Excerpt from NewportRI.com article:
Kim Fuller felt she had a “perfect” — her word — family with her husband, Jim Miller, and their two children, Henry and Ella, when she started volunteering with friends at a group home operated by Child & Family, a nonprofit agency, in August 2006.
During the following month, she became acquainted with Keydell, then a 6-year-old boy separated from his family and who had serious behavioral disorders. Her family presented him with gifts that first Christmas, and he later was a guest in their home.
When the volunteer commitment came to an end in August 2008, Denise DiGangi, Child & Family’s manager of the group home, asked Fuller if she would be willing to adopt Keydell.
She and her family agreed. What followed was a difficult ordeal that became a journey of discovery for Keydell and Fuller and her family, but it has a successful outcome.
Fuller shares that story in a new book called, “Finding: The Story of a Young Boy Who Became His Adoptive Mother’s Greatest Spiritual Teacher.”
The ways the family and Keydell interacted and struggled to come to accommodations with each other is engrossing to read, but it shows how difficult adoption can be.
“It was difficult at the time, but it was a great learning and healing experience for me,” Fuller said Sunday during a telephone interview.
Fuller is a photographer, and the book begins with her on assignment for Salve Regina University, taking photos of the Dalai Lama, who visited the campus in November 2005. The event awakened in her an interest in Buddhism and meditation, which she began studying and practicing.
The meditation would assist her in those early years with Keydell, and she now leads workshops on handling the emotional stresses of raising a child with mental illness.
Two doctors in Providence, Dr. Vicki Moss and Dr. Bob Raphael, eventually diagnosed Keydell with attachment disorder, and he and Fuller began a series of bonding exercises. The doctors believed Keydell’s brain might be overactive or under-active because of some very early developmental issues, most likely caused by childhood traumas of neglect and frequent moves from caregiver to caregiver.
“As kind-hearted and loving Keydell was underneath all his behaviors, I think he too would have ended up hurting someone and landing in jail had he not gotten the proper care and love from us. We were very fortunate to have had the means to help him, and that, through my own self-care and spiritual practice, I was able to stay patient and calm enough to get through it myself.”
“My family is forever changed for the better since Keydell arrived in our lives,” Fuller wrote near the end of her book.
Her son Henry, now 24, and daughter Ella, now 21, are both living in California. Keydell is an A-student at Middletown High School, where he is a sophomore and a starting player for the soccer team.
“We watched him struggle, work hard to recover, and become the wonderful brother, son, friend and teammate that he is today,” Fuller wrote. “He knows how to create his own life, and he continues to do so by being positive, working hard to achieve his goals, and never giving up.”
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