The Truth I’m Afraid to Share

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An adopted teenager struggles with his identity and chooses to live in a group home rather than with the family who raised him in this poignant essay as his adopted family struggles with grief and in learning how to heal their broken hearts and support their son.

I’m afraid to even put these words to paper.

Fear. Shame. Guilt. Confession.

I used to be THAT mom.

I had it all together.

The one with the clean house, the kids that seemed to mostly get along and usually had on clean clothes with their hair brushed. (Still asking for forgiveness for the years with the bowl cut. Sorry, Joshua.)

An adopted teenager struggles with his identity and chooses to live in a group home rather than with the family who raised him in this poignant essay as his adopted family struggles with grief and in learning how to heal their broken hearts and support their son.

I drove a minivan (a 1995 that I’m still driving!) and it was shiny red to boot. Of course it was usually clean because my husband took great care of it and we NEVER ate inside it.

We were the homeschooling family with five kids, including an adopted sibling group of three.

Everyone told us we were just “saints” and they could “never do what we did.” 

Yep, from two  to five overnight. We did it, not because we were saints, but because God called us to this mission field.

An adopted teenager struggles with his identity and chooses to live in a group home rather than with the family who raised him in this poignant essay as his adopted family struggles with grief and in learning how to heal their broken hearts and support their son.

Life was mind boggling crazy with five kids from 1 to 11 and three who called us mommy and daddy and couldn’t pick us out of a crowd at first.

We even got to church on time because my husband’s philosophy was, and still is, (let’s recite it together children) “if you’re not 10 minutes early you’re late.” 

I’m the mom who had the diaper bag packed and everyone’s clothes laid out the night before with the girls in sponge curlers. (Okay, I owe the girls an apology, too. Give me a break. It was before Pinterest!)

Yes, I was THAT mom.

Until our lives tumbled down the rabbit hole.

Years of questions, therapy, diagnoses and the reality of living with Reactive Attachment Disorder tore through the facade and laid bare the perfect life that never was.

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What no one else could see was our lives were falling apart from the inside.

There was not one single individual who could put their arms around us and say, “I understand. It’ll be ok. It will get better.”

As we began sharing our story our friends and family tried to understand but parenting children of trauma and neglect was unlike anything we had ever experienced. It was isolating and exhausting with non-existent resources. Families fall apart from stress and broken hearts.

I am beyond grateful that God led us to a trained Christian therapist who has guided our family for the past eleven years but even with her help our oldest adopted daughter left our home and never returned.

Yes, it’s obvious. I do not have it all together.

The glaring truth? I never did, and I would have been the first one to tell you that.

An adopted teenager struggles with his identity and chooses to live in a group home rather than with the family who raised him in this poignant essay as his adopted family struggles with grief and in learning how to heal their broken hearts and support their son.

Satan crafts lies to make us feel LESS THAN. Those picture perfect lives you see on Facebook?

They don’t exist. They’ve been photoshopped and edited and only the best pictures made the cut.

Reality?

Your life is just like mine. Good days. Bad days. Ugly words and relationships that don’t measure up.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

What if the truth really does set you free? 

I’ll go first.

I am grieving. My family is grieving. We are not experiencing it in the same way or at the same time but we are walking through the valley.

An adopted teenager struggles with his identity and chooses to live in a group home rather than with the family who raised him in this poignant essay as his adopted family struggles with grief and in learning how to heal their broken hearts and support their son.

Here’s the vulnerable, transparent truth. Last week my husband and I dropped our 16-year-old adopted son off at a group home to live because he doesn’t want to live in our home anymore.

We never thought we’d walk this same path again but here we are. Eleven years later. At the same crossroads.

Words can’t begin to describe my broken heart yet a glimmer of hope also breaks through the darkness.

In the weeks following his return home after running away he made no attempt at communication or re-establishing a relationship with us. He went to therapy but never apologized for his actions or made any attempt at restoration.

However, in the last week before he left our son began to make conversation with us.

His reaching for us was a simple gesture of hope. It didn’t fix all the problems or guarantee us that our son’s future was secure.

It merely reminded us that we believe in a God of grace and mercy where none are beyond hope or redemption.

An adopted teenager struggles with his identity and chooses to live in a group home rather than with the family who raised him in this poignant essay as his adopted family struggles with grief and in learning how to heal their broken hearts and support their son.

