mom who did her best and who is still doing everything she can to get her child the help she needs.


  122. Bill

    My three adopted kids did me a huge favor. They helped me weed a lot of people out of my life that didn’t need to be there. That included many friends and staff from my church, the church itself, and a few family members. I was left with a pretty small network of true friends and quality human beings in my life. I’d rather have that than a large group of shallow and self centered ones. 16 years after starting this journey my two oldest kids are doing great. They’re not the perfect little suburban trolls that most of my neighbors’ kids are, like we need more of those, but they’re happy and healthy and loving human beings. The third is still a teenager. I’m sure he’ll come around too.


  123. Lorrie Larson

    Thank you so very, very much! We adopted our son just before his 8th birthday. That was almost 19 years ago now. We have been through so much of what you have written and we are so thankful for what you have been able to put into words. You have touched our hearts and the tears were rolling down our cheeks. You know exactly what you are talking about and we are so blessed…your words have brought such comfort to us….and such joy in knowing you truly understand…and the encouragement you have given is priceless. God is truly using your writing and life and we appreciate it very much.


    1. Lorrie Larson

      I have been where many posting comments are at, so absolutely no judgement here. I hoped and prayed my son would change for years and worked so hard for it. Believing it would come and this moment may be the one… I understand dreading getting out of bed, not knowing how to go on, backs turned and family and friends gone…He is our 4th child and only adopted one. Clueless professionals and so much more. Telling our grown kids that if the house blew up or something similar, that we didn’t do it…but had good reasons to expect it. Hellish is very fitting. Not an exaggeration. Years into it, I realized that my son had never changed, but I had. Now he truly needs to change, just saying, but what God has taught me through this is something I am now so very thankful for. My son wanted me to be tougher than him. With God’s help, and a continual, “Jesus help me, please”, he saw he was (almost always) no longer able to push my buttons…oh, he tried…and he knew I had become stronger and it became his security. He wanted to never doubt my love for him…but he constantly doubted it… until I learned how the Holy Spirit, when all my closets in life have been cleaned out, is free to work both in me and through me. The moment I told him I love him and always will, and the Holy Spirit both told him my words were true and touched his heart/soul/spirit with this truth, was the moment he has never doubted it again. He loves to hear and be reminded of the truth, but doesn’t doubt it. I had to learn how to love with a love that only comes from God. I won’t always like my son’s choices, etc. and he knows that, but I am thankful God brought him into our life to change us…and we hope and pray that someday that will be so for our son as well. God is starting to bring the truth of it all to light…that others are starting to see more clearly now and understand…and we pray this continues to bring healing to a group of those who used to be in our life…. As one person recently put it…I have seen him in action now and I see why you did what you did with him. Hang in there….what Heidi has written is true…God has a plan.


  124. Julie

    Thank you for sharing! I have been very blessed with the support of family, church, and even caseworkers but I still needed to read this tonight. We foster as well as have our own children (one of whom has significant medical and emotional needs). I have always clung to exodus 20:4-6. No matter the challenge of today, I have the distinct privilege of being in the spiritual heritage of these children and the promise that my love for God will bless them to a thousand generations even if their past has the power to curse them today. I do not have the bruises but I do have the frustration and exhaustion. The, ” but I thought we had made so much progress”.
    Anyway, thank you for the encouragement 🙂


  125. Missy

    Thanks for letting us all know that we are not alone in feeling defeated and maybe a bit regretful that we said “Yes”, it helps more than you may ever know. I wish I had known then what I know now. When I have changed my decision, No. But I would have approached things differently now that we know about PTSD and it’s effects.

    The hardest part in all this for me is the “Mama Bear” syndrome/guilt I feel about my natural children suffering to through this all because I said “Yes.” We have a family open adoption and it’s not like I can change my choice. We have little support from the family when in the trenches because of the “public face” of our son. I also constantly berate myself for not developing the same kind of love with my adopted son as my natural children.

    To add more salt to my wound my oldest child has left the family (gone to live with his dad and cut off contact with me) and the church in part of because of who I have to be in order to survive parenting our adopted child. This has given a bad example for my adopted son, made it an option he thinks he has because he has other parents/ family who he thinks could be a refuge from my rules, etc. He is only 13 and I know we still have the most difficult years still to come even after having him as part of our family for 10+ years.

    It is never easy is it? The truly crazy thing is I look at other troubled kids (family members and non) and think….”If it ever came down to it, I’d take them in,” even now that I know how difficult/awful/stressful it is.


  126. Jessica

    Amen to solidarity! In it with you parents, and not giving up! Have endured hard seasons and are now making some progress. There is light, even if you can’t see it, let alone imagine it. You are certainly not alone and God has not abandoned you. He is in warrior gear next to you. Continue to love deeply and be courageous. You are amazing!


  127. Lee h.

    I am an adoptive parent but I am also an adopted person. I understand what you are speaking of…the pain of being an adoptive parent and seeing the pain in the children you have adopted. I have been there. But what I want to you to try to imagine is the insane and overwhelming fear and confusion that your child feels each and every day. You had a choice to adopt them but they did not have a choice to be adopted. I am 48 years old and have just now be fun to understand the impact of my adoption and how i worked every day to survive. it. We first adoptees are coming of age. My adoption looked picture perfect. Support each other but I beg you to remember that your child suffers inside more than you can ever know. They on a constant state of alert even when asleep. I am not bashing you because if I did I would be bashing myself. Our children did not ask for this…we have to constantly remember that.


  128. nates7bs

    Amen. That fantastic graphic about RAD is indeed fantastic. It was the first time I put together the pieces about my daughter & realized I was not a crazy lady. The charm…it kills me and my kids who see what it’s really like in the real daily life.


  129. Ted

    Thankful and Grateful for reading this, as its such a terribly lonely, solitary trail we run/walk/fall/crawl on. Friendships. Family, even spousal relationships suffer. Even when strong and united as a family when all the energy goes towards “the one”, we still feel so alone. Life was never promised to be easy, and I’m not asking for easy. Like most, Like all, I’d run head first into a brick wall over and over and over if I thought it would do even the slightest good. Sooo many brick walls? True ones, and false ones. But all real. All Hard. Evil always throwing the false, but real walls up. “Stand” That was my word for 2014. To try my best to complete the year “Standing”. I did. But I don’t feel victorious. It does erase the countless failures as a father, the bad examples I showed to the other kids when trying to help “the one”. Standing. But the shame remains. Some days, Positive, optimistic, with energy/gas in the tank to go a few more rounds. Other days, flooded with, does it have to be this way? Should the 5 of us really have to suffer and endure this? How can ..this.. this home, this situation, these feelings, behaviors, and emotions be Glorifying anything, much less God. How just a slightly hint of a pat on the back, a “You have done well my son”, and knowing it was Divinely sent, could mean all the difference. Crushing doubt. Not in the Lord. Not lack of Faith or Trust. But personal doubt that I’ve simply and successfully mucked up an already challenging situation and Child even worse. Stand. Yes. But come judgement, will my “Yes”, also be rope to the salvation of me and those I tried to Shepard, or the millstone I tied to myself while ignoring the path intended for me. Thank you for this post Heidi. Thank you for the opportunity to just spew raw feelings and thoughts and know that some folks would be able to make sense of them and Get it.


  130. Momof3

    Wow. I thought I was the only one. I don’t really love my son and I didn’t think I could admit that to anyone. We adopted our oldest when she was 4 and shortly after, started fostering her bio sister when she was just 2 weeks old. Right before her 1st birthday we made the adoption final. Through all of this we knew that their brother was in foster care and we fought hard to bring him to our family. We finally got him when he was 3 and our oldest was 8 and baby was 2. I felt like the girls NEEDED their brother. I felt like we HAD to get him for them. I didn’t know that I would resent that all these years later. I just cant attach to him. my husband and i are both close to our oldest daughter and the baby is so bonded she could be biological, but that boy… I don’t know what it is about him. It’s not his fault. We chose to pursue him. We didn’t want the girls have to settle for occasional visits with him. But he has messed up our family. Or maybe I have. I think I rejected him early on. I didn’t mean to. But i can see the resentment building up in him. The screaming and fighting between the kids has resulted in more screaming from me and ive said things im not proud of. ive victimized them again with my insults and harsh words but i feel powerless to stop it. Im so overwhelmed. and tired. so tired. overall they are good kids but the fighting and the screaming between them has nearly driven me insane. Our oldest threatens to run away at the slightest provocation and actually did leave the other day, but came back after a lot of prodding. They are now 10, 6.5, and 5 years old, but the disobedience and the anger from all of them is getting worse. Sometimes I’m afraid for the future.


  131. Deb Kinsey

    Wow just wow! Talk about a drink of fresh clear water! You have turned my morning into dancing!! My husband got your blog and shared it on facebook. It’s like healing balm for a long time festering wound I didn’t realize was sooo bad. I’m too busy to examine it. Thank you for sharing these perspectives. We have been fostering soooooo long it seems. In our early Sixtys and not having too much fun here.. I always use to say when Jesus gives you all you can take He will come and refresh you, uhhh I don’t say that anymore. Fostered over 70-80 kids ( lost count, too busy to think to write it down) adopted 8. Five of them from birth teenagers now, the others 2, 4, and 7 when they came to be Kinsey’s. All of them mixed or African American, or just black. ( my husband and I and two birth kids are all white) that’s a whole other set of dynamics. All of them drug exposed at birth, 3 ADHD, 2 ADD, 1SBS ( shaken baby syndrome) 2 with seizures. Needless to say I have my psychosexual counselor on speed dial. I too have become a cusser, was one before I got saved and have returned to my vomit, sorry to say. My husband and I also pastor a church of about 80- sometimes 100 souls. Two other family’s have followed suit and have adopted. I wish so much I could be of more help to them but I have been feeling like I’m just treading water for sooo long. Thanks to you and your openness I don’t feel quite so alone! Thank you so much!


  132. Alison Graf

    I walk this road with you. 3 birthed, 9 adopted, 1 on the way… God healed us all and, as each one accepted Christ as their Savior, the crappy behaviors waned. Prayers for all on this walk.


  133. Susan

    I am still crying…thank you! I don’t love my daughter. It takes every ounce of my strength to not hate her. I have felt so alone. I’m so thankful that a friend sent me this.


  134. Kim

    Now that my sobbing has subsided, I can respond. I birthed 4 and adopted 3 (as a single parent). Everything you wrote resonates strongly. I spent years…yes YEARS…thinking I could not make it one more day. The days passed into weeks, into months, and into years. It has been 15 years since our adoption journey began. The terror, drama, loneliness, hopeless all crept into my heart and soul and changed me. As many have mentioned, my language skills have become quite “salty”. We could each of us write a book that most would classify as fiction, because who would believe it? Although our family is far from perfect (huge understatement) I am delighted and mystified that my most traumatized, most RAD, most violent child, now at age 22 is the most loving and most connected to family in the whole bunch. Only the grace of the Good Lord could have accomplished this. Thank you Heidi, for providing us with this place to share.


    1. angela

      your comment brings encouragement …. at 22yrs your child is the most connected and loving?! I know that is actually a possibility for my son – though I endured his name calling, screaming, fists, and kicks (he’s nearly 11) for over an hour today. He says I am not his mom and he’s not going to listen to me. He gets so violent it scares me. The punches and the nonsense are not half as bad as the FEAR, however… I worry about his future. (Perfect love casts out fear? there’s so much I don’t understand). Today was a no good very bad day, but this kid has a soft spot. His twin on the other hand… no soft spot. No connection in the least. We live side by side trying to avoid very much interaction so as to avoid reaction and intense mind control games. She is not violent, thankfully, but void of genuine feeling. Which is harder? Definitely the latter.

