When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

July 3, 2011

June 30, 2011

Mudge Pond, Sharon, CT, Father's Day 2011

June 30, 2011.  “Don’t forget to bring my Pokemon cards,” Peter repeats as I tell him Lindy and I plan to visit today.  “I need ALL my stuff, Mom.”  Hearing his voice, so upbeat and focused on the here and now, his mind incapable of worrying over the future or dwelling on the past, offers both comfort and distress.  Ten days ago, Pat, Sophie, Grandma and I took Peter to Green Chimneys School, a nearby residential treatment facility, to live, grow, and hopefully heal.  It turns out I’ve been living a lie these last few years, telling myself I could handle Peter’s escalating needs, his unpredictable thoughts and warp speed impulses.  No one wants to admit her child is more than she can handle, especially an adoptive mother, and especially someone like me, who takes pride – or at least solace, in a certain stubborn resolve to march through adversity.  But his attempt a few weeks back, to catapult from a second story window in the middle of a tantrum, disabused me of that notion once and for all.  No psychiatric hospital would take him after the window incident – we were told his management needs exceeded their current staffing capabilities.  So we held our breath, crossed our fingers and said a little prayer until his admission day at Green Chimneys arrived.  We also bolted his bedroom windows shut, used an alarm on his door and kept him downstairs all day every day until bedtime.  He’s been at his new school for 10 days now, and we can visit whenever we like, though he can’t come home or leave the grounds for one month.  After this period of acclimation, we will bring him home every other weekend and for holidays and school vacations.  My hope, laced with regret but steady with resolve, is that this experience can soothe his tortured soul in a way our home, our love, our daily family life, could not.  A child like Peter has a way of consuming one’s thoughts, and it’s no different – at least not yet, now that he’s at Green Chimneys.  This renowned school was an original pioneer of animal-assisted therapy and the unfulfilled farmer in me drinks in the many sights of the lush, well-tended farm and immaculate barns and pens.  Peacocks roam the grounds freely, as do guinea hens and other birds.  The year’s crop of baby lambs, goats and cows are still small and cuddly enough to illicit involuntary sighs of joy, and there are miniature horses, ponies and standard horses at almost every turn.  Children are riding horseback while others help train a group of 4-month old Golden Retriever puppies slated to become therapy dogs.  I immediately wish I could work there, both to be closer to Peter, whom I ache for despite the obvious peace and calm his absence has brought, and to be a part of this healing community of people, livestock and pets.  Right now Peter is still uninterested in the animals, the flies, the odors, the work involved are more than he wishes to navigate.  But with time, and tremendous support, he may come to understand that there is a path, a way to live in and view the world that makes sense, where effort produces results and where good choices lead to positive outcomes.  Right now his mind, his world, his every waking minute is filled with fiery chaos, and for any number of reasons, Pat and I aren’t the ones who are going to be able to douse the flames.  It’s a difficult thing to admit, but I know its true.  We have brought him so far, but we reached a wall we simply could not scale.  He needs more.  Does he mourn the temporary tear in our family’s fabric?  Is he wondering why he’s sleeping away from home, or consider when he’ll be returning?  I don’t think so, and for Peter’s sake, I hope not.  It’s our job to shoulder those burdens, to decide what’s best for him in the context of what’s necessary for the rest of us.  So right now I assure him that I’ll do my best to locate his beloved Pokemon cards, and I look forward to taking him in my arms so I can feel his silky skin and hopefully convey – on a cellular if not conscious level, that he is cherished.  I need him to know that he is and always will be my special boy, a child who held my heart hostage for years but who with bravery and brawn has transformed us both into persons with unexpected capacity for resilience, compassion and love.  



  1. Blessing to you and your family. And thank you SO MUCH for all your honestly and bravery in the face of what seems unbearable. You’re not alone. So many of us are struggling with them problems not of our making, but of our choosing to try with. Blessings and love to you all in your family.

    Comment by Debbie Pierce — July 3, 2011 @ 11:23 am | Reply

  2. How beautiful! How wonderful! Your love has brought Peter to this place that looks like it could bring happiness and peace to all of you.

