Oct 4, 2018
James and Noell adopted through the foster care system. They had two biological kids when their family decided to bring home another child…then they got 3!
On this episode, Noell comes back on the show to give us an encouraging update on how their oldest adopted son is doing after being placed in a different home to help address his attachment issues.
Host April Fallon starts the show by reminding listeners that this episode is dedicated to the adoptive parents and adoptees who have a difficult time with attachment and the confusion that can occur.
April asks Noell to recap her adoption experience: she says that she and her husband James wanted to adopt. They had two biological children who were in high school, and soon they were matched.
Noell says she was surprised by how quickly they were matched with two boys. She knew the potential for trauma in adoptees, but Noell admits she put her blinders on.
April had warned Noell for the potential for trauma and attachment issues before they adopted. But as April states, it’s really hard to balance support and advice. She says looking back, the winning formula is just to be loving, supportive, and say very little. It’s impossible to know what sort of things may surface. The best thing to do is to encourage and build robust support systems around adoption.
Noell is then asked what she experienced after being matched with the two boys. She says that their oldest boy was 6 years old and the youngest 18 months old. They had two very different types of abuse. Noell says that one suffered from extreme neglect and their older boy was subjected to horrific abuse. She said she was very much concerned for her oldest. Noell wondered if he would ever be able to attach and if he could make it through the adoption process in a positive way.
She has this to say about the foster family’s plan to split the two siblings up into separate households:
“We were like, absolutely not! You cannot split up these brothers. They are full siblings, and we can do this. We are going to do this.”
When discussing the heartbreaking details of Luke’s abuse (the oldest sibling), Noell’s caseworker told her it was the worst case of abuse she had seen in her 20-year career.
Because of this abuse, Luke had trouble connecting or attaching to anything emotionally. As Noell highlights, Luke connected to her husband James after about a year of living with them. Noell started to notice that Luke was communicating in an indirect, often manipulative way.
Hitting fast forward, April asks about Luke’s relationship with his other siblings:
Noell says that Luke wanted to control his siblings. He wanted to be a parent to Jacob. His younger brother would often come to Luke as a parent before Noell and James. After months of non-emotion and detachment, she and James didn’t know what to do.
April says that a lot of adoptive parents come up to her and say they feel like they are failing as parents. That’s not the case. Regarding Noell and James’ story, April also wants to remind listeners not to be afraid of adopting because something similar might happen. She stresses the importance of education and resources like ADOPTION NOW before going in. Preparation is key and support is vital for the adoption community.
Noell and James ended up actively searching for a facility for Luke: she describes it as a therapeutic home for kids. Noell says he did end up staying at one of those homes.
She says that at this point, she and James felt like failures. They were angry, confused, sad, and wondering why God would put them in such a hard situation.
After a long time of no contact after they dropped him off at the facility, they met with Luke. That is when they saw a huge breakthrough! Their son was the boy that had so much trouble showing emotion, and here he was, bawling his eyes out in gratitude because they came to visit him.
For more on the details of Luke’s stay at the facility, further information on reactive attachment disorder, and this incredibly important story, listen to this episode! Also, to listen to the original episode where James and Noell share the details of their adoption experience and tackle the elements they encountered along the way, listen to the couple’s original appearance on ADOPTION NOW in Season 3 of our show.