Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wait. What?

Plugging in the 13 (almost 14) year old's phone last week, I notice on his screen a picture of an adorable girl with two braids and an ornery smile. "Who is this?" I ask. Not sure if I want the answer.


Oh, I see how it is. He's going to make me WORK for the information.

"Melissa who?"

Then the smile creeps across his face telling me that I'm about to get shut out.

"Where did you meet her?"


Seriously, what is it with the one-word answers?!

Also, I don't really understand the Minecraft game.

"Where in Minecraft?"

He starts to explain. I stop him, because, well, I have no idea what he's talking about.

Something about servers and teams and whatnot.

Turns out, Isaac and Melissa joined servers. (I think that's what he said.)

Also, turns out, he's been setting his alarm to get up SUPER early to message with her. Because as his day is starting, her day is ending. Because she is halfway around the globe from him.

LITERALLY, halfway around the globe.

Once he found out that she is in Australia, Isaac spent hours online researching everything he could about Australia. Industry, business, government, geography, sports, etc...

Turns out, she likes Minecraft and he likes Minecraft. She plays soccer and he plays soccer. And she doesn't care that he's a dancer.

Oh, and neither of them cares that they have absolutely no idea how far apart they are. No. Idea.

Now THIS is the kind of girlfriend (although, I'm pretty sure it is just a crush at this point) I want him to have until at least college.

© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring Soccer, Part 2

The first game of the spring season was more like
late November than it was like April.

But the fans braved the elements.

Do you know what nutmeg is?
It's a spice. But it is also when a soccer player passes
the ball between an opposing player's legs.

Like this.

© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Spring Soccer, Part 1

Spring soccer has commenced at the HennHouse. Due to the weather, as many practices have been cancelled as have been held for Isaac. His team played their first match this past weekend to a hard-fought tie.

If you ask some of the parents of the kids on the other team, we played rough, unrelenting football and lots of fouls that should have been called were missed.

If you ask the parents of the kids on our team, the other team played rough, unrelenting football and lots of fouls that should have been called were missed.

So, I guess, it was a fair game.

Isaac's new coach has him playing a deep midfield position and has him attacking when there is space. Isaac keeps slipping into old habits and hanging out on the defensive end of the field.  The thing is, he has a "big foot" and can place a pretty precise pass half to three-quarters of the way down the field. It's amazing. You should come see it. Really. He's got six games in the next six days. Email me for the schedule.

Esther-Faith wanted to play soccer when registration occurred, but now, she's not so sure. We had an hour-long meltdown before the first game last week. But once we got there, and she realized that there was fun to be had, she settled into the game and helped herself to some of that fun.

During the stretching portion of the workout, the coach asked the kids if they had any stretches. Esther-Faith continues to be the most flexible person I know. She raised her hand, and then she proceeded to wrap her leg around the back of her head.

Yes, she did that.

And finally, she offered a yoga pose. The teacher said, "Oh! This is a good one... the seal."

Esther-Faith said, "It's actually the cobra."

She was right.

I do not have photos of the cobra or the wrap-your-leg-around-the-back-of-your-head stretches. You'll just have to use your imagination. Maybe these photos will help.

Practicing her strike.

Tending goal. She's actually pretty good in goal.


One of the dribbling games. Play until they yell stop.
Then put your head on the ball. 

Dribbling drill.

© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I know I owe an update... But things around here have not been going well. Okay, that's not true. Things at home are going very well. Things with Isaiah are not.

I had planned to write an update tonight, but then I had a terrible visit with him. He was yelling and getting extremely angry. Scary angry. So, I left. I got up out of the chair and said that I wasn't going to let him treat me like that. I decided I'm done being his victim.

So, instead of an update, you're getting photos. Of our trip to the Conservatoria last weekend.

Until I can process...

© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Indoor Soccer

There is only one soccer team I like better than Liverpool, and that is any team my Isaac plays on. 

Right now, he's playing indoor soccer. 

It's not his favorite. With the wall and no offsides and whatnot.

But he still has a lot of fun. And manages to get very, very sweaty every week.

© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dance Class

© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Record of wrongs

I know it is really old-school, but I still take notes with a pen and paper. I carry a notebook and pen with me wherever I go. In a pinch, I record an audio note on my phone or type a note into my tablet, but mostly, I take actual notes.

