What Happened When the Lid Blew Off the Pot

Four years ago today, I admitted to myself and to lots of people around us that we were in a state of unraveling.

Kalkidan could no longer function in the school where she had once felt safe and loved. The pressure was too great and the impact at home was unbearable.

On October 10th, we transferred her to our neighborhood public school where we could request an IEP and more support for her emotional needs.

I was reminded of this when I found the post, Keeping the Lid on Tight. Reading my own words brought back many emotions and even physical feelings – our bodies remember.

The new school (the one Wogayu now attends) was wonderful. They embraced us, supported her, and met her needs as well as they could.

Unfortunately, the speed of the downward spiral was rapidly increasing and despite a wonderful therapist, EMDR, all of the therapeutic parenting we could implement, respite, prayer, and a loving community, the first day of Christmas break led us to a crisis of such proportion we found ourselves in the emergency room followed by hospitalization.

The gift of that crisis was unexpected – and we didn’t see it as a gift at the time. Kalkidan was finally able to get the real help she needed in residential treatment at a wonderful program, Intermountain, in Helena, Montana.

Initially, we felt such a deep sense of failure and shame – we weren’t enough, all the help we had sought wasn’t enough, our love wasn’t enough.

This cut to the core of who I believed I was as a mother.

But we serve a loving God, and he began something beautiful. When we were reduced to nothing but ashes, his spirit blew over us and he began to heal and restore. It’s a long story, too long for this post, but He truly does make beauty from ashes.

He began the slow, painful process of healing our beautiful girl and healing us.


I want to add a note to those of you who are in the very hardest places. This cutting deep to my core – this shattering of my identity as a mother – I know I am not alone. Many of you are also working through the tearing apart, processing, and rebuilding as you walk through your journeys of parenting children from “hard places.”

Know that you are not alone. Know that this is a journey and you need others with you. You may need a professional to guide you or a wise friend. I send you my love and wish you were sitting at my table with me – with big mugs of tea and coffee, and a box of kleenex being passed around as we talk. I think of you and pray for you right now.


Thank you for sharing your day, for showing up and reading my words. If you were with me four years ago, thank you for remembering with me.

With courage and hope for the journey,

Lisa

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

37 Comments

  1. Marlene
    October 10, 2017

    “Beauty from the ashes.” This is the second time the Lord has spoken those words over me. We are parenting children from hard places too and these last two years have rocked me to the core and in the midst of all of that I grieved the loss of my dear father after an extended serious illness. And (not but!) I am not without hope! Thank you for sharing your heart, Lisa.

    Reply
  2. Bethany Adams
    October 10, 2017

    I truly appreciate everything you share! Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Karen
    October 10, 2017

    It is hard to see sometimes that beauty can come again, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I’m so thankful that the Lord doesn’t give up on me, but holds me tightly in His hand. Thank you for your years of faithful encouragement to all of us.

    Reply
  4. Christa
    October 10, 2017

    We are deep in the trenches today. Thank you for your words of encouragement and hope!

    Reply
  5. Karen Hunt
    October 10, 2017

    After being a homeschool mom for 22 years I put my three from hard places in public school this September. Last night I lost my composure with the oldest of the three. Thank you for reminding me that this journey is in God’s hands not mine. I am only part of their story. God will create beauty from the ashes.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 10, 2017

      Karen, I remember the grief I felt when we made that decision. It was definitely the right decision for us and for our girls, but it was still hard. God’s mercies are new every morning, we just need to keep getting up each day knowing we won’t do it perfectly, and that’s okay.

      Reply
      1. Charlyn Simpson Mejia
        October 18, 2017

        I would love to hear more of your story! I just found you tonight because we have a mutual friend on Facebook. My husband and I are missionaries in Costa Rica and have 10 kids ( adopted and foster) and 2 biological. It was so encouraging to read your post. These last couple of years one of our daughters has suffered with health problems and depression and anxiety. It has been the hardest thing I have ever been through. We are seeing many improvements but still have a long way to go. This has challenged me and has made me cry out to the Lord like never before. I too felt like a failure as a mother and without God’s love and mercy I don’t know how we would have made it. Thank you for being so open and encouraging! Sharing a cup of coffee with you sounds wonderful! I will continue to follow you and your posts. Blessings to you and your family!! ❤️🙏

        Reply
        1. Lisa Qualls
          October 19, 2017

          Charlyn, a cup of coffee in Costa Rica with you would be wonderful. 🙂 I’m so sorry for the struggles and the pain you are going through. Do you have community there or a good friend to walk alongside you? I’m very glad you found my blog and hope I can bless and encourage you.

