Just Sarah, as a Teen
Suicide Ended Our Parenting Journey
We learned on Friday afternoon, May 15, 2009 that our daughter Sarah had ended her tormented life. We spent three hours this afternoon talking with her common law husband, and he is devastated.
Our daughter was very disturbed when she came to us as a foster child at age nine. We were never able to help her with the issues that had so damaged her. When she was a teen, her past and raging hormones kicked in together and caused her to leave at the age of 17.
In the two years before Sarah died, her birth mother committed suicide and her birth father died of cancer after he had won a long battle with drugs and alcohol. We had not seen or heard from her in 14 years. Her brother, the only person she had ever really loved and bonded to, rode a jet ski to Heaven in 1991, and that removed the only relationship she really seemed to care about until she met Wes in Colorado.
The picture shows Sarah in 1989, the last year before the real problems started. She was sixteen.
All pictures in this lens came from our family collection and albums.
Where We First Met Sarah
The Journey Begins
We first met Sarah at her brother Jason's fifth birthday party. He was a foster child next door and his foster mother knew I was bonding with him from our frequent visits. She knew he would go up for adoption fairly soon and that he also had a sister four years older than he -- Sarah. Jason had told me he had a sister and I knew he loved her and wanted live with her again. We all wanted it to happen. But first we knew we needed to meet Sarah. Joanetta thought the best way to meet would be at Jason's birthday party, since no one would suspect we were anything more than some of the other guests. We had not yet said anything to Jason about his moving to our home. We wanted to meet Sarah first.
Sarah is on the far right, next to Joanetta, Jason's foster mom. Jason is sitting in front in the black and white shirt. You can see Sarah watching Jason, and maybe a bit sorry she doesn't have any presents to open.
Sarah at the Zoo in Santa Barbara
The next step
Making a connection through official channels
By the time this picture was taken, we had made Social Services aware of our intentions to get a foster care license to get both Sarah and Jason into our home. The plan was then to wait for a termination of parental rights, as this was going to take some time. We were told the next step would be for us to take Sarah on an outing to get to know each other a bit. We decided to take her to the zoo in Santa Barbara.
Sarah has always been hard to get to know. She saw this cat almost as soon as we entered the zoo, and for most of the day she pretended to be a cat, communicating mostly by meowing. This made conversation rather difficult. Sarah was shy and probably afraid of change. She knew we might represent change. She had told her foster mother she didn't want to live with Jason again, but she told the social worker that she did.
Although we didn't really learn much about Sarah that day except that adopting her would be challenging, we decided to go ahead and get our foster care license. In August of 1982, we suddenly had two children. I will cover more about that in another lens I will write by and by. For now, let's just say that if you think getting married requires adjustments, picture a four-way marriage with two of the partners constantly vying for pecking order and the other two wondering what hit them. Consider also that Sarah had felt responsible for looking after Jason from the time she was six and he was two. This did not indicate that smooth sailing was ahead. For about two months, Kosta and I felt we were totally isolated -- that the world outside our home did not exist. There wasn't any energy left for the outside world.
Books for Those Considering the Adoption of an Older Child
Adoption can bring much joy to anyone who can't have children or who wants to expand a family. It can also bring heartache and turn your life upside down. It is imperative to learn as much as you can about what you might face before you take that step -- especially if you adopt an older child who has been hurt physically or psychologically. I suggest you get one or more of the books you see recommended here to prepare yourself.
The Beginning of our Legal Relationship
The picture shows us on the day we adopted Sarah and Jason. The adults, left to right are Kosta, me, the social worker, and the judge. Sarah is next to the social worker, and Jason is in front of her. Our journey had actually begun when the children entered our home through foster care in August of 1982. Sarah was nine and Jason was five. This picture was taken about two years later on our adoption day.
The Adoption Present from God
It was quiet in the car as we drove east towards home, where a celebration was scheduled. It was dusk, and there was a light rain. We were aware that we had a new legal relationship to each other, and I expect we were all silently pondering what new effect that would have on our life together. Ahead of us, in the almost dark sky, a magnificent double rainbow appeared. Jason was quick to observe: "Look! God is giving us an adoption present: two rainbows -- one for me and one for Sarah." This gave us hope that our new family was off to a blessed start.
A Blessing from God
Have you ever adopted a child? - Were you adopted yourself?
Maybe you know people who have adopted children or maybe you have adopted children or fostered them yourselves. If so, you are aware of the changes that can bring to a family. Maybe you were even adopted yourself.
Sarah - The Early Years of Foster Care
A peek into Sarah's mind at the time of her adoption
We Pieced This Together Later
Naturally, we could not read Sarah's mind. We knew she wasn't really sold on being adopted, but that she went along with it because she knew it was the only way to stay with her brother Jason. We had hoped as time went on, she would begin to accept us as her parents. Jason immediately began to call us Mom and Dad. Sarah continued to call us Barbara and Kosta.
We knew she was drawn to influences that weren't good for her. We knew she had been molested by her birth father and had had to testify against him in court at the tender age of seven. That, in itself, is enough to seriously damage a child and fill her memory bank with images no child should have to remember. Later she told us about parties she remembered from those days, filled with drugs.
Sarah Was Used to Being Responsible for Jason
We know from stories Sarah told us that she was often the only one looking after Jason before they were put in foster care. She told us several times the story about her mother lying on the floor and asking Sarah to go to the store to get milk. But Sarah was afraid her mother was sick, so she got some cola for her mother instead.
She told us of the time Jason escaped from her watchful eye and the police later found him in a 7/11 store eating cereal from the boxes. Jason often escaped her watchful eye, since he later pointed out places to his first foster mom (as they drove around town) where he had been picked up by police and taken home.
There was also a story about a dog bite, and another of Sarah and Jason hiding, in fear, in another room while a boyfriend was abusing her mother. She tells of them finally being able to sneak out of the house and run away to a field. All these things happened before we met Sarah. They happened by the time she was seven. She gave Sarah a lot of emotional baggage to carry.
Sarah Felt Abandoned by Her Mother
Sarah was in a supportive foster home before she came to us. Both the social worker and the foster mom told us that Sarah had been trained by her mother to steal to help pay the rent. She also related this story later to her common law husband, Wes, when she was living with him. She continued stealing, according to her foster mother Mary, in her home, and somehow seemed to think if she could get enough money she could go back to her mother. (The County told us the mother had brought the children to them because she could not longer pay the rent and was being evicted.)
Mary also tells of Sarah getting phone calls from her mother that led her to believe her mother was soon coming to take her home again. She would call in another week. Mary said Sarah would sit by the phone all day for the call that never came. This happened repeatedly, and Mary tells of Sarah's disappointment each time. All these memories were with Sarah when she finally came to us at the age of nine.
A Book I Wish Our Family Had Owned When Sarah was Thirteen - Unfortunately, it hadn't yet been written.
This book helped me envision how scary it is for a child in the system to enter and adjust to a new foster home. Although it's fiction, what both Katie and her foster parents, James (a pastor) and Millie went through during the adjustment period, is pretty realistic. The books in this series deal with serious issues -- acceptance, love, cancer, drug abuse, bad friend choices, boundaries, and more. But there is also comic relief -- plenty of it, in the form of Maxine, Millie's mother and Katie's foster grandmother. She is the only unrealistic character in the book, but somehow she still fits.
