Stories and Testimonials
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.Lynne
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 my daughter in everything that we did and she always enjoyed being with us. We got married a year ago and moved to a new home with a different school district. My daughter 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 her, 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. My daughter 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 my new husband 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 my husband 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 my husband 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 my daughter had to relive her past and explain in her own words to my husband 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 my daughter 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 my husband that he would not harm her and not turn her away.
After the 10 days of intensive counseling and reliving the past, my daughter, my husband and I continued with the counseling once a week, then every other week and now once a month. Since then, she 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 it has made me a much better mother and my husband 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.Betsy
Mourning. It was a word that I would have said I understood.
I have mourned loved ones who’ve left this world more suddenly than I was ready for.
I have mourned family who had lived a long life and were ready to meet their King.
I have mourned three of my own babies that I never got the chance to meet.
I have mourned for those that have fought hard for every last day they had on this earth.
And I have mourned with many families of which death took a person that they were not ready to give up.
What I did not ever know…was that I could mourn a person who was very much alive.
A person whom I loved.
A person who I saw day after day.
A person who was no where near death.
I did not know about this type of mourning. And honestly, I wish I still didn’t.
This type of mourning has its own rulebook. It comes with a vast array of helpless, emotional roller coaster type of feelings. It has you replay over and over what you could have done differently to prevent the very action that caused it. It has you second guess every decision you made. It has you wishing you had chosen things…anything…everything…differently.
Mourning your child, who’s hair you brush. Who’s tears you wipe. Who’s laugh you love.
This mourning is silent. It is kept secret, as a protection mechanism. It is misunderstood by anyone who has never
walked down this path. And it is a lonely place to reside.
This type of mourning will cause you to give up everything you loved. People. Places. Passions. Possessions. This type of mourning will leave you starving for genuine love and support, and yet leery of absolutely everyone offering it. Do they truly care…or do they just want to know what has changed you? Trust does not come easily with this type of mourning.
I am mourning innocence that was selfishly stolen.
I am mourning the freedom to trust people that I once respected.
I am mourning saying Yes to my children.
I am mourning the life that I once had.
I know I am not the only one. I can’t be. There is too much going on in this world for me to be the only one.
Where are you that mourn a child who was taken away by empty promises?
A child that chose hollow, toxic relationships over unconditional love.
A child that can’t stay away from the things that you fear will eventually pull them to their grave.
A child who has left and has promised never to return.
Where are you that mourn a child that lives in your home?
A child who trusted because it is what they were taught to do so.
A child who obeyed because it was what was right.
A child who endured trauma because they would not tell an adult No.
We silently mourn our living children because of addiction. Of poor choices. Of broken relationships. Of undeserved traumatic life events. Of all the days that were stolen from us. And though our circumstances are very different…some days…this mourning seems impossible to bear and still function. Some days it comes out in anger. Some days it comes out in paralyzed fear. Some days it comes out in simply withdrawing from life.
Mourning isn’t the same for any two people. My husband and I handle it very differently. Our phases of mourning never coincide. I thank God for that!! When I am weak, God is strong…and some days God shows His strength through the protection of my husband.
I may not know you at all. I may just pass you in the store. But if I see the sorrow in your eyes when you feel like your smile is hiding it well, just know that I am praying for you. I am praying for those who mourn their children; both that have passed away and who are still with us. I am praying because I know that I am nothing without Prayer. I am lost
without Promise. And I am angry without Hope.