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The Post I Never Expected To Write About Adoption {Our Disrupted Adoption}

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Well, it's time I peel back the curtains a little bit and tell you about our adoption journey the past 8 months. I've hinted on more than one occasion that things were rough and there was a guest blog post I wrote on We Are That Family where I gave some cryptic details, BUT very few people knew the extent of our heartache. Even now, I'm ashamed to share it, but I know that speaking truth is the beginning to healing. Giving words to sorrow has always been the door to which I find comfort, and I must walk through the door before me.

Our girl experienced extreme trauma in her life before coming to our home. I won't share details of her trauma publicly because it is her story, but it was extreme and affected her deeply. Trauma literally rewires the brain and causes all sorts of things in children as young as she was at the time of the traumatic events. As we peeled back the layers, we began to see more clearly that we were not the right fit for her. Her trauma reactive behaviors were severe, multi-faceted, and so very, very scary. We hunted down every resource available to us locally to help her, but it was "too little, too late." Her needs are extreme and the level of therapeutic parenting that she requires is beyond what we can provide for her with other small children in the home. We cannot compromise the well-being of our biological sons for the sake of “saving” her.

frozen hat

While she looked healthy and happy to outsiders and in pictures, we saw a very dark side of things within the walls of our home. Our happy home had become more of a prison with alarms on doors, surveillance cameras, extreme safety protocols, and more. She is, to put it very mildly, mentally ill. As I type this, she is in her 2nd psych hospital stay and has been there for over a month. The first time was the day after Christmas and she celebrated her 6th birthday there. During her 8 months with us, we went through 3 forensic investigations with CPS, an interview with a detective, 2 psych hospital stays, an ER visit for self-harm, death threats with a viable plan (we later found out she was attempting it one night, but backed out), suicide watch, countless hours of therapy...and it wasn't enough. It wasn't enough to keep her safe from hurting herself or to keep others safe from her. Our love wasn’t gloves

We have agonized over what is best for our family and for our beautiful girl. We truly love her and are heartbroken for the road we have walked with her. We are even more heartbroken for her past experiences that, essentially, made it impossible for her to receive and reciprocate our love. Ultimately, we have had to be very honest with ourselves about what we can handle and what cannot continue to happen in our house. We have made the decision to disrupt her adoption placement with us and not finalize the adoption. She will not return to our house when she is released from the psych hospital and has been moved into the residential treament portion of the hospital.


We know this may come as a shock. It is to us, too. I remember reading about adoption disruptions when we first started our adoption journey and judging what I couldn't understand--and here I sit in the very same rocking boat after being pulled out from the waves of this storm. We know we have loved her the best we knew how. We take comfort in the fact that we gave her a safe place to share her story, sought justice for her, pinpointed her specific therapeutic needs, showed her what a loving family looks like, and most importantly, exposed her to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the only one that can truly heal her anyway.

water shed

We are now trying to piece our lives back together and heal from the second-hand trauma that we have experienced. Our boys have suffered. My husband has suffered. As the primary caregiver and target of most of the aggression, I have suffered immensely. Not one of us is walking out of this unscathed. Our entire family has been touched by this, but we are clinging together for comfort at the feet of the cross. We know our Savior isn't surprised by our circumstances, and for some reason, we were asked to walk through this for His glory. We know that if we hadn't taken her when her emergency placement was presented to us, she would still be in a hopeless situation with her abusers. I have to believe that, while this is terribly difficult, there is purpose for the pain. God will rebuild our lives just as He has done so many times before.

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Thursday 21st of March 2019

Your story sounds like mine. We disrupted two years ago. In all the ways I’ve healed, some parts of my heart will always be changed. She was 13. Boy was I self righteous. God only knows what it was all for, but I trust him. He has her today as he always has. Thank you for sharing.