The books are narrated by Katie and written from her perspective. She is sure from the beginning she will be sent back to the group home, so she decides to hasten the process by trying to show James and Millie she's the opposite of what they want. Instead, they have the wisdom to see through the tough exterior and just love her.
Katie's background was much like my Sarah's, except she had no sibling to help raise. Her mom was in prison for dealing drugs and she was pretty much raising herself before her mother was arrested and she was put into the system. Sarah was in the system longer before she came to us, and she was younger than Katie when she entered the system. She was never in a group home until she left us and three more foster homes after she left. She wouldn't stay within stated boundaries in any home. The group home was the last stop for Sarah, not the first, as it was for Katie.
I loved the relationship Katie had with Mrs. Smartly, the head of the group home, who also seemed to act as her social worker. We meet her as she is taking Katie to meet James and Millie. I could see Sarah making some of the same comments as Katie, had she been older. Mrs. Smartly seemed to really have Katie's best interests at heart, and this shows itself through the entire series.
I have read through all the first three books in this series and I can hardly wait until the next is published. I received the first book, In Between, as a free Kindle book, and it still may be free. But I was so caught up in the lives of the characters that I couldn't wait for book two and I bought and read both books 2 and 3 in the same two-day period. Although the reading level is young adult, I couldn't put the books down. Maybe that is just because we had Sarah. I wish she could have read these books when she was entering her teens, before her own hormones kicked in. I wish her story could end as happily as it appears Katie's will.
We Provide More Social Interaction Opportunities
Issues in the First Years of Foster Care and Adoption
These are some of the problems we faced in those first five years.
Although we had been forewarned, it was still a shock the first time we discovered that Sarah was shoplifting. This started almost as soon as she came to us, while still in foster care. There were several episodes, and each time we found Sarah with things that weren't hers, we had to take her back to the store she'd taken items from, and have her return them and ask for forgiveness. As you have seen from the early pictures, Sarah still appeared to be a shy, vulnerable little girl, and the merchants were getting their items back. Unfortunately, they bent over backwards thanking her for bringing the items back and in the process almost made her feel like a hero. She knew she could generate a good deal of attention this way, and so she continued several more times.
Sibling Rivalry and Adjusting to Each Other
Another issue was jealousy. Since Sarah had taken such responsibility for Jason when he was a toddler, she resisted me as his mother, since she felt I was usurping that role from her. She would often test Jason's loyalties by asking him to do the opposite of what I had just told him to do. He often obeyed her instead of me, and that also filled a need she had while making it very confusing for Jason.
She was also competing with Jason for our attention. She had not lived with him for a couple of years and the two were adjusting to living together again and trying to reestablish pecking order. Think about what happens when people get married or first start living with another person. They must adjust to that person. Now multiply that by three. Each of the four of us were adjusting to new people with us, and the children had three people to adjust to living with. For the first two months we hardly knew there was a world outside our house except for places we had to be like work, school, and church. Everyone was emotionally drained just from adjusting.
When Sarah came to us, she was about to enter third grade and could neither read nor do the simplest math. Academically it was as though she should be in first grade. She was put in a special education class with a wonderful teacher, and with some extra attention at home, she began to make some progress.
By this time we had her in counseling, and her therapist told us that Sarah had the intelligence to learn, but the emotional baggage she was dealing with interfered with her concentration, thus slowing her learning. We were told that once Sarah worked through those old issues, she would fly academically. But that was still a future event at this time. Sarah was also the only girl in her class.
School was not a good place to make friends. We did go to a church where there were children her age in Sunday School, but Sarah was not yet ready to form relationships. She did not know what to do if we would invite a friend from another family we knew over to play. Whereas Jason had already lived in our neighborhood a year when Sarah came, and had lived next door with five other children, Sarah came knowing no one but Jason.
She gradually got to know the children next door and play with them because Jason knew them and also played with them. But the first time we invited a new possible friend over for Sarah to play with, Sarah couldn't handle it for more than a few minutes. Then she would come in and just sit inside while the friend continued playing outside alone. Gradually Sarah learned a few more relational skills, but she still had no real friends.
One day another girl her age, whom I shall call Nancy, rode her bike into our cul-de-sac while Sarah was in the front yard. They became acquainted and decided to be friends. Nancy was also a bit disturbed, and she was not the person we wanted Sarah to spend a lot of time with, but we were uncertain as to what to do about it. We decided to take a wait and see attitude, so as to not hurt Sarah by keeping her from the one friend she had made on her own. This decision led to major grief later on.
Sarah Loved Her Piano
Meeting the needs of a special needs child
As I mentioned above, when Sarah came to us as a foster child about to enter grade three, she could not read or do any math. She had been enrolled in special education in her previous foster home in a different city. We also enrolled her in special education, and she had a wonderful teacher who had a very helpful teacher aide. Sarah was the only girl in her class and made good progress. We also helped her academically at home and read to her a lot. She continued with this teacher through third grade and the first semester of fourth grade. As I mentioned, she was also getting counseling privately to help her work through her emotional problems.
The second semester of fourth grade Sarah's teacher took a sabbatical and the long term substitute was a man who had very different values from our family's and from those of the previous teacher. Now Sarah was the only girl in the room except for the aide, and the aide left before the last period. Sarah began to feel very uncomfortable in her class, and was constantly asking about the things the teacher was saying that conflicted with our values. She also began to encounter problems on the playground she had not mentioned before.
As you probably have noticed in the pictures, Sarah was a very attractive girl. She began to complain when she got home from school that some of the boys in her class were saying "I'm going to lay you." This disturbed all of us. We spoke to the teacher and he wasn't really very helpful. He said he can't control what happens on the playground. The principal's response was that the teacher on playground duty can't hear everything that goes on. She did indicate she would move Sarah into a special reading resource room the last period of the day so she would always have a female adult in the room. We accepted that as a temporary solution.
Private School Education
The next year we enrolled Sarah and Jason in a small Lutheran school after a talk with the principal who had also adopted some special needs children who would be in Sarah's combination grade 5-6 class. In this class Sarah met a friend with whom she stayed in touch through the years until the time she left home.
Our families became friends, and we spent every Christmas Eve with them, and the children also went Trick or Treating together every Halloween. Sarah did well while she was there, but was still behind academically. It's hard to make up three years' work in just three years. Unfortunately, toward the end of that year, the school announced that it would have to close the next year.
For the rest of that last term I looked for a private school that would meet the needs of both children. All of the Christian schools were geared toward the academically gifted. We didn't have many other kinds of private schools in the area. I was beginning to despair when I was talking to some other moms after a Community Bible Study meeting one Wednesday. I asked if any of them knew of any other schools I hadn't tried, and one recommended a new school -- a small principle approach school. I began to investigate it.
When I investigate a school, I first talk to the principal, and then I observe classes. I liked what I saw, and was confident Sarah would not only get the individual attention she needed, but her teachers and the parents of the other students shared our values. Any socialization Sarah got at this school would be healthy, as teachers were aware of everything that went on during recess and continued to teach character values as they monitored playground activity.
By this time, although I knew the children were doing well at The Master's School, I was meeting a lot of parents who were home schooling. I very much wanted to be one of them, but Kosta didn't think I could handle it, in spite of my teaching credential. The more I learned, the more I wanted to bring the children home, but it was three years before that happened.