      I’ve been contemplating 1 Corinthians 13. Love suffers long and is kind. Seeks not her own. Is not easily provoked. Thinks no evil. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things… Love never fails. This kind of Love has to be a gift. I certainly cannot manufacture this… thinks no evil?? Doesn’t think that my child has ulterior motives and doesn’t think there might be manipulation going on but takes things as though coming from a genuine heart first and gives the benefit of the doubt? yeah. I’m not there. sigh, and I feel like such a wretched mom.

      These are NOT easy kids and no one, no one understands what it is to live with them, but the church has been supportive in so many ways even when they don’t understand. However people don’t call, or visit, and I do wish I had a friend to pray with sometimes… I try not to let the wishing keep me awake at night.

      God has been good to us through all of us. My husband and I are still close and on the same page. My three girls are an amazing blessing to us and have huge hearts for compassion and special needs children. We gained much… even through our losses and our pain.

      There have been times I am not sure I can keep going, but thankfully I’m not in the awful place right now, but the tears ran thick reading some of the comments here and knowing exactly how much agony is represented here.


  135. Anonymous

    I used to think I knew what I was doing. This adoption has caused me to question everything, my faith, my marriage, my ability as a father. Comfort and coziness is gone, at least I still have my sense of humor.


  136. Gaye powell

    This is so badly needed. It will probably take a critical number of adoptive parents telling the truth out loud to get any change. My two are now 22 and 23, just barely making it, and I agree that the so-called professionals and experts (with tiny exceptions) are the worst of all.
    We are not Jewish but the local JCC saved my life by agreeing to take not toilet trained 4-year-olds when all the Christian pre-schools refused.
    The first rule of all professionals seemed to be, “BLAME THE MOTHER”. The second rule is, “Pretend you know what you are doing even when you don’t have a clue”.
    I am amazed at how few adoptive parents abuse their kids, given the extreme provocation and the unbelievable lack of support available.
    We have two older biologic children who gave no trouble at all. We were considered excellent parents while they were growing up. Strange how it changes when you get kids with problems and baggage.


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  138. Anonymous

    Thank you for this post. My wife and I are parents to 4 kids through adoption and 1 through birth. Our oldest, now 15, was adopted at 10 with a pretty severe history of trauma and abuse, both physical and mental. A few years ago the proverbial s*** hit the fan and she had to live away from home for two years in a number of places. You know the drill after ER visit after ER visit and a couple of cops thrown in for good measure: acute placement in a psychiatric hospital, group home, sub-acute psych facility. She returned home in spring of this year, and though it has been better than I expected, it is really, really tough. You speak a very true point saying that your church and small group can’t understand. That has maybe been hardest for my wife and me. People in the church with cancer get the meal plans and the special prayer services, and the e-mails and calls that say “you look haggard, can I please (fill in the blank) for you today?” Mental health and trauma, though, are a lonely, lonely road, even with the caring, well-intending professionals we’ve worked with. Lonely. Oh so lonely. Nobody “gets it.” I know the scrutiny of DCF investigations (Oh Lord, am I now going to lose all my children because I spank my 5-year-old for lying?). I’ve sat across the room for “family” therapy (where the hate comes flying across like flaming arrows right for the heart). I know the feeling of constant eggshells at home (the knowledge that you can do everything right and it’s still not good enough to defuse the bomb). The depression (I used to be so hopeful and optimistic–now I’m just exhausted and hopeless). The anxiety (why should I have to picture horrible scenarios in my mind before I walk in the front door after work, always fearing the worst). The worry for my other children and their well being (it’s so, so unfair to them). The fear for her future (job? relationships?). I know what it’s like to love someone unconditionally who doesn’t want (nay, can’t even conceptualize what it means) to be loved. I know what it’s like to love and hate in the same moment–and to feel at the end of my rope–and to hate myself for even thinking that maybe the work for the one isn’t worth it for the damage it does to the other four kids (how do I give everyone what they need from a parent?). I don’t wish this experience on anyone, but there is a small measure of comfort knowing there are others who are walking the same road.


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  140. Janet Heinlein-Mann

    Thank you! All I did was cry while reading this.
    I don’t even know you and you understand what I could never even put into words.
    Thank you!


  141. Jessica

    I just want to say… Thank you. For putting words to the heartache, the thoughts and the tears. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Thank you for saying that God is proud of me. No one faces the same exact thing, but it felt as if you’ve been walking the same road and that we’ve had coffee together every week for the last five years… So for being a friend I’ve never met… Thank you.


  142. Nicole k

    Thanks. I needed this today. I am crying so hard not from feeling sad but from feeling relieved! I married a man who now has sole custody of his son who is the way you have described the older adopted child. I felt for many years like giving in. But all the PAIN, false DCF claims he made, lies, manipulative behavior, and hurt that is given makes me press on, I may not be his adoptive mom but I am deep in the trenches everyday (he does not ever see his mom). Grandparents, family, friends (those that are still here) just see the well manor’ed young man, and think I need to just relax, move away, or the worst send him back. Thank you again for the words of love, praise, and knowing i am not the only one in this. Thank you.


  143. Viola

    Oh Anonymous, my heart breaks for you. I have been there. Police visits, alcohol blackouts, robbing neighbors, overdoses, one where had his stomach not been pumped, we would have lost him. Seven hours of testing and a bi-polar diagnosis. Cleaning up the mess created by an abusive parent, being called names that made our teenagers eyes widen and suggestions to do things that are not physically possible. A turning point came when we finally felt he was old enough to manage letters his birth family had sent over the years. Accidentally, a letter to us from his birth mom was included. That’s where he found out the man he thought was his father was his step-father, the grandparents his step grand parents. And he learned that the people who loved him most had no blood ties. They had chosen to love him. I love the man he has become. He is kind, compassionate and my heart. I have told him that he was my fastest delivery, but my longest labor. I do love him differently than my birth children. There is a fierceness to my love for him because I fought for this love. I know you’re afraid to leave home. I know you’re afraid to go home. I know the problems with this child are putting a huge strain on your marriage. Find a good marriage counselor that you can unload to. Work on strengthening the two of you. Before the children there was the two of you. After the children you want the two of you.


  144. Mae

    I read your entire article but I have to admit I did not read all the many comments, but enough to know I and WE are not alone. I wish sometimes that others in my sphere could see the reality of my life with my two adopted children but when they do they misunderstand what they see. They have the solutions that will improve our lives together. They mean well, they love us, but they don’t get it. You all do and that will keep me going. Thank you.


  145. Ann

    Adopted 5 children-one with Cerebral palsy, one hyperactive, one who got juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at 3 and is in a wheelchair and one diagnosed with schizophrenia at 9 now living in a group home..then the last who was 4 when adopted who was sexually abused at 4 and diagnosed as bipolar at 11…The first 4 are a breeze-we can deal with those issues and we have loving relationships with all 4…but the last is exactly what you describe here-totally manipulative, liar, constantly destroying our home in her efforts to find “love” …we finally had to break communication as she would call at 3 am drunk and angry to curse and scream at us. There was never a way to do enough for her. Remembering that I am a great parent is hard even though I have 4 children who show me that daily. Dealing with the guilt and sorrow of the lost one can be overwhelming. But I continue on hoping that someday she will be able to deal with her own sorrows instead of blame me.


  146. Carrie Jensen

    Thank you so much for this post, I really needed it today. I am right in the trenches with you sister! Very few people can understand what living in the trenches is like. Our 9.5 year old adoptive daughter is the ultimate manipulator. I so feel that no one understands, I often feel people think I am making it up, because to the rest of the world she looks like a beautiful, intelligent well adjusted 9 y/o.


  147. Amanda Fazzini

    WOW. Just WOW! To read this and see that I havent been and am not crazy is weight lifting.
    it stands to reason that any “older” kid that is up for adoption or needs a home has been through something traumatic, resulting in their need for a home. These kids are good and wonderful kids, but this is spot on. SPOT ON. Outsiders with hero complexes, judgement, critiques and flat out accusations. I have been told, by actual family, that I am not considered their mother, but rather just a guardian. I have been told that my child is so unhappy they (outside person) just needs to get them the “hell out of that house” Our lives were flipped upside down, navigating uncharted territory, made even more uncharted by the fact that these kids were family (cousins) before they were our children, it caused financial stress, emotional stress, marital problems, depressions, self questioning, loss of relationships (both family and friend). All because we said YES. Vehemently, shouting from the roof tops, demanding to take these children in, and you know what? IT WAS WORTH EVERY, AND I MEAN EVERY, BIT OF IT! I wouldnt change my decisions at all. Because of saying yes, we are tougher, stronger, have a better understanding of whats important in life, and we are Mom and Dad. Lord knows we are not perfect, but We have made our best damn attempt at putting to little kids, great kids, on the path to a better life with parents who back them up and keep them on the path. If you havent lived it, believe me you have no idea. Bernard and I see the progress, we see the effect we have had, and it’s worth it. Because we said yes, we have a family.


  148. Kerrie

    Oh, you don’t know how I needed to read that. Well maybe you do. You probably do. I’ve had this speck of bitterness that keeps growing and growing no matter how I pray, how I arrange my expectation, what I do. It keeps getting bigger. Loving the unlovable. I cringe whenever I hear it quoted or sung. There is no way, NO WAY to even have an inkling of what that means unless you’re doing it. If you’re doing it, you’re in too much pain to sing. I have never hurt this much, ever. And she’s getting better. She’s “aged” three emotional years in the past three months. But she still treats me the same. Everyone else better. Me the same. Well, ok she doesn’t beat on me anymore. I guess I should be happy about that. I can barely even speak to her in a level tone anymore. I’m on anti-anxieties and anti-depressants and have a perfect doctor and therapist, and I still feel like I can’t hold it together. But maybe I can today.


  149. Anonymous

    Oh, the GUILT of not being able to attach easily TO your child! I SO get that. It’s a daily struggle. Thank you for making me feel less alone.


  150. Defeated

    I cried. And cried. I have 6 children, two adopted from Africa. I am right now facing jail time for “abusing” my adopted children. Turned in by people who thought I was to hard on them because of the lying, and urinating on EVERYTHING, for standing them on a corner instead of holding them closer. This was done by so called Christians and then our own church turned their backs on us. I love my children. They are my life! I was under the impression that “love is enough” and I certainly had enough of that. But then the challenges came and the friends left. The support left. Only through a very few good friends did I recently realize I am NOT alone. Did you hear that, tired and defeated parents. YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. Love isn’t enough. We need each other and it’s okay to be so frustrated and angry that you can’t stand to look at your child.
    I can only give myself to Jesus, but I feel so empty and exhausted that most days I don’t have the strength to offer myself. Thank you so the new favorite blog!!


  151. lhildreth

    I have an adult teen almost 19 who has been giving me a run for my money. He has stolen from his Father, stepfather and I. he is using drugs, mainly marijauna, and ? There are frequent arguments and just lately there has been violence and police called when I am absent ( working away). He did graduate high school but has no desire to work full time, he has done odd jobs here and there. I need to cut the umbilical cord but he has no funds to get a place. He has dyslexia and ADHD, his father took him away from me when he was 6 for 2 years under false charges so he is indeed a child of trauma. What to do next? My home has turned in to a battle ground and I am close to divorce as a result.


  152. J.W.

    As a friend of a family going through this, and acquainted with others at our church facing many of the same issues…

    I’m just in awe of what these parents tackle and accomplish. Loving the unlovable.

    Sometimes I’m an unlovable (adult survivor of long-term child abuse), and I just have to say that, watching these parents love these children when the kids are so completely unlovable…well, it has helped to soften some of the toughest parts in my own heart, and to help me realize that God really does love me when I’m not the beautiful creation He meant me to be.

    I can’t imagine that the words “thank you” would make that big of a difference, but what you’re doing does make a difference. Somehow, at some point, someone is affected and touched and receives some healing because of what you’re doing. Thank you for that.


