Not Annie the Musical

"Not Annie the Musical" Continued...

Issue: "American bounty," Nov. 30, 2013

In another one of his summer meltdowns, he said, “Hurt dog, hurt cat,” and Ellen realized it was time for psychological treatment. Children with trauma issues will sometimes try to hurt animals. Yu Hsuan stayed at the hospital’s children’s psych ward a couple of times over the summer and arrived home with more coping skills. Ellen has learned that anytime she tries overtly to help him, he recoils and gets angry. She has learned that she herself cannot show anger toward him, which only fuels the fits.

“There’s no cookbook for it,” said Ellen.

This fall the Stowells as an entire family attended a parental training camp as the Landreths did. The Landreths sought help at a camp run by Nancy Thomas, an adoptive and foster parent who has written about attachment issues. Faasse from Bethany declined to recommend Thomas’ camps (Thomas is not a child psychologist) but did recommend Purvis’ camps, emphasizing the importance of professional help. Faasse and Purvis didn’t criticize Thomas but criticized treatment that is “parent-centered” and “punitive,” instead of “child-centered” and focused on trauma.

While a child can misbehave, they say, the problem is usually that parents are treating trauma as bad behavior. Thomas told me that she agrees completely with Purvis’ methods, and also agreed that families need professionals to come alongside her parenting advice. Children are all different, and solutions will be different—Thomas’ training worked for the Landreths. But they all agree on the bottom line: Families shouldn’t try to handle troubled children without professional help. Faasse said families shouldn’t hesitate to contact adoption agencies if something seems off. 

“All too often families call us because they’re desperate,” Faasse said. “We’d rather get involved with families earlier than when they’re exhausted.”

Even if some children require extra care, Jennie said the Christian call to adoption remains the same. “These kids need homes,” she said. “We don’t want to discourage people from adopting. But it’s going to discourage them more if we don’t say, ‘There’s hope and healing for these kids.’ You can adopt, but get equipped.”

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD Magazine from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emlybelz.


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