We Begin Home Schooling
In 1988, Kosta got a contract to to work at Boeing in the Seattle area. At the time, I was teaching part time at the Master's School. During our spring vacation, we decided to go visit Kosta, who was living in a small apartment. We stayed in a motel nearby for that week.
We went to play in the snow with friends from Kosta's temporary church home in Enumclaw one Sunday afternoon, and somehow, Sarah's sled got stuck in a root and she asked Kosta to free it. In the process, he severed a tendon in his arm and needed surgery. That meant that either he would have to quit his job or that he would need to have us join him in Seattle.
I called my principal, and he convinced Kosta that I would be perfectly capable of home schooling the children. We called the school district in Auburn, where we found a house to rent, and they were very cooperative. So our home schooling adventure began there in Washington.
We continued home schooling until Sarah left home, and since her foster mom was also a home schooler, the court ordered that I would continue to make lesson plans and supply the books, and Sarah's foster mom would continue to teach her during the rest of that school year. When she left that foster home, she moved to an independent study program in a public school.
Sarah's Education after She Left
By the time Sarah left home, she was reading at grade level and voluntarily keeping a journal. She liked to write letters to her friends and relatives. Her math was also up to grade level. While we were home schooling we traveled a lot to visit Kosta and incorporated the travel into our history and geography curriculum.
Jason thrived under the home schooling, and Sarah did well, but the last year she wanted to be in public school -- mainly to be out of our sight. By this time she was already sneaking out the window at night and we were convinced that once in public school, she would make the wrong kind of friends. We continued to teach her at home. She was still seeing her friends at church, at home school gatherings, and in each other's homes. She was far from isolated.
Sarah finally passed the GED before she left the county system to be on her own. After that, we didn't have much contact with her. We had taught her to cook and manage the practical skills she would need to run a household. Unfortunately, we were unable to teach her to be wise in her choice of friends, even though we tried. Given any freedom to choose friends we didn't know , she would choose the wildest ones she could find, even though she had many loyal friends who really cared about her.
Throughout her most time with us, Sarah also took piano lessons, and was quite gifted. For physical education, we walked regularly as a family, and Sarah also ran with her friend who was on the high school track team at least once a week. She didn't like competitive swimming so she was allowed to drop it after a couple of years. She learned to paint well enough for us to hire her to help paint the interiors of our kitchen and some of our rental properties. She liked to repaint her own room every couple of years. By the time she was 16 she was quite good at painting.
1987: Socializing - These pictures only show planned events Sarah was part of outside outside the home
We Wanted Our Children to See the USA
Whatever your country, help your child to see as much of it as possible, and more of the world, if you are able. There is so much to see and learn that requires being there. A book is only a beginning. The books your child will read and study mean much more if you've seen the Oregon trail country, walked the Mall in Washington, D.C., and been dwarfed by Abraham Lincoln in his monument.
See our country's history at the Smithsonian. See where George Washington lived. Visit Gettysburg and see living history museums. See the replica of the Mayflower to understand what the trip across the Atlantic was like for the Pilgrims. See the places that are most connected to the people you want your children to know and understand in America's history. Travel is a wonderful gift to your children as soon as they are old enough to appreciate and understand what they are seeing.
Seeing the United States. - Our First Real Summer Vacation Besides Family Camp
1988 Contained Lots of New Experiences. - Snow, a New Temporary Home, and the Beginning of Home Schooling
The Teen Hormones Kick and Problems Escalate
Sarah Shoplifts Again
While Sarah was still at the Master's school, we had a rude shock. Jason was on a soccer team, and when we were taking him to practice one afternoon, we were rear-ended. I thought I should get Jason to a doctor to be checked out and Sarah was home alone, so I went to pick her up.
We took Jason to an Urgent Care Clinic in a local shopping center. Sarah grew restless during the wait and asked if she could go look around at Long's, also in the shopping center, where a close family friend was the assistant manager. Sarah was gone a very long time, and I was beginning to be concerned. She just didn't come back.
I finally managed to get Jason through his examination, and immediately went to Long's. As soon as I walked in my friend approached me to tell me the manager had spotted Sarah putting items in her purse. She knew about Sarah's earlier shoplifting experiences, but we had all thought that was in the past. We hadn't known of any episode for about three years. I approached Sarah and asked her to please open her purse, and everything was there to see. I took her and the merchandise to the manager.
Sarah was no longer a cute little girl. She was a teen-ager. This manager did not behave as the others in the past had behaved. She gave Sarah a severe tongue lashing, since Sarah just stood there and said nothing and did not even seem to react. She did not express any remorse. The manager told her never to come back to the store, and if she did, she would be arrested for trespassing. This was not the result Sarah was expecting. It had been a rough day, and I was very embarrassed and annoyed that Sarah had done this. We waited until we got home to talk about it. Jason, fortunately, was unhurt.
When we got home, Sarah said she had been mad at me and had taken the items to get even with me. Then she had frozen, afraid to leave the store, and did not know what to do. So she had waited for me to come. I don't remember what consequences followed this episode. I'm sure there were some. She was probably grounded.
That summer we allowed Sarah to go to a Christian summer camp. When we picked her up, a young man met us, introduced himself, and recited what sounded like a resume of his qualifications to date Sarah, though he didn't mention dating. It sounded as though Sarah might have coached him. He wanted to visit Sarah and we let him make a few visits that year, but Sarah's counselor said that in spite of her age, Sarah was not emotionally ready to date.
After Kosta went to Massachusetts, Sarah turned 16. Since this was special, we did not have the joint beach party. She instead invited R, her admirer, and also her best friend Jenny, for dinner on her birthday. She had had a birthday slumber party the night before. It was about this time that Sarah began sneaking out after we were asleep, in the middle of the night, to meet R, who drove a good 90 minutes from his home to meet her. It took us a while to discover this. Eventually we did, and that caused us to put more restrictions on Sarah's freedom.
For a few months, Sarah had been babysitting for a neighbor we didn't know very well who lived down the street. This neighbor was a single mom who had three children -- all by different fathers. Sarah had made her acquaintance, and told us she didn't want to charge B for babysitting because she really couldn't afford to pay. She said she felt it was her Christian duty to babysit for free.
Attraction to Inappropriate Media
Because Sarah had demonstrated on several occasions that she was attracted to things that weren't good for her, the children were not allowed to have radios or phones in their rooms. They were allowed to have tape recorders that played cassettes so that they could have music in their lives. Jason had no problem using the kitchen phone for his calls to friends. He rarely used the phone anyway, preferring to ride his bike to a friend's to see if he could play. He was also not attracted to dark music.
We were beginning to find very adult books in Sarah's room, and when we asked where she got them, she always said she got them from her friend, Jenny, whom she knew we liked. We really didn't believe Jenny would be reading those kinds of books or loaning them to Sarah. There were also some cassette tapes that were not healthy to listen to, and we had no idea where she had gotten them. We did know that our next door neighbor's adopted daughter had been having some problems and that Sarah was spending a lot of time talking to her.
Choosing to Go Her Own Way
In the summer of 1989 we drove across the country to spend two weeks with Kosta in Massachusetts after his contract ended, but while he still had his condo. We explored all the historical places we could get to. Sarah was writing postcards to R in the car and in every place we stayed. R even called, wanting to join us on the trip. Kosta said no. After we got back home, we found out about the midnight trips to meet R. Kosta confronted R, who was involved in music ministry at his church, in a meeting between R's father and his pastor. R repented of his behavior. Because of that, Sarah lost interest in him, since he was cooperating with us now.
