Second Chance Adoptions has had such a huge impact on my family’s life. Back in January of 2017, we found ourselves desperate for help and hope. We had four children (three biological sons and one beautiful, adopted daughter). We adopted Eliana at birth, assuming all would be well since we thought babies were “blank slates.” When she was one year old, our family moved to Spain to work with a church there. As soon as she could talk and interact with us, Eliana showed bizarre behaviors. She was very aggressive, defiant, angry, and violent. When she was 18 months old, our youngest son was born. She would often target him when she was angry. I had to be vigilant at all times as she would try to seriously hurt him and would threaten to kill him. Her aggression also extended to our older two boys and to ourselves. I could fill a book with stories of the nightmares we faced while parenting her. If you can imagine it, I’m sure we experienced it. It broke our hearts, because so much of her behavior was the result of her in utero exposures and trauma. She desperately wanted to be control as a result of her feeling so out of control early in life. She seemed unable to receive our love and affection.
When Eliana was not yet four, we made the difficult decision to return to the USA to seek help and answers for her. Once we returned, we delved into the diagnostic process with a plethora of providers. She seemed to have both Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). We began treatments and seeking support. During that time, my husband was also diagnosed with metastatic cancer and faced surgery and 20 rounds of chemo. By God’s grace, our marriage and family survived, but it was a very difficult season. Eliana would try to hurt my husband, knowing that he was weak and vulnerable at that time.
We reached a point where we were out of ideas of what to do. Even Eliana’s psychiatrist had exhausted his arsenal of prescriptions. He suggested institutionalizing her. We were so sad, feeling like there was nothing we could do that would give her a hopeful future. It seemed her trajectory would be that she’d kill herself or us and either be dead or in jail by the time she was 18. That’s when a friend told us about Second Chance Adoptions. We had never heard of such a concept and were initially horrified at the thought of “giving up” on our daughter. But we realized that something drastic had to change if there was going to be any hope for her or rest of us (two of our three boys needed counseling at this point because of PTSD from her violence). It was the single most difficult decision we’ve ever made.
We spoke to Cyndi who gave us the first seed of hope we’d had in years. We couldn’t believe that one, someone would want to adopt Eliana knowing all of her issues, and two, that she’d be able to attach and behave any differently in a different home. Well, a fantastic family did apply to adopt her. They ironically checked all the boxes of things Eliana had been saying she wanted for years (she’d always said she wanted a new family and was very specific in what she wanted). God graciously supplied those things for her. She has been there now for six and a half years. Her new family has never experienced her violence. She doesn’t take any medications. They report that “she’s the easiest kid we’ve ever raised” (they’ve adopted 3 and had 1 biological son). They say she’s very attached to them, and they adore her. We are both baffled and relieved. We miss her and mourn the loss of a daughter, but we rejoice at the new life she has in her new family.
Three years after she moved, and upon hearing the constant good reports from her family, we decided we would like the chance to help another little girl have a Second Chance at a hopeful future and help another family who was struggling. We saw Bella’s profile on the Second Change Facebook page while camping with family in July of 2020. She tugged on our heart strings, and prayed, talked to friends and family, and ultimately decided to pursue adopting her. We brought her home in September of that year, and she’s now been with us for 3 years. She can certainly still be a stinker at times, but she’s attached and doing well in our family. I know that we have the energy and hope to get her to adulthood that her last family lacked.
I am so thankful for how Second Chance helps families who are suffering find a way to help a hurting child.