When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

April 12, 2011

April 11, 2011

Aunt Pattys Birthday Visit (March 2011)

April 11, 2011.  Peter is in a psychiatric hospital for the second time in eight weeks.  It’s taken me this long to put these words to paper because the concept both terrifies and repels me.  In many ways I’ve become numb of late, shut down and unfeeling, or maybe just braced against the inevitable difficulties and choices that await.  Our family’s future remains uncertain.  Pat and Sophie and I are left to huddle, hunkered down in the protective shell of our suddenly peaceful home, hoping for a resolution – or maybe even a breakthrough, that will return our almond-eye son to the bosom of our family.   Pat was out of town on business when I drove Peter the 80 miles to the hospital last Friday.  When he returned, he sat with Sophie in her room, listening as she babbled nervously about the events of the past few days.  When they were finished talking, she offered, almost as an afterthought, “I feel happy Peter’s gone.  Is that bad, Dad?”  Always bold in her convictions, Sophie’s only stating what Pat and I have been afraid to admit.  It does feel better with Peter away, there’s no denying the reality of this fact.  Pat’s anger, my desolation, Sophie’s anxiety, they’ve been doused and rendered inert, like pollen after a warm Spring rain.  But there’s also an emptiness that comes with this peculiar brand of respite.  Sophie wanders the house, looking for things to do.  No matter how strained and contentious the relationship, she misses her brother and playmate.  Another time she wanders over to the neighbor’s house, fishing for fun and a little distraction, but soon returns, disappointed.  They can’t or don’t want to play with her.   Normal kid stuff, but the sting is greater, it seems, due to the present circumstances.  Suddenly she’s an only child with no point of reference.  It’s only temporary, of course, but the gulf caused by Peter’s absence, the price we pay for a brief period of “normalcy” is high.  Our son is not well, that much is apparent.  His psychiatric issues are becoming more pronounced as he grows and we are becoming less able to corral his errant thinking and irrational – even destructive and dangerous, behaviors.  The first time we left him at the hospital I sobbed uncontrollably, grief and relief washing over me in equal measure.  But this time my eyes were dry.  I knew he needed to go and there was no place for doubt in my heart.  I knew I didn’t have the tools to handle the sudden escalation of symptoms; plus, our daughter wasn’t safe.  That same night I took Sophie to the movies.  She quickly spotted some girlfriends, leaving me to sit in solitude with my thoughts.  I sat wishing, praying, even demanding that our son recover, that he improve so that he might one day live a life connected to others through love and friendship rather than the stale, predictable, one-way connections premised on need and intervention.  I want more for him.  I can’t help it.  I’ve given up the hopes and dreams, the highest of my aspirations.  And that’s okay.  They were always about me, not him, anyway.  I have to walk along his path, wherever that takes us, and promise always to steady and fortify him along the way.  It’s all I can do and so it has to be enough.  I know that I can’t heal Peter; I can’t undo the damage in his brain or erase his genetic and institutional history.  But I can continue to work toward, and look forward to, a brighter future for our son.  Part of that is admitting that I have to let go a little, that I have to let others into the sanctuary of our lives so that Peter receives the system of supports he needs in order to keep moving forward.  And right now, he needs more than Pat and I can give.  For right now, at least, the three of us need to settle on a new equilibrium, all the while hoping and praying that the therapists and doctors at the hospital are helping Peter find his own.



  1. Mary – really thinking of you and your family. I’m sure everyone feels so guilty to feel relieved that Peter is not in the house at the moment. But don’t, b/c I’m sure this is another “normal” part of your life that will unfortunately repeat.

    Comment by Betsy Bulger — April 12, 2011 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  2. mary
    preparing for the worst and praying for the best along with watchful waiting is all you can do. you other three do deserve an ordinary and safe life and if our kids are placed in a setting which keeps them safer and saner and routinized when home will never have that goodness of fit- that is not due to any inadequacy or fault in your child or you. you can visit him if it comes to that and one day when he is stable and knows the rules of what is acceptable and can follow them maybe he can begin to visit you all again. i say this because it has become reality for many children with FASD/RAD and i am terribly sorry for your grief and struggles. if he cannot help it then you cannot help it either. he would still be your child, if he had to live elsewhere – he cannot stay home at any time if he is at risk of harming himself or others. this is not your hope i know – but facing it square on – has its own merits. sorry if i sound cold. lindalee
    ps maybe he can even benefit from a long-ish stay and then reintegrate to home
    pps short stays away are really not truly respite for you because the angst is so ferocious
    ppps maybe they will find the right mix of meds