          Reply
          1. Charlyn Simpson Mejia
            October 19, 2017

            Thank you! I think with all we have been through with our daughter it has forced us to look for guidance and have people walk a long side with us. God has used this to make us grow and to realize we can’t do this a lone…….although I knew that…..but now we have build up more of a team to walk beside us. It has been hard to find people who understand what it is like to have so many kids…..and kids….that come from very hard places but I am thankful things are changing!! And I am so glad I connected with you!! I pray you will be blessed in all you do and I look forward to reading and hearing more!! Praying for your book too!!! So exciting!! 😊

  6. Sarah
    October 10, 2017

    I’ve followed you for almost ten years (my oldest is 10), and remember that post 10 years ago very well. Your willingness to be vulnerable and share what you perceived as a failure at the time, was very impacting. I hope you share your story of transformation that you reference in this post.

    Reply
    1. Sarah
      October 10, 2017

      I meant I remember the post for years ago very well. oops.

      Reply
    2. Lisa Qualls
      October 10, 2017

      Sarah, so nice to hear from you and know you share this memory. I’m still in the transformation…still making my way. But maybe I’ll write more about the process.

      Reply
  7. Karie
    October 10, 2017

    We are in the trenches now, with a daughter (that is biological and homeschooled-imagine the shattered idols with that😓)at a therapeutic residential facility since Christmas. All I can say is the Lord is faithful and healing is slow but visible.
    I wish I could sit across from you and gleen wisdom and insight.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 10, 2017

      Shattered idols, oh yes, I’ve been hit with that too. I hear you, Karie. I hope healing comes for all of you. It would be really nice to sit together and talk.

      Reply
  8. Heather
    October 10, 2017

    In your post you said “you may need a professional to guide you or a wise friend”. I do not have any friends who would understand this journey. There are the professionals from the county, whom don’t seem to get the whole picture. Where can I find help outside of the county professionals? I feel like my family is falling apart.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 12, 2017

      Heather, I’m not sure if you mean help for you or help for your children. For moms, if you can possibly attend a retreat, both Mosaic and Called to Love are coming up on the west coast. Refresh has conferences coming up too. There are Facebook groups that offer support as well, such as Parenting with Connection. For our kids, I would suggest contacting a local support group and asking who they recommend. The Karyn Purvis Institute gives resources, including practitioners listed by state: https://child.tcu.edu/resources/#sthash.w9bkFi9D.dpbs The Parenting with Connection Facebook group is also a great resource for tips and tools. I’m sure there are many others – if anyone reads this and can offer suggestions for Heather, please chime in.

      Reply
      1. Vivienne
        October 13, 2017

        Hi Heather, I would love to give you my support. One of my best supports has been another adoptive mommy that lets me call, text, or email when i need someone who understands. I would be honored to come alongside you in that way. It helps to know we are not alone.
        I would prefer to not put my email on here. Lisa, would you be able to send it to Heather?

        Reply
        1. Lisa Qualls
          October 14, 2017

          Vivienne, that’s a wonderful idea. Email me and I will pass it along to Heather. [email protected]

          Reply
  9. Angela
    October 10, 2017

    Wow!! This resonates deep with me. We sent our daughter to respite treatment for 4 months last year but things are still hard!!!♥️ Hugs to you

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 11, 2017

      I hear you, Angela. I wrote so much about Kalkidan over the years, but some our other kids struggled and still do. It’s a long road. Thank you for your words.

      Reply
  10. Jane
    October 10, 2017

    Thank you. So much.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 11, 2017

      You’re welcome, Jane. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  11. Amy Brown
    October 11, 2017

    We are there too. Our daughter is back in residential a second time and we are unsure if she can return home. We are looking for a long term placement. I feel raw inside as I talk to different programs on the phone. Telling our story over and over again is exhausting. We can’t find a place to take her long term. The place she is at right now is good but so expensive. We put our house on the market and bought a smaller house so we could help finance all of this. It is so hard to walk this road. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone.

    Reply
    1. DFNY
      October 11, 2017

      Oh, Lisa, I’m remembering with you. And I appreciate your “Know that you are not alone” comments–we are dealing with our own very difficult situation with our son right now and, tonight, I finally called the mothers of 2 of his classmates who have noticed and been worried about his missing from school and found out that we are indeed not alone. There are others who care, who will listen and who are willing to help. Thank you.
      And Halloween time always reminds me of Kalkidan and her love of the color orange, and spices and excitement.