Sarah become more and more distant, and she also began to be sullen. Her sixteenth year was far from sweet. We felt we could no longer trust her. We knew that she was seeing someone new that we didn't know. We knew because Jason often tailed her on his bike when she went to run with Jenny in the park.
He reported seeing a man with Sarah who was not R. This man also turned up at a skating party the home school group was having. Jason was becoming concerned because he knew his sister was up to no good. He would report seeing Sarah making phone calls on the pay phone in the park.
We also knew that Sarah had begun to sneak out her window at night. We noticed the screen off one day, and Sarah said she had been washing her window and had forgotten to put the screen back on. Jason began to check under her window for footprints, and he started to find them. We were losing sleep trying to keep track of her.
In April of 1990, Sarah went out the window and did not come home. We discovered it when we went to wake her at 6:30 AM. We contacted all friends to be on the alert. We contacted the pastor, to whom she had run once before when she was upset. We left a message with the therapist Sarah had been seeing. The police took a missing person's report later that morning. We had a pretty good idea where she would be, and the police found her there. But we didn't know that until later. I will continue this in another section.
The Last Year Before Sarah Ran Away - During This Time Family Life Was Very Tense. Some of These Are Goodbye Shots.
The Police Shot
Sarah Returns to the System and Goes into Foster Care
After Sarah went out the window that last night, she falsely accused Kosta of hitting her hard enough to knock her to the floor. Jason and I were both in the next room. There was not so much as a raising of voices.
Kosta was trying, for the last time, in a gentle, almost wooing voice, to appeal to her conscience, to decide to do what was right. All of us were in the house and we heard what was happening. This was the shot the police took of her that night. From that moment on, we had little input into Sarah's life.
The Modeling Opportunity
Attempts by Sarah's Foster Parents to Help Her
We did convince the court to foster Sarah in the home of our past church youth leaders, who were licensed and willing to take her. Although their parenting style was much more permissive than ours, Sarah still could not stay within the rules the county set. She had run away so she could see M, a man twice her age. The county didn't want them to be alone together either.
This is the first shot of two photos we have of a modeling make-over that Laura, the foster parent arranged. Sarah had the physical characteristics needed to be a model, and had expressed an interest in it. We hadn't encouraged it because we didn't think she was mature enough to handle the pressure and emotional aspects of the job should she be successful. Laura thought maybe modeling would be a good outlet and give Sarah a way to make a living when she turned 18. We had no objections, since we knew it our input didn't matter at this point.
You see the second shot of the model make-over below the first. It's my understanding that after this Sarah was offered a full scholarship to a modeling school. She had often expressed a desire to be a model. She supposedly refused this opportunity because M didn't like the idea.
Reunion with Birth Father
Contact with Birth Father
When Sarah left us, she was still in touch with her birth family on her father's side, whom she chose to turn to after she left us. We had encouraged the relationship with the paternal grandparents, since they had been supportive of our adoption, and we felt they would keep the children connected to their roots. They and the children's half-brother Bob, whom they had adopted after the father's first marriage failed, made regular visits with our blessing, and it soon became evident to the social worker that her supervision on these visits was no longer necessary.
We didn't feel the same way about their father, who had kept contact up by mail. When he was released, he wanted to see the children. We knew they were curious so we permitted a visit as long as we were there the whole time, in the grandparents' home. We timed it before our trip to Washington, D.C., so that no matter how it turned out, the trip would provide a distraction.
We were surprised that the grandparents had chosen not to be there. Neither child recognized the father at first. Jason, who had never been abused, treated it as though he was meeting any other adult he didn't know. Sarah, on the other hand, whom he had molested, and whose testimony put him away, reverted to three years old before our eyes. She even began to talk like a three year old, but mostly listened. She sort of hid behind me at first and then crawled into my lap and remained there until we left.
This photo of Sarah with her birth father was taken in 1990, long after that, while Sarah was in foster care. I'm not sure how often she saw him after that. I do know he died before she did.
From Laura's House to Turning 18
The first photo below shows Sarah's first and last Christmas in her first foster home with Laura. She lasted longer in this one than in any which followed.
The second photo was also taken on Sarah's first Christmas in foster care during an unsupervised visit with her brother. You can see the expression on his face, trying to look happy while being inwardly upset that M really bought the present. He expressed those feelings after the visit. He didn't like M. Notice Sarah's slightly triumphant look.
Sarah went from Laura's to a "real" foster home -- one where no one knew her and she was one of several other foster children. She didn't last more than two weeks here before complaining and asking to be moved. She had actually had to drink powered milk!
She then went to another home with someone who knew had known her while she was still at home and gotten a license just to take her in. This family was well off enough to have a landscaped pool. The foster father shared Sarah's interest in making music, and he was a professional at it. It seemed an ideal placement, but she didn't last there, either, because she still kept sneaking out with M in violation of county rules. Before she left there she took a few small things. She did this often when she went somewhere new. I now wonder if she took things more as souvenirs than anything else.
She was then placed in a group home until she turned 18. That's when she first decided she wanted to see us after all, just to get away from their supervision for a while. Really she was hoping to sneak in a visit with M. She didn't want to see us at all. She just thought we would be easier to evade. So we took her back to where she was supposed to meet the social worker in a parking lot. She wanted us to drop her off before we got there, saying she could walk. I'm sure M was somewhere waiting. We said she needed to go to the agreed on place and we would not leave until the social worker picked her up.
We didn't see her again until she turned 18 and needed me to help her access her custodial savings account, of which I was the custodian. She was with M by then, and we didn't see her again until Jason's death.
Sarah remained in California, taking jobs as a care-giver for elderly people, and then living first with my brother Bob, and then with her half-brother Bob and his family while working at a restaurant. She felt she wasn't being treated right by the management, and quit. At least that's the version we heard.
Her Aunt Carol in Colorado offered her a home and job as a receptionist in an insurance company but she found that boring. She finally moved in with Wes and stayed with him for many years on and off, until her death. We learned about everything from the time she left my brother's house until her death after she was gone.
The Last Christmas in Foster Care
Now You've Learned a Lot About the Problems Older Adopted Children Bring with Them - Would you risk it?
Sarah's Adult Life After She Ran Away - The Sarah we never got to know
Understanding the Suicidal Person - You might be able to save a life!
Most suicidal people send signals they might be considering ending their lives. If you can read these signs, you might be able convince a person to seek the help he or she needs before it's too late. I have not personally read this book, but I did read the reviews for it. I suggest you read what the Amazon reviewers who did read it have to say to see if this might help you or someone you know.
If you suspect that someone you live with might be considering ending his or her life, you might consider having this book in the house where they are likely to see it. Don't pretend you don't notice the signs. Don't be afraid to bring up the subject if someone you love is very depressed or had been and suddenly seems better. You won't be giving hem ideas they haven't thought of yet. This book may help you to help your loved one before it's too late.
God's timing is perfect
When we were making Sarah's arrangements with Forest Lawn, we were asked if anyone was going to witness her interment. Since we are a five-hour drive away, we said no. So they said it would happen between 7 and 8 AM on Wednesday, May 27. That is the day I am writing this. I told family members the date and time to keep them informed. Then my brother, who lives closer than I, said he would like to witness the interment, and one of Sarah's aunts also wanted to witness it, so I said I would call on Tuesday to see if I could make it happen. (They made their request when it was too late to contact the mortuary before the Memorial Day weekend.)