  153. Shawna

    Amen….. True story, we got J at age four. We were his 19th placement (20 if you count the pedophile birthmom gave him to). He spent all of preschool biting chunks out of kids on a daily basis. When Kinder rolled around we found a few things that helped…. I can’t say “worked” because nothing worked. I was a few minutes into talking to his teacher about these things when she said “I’ve been teaching 33 years and I have yet to have a child I can’t handle.” Then she walked away. Four days later I was having lunch with my husband when my cell phone rang. His teacher was frantic “J just pushed a kid down, turned over a chair, and is now hiding under a table. I don’t know what to do.” I smiled sweetly into the phone and said “you’ve been teaching 33 years, I’m sure you can figure it out….. But you may want to read the behavior mod tips I gave you in writing on the first day”. Then I hung up. My husband choked on his hamburger and said “please tell me that wasn’t J’s teacher”. I just smiled and continued eating. I get so tired of educating people and them not listening or thinking they know better. J is now 13 and he is still with us. Life is better but six months ago he dislocated my thumb. It’s been a long road. We’ve also had others come through our home who could have easily given J a run for his money. We had a 7 year old little girl who destroyed a tv and our oak dining table. I have a drywall guy who comes in quarterly to patch holes. It’s scheduled maintainence. It’s a lonely path but it’s one I am glad I walking.


  154. Jennifer Ayers

    I could have written this. But now I don’t have to. Thank you for your sincere words and your attempt to teach others that literally have no idea what we go through on a day to day basis sometimes. My daughter was adopted at the age of 7 and was with us for 2 years prior to that in foster care. Our family told us not to adopt her. Our Sunday school teacher advised against it. Friends shook their heads. But we did it anyway because we felt it wasn’t fair to throw her and her brother back into the pond to fight to swim just because they were dumped on by their neglectful, drugg addicted biological parents. We did it anyway. And would do it again despite the pain and worry. Someone had to do it. Someone had to carry their cross. And so we did.


  155. Gina

    Wow, this is an amazing letter and I accept it humbly and graciously. No, it hasn’t been easy. It’s been so incredibly difficult. We pray every day for strength and wisdom. We try to do the right thing, make the right decisions, walk the dark road. We thank God for His help, and for those who do support us, they are the ones who hold us up and keep us going. Thank you so much for posting. And I thank my dear friend who shared it with me <3


  156. Annie

    Thank you for the forum. This is the first time I’ve ever “said” this outside of my own head: I’m jealous of the fact that my very hurt and broken 16 yo and 12 yo like our caregiver more than they like me. There. I said it. I’m so hurt by so many little things. They lie to my face, manipulate every situation and have made our home a living hell at times, yet they look like and act like perfect angels away from us. People applaud us and thank us and praise us: if they only knew how many times I’ve wondered why we decided to adopt. Our older children are confused and hurt. Our marriage has seen more fights in these two years than in the previous 25 years. Honestly, I’m so thankful that I work full time…isn’t that horrible? I feel guilty and hurt and still, I love these two monkeys more than they will ever know. I love how happy they looked on Christmas Day. I love how proud 16 yo was when she received an A on a math test and how joyful 12 yo was to take her Guinea Pig to show and tell. I love their blue eyes and the fact that 12 yo looks so much like me, people assume she is my biological child (she is NOT a blood relative). My goal in life is to get them through school, not pregnant, not addicted to anything and still have some portion of my brain left. Small goals for some, but big goals for us.


  157. Carolyn Caplinger

    Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone. Although both of my boys are adults now the pain is still there at times. My oldest son was one of those nightmare children that we were told to give up on and put into residential care, that that was the best place for him and he would live out his childhood there. We didn’t give up.

    With our youngest it wasn’t as much of a struggle when he was a kid as it is now as an adult. He moved in with his birth mom two years ago and for the first year cut us off completely. We still don’t have much contact with him. The only way I can contact him is through Facebook messaging. (We aren’t even friends with him.) His birth family told him when he moved in with his birth mom that he should forget about the past. Yes he should and they should let him. That’s the problem. They are the past and aren’t letting go. They have forced themselves back into his life and the life of his brother who was adopted by another family. The birth mom has them both convinced that she did no wrong and was never given a chance. I’ve read the file and I know this is not true but he never would believe me. It breaks my heart each and every day that, to him, we aren’t his real parents and don’t matter to him. We may not have created him but that doesn’t mean we aren’t his parents. We love him and miss him a lot.

    Sorry to unload but the pain is still there with both of my boys. My oldest has now given us four grandsons. And it is funny when he complains about one or more of the kids. In fact he came by today and was saying how two of them are really beginning to show their stubbornness (I guess you could call it). I had to point out, once again, that now he knows what we had to deal with when he was a child. I think he appreciates us even more now than he did as a child at least because he is seeing what he was like as a child in his children.


  158. Jeri Grothues

    In two days, we will yet again stand in front of a judge, lawyers, CPS workers (they are on our side and have been for five years), preadoptive parents, parents who have had their children taken away due to neglect and/or abuse. We will stand there and more than likely hear that our son is choosing to no longer allow CPS (we have a dual conservatorship at our request) to be involved in his life. This means that as of January 30th, his 18th birthday, he will be on his own. Most likely on the streets. He has options to help him, medicaid, college tuition paid for as a “child in care” all because we couldn’t afford $450 per day for long term treatment. We have to make the heart breaking choice to not allow him back into our home to invite total strangers in it to have sex, to take drugs, to drink, to sneak out and take my husband’s truck and drive under the influence, to leave his bedroom window wide open with the screen on the ground advertising to anyone passing that they can come in while we slept. After fourteen years of therapies, medications, treatments, psych. hospitals, RTCs, juvenile detention we are finally at that place that I have long feared…the end of having any control, of keeping him safe. I cry daily for my beautiful boy and pray mightily that He will watch over him because we no longer can.


  159. Darlene

    Could not of been said better. Our daughter has been with us almost 2 years now. She came out of residential treatment. We relate to so much of what is said here. Some family does not agree with our decision and sometimes we wonder what we did and why. In all my life I have never been treated with such disrespect as I(we) have by our daughter. On the positive side we have seen change in the last year. So yes we are doing something right. She really needs the tough love and strict discipline for us all to survive in this family and for her to survive in the real world in 4 years. The potential for her to do great things is there if she can get through all the trauma from her past. So glad we are not alone out there.


  160. Margaret Breeze

    Thank You for sharing this story, I took guardianship of a now 6yr old with rad, ptsd and adhd. This has been the hardest year of my life, I’ve had to change not only my life but the live’s of my children. To know that other people understand what we go through on a daily bases and they have the same things said about them helps us keep up the fight.


  161. SD

    Thank you for sharing your heart and though this piece was meant for adopting older children (which I do not have), I shared in your struggles as similarities are felt with children plagued with neurological and mental health disabilities. No one sees it outside the home, but close the door and profanity and physical violence during a rage is real and affects children, including biological. I am currently working in a pediatric ED and I have had the unfortunate experience of having parent after parent crying of brokenness as they watch their child rage. And yes the debt mounts as we maneuver through the ever so treacherous mental health system trying to find answers and relief that do not yet exist and as sometimes we scream to God that the weight given is too much
    To bear! And alas the sun rises and we are thankful for a new day with being blessed of the opportunity to raise God’s child reflected in His perfect image and the Joy of his Kingdom beams down giving us peace.


  162. Amanda

    Hi My name is Amanda and I WAS the unlovable. I am 30 years old now and have a wonderful family with 5 little kids all under the age of 8. We homeschool and have a little organic farm. I was 16 when my foster parents took me in. I was not easy to love at all. I was very traumatized by my father and I am sure my foster mom went through A LOT. Not just with me but with others also. She still to this very day is living under this and I can see it. Thanks for your encouragement to just “be there”. I know I would not be here if it wasn’t for the love of my foster parents but it took me MANY MANY years to realize it. As you say KEEP UP THE FIGHT! I am glad my foster parents thought I was worth it.


  163. Cher

    My daughter moved out this weekend…had her friends come pick her up at 7:30 am on the day of her 18th birthday…living with a friend who’s parents don’t have rules…and I can’t help but feel guilty that my biggest feeling is relief that our house is now so much more peaceful without her toxic attitude…thanks for writing this and for all the comments, just knowing we are not the only ones living this helps.


  164. Rita Z

    My heart goes out to you even though I don’t really agree with everything you’ve said in this article. Just a side note at first, cussing and using the name of the Lord in the same paragraph does not sound appealing to me, but that’s just off the point here.

    My husband and I just took two children back to their home country because one was dealing with severe issues. Now, others may judge us for abandoning a child because we “wanted our life back”, people judge us because we said “no” to someone in need and people judge us because we chose not to go through the traumatized path. Reading this article just made me more convinced that what we did was the right thing to do. If you open your heart and home to a traumatized child, someone who “nobody else wanted”, you also choose a path for your life and also for your biological children who are effected of the trauma as well. Is that what you really want? Is that what Heavenly Father wanted for you or for the children? Christ is all about HEALING, He came to the earth to heal the sick and the afflicted, not to traumatize them. He went through trauma so that we didn’t have to. Life is about learning responsibility and living a Christlike life.

    Yes, parents who want to adopt children have their hearts in their right places but just know that there are many ways to help a needy child and not get traumatized in the process.


    1. Barb

      I think you have to do what you know is right for you and your family. Wish I had had the courage to disupt.


  165. Noelle Downing

    My husband and I are going through this with our granddaughter at this very moment.. We are due to pick her up from the psychiatric hosp tomorrow. I believe God has put this message in front of me! ! Thank you so much for writing this. The guilt I have been feeling, because I am left feeling like I can no longer do it, ( we r her last option, nobody else wants her!) Has been so over whelming. The Dr s have no idea how to guide us. She will age out in two years. What happens to her then..? Prison, or worse dead because she lied on the wrong person ..? All I can do is pray for her!


  166. Rachel

    My heart hurts so badly reading all of the comments and I know that it can only be a fraction of the hurt that many of you are describing. I cannot fully understand, because I am not there. I just want to say I’m sorry! I am so sorry that friends and family have abandoned you! I am sorry that churches have hurt you! I am sorry that your YES has caused deep and lasting pain!

    I also want to say thank you! Thank you for being brave enough to share your pain and your moment to moment struggles. I cannot fully understand, but your comments have given me a glimpse, just a tiny glimpse, and that will give me grace for others. Your courage will help others like me to love you and your families better.

    Grace and Peace to you all


  167. Annabel Henley

    We lived all this – the judgement from church and those who only saw the charming kid. We are one of the ones that didn’t make it because of the harm being inflicted on the other kids in our home. Still feel guilty, but part of the guilt is the relief I feel at not having to deal with the toxic behaviors every day. The church we attended who offered no help or support except to judge our decisions now has an adoption ministry. It is scary to think they are encouraging people to bring home traumatized kids. Hopefully they learned from what they did to us. I don’t know as our therapist suggested we cut off all ties to them. Thanks so much for giving us a safe place to comment and vent. It is true that you can’t know until you have walked the road.


