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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Have you ever done all you can do and it wasn't enough?  Have you ever tried to help someone else, but what you had to offer wasn't helping?

It's hard to say that because I believe with all my heart that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  But in the end, I'm not God.  And thankfully, God knows that too.  And maybe I'm not supposed to fix everything. Maybe I'm just supposed to do my part in God's plan, and allow someone else to bring this to completion.

I've been processing what feels like a huge failure in my life, and it's taking me to some new places of understanding.  You see, five and a half years ago, we answered God's call to adopt and welcomed our two daughters into our home.  It didn't take long to realize that their early life in Liberia had done much damage to both of them emotionally and cognitively. 

I believed that unconditional love from me (and my husband) would make them whole. I believed it was just a matter of time before we'd be one of those success stories you love to read about and see on made-for-tv movies.  I believed God would do a miracle in their hearts and bring healing through the safety of our home. 

We knew it was going to be rough ... don't get me wrong.  We didn't think it would be easy.  We just didn't anticipate some of the problems.  It wasn't until last year that we had an answer for the behavior issues of one daughter:  reactive attachment disorder

When I first read the list of behaviors associated with this disorder, it was as if someone had taken a camera and documented our last five years.   The one exception is violent behavior, which is why it took so long to diagnose.  Plus our belief that we could handle this on our own - with God's help.  What's frustrating from a parent's point of view is that everything we've learned to do with our other children backfires with her.  So for five years we fed into the problem instead of helping it.  We are now in therapy, but the effects are minimal.

Sadly, now she's a young teenager, the age where a child is developmentally supposed to separate, and we are seeing an increase in the risk and danger of her behaviors.  There's little connection between cause and effect. And worse, there's no remorse.  Our other children are affected.  We are broken. Helpless.  On our knees.

So back to my beginning thoughts.  What if I've done my part?  What if it's time for someone else to help?  What if I'm hindering her healing by not taking this to the next level of action?  And, what if it's time to protect my other children?

Until you get to this hard of a place, the answers to those questions seem easy.  It's easy to speak words of confidence and encouragement.  It's easy to say that God will give me the strength to handle whatever He brings my way.  I believe that too.  But what if I've done all I can? 

That's the deepest part of this question ... what if now, what I have to offer, isn't helping any more?

And if I've done all I can, does that mean I failed?  Or that I was only supposed to do my part?

I don't have the answers today.  I just have tears.  Tears for a broken world that harms its children through neglect, violence and self-centered behavior.  Tears for a country that destroyed itself and emotionally harmed its people.  Tears for a little girl with something broken inside her.  Tears for other children who've been hurt by her brokenness.  And tears of frustration that I can't fix it all. 

But I still have faith.  I do.  I believe that God is sovereign and in complete control.   I believe that God has never left us and that He longs to bring healing.  And I believe that God will give us the wisdom to know what to do ... and the strength to do it .. no matter how hard it is.

So if I'm MIA, you'll have an idea what's going on.  I don't write about this often to protect my children, but I wanted to do so today.  The questions are heavy on my mind, and your prayers have made so much difference to me.  I wish I could hug each woman who reads these words today.

I love you,



Stephanie Garneau said...

Glynnis, I am praying for you today. God holds all those tears in His bottle. You're never a failure in His eyes. We love you too! :)

Cara @ Whimsy Smitten said...

Praying for you and your family, sister-friend.

Be encouraged that even in this, He has a plan. I am a houseparent at a Christian children's home and have had to deal with the heart-wrenching place a few times of having to realize that specific kids have more hurt and chemically-affected behavior issues than I am equipped to help in the place He has put me, with the other kids I care for and the resources at my fingertips. While I always believe in fighting for your children, sometimes, truly, the best thing you can do is trust them in the hands of someone who is more equipped (in discernment and wisdom, as God leads).

I have recently seen a very positive outcome of a child that had to leave our home. At first, I didn't understand what God could possibly be doing, as the way events played out in his life were baffling to me -- they seemed all wrong -- but as you said, we are not God, and He used a way of healing that no one but Him could have orchestrated in this boy's life -- things I never could have done for him.

Anyway, this is long enough already, but I just wanted to give you encouragement in what is surely an extremely difficult time. He has a plan, and its o.k. to surrender to that and let Him work in ways only He can. I'll be praying for peace, wisdom, and support in this hard time, for all the hearts involved.

Anonymous said...

Glynnis, will be keeping you in my prayers, thanks for sharing, thanks for being so vulnerable, I hv always been a 'lurker' but feel compelled to leave a word today, I hv two adopted children from China, n one of them has special needs too, I can totally relate to your sharing, I hv lost the count of the tears n prayers.. And questioning.. What if I've done all I can? Have I done enough? Culd I hv done it any other way? You are not alone..

And I hv faith n I believe, God loves my child more than I can imagine, and he has a plan for her/him , to prosper him and not to harm him.. And I hold on to that promise every single day.. Jer 29..