One of the most consistent pieces of advice that we received from professionals and parents after we adopted the boys and specifically when Isaiah started to act out is to document, document, document.

I'll be the first to admit that we weren't the best about it. Documenting everything seemed so--I don't know--punitive. Like we were holding a grudge. Or that we expected to need a list of all of his transgressions someday. It seemed so unforgiving and against what we believe. You know, this: "Love keeps no record of wrongs."

So, we didn't. We didn't write down dates or times or situations or feelings.

But, we also did not forget. Some stuff is very hard to forget. Sure, we don't know exactly when stuff happened, but we know what happened. And when Isaiah was admitted to the psychiatric hospital, we were asked for a list. I just couldn't. In those early days of this experience, I was so broken that I struggled to maintain composure. So, Tim made a list, but he never turned it over to the doctors.

Now, in my old-school notebook, I carry that list. I don't look at it. I haven't shared it. But I know it is there. I know which pocket protects a list we never wanted or needed to make.

Until now. I can't even begin to explain all the intricacies of RAD and how it is manifesting with Isaiah right now. If you've been around here long, you know some of what we're dealing with. If you've ever dealt with a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, you know that every single case is different. And not every child is healed. Or recovered. Or whatever word you use to describe how they come through the other side.

And that is my fear. That we won't get to use those words to describe Isaiah. Because now, he is triangulating. Manipulating. Doing everything he can to be in control.

Last night was a very difficult visit. It didn't start out that way. It started with a hug. I hugged him. I kissed his cheek. He was wearing the t-shirt we gave him for Valentine's Day. He somehow looked thinner (which is good... he's put on about 15 pounds in the last month). I asked him how it was going. What his day was like. He asked about his siblings.

Then he complained. A lot. About home. About life in general. He admitted that most, if not all, of his behavior has to do with control, but that he is unwilling to change any of that behavior or relinquish any of that desire for control. That at 17-years-old he should be able to do and get anything he wants. Consequences be damned.

We talked for a while. He complained about how Tim and I are disciplinarians. How we never let him do anything he wants to do. I asked him why he thought we parented him that way. Spitefully, he said, "because of all the lying and stealing and violence." Then he gave his recommendation that we just ignore all of those behaviors and just give him whatever he wants (which varies from time to time...unfettered access to violent pornography, absolutely no expectations about respect and behavior, allowing him to be truant from school with no consequences--you know, basic rights of adolescence).

Two weeks ago Isaiah's therapist gave us an assignment. He requested that we make a list of things that we need to change about ourselves and a list of things Isaiah needs to change in order to progress toward family reunification. I wrote the assignment down in my notebook, and on the back of the page poured my thoughts onto every line. My list of self-change included, "Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply."

As the conversation continued, I recognized that I was feeling hurt, attacked, defensive, and upset. So, I just stopped talking. I forced myself to just stop responding to his verbal attacks.

As he unloaded his grievances--mostly about me and my parenting--I cleared my head of all the things I was thinking. I took deep breaths. I focused on each word he said to me. I did not interrupt him or reply to anything he said.

It was not easy.

He did not make eye contact or even look at my face. He stared at a stain on his pants. Or the floor. Or his hands. His forehead was angrily crumpled between his eyes. He rubbed his head and his hair a lot.

I waited, which wasn't easy at first.

With each passing moment, it got easier to wait. And to listen.

I was feeling empathy for him. And sadness. That this is where we are.

When he was done, I waited a little longer. Allowing his words and anger to hang in the air between us. I knew our time was running short. Twenty minutes isn't very long to feel and say all the things that we need to feel and say to each other every day.

So, I simply said, "I miss you. I miss all the good about you. Your laugh. Your smile. Our secrets. Screaming your name at the end of the 100 meter track. And the 200. And the long jump. I miss being with you as you struggle with these very big feelings. I'm really sad that this visit is going to be too short. But I miss you. We all do. And I love you. You have amazing potential--you're so smart and so athletic--more potential to do great things with your life than just about anyone I've met."

My heart ached with overwhelming love for that child as he stared at the floor. I don't know if he listened. Or heard me. Or even cared that I took a turn to talk.

And I let it go. Oh, believe me, I didn't WANT to let it go. I wanted to tell him how it felt when he attacked me. And when I found my undergarments in his closet. And when I discovered that he had been searching for incest videos on the internet.