  168. Shelly

    This is a book on Neurofeedback for treating developmental trauma. This woman treats people from the adoption/foster system and really gets it. About 6 years ago after my daughter who was 4 1/2 years old at adoption had been here for 3 years and had gone through sensory therapy for a couple of years, I was at my wits end. I live in Orange County, CA yet the police department knew who we were. My daughter tantrumed on a regular basis and jumped out of the car (dippy here didn’t know there was a lock I could have put on in the car) several times, had taken a chunk out of my thumb and caused me to get staff infection and the list goes on. I was desperate and praying when I ran into someone in the hall at church that told me about Neurofeedback and how his daughter’s IQ improved by 20 points (tested outside the facility). At that point I would try anything and spend any amount of money. We started by going 2 days a week and after 3 months the tantrums were gone. I would go in an tell the person that did the therapy what I wanted to focus on and he would focus on that part of the brain. (The info that is noted in the book wasn’t out there) I discovered my daughter has Cerebral Palsey related to her left leg and did not have the appropriate reflex. I asked the therapist to focus on that part of the brain. We then stopped neurofeedback for financial reasons and I never gave it a second thought until I went to a specialist for Cerebral Palsey to have my daughter’s foot serial casted to stretch it. I told him she didn’t have reflex on the left side. He did the test and said yes she did. I found that really strange considering I saw the test done several times and saw that she didn’t have reflex. It took me a month to remember that we did work on that part of the brain. While my daughter has now appropriately attached, we are back in Neurofeedback to help her with focus. Because we just started back my research lead me to this book which I am going to present to her therapist so we can focus on what I now see as still some developmental brain misfiring. It is important to find a good place that does it but it really appears to be the first step in helping RAD kids. The RAD child has to care about the therapist to improve yet RAD kids can’t care about anyone but themselves. That is why developing the frontal lobe is critical!


  169. Nancy

    I was 40 and single, already had a teenager and an adopted toddler when I adopted a severely traumatized sibling group of 4. The kids were 3,4,5 and 7. MY other children were 16 and 2. Twenty years later I can say “Amen” to all of you who have “been there, done that” and are still doing it, because it doesn’t end when they leave your home. No one and I mean no one, who hasn’t done it, get’s it. And I have learned to say and mean, “I get them.” I get those people. I wouldn’t have wanted to know what I know, have experienced what I have experienced, remember what I remember, if I didn’t have to. I wouldn’t want that for my family, my friends, my other children. But I can also say that after 20 years of committing myself to loving them, regardless of their inability to “feel” or reciprocate that love, I’d do it again. I’d do it because I made the choice to love them and real love is fundamentally a choice and an action not a feeling and brings it’s own rewards, that are priceless. To those “Christians” who think we could have done more, loved better, been stronger, I say, “Scripture says that the measure that we use to judge others, is the measure with which we will be judged.” We, as parents of these kids want the same lives, happiness, successes, joys, fulfillment, whatever, that you want for your children. However, they too are individuals making choices and whatever the “reasons” are for their choices, they choose. I believe that only the Lord can help correct or heal in them what was NEVER intended to happen to them to begin with, but they have to choose to participate in cooperation with Him, just as they have to choose whether to cooperate with us as parents. We can’t make that choice for them and we can’t make them choose. We will stand for our choices. They will stand for theirs. And those who participated in their trauma, will stand for theirs. Because someone doesn’t love you back, can’t feel the love you offer and in fact, responds by hurting and traumatizing you, doesn’t mean you weren’t sincere, didn’t try hard enough, didn’t love them enough. No one knows “the real cost” of something, if they themselves haven’t paid the price. People have said, “They can’t help it or themselves.” Really? If that is true of them, than that is true. If that is true then no one who has suffered greatly, unfairly, horribly can “help themselves” and we know that people do choose and, do help themselves and do ask for help and do accept help and lives are changed. And if they don’t it doesn’t devalue the efforts of those who chose to love them and tried to help them.


  170. Sad Father

    The “child of trauma” is not always the older one. Ours was two and a half when we got her and she had been left at birth by a young alcoholic mother. She left at 18 and we can only pray for her.


  171. Sarah K

    Clearly a lot of us are screaming, “finally!” at your post. There are parts that made me laugh out loud because they could sound so absurd the average ear, but I know exactly what you’re talking about. God bless each of you for joining these kids in their suffering, which becomes ours. There are days when I feel I could leave my kids on the street corner and hope someone would pick them up. I don’t worry too much about them getting lost in a crowd or kidnapped. I’m pretty sure they would be returned shortly. Sometimes I forget how crazy my life has become, and then one of my extended family members comments that they haven’t seen my child hide under the table and scream this weekend and how impressive that is. Thank you for infusing hope, for supporting us, for putting words to the feelings we don’t even have the time or energy to sort through. I don’t know any of you, but I trust someday in Heaven I will!


  172. Noelia

    I am crying as I read this, which one of my grown dchildren sent me. No one believed that our innocent looking teen, adopted as a baby, would be lying and putting her family through hell even though they knew she was somewhat odd from the beginning. She is a young adult now and we are only beginning to recover from the damage that primarily started when she hit puberty. She was suddenly obsessed with causing scenes and upsetting people. I don’t even want to go into details because her behavior was so strange and devastating that we might be recognized. I know now that we are a strong family because we are pulling out of it.


  173. Lee

    My husband and I hoped to adopt my 16 year old mentee who lives in a foster care residence. She turned us down (but we’ve remained close). We then had two 15 year olds live with us at different points, both of whom demanded to leave and be placed in another home (this happens with traumatized kids – they’re too scared to trust). Each of these girls come from residences where the most traumatized kids are placed. We experienced all the stories we all know so well. Finally, we had a 20 year old college student move in with us (she’s with us any time she’s not in school – kids age out at 21 in NY). She is a remarkable young woman and very low maintenance. While the other 3 decided they did not want to live with us, each have told us they regretted their decision but, for various complicated reasons, have not retuned as of yet. However, they are very much in our lives – we don’t know who will move back in (my now 19 year old mentee is with us often), but our door is open to all of them. I do not know how anyone can go through this without the amazing support we’ve had. Our greatest support has come from the adoption agency we’ve worked with called You Gotta Believe here in NYC. We’ve had such great coaching, particularly from a woman who has adopted (morally, if not legally) over 20 kids. I know everyone recommends books, but she said that the philosophy in the book Beyond Consequences is the only way to parent these kids – and I have found that to be true and the coaching we received is rooted in that philosophy. I also read the book The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog which gave me such a great understanding of what trauma does to the brain. These books have been invaluable, but nothing compares to having someone you can call who understands and gives advice in the moment – those terrifying moments. That has been far more important than the required training we attended to become foster parents. Each foster parent should have a foster mentor! The one thing I’ve seen is that staying in their lives, even if they run away from you, often brings them back. I’ve had to let go and understand that I cannot control them, I can only make them feel heard and that their pain is real. And the greatest weapon I’ve found to disarm the kids is to apologize. I always have plenty of things to apologize for – I lost my temper (even though anyone would say it was justified); I didn’t understand; I spoke too soon; she was right, I was wrong… I’ve had my best conversations after I apologized so I look for reasons to apologize! Modeling the behavior has gotten me lots of apologies in return. I don’t know where we’re going from here, but my hope is that some, or all, will return to us. My understanding is the most successful placements for teens is with people they know – we didn’t know any of them in the beginning. However, because we didn’t give up on them, we are now a known quantity so we are hopeful they will find the strength to continue to stay in touch and perhaps even return. I’ve learned that sometimes letting them leave is not as bad as I thought it was – as long as you remain in their lives and give them the opportunity to return if/when they get to the point where they are ready.


  174. Anonymous

    I have adopted 3 children through foster care and the oldest has ptsd among other things. There is constant strife and struggle with that one. We recently lost a baby to “the system” who we had brought home from the hospital and loved for over a year…one that we were assured we would be able to adopt. Every adoptive parent’s nightmare. As I have been walking out my grief at this loss, I find myself thinking at times that I wish it was the other child they had taken. Until I read this post, I thought that no one would understand that. That I was a horrible parent. Thank you for giving me the safety to release my guilt and my grief to someone who understands…who won’t think I’m a monster for even having the thought.


  175. Rebecca

    My adult social worker daughter shared this with me. Wow, what can I say? I had no idea that so many people were in this same hell as we have been for the past 25 years. After four birth children we were very willing to take our 4 year old niece into our family. After all, we were mature, experienced parents. She has been physically abused, emotionally and physically neglected and both bio parents were chronic alcoholics. She has been in counseling since the first month we had her. Numerous out of home placements, numerous mental hospitals, numerous suicide attempts, dropped out of alternative school, severe bullemia since age 11, more hospitalizations, tried to commit her once, social services file six inches thick at least. Then as an adult, rape victim, numerous treatments for chemical dependency, stealing from us and her grandfather, marrying, having a wonderful child but divorcing her husband after a year, and a half leaving him to raise the child, only to take up with serial abusive men, in jail several times, accusing my husband of inappropriate behavior, becoming addicted to meth, being beat up by yet another boyfriend, being homeless numerous times, back in our home over and over again. And now nearly 30 years old she is homeless and pregnant by the abuser she left, sleeping on our couch. Our life is a bad soap opera because of this child, yet I love her so much, but I have become numb. But yes, there have been numerous times I have felt actual hatred for her, only to feel incredible guilt the next minute. And guilt that my other children have suffered and been neglected as adults. No one who hasn’t lived it can possibly understand. Almost from day one she has tried to come between my husband and I. I think she finally understands that it is useless to try. She has a unnatural over attachment to me, even as she has physically and emotionally abused me, but she has never really attached to her father. She has lately become a bit more civil and somewhat grateful for our support, but she has never felt a real part of our family. And yes, her hero is her bio father, now dead from alcohol and drug abuse, even though he was never a real father to her. Unless you have been through it, there is no way you can really understand. I am so glad I read this blog. Alanon has helped me keep my sanity.


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  177. Lisa Kochis

    This is our story. Our 13 year old son, whom we adopted 5 years ago. …PTSD, RAD, Sexual assault on his mom and sister. This is our story. We are in the midst of this and it hurts so bad. We said “Yes” and we have been alienated and criticized and have to face extremely difficult decisions for the sake of the rest of our family. I begged the Lord to answer the big “Why” question. …”Why would you have us adopt this child as our own for him to hurt every one of us so, so badly?” My God graciously answered me with a question back. ” Would you do it all over again if it meant he would spend Eternity with Me?” Of course, I said “Yes” …again.


  178. jdm

    My parents adopted 5 kids several years ago. The kids are a challenge, but to spite abuse, bio-mom drinking and doing drugs while pregnant, and various abandonings, the kids are doing well. The thing is, my folks used to have a social life. Most of their friends bailed when the kids came along. Us adult children and our spouses are now their main source of friendship. #realfriendsdon’tbail


    1. Jan

      Good for you!! All of our friends have bailed to some degree or another. Many would be surprised to find out I said that, and would wonder how I could say that they’ve “bailed,” but they never call, and are practically out of our lives. We’ve gotten the occasional pity gift, and one will listen if I call her–but I’ve learned not to call very often (maybe once every 8 weeks or so), so I don’t bum her out with my “whining.”


  179. Rebecca

    The thing is that social workers, therapists, and treatment centers do not know what to make of these kids. They are so good at manipulating and “faking it” that they can bluff their way past every “professional”. Then the “professionals” think there must be something wrong with us parents. My daughter got released from numerous treatment centers by convincing the doctors that she was fine. She definitely was not. They can’t even diagnose what is wrong. I never even heard the words Reactive attachment disorder until she was an adult. There was bipolar, oppositional defiance, borderline personality disorder, depression, and more. She was medicated into a stupor and then sent to foster care because she couldn’t get out of bed for school. Never once did any therapist really get to the bottom of her problems or address her early trauma adequately.


  180. Nikki

    I have a 5 year old foster son who I would love nothing more than to adopt should the powers that be ever realize that he is way too traumatized to ever live with his bio again. This summer at 4 1/2 yo, he was psychiactrically hospitalized twice. I know this article was written about older and already adopted kids, but I think we are wading through the same trenches here. He has been the love of my life for a year and a half now and I can’t imagine my life without him. However, this road has been harder than I would have ever thought possible. I’ve shown up places and had people question if I was safe in my home or in an abusive relationship because my preschooler had harmed me so severely. He regularly self harms as well and I’m surprised there haven’t been false allegations. Every time he has a visit with his bio, he comes home full of rage and terror. He has PTSD episodes so severe that he is left shaking and crying or raging and swinging fists. He has night terrors that shake you to the core to watch. Then there are the manic episodes where he is hallucinating, running away, or trying to jump out of a moving car into the highway.

