our work

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Never Sure

I have been actively blogging for about two years now. The original intent of my blog was to allow friends, family and any interested folks to follow the adoption journey of our precious Ezekiel. The blog is aptly named.
At times of great joy or distress, I have branched out and blogged about other subjects. I also follow my stats and have found the blog entries that receive exponentially more hits than any others are those centering around our 13 year old son who has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. The posts receiving literally thousands of views were the following:
Adoption Disruption, The Down and Dirty
Lemuel's Story, Part 2
Bonding: The Flap and the Facts

I believe there is an unmet need in the adoption community for parents of difficult children to speak out in truth. Many hide in shame. Many blame themselves for not being able to "bond properly". Many are worried about the "I Told You So's" that will come their way. I have worried about those things, too. They are real.

What I am most worried about right now is that I have made myself out to be a liar. I have said countless times in the posts referenced above that Lem is "ours forever" and that he's "home for good" and yet, today, I don't know if I can keep to that. No, he has not been violent or sexually acted out with anyone but the constant lying is wearing me down in a way that I have never experienced. The lies are small and silly in terms of subject matter but they are intentional, ugly and calculated at the same time.

I'm never sure HOW much to share on this blog. I think it's unfair to speak cryptically and in generalities when I know there are families hungry for kinship in this difficult struggle. So I will use plain speak. Lem has lied several times in the last couple of days, and ALWAYS in the evening after a good day of family time together. He is sabotaging himself yet again.

A few nights ago, we all went to a basketball game. Lem was unusually loving to all of us and his efforts were met with great success. After the game, we went to a sandwich shop connected to a gas station (very classy joint - ha ha) and my sons went to the gas station area to buy some candy. Upon return to the table, a younger sibling says "Kuya Lem was breaking candy bars and putting them back on the shelf". Lem quickly pipes up "IT WAS AN ACCIDENT". The younger sibling replies "you went like this" and does a snapping motion with his hand "and you said 'ha ha ha' and you did it lots of times to lots of candy". Lem wilted. "Well, the FIRST candy bar was an accident". We leave immediately. I talk to him on the way home about trustworthiness, about being the same person whether you're being watched by mom and dad or not, etc. etc. etc. I feel like Charlie Brown's teacher . . wah wah wha wha . .. because I have said these things before. We have punished, spanked, grounded, prayed, talked, copied scripture, talked and talked and talked . . . my heart hurts. I want him to evaporate so the rest of us can be happy. Ouch.
The next morning, hubby takes Lem back to the gas station to pick out the amount of candy he believes he ruined and make him pay for it. There was NINE DOLLARS worth of chocolate in his basket. NINE DOLLARS worth of "accidents" . . .yeah, right. Lem paid for the candy and then had to tell the cashier what he had done and leave the bag of candy there for the cashier to give to whomever she thinks might want it. They came home and he sulked but he was in his familiar "cozy" place, the dog house. He was far, in heart and spirit, from the chattering, bustling, fun loving family. He chose to be alone in his room and flog himself for the rest of the day. Fine with me. Perfect, in fact.
Yesterday's lie revolved around him hurting Ezekiel "accidentally" and then, having no idea why the baby was crying. Luckily, he's part of this big family and privacy is as scarce as hen's teeth. The whole incident was witnessed by one of my perfectly trustworthy children who came forth with the truth. Lem did not deny it when confronted but simply said "oh, I didn't feel it". I think a trip to the neurologist is in order to have those synapses checked. He is losing feeling in his extremities, apparently. This,too, happened at the end of a GREAT family day. We cleaned out the shed as a family. We put up the old tent in the backyard and the kids played in it for hours. We even let him watch Ezekiel for about ten minutes when I went in to cook lunch. He was given a bit of trust (yes, I cooked right near the kitchen window but, in THEORY, he was being trusted). He just had to end this yucky closeness and get back to the cozy isolation so he made sure, at 9pm, to end the night with a "bang". I sent him to bed with a very succinct warning about Ezekiel. I confirmed that if he really wants to ruin the rest of his natural life, he will hurt that baby again. I told him using someone who can't talk or understand is shameful. He began to cry. A good sign. There's something rattling around in there. But is it enough? Is there even a baby sprout of conscience that makes all of this family focus worth it? I don't know. I used to think "YES" but now I think "hmmmm?". These seemingly small incidents happen many times each week. Behind closed doors, my husband and I have adjusted a lawyer joke to fit our family.
Me: How can we tell if Lem is lying?
Hubby: Because his lips are moving . . . (cue two drum beats and a cymbal)

I am a huge music lover and there is one song I have listened to dozens of times this week. It is "I Will Not Be Moved" by Natalie Grant. She sings of steadfast devotion to God that can not be shaken by circumstances. I want to have that same devotion. First to my Savior but also to this broken child. I just don't know if I can hang on much longer.
Maybe this whole post is just the result of a couple of hard back-to-back days and I will be back to my positive, hopeful self after church tomorrow. Church always helps. But this time is different. I feel "done". Please forgive me, readers, if the shine has fallen completely off and you feel like giving up, too. It is always my intention to encourage with my posts. I hope to be able to post in a few days that all is well but this time around, I'm just not sure . . .


