Published January 20, 2015

Shelia Shares....

John Myers is a Facebook friend and stay-at-home dad. I trust that his insights will help each of us to be more understanding and compassionate. This piece is used with permission.

- Shelia

"Bradley's Journey - And His Dad's"
by John Myers

Would you allow this daddy to vent a little?.

It has been said that no one should judge another until they've walked a mile in their shoes. That's good advice.

Recently, and over the course of the last few years, there have been some negative comments made about our son, Bradley. I'm not thinking of any particular individual, but just some specific comments that have been made, sometimes in Bradley's hearing.

Let's start with a little background. Bradley, who is almost nine years old, is adopted. He has been with us since he was three years old.

It is true that Bradley has had some real behavior problems. It is true that he has acted out. It is true that he has gotten into a few minor scuffles with other kids. Yes, all of that is true.

I have a picture that was taken 20 minutes after Bradley and Lillian had been placed with us. We were in Kmart, picking up supplies for them, as they came to us with only the clothes on their backs. Literally.

I confess it took me a year or more to recognize the look in Bradley's eyes. I'm getting tears in my eyes as I type this, as I remember well when I looked at that picture and realized what I was seeing. Fear. That's what was in his eyes. Abject fear. The poor kid was terrified.

See, within the previous few hours, Bradley had been ripped from the only home he had known. Every person in his life at that moment was a stranger, including me and Monica. He couldn't talk. He couldn't understand. Who are these people? Why am I with them? Where's my mom?

When Bradley came to us, we were warned by the people at DCS that if Bradley was ever told ‘no' on anything, he would bang his head against whatever was close. I well remember the very first time I told him ‘no' after we got home. He took off across our living room, full speed ahead, and slammed violently, headfirst, into our closed, solid oak bedroom door. It rocked him back on his rear end hard. But he didn't cry at all.

Unbeknownst to us, Bradley was living and reliving every moment of his being taken away from his biological home. Since he couldn't talk, we didn't know. Only in the last two years have we come to know that he remembers the police coming to his home. He remembers, in vivid detail, being taken away. And, only after much discussion and talking with him, did we come to know that these details played like an endless video, constantly going through his mind, tearing him up, wounding him over and over again.

What do you tell a kid when he asks, over and over, where his "moms" is at? How do you explain to him, without being critical of his biological mom, that she is in jail? I refused to lie to him. But I also didn't and haven't given him all the details. I've told him that his "moms" is taken care of. That she's safe and that she still loves him.

Now, put yourself in his shoes. Try to view things as he sees them. Ask yourself, "where would I be if I had been through what he has been through?"

Ask yourself if you would be angry and if you would feel betrayed. Ask yourself if you might have a few behavior issues. If you can say that you would be fine, that you wouldn't have any issues, if your life would be normal, then come criticize my boy.

See, somehow, through Bradley's circumstances, God has given my boy a loving heart like no one else. I'm not kidding. I'm not exaggerating. No one loves like Bradley loves. I've told my boy many times that he loves to be loved. If you love my boy, if you show him some attention, you have a friend for life. He's loyal.

Because of his circumstances, Bradley loves broken things. He was made to throw away a belt last night before church because it was frayed beyond repair and beyond use. It broke his heart to put it in the trash can. He was just sure it was still good for something. He didn't know what it was still good for, but to him, it still had worth. When this daddy looks at his son, he doesn't see something broken. He doesn't see damaged goods. What this daddy sees is a boy who has come so far, so very, very far from where he was. I see a boy who wants very much to do right, to be right, to be valued.

I've said it before, both here on Facebook and many times in Bradley's hearing, that God has HUGE plans for Bradley. As a song by Karen Peck says, God makes broken into beautiful. Yes, Bradley has been broken in ways that most of us have not. But I am seeing, right in front of my eyes, as God is taking that brokenness and making something beautiful out of it and out of him.

Yes, my boy occasionally acts out because of all the junk in his head. Yes, he is corrected and dealt with when he does these things. But, let me assure you that those instances are becoming fewer and fewer. Even in the last month, I have seen SO much growth in my son.

So, if you see something in my boy that you think is wrong, just remember from where he came. Place yourself in his shoes.

And, remember, he has a very protective daddy.

- Shelia

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