Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Worst 24 Hours

I experienced the worst 24 hours of my year last week. In fact, last week yesterday I was sobbing on the phone to a friend about how I just can't take anymore. I am going to write about this for those who are going through the same thing I am, having adopted children from Ethiopia who are really struggling.

AWANA. Normal Wednesday night. But, it had been a very hard four weeks before this night. I had been trying the "I'm going to win him over with my love" routine. Obviously, that was not working. On a side note, I have a lot to say now about ability grouping in schools! My bio children have always been placed in the "high" ability group -which I have loved as they are challenged to move forward at a more rapid pace. Now, I have a son who is in the "low" ability group. In this group are mainly boys who not only struggle academically, but also are serious behavior problems. I wondered where George was getting some of the new things he has been I know. He is picking up everything these other boys say and do; whine and complain, don't obey the first time an instruction is given, and when you mess up, you shout "I am so stupid!" It really, really frustrates me to no end that those influences are the kids George is stuck with - and I can't stand that he is acting like them. This leads me to re-think home schooling him.

OK - back to the story, diving home from AWANA, George was out of control hyper. He tends to be this way after AWANA, or any other night that he doesn't have a calm routine at home and a regular bed time. I simply tell him, in a loving voice, "It is time to settle down."

You would think I would have just told him that I would be cutting off his right leg when we got home by the way he reacted - or overreacted! George proceeds to start choking himself. He puts his entire fist into his mouth and begins gagging, coughing and gasping for breath. Isabel starts crying (she is SO OVER this!) and Harry yells that I need to pull over the car.

I pull over the car and do the only thing I can think of - I start praying! I pray that whatever evil has found harbor in his heart must leave! We are a family where Jesus is with us and we will not put up with this evil for any longer. Now...I have never prayed like this. I am always that one who has little doubts in the back of my mind when people start talking about demons or evil or praying in Jesus name. But in the moment - it is all I could think of doing. I was shouting my prayer, arms raised to the ceiling of my car. Eleanor started crying, Isabel continued crying. The car was suddenly silent.

And George stopped.

When we got home, the girls and I stood in the garage holding each other and crying. There are no more words I can give them, no more encouragements. All I could do was hold my daughters and let them cry and cry.

George stood in the door to the garage looking a little shocked. I don't know if he realized how much he has been hurting us, but he saw in that moment three of us broken and desperate.

At bed time, George told Joe that he wanted me and Isabel to die. He hoped Isabel would die from coughing and he didn't want me to be his mom anymore and he would be better off if I would just die.

Could it possibly get any worse?

It did.

The next morning, George woke up right where he left off. On the ten minute ride to school, he spent the entire minutes hurling hateful words at the back of my head as I drove.

"I hate you so much. You are the worst mom in the world. You pack up my things and have them ready for me when I get home. I am leaving. I am going to the airport and I find a new family. All moms are better than you are. You are the worst mom. I hate you. I hate God. I hate Isabel. I hate your cooking. I hate the clothes you buy me. I hate the dog. I hate living here. I hate school. I hate you. You are the worst mom ever."

On and on and on it went.

Needless to say, he spent the entire morning in the principal's office.

It was a half day of school and I got a call from the principal asking me to pick up George instead of letting him ride the bus home.

When I got there, and George saw me, he took off his glasses and broke them.

The principal looked at me and said, "I see now what you are dealing with!"

But, while George was at school, I called a friend who has walked this journey before me. And she advised me to go back to "tough love", although we both admitted we hated that term. Understanding Ethiopian culture and how these children were raised in the southern, rural areas reminded me that although there is very little parenting, when a child is disciplined it is very rough and physical. And George responds to that. I decided I needed to do some drastic things, I moved Lincoln out of George's room and took away some of his favorite toys.

So, when George and I got home, I marched him into his room, sat him on the bed and told him very calmly, but very firmly, "There will be NO more talk about finding a new mom. You will not say I am a bad mom any more. This behavior you have been doing is totally unacceptable. If you continue to act this way, you will have punishments. For how you acted this morning, you will not be allowed to eat lunch with us and you will stay in your room all afternoon."