    Comment by lindalee soderstrom — April 12, 2011 @ 6:31 pm | Reply

  3. I admire your love, devotion and bravery. And did I say dedication to your son. Thank you for sharing your bittersweet story. All positive energy and prayers I lift up to you and your wonderful family. Love, Amy FitzGerald (Mom to Phoebe Ayele, adopted, Ethiopia in July 2010)

    Comment by Amy FitzGerald — April 12, 2011 @ 9:23 pm | Reply

  4. Powerful writing, and I am so sad for you. I will pray for all of you that Peter will, in fact, blossom with the extra care he clearly needs.
    So sorry you are going through all this.
    Warmest blessings,

    Comment by Meg Coldwells — April 12, 2011 @ 9:29 pm | Reply

  5. Mary. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Hopefully Peter will get the help he needs and your family will be together again. Keep good thoughts and hold onto family and friends.


    Comment by Patti Veith — April 12, 2011 @ 9:38 pm | Reply

  6. I know how horrendous it feels to leave your child at a psychiatric hospital. I also know that for our child we couldn’t and can’t meet her needs while she lives at home. I came to see that the best parenting I could do for our daughter included having others, in other locations, assume some of the parenting. I believe this is similar to what our daughter’s birth mother felt. She knew that she would not be able to be the best parent for her soon-to-be-born daughter. So she made an adoption plan with us. She knew that to be the best parent she could be, she would have to have someone else do the parenting.

    Comment by Christopher Duncan — April 12, 2011 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  7. Mary, this is so beautifully written; an honest assessment and reflection upon where all of you are right now. Sophie’s insight must be a Godsend to you and Pat. She puts into words the thoughts that grownups are afraid to admit to themselves, let alone anyone else. But those are the moments that bring relief because those thoughts and fears do have to be dealt with–lovingly.

    All of this reminds me of the grief my late aunt and uncle lived with throughout their lives and their marriage in caring for their daughter who was born with such a mix of degenerative neuro-physiological problems that doctors were never able to put a name to the nexus. Decades of doctors and care—at a time when there was no such thing as support for parents—could not stem the relentless degeneration. Finally, after more than forty years, the day came when they were simply not physically able to care for her anymore and had to place her in a nursing home. They remained devoted, as I know you will to Peter, but they had to make the best of the shreds their lives had become.

    As sad as things are for you now, it looks like this will be best for Peter and for all of you. Blessings on all of you for having done what you have. He is in a far better place than he could ever have been without your love.

    Comment by Kathleen — April 13, 2011 @ 10:03 am | Reply

  8. Your words put a voice to feelings I have had in the past in my own family. It is a lonely journey one where you love and miss them and feel relief all at the same time. I can only offer my prayers and will be happy to lend an ear if you need one realizing that sometimes it is just too much to share and reach out and all you can do just to keep going. I feel for Sophie. I have seen firsthand how the siblings suffer and none of it seems or is fair. I hope that you find some relief in writing as it is of immense value to others who have also suffered the isolation, doubt and confusion that is part of the lives of those closest to someone with mental health issues. Remember you cannot fix things you can just do your best and leave the rest in the hands of God remembering that as much as you love Peter, he loves him more and has a plan for his life and is always there beside you and understands our suffering too.

    Comment by Victoria Campbell — April 13, 2011 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  9. You are my hero. Your honesty and audacity in this storm of events are awe-inspiring. I am holding you and yours in my prayers and thoughts.

    Comment by Christiane Alsop — April 13, 2011 @ 10:57 am | Reply

  10. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, especially Peter. Hugs to you all.

    Comment by Ani — April 13, 2011 @ 11:37 am | Reply

  11. Much love to all of you. Hold yourself with compassion…you are brave beyond measure.

    Comment by Tamara — April 13, 2011 @ 11:58 am | Reply

  12. I have been following your family’s journey for a while now, and want to commend you for all that you have done. You are very strong and have created such an amazing team or resources for your kids.
    I am a therapeutic and educational consultant and have worked with many adopted children with very complex histories. As difficult as out of home placements are for every member of the family, I am also a great advocate of this when it is appropriate. This is only when it would be a time for everyone involved to heal and allow the entire family to reach goals they set out for themselves. If at any point this is something you begin to consider I recommend working with and independent therapeutic or educational consultant as our job is to visit and evaluate programs all around the country. If you have any questions or I can be of any support, even if it is simply researching what options may look like I am happy to help in any way that I can.

