Monday, November 13, 2017

Where Are The Casserole's - Helping Struggling Adoptive Families

I hesitate to write this post but for the sake of so many hurting family's out there, I am going to stick out my neck and share what is on my heart. I have a small bulletin board in my kitchen where I hang the encouraging cards and note's we have received in the past. They are a visual reminder that people are praying for us and are such an encouragement. As I looked over the cards this morning, I was struck again by how we as a society do such an awesome job helping out during a physical illness but we fall short when there is a mental illness, especially when it is ongoing. Awhile ago there was a short video clip floating around my adoption support group. This video was an interview with mom's who have adopted children with attachment difficulties. When asked what is different about attachment issues versus a critical health diagnosis, one mom spoke up, "The casserole's." She explained that when her daughter was injured, their neighbors and friends brought casserole's to show their support but when their son had a mental health crisis and needed to be hospitalized, no one brought casserole's. This video brought a great deal of response from the group because this is seems to be a universal problem. 

Now before anyone feels they left their friends or family down, let me share what a dear friend once told me. During the time Braden was home and later at TAP and we were struggling to find our way, I was sharing my heartache with a friend who has walked this very same road. She said, "Sandra, I think part of the reason people don't realize how desperately we need help is because we appear to have it all together. We don't look like we need help!" That was quite a new thought to me because in all honesty I thought it was obvious to everyone that we as a family were shattered and barely hanging on. I thought people understood that we sometimes considered extreme actions to end this nightmare we were living. But then I got to thinking, do I share this? Do I ask my sisters in the church, family and friends to pray for emotional/physical safety for our family, not because of what my child may do but because of what I may do? Of course not! Although to be completely honest, part of the reason I didn't share was the fear of how such a deep heart cry would be received. I knew if anyone so much as hinted that all parents feel this way at one time or another, it would be enough to send me over the edge. Why? Because this pain was different than the - I am so tired of this pain that I am going to run away, only to wake up the next day/week or month with renewed vigor. This was a pain that had built up over years of hurt and betrayal.

When we were looking at daily trips to West Chester for IV therapy and then when Kiana developed a blood clot and needed her line removed, we were blessed with cards, money, gifts and meals. The gifts were all greatly appreciated but in all honesty, those medical things were not that big in the face of what we deal with and have dealt with on the mental health front. Why? Partly because we knew people had our back. I had people lining up to provide babysitting while I took Kiana for treatments. Our church planned to bring meals in twice a week, or more if I felt we needed it. People went out of their way to support us and we felt so blessed!

I think, and this is just my theory, that the reason that the casserole's don't come in when someone suffers from a mental health problem is because many people can't relate. This is especially true when it is an adopted child diagnosed with an attachment disorder.  We are all  susceptible to illness, in fact, sooner or later we will all face a devastating illness or accident in our immediate or extended family. What many won't experience is parenting a child with an attachment disorder. This means most people don't recognize the need to assist these family's.

Since I have begun blogging Dean and I have had the privilege of sharing what we have learned with other adoptive parents. We feel it is one of the redeeming aspects of the painful things we as a family have experienced over the past years. A few of the things I hear time and again is, "I feel so alone, no one can see what our family is going through," or "I feel guilty asking for help because we chose to adopt."  

Adoption is a blessing, but it is hard work. Many parents find their child will not be able to live alone due to the effects of drugs/alcohol. These family's become tired, they grow weary of the constant supervision their children need. These children often need ongoing therapy and medication to give them the best opportunity to enjoy life and it gets costly. Parent's tell me, "I wish I could give my son/daughter everything he/she needs but we can't afford it."

So if you are looking for someone to bless in the coming weeks and months consider an adoptive family. Maybe they are struggling more than you would ever dream.

Disclaimer: I wrote this because it has been what I am hearing as a need from other adoptive family's, not because I am begging for handouts! :) 

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