  1. Oh Nikki....praying for all of you. You know I get this because I live it too. It's SO hard. You are still a strong person and a good mom. Parenting a child from the hard places does not change that one bit. Hugs, hugs, hugs.

  2. thanks again for your honesty. I have thought about you guys and Lem a lot over the past month or so as I enter into a low spot in our adoption journey with Kim. Not that our journey is anything like what you are dealing with with Lem, but in the aspect of wondering why God called you to it. I have heard your words in my head lately of (paraphrasing) my job is to take care of Kim, even though it doesn't look or feel anything like I thought. I have stopped blogging (essentially) because I don't think people really want to hear what I have to say. Our journey has not been a magical, happy adoption story. I just don't think they want to hear the raw truth even though that's what I vowed to write. I am sure a lot of it is that I fear what others may think. But thank you for having the courage to keep writing. Hugs.

  3. I am sure that there is a reason that the disasters happen after good days. He is still distancing himself from you. Good days are still threatening to him. Maybe he doesn't know if he is with you forever or if he could still be sent away so he has to protect himself from experiencing too much good, because it would be too hard to lose. Hang in there. Have you read "The things I want most" by Richard Miniter? It might encourage you.

  4. I'm alot older than you, my children with RAD are 36 yrs old and the other would be almost 29 yrs old (she passed away 8/7/2010 at 27) As they were growing up we also had a 30 yr old birth son who is mentally ill. He disrupted our family just as much as his sibs with RAD did.

    I can "feel" everything you are saying. I have so been there. I lived it. I can tell you at the time- for me it felt like hell. You are not failing. There is no such thing. You are loving a child who is his own worst enemy. Your love is a gift to him, whether he ever knows or realizes it. To this day I carry the pain of my two RADS in my soul. I often wonder what it all meant- what it all means. Why they just could not see my love. I can't make sense of it. Most days it seems a lifetime ago, but listening to you, I re-live it like it was right now. The pain never goes away.

    I guess I just want to say that yes, only with God :o) you will get through this. Be easy on yourself, this is super hard stuff. You are doing the best you can, that's all God asks. Only He is perfect. Our human-ness stinks in times like this. But He understands!

    You are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope I haven't said anything to upset you. The words for this are hard to find. If we were having coffee, we could just sit and cry and pray together! (((HUGS)))

    P.S. The reason I read your blog is not because of the tough stuff- but mostly because you write beautifully and express yourself very well and you have a precious family!

  5. Nikki,

    I don't comment often, but I read all your blogs because they comfort me and most certainly make me feel like I am NOT alone. Our path with Henri has been so similar. If only I could write as eloquently as you I think maybe I would add it all to my blog--You are brave and strong and most importantly honest. I get so tired of people covering up the truth about what is going on with their RADD or difficult child. We need to stick together and know that we are not alone. Yesterday Henri called the police and told them that Jason was abusing him!! JASON! My gentle, honest loving husband who is one of the most honorable men of God I have ever known! AS God is just the police officers ended up giving Henri a lecture on how to straighten up and listen to his daddy! But what is next!? I'm exhausted! Please keep sharing.

  6. "Shackles" was a my go to song when Gigi had been here a year. She is 10 now, been with us for 4 yrs and the fun never stops. I posted a bit on my blog http://bringinghomejude.blogspot.com about an ongoing issue. I'm very guarded in my posts regarding her because of the judgement that is sure to come, as a result. We are seeing in our other son, 7, some traits that frighten me. It is very reminiscent of our early days with Gigi. Know that you are thought of. You aren't crazy. This chick will never judge you because I've already walked several miles in your shoes. Remember to breathe. In and Out and that God loves you and wants to prosper you and not to harm you. Blessings.

  7. nikki- my heart breaks about two things...one, that our precious little angel was hurt...and two, that your RADish is wounded enough to be the one to hurt him. sigh. i agree with you that the tears were a very good sign...i'm thinking a wake-up call might be in order for lem if it were to happen again. along the lines of reporting him for child abuse. is that too harsh? i don't know. my RADishes were in a different era and we knew nothing and we just beat the tar out of them and they stopped. nowadays you can't do that. i'm rambling- hang in there...hug zeke for 'nini' and love you guys so much.