Thursday 14th of March 2019

Hi Sara - I hope it isn’t too painful to receive a comment after this much time has past. It’s balm for me to find people who have walked this road. It isn’t easy to find these stories and we are walking the immensely painful road of disrupting a foster to adopt placement of a child we felt so incredibly called to adopt. Very long story short, we knew “J”’s bio was troubling but still felt like the Lord wanted him with us. We read every book on trauma we could find and drove 5 hours every weekend for 5 months to see him before he was placed in our home. After so much prayer and support and therapy and all the things... after 8 months of being in our home (along with 2 biological children) and trudging through each very hard and difficult day... we awoke one morning to find he had brutally killed one of our pets. It was the worst day of my life to say the least. He immediately went to inpatient treatment at our local children’s hospital and from there was placed in residential care. His mental illness obviously runs deeper than we could ever be equipped to deal with, especially having 2 other children in the home. We’ve had them in therapy to deal with the entire process of how long and difficult this was on the entire family. While I know God had him with us for a season for a purpose and even if that purpose was to have him placed in a facility where he can’t hurt himself or others if still feels like I failed. This has all transpired in the last two months so it is very raw still. Lysa Turkhurst’s book Its not Supposed To Be This Way has been really good for this season. I hope you are finding ways to heal. Your honest post is helping those of us who are experiencing this know that we aren’t alone and this is indeed “a thing”. I have no idea what the future holds or how/when/if our story will ever help others but I thank you truly for making me feel less crazy in this exact moment. You aren’t alone. Much love from one sister in Christ to another.

Sara McClure

Friday 15th of March 2019

Oh, Sarah. I am so sorry to hear that you have walked this road and had to make the same gut-wrenching decision. Our daughter stood over me in my sleep with a knife, so I can relate to the fear you probably had after he killed your pet. I know you're in the raw stage, but I promise it will get better. While I haven't completely gotten over the grief, guilt, and depression that I went into after the disruption, it has gotten better. I still feel like I failed. We felt so very called to our adoption as well. It's hard not to question "why" when things like this happen. The simple fact that you found this post and feel less alone in the craziness helps me remember that there is a purpose for my own pain. I'm glad I could be of some help to another mom going through this. Know you aren't alone and I'm praying for you.


Monday 14th of May 2018

I know this is an old post but... thank you. We went through something somewhat similar... although she never had a plan to kill us, she began physically attacking me. We didn't even have other kids, just us but... we couldn't do it. Many months later, my husband said to me, "I could take anything she would throw at us. But I couldn't take her trying to hurt you." And that was it. Regular people, even trained as foster parents, are not up to the task of helping a child with such deep deep mental illness caused by trauma. It hurt so much. We're still healing from the disruption. I admire that, no matter what other people thought, you recognized that you could not help her. It was better for everyone that way. I hope, years later, that your family feels more healed and that things are good for you. It helps to know that you're not the only one. And believe me, you aren't. We never ever thought we'd disrupt, and we spent seven months in a nightmare trying and trying... but we saw that God had a different plan for her. And we tell ourselves too that at least she got to experience what a loving family really looks like! No matter what, that's something we gave them.

Sara McClure

Tuesday 15th of May 2018

Jeni~Thank you for your kind words. My family has healed, but I have not. I am still struggling. So sorry that you had to go through something similar. Praying for you as you work to heal.


Tuesday 18th of April 2017

We are in a similar situation. We are considering disrupting. We adopted two sibling's (that have 4 other sibs in care). 9 and 61/2. The boy was interfering with his younger sister - we discovered this a few months in to adoption probation. We disrupted his adoption with us right away when we found this out. Both presented with ADHD, low cognition - but the reports said they had 'healthy attachment' with the foster family and were 'trending upwards". Our daughter has recently been diagnosed as having disorganized attachment, my understanding is that this is the worst kind of attachment disorder. She has not developed empathy, she can simulate it in certain circumstances - but its ingenuine. She is very cute and charming, but very defiant. She doesn't internalize anything that we have tried to teach her - so we always have to expect that she won't remember and acts out of instinct instead. She pursues hedonistic type pleasures, very superficial (treats, movies, constant attention). She is seeing an analyst twice a week (child psychiastrist with psychoanalytic approach), but her analyst has said that she has not seen evidence that she (our daughtar) actually is capable of thinking internally - all her thinking is reactive and in the moment.

We are now faced with feeling that we can't attach to her - as she doesn't really have anything to attach to.

This sucks.

Sara McClure

Wednesday 19th of April 2017

I'm so sorry you are in a similar situation. It's so hard. Know you aren't alone.