“Feeling like we are alone and that no one in our immediate circle understands everything we emotionally and physically have felt.”
“Isolation. The fear that no one gets it.”
“Ignorance and lack of understanding regarding the challenges we face.”
“The fear that this will never get any better.”
“The loneliness and lack of validation from basically everyone we knew.”
“The daily struggles of behavioral issues and fear for what the future holds.”
“The feeling that no one on this earth could possibly know how this feels.”
These are just a few of the comments we have received from our adoptive families in regards to the struggles they face. In recent years, a growing number of individuals and organizations have begun to realize the importance of adoption. Increased public attention has been brought to the needs of waiting children, many sermons have been given from many pulpits, and people of all backgrounds have come forward to bring family to those who so desperately need it. As wonderful as this increased awareness has been, far less attention has been given to the needs of families after an adoption has been finalized. By its very nature, adoption results from a traumatic event. Whether this trauma has occurred over the course of a pregnancy or over the the course of years of childhood, it has effects on the development of a child. Often, children who have been through such trauma have difficulty attaching to their new families. This can lead to difficult behavior patterns and broken relationships, sometimes resulting in a child losing their family yet again. During these times of struggle, parents and children frequently feel as though they are alone, with no one to understand or support them. They often isolate themselves from their communities, at the very time they need them the most.
At Grace Haven Ministries, we feel it is unacceptable for adoptive families to face trials alone. We believe not only that every child deserves a family, but that every family deserves the tools they need to be successful. We approach this challenge from three major directions. We want to assist families in crisis through therapy services, emotional and spiritual support, and referral to appropriate community resources. In the near future, we hope to include the addition of trained respite families to care for children when necessary. When families are struggling, it is critical that the parents have occasional breaks to recharge. For so many families, this has not been an option. We also want to support the development of attachment in families through family therapy services, social gatherings and small group activities sensitive to children’s needs. These programs will connect with the child on their current developmental level. This also includes our upcoming Dwelling Place program, consisting of therapeutic trauma-focused Christian yoga for both parents and children. We believe that consistently working on attachment and self-care throughout every phase of the adoption journey will result in far fewer crises. Finally, we believe that, in order to achieve real change in the quality of support given to adoptive families, the community must allow itself to be equipped partners in this support. In a recent local survey of approximately 80 families, almost half reported that school and medical providers did not understand or give support to the issues facing the family. Perhaps more surprisingly, more than half reported the same lack of support from their home church. Many families reported that their friends, family and community were very supportive of their decision to adopt, but appeared unable or unwilling to support them during difficult times with their adopted children. Our Transformed by Grace program seeks to inform churches, schools, doctors, and any other providers who care for our families about the effects of trauma, and to give them tools to better serve with grace families walking through difficult times. Together, we can give hope to families who have felt hopeless. We are a Christ-based ministry, but serve all adoptive families regardless of faith, beliefs, or any other dividing factors.
We are currently moving into an office in the Center for Nonprofits at St. Mary’s in Rogers. From our new location we will be better equipped to both provide therapy and support to our families, and to provide training to the community. We expect big things from the coming year, with lives changing for the better. We are also always awaiting the opportunity to fulfill the vision for our Grace Haven Ranch, a future home that would allow for family retreats, a community garden, animal therapies, and so much more. We have many plans and dreams, and will need so much help from all of you to make them realities. We would love for you to connect with us on Facebook (@gracehavenhome) or at our website (www.gracehavenhome.com). We are also available through email (email@example.com). If you need support, or want to play a part in meeting the needs of a family who does, we want to hear from you!
by: Waylon Martin