Journal 3: My Daughter Has an Eating Disorder, or Does She?  How I Addressed Assault and Other Abuse

Well, now we see!   This has been an exhausting week of travel and emotional strain.  I called the hospital like I do each night hoping to speak with my daughter and the nurse who answered the phone said, “Um, she’s being taken to the ER.  Sorry we haven’t had time to call you yet.”   They said they were very concerned about my daughter’s hemoglobin level from her lab work was so low she needed to be addressed at a higher level of care.  They also discovered blood in her stool.  That night I talked to ER doctors who were perplexed about her condition but administering IV fluids and nutrition quickly.  They did a few routine tests that revealed my daughter needed a colonoscopy and endoscopy.  My husband and I arrived the next day because we were so far away.

Endoscopy revealed my daughter has a healthy pink esophagus; however the pictures we saw of her large intestine and colon were shocking to see: inflammation, puss and bumpy masses all over.  No doubt about it, she has Severe Ulcerative Colitis (UC).  We learned this is a hereditary condition that has no cure.  You just pray and work hard for the UC to go into remission.  Many people live full good lives with UC when it goes into remission.  Others have to have surgery to remove parts that are badly damaged or the entire thing to get well.  We do not know exactly what the future holds for my daughter.

She is slowly gaining weight by eating double portions and working hard in therapy to help her issues with attachment and anxiety.  We visited her last weekend and noticed a pink color coming back in her face.  It’s hard to be away from her but we also know that bringing her home could be fatal if things go in the wrong direction and we do not catch it.  We feel at peace that she is in the best place for now being monitored so closely medically.

However, there is a downside to where she is: the other patients.  One afternoon she called me crying hysterically.  Another girl hit her.  She was so upset I couldn’t’ even make out what the full story was exactly.  I did learn after asking questions that she wasn’t bleeding and there weren’t any marks left on her body.  I think this incident was more harmful to her heart than it was her body.  Later I was able to speak with a staff member who described the “hit” as a slap and it happened twice.  The first time the girl slapped my daughter from behind and my daughter didn’t even know who had slapped her.  They called all the residents of the unit together and questioned the girls until one girl stood up and said, “I’m the one who hit her and I’ll do it again!”  She then slapped my daughter a second time!

The hospital took measures to isolate the girl who slapped my daughter.  They moved my daughter to another unit because she told them she didn’t feel safe.  I called the police station closest to my daughter’s location.   They conducted interviews with both girls and documented the event as a “simple assault.”  What a stressful evening!  I mostly wanted my daughter to know that it’s NEVER ok for someone to slap/hit/assault her and that I will always be her advocate!

I’m bothered by minors experiencing crimes like assault and sexual abuse that never get reported.   When this happens I believe these kids tell themselves they do not matter, nobody cares and that they’re not important.   They become victims and believe they are nobody.  YES, some crimes have the potential to make it on the front page of the paper and I know nobody wants their family stuff in the paper, but to neglect reporting and documenting can really bite you later on in the long run.

I’ve walked with other foster kids through criminal court proceedings where they had to face their offender head on in court.  This is the toughest thing they might ever do in life and it’s terrifying but I’ve also learned this has the opposite effect on a child that not reporting or not pursuing has!  Facing the offender in court teaches your child you’re not afraid and that what happened to them is NOT OK.  It also builds their self-esteem and helps them understand that you’re there to support them through thick and thin and that you as their parent will do the right thing for them, tough or not!  This is why I called police.  I also called police because I’m so far away from her and I didn’t see the details.  I cannot see her face and know exactly what happened.

Journal 2: My Daughter Has an Eating Disorder, The Nightmare Continues…

A few days after my daughter was admitted to the hospital in VA, 5-6 ours from home, we got a call from the team that is caring for her.  I was so pleased at the steps they were taking and the goals they had set for her.  They say my daughter is working hard and I’m so proud of her for recognizing she has a problem and that she is trying.  I’m very impressed with the therapist who is recognizing things immediately.  I believe she is trying her best to help my daughter heal.  My stress level deflated after that call.  I’m impressed with what they’re doing.

The therapist called me and started talking about “disorganized attachment.”   She explained this to me some and recommended I do some reading on it.  Yes, I believe this fits my daughter.  She is adopted and her biological mother had many struggles with domestic violence, substance abuse and bad choices like leaving her kids for weeks at a time to go visit a boyfriend far away.  This has left a mark on my daughter.  Episodes of trauma while the brain is developing affects us far more than if we’re an adult.  Can she work through all of this and get better?  I hope and pray so!

One of the myths people coming into foster care believe is that if you just love these kids they’ll heal and be ok.  I’ve learned love isn’t enough many times.  I love all my adopted children dearly.  They need so much more!  Even though I love my daughter tremendously and have given her a structured safe home her scars still remain.  She lives in constant fear that I will leave her because her mother left her many times.  She projects this onto me, which makes sense, but I’m also learning eating disorders don’t make sense at all!   One thing I learned going to the clinic is that this doesn’t make sense and trying to make sense of something that isn’t rational is irrational in and of itself!