Tuesday I called, and they said they had not planned for that and since if someone watched they would have to schedule it, there would be a $500 charge, since they like to do the unwitnessed interments at their convenience early in the morning before the gates open to the public. I then asked if maybe those who wanted to watch could just park outside the gate and watch through the gate, since the grave site is in view. They said this wouldn't work either. I emailed Bob and Melody and told them we simply couldn't afford the fee, but if they wanted to come after the gates were open and check to see if the earth showed evidence of the recent burial, they couldn't object to that. My brother is a bit skeptical, and he wanted to be sure the mortuary was doing all they said they would do. He said he would go over this morning anyway and see what he could see.
Bob arrived shortly after the gates opened. At the graveside he saw only the open hole, so he went to the mortuary to see what was happening. He wound up talking to the one in charge,and she even allowed him to see Sarah and take pictures -- at no charge. When Bob left the mortuary, he noticed Melody outside and showed her the pictures. Then they saw the hearse moving toward the grave, and they saw Sarah's interment -- at no charge. Bob managed to capture it all with his camera and you can see the highlights of the burial in the photos in the module below this one.
God knew how much Bob and Melody wanted to be there to witness Sarah's burial, and He also knew we were out of funeral funds. In His perfect way, He made it all happen -- without extra charges.
As a footnote: My brother had been very suspicious of the mortuary, even wanting to make sure all Sarah's jewelry was still with her in the casket. I tend to be more trusting. By the time Bob left, he was pretty impressed with the way things were done at Forest Lawn, and a bit more ready to trust them with the final arrangements for himself and his family. He saw all was as it should be on his surprise visit and the respect with which Sarah's remains were treated as she made her final journey to join Jason, even when they weren't expecting a witness.
More Books to Help You Come to Grips with a Suicide
Losing a family member to suicide is more painful than almost any other type of death to deal with. These books confront honestly the problems that Christians go through in the grieving process. I read as many of these books as I could, because I had a lot of issues I was trying to resolve. Each author had a unique perspective. The individual reviews on the Amazon site will help you pinpoint which books will be most helpful for you.
The Interment - Just a Sampling of what few people get to see.
The Grave Sarah and Jason Share
The Memorial Service
Saying a Last Goodbye
We had a simple service for Sarah, which began around the grave which she now shares with Jason. She was interred before the day of the service, which was June 6, 2009, at 10 AM. The day was neither too hot nor too cold. We had the service without benefit of clergy or mortuary services. A small group of family and close friends gathered to remember Sarah. Her half brother Bob Gnewuch, who had known Sarah since her birth, filled up the gaps all of us had in Sarah's life story. My husband, Kosta, shared some hope from Romans 8:28 to the end of the chapter, concluding with the idea that nothing can separate us from the love of God. This message is explained in greater detail on my blog
After the service at the grave site, most of us went over to Bob and Diane's home in Orange to share memories as we looked through a big box of pictures Sarah's husband had sent from Texas. Except for Bob and Grandma Gnewuch, none of us there had seen the adult Sarah. We tried to identify people in the pictures by letting everyone see the mystery pictures. It was an intensive period of quality time with many friends we hadn't seen in person in years. I hope to add a picture when my main computer comes back from the shop.
Sarah After She Left
Writing has been part of my grief work.
I started this article right after learning of Sarah's death by her own hand when she was 36. Creating this page is part of my grief work. It is also way of exploring what might have contributed to this tragedy. It takes time to grieve and time to explore. If, in the meantime, you need answers because you have also lost someone in this tragic way, consider the books I mentioned above which address the questions you have probably better than I can.
Soon after I wrote this, I wrote an article about adopting older troubled children. Most of it was taken from a poem I wrote for Sarah two months before she was 18. We had an opportunity to talk about it after she read it, and she told me I had it right.
The picture shows Sarah after she left us. I'm not sure where it was taken and I'm not sure how we got it. It might have been in Jason's scrapbook. The year was 1990 or 1991. Sarah was 17. Some pictures taken after Sarah's leaving us were supplied by Jason's scrapbook, after he died or because he let us see them when he was still alive. The rest were sent to us in a big box by Wes after Sarah died. I wish there were room to share all of them.
© 2009 Barbara Radisavljevic
Please let us know you were here by adding your comments or suggestions. - Feel free to share your own experiences.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on May 12, 2019:
It is hard to be a parent and watch a child suffer and not know exactly how you can help when you've done everything you know how to do, gotten professional help, etc. I hope your son wins his struggle and can get into the sunshine.
Rose Jones on May 07, 2019:
I am so sorry Barbara. I have a son who struggles with mental illness and I am always afraid that he will end up this way. Her daughter was lucky she had you are long as she did.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on September 03, 2018:
Thank you for your comforting comment, Barbara.I think you do understand, even though every adoption and grief experience is different from every other. I like your insight into the fact that Sarah's grief when Jason died might have been even greater than ours, if that's possible. We may have loved him as much as she did, but probably no one loved her as much or as long as Jason did. He had known her his entire life, and I believe he was the only one she loved. When she lost him, in her mind she lost everything.
Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on August 08, 2018:
This is just so sad. What you did is beautiful of course, but the story of Sarah and Jason's early years, and how it obviously shaped them, is heartbreaking. What you did and continue to do with your writing is inspiring. My heart breaks in half for children who suffer, it's like I feel the pain. Seeing photos of Sarah as young beautiful girl then to get to the end of her life story and see her carried away in a casket is powerful and gut wrenching. You asked in your moving article whether we've adopted. We haven't, but my parents have; my youngest brother is adopted, at 9 months old. Being a baby, I know it was much different than having to care for a troubled child. So I can't really compare the experiences. My heart still breaks for Sarah for losing her brother Jason - my gawd she suffered loss, as you did too of course. Parenting can be challenging and you sure took on your fair share. Blessings to you and your family for all that you did. I'll picture Sarah and Jason sending you thanks through the veil.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on December 16, 2016:
I'm probably too old to be adopting. I'm sorry you had such a sad start in life and have suffered so many losses. I'm glad you are still hanging in there. Feel free to message me through HubPages if you want to have a private conversation. The comments don't seem to be the appropriate place to do that. Your daughter's emotions may be getting in the way of her learning, as Sarah's were. As to your birth mom, meeting her may not have given you closure. I have talked to some who have found a reunion very disappointing. Maybe you have been spared more hurt.
Blu Angel on December 13, 2016:
Barb, i am so glad I read your story, i am so sorry. You did the right thing. My life was alot like Sarah's. I was in foster home, then adopted and just wanted to get out of house. We seem to hold on to this loss or abandonment issue and dont bond how we would like to the adopted parents. I still have problems with trust, making and keeping friends and relationships forget it! I have a bad picker, I think its why I have never been married. I am a single mother of a sweet 7yr old who is in special classes, and a little slow learning. I am 49 and am so tired of feeling depressed from my past. My real mom died in Germany this year before I could go there and meet her, then my adopted mom and my sons Nana died right aftr that and I cant get past the grief. Maybe u can adopt me and b my sons Nana that we miss so much? lol. Or Am I to old to adopt?
