Today was a day that was rich and rewarding for me on so many levels. It is a day that 4 or 5 years ago I never could have imagined occurring. No, at that time I was dwelling in the depths of despair as I worried if I was going to ever have a son who was truly emotionally healthy and normal...or if I was raising a child whom I would one day find myself living in fear of.
Joshua's Reactive Attachment Disorder was no joke. It was extreme, it was quietly terrifying to me, it was the one condition that caused me the greatest anxiety of having to face. And don't you know it, God always seems to challenge us to face up to those much feared mountains and climb them.
Those who know Joshie now see only the end result, or perhaps a work in progress that appears nearly complete. Only we know the underlying insecurities that still exist, there are few that hear the nighttime cries of "I don't want to go back!" as our dear mommy friend heard him yell out in the middle of the night while we were gone with Kenny. The picture of Joshie now is a wonderfully attached, warm and extremely loving little boy.
He is a boy I never thought would exist.
Today, that child who was so terribly angry, who rejected human contact at every turn, who at a year and a half old was well on his way to eventually becoming a murderous headliner on the front page of the local newspaper showed the world just what love can do.
Don't get me wrong, I am NOT saying that love is all it takes...that we "loved him out of it". I am not that naive and believe me, I know better. But it was love that sustained us, it was love that helped us continue on when we felt we would never make a difference, it was love from so many others that was pumped into Josh over the past 5 years from friends of all ages that made a difference.
I think though, if we look at it on another level it was really the love of God that did it all. If it were not for God working in and through so many, if it were not for our conviction that God had selected this incredibly damaged yet oh-so-vulnerable and helpless little boy to be our son then I doubt we could have had the fortitude to continue on. There were certainly therapists who suggested we consider relinquishing him thinking he was "too far gone" to ever make it. But those therapists only have so much power within their grasp, they failed to see the greatest Power of all and what could be accomplished through It.
Without God, I know there is no way I would have been able to make it. Josh's RAD was the single most heartbreaking, awful, deeply hurtful thing I had ever experienced up until then. I have had my share of heartache, but all else paled in comparison. Maybe it was because I truly didn't know if all our efforts really would result in a child who would ever be able to love and connect with others. I was more afraid of failure than I had ever been in my life, for not only was my child's life at stake, but so were the lives of all he came in contact with. Sound melodramatic? Uhhh...check out your maximum security prisons and see how many RAD men are ensconced there. I was seeing into the future and realized the capacity for violence that RAD brought with it.
This morning there stood before me a beautiful little boy, one who has valiantly fought and won a battle that most at the school are completely unaware ever took place. He is the most tender 6 year old boy I personally have ever met. The Joshie who last year I was uncertain should even start school did a 180 degree turn around and suddenly blossomed into this amazingly motivated student who, in the words of his teacher is very, very bright and now has the emotional strength and stability to be all God intended for him to be.
This child who most might have predicted would have flamed out gloriously in school today received a special award, the "Principal's Award" along with a perfect attendance award. The Principal's Award is an overall achievement award for diligence, good character, and scholarship. The pride on his face as he looked at his certificates was worth more than a million words I could ever write.
If you had asked me 5 years ago if I could see myself grinning from ear to ear KNOWING I would soon be receiving a humongous hug and kiss that was gleefully given to me by him, I probably would have broken down in tears and said "Oh, how I sure hope that will happen, but I'd be happy to settle for a child who didn't hurt others.". Those sincere gestures of affection are worth more than any certificate of achievement, but the award was sort of icing on the cake.
You made it, Josh. You really made it.