Specialized Outpatient Program

My name is Betsy and 6 years ago an 8-year-old girl moved in to my home from foster care.  I was planning to adopt as a single mother.  Approximately 8 months later the adoption process was final and the child was considered my daughter.  

Please note that I wrote “considered.”  I don’t believe she considered me as her mother even though she was calling me Mom the moment we met.  To her, my house was just another temporary truck stop where she could freshen up, eat, sleep and hopefully get some clothes and toys.  She loved to hug and give kisses to my family and me and we loved the attention.  A couple months after moving in with me, though, she started to test the waters.  The past, in which she came from, reared its ugly head and she started acting out.  Many nights she wet the bed and constantly talked/yelled in her sleep.  She was on medications for depression and other issues.  I got her into a counselor and a psychiatrist to assist with the medications.  The first step was decreasing and/or removing medications.

Many days showed improvement and she enjoyed school and school activities.  I did notice, however, that she seemed to have difficulty keeping friends.  She also enjoyed disagreeing with everything that I would tell her.  I felt like I was raising a difficult teen and she wasn’t even 11 yet.   She was outgoing, energetic and always seemed to have a smile on her face so I didn’t think anything of it.  Two years ago I started dating a gentleman.  I included Miriam in everything that we did and she always enjoyed being with us.  Eric and I got married a year ago and moved to a new home with a different school district.  Miriam told me that she wanted to change schools even though I told her that I would have her finish at the Private School.  I checked out the school and saw that it had great opportunities for Miriam so I enrolled her for the 8th grade school year.  In the month of August 2013, we moved to a new home, changed schools and added a man to our house.  Miriam had to adjust to a new house, a new school and now a third person in our house of the opposite sex.  She has had some setbacks in the past but these changes were not acceptable to her.

During her first weeks of school she started getting stomachaches and missing school due to these aches and pains.  In the first month she had missed about 8 days of school.  She was always a good student and she assured me that she was keeping up with her studies and homework.  She was making friends and doing activities every once in awhile but seemed to close herself in her room each night.  She didn’t talk to me like we used to or watch television together.  Finally, all the changes seemed to reach her breaking point and she hit rock bottom.  She started arguing with me about everything and then she started having boys over after school when our number 1 rule was that no one was allowed in the house without us being there.  She never talked to Eric and one day ran out of the house screaming as though running away from home.  After we searched for her by car, we called the police and they found her walking with a boy.  

That night we took her to the hospital for her mental stability.  I was told to get her in to counseling even though we had been through 3 counselors already and no one seemed to understand what she had been through or could explain to me what she was now going through.  I turned to her school counselor when she failed her English class, which was always her best subject.  The school gave me a pamphlet for Affinity.  I called that evening and started the process of meeting the counselors and learning more about the program.  I was very hesitant about going to another counselor because I was always made to feel as though all of her issues were my fault.  Part of me already regretted bringing this child into my home because she seemed to hate me and she openly admitted that she didn’t like Eric in our house.  

The first day I met with Affinity counselors, I was close to a breaking point.  I didn’t know where to turn but they seemed to understand what I was saying right away.  They explained that the program would be intensive.  For 10 days (5 consecutive days, 2 days off and then 5 more consecutive days including weekends) they would meet with the 3 of us for 3 hours each day.  She was not happy and was very angry during those sessions but after the 3rd day her attitude seemed to change toward Eric and I.  The drive home was not as bad as it was for the 1st two sessions.  She was extremely talkative and happy.  

The 10 days flew by and Miriam had to relive her past and explain in her own words to Eric and I what happened in her past.  She was very hesitant and the counselors did not give up even though she would seal her lips together so that no words would escape.  After the sessions we had to meet with Miriam at home and we would continue our talks.  That became our nightly ritual and was surprisingly enjoyable because she became more confident in me as a mother who was accepting of a broken child and would not turn away from her.  She became more confident with Eric that he would not harm her and not turn her away.  

