A Missing Person: When Your Child Can’t Live At Home.

Author of 4 books, podcaster, parent trainer, wife and mother.

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Parenting children from difficult places is no easy task. When your child's past trauma causes him to have to live somewhere else, it's even harder! How do you navigate through this difficult season (and reality) of life?

This week is exactly what a family vacation should be. Well, almost exactly. As I snap a photo of all the smiling faces I feel a knot tighten in my stomach. A man behind us marvels, “Wow 5 kids!” I nod and smile, but my mind is with the one who isn’t here. The hollowness I feel is vast. I’m surrounded by so much love but still feel the emptiness of missing the one.

There is no question that this is the most peaceful vacation we’ve been on since my son was 2 years old. His absence has brought an almost instant sense of serenity. That realization in itself is disturbing. The contradictory feelings of deep love and gripping anxiety have lived in my heart for nearly a decade.

Before my son came to live with us, he lived through unspeakable trauma. His disjointed memories of terror have played out in a drama of sorts. Mom, Dad, Brothers and Sisters play various roles, as our son tries to sort through the fear that now resides only in his mind.

Fear is the rudder that steers his every move. It’s at the core of who he has become. Fear is in the edginess of his voice. It’s in the way he snatches more food than necessary. Fear drives his need for more. More food, more clothes, more toys, more attention…more control. Fear was the mother that bore the hyper vigilance that now lives in his every move.

The fear I see breaks my heart. I long to take it away; to insert the trust of a loving family into his broken soul. It doesn’t work that way and I know it.

When he was a baby, I sewed my own wrap and wore him close to my heart. I wrapped him tightly to my back anytime we were in public. As a pre-schooler I cradled him in my arms as he raged and fought. By elementary age I found myself gently removing fistfuls of my hair from his clinched fists. I talked softly as the fear and fury slipped from him each time he boiled over. By his pre-teen years the fear had turned to violence, the tantrums threatening the safety of siblings and self.

As we drew our attention away from our son, we surveyed the ariel view of our family. We began to comprehend the toll that his fear had taken. Like the aftermath of a storm, our other children were also suffering the destruction of our first son’s trauma. Tattered and torn, our entire family had been limping along on this journey of raising a traumatized child.

After years of searching for resources, we were tired and broken. Each time we allowed ourselves hope, that hope was quickly dashed. Our son’s IQ was too low or too high. Our therapist didn’t believe in Attachment Disorder. The psychiatrist doubted his diagnosis. The caseworker thought we were the cause of the trauma. The police babied him. The habilitation provider quit. Special schools wouldn’t take him because he was too young, too complicated, too aggressive, or too smart. Finally, with only the tiniest bit of hope, we prayed desperately for a solution. The Lord answered our prayers and a place opened at a boarding school. They prayerfully accepted his application and for the first time in years we began again to feel hope for our son, our family, and our future.

Our son is doing well at his new school. He is provided with a structure that no family can create. He is provided with gentle firmness. Finally he is learning skills to deal with his fear. He is living in the present, not in the place of remembered fear. The rest of our family is learning a new way to relate. We are also living in the present, not bracing ourselves for the next tantrum, and just enjoying what each day has to offer.

So that leaves me here, snapping the picture, feeling the emptiness. Inside the emptiness is something new- HOPE! This empty picture is just for now. It’s a temporary loneliness filled with the anticipation of a new future. One in which we ALL enjoy our vacation. One in which we all heal together. This empty picture is about growth, renewal and restoration for us all.

Have you walked a similar road? Are you dealing with severe behavior in one of your kids, or, living with the reality that your child can’t live at your home currently? Share your story with us.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.