After Nina and Tim Hillman* got married, they discovered that the only way to grow their family would be through adoption. Knowing just how many children in the foster care system need a home, they decided to pursue adoption through the state. After getting licensed, they welcomed a sibling set of three children into their home at the ages of 5, 3, and 1 and quickly adopted them, even though the children all had experienced a significant amount of trauma in their short lives.
Eight years later, their family was crumbling. Their oldest child, now a teen, was perpetually running away. The police knew their family well. The middle child was exhibiting violent behavior. The youngest was regularly kicked out of church groups. Nina was at the school multiple times a week because all three children were struggling in school. Additionally, she was struggling with unhealthy habits to cope with the stress, a pattern that was adversely affecting her physical health. Tim and Nina’s marriage was not stable, as they had no unity on how to parent the children’s challenging behaviors.
On the day that Nina called Chosen, she had her bags packed with a plan to leave Tim and the kids. The only reason she hadn’t left was because their oldest child had run away again and she wanted to see her stable before she left. Nina explained the children’s history, the current state of their family, and the status of their marriage. She had little to no support system, and she expressed feelings of anger, bitterness, loneliness and isolation.
Chosen provided a plan to help the Hillmans. We started by coming alongside Nina with a supportive, listening ear so that she felt less isolated and hopeful. Weekly help was provided by equipping her with parenting techniques effective for children with trauma. Activities that promote attachment and connection were taught and implemented. We provided Nina with referrals for academic and mental health professionals that the children so desperately needed. Accountability to make sure that they were receiving marriage counseling, as well as a mentor dad for Tim to talk with on a weekly basis was another significant part of the plan. We followed up with Nina and Tim several times a week to ensure that they were doing some self-care, and worked on helping them created a unified, trauma-informed parenting approach.
Seven months after Chosen stepped into the Hillman’s story, it’s a joy to see significant improvement in their home. Connection between parents and children is now evident. Their oldest child has not run away again, nor have the police made a visit to their home. Nina and Tim’s marriage is improving, and Nina was able to stop taking some medications that her unhealthy habits required. The school still calls pretty often, but not as often as before. This family is on the road of healing and thriving. Nina recently told us, “I finally have hope again.”
*Names changed to protect privacy.