We love our son beyond measure and are surviving, living one day at a time by faith.

I want to be an overcomer and am holding on because I know God is faithful.

Right now the pain is overwhelming so I might greet you at church or at the shopping center with a smile and a hug but inside my heart hurts.

Lord, through it all
I will choose to trust You
You will never fail

Isaiah 43: 1-3:“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God.”

What false belief do you need to let go of that will help you live a life of freedom?

(If you are viewing via email or reader just click on post title to watch video.)

In the valley of the unknown
I will lift my voice
In the shifting, in the shadow
I know You are with me

Lord over all
You will be my rescue
You will never fail
Lord, through it all
I will choose to trust You
You will never fail

In the searching and the waiting
You quiet my soul
In the stillness of Your presence
I know You are with me

Out of this darkness
Into Your promise
You will deliver me
Eternal Savior
You stand forever
You are my victory

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Comments

  1. Jen Morris says:

    Marty,
    My heart is breaking for you and your family. My prayers will include reconciliation and strength and comfort for you all, and for God to speak to your son’s heart. ?Hugs! Jen

  2. Diana says:

    My heart goes out to you Marty. I will pray that everyone can come together again as one.

  3. Oh Mary, I am so sad for your family. sending hugs and prayers that it will all work out and you will all be together again!

    • Marty Walden says:

      Thanks so much, Karen. We continue to trust God in this situation.

  4. Donna says:

    Praying!

  5. Aimee says:

    Thank you for your courage to continue to post and share your walk. You are truly inspiring and encouraging. I can only imagine that what you are able to share is respectfully only the tip of the iceberg and the pain and frustration run deep but deeper is your anchor of Faithfulness which shines through. I pray that our tender Lord will bring you comfort and peace and that your hope can be restored quickly.

    • Marty Walden says:

      Aimee, I appreciate your encouraging words. I do share only what I feel God allows me to at this time as a way of allowing others to know they are not alone in this journey of life. I am grateful for your support of both my blog and our personal journey, sweet friend!

  6. Bless you, Marty. Oh, dear lady–what a rough road you are on. I pray that God will hold you tight and continue to give you glimpses of hope even during dark days. God bless you all.

  7. Brandi says:

    My heart just breaks for you and your family. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. I’m going through my own struggles right now and can similarly relate. Our God is an awesome God , he will see us through all of our battles, fetes, and strains. Everything is in his hands, you must keeps your faith strong and your head high! As a follower of your blog, I know that you are strong in faith……KEEP IT! You are amazing!

  8. lela says:

    Marty,
    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt and painful truths.
    Many, many of us walk in the valley for a very long time. That has been the reality of my familys life since before I can remember. The causes may be different, ours is Bipolar Depression, job loss, and poor physical health. Throughout our tenuous and painful journey, I have felt blessed by God’s love and the response and growth of each of us despite the darkness. Faith was the ONLY thing that kept me going during my darkest days. God showered us with love every time it seemed our situation was doomed. Every time. All he asks is for us to Love One Another, To Keep our Faith and to Pray that His Will Be Done. Simple truths that have kept me grounded and able to function dispite the harshness of real life.

  9. Jennifer says:

    It seems for so many of us that we think we should have it “all together” and that as Christians we should be able to handle everything. I lost my husband two years ago and still struggle with God’s plan for me. I know there is one, it is just too far beyond my sight and grasp. For you, too, Marty, what you deal with is not easy. It is painful. It is hard to think that good will come from this. Your blog is such a blessing for me and so many others. PLEASE, know that God is using you to help countless other people. Praying for you!!

  10. Karen Wolfe says:

    As the mother of 5 (who was often referred to as a “supermom”), and the adoptive mother of 7, I identify with your pain. We can only model for them and offer a different way to live. I am no longer estranged from any if the 7, but only 2 have embraced our faith and values. ” I have no greater joy than…to hear that my children are walking in the truth”, and no greater pain than to see my children destroying their lives and rejecting God and their family. This pain is even greater than that of losing my 20-yr-old birth daughter in an accident, because I know we will be together in eternity.