So I get questions like, “What do you think triggered this?”  “What is she upset about?”  “Did something happen at school?”  These are all rational questions that I don’t have an answer for and sitting around speculating all of this can drive one mad.

So now I’m trying my best to love my daughter, pray for her, call her every day, visit her as much as I can even though she is 5-6 hours away.  I believe she wants help and healing and is reaching out for it.  This is what gives me the greatest hope!

The most terrifying element of all of this is my daughter lives in a “unit” that is full of other teen girls all who struggle with difficulties in their lives.  They all have medical and emotional issues.   Some are very angry and look really scary.  Others are delightful but I can tell they are a handful.  So I have to take the good with the bad and keep pressing on to get her the help she needs.  She is being strong and I’m proud of her!

Right now they are keeping her away from the eating disorder group because many of the patients in that group have had their disorder for years.  My daughter started this 7 months ago.   They do not want my child to learn some of the behaviors these other patients display.  So right now she is being encouraged to improve her eating on her own and she is working on her trauma with her therapist.  I appreciate them being cautious.  While we might be postponing the inevitable, we just don’t know yet.  We shall see.

This Journal entry is the second of a six part series.

One Foster Mom’s Lament

A lament is a difficult conversation with God.  Laments are meant for God and not for other humans, but I share this lament I wrote years ago in hopes of educating others about what foster care felt like to me.  When you become a foster parent you invite children into your home who have experienced deep traumas in their lives, some of them ravaged by sin.  I feel like I have absorbed some of their pain and that was a privilege.

Lord, I cry out to You!

O powerful One who holds the whole world in His hands

Giver of peace and redemption, hear my cry, Oh Lord.

 

My foster daughter has been spiritually mangled,

She is a tormented soul.

She clothes herself with shame.

She sees no worth in herself and rejects kind words and compliments.

 

Her father is incarcerated for heinous sexual crimes.

May he receive the punishment he deserves!

May those in prison do to him as he has done to others.

May justice happen to him on this side of eternity.

 

Her mother all dressed up like a slut, focused on her looks and herself instead of her children.

Selfish ways and sexuality taught way too young.

Bathing her children in bleach telling them their dark skin is ugly.

Bound by the craziest superstitions.

Kissing her infant son’s penis and the department just calls it motherly affection!

 

The little one doesn’t even speak.

Her sibling, he holds it all inside.

They don’t want him so they shipped him to Mexico to aunty and grandma.

He’s back here now, lost as ever, about to turn 4 or 5 and doesn’t speak.

Stunted growth and maturity, failure to thrive.

He cried out while dad locked himself into a room with him.

To dad he is sexual pleasure.

 

Hard, calloused knees and callouses on the tops of their feet.

Punishment by kneeling in corn meal scattered on the floor.

 

Children, stay away from strangers!

They’re all bad!  We don’t associate with anyone but our family!

This family lived just one building over from where I run an after school program for at-risk kids.

We never knew each other.

Just within an arm’s reach.

 

The younger girl is the favorite.

The older girl and her mom just decided they hate one another and that’s just how it’s going to be.

Vicious physical fights of hair pulling and screaming in front of the younger kids.

 

The younger girl gets gifts; she has a different dad.

The older is ignored, abused and neglected, but she cares for the little baby boy like he is her own.

 

Mom let’s sex offending dad back in the home when he gets out of jail for abusing another girl.

It starts all over again.

The baby boy crying locked up in a room with him.

The oldest plots what she will do when the police come.

She knows it’s just a matter of time until they find out he is back.

 

No one can help BUT YOU oh LORD!

You rescued these precious children and brought them into Your light.

You brought them to me and I pointed them to You.

These girls made faith decisions and have tried to follow Your ways.

 

Sorrow is the staple of their souls.

Free them God from the pain.

She wears a mantle of shame that consumes her.

She feels more comfortable suffering and feels she deserves to suffer.

Free her LORD!

MAKE of her a beautiful testimony of Your hesed!

Help her to trust!

Help her to let go and define herself according to Your Word and not by what her family has said about her.

Protect her God.

Give her a strong desire to follow you, no matter what.

Reach her hands, heart and mind out to You.

May she not be afraid of true love: YOU.

 

God, I give her to You because I know I’m not enough for her.

Heal her LORD.

Take away the unhealthy desires she has.

May she seek YOU and not the pleasures of earthly men or things.

Care for her sweet baby LORD.

May she raise her head and follow YOU.

For YOU oh LORD are the great divine healer!

YOU are the only One who can set us free!

You are the one who commands all things on the earth.

Save this one LORD!

May she be a part of YOUR Kingdom for ever and ever Amen!

 

Forgive me LORD.

I have hatred and bitterness towards their parents.

I know You love them too.

Redeem them LORD.  I know You can.  Draw them close through Your Spirit.

Please heal Holy Spirit, heal, like only You can!

Reign in all the earth LORD Reign!

Jesus YOU are King!

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