Emily B (emleepc@yahoo.com) said...

Your words hit home today for me, going through a struggles in my own life. I am constantly in prayer, but I realize that I'm not really trusting God to take care of my husband and I. My prayers have changed, because my outlook is changing, and I'm trying to trust God completely, and quit trying to "fix" things myself. Thank you for your words...

Princess Ridge Farm said...

Hi Glynnis,
Just think what a blessing you have been to this child already. What you may have saved her from. My prayers are with you.

As a mother, it is so hard not to be able to fix the hurts of our children. Even when they are grown and should be handling things on their own, a part of me wants to step in and fix things.

I want you to know your articles are a great blessing to me. I know you are struggling, but it helps me to see another mother's story and to know that even if we can't fix things, God is with us.


BethA said...

Glynnis -- I'm praying for you and your family in this unimaginably hard time.

DeenafromIowa said...

Dear Glynnis
I am praying for you and your family. You have touched the lives of those children in ways we can only imagine. We are currently fostering a young girl from the indian reservation and we have shed many tears over the the past 8 months. We find strength in knowing that everything that happens is part of God's plan for her. I wish I could reach out and give you a great big hug right now!

Nicci Ramirez said...

**Tears!!** I am soooooooooo praying with you Glynnis!!!!

Anonymous said...

Glynnis, my praters are with you and your family. Father, give the Whitwer family a spirit of peace, a spirit of calm and support as they go through this season with their daughter. You see the pain and hurt that has planted itself in this family and you Oh Lord is a healer, so Father in the name of Jesus touch this family with your healing hands and redeem them from the curse of the enemy. Father all knowing, all wise God you are the giver and taker of all things and you gave this daughter to the Whitwer family and you will restore everything that the locust and canker worm has eaten. To God be the glory. Amen.

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

I want to encourage you that while it does not feel like it right now...it will be okay. We dealt with severe RAD in our family with one of our children (who is now 18)and I learned so many things through the experience.
One thing I learned is not to keep what is going on a secret..so kudos to you for sharing and asking for prayer. It is a difficult thing to talk to people about and the feelings of personal failure are always present..but we serve an amazing God that specializes in restoration and binding up wounds. I have seen him work in my son's life and the rest of our family got through it and we are closer now because of it. The situation did require intervention by professionals and there is no shame in that. Just pray for God to lead your family to the answers for healing this child's broken heart and I will be praying for your mama heart..I know how hard this is. Love and (((hugs))) and lots of prayers!

Sarah Thomas said...

Glynnis- I work at a Christian home for abused, abandoned and neglected children. Sometimes you can't fix them. But God can and He'll use the seeds you've planted to raise up a glorious harvest.

We talk about how we often have to wait for the light bulb to come on for our kids. For them to understand their choices and begin to see what they need to do in order to have a future. I'm betting your daughter's light bulb is flickering. It may seem dark, but I suspect that you've seen that flash of light now and again. God has a plan for illumination. I know you feel blessed to be part of that plan.

There's no such thing as failure when God is involved--just a ragged road to success. Here's a hug back.

Jenn (jprim@att.net) said...

Glynnis - And I'm sure your readers would hug you right back if we could! Know that you're in the prayers of many during this very difficult time. :)

Anonymous said...

Love involves many risks. When you've done all you can and nothing's changed, seek help, have a timeline.
Yes you have to protect the other kids. You have to protect yourself as well or else you will be of no help to anyone.
I am glad you can admit that you are not God because you may very well be facing impossible odds.
Weigh it all. Speak truth to yourself and to your kids. After that is done, I'd just let it go.
You are not God. We can try but we humans cannot fix all the brokenness in this broken world. Love involves many risks I repeat.

Deborah said...


Praying for you to continue to lean on God's strength and His wisdom. You are doing a great job with your children!


Kelly said...

Glynnis, as I read your blog today, my heart just broke for you and your family. What a struggle it must be and please don't feel defeated. As TG said above, think of what a blessing you have already been to this child.

Proverbs 3:5-6 came to my mind. Give God's guidance for life. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

These words challenge believers to put more confidence in God's ability than in their own, to not try to analyze and figure out every detail themselves, but to place their belief in God's wisdom, love and strength, to lean on God instead of relying on themselves or anyone else.

I may not can hug you in person, but our Lord Jesus is wrapping his arms tighly around all of us. I can feel it! Will be praying for you!

Anonymous said...

I am truly sorry to hear yours and your families struggles. speaking from many many many years of hurt and pain from childhood, you and your daughter will be healed one day. God is with both of his precious and beautiful daughters.

many blessings


Andrea Fortenberry said...

You've been on my mind a lot lately and I'm lifting up prayers to God for you and your family. You are a wonderful mother, your children are blessed to have you!

I pray that God provides some answers and direction on the next steps you need to take.