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 18, 2016:
We have pretty much healed now, from both losses, though we do still carry a hole in our heart for each child. I wish Sarah had been able to believe we loved her and only wanted her to live a happy and successful life. Since I lost Jason, I've met many other parents who lost children of the same age around the same time. All of us have healed enough now to go on living our lives. All of us were leaning on the Rock of Ages.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 18, 2016:
Chris, I'm thankful you contacted me. I learned so much about my children from you that I had no other way of knowing. I wish you much success in the rest of your life, along with inner peace and love.
Kim Dalessandro on September 07, 2016:
I'm so sorry for your loss of Jason and Sarah, Barb. I can't imagine losing a child. It's my biggest fear. Sharing your story may help to save a life. God bless you and your husband. You were obviously wonderful parents.
Chris on September 07, 2016:
Thank you for letting me reach out to you on Sarah and Jason .I can not express my gratitude enough .For taking the time to let me tell you of the time i was able to spend with both Sarah and Jason .Having found out so many years later ,The only thing i am sure of ,had i known they were still so close .Maybe we could have re connected .She and Jason will forever be in my heart .Were never forgot ,and never will be .Even a blind man could see the love you and your husband had for them . You did not offer them anything ,You simply gave it instead .What you gave , something many kids may even take for granted even .Something maybe we both forgot at that time in our lives felt like .Undeniable love ........You never realize how often that simple act can forever make a difference .Sarah was a very special girl and even though we were young .You left a life long memory and a very deep impression that shaped me into the person i am today Thank you for taking the time to write your story .They were blessed to have you in there lives
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on April 14, 2016:
Jackie, I'm sorry to take so long to respond. I'm not here much these days. You are probably right about Sarah. She had grandparents and aunts from her birth family that did care, but the damage was done by her birth parents. When she lost Jason I think she lost the only person she ever did truly believe loved her. It wasn't true, but she simply couldn't see it.
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 04, 2015:
She was a beautiful girl and this was so sad. Never blame yourself; she just was reacting to her abuse and two parents that weren't parents. As old as I am I long for my parents and that is with a normal life. I doubt Sarah had a minute of peace in her heart or mind and losing her brother was probably the last straw.
I would love to add a link to this from my Foster Child hub.
Voted up and sharing.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on June 26, 2014:
@writerkath: Thank you, Kathy. We, too, hope Sarah is finally at peace.
writerkath on June 26, 2014:
Barbara, I scarcely know what to say. Please accept my deepest condolences for your family's losses and struggles. I am also so sorry that your daughter suffered so much. I pray she is at peace, and I pray that you and Kosta are also able to find peace and healing in time. I am grateful that there are people like you who are able to offer love to those who need it most. Sending you virtual hugs and love.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on June 26, 2014:
@junecampbell: You're right. Suicide is always a tragedy. I have lost too many people I have known that way. I have pretty much healed from my personal losses, but you never quit wondering what you might have done that could have prevented the suicide.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on June 26, 2014:
@Heather426: That's very true, Heather. I have talked to parents who adopted infants or very young children, who also had similar problems -- especially if the children had not bonded to their birth mothers.
Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on June 25, 2014:
I am crying all over again to read this, read your other lens about her a while ago. Such a heavy load, and I'm so sorry you went thru this. I have a friend with 2 adopted children that came to her as infants. The boy and her have a great relationship, the girl is very aloof from her and most people. She has been searching for her birth mom for over 10 years,. So I don't think it's only because a child is older but I do think there can be more challenges, On the other hand, plenty of teenage girls flip out on their birth parents too.
June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on June 25, 2014:
I am very sorry to hear of this tragic story. It is always devastating when someone takes their own life. I suppose the truth of the matter is that when we let someone into our hearts, by whatever means, we open ourselves to the possibility of a tragic ending. We hope it won't happen, but there are no guarantees. I wish you all the best.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on December 10, 2013:
@favored: Thank you for your comment. I hope so, too.
Fay Favored from USA on November 19, 2013:
Most of my teaching career has been with special needs mainly ED kids. The best thing you can do for them is to show unconditional love and pray somehow they receive it. Being a teacher yourself you know how hard it is to help kids get free from their past. I hope Sarah's story will help someone that may be experiencing the same thing.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 18, 2013:
@rainykua: Thank you for those kind words. Unfortunately, we can do our best, but we can't live our children's lives for them. They make their own choices -- especially after they have left home. All we can do is love and pray for them, which we did. So did many others. I often wonder what Sarah could have become had she had real parenting and love from the beginning instead of being used and neglected.
rainykua on November 18, 2013:
This made me really sad. I remember when I was fairly new at HubPages and wrote a hub about parenting teens. You are one of those who have commented and have given me wonderful insights about parenting. You wrote that each child is different and parents shouldn't beat themselves up when things go wrong. You also mentioned about your daughter. I had no idea that it was Sarah and that she had already passed away. I'm so sorry that you lost her and your son Jason. After reading this lens, I can say that you and Kosta are really GREAT parents. You have given Sarah a wonderful childhood. I'm sad that her life had to end this way.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on September 17, 2013:
@mel-kav: Thank you, mel-kav. It means a lot for you to say this.
mel-kav on September 10, 2013:
I am a nurse at a school for special needs children like Sarah. I see the effects of the emotional trauma that these children suffer from on a daily basis. And I believe that Sarah's life would have been a lot worse if it weren't for the loving and caring home that you gave her. She was lucky to have you and Kosta in her life. And I hope that you realize that you really did make a difference in her life. I am deeply sorry for the loss of both of your children. It must be the most difficult thing to have to endure. May the Good Lord bless you and Kosta always.
SusisWorkshop on July 02, 2013:
@BarbRad: Well, glad she had her birth family and your family in her life. I understand how you can question the anti-depressants she was taking. I believe that sometimes medication can make you worse then making you better. Thanks for sharing your story and what happened to your daughter. When my dad died, i wrote letters to him, and went to counseling. So, writing can definitely be healing in situations dealing with death. I congratulate you for having the courage to put onto "paper" what you have been going through.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on July 02, 2013:
@SusisWorkshop: I'm glad you did not wind up like Sarah. She had her birth family, including her grandmother, in her life until she died, but it didn't help. I will always wonder if the anti-depressants she was taking pushed her over the edge.
SusisWorkshop on June 26, 2013:
Coming across this page and knowing i could have been just like her makes me feel very blessed that I have had my grandmother be in my life.. I am sorry you have had to deal with her death, but am grateful you have chosen to share your experiences and your blessings. I hope that time can be healing and nurturing for you. Thank you for taking the time to love and nuture both of these wonderful yet troubled young people.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on May 12, 2013:
@anonymous: Thank you for your thoughtful comment. There was much I wish we'd known before we adopted our children that might have made our family life better than it was, but I learned it too late, just as many birth parents do. As a wise man once said, no one is experienced at raising his own children, since no one has ever had those same children at that same age before.