But I wanted more to slice through that anger. To understand that his hurt and my hurt might just feel the same. To leave him with an, "I love you" was more important to me than fighting with him.

He is triangulating. Big time. Pitting his therapist against us and us against the therapist. Well, he's trying. We're in communication with the therapist pretty frequently.

Don't get me wrong. My deepest prayer is still healing for my son. And our family. For us to have a healthy, affirming relationship with each other. For Isaiah and his siblings to have a solid relationship. For there to be no more fear in their eyes when he is around.

But I'm learning that what I want and what he needs might not line up. That healing might never look the way I want it to, the way it typically does. He may never reciprocate empathy or care or love. And I have to figure out if I'm okay with that. If I can live with that. If I can live without him.

In the meantime, I'll keep writing down my homework assigned by his therapist in that spiral bound notebook, just pages from the list I never wanted to need and I don't want to need to keep.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:11-12

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13

Some RAD resources:

© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The struggle and time

There are days that I really, really struggle.

I know I should be on here more. With updates and pictures and news. But some days... Some days I just really, really struggle. With the weight of what we are dealing with. And the feelings of failing as a mother. And connecting what I know is true in my head with what I feel is true in my gut.

During lunch, I was sitting at my desk filling out paperwork for Esther-Faith's upcoming neuropsych evaluation, and I had to complete lines for family members who are not living at home. And I had to check the "yes" box next to the question about whether she has witnessed domestic violence or abuse. 

It is such a stark contrast. That I list her father's occupation right before I have to explain our involvement with children's services. That I miss Isaiah so very much. And I'm seeing what his behavior has done to the rest of us. How we have ALL been traumatized by him.

And I try to hold Isaac's hand in church for prayer, and he pulls it away from me. Not because he doesn't want to hold my hand, but because he has chewed all of the skin off all of his fingers down to his first knuckle. And Esther-Faith has taken to nail biting, too.

Anxious, nervous behavior. And Isaac has been yelling in his sleep. Angry things. Shouting. Esther-Faith has been struggling to fall asleep. They both have been needing more snuggles. And they've taken their agony out on each other. And we struggle to give them consequences. Because we know that they are reacting and not acting out.

And I have had a heavy, short-breathed feeling in my chest for weeks. A tightness that will not secede.

And I wonder how in the world we ended up here. How? Where did we go wrong? What could we have done differently?

And then, I miss him. So very much. His smile. His silly, goofy laughter. Even his struggles. I miss all of the opportunities that we're missing in interacting with him. The good ones. I know he is angry and violent and believe me, I know he is exactly where he needs to be. But I still miss him. I will miss screaming for him this track season. I miss how we had little jokes--just the two of us. Things that felt normal even in the abnormalness of our lives.

Isaiah spent two weeks in the psych ward at the hospital. Then he was transferred (tied down, he tells us) to the residential treatment center (RTC). He has started intense therapy with an amazing therapist. He will have EMDR sessions. We have family sessions (Tim, Isaiah, and me) weekly. We are learning how to be family with fresh memories of violence and homicidal ideation.

We are on borrowed time.

We have social workers involved now. When our private insurance for residential mental health care runs out, we will likely have to relinquish custody so that he can continue treatment. We asked to be the ones to tell Isaiah. That wish was not honored, and he is even angrier. Accusing us of "giving up" on him. Of giving him up.

Which couldn't be farther from the truth. We are researching every option. Looking for ways to have JOINT custody. Looking for ways to continue to parent him and love him and help him. Ways to BE THERE FOR HIM even as he finds new reasons to push us away.

Tim was feeling exhausted of the constant fight in all of it. And starting to seriously worry about my health.

And then Friday... I was waiting at work for his call. He calls sometime between 3 and 5 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We get to talk for 15 minutes. I didn't want to leave work before he called. There was a terrible snow storm and I have a personal policy to not touch my phone while I'm driving.

A little after 4:30 p.m. my phone buzzed on my desk. A number I recognized as the RTC. I answered expecting to be handed over to Isaiah.