    The way people within the church responded to his mental health issues was just sickening. Following his first hospitalization, he was no longer welcome back at the church we attended. Thankfully, God dumped us into a church with a bunch of other foster and adoptive families who get it. I can talk about what is going on and not get the pity looks or the ‘don’t let your kid be around my kid’ looks. I hope and pray that each of you can find a supportive community of like-minded people who understand that just because something is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. My kid is worth it. Yours is too. Keep going!!


  181. Hannah

    thank you for this post. Although I’m thinking back here….I relate to everything you say, and believe it whole heartedly. My adopted child that put our family through the pain you are speaking of is now 40. During the raising of him my thoughts were “I will NEVER raise a child that is not my own again!!” “Raising a child that is your not your own is the hardest thing in the world!!.” He would never call me Mom…only by my name. My other children had a totally different life because of the adoption, and the turmoil of his childhood. At age 18 he told me “You stole my childhood, you ruined my life” . Bu age 30, he said he was sorry. Honestly, it took me a season to rest in his apology. At age 40….he is an amazing man, brother, husband and Dad.I use to say, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with him” and now I say “I don’t know what I’d do without him”. He calls me Mom.


  182. Laura Johnson

    Thank you so much for writing our hearts. My neighbors no longer talk to me, we have changed churches and small groups ( we used to be church leaders), the only friends we have left are Adoptive\Foster parents themselves and even then some of them have accused us of trying to “scare” people away from adoption when we spoke in our support groups. We have lost so much, but I do believe with all my heart that we, my husband and I, and my son are healthier for it. I have found my strength in this journey. I have learned that pleasing people is overrated and exhausting. I have learned that self care is NOT selfish. I have learned that my husband IS my best friend. He and I have been stretched to our very limits and have grown. My son has a long way to go to recovery, but after 4 years (we adopted him at age 12), he is finally talking….working through his trauma. It is hard, painful, messy, and downright ugly, and he is taking us through every bit of it with him, but with each passing day I believe he is growing and learning. There was a time when we felt pretty hopeless, but not now. Its still the most difficult time of our lives, but we can see the glimmer of the man I know he can be, that he would have been without all this trauma. Thank you again for your heart, and your words. Is it wrong to say I feel vindicated…haha!


  183. Rebecca

    Heidi: I have been told many times, “You should write a book.” I could, but one child would not convince the social workers, therapists, teachers, etc. that more needs to be done for these kids. Why don’t you collect longer stories from us parents? Each write a chapter, changing names, of course. Call it “You Should Write a Book.” Then publish and market to counselors, therapists, social workers, doctors, etc. I was thinking of this in the middle of the night when I was reading these wonderful but oh so troubling accounts that are so similarly fraught with grief and frustration.


  184. Delana Stewart

    As is evident in the many comments, your post resonates with many of us who have been (or are) in the trenches. The first several years were really difficult (beyond what anyone could have prepared me for). But it does (for many) get easier. It was helpful for me to learn that it can take a child a year for every year they are old at time of adoption to unlearn the past behaviors and attachments and attitudes and learn and attach to the knew. This was pretty much true for us. We adopted a 6 yr old who has now been with us nearly 8 years. Here is a post about “Year for Year”:

    And here is a poem I write a few years ago about this very topic: https://delanasworld.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/heart-tears/

    Thanks for sharing your heart in this great post!


  185. Michele Zuidema

    You looked into my life and wrote my heart. Thank you so much. I needed this so very badly. Thank you.


  186. Amy

    THANK YOU. Thank you!!! I am not an adoptive parent, but my nephews are currently living with us. My brother did a single parent adoption of two boys from Congo, subsequently became overwhelmed, got on meth, and CPS took the boys away. It is a heart WRENCHING story. The oldest of the two boys, S, was rejected by his mother, and since my brother did a single parent adoption, I am the first “mother figure” which S has encountered. As his counselor and my counselor have both told me, he MUST reject me. He has no choice but to reject me, argue with me, hit me, scream at me, scratch me, fight me, yell at me, and just all out reject me. (my brother never had these issues with him – at all) My brother doesn’t get it. My parents kind of do. My best friends were silent when I told them of the atrocities in our house. They make jokes and laugh. No one understands…but finally. FINALLY. My counselor sent me this post and sweetheart, you broke open the doors. God calls us to obedience but never tells us how costly it will be. There will be redemption – some day – some how – but most likely unknown on this side of heaven. Thanks for your words and for standing when so many don’t understand. Thank you.


  187. Pingback: MARRIAGE in the TRENCHES: If you are married and plan to adopt (or already have) a child of trauma, PLEASE READ THIS NOW. ‹ Out of She Mind / heidi weimer

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  189. RADical mom

    My RADical son has been in intensive residential treatment for 11.5 months. After 5.5 years of all the stuff you talk about in this post I finally accepted the fact that I needed help with him. He was moved yesterday from the intensive unit to the moderate program because they have run out of ideas in the intensive program and he has manipulated his way out with “good behavior”. He hasn’t met any of his long term goals and has never engaged in therapy but he is ready to move to a less restrictive unit with less supervision. Help us all!! I could go on and on but I won’t. Our family attends a local very large church and only a few people in my small group has asked me about my son… for 11.5 months. Not the children’s minister. Nor his study group leaders. No one that taught my son for 5.5 years. I know its awkward but he is my son. I love talking about him. Even if it is painful. I don’t want him to be forgotten. I would love for them to pray for him. I would love to share my heart with them about my love for my son. But they don’t get it and simply don’t care. My extended family relationships are and never will be the same. But, now that my son is out of our home my mom is suddenly so supportive. I know she and no one else gets it. I know life was and is easier with him out of our home. I know I am a better mom to my other 8 children now. BUT he is my SON! My heart is broken every day he is not at home. I just want the best for him but I want to be the one who is there for him. I want to SEE him healed. I want to be a part of that. Thank you for sharing your heart and for your encouraging words. I bawled while reading this post and am fighting the tears back now. I have so much more I could say here but I will end by saying I have one friend who has stood by my the whole time. Never judging, crying with me, listening, praying, supporting me, understanding even though she really couldn’t. I thank God for her every single day.


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  191. Jan

    As I read this, I wanted to share it with family and friends to help them understand, but when it came right down to it, I couldn’t. I have reached out in so many ways to so many people, but they either don’t believe me (they think I’m the one who doesn’t understand that “that’s how kids are”) or that I “won’t allow myself” to just let go of the stress, they are overwhelmed, or they just get tired of it. Long-term support is too hard on them.

    I also started to write a long response, pouring out some of my experiences in a non-judgmental place, but (not that I’ve read ALL the other responses) isn’t that what most of us who post comments are doing–looking for support? There is most definitely a need for the kind of support that this forum gives, but the kind I am wishing for isn’t out there. The people who truly understand, and can truly empathize, are already stretched to the limit. They don’t have any more time or energy to make a long-term support connection than I do; and the ones who do have the time and energy either can’t connect with my experience, or already have a full network of friends. What do they need me for?


  192. Amy

    A-freaking-men. In the trenches for FOUR years. I am exhausted, depleted, but some how by GOD ALONE I am still sane, I seriously don’t know how. And yeah, I was never a cusser either until, well, you get it. 😉 In fact I told my hubs that I saw a shirt at the Nike store that summed my life up perfectly. It says, “Every. Damn. Day.”
    Yep, that ’bout does it. My next shirt should be “Give me Jesus or give me Death.” Because without Him I couldn’t walk this journey He called us on.


  193. Mechanico

    I have to thank you. My family has been suffering for a long time. You showed my parents that there is nothing to be ashamed of. They gave a few kids a chance, but the kids are angry. I feel sorry for them, but they almost destroyed my family. Extended family were criticizing my parents, I was fighting with my older sister. My little sister and brother fell into extreme depression. I don’t want to go through details. I don’t want to explain what happened. I just want to say that your immediate family can heal. Screw the extended family. They weren’t there when you needed them.


  194. Mechanico

    Have you noticed we all start out as positive as we can. I hope these kids can recover from their trauma, but my family can’t handle anymore.


  195. Mechanico

    I know this forum is for parents. Personally I believe families adopt children (meaning siblings), not couples. Families get torn apart by this. Our home was opened to (apologetically) ruthlessness.


  196. Amy Smith

    Wow. I so needed this today, Three years ago we adopted our 13 year old son after he spent 7 years in foster care. This week he will celebrate his 16th birthday at psychiatric hospital-our boy’s pain runs deep. To say he experienced trauma is such an understatement-it is as much a part of him as the air he breathes, We have sought out all the right psychiatrist/therapist but in the end it just takes time. So much time. And realistically he may never be the man he might have been have been had he not started off his life in the midst of evil. For now, we try really hard to assure ourselves we are not damaging our other children but instead offering them opportunities for empathy. No idea how true it is but it helps.


  197. June

    Thanks for your honesty. We are in the trenches, reading this brought me to tears to hear from someone who truly understands.


  198. Patty

    I had my 81 year old mother read this post. She said, “I needed this when I was going through this 40 years ago.” I am the sibling that was in the trenches. My parents adopted an abused child from Guatemala in the early sixties. She was seven. I am not going to tell stories because you have lived them all. My parents had four biological children and two adopted children. They were into parenting at a time when it wasn’t the in thing. They tried everything with my sister…Christian counseling, secular counseling…they even sat her down during the roughest time in adolescence and showed everything they had on her previous life. (A constant verbal barrage from her always included that they had ruined her life by adopting her.) My parents were pretty incredible because in the midst of the chaos of those years, I never felt slighted, unsafe or pushed aside. They gave tremendous amounts of love to everyone equally. Five of the six chose to live with minutes of them when we were adults. The toll on their marriage was tremendous. What a testament to the commitment they had. After she left our house she continued to cause stress until she moved across country. Unless you’ve lived it, you will not understand the atmosphere difference in our house after she left. A peace descended that we were just amazed by. I am not sure all of us knew that that kind of atmosphere was possible. My mom and dad felt a lot guilt. The best thing for them was later on they found a support group run by a local pastor made up of couples who had a child like this. I remember my mom saying it was so funny at the group because if someone else was sharing a story, it was so easy to tell them not to feel guilty and give encouragement. However, if it was you sharing, no matter what anybody else said, you could not give up that feeling that there must be more you could do.

    Our story doesn’t have a great ending. My sister is pretty much estranged from our family. She does contact my siblings thru social media now and then. ( never me…I am too much my mom and that was where a lot of anger was directed.) My parents flew her home when my dad was dying(and she never called after to see how he was and said no one called her when he died….I don’t know if we did or not….we were too numb with grief.) I have come to realize her reality is so different from mine. She endured horrendous things from birth to seven and what she did to survive didn’t get left behind in Guatemala. I believe she would tell you our family was terrible and we did her a disservice. I know better. I do believe she gave me valuable insight that I think make me more perceptive when I work kids (I am a special educator.). When I met my husband, he was (and remains to this day) estranged from his family. He came from a highly dysfunctional and neglectful family. His childhood couldn’t have been more different than mind. He was resilient. He said as soon as he got in school, he realized his family wasn’t normal. From that point on, he looked at normal families, coaches, teachers, friends as his standard. I never pushed him to make amends with his family. He survived and is a wonderful spouse, father and grandfather. So many kids don’t have his ability to change their reality.

