I wouldn’t wish this on any mother…

_DSC0627When we knew we were called to adopt, we knew that there were issues we could face. We hadn’t influenced our son’s early years. We weren’t able to lay a foundation for his life spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally. We knew we came in late in the game when he became a member of our family at age 9.

What a joy it has been to watch him flourish. He found God and had to write his birth parents to tell them that Jesus loved them. (No, he never heard back from them.) He discovered his love of hard work and dreamed of owning his own construction company. He  flourished in physical education at school and has toyed with the idea of being a person trainer. He loves woodworking and has dabbled with making his own furniture. It has been a joy to watch him discover who he is and how God has made him!

On the flip side, however, it has been heartbreaking as he has dealt with the rejection that is often inherent in adoption.  He has struggled to know where he fits into the family unit that he feels so different from. He doesn’t know how to accept the love of a family that he spent the first 9 years of his life dreaming about. His diagnosis of PTSD, RAD, and Clinical Depression have landed him in the mental health ward of the hospital on two occasions now.

He has graciously allowed me to share this with you. “If my story can help someone else, mom, then it’s ok to share it,” he said to me in March before the Hearts at Home conference and he repeated to me the other day as I visited him at the hospital.

I wouldn’t wish this on any mother, or any father, or any son, or any daughter, but it is real.  The mental health maze is very difficult to navigate.  There is no one place you go to figure out how to find the care and the resources your loved one needs.  This week I am piecing together a puzzle that I didn’t even know existed two weeks ago.

Forgive me for not posting as frequently as I usually do this week and probably over the next few weeks.  Forgive me for sharing more than one guest post in a week. I’m juggling my usual daily responsibilities with additional meetings, phone calls, conference calls, and research trying to find the right help for a loved one who needs it.

If you are navigating the mental health maze, you are not alone. As I always do, I’ll share what I learn because it just might help someone else out there.   I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else…but I know I’m not the only one walking this road.

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20 Responses to I wouldn’t wish this on any mother…

  1. MJ says:

    Thank you so much for you’re openness about what you’re family is dealing with!

  2. Cathy says:

    Jill, Please, please, please don’t feel as though you owe an apology to your followers for not posting, having guest posts, etc. With what you are going through I am amazed you are posting at all, and that you have been able to continue with the FB book study. Please know that many people are praying for your son and your family.

  3. Jessica says:

    My heart aches for your son, for you and your family.

    I have so much compassion for you guys–my brothers and I are all adopted. I was almost 5 when our adoption was finalized, but remember my birth mother and foster care experience vividly. I remember not understanding why a mom I loved so much would send us away. I remember praying for a new mom and a new dad. I didn’t even really know God, and yet I knew to pray to Him… somebody out there had to really care for us, right??

    When I was 15, my adoptive mother decided to leave her family and move states away. Kids were not part of the plan for her new life. Double heartache.

    The mental health stuff is real, but I pray more than anything that God would put a peace in Koyla’s heart that HE is Koyla’s father who will never, ever leave him… never, ever forget him. My brother’s and I all still kick around the hurt that comes with the adoption process–it never fully goes away, but we try to hand it over to God.

    You and Mark were chosen to love your son and to help him see God’s love… and I know you are offering all you have. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers every single day.

  4. kimi says:

    Jill;

    Your transparency in all things is such a blessing. I will pray for your family as you travel this road.

  5. Kendra Mizer says:

    Dearest Jill & Mark,
    Our prayers are with you. Mental health issues are so difficult to deal with. We too have a loved one who struggles daily with depression and related problems, and you put it well when you say “the maze”. I (Kendra) also have PTSD and have found it to be a roller-coaster. We will keep you in our prayers. Your priority has always been your family and now is no different, so do what God directs you to do and lean close to Him!! Love you!!!

  6. Michelle C. says:

    Oh Jill! thank you for this!! I can’t tell you how much this touches me as just this morning I watched in brokenhearted disbelief as my daughter was wheeled away from the ER strapped onto a gurney to be transported to a psychiatric hospital. It is a comfort to me to read your post & know that I am not alone in this. I will be praying for you!!

    • JillSavage says:

      Michelle, I am so sorry you had to see your daughter like that. I know that this isn’t what you imagined for you or for your daughter. Hang in there…God will give us the strength and the wisdom we need.

  7. Tracey says:

    Thank you, Jill for sharing this part of your life. You are absolutely correct in that it will help others out there….it already is. Coming from a family with mental illness, it helps to know that I am not the only one. Hang in there. My prayers are with your son and the whole family.

  8. Heather F. says:

    Prayers for you Jill and Koyla too! And please don’t apologize for being a wife and/or mother first.

  9. Thank you and your son for your openness. Mental illness is such a hush hush thing in the church, and you, as a visible person, can be such an encouragement to others. I’m also thankful you are taking more time with your family this week.

    Prayers for you all!

