Micah could find the principal’s office with his eyes closed. Fights with other students, disrespect with teachers, and meltdowns in the classroom led to shamefully walking toward Mrs. Jacobs’ office many times a week. She knew that in his short life, he had already experienced 11 different foster care placements. His tender heart was marked by neglect, rejection, and abandonment.
Ellen Jacobs loved her job as an elementary school principal. She had deep compassion for her students and loved connecting with even the most challenging children. Micah, however, was different. Ellen told her husband David that she couldn’t stop thinking about him, and they began praying about the possibility of becoming his parents. The Jacobs became licensed by the state, welcomed Micah into their home, and eventually adopted him.
Ellen and David soon discovered that Micah had a brother, Eric, who had also suffered unimaginable trauma and the heartbreak of a failed adoption. He expressed his pain through anger, aggression, and destructive behaviors. The record of a failed adoption made it hard to find another foster home and ultimately, he ended up in a state group home.
Ellen and David took Micah to visit Eric regularly. During these visits, Eric began to call David, “Dad” and would say things like “I want to live with Micah. Why can’t I just live with you?”. It wasn’t long before the state allowed David and Ellen to adopt Eric too.
Two finalized adoptions weren’t enough to stop the difficult behaviors. David and Ellen realized that the trauma Micah and Eric had endured left its mark on their hearts and minds. Eric struggled with hatred towards his biological father and would explode into destructive rages – breaking things and even throwing rocks at David. Micah would run away when he became upset.
“The boys’ behaviors were a cry for help,” said Ellen.
That call for help was answered by their post-adoption case worker who referred the family to Chosen. After learning about the boys’ struggles and behaviors, their Chosen Care Manager created a custom plan for the family to move away from a constant state of crisis. Their Care Manager taught David and Ellen how trauma affects the brain, body, and beliefs of a child. She helped them become “behavior detectives,” seeking to understand the reasons behind Eric and Micah’s actions. They learned how to make the boys feel safe before they corrected challenging behaviors.
Working with Chosen also helped David see how his childhood impacts the way he parents. As he learned more about how to help children who have experienced trauma heal, he was able to adapt his parenting style to better meet their needs.
David said, “I grew up learning you just did it and didn’t question. I learned to scaffold, to turn one task into components. Breaking tasks down into steps helped Eric.”
The Jacobs only regret is not knowing about Chosen sooner.
“If you’re dealing with any history of trauma or older children, see Chosen even before you get the children – as soon as you can!”
Chosen has allowed the Jacobs family to thrive. Micah and Eric are learning what it means to be a part of a stable, loving family. As they experience safety and attachment, their bodies can heal. The challenges haven’t disappeared, but the Jacobs Family now feels that thanks to Chosen, they have the tools and techniques to handle the struggles more effectively.
*Names have been changed.
TOGETHER WE CAN HEAL THE HEARTBREAK
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