Adoption is forever…

I have never wanted to write this post.  It is very personal and private.  Some of it is not my story to tell so pardon me if I am vague in some areas.  But, this event, this ugly thing that has happened that has affected the world’s view of adoption needs to be corrected. 

Today is the day that we (adoptive parents everywhere) are speaking the truth about our adoption experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly) in the hopes that people everywhere understand that while adoption may not be easy it is FOREVER.

Here is my story:

As most of you know my oldest son is adopted (by me, he is my husband’s biological son).  I met Jason when he was about to turn three.  Having been through a lot in my own childhood I immediately recognized that Jason wasn’t growing up in a good environment.  He called me “mom” just because I was his daddy’s girlfriend.

The next time I saw him (a few months later) he was jumpy and afraid of the dark.  He wet the bed.  Lots of red flags.  He lived over 1000 miles away so keeping an eye on the situation proved difficult.

In 1997, when Jason was four we received a phone call in the middle of the night from a neighbor of his bio mom’s.  She had searched information for our number, only knowing my husband’s last name.  I won’t go into the details of that call here but the next day began our quest to get custody of Jason.  After almost two years, thousands of dollars in legal fees, thousands of miles back and forth from Iowa to West Virginia and two more years of abuse and neglect, we succeeded.  We were awarded full custody of Jason in March 1999.  After abuse and neglect continued during visitations between Jason and his bio mom, her parental rights were terminated and I adopted Jason as my own in September 2000.

When a child experiences bonding issues with their bio mom, are exposed to unmentionable abuse and neglect the scars run deep.  And those scars cause them to lash out.  Particularly to the person that represents the person that hurt them.  In this case- me.  Jason was hurt by his bio mom in so many ways and then I became his mom. 

I love Jason because he is part of my husband.  I love him because he is my son.  But I also love him because I understand.  I know what it is to be hurt by the person that is supposed to care for you more than anything.

So I took it.  Punches, kicks, hair pulling, bruises, name calling (so sad to me that he even knew those words).  I excused it, hid it and took it.

Because there were also hugs, kisses, special moments when it seemed he would be okay.  We did everything “right”- therapy, IEP’s and love, lots of love.  We learned how to restrain a child when he was raging, but even when he was eight and nine I wasn’t physically strong enough.  Only my husband could.  And he worked…a lot.

Jason didn’t just have a problem with authority at home.  It translated everywhere…school, church, public places.  We began to not be able to go anywhere as a family.  Mike would have to stay home with Jason and the other boys and I would go or vice versa.  We became isolated, lost friends and our family started to splinter.

He would run away from school, hit his teacher’s and hurt other students.  His anger was palpable and his hurt ran so deep.  The courts intervened in 2004.  Our eleven year old son had a probation officer.  If he messed up at school, hurt me or hurt his brothers he would be taken away.  Kind of setting him up to fail.

And in December 2004, Jason was taken from us.  He was deemed to be a danger to himself and others and placed in a residential facility for troubled children. 

I felt like the life had been sucked out of me.  We just wanted him to be okay.  His placement was 3 hours away from our home.  Our weekends became road trips.  Labels were given: conduct disorder, attachment disorder, PTSD.

In June of 2007 our lives were turned completely upside down. Jason was about to come home from residential treatment and the judge that had originally ordered him there had requested an evaluation by several different types of therapists before he would sign the final order.  One of those therapists was a juvenile sex offender treatment therapist. {Jason had displayed sexual acting out behaviors since he was very little}

The findings of her evaluation changed our lives forever.  Jason disclosed things that not only made the judge rule that Jason could not return home but that he could also have no contact with his brothers, our other children.

The judge ordered Jason to a sex offender treatment program (three hours from our home).  Jason was there for over a year.  It was like a prison.  All the kids wore the same clothes, same shoes, bars on the windows.  We could only visit him once a month and it had to be in a room with all the other kids visiting their loved ones and we could only hug him when we left.  It was the worst year of my life (and that is saying a lot considering the things I have been through)

Jason is not allowed to have any contact with Jared and Matthew  by court order.  It is heartbreaking to try to be a mom to brothers who are forbidden to see each other.  When Mike and I visit Jason on the weekends (he is closer now so we get to see him weekly) we have to leave Jared and Matt behind. When we talk to him on the phone we have to go in another room. Family holidays, birthdays- it has just thrown our whole family a curveball we could have never expected. 

We get through, by the grace of God.  We are defining what family looks like when we can’t all be under the same roof.  Jason is doing well at his boarding school and is even getting his permit and a job this summer.  But, his life has not been easy.  He struggles under the constant weight of his early childhood.

If you have stuck with this post so far, you should know that I would never abandon Jason. And it is not because he is related to my husband by blood.

 No matter what happened, he is my son. I made that choice from the day we began the custody process and stood before a judge and agreed to be his mama as if I had given birth to him myself.

And, although our road has been far from what I envisioned it to be eleven years ago, I consider it a privilege to be his mama.

Every placement that Jason has had, every counselor, every social worker has commented on my commitment to him.  How many people have walked away (from children they gave birth to) over much less.  When you know what it means to be abandoned it strengthens your resolve to never let a child you know feel that way again.