It was the nurse. She was emphatic that Isaiah was okay. That she had just spent a couple of hours monitoring him, and he is going to be fine. I felt that tightness in my chest grow worse. I felt the tears sting my eyes, sneak out, and rush down my face. I listened as the nurse explained that Isaiah was assaulted by a staff member at the facility. I felt my arms start to shake and a coldness fill my body. I asked questions. Mostly about Isaiah. And I asked to speak with him. She said he was being treated and would call me back.

I called Tim.

Tim. What an amazing person. I joked with Tim's brother today that I hoped his birthday is as awesome as his brother. He joked back that awesomeness runs in the family. But I seriously think he has no idea how amazing Tim is.

Tim. He just went into what can best be described as "cop mode." But it was more than that. Sure, his years of experience investigating incidents in state-run facilities came in handy, but what I heard was more than that. What I heard is a man who was finding a new reason to fight for a child who has systematically and routinely pushed him away. A child who had threatened his life on multiple occasions and had attempted to take the life of his life partner. I heard that man start to defend that child.

And I fought the tears again. For a different reason.

Tim asked me questions that I couldn't answer because I had been so worried about Isaiah's welfare that I neglected the questions about the investigation and the charges.

Isaiah called--well past 5 p.m. I three-wayed Tim into the call. We were afforded a longer phone call that night--20 instead of 15 minutes. He said he was fine. Bruised. His head hurt. It hurt to even talk. We reviewed with him the symptoms of concussion. We tried to piece together his story with the nurse's report. Trying to figure out the sequence of events.

How I ached to just hug him. The way I did when he was dumped. The way I did when he was nine.

I know he isn't completely innocent in the altercation (as he revealed--he was being mouthy and oppositional and calling the guy not-very-nice names), but ultimately that staff member came after my son. While Isaiah threw verbal barbs, that staff member used his fists.

We told Isaiah that we loved him. Isaiah said he loved us. And he hung up the phone.

I started my very long commute home. Slick roads. Overly cautious (and not quite cautious enough) drivers making the commute even more difficult. I watched both small sedans and four wheel drive SUVs skid off the road into ditches or other cars.

When I made it home, I hugged my kids who were there. I slid off my snowy shows and into my leopard print slippers. And I set to work making our annual "try new recipes while hanging out together in the kitchen" Valentines meal. A meal we make for the fun of it--not necessarily the nutrition of it.

The kids watched movies while Tim and I were deliberate in our dinner prep. Slowing passing one another in the cramped space between the stove and the island--letting our fingers touch as we handed off ingredients. Forcing ourselves to slow down and just enjoy the making of a gourmet meal of foods we had never before eaten. Complete with a buttermilk pie that had to be saved for breakfast.

And it was after that breakfast that Tim and I set out for the RTC. Anxious to see our son. Together. He looked fine. His right knuckles and hand were a little swollen. He had a knot on his head (either from the head butt, a punch, or being knocked into the cinder block wall), and he seemed weary of filling out the paperwork that comes with such an incident. It was not an easy visit. After we saw Isaiah, we spoke with a supervisor about what the next steps are.

We headed home. Tim went to work. Isaac, Esther-Faith, and I had lunch and prepared to go meet Isaac's new soccer coach and watch his game.

Today, I completed the paperwork for Esther-Faith's neuropsych evaluation scheduled for later this week. Her last one was three years ago. My dad was still alive. Isaiah was in a good place in junior high--discovering his love for track. Isaac was starting to thrive on his first travel soccer team. Sure, we were just a year out from a lengthy hospitalization, and when I completed these forms that year, I had to talk about much different stressors in Esther-Faith's life.

And I'm reminded again how fragile time is. To make the most of every moment with every member of my family. Even as I wrote down our caseworker's name on those forms, I know that Isaiah is where he needs to be. We're doing everything we can to help Esther-Faith and Isaac adapt to our new normal and heal from the pain of everything we've been through. Even as we all deal with our changed relationships with Isaiah. As they struggle with missing him while being relieved that he is gone. Even as I sit at my desk and answer very, very difficult questions about the state of our family.

I'm reminded that there is a time for everything (see Ecc. 3). And right now, I'm weeping and mourning. But I know the dancing and laughing will come. Even in its smallest measurement, I have seen it creep back into my life. Esther-Faith and Isaac tried on their costumes last week for their first dance recital (for which I CANNOT WAIT--email me if you want info). I started planning Tim's 40th birthday party (seriously, 40. Please join us!). And we picked a secluded cabin on 15 acres to stay in when we head south to visit my brother and his beautiful bride.

