ATN Angel Encore: Stephanie Reh Garde

In celebration of ATN’s 2016 Angels in Adoption award, we’re profiling ATN members who have helped ATN win the award — and who have themselves been Angels to families and children.

Editor’s note: Many contributors remember that first time an ATN member saved our life. Some ATN members have saved many lives; for them, we have more than one post. Enjoy. 

by: Jane Samuel

Stephanie Garde“We use structure.”

” We keep things small at the holidays. We don’t do big gifts. We tell the relatives not to go overboard and if they don’t get it we don’t go to their houses.”

” We protect our other child who does not have early life trauma; we take this younger child out of the house when our other son begins to get out of control. I figure the worst that can happen the house might be damaged but we will be safe.”

” I give our challenging child an allowance from his pay check; the rest I put in the bank for him and have shown him how to use a debit card.”

” I drive him to work to make sure he gets there.”

” I found a great program for him at a trade school an hour and a half from our house and I bring him and stay and then bring him home.”

These are all comments I have heard one particular parent at ATN share with me and others over the years I have been a member. I remember the first time I met her. I sat there listening to this wise mom of a teen lining out what life looked like for a family with a challenging child who suffered the lingering effects of early life trauma and attachment issues and was in awe. Her calm voice and “girl from next door” persona made me think this could not possibly be the life she woke up to everyday. But it was.

How did she do it day in and day out? How could she be so calm and share so willingly with the rest of us who were just beginning to walk this path? Who didn’t even have teens yet, and were already feeling overwhelmed?

She was an angel that’s how. She had been there done that and had earned her halo of experience and now was, all of her own volition, paying it forward by giving support to others who were also walking in the same or similar shoes – the shoes of a parent raising a child from a hard place.

I took this mom’s words into my soul. I wrote them on my memory bank. And I knew from looking at her and listening to her that it would be okay. I wasn’t alone in this. I wouldn’t be the perfect mom; I would make mistakes along the way. We would struggle. Times might be very tough (as they had already been) But I would have an angel on my shoulder inspiring me. Telling me I was okay. That I could do this. That I had to do this. For my child. For my other children. For myself.

Thank you to my angel Stephanie Garde. The “girl next door” who taught me so much about parenting a child from a hard place. And thank you to ATN for having angels like Stephanie on board to support, educate and advocate on behalf of other families like mine.

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