  10. Lisa M says:

    Prayers that God will lead you down the road to productive answers, that Koyla will find the peace, strength, and love that he desires, and that your story will help others as they also walk this road. In Christ

  11. Christine says:

    We have a daughter that we adopted when she was 4. She has RAD and depression also. We searched for years to understand what her true diagnosis should be. Not so we can label it, but so we could focus on getting her the best help we could. By the time we really knew what we were dealing with (she was 12) it was too late for her. There are many characteristics of RAD as you most likely know. I praise God that she has not gotten into the more dangerous ones. She’s 20 now and really doesn’t want anything do to with us or God. She fights everyone everyday so I know her rejection is not personal to us. There are more gentle times when she’s very loving. They are rare, but we hold onto them and choose to “forget” the rest. We pray that God will give her peace and that someday she will come to a saving knowledge of Him.

    I trust you have a great support system. We did not. Too many that saw the charming girl that they love to show to strangers while at home she’s yelling at us for 8 hours straight. I wish had a dollar for every well meaning person who offered up “She just needs more….love…patients…activity…attention…etc.” It even took our parents along to understand what we were dealing with at home. I’m droning on here. Really just wanted to encourage you that I think it is great that your son can express his feeling with you and there are hundreds if not thousands of us going through walk, while at different stages, parents and children, together.

    • JillSavage says:

      Christine, I’m so sorry that you have walked this road. I think you have found a healthy place to land. It grieves your heart, but you know you did all you could to help them. We’re finding it difficult to get help for a 19 year….sure wish it would have shown up two years ago. But it didn’t so we’re working with what we have.

  12. Jeanne says:

    Jill,
    Am praying for you and your son…that love will break through in a powerful way, that you will find the best help, that he will remember all you and Mark have taught him.

    Thank you for being who you are…a work in progress…

    Love you,

  13. Bobbi says:

    Jill, thank you, as always, for your honesty and openness. You are a blessing to your family and to those of us who follow your blog. My prayers are with you and your family as you navigate through the these challenging times. God bless you!

  14. Kathy says:

    Holding you and your family close in my thoughts and prayers. I am so sorry you are going through this, but it seems that you are already helping others who can relate to your experience through sharing so openly here. Kudos to you, your family and your son for being brave and compassionate wounded healers.

    I commented on your post about this on the No More Perfect Moms Book Study Facebook group today, but thought I would also share here. Some of my loved ones have struggled with mental illness, including two, who took their own lives in 2011. Over the years I have learned a lot about how to deal with and support those who are dealing with mental illness. More recently, in processing my grief and what happened with my loved ones who died, I have learned even more about mental health and suicide prevention. I created this resource page on my blog and thought you and your readers might find it helpful: http://bereavedandblessed.com/resources-links/mental-health-suicide-prevention/

    There is also a new and wonderful book that was published just last month by my friend/author Lori Holden about raising children who were adopted with an open heart (which it sounds like you have been doing all along): http://www.amazon.com/Open-Hearted-Way-Open-Adoption-Helping/dp/1442217383/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367465503&sr=1-1&keywords=open+hearted+way+to+open+adoption

    I don’t know the specifics of your son’s relationship with his you, your husband and his birth parents, but regardless I have found this book fascinating as the aunt of two children who were adopted domestically by my sister and brother-in-law. I don’t know if you have heard of Lori, but she is an awesome resource when it comes to parenting adopted children. Here is a link to her blog: http://lavenderluz.com

    Hang in there Jill! I am loving your book and find myself thinking about your wisdom and antidotes throughout each day this week as I face the joys and challenges of parenting my nine year old son, three year old daughter and our baby girl who died soon after she was born in April 2008, who will always be in our hearts. Clearly this post struck a chord with me, so thank you for letting me share a bit of my story here too. Like you I write to process my experience and also to try to help others who are going through similar trials.

  15. Beautiful, Jill. With you.

  16. Sheila Hill says:

    Jill, my daughter forwarded this on to me today. My heart goes out to you. My (now deceased) husband & I were “Family Foster Parents” for his biological grandson. The plan was to keep him while his mother was in prison- about 12 months. We lived close to the prison, & we thought we might be able to take him to visit her often enough that there would still be a chance for them to bond (he was removed due to neglect @ 3 mo). LONG storyshort- she never did follow through, etc., & we ended up adopting him at age 6. He is now 25, & we’ve “had” him for all but 15 mo. of his life. Just some tips: Have them test yours for BiPolar Disorder, too. You already have the RAD Dx, so that should help.”The BiPolar Child” is an excellent tool- RAD & BiPolar share several of the same “components”. STUDY up on RAD- find the Parent group for RAD on the I’Net (I’ve lost the addy). You WILL be in my prayers. It can be a very sad journey. My son has been hospitalized at least 6 times, arrested for domestic battery can’t hold a job. But he IS my SON, & I will always love him, I just can’t live with him. Best Wishes on YOUR journey.

  17. Dawn Davis says:

    I can so relate to your story. I adopted my son at age six and now at 16 my efforts to deal with his RAD diagnosis have thrown my life (and his) into an unbelievable nightmare of violence, police, mental hospitals and DCFS. The mental health system is a horrible web to navigate. I’m still believing God for a miracle but I’m preparing for a life of huge ups and downs as I continue to love my son back to life. Thanks for sharing soI don’t feel alone. I will be praying for you, too.

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