I’ve started to write this post several times. They were false starts. It sounded like I was seeking validation and acceptance from the entire population of planet earth over what has been happening in my home recently. It felt like I was asking for permission to have the challenges we are having and for the choices we are making. This bothered me.
After the trauma and related fallout of the events of the past couple of months, I am disturbed by the niggling notion that not only is life in my house exceptionally hard, but we are also being watched and judged for the straight-forward manner in which we are coping with it.
I haven’t wanted to talk about the most recent issues, because a) I do not want to be judged for them and b) I am weary of feeling that I must apologize for my family’s life. This is the family that God gave us. We have massive issues, like everyone else’s families. Unlike many families though, our issues are 100% visible.
I have gotten over my fear of sharing what life is like for families of children with disabilities. Because God asked me to write about my life, I did it. I kept doing it, even when people asked me if it bothered me, all this public sharing about our hard, weird stuff.
“I’m over it,” I would respond to the question, meaning: it doesn’t bother me, telling people who we really are.
Then Costco happened and the ksl comments section nightmare wherein I learned what some people actually think about me and Jack. They don’t want us around. We are unacceptable. We scare them. We make their lives too uncomfortable.
This has all been very painful, but it’s not even the issue at hand.
THIS is the issue at hand:
We have been working for some time to find a residential placement for Jack.
We are moving forward with residential care, meaning a group home.
This is our new reality.
If you find yourself reacting to this development with any of the following, please know that you are entitled to your opinions (yay, opinions!), but feel free to NOT share them with me, xoxo:
*Things you might be thinking about our decision*
- They should have done it a long time ago.
- How disappointing. I can’t believe they are doing that.
- I would never do that.
- What a nightmare.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have also been thinking all of these same sentiments to myself, repeatedly over many years.
We were told to expect the approval process to take a long time, possibly many months. We have been gathering doctor’s letters, as well as behavioral data from the school, the behaviorist, and other caregivers. We documented all the aggression, injury, violence, and destruction that has happened within our home.
It was a pretty desolate feeling, seeing the trauma of our lives summed up all together like that. I sent it to Jack’s support coordinator and our attorney and they both responded immediately, dumbfounded at the crisis level in which we have been living for so long.
I read through the list of dangerous behaviors after I wrote it and had two thoughts. First, how are we still alive? Then, as I was mulling that over, a voice that wasn’t mine said, “All of these things happened so that Jack will be approved for the care he needs.”
That was the first divine moment in this process.
We pressed on, gathering documentation and expert corroboration. We began looking at possible placements.
Since we made the decision to pursue residential care, I have felt peaceful. Jeff and I know it’s the right step, the next step in Jack’s life trajectory as the Spirit told me three years ago in my car on the side of the road after Jack almost killed me and his little brothers.
The Spirit also said (after my thoughts immediately went to my failure as a parent) that this is simply the next step for Jack on his journey through mortality. Probably the most important part of this silent exchange happened next when I heard, “It will be alright,” and was flooded with peace.
That’s what I’m holding onto now. I feel peace, but also grief. The rightness and necessity of something doesn’t preclude pain and suffering. Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was right and necessary, and yet how He suffered.
Our support coordinator completed the request for residential care over a weekend, texting me throughout church one Sunday to ask me detailed questions about Jack’s medications, sleeping patterns, behavior outbursts, and difficulty keeping respite workers. She submitted the request Sunday evening.
It was approved at 7:00 am the next morning.
That’s the next miracle.
Our astonished support coordinator called me, rendered basically speechless by this development. She has never seen an approval happen like this—instantaneously. It just doesn’t happen.
God loves Jack and wants him to have the help he needs.
We are now at the point of securing his placement. It’s a tricky process, even when you have months to prepare for it. Since the approval happened so fast, we are all a little stunned. But, fortuitously, we have two possibilities that are both nearby and both good options for Jack. We are considering them and will decide soon.
My brain is working in overdrive. I’m having a lot of thoughts, including these:
*I am still Jack’s mother. We are still his family.
*We will still see him and love him.
*Jack will do better and behave better when he has the right (one-on-one, male-staffed, continuous) care.
*This must be what the scriptures mean when they say “O Lord, wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way.”
*Not only is the way NOT hedged up, it appears to have been pruned, plowed, paved, painted, and greased so that we can straight up glide forward, finding the things Jack needs.
*Jesus knows how we feel. He knows how Jack feels, living in a body with an imperfect mind and the inability to speak. He knows how to help us in our time of need. He IS helping us in our time of need.
*Life on earth is a temporary state, completely filled with sound and fury (wow. yes), but thankfully it’s not our forever state. Jack is living a subdued existence that doesn’t define who he really is. Thanks to Jesus, Jack will be restored. Hallelujah.
*The group home is a stepping stone. Our home is a stepping stone. Our parents homes, Jeff’s mission apartments, our college rentals and first Sugarhouse bungalow, our one-day assisted-living homes—all of these are stepping stones from spiritual infancy back to our real home with Father and Mother in Heaven.
But we are not there yet. This is where we are and this is what is happening.
God is clearing the way before us.