The story gets harder to write here. The pain is fresh although I don't know that it ever gets any easier to write about a painful event in your life. As the twins got older, their problems seemed to grow, especially Gina's. Looking back though, I don't think that Gina's problems were worse than Joey's, hers were just more aggressive and he got overlooked because of that, which didn't help him. It seems when they turned 11 and puberty hit, that Gina really started to lose it. The fall of 2015 we seemed to hit an all time low in being able to control her any longer. Our days were spent either trying to keep her busy and happy to avoid a fit of rage or trying to help her work through a fit of rage. All my time was poured into her and I struggled with keeping up with homeschooling the other children. Her fits of rage became not just about not getting her way, her fits of anger and rage become more directed towards us her parents. She would yell hateful words, she would scream, hit, and growl. If she lost control and went into a rage, it was hours before she would calm down. It disrupted the whole family. I would look around and realize all the boys were gone, hiding somewhere, trying to find a quiet place. Normally they all 5 went upstairs to the oldest boys' room. Her fits were so bad that I did everything in my power to keep her from going into one, sometimes simply not doing school and entertaining her all day. We searched for counselors, we searched for psychologist. She didn't understand enough Romanian anymore to work with a Romanian psychologist. We were introduced to an American couple who are biblical counselors. They were very supportive of especially Baron and myself but it just seemed Gina was beyond anyone's reach. She had gotten to a point where the voices in her head were so loud that she couldn't calm herself enough to take counsel from anyone. She was saying crazy things, she was talking about people being hurt, she was talking about wishing we would be hurt. She wished the house would burn down with us in it. She cried out in her pain that she wished she was dead, she wished God had never created her. She actually said to us, "why did your God make me." I can't tell you how painful it is to watch your child be in this much pain and feel hopeless to do anything about it. Our counselor friends in Timisoara, Mark and Diane even made an emergency trip to our house on probably more than one occasion. Sometimes it seemed to help when someone else would come around to calm her down. Finally, on January 27, 2016 she was being so destructive, throwing things in her room, yelling and screaming, that for her safety we cleared everything out of her room except her bed. That's when Baron made the decision to buy Gina and I a ticket to the states for the very next day. We knew we couldn't live like this anymore. Baron couldn't minister to anyone else, he didn't have time to do anything because I was always calling him home to help me. We wondered how exactly she would respond and how I would get her on the plane but surprisingly, she seemed excited and immediately calmed down and started packing her bags. There was no amount of reward or consequences that helped, once the torch of anger was lit, nothing we said or did would calm her down. She was just so troubled and angry and she didn't know why and she was frustrated. It was time to seek help in America.
The three months we were in the states without Baron and the boys were extremely hard. I felt resentment in my heart towards Gina for taking me away from my husband and rest of my kids. She would have a really bad day, saying mean and hateful things, pushing me away, then the next day she would want a hug and wonder why I didn't respond warmly back to her. It just got to a point where I couldn't pretend anymore. She would have a really bad day and wake up the next day wondering why everyone was keeping their distance. She couldn't understand why we couldn't just pretend nothing had happened the day before. Our first 4 weeks in the states were calm. We stayed with my parents and she was enrolled in public school. I told them up front why we were there and they were very understanding and accepting. At first she was so calm I thought maybe it was just homeschooling setting her off. Maybe that was all it took but after 4 weeks, she no longer tried to hide it from my family, she went into her fits of rage again. This time even more fierce, she began to hit, bite, and kick me. While she was in school, I was making phone calls and visiting places and searching for help. I told her I was looking for somewhere to send her to get help. We found a counselor who was also a Christian. He advised me to seek outside care when she got violent to protect her and myself. One night we finally ended up in the ER. She was a danger to herself and others. I guess through all this I tried to find things to be thankful for. A lot of kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder can hide their behavior from others and only act out in front of the parents or mom. Gina could not hide her mental illness from others. She wouldn't necessarily rage in front of other people (except my family) but she would verify my story to the doctors in the ER as to her behavior which was helpful. They involuntarily admitted her to a psych hospital in Columbia, SC. Policemen came and transported her there, I couldn't even accompany her. It was heart wrenching. It didn't phase Gina. She acted like she was just going for a fun ride, she immediately started asking them questions as if they were going on a field trip. Obviously her 10 days in the psych ward did nothing to help her but it gave me time to re group and think. They put her on a couple of different medicines which didn't help her. One of the medicines had the side effect of suicidal thoughts which she was already having on her own. Within one month I took her off both of them. It got to an all time low again, she was raging constantly, I didn't know what to do. I had an appointment with a psychologist in Virginia who specializes in children who had spent time in an institution but that wasn't until May. Baron was coming in May. Our life line family at our supporting church in Taylors, SC had taken Gina for weekends but now she offered to take her for the next 5 weeks until Baron arrived and we took her to Virginia. I pulled her out of school and she spent the next 5 weeks with our dear friends the Garzonys. I needed the respite care and that is exactly what our friends did for us, they offered a respite. I was also introduced to a woman who had dealt with families with troubled children for years and during this time she would spend time counseling me, listening to me, but not letting me stay in self pity mode. She would give me the truth, she would tell me this was hard, and then she would tell me I had to deal with my own heart issues. I couldn't fix Gina but I could deal with the bitterness that was growing in my own heart. Another respite for me was our church sent me to Edisto Island for a few days. I was able to spend some time asking God for direction.
