In November of 2013, my husband and I were matched with two little boys from the foster care system, in our quest to adopt. In April of 2015, we were given the heartbreaking choice of getting our son with RAD the inpatient treatment he so desperately needed (and by doing so, disrupting the adoption of both boys) or having both boys in our home with no inpatient treatment for our youngest.
Because the adoption was not yet finalized, these were the only choices that Child Services presented us with. What we so desperately wanted was for our youngest to remain in treatment as long as he needed, and for our oldest to stay home with us. Our oldest did not need inpatient treatment as his behaviours were not dangerous. Our youngest was putting the safety and sanity of everyone in the family in jeopardy. But Child Services believed that since they were blood siblings, they absolutely must remain together, and forced us to put our oldest into inpatient treatment as well, where he started to fall apart. All the hard work we had done with him over the last year and a half began to revert.
The dilemma was excruciating. We couldn’t go back the way it was – our oldest wasn’t safe at home as our youngest was abusing him. We didn’t have the space to put them in separate bedrooms nor the money to move immediately. It really wasn’t a choice at all; I personally wouldn’t have survived going on the way things were – I had been diagnosed with PTSD and was dealing with overwhelming anxiety and panic attacks. Our animals likely wouldn’t have survived unless I re-homed them, and I would have to face the reality of no animals in my life again. My marriage likely would not have survived, as we had a huge wedge between the two of us because of how difficult day to day life was, when dealing with RAD behaviours.
People have called my choice selfish. I have, too. Yes, I wanted to maintain my sanity, my home, and my relationships. I also wanted my child to have a chance at a normal life, which meant he needed inpatient therapy, even if it meant giving up on our chance to be a family. I don’t understand the mandates of Child Services, but I’m also aware that I can’t control them. And that is one of the things I am working on as a person – accepting the things that I cannot control or change. There are a lot of those things in my life right now.
I cannot control the mandates or decisions of Child Services.
I cannot control my son’s RAD, nor cure him of it.
I cannot control the way people think about me because of my choices.
I cannot control the things people say about me, or how they treat me.
But there are things that I do have control over, even if in a small way.
I can control my acceptance of things I cannot control by handling them with grace.
I can control looking out for the safety of those I love.
I can control who I allow into my life, after they show me whether they will be supportive.
I can control whether or not I allow people’s words and actions to affect me.
I don’t judge the people who have treated me harshly. They don’t understand what our family has been through, and I haven’t walked their path, either. I have already forgiven them, but that doesn’t mean I will give them the opportunity to hurt me again.
One of the people who orchestrated the hurtfulness in this situation is someone I have spent almost 15 years forgiving for petty slings and huge acts of betrayal and insult. I am done letting people who lie about me over and over again, who misrepresent me and twist things I say to have power over me. I’m simply done. Forgiveness does not have a limit, for me, and I am sure they will provide me with more opportunities to forgive them, but tolerance does have a limit; I won’t put myself in a position to be affected by this person any longer.
And that decision in and of itself is heartbreaking, because for a very long time I considered that person to be family. But as the people who love and support me have recently reminded me, the people who are family are the people who show up, and stay to give you support. Some of those people are blood to me, some are by marriage, and some are friends that are more amazing and wonderful than anyone could “deserve.”