  11. Cathy says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about whats going on with you and your family. I know how it feels to not have things go the way we expect with our children or ..adopted children. I am a firm believer that God has a plan and purpose for every single person on this earth and sometimes I think he calls us to venture out , seeking our purpose sooner than others. I look at it as our kids need to making their own paths and experience life at their own paces. All we have control of is praying God will hold them in his loving arms , protect them, guide them and give them the wisdom to turn into the person he wants them to be. They will find their way to him, if not sooner , later. And thats okay. Every experience is a learning tool. Pray God will put his angels in their paths to turn to when they are at a cross road. I firmly believe God does have these angels strategically in place for that purpose. We as parents can do everything we believe is “right” in the eyes of humans, then we have to let go and truly have faith that God is hearing our prayers and will be there for our family always. Pray for peace and deliverance for yourself and your husband. Practice being open minded and flexible to give your kids the chance to openly talk to you, share their feelings with you, and be accepting of their feeling, theres no right and wrong about someones feelings. You cant keep someone from feeling something. If they are feeling it, it has already happened, right? Everyone is entitled to their feelings. We as human beings have to pray to not be judgemental and allow other people to have their own feelings. As parents, we are allowed to give ourselves a break, we are not perfect, only God is perfect. You and your husband did a wonderful thing, not too many people would be willing to do, you listened to Gods request and to your hearts, to give these three children a loving home and love and teach them right from wrong , and you both have done everything a parent could hope to do for their kids.. Our kids are only on loan to us for a while. They belong to the Lord . He will not abandon or forget about them. He remembers even the smallest creature on this earth. So dont you think He is watching over our children? Pray for your children, be there if they need you, when they come to you when their ready. When you go to bed at night, and those worst case scenarios creep into your thoughts because you’ve finally slowed down long enough to think, thats when you want to say your prayers. Say them non stop so there will be no extra room for a scary thought to enter into your mind. Ask God for mercy and peace. You’ll fall asleep and wake up feeling a whole lot better. In the meantime, its not being selfish ,and your not depriving your kids or anyone else ,for you and your husband to discover what you and your husbands needs are for yourselves. You both deserve happiness. God wants happiness and peace for you both. You need a purpose in your life aside from your family. What is it that you would inspire to pursue on your own or something you and your husband have always wanted to do together? Travel? Volunteer together? Invent a product that would make your lives easier and other peoples lives easier? Have a Monday lunch date and movie with your husband? Organize the garage, your office? You name it, and then do it! Get busy doing something for yourselves! You both deserve it! If your children see you happy and engaged in life , they will model after your example. If they see you sitting home and being sad then thats the image they think they need to become. Thats not a good image. I have a 33 and a 31 year old wonderful young adult kids and they have had to venture out to find their own lives. It crushed me that they didnt NEED me anymore in the same way. That was my identity, being a mother. Yes, I was like you, my world revolved around my kids. That was my only purpose, I thought God gave me for my life. It took me growing emotionally and spiritually and a few years passed, to realize that God has his own plan for all of us and I needed to put my trust in Him. I have some days where I sink back into the doubt and ask God what the plan is again and why exactly?? But he always answers my doubt and when I pray to Him he gives me peace. Pray for peace. I’ll be praying for you and your family also. 🙂 You are not alone. Everyone goes through the same season in their life. Everyone goes through trials and tribulations. We all will come out the other side of this dark long tunnel of doubt and there will be the Lord there waiting for us. Have faith and march on! Have a blessed day:)

  12. cheri says:

    I truly thank you for sharing your journey. Your honesty is so helpful because we are on the same road. I do understand your truth because I live it everyday with my daughter as well. Just knowing you are not alone helps. My prayers continue for your family as well as my own!

  13. Anne says:

    No one has a perfect life, I agree. Sometimes we never know how someone is truly hurting on the inside, when on the outside everything seems normal. I wish could help take the pain away, so I will pray as hard as I can, for God to continue watching over you and your family and give you all peace to heal your broken hearts.

  14. Praying for you and your family.
    Hugs,
    Debbie

  15. brenda says:

    what a challenge. I absolutely do not have words. just to know that we are all praying for your strength through Him and that whatever the outcomes for reconciliation or not that you will have His strength to see you through even the negative possibility.
    hugs from another imperfect mother and now a grandmother. still trying to juggle all the “balls” and still not keeping all of them in the air. have been told it has something to do with hormones

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Hey, Marty:
    I cannot even begin to know or pretend to know what you and your family are experiencing. I do know that no one’s life is perfect and at times we do put on a “brave front”. Just know that there are many people are praying for a positive outcome. I do hope that your son and daughter do reconnect with y’all. Keep writing about your experiences. You might be able to help someone else who is going through a similar situation. And, writing about this might also help relieve you of some of the stress.