anonymous on May 11, 2013:
These children experienced "love" in their life: and that is what matters. As one who use to work with these children I can tell you that it takes a lot of therapy and intervention on behalf of the human service system for these placements and adoptions to work. At one time I worked with a private social service agency who had the resources to help work with the families of the children, and with their birth and adoption and permanent placement children. More so than money and material things, for families to work(as I'm sure you know) one has to know as much as humanly possible about the events and how it affected a child(even when they were infants) There is a branch of counseling called Family Systems Work and it is one of the powerful tools in helping children to adjust: it "could" have helped in learning that the birth placement of a child in a family has a critical effect on their communications. But the systems work doesn't stop there: The adoptive and foster parent are often not aware of how their own family systems affect their reactions and communications to another. So everyone needs support for these placements to work. And even with the best of resources and counseling it is difficult for everyone once (as you so eloquently described) the natural life stages such as the teen stage and even the hormonal changes in the parents start to appear. To sum it up: from what I've read you seem to have done the best you could given the circumstances. And, I hope people within the human service system gave you the reassurance of that and that these placements are difficult. There are no perfect placements; because life, people and the stages of life aren't perfect. Even in "natural families" in the best of times with the best of resources, there are issues. So my gray hair is off to you. I think what you did is the best thing you could have offered in any life: a chance to be exposed to unconditional love.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on March 28, 2013:
@anonymous: That is my comfort. God knows and understands what was in all of our hearts.
anonymous on March 25, 2013:
Thank you for sharing. It is a terrible tragedy. I am so sorry, but thankful too that you were there for her as you long as you were. I am sure it did make a positive difference in her life. God knows.
anonymous on March 23, 2013:
I'm so sorry for your loss.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on March 17, 2013:
@anonymous: I'm sorry you were not able to grow up in a stable and loving family.
anonymous on March 15, 2013:
I felt really sad hearing your story. The effect of abuse towards children is heartbreaking. Having been a foster child myself i have some awareness of what the effects can be. I have had to ask for a lot of help over the years in overcoming it.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on January 26, 2013:
@Loretta L: God did give us the strength to get through these events as we needed it. Thank you.
Loretta Livingstone from Chilterns, UK. on January 26, 2013:
I read your lens about your son, Jason, and went to see your other lenses. I am horrified to discover you lost two children, I cannot begin to imagine the pain you have had to endure. May God give you strength.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on January 20, 2013:
@Paula7928: Your tears move me. Thank you for your compassion.
Paula7928 on January 19, 2013:
I am sitting hear in tears after reading your lens. I am so sorry for your losses.
Ruthi on December 24, 2012:
Again, my heart goes out to you for your loss of Sarah (and Jason). Your pain is unfathomable. As one who is a child of abuse I can appreciate Sarah's pain and torment. She was blessed to have you love her for a part of her short life. I applaud your willingness to share your personal story and hope it helps you find some peace as well as helping others who may be dealing with adopting a child of abuse and/or with one who may be at the end of their hope rope contemplating suicide as a way to end their pain. Bless you.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on December 20, 2012:
@Bartukas: Thank you for your kind words.
Bartukas on December 20, 2012:
Sad lens but still this lens is one of the great ones :) thank you
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on December 19, 2012:
@MelanieMurphyMyer: Nothing brave or strong about it. It just aids healing. Thanks for your support.
MelanieMurphyMyer on December 19, 2012:
I'm so sorry. I admire your bravery and strength in writing about this. <3
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on December 18, 2012:
@marsha32: It's our understanding that Sarah was being treated for depression with medication when her suicide occurred. It's also our understanding that some anti-depressent drugs can make people suicidal. After looking back at this week's horrible events, we are thankful that Sarah did not take anyone else with her, and left her husband alive, since in some ways she thought he might not be doing enough to protect her from possible jail time for her DUI, when, in fact, he was doing all he could and she wouldn't stop fretting about it. Sarah always had the best help for her issues we and her husband could afford, but I've seen too many suicides, including a young man in our church, who were taking the drugs prescribed to help them, and they seemed to have the opposite effect because the dosage wasn't right. Thank you for your kind thoughts.
marsha32 on December 15, 2012:
So sad....I just hate to read about suicides, no matter what the age is.It's a shame that she couldn't be helped with her mental issues and that she ran away to begin with.I'm sorry for your loss, even though you hadn't been in touch with her for years, I know it can't be easy, even today.
stephiy on December 08, 2012:
Wow what a touching lens. I'm sorry for your loss but thank you for sharing Sarah's story!
What_to_Know on November 25, 2012:
My heart reaches out for all the lives Sarah has touched
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on September 30, 2012:
@Ardyn25: I appreciate your prayers. Sarah's older half-brother Bob was fortunate enough to be adopted by his father's parents, whom he'd always known. I believe he was also younger when adopted, and he turned out really well. Even though he was a blood relative who also tried to help, he and his wife had to send Sarah back to her husband shortly before she died. Her husband was not abusive, but she was just unhappy. As you say, the damage was done before Sarah ever went into her first foster home. I'm grateful Jason was only neglected, not abused.
Ardyn25 on September 30, 2012:
I hope that you are working through the grief, just know that you did the best you could. Child abuse is such a horrid thing, it destroys the soul of a child and sometimes they just can't get it back no matter how hard they or anyone try. I'm sending out a prayer for you and I wish you healing and understanding.
eccles1 on September 29, 2012:
what a sad thing to happen to anyone,she was very pretty.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on September 28, 2012:
@WinWriter: I'm sorry you also lost someone you loved. I hope you have healed or are well on the way. Thank you for your blessing.
WinWriter on September 28, 2012:
A very well written lens. I am so sorry for your loss. My family too has experienced loss and writing is also how I have dealt with the sadness. God bless you and your family. *Blessed *
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on September 25, 2012:
@ratetea: Thank you for your kind words. Writing is one way I explore difficult experiences and work them through emotionally to help myself heal. I'm always hoping that what I write might also help someone else having the same sort of struggle or problem.
ratetea on September 25, 2012:
Wow...this sounds like such a difficult experience. Thank you for sharing this story. It's clear you care so much not only about Sarah, but about people in general, and that you want to do something about problems like this. This is an issue that I feel passionately about as I have also struggled with depression, and have seen people close to me try to harm themselves as well. I think it's really great too that you are thinking about and exploring what might have contributed to this happening. It can be tough to ask those questions, but ultimately, doing so can save lives. I've gained a few insights through my own struggles and also through talking to others.
julieannbrady on September 19, 2012:
Such a precious child to have been so tormented.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on September 13, 2012:
@Nanciajohnson: Thank you for sharing a bit of your experience.
Nancy Johnson from Mesa, Arizona on September 13, 2012:
I am deeply touched by this story. I worked for about a year as a director of an adolescent Female Treatment Center with girls from 13 to 17 who were very troubled. My center was completely locked down all the time. Full time teachers, nurses and psychologists came in every week as part of their treatment plan. A court-ordered 6 months was the minimum stay. I knew several "Sarahs" and my heart breaks. Thank you for sharing your story.
Shannon from Florida on August 11, 2012:
I am sorry to hear your poignant story. Thank you for sharing it.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on June 28, 2012:
@denman4: If my writing this would cause just one person to get help, I would rejoice greatly. Thank you for your kind words.
denman4 on June 28, 2012:
What a relevant and touching story of a beautiful, yet tormented young woman. Thank you so very much for sharing Sarah's story. I truly think that your story about Sarah will help people who are suicidal and who have mental health issues. Remember, asking for professional help for your problems is often just a phone call away. For all of you who are depressed, suicidal, or who suffer from chronic alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or alcoholism, please get the quality treatment you need.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on June 25, 2012:
@Joan Haines: Being a suicide survivor us a special kind of bereavement because of one's natural instinct to think one should have been able to do something to prevent it.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on June 25, 2012:
@Joyce Mann: Joyce, my heart goes out to you. I've had it both ways, since Sarah's brother Jason died in a jet ski accident when he was fourteen. That was very hard on everyone, including Sarah. If he were still here today, she might be, too. Both deaths were hard on us, but in different ways. I do think suicide is harder, since it involves choice. Nevertheless, there's no getting over either one. I think of both children every day, as I'm sure you do your son.