      Your friend,
      Damaris

      Reply
      1. Lisa Qualls
        October 12, 2017

        Damaris, it means so much to hear from you…a note from an old friend. Thank you for remembering with me. I’m sorry life is hard with your son. We’re in the midst of our own hard too. This week feels like a whole lot, and I know we’re not alone.

        Reply
    2. Lisa Qualls
      October 12, 2017

      Amy, you are not alone and this is unbelievably hard – people can’t imagine who aren’t in this world. I see my friend, Kathy reached out to you. She is a friend from many years back (college!). I hope she has some good resources for you.

      Reply
    3. HKristine
      December 7, 2017

      We just had to ask DHS to remove our son from our home after he attacked me in a planned-out type of way. He’s been in residential treatment in the past, but it wasn’t attachment focused. We’re now researching all kinds facilities all over the country to see if there might be one that could help us. We see our son as so fragmented by trauma. There’s the kind, sweet, compassionate, funny little boy who is amazing and we love so much. And then there’s the traumatized fragment that is scared, anxious, and violent. So very violent. And as he gets older, we see that part becoming bigger and overpowering the other part. And it’s heartbreaking. And nothing we’re doing is helping. And every time we have to change therapists (because there is such high turnover), the new therapist tells us that everything the last therapist had us doing was wrong and we need to change course. And it’s so discouraging. We are desperate to find something that will help.

      Reply
  12. Jodi
    October 11, 2017

    Thank you for sharing your life story. It was five years ago that, at the age of 32, I was admitted to an acute mental care facility. Yes, beauty from ashes, from being undone to being rooted and grounded in the deep, deep love of our Saviour.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 12, 2017

      Thank you for sharing, Jodi. As I read your words, these words from a hymn came to mind, “Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast unmeasured, boundless, free.” Blessings to you.

      Reply
  13. Sarah Pulliam
    October 11, 2017

    I remember hearing you tell about this time. You and your family did not fail K. in any way; by getting her the specialized care she needed, you were being brave and honest. At no point did you give up on her. God rewards dogged love with grace at unexpected times. I know that there is no mold out there for a perfect mother (or father) but your ability to seek help for a hurting child is a sign of BOTH vulnerability and strength.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 12, 2017

      Thank you, Sarah. I appreciate your love, support, and friendship. One of these days we’ll get more time to sit together and talk.

      Reply
  14. Kathy Blakney Cissna
    October 11, 2017

    Amy Brown, if your daughter is under 13, my daughter is in an awesome program called Gateway Freedom Ranch in Eureka, MT. It’s a small therapeutic boarding school run by an amazing woman who is full of wisdom and tough love. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Apparently GFR is cheaper than many other programs. If you’d like to talk with me about it, friend me on FB and we can get in touch. I don’t think they have an opening right now, but something may open up. God’s got this!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 12, 2017

      Kathy, thank you for reaching out to Amy. Somehow I missed replying to her. I would love to hear about this program – let’s connect sometime.

      Reply
  15. Broken Mama
    October 13, 2017

    ” . . . our love wasn’t enough.”

    So many Christians hear about orphans and say, “If we could just bring them home and love them.” But, so often, that isn’t enough.

    When we adopted 3 children from Africa, we already had 10 children, we had already parented for 24 years. None of that prepared us for bringing home 3 chilren with trauma-based attachment disorders. None of our 3 are still at home. The oldest went to a new home after 16 months. The next moved out the day after she turned 18. And, our dear youngest daughter has spent the past 5 years at an out-of-state residential care facility

    Failure. Shame. Judgement and condemnation from friends (and even from our local adoption group).

    What was once a very close and loving family, is now shattered and scattered.

    No. Our love was not enough.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 14, 2017

      I’m sorry for your many losses. May God bring healing to your family.

      Reply
    2. DFNY
      October 16, 2017

      So hard…I’m so sorry to hear that the challenges in your situation could not be overcome despite all your love, efforts and good intentions. Praying for the healing of your whole family, including the 3 children who are not with you any longer.

      Damaris

      Reply
  16. Thanks for sharing more about this time in your life. We have a daughter in long-term respite. We were in some of our deepest trenches when Kalkidan passed. I remember being so devastated for you that you all had put so much time and love and energy into helping her feel safe to have her called home so soon so that you didn’t have what felt like enough time to redeem all the hard years to drink in the healing years. You all are in my prayers often.

    Reply

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