I'm learning that the "time for everything" is often at the same time. That mourning and dancing can happen at the same time. That laughing and weeping can coexist. That tearing down and healing can overlap. That peace begins in the throes of war.

That in the knowledge of what Isaiah is capable of at his worst, Tim is still fighting for what he is capable of at his best.

And in the days that I really, really struggle, I can still see that he is worth it.

This is what I'm fighting for.

This is worth fighting for. Worth the work. Worth the tears.
This is it, folks. 

A couple more of these.
Holidays and memories.

And stolen moments where family IS bliss.

And this.
The playfulness.
His arm around his son.
The smile on that son's face.
The love.

Whatever it takes.
I will not give up.

© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Friday, January 31, 2014

RTC, FCCS, CPST, med wash, and other words I never knew I would need to know

We pulled out of the driveway just after Isaac left the house to walk to the bus stop. Our appointment at Children's Services was at 9 a.m. We rounded the corner to see Isaac standing alone at the bus stop. His hands shoved into his pockets and his head down. I know school has been hard for him lately. And it has been nice that home has been such a refuge for him. I'm so thankful for that.

We waited in the lobby for our caseworker to appear. This is a very different reason to have a caseworker than almost a decade ago when we were filled with such hope and promise and anticipation of adopting our first sibling group.

This time, they called us. This time we were referred and a case was opened. This time they will be making home visits for very different reasons.

The meeting was two hours long. Yes, I shed tears publicly. Tim and I recounted our adoption story. Isaiah's strengths and weaknesses. What promise we think he has. His academic and athletic abilities. And we answered very difficult questions. Not because we didn't know the answers, but because of what those answers mean. And Tim held my hand when they mentioned taking custody of Isaiah. And I lost it.

I still cannot even type those words without completely losing it.

Temporary custody. So that Isaiah can get the services that he so desperately needs. So our family can heal.  So that our family can eventually be reunified.

But it does not feel any better knowing that--for a time--he will not be mine. We have fought so hard for him. And now, this decision will come down to finances. It has nothing to do with our desire to continue to parent him and give him everything he needs. It just means that what he needs costs more than we can pay right now.

I contemplated starting to play the lottery.

Or starting some kind of online donation web site.

Anything to keep him from feeling at all abandoned by another family. By us.

Then we made our way across the parking lot to the residential treatment center (RTC). To meet his therapist. And his CPST (that's okay, I had to look it up, too). We waited in the lobby again. A different lobby. With uncomfortable dorm furniture.

This meeting was more than two hours long.

We talked about all the same stuff as we did with Children's Services. In a different order. I could tell Tim was getting frustrated. He was cutting me off. Short with the therapist. I think he's just tired of saying the same things over and over. And honestly, everyone seems to be working toward something that he isn't sure is a good idea.


My feel my heart beat a bit faster at the thought. Like it could be sooner rather than later. Even though I know that isn't true. It will most likely be later rather than sooner.

Then his therapist brought him in. He appeared nervous. I looked him all over. And even though he reports that there isn't enough "green" food to eat, he looked healthy.

He sank into the chair and I couldn't take my eyes off of him. Just stared. He smiled some. He laughed--mostly at his dad. His therapist had some questions in his "back pocket" in case the conversation went nowhere. However, he didn't have to pull them out. Conversation was easy. And short. I felt like there was so much more we could have talked about.

He has been at the RTC for a week. He hates it there. Every time I talk to him, he tells me how much he wants to come home. How much he hates it there. He always asks about his brother and sister. And his friends.

Isaiah gets to call me three times a week for 15 minutes each time. There is a 90 minute window when he can have visitors for 15-minute supervised visits. That 90 minute window happens to be in the evening when Tim is at work. I hate that I can't visit Isaiah, so if anyone wants to hang out with my other two kids for about an hour a couple of times a week, please email me. I will pay in baked goods. Or hugs. Or reciprocal childcare. Or whatever your price.

Tomorrow is adoption day. Isaac and Esther-Faith will get to see their brother for the first time in about a month. I'm baking some cupcakes because he said he misses my cooking and baking. He told me that and he as apparently told his therapist the same thing in multiple sessions.