    My only regret at this point is that I don’t pray enough for her. Maybe the years in the trenches took more toll than I thought, maybe I am afraid of trying and once again getting burned ( My mom had a stroke in November and the question came up about notifying my sister. My niece said, “I give her 24 hours before she creates an issue.” It was ten minutes before we were all burned. ) But I know of God’s grace and mercy and I know that I need to jump back in that trench even if it is just through prayer.

    Thanks for telling it like it is. I read all these blogs about adopting and foreign born adoption is very big in our area churches. I heartily applaud these people while at the same time I wonder if they really understand what could happen. Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep and tend to his lambs. If you asked my parents given what they know now would they do it again, they would say yes.


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  200. KT

    This is my life. I sit across the table from my children and it’s like dining with aliens from another planet. They are so weird, so abnormal, they have sucked the life out of me, sucked the joy out of my home, out of being a parent. Talking to them is like talking to a lamp post. Dirty pull-ups stashed behind the clothes dryer by my nearly 11 yr. old, last night I had to brush her teeth for her myself because I suddenly noticed that the terrible breath she’s had is because she stopped brushing them some time ago. This child stood in front of me last night telling me that taking a bath is a waste of her time. I have four adopted children. My only children. I can’t stand to be around them 90% of the time now and it’s growing. They are moving backwards, not forwards, no matter what I do. Stealing, lying, cheating, it’s like breathing to them. But they are so cute! And so tiny! Everyone is snowed. Even a police officer told me, “She’s so cute, I could never send her to juvenile hall.” I have no family any more, no friends. My best friend said to my face, “You chose this. You don’t get help like a real mom, because if they are pregnant and have a child with special needs, they didn’t willing ask for that.”

    “Oh, my kids are like that, too.” No they aren’t. Not like mine. If your kids steal, they feel bad and apologize when caught and usually won’t do it again. If my kids steal, they scream and cry because they got caught and they try harder next to get away with it.

    But the filth and lying are the worse to me. One daughter letting her colostomy bag get so full it falls off and feces are smeared all over her front. I passed this test. Her goal was to be as disgusting and repulsive as possible and see if I’d give her up. Same one who stopped cleaning her teeth. She sees that filth gets to me so she’s made it her #1 weapon, at 10 years of age (she looks about 7).

    Honestly, at this point, I want to give them all up, except maybe my 3 yr. old, who is still young enough to deserve a chance. But I wont’ give them up. God chose me. He must know what he’s doing. Adopting was His idea and I obeyed. But my 11 yr. old would be the first to go, if I did, because I can’t stand her filth. My cats pee on all her stuff because they smell a fellow animal’s markings. There’s not a psychologist in the world who will see this cute child as anything but a victim. I know it so I don’t take her to one. We did have a great attachment therapist in our old town, but she’s so far away now….. She was the only one who got it. The only one who said, “You are being held hostage.”

    They scarfed their food at first. When I insisted they develop table manners, they began to eat one grain of rice at a time. Meals were taking 2 hours each! The adoption books say never take or use food against them. The attachment therapist, bless her, laughed and said tell them how many minutes they have to eat, then set the timer, when it rings take the food away. I did it! It worked!

    I just read this today. All this week, every day, I’ve told my kids the truth. I said it to their faces after lining them all up on the sofa, “I am taking back my life and my home. I will maintain you, I will even love you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t love me, but you will not ruin this household any longer. You want it, you earn it. If you turn 18 and are doing well in school (homeschool) or you are working and contributing to the family in a positive way, you may stay at home and I will help you get started when you move out. Otherwise, you will have to leave, just as if you were leaving the orphanage, at 18. I have taught you, you have not learned. You don’t care about anything, are rude and disrespectful, don’t follow directions, and more and I will not tolerate it one second more than I have to. I don’t deserve it and I will not tolerate it! I used to be happy and I will be happy even if you are not! I will say things only once. If you miss it, you miss out. You have no more chances. The law says I have to provide you with medical care, education, proper clothing, a clean home, and food. There is no law that says the food has to taste good, so if you end up eating beans and rice and broccoli with nothing added, not even salt, it’s allowed. I make tasty nice food because I love you, but treat me like trash and I won’t want to make you tasty food. I give you pretty, comfortable clothes because I love you. Treat me like trash and you’ll wear blue jeans and plain shirts every day, even to bed. I still have to teach you. You take 6 hours to do school work a 2 year old can master, you don’t get play time. You get toys because I love you. Break them and you won’t get more. Throw your pillows and blankets off your bed at me, I’ll keep them. Pee on them and make your bed that way, I’ll take them and throw them away. (Which I had to do because they wouldn’t wash clean any more.) Pee on your clothes, fold them neatly and put them back in your dresser drawer wet and stinky and foul? You don’t get a dresser and you get only three outfits and you wash them by hand, by yourself. I could go on and on and on.

    I know you know what my life is like because you’re living the same life.

    I’m a great mother. My kids are damaged. It’s not my fault. I can’t fix them. I’ve tried. It’s in God’s hands now. I used to not swear and I still haven’t, but yesterday, three times, swear words nearly came out of my mouth. I bit them back. I won’t let them turn me into that. I am taking back my life! I am taking back my life! I am taking back my life!

    I am offering them the tools to give them a life. That’s all I can do.


    1. Lisa

      Wow! After reading you comment, I’m virtually speechless. You, my friend, are doing the right thing. Those kids need someone who will stand up to them, challenge them, and hold them accountable. Talking about it and doing it are two very different things though. You are my new hero! My 7 year old adopted from birth is not even close to what you describe but I’m way too soft on her. I let her get away with too much before putting my foot down. My friends think I’m the greatest at “being consistent” but I don’t hold a candle to you. You are doing the right thing! Praying you restore your happiness and those children see Jesus in you.


  201. Dana

    Ditto. Just ditto. And, we have opened our home currently for up to 2 more. Yes, is the answer. If God calls, say yes. He never promises easy, but He does promise never to leave us. So, we say “yes”


  202. Eric

    Words almost escape me right now….OMG you SO get it and know what we have and are going through. No one else does. I feel so lonely and abandoned most of the time. I wept as I read your article – all the frustration, sorrow and loneliness and isolation surged up like a broken well. We have four trauma affected siblings ages 7-20. We said “Yes” after “Yes” after “Yes.” (my god what were we thinking). As the weight of those decisions began to press down upon us we lost our only birth child at 8 months of age to a sudden illness (we already had 3 of the 4 and they were just starting to enter school age – a whole NEW arena of …. never mind). The pain is often unbearable and made even worse by the reactions we get from others on top of the incompetence of the “helping industries” we have tried to get help from. Despite the passing of the years, I feel forever maimed. I endure but what I was has been bludgeoned away and this is all that is left. I endure. What choice do I have. But I have little hope left – and it is discouraging to see that at 20 (the age of our oldest), it still isn’t over and probably will never be over. I don’t know what else to say cause I am sure it will bring judgment and condemnation – it always does. But I appreciated your article and for a few moments, I didn’t feel so alone. For that alone, I am deeply grateful and hope you will continue to write on this subject. There is so much more I want to say but that will suffice for now I suppose. Thank you.


  203. Deanna

    I thank you for this article with all my heart !!! My story is that I adopted my four grandkids. Two has RAD, one not as sever as the other. Three girls and one boy — the boy has RAD as well as many other issues. I cried when I read this as it was emotional. This fits me so well and it is even harder at times because they are my grandbabies and were when I took them in. It took away my ‘grandma’ title and it has been hard. The challenges and looks from the schools are horrific. I pray and know that it will some day be better and I know it is worth it all. I just want to say thank you again !!


  204. Val

    Oh Mel! We were in the same position with adopted son #2. We finally after begging and pleading with State agencies for help. I told the DHS worker I was going to bring him and leave him so he could get the help he needed and that he was not safe to be around our 3 year old daughter. I took him to the local DHS office with his meds, birth certificate, insurance card etc. and the worker left for the day. I assume expecting me to take him back home. I left him. I cried. He cried. We were charged. Amazingly, within 2 days he was in a facility that specialized in the problem areas that was “unavailable” before. He aged out there. He wanted to return home. We refused. (We still would visit and call and talk) but “never again in my home”. Now after two years, he is 20 now, 1 year was at JobCorp 1 year sofa surfing with rift raft kind of people, my son is officially a missing person. I needed this article and discussion. I keep saying maybe I should have let him come home, maybe if I had just…..Truth is I gave him my all. I am worried sick. But I have done all I can. I do love him but he is not safe around children. He has been to 2 separate facilities to aid in overcoming his sexual urges toward minors. I can NOT have him in my home. I am so sad. To my knowledge he has not had any “incidents” in several years but my daughter at home is 6. It will NOT happen. His older adopted brother is drifting through life with a severe pot issue. He left home at 17 1/2 because that was not going to happen in my home. We still talk regularly and visit but our relationships are at arms length due to the issues. I am so happy God doesn’t tire of my frequent “knocking” on his door. Many times I wonder if I did a great disservice to my bio kids by fostering and adopting. I also totally understand the complete relief that comes when the “troubled” child leaves your home. I have felt the guilt for feeling that way. I don’t feel that guilt anymore. Peace is blessed. I understand the trenches. I am thankful that I am not there every second of everyday anymore. I still wonder where my son is. I cry to God to have him contact me and that he still be alive. He has RAD, bipolar (unmedicated for the last year), hypochondria, ODD, ADHD. Where he makes quick attachments that have no roots. He has clung to me though. I am the only one. He is practically co-dependent on me. He calls me 6-8 times a day when he has minutes on his phone. I had to change my number and not give it to him just so we could sleep. He still was contacting me every 2-3 times a week via Facebook messenger but went silent 12/16/14. Now I pray he contacts me. I have lost many friends and family thought I was crazy to adopt him. So he didn’t have the show everyone the awesome side of me and be a pain at home. He was a pain everywhere. I once had the school system tell me that if I ever went out of town (even for the day/back in the evening) I had to take him with me. He was 12 at the time. I only left once for more than a few hour trip and that was for my sister’s funeral (that time resulted in a 3 day suspension). He would go ape crazy if I was “unavailable” as in out of the town he was in. I couldn’t even drive down to have lunch with my dad because he knew I wouldn’t be able to come to school and “make him behave”. I didn’t work for 10 years because the two times I did I would lose the job because he would wreak havoc on the schools until I got called to come take him home or get suspended. I do NOT miss the trenches. I do miss my son. I just don’t want him to even live in the same county as me because he would be here all.of.the.time. Now I do feel guilty. I need to re-read the article. Sigh.


  205. Pingback: Trapped | numberingthedays

  206. Connie

    This rang so true for me; yet, we adopted our son at only 1 day old… he was not a teenager! He has rejected us from 6th grade on. We’ve endured what you have described and more. Yet I cannot imagine loving or praying for anyone more. My heart aches for the pain he feels from being abandoned by his biological parents and the need he has to understand why… but probably never will have answers. That doesn’t excuse his actions of taking out his frustrations on us over the years, but I do forgive him. It doesn’t take away the emotional, mental, and physical pain we’ve all endured through this ugly season of our lives. We are scarred. All of us. We are still family. God is still in control. Thank you for baring your soul and letting me soak in the tears that fall for all of us who hurt with, and because of, these precious children who God loves so much and who we love with all of our hearts, souls, and all we have to give… even though sometimes we do not like them very much.


  207. A.V.

    I needed this read…fyi..I hate reading! We are dealing with many things and I am sure many people have felt with worse but man is it getting too hard! This post describes how I feel inside and that’s hard to swallow because I used to be a “bubbly” fun person and now I feel strict…and shut down in many ways!


  208. Carla Perez

    Thank a billion times. God knew what I needed to hear. Reading your blog to my husband and balling my eyes out.


