Letter From Melissa

Our journey started in June. A guest speaker came to our church to talk about the way adoption portrays the gospel in a tangible real way. I listened with tears in my eyes and prayed, “Lord, please work in our family so that we might share the gospel by adopting someone into our house.”

The following January, we had a exchange student from China staying with us. To entertain her, we sat as a family to watch Pete’s Dragon. I expected a cute kids movie. I did not expect that my life would change as I watched. The movie is about a boy who loses his parents and grows up wild with a dragon in the forest. He is found by a family, by a mom, who brings him as part of the family. I watched with tears streaming down my face. A prayer grew in my heart: “Lord, please allow us to be the family and me to be the mom who takes in a boy who needs love and a family.”

Two weeks from the time I saw that movie I got a phone call from a dear friend. She knew of a boy who needed a family. This was a boy who she loved, a boy she wanted to bring home. After a lot of prayer, she knew he was not supposed to be theirs, but the Lord showed her my face. She told me about Luke. She told me a little bit of his story. Luke had been adopted from China when he was very small by a nice American couple. Luke however had RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), which made him a challenge for his parents. They sought help from Debbie, a RAD specialist. He had been living with her for a year. During that time, his parents had decided that Luke needed to be with another family. My friend thought of me. When I presented all of this to my husband, his response was the confirmation we needed to proceed: “What if he goes to a family that doesn’t know Jesus? We have to bring him home so we can teach him the gospel.”

While this started as just an idea, it turned into quite an education on RAD. We learned why RAD develops and what it can turn into. The outcome can be kind of scary and we were cautious. We also learned about the amazing resource we had at our back door in Debbie. It was knowing that she was so close by that gave us the peace of mind that we could tackle a young man with RAD. Debbie was amazing first of all in what she had done with Luke. His parents had described him as out of control. They described a boy who was controlling and manipulative and would throw daily enormous tantrums even at age ten. The boy we met at Debbie’s house could not at all be described in that way. Debbie had taken a boy who controlled his whole family and pulled out the sweet, sensitive and kind boy that was deeply hidden under all that anger.

Debbie taught us that RAD stems from a lack of attachment and painful feelings that they don’t know what to do with, so then they control and manipulate to hide or escape those feelings. She walked us through how to first set up an environment where Luke can’t control and manipulate. She then placed Luke in my arms so that I could start to attach and bond to him. She also walked us through delving into deep, dark emotions that Luke was feeling that he didn’t know how to deal with. It was a really beautiful process that prepared us to make Luke ours.

It has been a year since Luke moved in with us. There have been challenges. There have been difficulties. Because of the training and support we received from Debbie, we have known how to tackle those challenges. We have realized that we need recalibration talks where we assess how well we are bonding and any RAD behaviors we see arising. We have delved into deep, deep waters of emotion with Luke. It is amazing how we have felt the hand of God in all of this. God brought Luke to us. God made sure we were the perfect family for Luke. God gave us the help we needed in the amazingly valuable resource of Debbie. God made sure that we had even in ourselves what we needed to love and parent him well. Who knew when I prayed in June for a boy we could speak the gospel to that a year later we would have him in our home. Who knew that when I prayed in January for a boy who needed a mom, that two weeks later that process would begin. We sure didn’t, but God did.