But we can't take a camera. We can't take any utensils. On the anniversary of the day we officially became a family, we will be together for a visit--all together in the same room. Supervised by a therapist. We won't take pictures. It will be tense. And it is definitely not what Tim and I envisioned when we became parents, but we will be together. And maybe, he will let us hug him.

Happy family-versary.

© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Broken road

I sat in a chair across from my oldest son and watched him hang his head in his hands. This was the second time in two days that I was able to see him. As broken as I feel, I think he's feeling worse. He looked right in my eyes and said he wants to come home. He misses home. He misses his siblings. He misses me.

My arms ached to hold him. To go back in time and have him be small enough to climb into my lap. To be able to tell him that it is all going to be okay.

They still ache now.

And I cannot lie.

Nothing about this is okay. Nothing.

Yesterday Tim and I met with a social worker and one of the psychiatrists treating Isaiah. They confirmed what we already new, he is an amazing kid. Smart. Gifted. Charming. And ill.

And they also told us that he needs residential treatment. Treatment that we can't afford. Treatment that may require us to relinquish custody of our son to the state in order to get.

Tim and I held it together until that moment.

And then I could not. I can't even. As broken as I felt Friday, yesterday was worse. Today is worse.

I sat across from him tonight, and I told him that his dad and I would ALWAYS be there for him. No matter what.

I did not mention that may be a court hearing. And we may have to turn him over to the state in order to get the treatment that he needs. I did not tell him, because I looked at his eyes. I saw my own brokenness reflected back. I saw all the good that he is capable of, and all the fear of what is uncertain.

I could not tell him.

He asked for his geometry book (which, frankly, is a miracle in and of itself). I promised to bring it tomorrow. He asked for a family photo. For pictures of his siblings and his parents.

And I just couldn't tell him.

Last night I talked to one of my dearest friends on the phone. I shared my heart with her. My fears. My failures. My dreams and hopes for my oldest son. And I wept. And she let me.

This is such a crooked path on this journey. I can't see around the corners. I don't know which way to turn. I'm standing at a fork in the road, and I just don't know. Do I have any fight left?

It is surreal.

I know what we must do. My head knows. My heart has not caught up.

This morning Tim and Isaac called me while I was driving to work. They have devotions together every morning, and today, they wanted to include me.

The lesson was about faith and prayer and uncertainty in prayer when you don't know if you'll get what you want. We talked to Isaac about how we've been praying his brother and him since they showed up in that purple chevy malibu with two social workers. How we've been praying for Isaiah to be healed and make progress. We told him that this is an answer to that prayer. Even if it isn't what we imagined it would look like.

Even if it is NOTHING like we imagined. If Isaiah gets the help he so desperately needs, then it is an answer.

Isaac and Esther-Faith seem to be coping well. Esther-Faith has had a couple of rough (weepy) days at school, and tonight she cried when she realized Isaiah wouldn't be here tomorrow for her "China-themed" birthday party.

Isaac has been somber, but mature when we talk to him. He as revealed how safe he feels and he has started to let his wickedly funny personality shine a little bit more. It is especially fun to watch Tim and Isaac banter in ways they never could before. And to watch their relationship deepen and develop into a pretty amazing friendship.

But, Isaac woke up at 2 a.m. today with a stomach ache. He's not sick. Nothing else was the matter. Tim and I talked to him this morning, and we're pretty sure it is stress.

Family counseling can't start soon enough.

This is a cracked and crumbling and broken road we're on. It is not without pain and twists and tears and turns. But there moments that we see the light and the beauty. And we wouldn't trade this road for anything. Even though it hurts. Even though we can't see where it is leading. We're blessed to be on this road. With you. And with our amazing kids. All of them.

© 2013 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

An excessive amount of photos and an update

Well, we managed to make Esther-Faith's birthday fabulous--even as we still reel from the shock of not having Isaiah here.

On her birthday, Isaac was in rare form. I think making up for all the times he felt overshadowed or subdued by his brother, his personality really started to shine. And we're not the only ones who noticed. All of his grandparents mentioned it. He was funnier. More talkative. More interactive. More himself.

He slept with his door open.

He slept. Long. And late. He wrote an essay for a school application. He played video games. He volunteered to do chores. He and I even talked about starting a home improvement project. You know, sledge hammers, saws, etc... (BTW-Tim said NO. Something about electric and load bearing and whatnot. Trivial stuff.)