  209. Paula Lowther

    I’ve just been introduced to this post by a friend who is also an adoptive Mom. My husband and I have 2 daughters from China, and my husband has 3 bio kids, all adults. We brought our first baby home in 2001 as a 14 month old. Two years later we went back to China to bring home a 7 year old, and our lives took a turn, from which we’d never return. Never, and I mean never did I ever expect what was to come. We were told she was a typical child, but was on the Special Needs list from our agency for cleft-lip palate and being older. As soon as we got her home, we knew something was different about her. Years later, and thousands of dollars in work-ups, psychiatric hospitalizations, counselors,, we had a few labels, but nothing that made sense of the cluster of symptoms she had. PTSD, Low IQ, Speech-language disability, Anxiety, Dissociative disorder, etc. I have likened living with her to living with a domestic terrorist. My husband, and now 14 year old younger daughter, and me have felt trapped, because short of putting her back on a plane to China or abandoning her in an ED or police department somewhere, there has not been much we could do. She’s now going on 19. Then, just this weekend, I was sitting on an adoptive Moms’ panel and telling a group of potential adoptive parents my story with the good, the bad and the ugly. Afterwards, an adoptive parent who is a pediatric OT and a parent of a 10 year old adoptee from Colombia with a diagnosis under the “Spectrum” of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome approached me and asked if I’d ever considered the disorder. I said no, b/c my daughter didn’t have the stereotypical facial features. She proceeded to tell me about the “Spectrum” of the syndrome, and “Voila,” I am certain I’ve found my answer to “Why?” Here is the link to the National Organization for FAS FACT sheet on identifying the disorder: http://www.nofas.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/FASD-identification.pdf I feel like I’ve finally come home. The neurobehavioral characteristics ARE my daughter. I am not crazy, I have some answers, and access to a huge network of support. Thank you so much for your post. Few have a clue as to what we’ve endured, but you do, and so do many of your readers. Love sometimes isn’t enough, and sometimes there isn’t a fairy tale ending, at least here on earth. I may have “saved” my daughter from unknown horrors as a pariah in China, but the cost to my family’s emotional health has come close to bankrupting us. Love your blog and your spirit. Can’t wait to read more. Love, peace and blessings.


  210. Sherri

    Thank you a thousand times over. I did not know there was another person on earth who understood.


  211. Zenna Cooke

    Crickey…. As an adopted child of trauma, I have a thousand words to say, in response to this article. Not that I disagree with it, because I agree. We are master manipulators. I was a liar, and by the time I understood the concept of trust, my mother already disliked me. I did do terrible things every day I wanted my mother to come to me and show me love, because I needed to see it to believe it. If she didn’t, then I would punish her by misbehaving. Eventually, I learned that one sure way of getting attention from her was to misbehave. You see, if I was not going to get the hugs then at least the screaming and shouting told me that she cared enough. That was all I wanted to know, that somebody cared. Unfortunately, I did not understand the concept/ value of a good relationship as a child. In my teenage years, undealt-with trauma came around to greet me and I became the biggest shit to my mother. At the time, I had no idea, but the trauma of the past never leaves. It is especially difficult when the age of 18 gets closer and closer. The child needs to come to terms with the idea that they could be saying goodbye to the only person who showed them love, they might not know or understand the emotions they feel and want to blame their parents for not being able to rescue them from the pain.
    As an adopted child of trauma, I WONT go feeling sorry for a parent who made the mistake of thinking that the very act of adoption is enough to lift a child out of trauma. Every parent expecting to adopt, aught to be told to expect the worst. There is hope, however. There is a certain way of bringing up adoptive children, like me. It is an extremely fragile matter (almost like a bomb waiting to explode and if you don’t know which cable to cut- BOOM) We do not blame or shame the child. We do not accuse the parent. When I get my degree in psychology, I’m hoping to work with adoptive parents and their children…. It is hard work…. but NEVER forget that your child loves you more than anybody else (even if you don’t see it)… They might not even know it themselves, but it’s true…and one day he/she will realise that but might feel it is too late or that all of the bridges are burned. The bridges are never burned with an adoptive child as long as you DO NOT ABANDON him/her. Abandonment is the one thing that will completely destroy their respect for you.


    1. Laura

      Ms. Cooke,

      I would love to speak with you, as I have never been able to find an adult who had gone through this experience to tell parents what was effective for them as a child of trauma. Were you diagnosed with RAD?



  212. hurting mom

    Love. This. Post.

    I never realized until now that much of my pain is simply feeling alone. We adopted a 6 year old darling girl five years ago. I was told by the social worker that it’ll take no more than 3 years for us to forget she wasn’t always with us, that we are just a happy family.

    Not true.

    5 years later and I still struggle to like my daughter. I should say, I love her, but I don’t like her issues and behaviors. After years of therapy and prayers and talks we still have s creaming fits, day and night time wetting, lying, oh the lying! And there’s the defiance and the anger. And the touching. When she first came she inappropriatelyrics touched 2 kids (not mine). No one prepares you to be the mother of a victimizer. How doyou deal with that?

    Still there is litlye attachment. her smiles are plastic and her laugh is copied.

    I have gained 30 pounds since she came. Food therapy. I have cried, prayed, gone to counseling, spoke softly, rocked her, defended her to my other kids who thinks she gets away wither everything. I’ve been called a bad parent. I’ve felt like an awful one. And the longer it goes on, the more I lose hope for her and for me.

    I Am tired. No respite care…there’s no place u would send her where I wouldn’t worryear for the other children or adults.

    I feel selfish for being tired. Being resentful. I chose her. She didn’t choose me. She didn’t choose to have a crappy life early on. I’m the adult. she’s the kid who has loved through hell. Yet, there are times when I just don’t want thus life. I don’t want her. There, I said it. I’ve never said that before. It would crush her. It would kill any light she has in her.

    I love her too much to let her know how hard it is to love her. Though at times I wonder if she can tell. I try to be kind and patient. I try to adore her. I try to connect. But she makes it hard.

    I just came back from a shirt vacation with my husband. My heart rejoiced to see my older daughter, but when my adoptive one greeted me I felt no joy. She represents heartache, work, a mystery. I wonder if I am too tired, to broken to give her what she needs.

    My friends tell me I am a wonderful mother, that she is so blessed to be with me. Heck, even our counselor asks my advice. But, I don’t feel like a good mother. Ever since she came, I have felt awful. I have had awful thoughts. I am weaker than I ever imagined. I’m fat and tired. And alone.

    She Loves me for what I can give her. But when I say something or ask something from her she doesn’t like, the anger comes. She wants what she wants. Screw Everyone Else.

    I’m the everyone else.

    On top of all of this, I realized tonight that I really am alone. No one around me really understands. I can’t ever be fully honest. I have, in a sense, become a liar like my daughter.

    And yet, God brought her to me, and I embraced her. I don’t know if I would do it again knowing what I know now. I wonder if she’d be better off with someone else, but then I wouldn’t want to put anyone through this.

    How do I learn to love her more, learn to like her? How do I learn to like myself as her mother?


    1. Mommyto7

      I can really relate with these feelings you have poured out. I so get it!!! I am the mom to 7, 2 bio and 5 adopted. Out of my adopted children, the 3 oldest are girls and the youngest boys. My boys have been easy from the minute I met them and still are. My 3 girls have create a living hell for myself and others as well. I pray to God that I am able to show them love and use kind words. I have tried EVERYTHING through the years and honestly I am so tired. Nothing ever changes them or even makes them a little better. It is so very hard for me to love them. I know I care for them and what happens to them, but love I am just not sure about that anymore???? This makes me sad to even put these feeling into writing, but its the truth. I will pray for you, these children and all of the other moms in this group. This is a jungle and its darn hard to navigate through it. Keep your head up kid. <3


    2. Mon

      I feel the same way. After we adopted a 20 month old boy with Down’s syndrome, we adopted an older sibling group from overseas. They had dealt with abuse, homelessness, abandonment and then institutional life for over three years. When they came to us they were almost 11, almost 14 and 15 1/2. They are now 12, 15, and 17 next month. I have not attached, I really felt love for them when they first came but after daily lying, cheating (I homeschool), disobedience (never defiant, they always came across as compliant but then would totally disobey), and stealing from us even though they needed for nothing, I withdrew emotionally. My patience wore down, more rules and supervision had to be implemented which meant more consequences and discipline, and my other children (now 14-22) had to learn to deal with a changed mother they didn’t recognize. My hubby hasn’t dealt with their constant dishonesty because he was an active duty marine who worked and deployed a lot. He was at least sympathetic toward me then. Now that yes retired he’s home all day, he sees me as being irrational and can’t understand why I always lecture and question them to get to the bottom of a given situation. Well, it’s because I know they’re lying and they need to be held accountable. Instead of siding with me, he says I’m creating stress and causing them to lie by the way I’m questioning them because they know they’ll get in trouble. The oldest sibling (boy) told me last October that he wasn’t happy here, he wished we’d never adopted him and he wanted to go back to the orphanage, this was one month after the adoption was finalized. Before our court appearance I had seriously considered not finalizing it, and NOW he’s telling me? that tidbit of info would’ve made the decision easier.

      I feel like such a failure. I raised three awesome, successful, loving, kind, christian biological kids almost completely on my own since my hubby was gone all the time, I thought I was a good mom, then these three came along. They disobey deliberately then play dumb, when I continue questioning they start the lying (all saying different things) then my hubby will walk in and tell me he wants to talk to me, instead of working with me to get to the bottom of the issue he chastises me for interrogating them and causing stress. I’m starting to hate them, I avoid talking to them, I don’t eat dinner with the family anymore, I’ve gained 30 pounds, don’t have energy or motivation to pursue my hobbies anymore (working out, hiking, gourmet cooking, playing piano, singing, and cross stitching) I don’t want to teach my bio daughters anything because that means I have to include everyone and I know it will turn into a terrible experience – asking non-related questions, messing around, etc.
      They act like innocent Angels around everyone else and I literally have no one to talk to. My mother died three years ago, leaving only my mother in law who is totally sympathetic to them and accusatory toward me. She sends the older adopted kids birthday presents but none of our other kids. If I try to talk to her about the difficulties they are creating she immediately shuts me down and chastises me for not being a better parent to them. It’s so hard. Our little guy has been a great adoption experience but this older adoption has been horrendous, I regret doing it.


    3. Laura

      “I wonder if I am too tired, to broken to give her what she needs.” My feelings exactly. I want to, but don’t know if I am capable any more of doing so.


  213. Debbie

    Over the past 2 years my now 16 year old has
    1 x- held me at knifepoint because the voices told her to kill me
    21+ times -run away from her group home placements
    Daily- lies and will steal anything
    1x -claimed to have been sexually assaulted, no one knows whether they can believe her
    15+ times – tried to commit suicide, she was released from the hospital to a psych unit yesterday after her latest attempt.
    10-acute psych hospitalizations
    2- 30 to 60 day medication management stays in residential care
    12 months ago- length of time since I had to place her out of the home for our own safety
    31 months ago- my husband died of cancer
    2- number of court appearances I have made so far to keep my family safe
    She was selling drugs on campus.
    She cut her own throat. My daughter.
    She tried to hang herself with her own clothing.

    I have been interviewed by CPS, accused, rejected, cussed out, bandaged her self inflicted cuts and burns, rushed her to the hospital hoping we were faster than the pills, cleaned her bulimic vomiting stinking messes out of every bathroom in the house, therapized, begged, pleaded, loved, fought for and not given up on her. I keep hoping for something to click, for the right combination of meds and therapy to work, for a magic wand to make it all better. It is a horrible thing to learn that love is not enough, it couldn’t be because if it were my daughter would be stable and my husband would be alive.
    My husband and I gave her a good life, better than the one she would have had in the institution where she was left. She lacked for nothing, she was our princess but that cannot make up for unmet needs early on. Hugs to all of you going through these things.


