This material gathers together an exchange of letters over the first year of placement of a particularly troubled child with a foster/adopt family in Virginia-between Lori Thomas, the foster/adoptive mother, and Michael Trout, Director of The Infant-Parent Institute in Illinois. Unbeknownst to the two parties, they were recording the story of the tortuously slow and unsteady opening up of the soul of a little boy.
The family happened to have that rare combination of internal and external resources that seem necessary if it is to survive the screaming, the resistance to attachment, the "crazy lying", the aggressiveness, the manipulations, and the rage that are often seen in children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. They had friends, faith, a sense of mission, a reason to put everything aside each day, and a marriage that could sustain blow after blow. But they also had a unique persistence, which may be what drove them to reach halfway across the U.S. to find the level of developmental guidance and continuous support that they knew was needed, and to tell such a compelling story that Mr. Trout could not turn away.
At the end of it all, the family made a decision to adopt, and the mother in Virginia and her supporter in Illinois saw that they had a record that might be of value other foster or adoptive parents who were fighting to stay the course, to keep themselves from disrupting yet another placement of a wounded child who was tearing them apart. There is nothing about the story told in "The Jonathon Letters" that suggests an easy treatment, or that offers clever strategies to restore trust to a child who has no reason to believe that accepting love could ever be safe. It is a tale of ups and downs, because that's how it is with children whose beginnings have been so tortured. But the reader begins to get a sense of the driving energy of this unique family, who somehow bounce back after every regression, and find ways to understand Jonathon's defiance and rage and to remain connected to their purpose.
Available as a book or audio CD.