Fast forward 5 weeks. Baron arrives and we take the twins to Virginia to see this specialist. He gave us a really big discount. I even called and said I think it would be a waste to bring Gina, we are looking for a place to care for her, we don't want to waste the money. He told us to bring her, he would see her for free. We decided to get Joey evaluated too as we saw many signs and symptoms in him that were troubling, he just so often got overlooked because of the violent nature of Gina's outbursts. There was a day of testing for each child. We were advised that Gina needed professional help, that if we didn't get a respite from her we couldn't really help Joey at all. Her needs were really beyond what we could help her with. He did advise we try to find a psychiatrist in SC who would put her on Abilify. We were seeing a psychiatrist in Greenville, after her discharge from the psych hospital we were required to see one. I asked him about Abilify, he didn't put her on it. Finally as Gina continued to rage and we had no control over her I went back to the psychiatrist and pleaded with him to try her on Abilify. He did and within 3 days her raging was more under control. I felt like now, she was in a place where she could maybe get help somewhere because the medicine had quieted her some. Long story short, we found a place in Illinois. It was expensive but we hoped they could help. We sent her there. I went to work, night shift taking care of a lady. Baron and the boys delivered yellow pages. Within 6 weeks, our insurance kicked her out. They said since she wasn't raging there, there was no need for her to be there. The institution fought to keep her there, they told our insurance it was not a good idea to send her home. We were worried but God was working. We were desperately making phone calls. The institution she was in was desperately fighting with our insurance company to keep her there. God provided a place called Watersprings Ranch. We called, they had a bed and said it sounded like she was a good fit for their program (we had interviewed at several other programs that felt she her level of need was greater than they could handle). Within 5 days we drove up to Illinois, picked her up and took her down to Arkansas. When we left Illinois Gina bawled. She had not cried in years. She had gotten attached to a boy. She became boy crazy, another dangerous issue, but the positive thing to me was she was attached enough to someone to cry and weep because she had to leave. My twins were without emotion really and this was a first positive step to her road to healing. This new place was a God send. They run on donations, we no longer had the burden of coming up with a big chunk of money each month to keep her there. The second HUGE blessing, was this place is completely Christ centered. They believe that the children find healing when they find their identity in Christ. When they are able to forgive the hurt the past has caused them, then they are able to start healing and moving forward. I had difficulty believing that such a perfect environment had opened up for Gina. We moved her to Watersprings the first of September. They have house parents in each home. It is very family like, each house with 5 to 8 kids. They prepare and eat their meals at home, they have chores, they have a consistent set of house parents. It is hard for someone who has never dealt with a child with attachment issues to think of sending a child away as being the right thing to do. There was such a wall up between Gina and us that someone else had to help her. We assured her of our love, that we would always be her parents, and the goal was for her to come home again some day. I really can't tell you the pain of leaving a troubled child somewhere. I knew things couldn't continue to go as they were but I hated the option of sending her away. It seemed as though it was the best thing for her and the rest of our family. Through all this raging, she also became very interested in having a relationship with a boy. She was looking for love but didn't really know how to accept love. We were very worried for her but also worried if we kept her at home we were going to lose our other children as well. It took me longer to get to the place where I realized that sending her away was the right decision. Baron had reached that conclusion way back in January when he put her and I on a plane. My mother's heart just didn't want this to be the answer. I wanted to be able to stick this out and fix this but God showed me that was my pride and I had to step out of the way and get on board with what was best for Gina and the rest of the family.
Words can't adequately express the changes going on in Gina's life. The first few months I would talk to her on the phone and she was still tough, antagonizing, and looking for a fight. When I talked to her in December, she seemed different, softer. Then when I talked to her in January she told me with excitement that she had let Jesus come into her life and take control. I immediately planned a visit and went to see her in February. She had such a peace about her, she didn't have to constantly babble about nothing, she listened to counsel. It was a wonderful visit and I hated to leave her. She was able to express to me things I never thought I'd hear come from her mouth. She told me it was good that she moved from the first place, she told me she knew she was getting the help she needed, she didn't ask to come home but she did talk of coming home some day in the future. I left with a full heart seeing the change that was taking place in my daughter. In April, just before her 13th birthday, she had a set back. She exploded again. I was able to talk to her the next day and she was able to express the fact that she had been keeping some things inside and not sharing them with anyone. She had never been able to express things like this before. She would just explode and then it was over and she had nothing to say. We visited her in May and she has made such progress. She is like a different child. She told me she knew God had provided Watersprings Ranch and that she knew she was getting the help she needed. She was also able to tell me she was working on forgiving her birth mother for abandoning her and she was working on moving forward with her life. Please continue to pray for Gina Grace that she will focus on her relationship with Christ and not boys. That she will continue to listen to counsel. The goal is to eventually wean her off the medicine. We can't thank God enough for the work he is doing in her life. My next post will be a little more of Joey's story. We are so thankful that God provided a place like Watersprings Ranch and thankful for the change He is cultivating in Gina's life.