  214. Kristine Owen

    Oh my gosh!!!!!! You get it! Well said! I could never put it into words. Thank you for sharing! There is a level of healing simply when you know you are not alone. 🙂


  215. Joy

    I am so glad I found this. I have adopted 3 boys. One makes my life a living hell everyday. I even homeschooled him for 5 years. He is now back in school and I feel less crazy. I pray for strength everyday.


  216. Deb

    I really appreciate this post. Thank you. I shared my journey too, and I’m honestly not sure why — except that I really felt like I was SUPPOSED TO. I didn’t want to. I still don’t want to. But it’s out there. And I hope it helps somebody.


  217. Lisa

    Thank you so much for writing this. I sat friendless, exhausted, and feeling completely worthless in the drug store parking lot today after picking up one of 4 psychiatric medications for my adopted daughter that sucks the happiness from my family. I haven’t an ounce of pride left in my body. I’ve felt humiliated for over a decade because of her false accusations, huge self-inflicted scars on her arms, and multiple CYS false allegation visits. I will now comfort myself by remembering that no one else appreciates how hard I’ve tried to help my daughter, but God does. He is proud of me and you for trying so very hard with a broken child.
    Thank you to whomever coined the term “shops for families”. I now know what to call this behavior. I am still in need of a term for “believes all mothers, even those she hasn’t met, are a more desirable mom than me”.
    Thank you to everyone that posted. I counted the posts. I’ve never heard anyone talk about their RAD child’s behavior outside of the Internet, but tonight I found that there are more than a few moms with the same unbelievable experiences.


  218. Foster Mama

    My husband and I fostered a 4 year old who had been traumatized in early childhood. It was 8 and 1/2 months of hell.

    At one point, I thought if I heard “He’s so adorable!” one more time, my head would spin around like the girl in “The Exorcist” before finally exploding.

    But the worst part, by far, was getting “nasty grams” from his adoptive mom-to-be letting me know that his behavior was due to my “parenting style,” my not getting him to bed on time, etc.

    Foolishly, I tried to make his parents-to-be aware of how hard it was/is to parent him. I was then told that they felt like I was questioning their “parenting skills” (they had NO children at this point).

    God bless those of you who do this full-time! I could not do it.


  219. Kris

    I’m the single adoptive mom of 5 traumatized kids ages 24, 22,13,11 &6. My older two daughters have stolen my credit cards, brought alcohol and drugs into my home and the straw that finally broke me was when my oldest daughter took out 3 fraudulent loans in my name totally $23, 000. She no longer speaks to me because its my fault that I can’t remember cosigning for those. Sometimes I know where my 22 year old is, sometimes not. She’s not allowed to live home because of the drugs I found under the bed at a visit that she can’t believe I would think were drugs. They were both considered unadoptable and busting out of their last foster home destined for an institution when they were 9 & 12. So I took them. I was naive and ready to save the world. My favorite line now is I did the best I could…and I did. Thank you for reminding me of that. My 13 year old has now been diagnosed with RAD, PTSD, ADHD, depression and “psychotic NOS. She hallicinates. My brother recently told me to take her off all her meds and feed her healthy foods and have her get more exercise. Huh????? My son is my hope…only diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, depression and a processing disorder. But he loves me back. Isn’t that selfish? My youngest came right from the hospital…a two day old crack baby but it was only in the meconium so she would be fine and of course we’d bond because??? Well, she’s a baby who was cuddled and sung to and fed and doted on. She has been diagnosed with crack induced ADHD. And I have never seen such uncontrolled, unpredictble behavior in a 6 year old. The nurse practicer calls her “a raw nerve”. That’s an understatement and at 6 we still have difficulty taking her in public on 3 medications. But I’m not throwing in the towel but I always say I want to hang signs around their necks that say “I did not give birth to this child but I’m doing the best I can.” Thank you for understanding. Only people who’ve been there really get it and don’t judge. Even professionals…therapists, psychiatrsts, teachers. No one gets it. Thank you for reminding that what I do matters and I only need His approval not the world’s.


  220. Kristin

    I sobbed through your whole post. I needed that. I can’t really talk about it still; I’m trying to heal after letting him go (almost 5 months ago) after 3 years with us. So much guilt after adopting a baby after him. I miss him and I loved him very much. Your words were an encouragement. To say family and friends were not supportive is an understatement; the cruel joke is they do not accept the new infant adoption either and so my heart continues to break. I appreciated your words about Jesus and forgiving them. I have been struggling and praying and will probably need to re read your post several times to start feeling better…


  221. Liza

    I am curious to find out what blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m having some small security issues with my latest blog and I would like to find something more safeguarded.
    Do you have any solutions?


  222. Dorcas

    I’m not in the trenches, but I have a friend who has been for the last 2 yrs. I want to be her friend, I want to walk along the trench beside her and “hold her hand”, I want to encourage her, I want to help make life “easier” for her in any way I can. I read blogs about Trama adoptions just so I can know what she is going through. I pray for her a lot, but I never supported them in the way I was supposed to I guess. When I asked about her because I really cared, everything was just awesome and going great, yet I read on FB and her blog otherwise. I offer to take her a meal (and tell her I won’t come in so as not to disrupt stuff) and she says they are just fine. It hurts, because I see in her eyes and read in her blog the hurt and stress of Trama adoption. And I wish there was some way to convey to her that I really really do care, and please when you say you want support do you seem to push it away so much when someone cares.


    1. t

      The best way you can help someone in crisis is to honestly just do it. I have a chronically ill child and sometimes people asking me how they can help is overwhelming for me so I shut down and say I’m fine when in reality I’m not. I would suggest leaving a bag of groceries on her doorstep or a gift certificate for a house cleaner or pedicure or send a card and flowers. Every little act of kindness has the power to bring light into the darkness. Thank you for your beautiful heart!


  223. Rachael

    It’s 1am and I’m bawling my eyes out reading this. I won’t go into our story, but I’m giving you a standing ovation on this post. This is my life. Day in and day out. No respite. No support. No understanding. Its been enough to push my anxiety to a level that I physically and emotionally can’t handle. I’m on meds so I can dbe around my kid without going nuclear.


  224. Tammy

    Heidi, God bless you. You KNOW! You really really KNOW. I am not alone. Thank you, thank you. I am an adoptive mother of a now adult child with fetal alcohol syndrome and reactive attachment disorder. Although we made it through to adulthood without disrupting the adoption, I can no longer allow my child to enter my or the rest of my family’s physical or emotional space at this time. I know that she can not control her behavior any better than a diabetic can control her blood sugar. But her behavior as an adult puts our physical and emotional lives at risk. I am trying very hard to maintain the constant persistent communication to her that I love her but she is NOT allowed to treat us badly and expect that we will accept her with open arms. I have to pray as we encourage her from a distance, letting her know that when she is able to accept and return our love in an appropriate way, we will be here.


  225. AE

    I am a former teenager girl who is now a mother of 3. At age 12 I became a hell raiser. I was defiant, angry, I listened to no one, and pushed everyone away.Why? It is a simple answer but I am sure most will not understand since they are not adopted.

    I spoke about adoption as the best thing in the world when I was little but as soon as my body started to change and I started to try to create my own identify… I had no where to turn. I looked nothing like my parents, grandparents, or siblings. I had not common interests. I could not write papers about my ancestors. I did not know who I was or where I cam from. I went through a deep depression. My parents saying I was “chosen” was a crock of $h!t! If I was wanted so bad… why didn’t my mom or dad…. or even my grandmother want me? No one could possibly understand the torture I went through during my teen years and the outcast I became! Yes, you have parents who tell you about their family… but what about mine. It was a lie! To me they were liars!
    As you can probably remember, you start to build your internal identity at 13 years old. This was not my case. I looked for things I could relate to (at one point I begged that Madonna was my mom and that is why she could not take care of me), I started doing drugs to numb the pain on feeling utterly alone in this world with no sense of who I was or where I belonged.
    Finally, at 20, I met a man who made my dreams came true. He fell in love with me, head of heels, within a very short period of time ( His mom dies when he was an infant). We got married quickly and had children even quicker.. When I looked at that baby girl for the first time, I never wanted to let her go. She was my first biological relative and I had never felt so complete and whole in my life. Since that marvolous day, I found my way. My happiness, my goals, my values in life, my career gosls…. who I am. Please do not excuse the issue that an adopted child just has issues… they are looking for a true connection in life. One that no one could understand! You all have biological mothers, fathers, siblings, etc… who share so many character traits as you. Imagine a life where you could not relate to anyone including the people who stepped in and raised you. Everyone is different but do not think you understand. My adoptive parents, during those 12-21 years gave me up to the state because they could not deal with my grief, insecurity,and the fact I stuggled with who I was… so instead of being given up once, I was given up twice and shipped around (between 12-21) 13 times. Please show your child what unconditional love is and go and take them to find out the info they need EVEN if is something so very hurtful… at least thy know you will be supportive of all the need they need me and will be there to pick up the pieces.


  226. Tiffany

    There are five reoccurring and consistent themes that run throughout the entire Bible that pertain to you. You are lovable, valuable, forgivable, changeable and NEVER alone. Remind yourself of these truths everyday and in no time, your view of yourself and life in general will forever change. – Pastor Mike Watson [today] =)


  227. Maria Velez

    Can you please tell me about the fact that adopted parents find it diffiuclt to let go of their adopted children because they feel sorry for them, because they think they will always need them and cannot make it on their own? Is this true? Are there statistics/ studies about adopted children leaving their home to start a life on their own compared to biological children?
    Thank you!


  228. Jessica

    Wow, it is nice to know I am not alone. I am sitting here in the living room at 1:30 in the morning angry, so angry at my 9 yr old adopted son. He has been throwing a tantrum since 12:00 because he isn’t allowed to be playing or messing with things in his room. So now he’s out here with me, laying on the floor, crying, screaming, kicking his feet, acting like a 2 yr old. I am so sick of this! I haven’t ever bonded with him. He came to us at 4 yrs old with his brother- then 1 and sister- then 2. I immediately bonded with his siblings but he is too difficult. There is too much resentment and bitterness. I don’t even want to bond with him. I feel like a horrible mother saying that but that is the truth. We are foster parents still and I haven’t had a child since that I felt I couldn’t love. he takes every ounce of my energy, attention and time. It isn’t fair. it isn’t fair to me or the other children. I cant stand him. i can’t stand being around him. I wish that there was somewhere we could send him, believe me I would jump on it. He has ADHD and ODD and who knows what else. yes, I am probably too strict on him, but I just can’t let him get away with certain things. I’m also tired of fighting with my husband about the best way to parent him. I homeschool my kids and so I am with this child day in and day out. I know exactly what you mean about not being a cusser before adopting kids. I never thought i would struggle with an appropriate thing to say but since having to deal with his insane behavior, I find myslef letting words slip that normally would never have come out of my mouth. I am afraid for this boy’s future. he steals from me, lies all the time and has no respect. He then blames everyone else and cries and screams about everything. How much more can I take?


  229. Hope

    Thank you so much, for putting into words what I have been going through for the past 15 years. We started with an older child and have had two more since then. We also have had four younger children. I thought it would be easier with the younger kids, but some of their trauma is just as deep. I ache for the support where I don’t feel like I have to explain myself. I want my kids to be accepted like the biological children in the family (new trauma that is created by adopted extended family) for the family to understand how we feel how the kids feel. I am so thankful that this showed up in my news feed today, it is so needed at this time. Thank you again for sharing and supporting those of us who are still walking in the trenches!


  230. Traci

    Thank you!

    Thank you!

    I feel completely neglected by my church. We cry out for support and help. They will. For about 2 weeks. The problem is, we are going on SEVEN YEARS of this journey.

    Does anyone have the grit to stand WITH us for as long as it takes?