Sharon Sloan - Joy In The Truth said...

Dear Glynnis: I love your honesty and I understand your "mommy heart". Parenthood keeps us on our knees, completely and utterly dependent on Him. I heard a pastor once say "God always wants us to be broken before Him..." I find parenthood does that like nothing else.

Praying for you and your husband and all of your chldren. I am having faith with you that the God of giving new life can give new life to your daughter completely. I pray He ministers personally too to the rest of you.

On my knees with and for you,

Anonymous said...

Praying for you and your family today....it is so hard to step away from trying to fix a person or situation and letting God take over....ESPECIALLY if it is our own child. I am not going through the struggles you and your family are enduring but can definitely identify with your love for your daughter. God bless you!

Surprised by Grace said...

My heart breaks for you Glynnis, and for your family. Especially when there is no remorse in your daughter, it could easily seem that there is no hope for her to get better. I'm praying for much wisdom and grace for you.

Love and blessings,


Kathy said...

You have heard all the cliche's about God never giving us more than we can handle but what we do know for sure is the Lord weaves everything into a pattern for good even the things we wish were different.
Having worked with children with Reactive Attachment Disorder I know how painful it is to try and change the behaviors. One thing to remember is that God only asks that we do all we can and allow Him to go from there.
I will pray for God to make it clear to you how He is handling the dilemma He doesn't expect you to have a solution for.
At some point we give our children back to God whether by choice or not. He knows all you have done. Maybe He wants to know for sure that you are certain He will handle it from there.
God Bless you and your family.

Leigh F. said...

I am praying for you and your family!

Kimberly said...

"Some plant the seed and others harvest the crop." We are not similar in situation, however we are similar in our moment with the Lord. Its hard to swallow when we feel so much for someone and the truth is right there. We are pointing to it, yet they seem to be looking straight past it or through it. Its tiring and wearisome after we do-do-do.

A good friend told me something that has stuck with me and I will forever hold it in my heart. In a nutshell, she told me that in everything that surrounds us, there is 'our own lesson and journey with Christ.'

What is God trying to tell you? I have had to tell myself many times that it is not selfish of me to seek out what it is that He wants me to get out of other peoples situations and circumstances. We are all growing in our walk with Christ. We cannot grow if we do not seek. Its not that what you've done wasn't enough, it is exactly what He had wanted you to do. Seek contentment.

It gets deep. Our faith is deep. For example, when I was younger I had watched a 20/20 special where a young man had kidnapped an older woman and killed her by means of a gun. When the interviewer asked him what her last words were, he teared up and said, "I Forgive You." At that time, I could not understand how a woman could say that to a strange young man before he puts her to death. Fortunately, through my walk, I can see now and since that revelation I have been trying to live as a forgiving person regardless of the transgression.

You may wonder what my point is. My point is something that I am sure you already know. This world is made up of a lot of different kinds of people, good and bad. And even the bad can become good. God wanted me to see that special on television because he wanted ME to get something out of it. I had received a blessing to forgive. I am not saying that it is the reason why there was a tragedy, but what I am saying is, in every situation that surrounds us there is a message from God. Its not about your daughter right now. You've done what it is that needed to be done. You've planted the seed. There may be many more turmoils and struggles that your daughter will go through as well as put you through but God will allow it because of his ultimate plan. Whose life will she touch? She's young. Imagine the potential she may have with the struggles when she can independently depend on Him and feel it. She has a journey. You have a journey. I have a journey. You've planted the seed. Depend on God that others will fertilize it for as many seasons as she needs. Someone else will harvest the crop and many will reap.

I hope this all made sense.

Anonymous said...

Praying for you and your family and that your daughter will soon be filled with the healing power of Christ.

Tammy Nischan said...


I just wanted to let you know that I am praying for you and your family. Our children's struggles become our own, and I know that there is a not a minute that goes by that you are not in some way affected by this journey.

Know that you are not alone, and I am honored and thankful to pray for you in such a specific way.

God bless you as you strive to be just what your daughter needs during these fragile times.

I love you!


Sharon Phillips said...

Glynnis, I keep coming back to this post. The tears flow and I feel the pain. Your pain, my pain, our family's pain. I have an adopted 30 year old daughter who was diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder among other labels. I am curently raising her 5year old son who we adpoted at birth thinking maybe she would be able to raise him someday. It will never happen. She can hardly take care of herself although she always has someone who does. My 22 year old son still feels the effects of living with her in our household and will not forgive her or have any contact with her. I keep thinking I could do it with the help of God. The truth is I couldn't. She took most of my time and energy away from my other two children and in the end she is no better. I love her with all my heart and always will. But I must say she had a negitive impact on our family and it has taken me a long time to let go of the guilt. My prayers and thougths are with you. What ever decision you make there will always be a part of you that wishes the family won't be affected. They all ready are and it just gets harder.