I brought him his lunch and closed the door.

He asked if he could go outside. I asked why. He said because he wanted to run away.

I flatly said no and shut his door again.

Several hours went by. Unlike the first three months of our life together, George did not destroy his room or scream at the top of his lungs. He sat quietly and stared out his window. Around 3:00, he asked if he could talk to me.

"I am sorry, mom."

"I forgive you son. But I have a question for you. Does God make mistakes?"

He thought for a long time and then quietly answered, "No."

"Then, do you think he made a mistake when he told Mommy and Daddy to adopt you?"

"Did God tell you to adopt me?"


"How did you hear God? I don't hear God."

"Mommy and Daddy have learned how to hear God talk to us in our heart. But, did God make a mistake when he told us to adopt George?"

Silence, but he was visibly thinking this over.


"God NEVER makes mistakes. God wanted us to be a family! And God still wants us to be a family! He loves you so much..."

"I sorry momma, but it is so hard to be good!"

"Well, that is why God gave you a family. Do you know the Bible says 'God sets the lonely in families.'? Were you lonely? God wanted you to be in a family that would help you learn about love and forgiveness and mercy...and having fun and making memories and going swimming..."

I wish I could say everything changed in that instance. It didn't. Since then, every day there are major meltdowns and battles. He is definitely an 8 year old with the emotional age of a 3 year old still. Saying no to George usually entails a temper tantrum and pouting and whining. And he is always looking to what others get and what others have and what others do with me. Despite his words of hating me, he gets so mad when Lincoln climbs into my lap and we cuddle and love on each other. And despite telling me I am the worst mom in the world, he always comes to me when he needs help or wants something.

There is a mighty war raging in his soul. I see it acted out every day. He is drawn to the bad in people and likes to emulate that behavior. But all that leads to is more trouble for him. He longs to be a child who will sit with him momma and cuddle, but he just won't let himself do that for very long.

Every step forward in our healing is followed with more steps back. Last night, I purposefully sat next to George at Harry's band concert. He spent much of the concert draped across my lap with his arms wrapped around my leg. I rubbed and patted his back and often hugged him. Then, in the parking lot on the way home, he became rude and stubborn and then down right hateful toward me. Again, he shouts out horrible words at me the whole drive home and even proclaims, "God is an idiot!" knowing this will really hurt me.

He got a spanking when we got home.

And then I tucked him into bed and told him how much I loved him.


ESolgos said...

Sweet Mama! All I can say is thanking for choosing to love George even when his actions and words are beyond difficult. Somehow I see myself in George, screaming against God's best for me. You are being the Holy Spirit to George! Don't grow weary of doing good!

Soliloquy said...

My heart is breaking for you. I am praying. I know very little about this but I have two friends who adopted older children who have RAD. Is this a part of what George has?

Jamie said...

I am so sorry to hear about these struggles that you and the entire family are enduring but I am also encouraged by your strength and continued faith. You are an amazingly strong woman and I admire you. Our prayers are with you, George and the entire family.

Brian & Amy said...

I cannot thank you enough for your openness through the struggles. This helps us as we embark on obeying God in our own adoption. We don't go into it with rose-colored glasses, hoping for only happy times. Your stories help me think through what potential issues may arise and what I want to tell/be/love our children from the beginning of our life together. Not thinking that if I explain something that will be enough, but some things I want them to hear constantly from the get go. Your fortitude is that of a Strong Tower...and yes, I know HE is doing that in you. You are a beautiful example of Jesus. Thank you on behalf of George, your other children, your husband (he MUST be impressed with the woman he made his wife!), your friends and all of the adoption world--you are a WORLD CHANGER...and it's happening in that very car on those painful drives.

Love you.

Bear Creek Mama said...

Precious Sister. It's been so long since I've checked in on you but I'm so glad I did today. My heart is broken for you and this journey you are on. I praise you for remembering His promises to you and for holding on while things are so evidently aweful. May His presence overwhelm you and may you see God move in new and amazing ways in George.
Have you read this yet?
you may be encouraged by some of the things that others have written.
Loving you in His name,