From a Home to a Hope
This post is the 2nd installment of our 3-part series: Immeasurably More – The King’s Ranch Story. Read Part 1 here.
The King's Ranch Story, Part 2
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
- Ephesians 3:20-21
The Lord’s recurring promise of immeasurably more became the bedrock of King’s Ranch. From Him calling me to leave behind my life as I had known it and giving me a burden for the plight of orphans, to Him speaking to my husband and promising our children would see His glory, God worked in my heart to establish a firm confidence in His immeasurably more. And then, when He cleared the way for us to open King’s Ranch with a Supreme Court victory that would bless many more children than we could’ve dreamed possible, He made it clear again that He was all about doing more – immeasurably more – than all we could ask or imagine.
When King’s Ranch began, in God’s perfect timing, we had gained invaluable experience and training in therapeutic parenting. Through our journey with Crissey, we learned how to parent a child who had been affected by trauma. We learned how to parent a child whose childhood had been robbed. We learned how to parent a child who had never learned how to trust. We learned how to parent a child with compromised attachment.
Our first two children to come to the ranch for rescue.
Although we never set out to be a home specializing in children with compromised attachment, every single child the Lord brought us was suffering from compromised attachment due to early childhood trauma and failed adoption. Every. Single. Child.
God sent us child after child after child who needed the same type of parenting Crissey had needed, and all of that training came in handy. To think that we were wringing our hands, impatiently wondering why the Lord didn’t let us open the doors to King’s Ranch for three “long” years. The purpose of the wait became crystal clear, as we applied the training we gained in the “waiting years” to the broken heart of every subsequent child He sent our way.
We spent five years running King’s Ranch, welcoming children who literally had nowhere else to go. Having suffered abandonment, abuse, and neglect in their earliest years (or even in utero), the children God brought us had already been rescued by loving adoptive parents, who brought them home with every intention of being their forever family. But the effects of the early trauma they faced had been underestimated. The pain they brought with them into their new adoptive families wasn’t automatically healed. In fact, it spread to causing more pain to all around them, especially the parents who tried so hard to get them to accept their love, and including siblings who became innocent victims of secondary trauma. In a desperate last-ditch effort to protect the health of their adopted child, their other children and, oftentimes, their marriage and own emotional health, these adoptive parents had come to the excruciating decision that the adopted child had to leave the family.
When a child came to King’s Ranch from a failed adoption, he or she gained the level of intensive care they needed to move on from the trauma of their first years, including the trauma of failed adoption. With the right balance of structure and nurture, they learned how to accept love, and how to be kids. We had the amazing experience of seeing each child begin to soften as they felt truly safe for the first time in their lives. And once they felt safe, they felt free. They learned to play, to laugh, to talk out their feelings. We saw childhoods restored before our very eyes.
For the five years we actively operated King’s Ranch: A Home for Children in Need, taking in child after child from failed adoptions, we learned more and more about compromised attachment and how to help each child heal. Before we knew it, we were able to see each child leave the Ranch, and flourish in homes equipped with the right therapeutic parenting tools. We began praying if there might be something more that we could do in order to help keep adoptions from failing in the first place. There had to be a way to spare families of this excruciating pain, and spare children of this excruciating extra layer of trauma after they had already suffered so much. There had to be a way. We prayed, trusting the Lord to do immeasurably more, not able to ask or imagine all that He had in store.
The Lord’s immeasurably more in this season came in the form of Him moving in the hearts of Christian families not only to adopt – but to learn a new way of parenting that would allow them to not just bring their adopted children home, but keep them home. Before we knew it, every one of our long-term placement children at King’s Ranch once again belonged to forever families… immeasurably more than we could have asked for or imagined for these children.
Meanwhile, as our long-term placement children were transitioning to new adoptive families, and we continued to serve these new families with support and training, there would be days when people we had never met would just literally show up on our doorstep – desperate. Their struggling adopted child had been kicked out of school, and they felt like he or she was tearing apart their marriage and their family. As our long-term placement children were finding new adoptive homes, adoptive families in crisis from our own community were flooding in, without us ever publicizing in any way that we could help. These families were desperate for help. We prayed about what to do, and the Lord exceeded our imaginations once again.
We began to realize that serving these adoptive families in crisis could be our answer to preventing the adoption failures we had become all too familiar with. These families in crisis had no educational solutions for their children, who needed a different educational environment than traditional school or homeschool could provide, and we knew we could help. While a children’s home, we operated our own small private school for our long-term placement children, called King’s Ranch Academy. King’s Ranch Academy provided a therapeutic school setting for our children, where they could receive consistency of care and felt safety as they flourished academically. We decided to open our King’s Ranch Academy doors and expand our school to serve families in crisis across our community. As their children were educated in our therapeutic school setting, we walked alongside parents training them in therapeutic parenting. Through this season, the Lord began to transition our ministry from a residential facility to an adoption support ministry. He began to mold our ministry into a preventative and supportive role for these struggling families.
With that, this new season of ministry was born and King’s Ranch: A Home for Children in Need, became King’s Ranch: HOPE for Children in Need. I remember years ago being a mom of four and sensing the Lord calling me to immeasurably more. It was like everything was coming full circle as He opened doors for me to serve the forever moms and dads of the children for which He gave me such a burden. And the longer I had the honor of working with these forever families, the more I learned about compromised attachment, the more my therapeutic parenting skills were refined, and the more we saw family after family saved, child after child healed.