life change – Christian Children’s Home of Ohio

life change

Trusting in a better plan

As we begin our 50th year of helping people experience their worth in Christ, let’s celebrate God’s transformational work in the life of one young boy over the course of one year and 22 days at CCHO.

Caden* came to CCHO from a foster home when his increasingly defiant and aggressive behaviors were making it evident that he needed more help for challenges that stemmed from physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as neglect. Additionally, Caden witnessed violence between his mother and her partner. He also saw his mother buy and use drugs.

When Caden first arrived on campus a little over a year ago, just before Christmas, he was defiant, struggled to trust adults and was unable to develop friendships. He had frequent nightmares and flashbacks. And yet, because he immediately felt safe and loved, Caden adjusted to life here pretty quickly, even with the timing of the holidays.

Over the next eight months, he worked hard to complete his individualized treatment plan and achieve his goals. He effectively engaged in both individual and group therapies. He enjoyed recreational activities and also responded well to art and equine therapy. Caden demonstrated a significant decrease in physical and verbal aggression, opposition toward adults and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. His ability to concentrate and focus substantially increased. He was ready for the next step of his journey but there would be obstacles in his path.

For the majority of Caden’s time with us, the plan was for him to be reunited with his biological mother who drove every other week from out-of-state to visit him. We were making steps for his discharge to take place when his county discontinued the reunification plan. Caden was devastated. A letter was sent to his county noting his readiness for discharge and a foster family was identified for him. Steps were made for the transition to this family, but the placement fell through just three days before his scheduled departure.

This was another loss for Caden, and he was faced with feelings of rejection and abandonment all over again. After a couple weeks of processing this loss, Caden came to the staff and said that he was going to be okay because he realized God must have a better family in store for him.

During this time of waiting, Caden’s biological mother gave birth to his baby sister. He was really upset about not being able to meet her. As Halloween and Thanksgiving came and went, he began feeling more and more hopeless. He was devastated at the thought of spending a second Christmas here. He desired to have a home and be part of a family.

Toward the beginning of December, his county identified another foster home for him. After the second visit with this family, Caden came back thrilled that his potential foster father told him he would officially be his foster dad. To top it all off, the foster family has an infant, which helped fill the void Caden was experiencing from not being with his baby sister.

We invite you to pray for Caden and his new foster family as they adjust to becoming a family of four. Please pray that he feels safe and secure in his new home and has peace with being separated from his biological mom and baby sister. If he isn’t able to return to his mother, we hope that he is adopted, finding his forever family. We also hope that Caden uses the skills he learned at CCHO in his new placement and continues to grow closer to God.

Faith played a big role in Caden’s healing story. He enjoyed reading his Action Bible and listening to Christian music on his mp3 player, using the music as a coping skill. He was always excited when it was his prayer day, and he often included all of his peers and staff in his prayers. Because of your generosity, CCHO was a safe place for Caden to receive treatment and learn about his worth in Christ. Your giving allowed Caden to experience love and support in healthy ways. Thank you for making this #OneHeartOnTheRise transformation possible.

Jessie Berry is the therapist for Cottage 6 where our young boys live. She has served on staff since June 2015 helping children overcome past trauma.

*name changed to protect his identity


This story first appeared in our Winter 2019 All Things quarterly newsletter.

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Thankful for life change, thankful for you

As we enter this week of giving thanks, we are joyfully grateful for the many children and adults who have received hope and healing this past year throughout our family of ministries. God is indeed good and gracious to those who are hurting. Though they have experienced much hardship, they are not forgotten. We are blessed to be part of God’s amazing work of lives being changed. We are thankful to you, our donors and supporters, for helping vulnerable kids and families through your time and resources. Your partnership provides each of these precious individuals with safety and treatment as well as the opportunity to experience their worth in Christ. Here is just one example of life change because of your generosity.

A Children’s Residential Center (CRC) is often a very misunderstood place. Some people think it’s a glorified detention facility. Some see it as a 24/7 daycare for aggressive children. Still others see it as an untrustworthy place where kids in pain must remain on guard and work tirelessly to protect themselves from even more pain. The latter was certainly the perception held by a 14-year-old young man when he was referred to our CRC here at CCHO.

At the time, Joe (name changed to protect his identity) had been living with his grandparents, but they felt they couldn’t handle their grandson anymore. They had come to the end of their rope and so had Joe. Upon his arrival on campus, Joe seemed like a respectable young man with some socially awkward tendencies, but overall didn’t appear aggressive or defiant. Unfortunately, that changed in the days that followed, with Joe exhibiting a vast range of what most would consider to be odd, attention-seeking and defiant behaviors.

Soon after, we discovered the root of the issues presented: Joe had witnessed his father shoot and kill himself when Joe was 4 years old. His mother then began physically abusing him because she didn’t know how to process his father’s suicide. He was left feeling powerless and without any control, a young boy full of guilt and self-blame who sadly became the scapegoat of the family. After Joe was removed from his mother’s care, his grandparents tried for years to help, to care and to love, but it only led to more anger and frustration, which caused him further hurt.

Joe wanted healing but, because of his misconceptions about residential facilities, he was unsure if he could find it at CCHO. He had been led to believe that CCHO was unsafe and, therefore, his behaviors continued for a few months until, one day, he decided to hand over to the staff a pocket knife that he had been hiding for his protection. He decided that he didn’t need it anymore, that he felt safe with the staff at CCHO. For maybe the first time in his life, Joe finally felt safe.

In the weeks and months that followed, he began connecting with the staff and many of his behaviors disappeared while the others decreased significantly. Through regular counseling, Joe began to process the trauma that he had been through and started to change his perspective on life, a process that led to freedom from his confining feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. He no longer blamed himself for his father’s death. He began engaging in social activities without fear. He began to show his true self by caring for other people and the animals on campus. Most importantly, he began attending church services, gave his life to Jesus and was baptized through our campus ministry and began to faithfully seek God.

Only one thing stood in the way for Joe, and that was his past. Because Joe had hurt his grandparents so deeply, they had difficulty trusting him. After multiple conversations about how he had changed for the better, they still didn’t feel safe enough to bring Joe home. Fortunately, God was on the move. Joe’s grandmother agreed to attend family therapy in hopes of addressing some of the hurts that she had both experienced and caused, and after his initial hesitancy, Joe’s grandfather participated as well. Joe responded by demonstrating resiliency and taking full responsibility for all he had done to his grandparents. He didn’t blame them for their reluctance to bring him home; instead, he apologized for the past. Despite his own pain, he acknowledged the pain he had caused others. His grandparents, finally allowing themselves to believe that healing had come, offered Joe forgiveness and even apologized for their own past mistakes.

What once seemed like an impossibility became reality when Joe reunified with his grandparents after nearly nine months of treatment at CCHO, a powerful illustration of Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:26: “With God, all things are possible.”

You may be asking yourself the same question that Joe’s grandparents had: “Can healing from hurt that deep really come in nine months?” With Jesus, it can. For Joe, it did. And for many children with a similar story, it has, it does, and it will continue.

CCHO’s CRC was Joe’s safe place where he could find healing, discover hope and experience his worth in Christ. In his last week at CCHO, Joe tearfully expressed his gratitude for the help CCHO provided, and he attributed his life change to giving everything to Jesus and following Him.

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