After the 10 days of intensive counseling and reliving the past, Miriam, Eric and I continued with the counseling once a week, then every other week and now once a month.   Since then Miriam has gotten in with a great group of friends.  She started High School in September and is very happy at that school.  She has not missed one day and continues to get above average grades.  She is very talkative at home for a teenager and enjoys camping with just the 3 of us.  

I would recommend this counseling to any family that has had the struggles of adopting a child from foster care.  I continually say that this program needs to be implemented in MANY states but money always plays a factor.  These children have already gone through a life of pain that was given to them without their request or will.  They deserve so much better!  They deserve to live a life where they can grow and respect themselves because they don’t do that once they have been abused in any way.  Not only was this program beneficial for my daughter but is has made me a much better mother and Eric feels as though he is now a part of her life.  My daughter is the most important person to me and I love the young lady that she is becoming.  As I mentioned before, she is now a teenage and will make some bad teenager decisions but always looks back and learns from the mistake rather than continues it.  Her friendships are stronger and I have never seen someone blossom so much in one year.  

If there is anything that I am able to do to assist with the growth of this program to other cities or states, I will make sure to be a part of it.  I want to be an advocate for my daughter and Affinity has shown me how to make that possible.  Miriam will continue to go through counseling at Affinity for as long as she wants and Patty and Callie will remain on her team.

Can Love Fix Everything?

Then why can’t I fix my child who is adopted and traumatized? I knew love and hard work would be two of the major components, but I just didn’t realized the amount of hard work that is required. I chose to be a single mother and my son came home “forever” at the age of 3 ½. That first year together was one of the hardest times I’ve ever lived through. I cried many tears, questioned myself about everything and daily asked myself “Can I live like this for the rest of my life?”  I never questioned my love for my son, but the behaviors, anger and bathroom issues were enough to send me over the edge.

 Feeling alone and inadequate, my caseworker told me about Affinity and the work they do with adopted children and families. From there the roller coaster ride began. First I sought advice outside of Affinity and quickly realized that people did not understand the therapy and were not living through what I was experiencing daily.   But the positive things that I did hear were things that I felt could help my son and me. I immediately called Patty and set the ball in motion. What scared me the most was “ 2 weeks of intensive therapy”.  Honestly it just sounded too much for a young child to endure and I wasn’t sure either one of us could handle therapy 3 hours a day.  Patty immediately gave me 6 names and told me to call them. This allowed me to gather information I needed from people who actually went through the therapy. I called every single one of those names. I heard encouragement, positive insights and every single call ended with “do the intensive therapy” it’s worth it and needed for your child to begin healing and move forward.

May 2014 my son and I began intensive therapy.  It was the most exhausting, eye opening, heart wrenching and   emotional experience ever.  I would do it again in a heartbeat!  I stopped walking on eggshells, questioning myself and forgave myself for things I said or did, unknowingly, that triggered my son that first year. Laughter, understanding and acceptance began to fill our home. I feel empowered and confident that I can be the best mom my son deserves. I have seen such growth in my son as well as in my parenting skills. I’m always on guard and try to be 1 step ahead of the triggers, but no longer am I walking on eggshells.  I continue to learn what is needed to help my son as he continues to heal and come to terms with his past. Affinity saved me, my son and most importantly our family. I encourage anyone who is raising a hurting child to make the best decision of their lives…call Affinity. 


Kim Who Has a History of Abuse

Laura and I entered into the adoption process not fully understanding the level of damage done to innocent children from the abuse and neglect they have suffered at the hands of their birth parents. We have had many terrific counselors over the years, but it wasn’t until a friend referred us to The Affinity Group did we find THE therapists. They helped us through the ‘intensive’ program and we watched as Kim transformed from ‘the abused Kim’ into ‘Kim who has a history of Abuse.’ We have come a long way and still have a long way to go, but thanks to the Affinity Group’s help, we are confident our family will get there.


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