Joan Haines on June 25, 2012:
There are so many families that have been affected by suicide, including mine. Let us hope that through writing about you, your family, and Sarah, that others find help and comfort.
Joyce T. Mann from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA on June 25, 2012:
So very sad. Thank you for sharing your poignant story. We lost our son two years to the day after your beloved daughter died. His cause of death was not suicide, but the loss of a child, no matter under what circumstances, is the most horrific experience any parent can go through.Hugs to you.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on June 25, 2012:
@Scarlettohairy: scarlett, I hope we did.
Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on June 25, 2012:
Thank you for sharing this story. I'm so sorry for her troubled life, but it sounds like you did make a difference.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on June 22, 2012:
@chas65: My heart goes out to you. I think writing a lens might help you to work through this. Every story is unique. Let me know when you get it written.
chas65 on June 22, 2012:
Having lost a 14 year old grandson to suicide, I can unfortunately identify. You never expect to have to bury your child, much less a grandchild. I am considering writing a lens about this anf found yours when I was searching lenses dealing with suicide.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on June 21, 2012:
@AlwaysCurious LM: We miss our children, but we'd adopt them again. I would not have wanted to miss them, even if I did know it would cause pain in the end. We knew the chances of Sarah having serious problems was good before we made the commitment. I just wish we'd known more about raising a child with these problems back then so we might have been able to do more for her.
Ashley from St. Louis on June 21, 2012:
Thank you for being willing to bring these two beautiful children into your home. We need more people like you! I'm very sorry for your loss.
crazy anna on May 21, 2012:
so sad. im sorry =(
Diana Grant from United Kingdom on May 13, 2012:
Angel Blessings seem almost inconsequential for such a thought-provoking personal story. Thank you for telling this
AnnMarie7 on May 11, 2012:
What a sad tragedy. I just read your lens on Jason last night, and had no idea that his sister had died also. I have great respect for you and your husband for the wonderful home you provided for these two children. I believe that God sent them to you for a reason, and that they are both now with our Heavenly Father. Thank you for sharing and may God bless you.
cynthiannleighton on May 06, 2012:
Thanks for sharing your family's story. Blesssing to you all.
earthybirthymum from Ontario, Canada on April 25, 2012:
What a difficult story to tell. my heart goes out to you and your family. Many Blessings
spellbindingsis on March 28, 2012:
Our hearts go out to you & your family.
Annamadagan on March 24, 2012:
Wow, such hard loss. God bless you! *Squid Angel Blessed.
anonymous on March 17, 2012:
Barb, I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how difficult losing a child must be.
anonymous on March 16, 2012:
A difficult subject and you have done well to present it. I'm sorry for your loss. I hope you continue to heal on this journey.
Joanie Ruppel from Keller, Texas on March 14, 2012:
You have been through this tragedy for some reason unknown to us. I feel the same way. I am so proud for you to put it all down and out there for others to hopefully live and learn. God Bless you always.
siobhanryan on March 11, 2012:
Poor you, the grief and pain must have been unbearable and poor Sarah-may she find the peace she craved in life. This lens is both a tribute to yourselves and Sarah and Jason as well. God be with you.
SmartyGirlRenee on March 05, 2012:
thank you for this lens about the hardships of a young woman and the love of her adopted family
heluvaguy on February 25, 2012:
Gog Bless you and your family and may his comforter give you the pease that supasses understanding.
cocomoonbeams on February 12, 2012:
Such a sad story, not only of Sarah but Jason too. My heart goes out to you.
Debbie from England on February 09, 2012:
I remember chatting with you on Tagfoot (I think it was) shortly after this happened. My heart went out to you then and it still does now. ~~Blessed~~
Zut Moon on February 07, 2012:
Hi Barb: I have added this lens to The Dangers of Non-Communication, Problem Avoidance and Suppressed Emotions. I lost a daughter because of suicide and it is so important for us the share our stories with others for healing and so others don't find themselves in the same route. Thanks again.
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on February 06, 2012:
@Zut Moon: Anyone has permission to feature or link to this lens. Thanks your for wanting to do so.
Zut Moon on February 06, 2012:
It is extremely important to get these stories out in the open. I have 3 lenses devoted to self-help/emotions. They are: Self Destructive Behaviour, The Dangers of Non-Communication, Problem Avoidance and Suppressed Emotions and The Key to Happiness. I just "blessed" this lens and also ask you permission to feature your lens in the first two mentioned above, if you feel that your lens will fit appropriately in them. Let me know and Thanks.
DeannaDiaz on January 30, 2012:
Thank you for sharing Sarah's story, even though it is sad. Abuse can cause lifelong damage and I feel so sorry for the pain that she must have felt.
LisaDH on January 30, 2012:
I'm so sorry for your loss of both of your children. I wish Sarah had been your child from the moment of birth because I think her life would have turned out so differently. It's tragic that the scars from her early years haunted her for the rest of her life. Thank you for sharing such a personal story.
Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on January 28, 2012:
Thank you for sharing a little bit of Sarah's story with us. I'm so sorry for you folks and for Sarah for the way she left this earth, but I have no doubt Sarah felt your love. God's blessings!
Pastor Cher from United States on January 21, 2012:
I am sorry to be reading a lens like this. No one should ever have to bury a child (or children), but sadly it happens. I pray that the Holy Spirit will give you comfort and that your stories about your children will aid in your healing and bring hope to others who read them.
Frischy from Kentucky, USA on January 16, 2012:
I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter, twice. There are no words to express what I am feeling right now after reading about Sarah. It is tragic what happens to some (too many) children early in life, and then there is another tragedy in that no one knows how to really help them once they have been removed from that terrible situation and into a family that loves them. I am so sorry!
Donnette Davis from South Africa on January 15, 2012:
Sarah was blessed to have you and Kosta in her life... Thank you for sharing your story with us.
anonymous on November 17, 2011:
What a sad story, the memories that she had as a child before she even came into your care would have haunted her throughout her life, it is really hard to say anything, know child should ever have to be put through what she went through in her early home life, I don't know what the answer is and it doesn't matter how much comfort you gave, nothing will take away what those children went through, I applaud you for having the courage to take those children into your home
Barbara Radisavljevic (author) from Templeton, CA on November 05, 2011:
@ouriloilo: ouriloilo, no one but our Lord really knows whether Sarah was depending upon him for salvation. At some points in her life she claimed to be a Christian. Only God knows for sure. Did she fail to trust him when she pulled the trigger? I'd say at that moment she was not trusting him. Would her life have been happier and less lonely if she had been able to trust him in all things? Certainly. I prefer to trust him as her judge, since only he completely knew her heart and the state of her soul.
ouriloilo on November 05, 2011:
Despite all your effort, people with suicidal instincts could never be "normal" until they get to know Christ as their Savior.
Heather B on October 22, 2011:
I am so sorry about Sarah. You gave your all, and I am sure that deep down, she knew and appreciated that.
Jan T Urquhart Baillie from Australia on September 29, 2011:
What a wonderful way to document a troubled girl's journey. Thanks you for taking her in, and thanks for sharing.
Samantha Lynn from Missouri on August 11, 2011:
My husband & I are also foster parents adopting older children. It's an eye opening experience. Blessed