This post is part of "Life on the Inside", which is a series that gives a glimpse into our adoptive family's daily life. Please read this series with a discerning attitude that is quick to listen and slow to speak.
Due to the sensitive nature of this series, comments have been disabled. However, you can always email me at [email protected].
This summer, we had our kids briefly evaluated by a physician whom I've known for years and deeply trust. This was his short summary of his observations:
I see ODD, ADHD, and some psychotic tendencies. Katie, your kids are smart. Really smart. Smart enough to get into a lot of trouble.
Yes. To all of it.
Yes. Our kids obey strangers better than they obey the authority figures in their lives (parents, teachers, etc.) So, you might be able to imagine the struggles we have with basic obedience and how that disrupts the flow of our days. However, this is not always obvious to those who see us at church or in public, because our kids are very compliant and sweet toward outsiders. In the evaluation with the aforementioned doctor, one of our kids said, "I like to obey strangers, but I just don't obey Mom and Dad." So... yeah.
Yes and no. This one is tricky. They display many behaviors associated with this diagnosis, but they do not respond to medications in the same way as a typical child with ADHD. This is likely due to the damage caused by their prenatal exposure to methamphetamine. Unfortunately, ADHD drugs are not therapeutic in our case. Through lots of reading and trial and error, we have found some lifestyle techniques that help manage these ADHD-like behaviors. We live with checklists and timers for everything, and we try to stick to a schedule with almost military-style predictability. Homeschooling also aids in managing ADHD-like behaviors, because I can adapt our classroom to fit their needs in ways that traditional classrooms cannot accommodate.
Yes. But that is beyond the scope of this post.
Yes! They are able to work on grade level with no apparent learning disabilities. Anyone who spends time with Vernon describes him as "the most creative kid I've ever met"—and he is! He is particularly mechanically inclined. He can tinker with Legos or used electronics and create fascinating new creations. Brooklyn is incredibly artistic—drawing, hairstyles, you name it! These kids can build structures with Keva planks that are amazing. They love playing chess with PJ. Their memories are incredible. Yes, they are smart and have easily discernible talents.
Well, yeah. Due to some very concerning behaviors, our kids are always supervised by someone who knows what to watch for. Some of this is learned behavior from past examples, some is a response to past trauma, and some of it is sin that hasn't been abandoned. Either way, it is best for all involved for our kiddos to not have unsupervised time with other kids. This is increasingly tricky as they grow older and vie for independence that they don't handle well. We have to look for creative ways to let them be kids and grow and make mistakes and enjoy life while guiding them away from overly-troubling situations and behaviors. Thankfully, our block of apartments is overflowing with kids of all ages, so our kids can play up and down the block freely while I sit on the porch and read, keeping them in view. Our family, church, and friends have been fantastic at understanding the particular supervision needs that we have, and allowing our kids to participate in a given activity is often as simple as having a preparatory conversation with the adult in charge.
At the end of his evaluation, our doctor told me:
This is hard. I can see that you're so tired. Don't give up. There are things to try. But I want you to know: sometimes you do everything you possibly can, and it doesn't go how you would like it to go.
That honesty was so freeing and encouraging and refreshing. Our kids are so worth fighting for, but we can't save them. Only God does that.
So where does all this (and more!) lead us? To Jesus. Without a God-given faith that the death and resurrection of Jesus rescued me from my sin and redeems my life day by day, I couldn't face the days that are difficult and the long-term prospects that are uncertain.
I have been transformed from a rebel against God to a beloved, adopted child in His kingdom. I've been rescued from the hell that awaited me for my sin and given a new heart that is able and willing to worship God. What is there now but to seek to glorify Him? Adopting our children is a pale shadow of what God has done for us, and for you if you repent of your sin and trust in Christ Jesus to save you. I would be honored to talk more with you about how the Gospel affects my life and what it means for yours. Just email me!
Along these lines, our ultimate hope for our children is that they would be saved and would live lives of worship before God. While this series addresses practical realities, our daily focus is pointing our children to the only One who can save, the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you enjoyed this post, follow along for the rest of the series that will be posted shortly.