Rich & Meg Theisen
In 2013 Rich and I (Meg) had 5 sons, Rich was an RNFA in the Operating Room and I homeschooled our boys and led CCC’s women’s ministry. After God soundly convicted us about adopting, we brought our first kiddo home from Lithuania in Dec 2014; John-Patrik (JP), who has Down’s Syndrome & Autism. When we were there, we met Milanija (Mee-lan-ee-ya) who has Spina Bifida. (we later realized she also had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Reactive Attachment Disorder) We brought her home in March 2016. The adjustment period for our family with JP was relatively minimal but still he was quite undersized, dehydrated, and medically traumatized. We had no idea 13 months later when we returned to Lithuania to bring Milanija home that our lives were about to be turned completely upside down.
“God will take you where you would never go, to bring out in you something you could never achieve on your own.” ~ Dr. Paul Tripp
I’ve loved this quote for years but hadn’t truly appreciated and survived the gravity of it until 3 years ago. Milanija’s homecoming was incredibly intense. There were so many aspects of her we had no clue about. We felt isolated (by circumstance, not by people’s response to us), utterly out of our depth, and entering an unprecedented and relentless season of refinement & growth; there wasn’t one area of our lives unaffected. To sum it up, in those 3 years, but mostly the first 2… Rich moved out of the heart room for less stress and took a 30% pay cut, a back injury from work, I got severe mastitis (What? I hadn’t nursed in 11 years!), a fibromyalgia flare-up, a fusion in my neck, strep 7 times, JP was hospitalized for pneumonia after his tonsillectomy, & had C-Diff 3 times in 10 months plus chronic ear infections, Milanija was a hot mess; this is when we learned of the FAS & RAD, + several bladder infections, tons of medical bills, not to mention ALL of our appliances died: frig, stove (with a b-day cake in it), dishwasher, garage door opener, water softener, microwave, water heater (+ flooding & home owners claim) washer, and dryer. We blew through our savings and came within days of losing everything. If it weren’t for our church family, we would have. Needless to say, we were also struggling spiritually; it seemed like the Hand of blessing had been removed from our lives, violently. Month after month crying through God’s word for relief but met with more trials. I say all of this to convey the level of need we had to be understood and cared for. We had a few friends that wanted to understand and did their best to care for us, but they couldn’t really; it was unknowable for them.
Rich and I, out of our own desperate need to be ministered to, started the Adoption Care Group and after realizing the need for this type of connection was not limited to adoption (but still similar) it evolved into the Adoption & Family Care Group so that we could minister to similarly struggling families. The common thread is trauma, whether it’s from being raised in an orphanage, circumstances w/ foster care, abuse, neglect, or medical events, the brain receives it all as trauma. This trauma incites specific behaviors in children, some more complicated than others, and that has ripple effects (sometimes more like a tsunami) on the parents and siblings. However, as hard as all that is, there is nothing like sitting in a room amongst friends that thoroughly understand your burden and aren’t intimidated by the enormity of it all. Even if it’s just a look because things are too raw for words; we get it. To be prayed over and together seek biblical guidance for these extraordinary circumstances is valuable beyond measure. We have 6 families now in various stages of post-adoption, foster care, and medical trauma with their affected kiddos respectively. We welcome those of you who are bruised, struggling with your faith, tired of isolation, and need to have word vomit and know you won’t be looked down upon, as well as those who could use a good brainstorming moment to work through your kiddo’s hard behaviors or share some resources. I’m so thankful for God spurring us on to start this group and getting to grow close to these families, they mean so much to us.