    It’s terrific to hear from you again with this promising update as you’ve been on my mind for weeks. I could picture everything in my mind as you described it. I deeply hope that this promise turns into the contentment of knowing that all your love and all of your effort has brought Peter to this haven that seems just right for him; a heaven on earth entirely different from what his destiny might have been without your rescuing him from his beginnings.

    Much love.

    Comment by Kathleen — July 3, 2011 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  3. I have been following your story from nearly the beginning of your on line writing and have shed many tears for your family. You have all been on my mind quite a bit recently as our family approaches our 7th “gotcha day”. Today, the tears I cry are both those of relief and sadness. Relief in that you seemingly have found the place that will be best for Peter, so that he can find the peace that he deserves. Saddness for you as I cannot begin to fathom the emotions it took to come to this decision. Your family is a strong family, made stronger by the adversities you have faced together. Peter has been blessed to have found you. I often repeat a phrase my grandmother used to say, in times of difficult situations: “God only gives us what we can handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much”. I am convinced that every one of your followers would be happy to take some of your pain and carry it for you, if we could, even if we could only reduce what you must be going through but the slightest of fractions.

    Comment by Loraine — July 3, 2011 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  4. I just want you to know that I admire your strength, it takes a special person to handle challenges the way you have. As a prospective adoptive parent, I want to thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. Dealing with the realities of adopting a child with severe special needs is not a topic that is openly discussed, your honesty and candor is greatly appreciated.
    God bless you and your family


    Comment by Daly — July 3, 2011 @ 10:33 pm | Reply

  5. Mary, Thank you for continuing to post during your experiences. I think the previous posts have been more eloquent than I could be in expressing the appreciations for your openness and distilled expressions posted here, so know I echo their appreciation and admiration. I’m wishing you peace and comfort. Alice

    Comment by Alice (Warner) Jackson — July 4, 2011 @ 7:20 am | Reply

  6. You are so so incredibly gifted in being able to share in written words your very soul. Leaves me wondering if and when I will walk your path. Hugs to you all, you have touched my heart. Thank you.

    Comment by Debi — July 4, 2011 @ 11:07 am | Reply

  7. Mary, thank you for the update on Peter and your family. I have been checking in and praying that you are all well. Hopefully this new school will provide Peter with the tools and environment he needs to heal. How is Sophie handling all these changes?
    Blessings to you all!

    Comment by ani — July 6, 2011 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  8. Thank you for posting your experiences. We are in a similar situation and our son will be leaving in a couple of weeks for residential treatment. Your blog, which I just found today, is helping me through a difficult time. Thanks and I will keep you in my prayers

    Comment by Bridget — July 11, 2011 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  9. Bridget – good luck to you on what I know will be a difficult road ahead. This is about the hardest thing I’ve faced but our family will get through it, and so will yours. As long as we know in our hearts that we are doing the right thing for our children, our families and our marriages, then I have to believe that we will be okay. Take care and thanks for writing – Mary

    Comment by whenrainhurts — July 11, 2011 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

  10. I’ve followed your blog for some time now, and while your writings are focused on Peter, I can’t help but focus on Sophie. She’s been victimized by Peter’s problems too. (And all of you, especially Peter, are victimized by Peter’s birth mother and those who enabled her.)

    Despite her nagging issues, it’s clear that Sophie is a smart, curious, resilient girl with so much potential. She’s been challenged by one adversity after another and refuses to surrender. I hope this new arrangement will give her the peace and attention to flourish.

    Comment by MM — July 11, 2011 @ 10:13 pm | Reply

    • In all of this, I always wonder about Sophie, too. Please give her a hug for me. 🙂

      Comment by Kathleen — July 12, 2011 @ 7:59 am | Reply

  11. I check your blog regularly for updates on your family, and have been hoping things are going better. It sounds like you’ve had to make hard choices, but that you’ve found a wonderful, supportive place for Peter, and some respite for you, your husband and daughter. I pray you all will find peace.

    Comment by Tamara — July 12, 2011 @ 10:50 am | Reply

  12. I just found your blog today. I have a 12 year old with FASD, and we are currently waiting for out of home placement for her. Should happen within the next few weeks. What I have read so far, we have many similarities. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Barb, http://www.lordgrantmeserenity.blogspot.com

    Comment by mabiclark — March 15, 2012 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

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