Adoption is God’s plan. Period. End of story.  What if God decided that we were too much?  Too sinful?  Too violent?  Made too many mistakes?  How many of us would be worthy of salvation?  Of Him being our Heavenly Father? 

Thank God adoption is forever!

(I am sorry for the length of this post but I had to share my heart on this.  While I have been as vague as possible I would ask that if you know my family in person you not discuss the details in this post with my children.  It is obviously a very sensitive and difficult situation for our family.)


  1. A harrowing tale and I cannot imagine what your family has been through. However, it’s quite a different thing to adopt a child whose history you know. I am guessing (perhaps wrongly) that your openness with this issue might have been inspired by recent stories of adoptive parents returning children after a few months. In defense of these parents, I would suggest that it is patently wrong for agencies to adopt out psychologically disturbed children without informing the prospective parents of problems, especially when they are going to be long-lasting and require a lot of resources. Even then, prospective parents should be fully educated and helped with a treatment plan.

    Thank you for writing your story.

  2. There are special plans for special people. Thankfully Jason has you. You are strong beyond words.

  3. Your heart for him as his mother is so apparent. No one could mistake the fact that you love him. Adoption is forever, you’re right. We were foster parents for nine years and had some very troubled toddlers (and a teen) come through our home over the years. The long term effects of early childhood abuse are tragic, and some people think that if they just take a child they will love the hurts away… but these hurts formed when they were still developing. Those hurts are deep, and love helps but this takes fortitude and determination for a parent! God will give you the strength to continue on, and raise the children you have at home while also still parenting your older son. God bless and thank you for sharing.

  4. I wish more parents felt this way. He is so lucky to have you. I think that any time you decide to parent a child weather they are yours biologically or by choice it is forever. Children are not disposable contrary to what many think. This is a very moving and powerful post. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Melissa. Just wow! This is a great post and thank you so much for opening up and sharing it with everyone. I know posts like this are hard to write. I will be praying for your family.

  6. givinguponperfect says:

    Wow. You have an incredible story, and I think you're so brave to share it here. My family went through something similar, although not as severe, and it's difficult (SO difficult!) for everyone involved. I love the way you sum up your commitment, though – Adoption is forever! That's incredible, especially after hearing your story. Thank you for sharing with us!

  7. Sounds wrong to say “what a lovely story” but it really is wonderful how you feel about adoption and how you shared your heart.

  8. “children are not disposable” thank you, that sums up my feelings in one

  9. and I am praying for your future child as well! Excited to have someone
    share the foster care road with!

  10. Thanks for sharing your heart. I knew you were a brave and courageous woman of faith and I knew that there were some family issues but I had no idea how brave and courageous and faithful you are. Love you, girlfriend.

  11. I heard about this incident and it made me feel sick. I hope that woman will never be able to adopt again. Just terrible. Your story is heartbreaking, and inspirational as well. Adoption is forever.

  12. shawnabrown says:

    I had an idea of the page you were on last night. Now I feel it in my heart, adoption. How lonely, abandoned, and empty we would feel if God didn't “adopt” us forever. How would it feel if he left us in the cold, alone. How would it feel to not have a father to turn too, when we need Him the most? Very touching, thanks for sharing your personal experience and making it a God experience for me. I believe I needed that, and He gave it to me at the right time, thru you. Thanks again.

  13. Melissa, if it's possible, I love you even more now than before. Thank you for sharing … and for the necessary reminder that none of us are deserving of our own adoption by THE Father.

  14. inhisgrace7 says:

    I love you Melissa! I'm so proud of you for sharing this story. I know it will bless many! I know God is going to use it for His glory and our good! You have done such a beautiful thing by writing this out – first for yourself and for those who sadly think they are living alone in the hard parts of adoption.

    Thank you for being so courageous! I just posted it on Adoption is Forever with a link back to you!

    I love you,

  15. This was such a moving story. I hope that Jason is able to move beyond everything that has happened to him. It sounds like he definitely has the support and love to help him get there.

  16. Cindy Bultema says:

    Oh Melissa, thank you for sharing this part of your journey. You so beautifully reflect the heart of our Father.God bless you for your unconditional love, grace, commitment, and dedication to the Kingdom…and your family. You are one special sister, Melissa. God's richest blessings to you!
    CIndy 🙂
    P.S. I am trusting one of these days our paths will cross in person, and I can't wait to give you a big hug.

  17. CountryFriedMama says:

    I have been so bothered by the story of that Russian adoption and all the background regarding the kids who are adopted but never quite recover from the horror of their early lives. Clearly, Jason is lucky to have you, and I hope for him and your family that he heals at some point and can come home to you. Thanks for sharing this with such honesty.

  18. BEautiful! YOu are a wonderful mom. So glad that you shared this post and that you shared your heart. Thanking God that His adoption is forever and that He gives us the strength to make it through every situation He brings us too.

  19. Elyssium says:

    Thankyou! That was strength.

  20. Melissa, this is a beautiful post about the sometimes not so beautiful real life. Thank you for sharing so honestly and reminding us to look to Him to truly understand adoption…and love.


  1. […] you haven’t been here long and this post confuses you, you can read some of the back story here and […]

  2. […] Jason turned eighteen on Wednesday.  Being his mama has been a journey you can read more about here .  Suffice it to say, I believe that adoption is God’s plan! Jared is the first child born of […]

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