  17. Wendy Johnson says:

    I have come to realize that if we can say God is good even when times are bad then it will be all right. Thank you for sharing. God loves when we pray for each other and I think He will be hearing your name from some new people.

  18. One of the hardest things as a parent is the release into the “great unknown” and that is true without anything else added into the equation as you have shared above. Yet “God is faithful”. Jer 29:11
    Big hugs, my friend.

  19. Deborah says:

    You know I can totally understand you. Too bad we live so far apart. Hugs and prayers!!!

  20. Shelley Turner says:

    Marty, hang tough and don’t lose faith. We had similar issues and I was sure I had failed as a parent and wouldn’t live through it all. But I am here to tell you our three daughters grew into the most amazing women and mothers. We get compliments EVERY time we enter their workplace, customers want to meet us and tell us what an amazing job we did. And one day YOUR children will tell you how they appreciate what you did, that their friends wish they had had parents like you. BELIEVE Romans 8:28… And remember, Satan will attack you wherever your strength lies. Blessings.

  21. Annie says:

    As a parent, I feel for you. One thing I’m struck by in reading your posts, though, is how you consistently differentiate your “adopted” children from your other children. It seems every time you mention the former the adjective “adopted” is included. Never do I describe my daughter as “adopted”; she’s just my daughter. I point this out in case it can help spur communication between you and your children–perhaps the younger ones picked up on this and are reacting to it.

    • Marty Walden says:

      Hi, Annie. Thanks for commenting. I only refer to my kids that way on the blog because it’s part of our story and the reason I started blogging. Adoption has always been in our vocabulary because we adopted a sibling group and the oldest was 10 when we adopted so through years of therapy it was just part of the fabric of our lives. It certainly isn’t how we introduce our kids or talk about them at home. It’s not how they refer to themselves. They are free to share that only if they want to. We share our story because we are often the resource and only source of encouragement for parents who struggle with difficult situations, not only as adoptive parents, but biological as well.

      As far as conversations, we have spent years and years talking with our kids about everything. There’s nothing we won’t talk about it! Our children, all of them, know they are loved and will always be loved. Our youngest are 16 and 17 and have been ours for 15 years and as they approach their adult years their decisions become their own. We will walk them through and beside them as best we can.

      Blessings, Marty.

  22. DebM says:

    Marty: I can heartily relate to your story. And, I can name a handful of other parents who can, too. Reactive Attachment Disorder is so difficult to understand. In our family’s case, we adopted three sisters (who were older) and after five years they decided between themselves that we were no longer their parents. Mind you, we opened our home and family unit and we got them the proper counseling. We prayed for their mental and physical healing but to no avail. At their leaving, which wrenched my heart to pieces, we experienced alienation by both sides of our families. We were and are ostracized because no one can understand how these three lovely girls could possibly be so bad–could manipulate the situation to the detriment of our family and almost caused its ultimate demise. What drives these children to turn on those who love them so very much is incomprehensible. Because those not-in-the-know believe that love heals all wounds. But, not for some children. What’s worse it has taken years for us to speak out publicly because of shame. Shame for not being able to keep our brood together. No guilt, though because the only thing we were guilty of is loving them so much. Eventually, we had to make a very difficult decision and it is one that had to be made. I cannot tell you how sad I feel for your situation. Know that you are not alone in your grief. We have tried to be a part of children’s lives, even now as they are adults, but they have refused even that amount of contact. They have forged new bonds, which hurts a lot because our family should be whole, not someone else’s. Someone once asked if I would have chosen adoption if I knew what I know now. The answer is “yes!” I’m sure you feel the same way, too. Hold on to the fact that you did the brave and noble thing to adopt these beautiful children in the first place. There’s no shame in love and compassion. Sometimes, though, we are just a stepping stone rather than the happy ending we envision for our children. Don’t ever lose hope, though. But know you are not alone. Peace.

  23. Barbie says:

    My heart hurts for you and your family. Thank you for allowing us to bare this weight with you in prayer.