He's in the other room now. Playing video games. He (successfully) negotiated a higher allowance. And he's excited about an overnight trip to his Nana and Poobah's house next weekend.

And Esther-Faith--she's amazing times a million.

On her birthday, she woke up and crawled into my lap as I gathered her selected outfit from her dresser. The first thing she said was, "I definitely feel eight. I'm taller."

In the afternoon, I went to her school to read books, but I took a surprise with me. Nana and Poobah. Nana is a retired second grade teacher. And we each read a couple of books to the class. I sat next to her and listened to her read and I was immediately transformed into one of those second graders again, sitting on my pretzel, transfixed on a story being told by a great story teller. I didn't want the books she read to end.

Neither did the kids.

It was so much fun.

Then we got a call from the hospital for an intake interview for Isaiah. Forty minutes later, we tried--again--to refocus our energy on Esther-Faith.

It didn't take long.

She's obsessed with all things Chinese right now, but she also thinks macaroni and cheese is a Chinese meal because that is what she gets when her dad takes her to the Asian Buffet for their dates.

So we compromised. Chinese ingredients, cooked American. Baked chicken. Steamed broccoli. Baked brown rice. And of course, pumpkin cake with pink cream cheese frosting.

Then presents.

It would be unfair to characterize the celebration as anything but joyful, but there was a juxtaposition of sadness. Of heartache. Of something missing. Isaiah and Isaac went together to buy Esther-Faith a new dance bag at her favorite store. Just 24 hours before his meltdown and attempted homicide. When I handed it to her, we made sure she knew it was from both of them. And I felt the tears build again.

It is both right and wrong that he isn't here. He needs treatment. We've been searching for months to find it for him. But he is our son, and we will do whatever it takes to help him. Even if it hurts. Even if he is doing everything he can to hurt us. We will keep trying and praying.

Because we love him.

And we love his siblings. Today as we toured a potential new school for Isaac, he was cracking jokes and allowing a little bit more of his personality to emerge that I'm sure he would have kept locked up if his brother were present. He has slept with his door open for two nights. Last night, he didn't even yell in his sleep.

And Esther-Faith seemed to have a great birthday. She loved every one of her presents. The American Girl dolls have new outfits and blankets. She's been excavating a quartz, tiger eye, and amethyst for four hours. She has plans to have them turned into necklaces for herself and her grandmothers. Which I think is pretty cool. She's played with almost every single present so far, and as usual, seems to take everything in stride.

For now.

When we talked to the doctor, Tim and I asked about therapy for the whole family. For Isaac and Esther-Faith to have a safe place to talk about how this is affecting them. The doc thought it was a great idea and is looking to set it up once Isaiah is transferred to the adolescent lock-down psych unit.

We have a long, long road ahead of us. But I will never give up on my son. Even when it hurts.

In the meantime, we will sleep with our doors open. We will plan for a future in which we ask for a table for four instead of five at a restaurant. We will loosen some rules around here. And we will pray without ceasing.

One day at a time.

One moment at a time.

And yesterday, we filled as many of those moments as possible with celebration of a little girl who changed our world eight years ago.

When she found Nana and Poobah were there!

Some love from the Grand Poobah.

Introducing her "mother" and her "grandmother" to her class.

Listening to one of her favorite books. "The Day The Crayons Quit."

Finally, a ballet book!!

Present #1.
From Nana and Poobah.

A REAL magnifying glass!!!

Pumpkin cake with very pink cream cheese frosting.

Reading a card with help from her sister-cousin.

She loved the scarf that Auri gave her. 

Jeremy and Tracy: Two necklaces already made.

A new dance bag from her brothers.

The first eight "Ivy and Bean" books. 

Seriously. Look at Isaac's face.

And here.

And here.

And here.
So nice to see him express himself so freely.
It's sad he never felt he could do it before. 

I love it when she laughs. Just love it.

Ahhh. A craft for her room.
And one more expression from Isaac.

Somehow the girls decided he would collect the bows.
And he didn't argue.

Auri adds a bow.

A new music jewelry box. 

© 2013 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved. 
Copyright notice: All content, including writings, artwork, photographs, or videos, posted on this blog is original to Karin Shirey Henn and the HennHouse unless otherwise stated and may not be reproduced without permission.