    Comment by Prepare To Bloom — April 13, 2011 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

  13. Hi Mary

    I have been following your wonderful blog and I’m so sorry for the hardships you are enduring. I can’t help reflecting on the fact that we also have 2 children, adopted internationally a little after yours

    Comment by Anne — April 13, 2011 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

  14. Sorry Mary, accidentally hit the post button… I can’t help reflecting on the fact that we also have 2 children, adopted internationally a little after yours, and our lives could so easily have been so similar to yours, and yet that is not how ours has played out. I certainly wish for you that you can get the best treatment for Peter and perhaps now also be able to focus more of your time and energy on Sophie.

    I don’t know if you are aware of this blogger http://tubaville.wordpress.com/ but it crossed my mind that contacting her may be helpful. She is also mentioned in this article http://brainchildmag.com/essays/summer2010_friedman.asp

    Wishing you all the best, Anne

    Comment by Anne — April 13, 2011 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

  15. Mary,

    I had been worried it was heading this way. I’m so sorry about Peter. I didn’t want to write anything before now. All that I know to say is that he is so very blessed to have you two for parents who dearly love him. I’m glad he was able to be home with you for many years, and hope for many more. You are in my thoughts.


    Comment by Lori — April 14, 2011 @ 9:43 am | Reply

  16. No matter where Peter physically resides, you will always be his parents, his family. I’m so sorry that all of you are struggling and suffering in your own ways. Through your writings, I know that you and your husband are phenomenal parents and that all decisions that you make on behalf of Sophie and Peter are made from a place of love. I also know that everything you do for your children you do only after weighing all possible options and choosing the one that is the best and healthiest for them and for your family. Right now, Peter is exactly where he needs to be, evidently – and you have given him a gift by recognizing that and acting upon it.

    I hope that Peter eventually comes to a point in his life where he is able to return home safely – if and when that is what’s best for Peter, Sophie, and you and Pat. Until such time, however, I hope that your “new normal” becomes well-integrated into the fabric of daily life for all of you, and that you can be at peace and gentle with yourself.

    Comment by Ruth — April 14, 2011 @ 9:56 pm | Reply

  17. Mary,

    I’ve been following your blog for a while and was worried at the long silence. Thank you for sharing what’s been happening with Peter and all of you. I have no wisdom to offer, but can promise ongoing prayers and, in a twist on Winnie the Pooh, strengthening thoughts. You matter.

    Comment by Patti — April 15, 2011 @ 5:04 pm | Reply

  18. Hi Mary,
    Just sending some hugs your way in this difficult time. You and Pat have always done what is right for both your kiddos, never doubt that.

    Comment by Janet — April 16, 2011 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

  19. Your story touched me enough to write to you. I have walked in your shoes. The circumstances may be different, but the feelings are the same.. A friend of mine suggested I look at your post. I wrote a blog yesterday voicing similar feelings. If you wish, you can read it at:
    My only advice is NEVER, EVER give up hope.

    Comment by Louise — April 18, 2011 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

  20. Wow! I feel like I know you and your family with this brief glimpse and yet I cannot relate in any way. I’m glad you know that this situation is out of your control and have learned to let go and be free with no guilt, even if just a little bit.

    I will be back to be updated on your determination and strength. I will also pass your site along to a friend who will offer and receive more in connection with this than I can.

    Comment by Sarah Butland — April 19, 2011 @ 6:48 pm | Reply

  21. I am full of sorrow for your difficult journey. Your love and pain for your family is clear in each word. Know there are countless numbers of us sending love, warmth and peace your way.


    Comment by Ronda — April 25, 2011 @ 10:51 am | Reply

  22. Mary блогослови тебя и твою семью Бог. Спасибо тебе и твоему мужу.

    Comment by anna — June 29, 2011 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

  23. Dear Mary,
    We adopted our twin boys from Biro in 2006. Tamara was our translator … we stayed with Galina (and Bogdan) on our first trip. So many of your experiences and emotions mirror my own and I feel I know you well. Almost 5 years home, and after much joy and alot of challenges, we were told that one of our sons has FAS, ADHD, ODD, RAD and PTSD. The neuro/psych results nailed me to the wall. Your blog and your future book will be a God-send to people like you and me … dreaming the dreams of raising our families, making a home for beautiful children who deserve better than they had before, experiencing moments of incredible joy and feeling like the luckiest people in the world, only to come crashing to Earth from the words in a 35-page document. I still have hope, and am inspired and humbled by your courage. Thank you, Mary. And may God bless you all.

    Comment by newyearsgirl — August 10, 2011 @ 2:11 am | Reply

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