  24. Laurel says:

    Oh Marty . . . I am so very sorry. As you know . . . I have walked the same walk, prayed the same prayers, cried the same tears. My heart breaks with yours. When we dropped our daughter off 3 years ago (at age 10), we were hoping that she would return home 1 year later. Now, the director has told us that she will most likely stay at the out-of-state facility until she graduates from high school (5 years from now). So sad. So hard. Love & Hugs & Prayers to you, sweet friend!!!

    • Marty Walden says:

      Oh, sweet Laurel. I’ve taken a break from answering comments this last month as we’ve gotten our son settled into his group home and gone to all the meetings and got him registered for public school (you know all that’s involved there coming from a homeschool). I know you understand what I’m feeling without saying a word. I remember when you took your daughter to her facility and I’m so very sorry the news isn’t better. I still believe we’ve both planted seeds no matter whether we see the outcome or not. Our God is faithful! Let’s cling to that! Love you!

  25. Loretta says:

    Hi, I understand what you are going through. We are going through a similar problem. I couldn’t find any articles about adopted children walking out on the adopted parents. Just sweet articles about loving reunions, and adopted parents helping to find the birth parents, which sometimes didn’t work out too well. No articles explaining about the child walking out on the adopted parents. We adopted two girls 18 years ago. The short story is they are half sisters that were severely neglected. The baby was our grand daughter. The toddler is not biologically connected to us. They both have bipolar. The older one is also low cognitive, a high functioning autistic, and has RAD. The older one had many psychiatric hospitalizations and has been very aggressive towards her much smaller in size younger sister, and myself. She finally had to be put in a residential placement for everyone’ safety. We brought her back home after the residential facility requested us to because they did not feel they could help her any more. With a special school, therapy, wraparound services, and prayer, she graduated from high school. Shortly before turning 18, she tried to kill herself. She was pretending to take her medicine. She went wild on us, self medicating, smoking, drinking, drugs, sex, sneaking men into our house at night, etc. we tried very hard to keep her and us safe. She just went crazy the day she turned 18, and thought she could do anything she wanted. She beat me up a couple months later, and we put her into a group home for my safety. She continued her downward spiral. Last summer she found her birth mom on Facebook. They met. Birth mom is now married with three other children, and taking medication, and seems to be doing ok. She wanted to go live with her. We felt it would be safer for her because she lives in a rural area where our daughter would be safer. She only calls us if she wants us to bring something she left behind the next time we are in her area. They are about 7 hrs. away.

    Now the younger daughter turned 18. She has been depressed for the last 4 yrs. They switched her to a different medicine about 6 months ago, and we thought it was helping a little. School really stressed her, and she kept saying she wanted to go back to school at her elementary school instead of high school. Right before turning 18, she went a little crazy. She stopped doing her school work in classes needed to graduate, got very moody, refusing to help with anything, and demanding unreasonable things. With a lot of help, she graduated. She is very intelligent, but wants to remain a child with no responsibilities, and no job or schooling. She went for a two week visit to see her sister. When she came back home she refused to speak to us. Birth mom had convinced her she was a loving mom, and we were the terrible people that took her for her. That is partially true, we found her starving to death, rushed her to the hospital, and saved her life when she was 2 months old. Our daughter has seen the court papers that explain why they were put up for adoption, but now she chooses to believe the birth mom instead of us. She announced she was leaving, packed her belongings and left the next day. The birth mom drove here and picked her up. This isn’t a safe place for her because her sister has always been very jealous of her, and will get mad and try to hurt her. She is now 18, so we can’t legally do anything. We fear for her safety, and feel like we have been forgotten and abandoned. She can sleep in and watch movies all day at birth mom’s house, so she can remain a child. We told her when she got back, she would need to look for a job, or go to the junior college. The choice was hers.

    She has been there for 3 weeks. Right before she left, she called them mom and dad, and us., by our first names. We have had no contact since she left. They promised her a new and better phone with a new number, so we have no contact with her. I am so sad about this. I feel like we wasted the last 18 years raising these two girls. It was a constant struggle with their bipolar. Every week they went to therapy, they saw special pediatric psychiatrists, the older one saw a RAD specialist. We took special parenting training. We did everything we could think to do. Then they just decided to stop speaking to us, and leave. I cried for the first week, less the second week, and decided I have to go on with my life the third week. My heart is heavy. I grieve the loss of my daughters. I pray for their safety, and for them to have good lives. I have to turn control of their lives over to God, but it hurts so much. My friend said she tells herself “it is what it is” to get through the day. That has helped a little. Loretta

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