Respite Retreat uses the serenity and privacy of a 12-acre farm to minister to families dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Autism and other emotional disturbances. The main crops harvested are peace and tranquility ... and exhausted parents reap renewal, refreshment and rejuvenation as we strive to educate, edify and encourage them.
The founders of Respite Retreat are a husband and wife couple, Keith & Christy Owen, who share five biological children, ages 6, 8, 9, 19 and 21. When our older son, now age 19, was two years old he was diagnosed severely autistic. So severe that his doctors recommended we institutionalize him because he would “never function in society”. We chose not to heed the doctors’ advice, but that set us up for extremely traumatic days with a severely broken child. Two years after his formal diagnosis, God healed our son --- completely.
We have since served many years as Therapeutic Foster Parents to extremely emotionally-disturbed children, particularly those suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). The “experts” wrote most of those children off as “unreachable”, too. Those “experts” were all WRONG, too … and we’ve personally witnessed many of those foster children making great strides toward healing.
If you’re putting your trust in the knowledge/skills/abilities/expertise of a mere human, then you’re on a path of never-ending despair and frustration. Jesus Christ is Lord of all and He can heal these children, as He did our son! He can also carry you through the crisis when you have no energy of your own to carry on. God gave us the strength to parent our son and taught us some parenting skills and structure that He later used to augment our son's emotional healing after He had cured him of a debilitating mental illness. (The healing all came from God but He does use and equip people for His purposes.) Years later, those same skills and structure helped us to minister to severely-disturbed children: those who had shot others in the face with no remorse, set fires, or were sexual predators. We aggressively sought training by Nancy Thomas in particular. We recently learned about Dr Karyn Purvis (“Empowered to Connect”). God is using these women MIGHTILY to help heal these children across the globe! We can personally attest to the simplicity and sheer power of their methods. We have seen dramatic improvement in every single child we’ve had in our home over the years … both foster children and private respite. One hundred percent of the children had some variance of improvement. Not all realized total healing, mind you. Some did ... but the others all made absolute, marked and unequivocal improvement.
Obviously we in the RAD-community have got to do a better job of preparing and equipping the children’s FAMILY’s with the same tools and training that WE have. What good is it if we know all the tricks/tools and the children respond well here, only to go back to the same home environment that did not work previously ... to parents that are exhausted and without hope? We’ve spent hours and hours and hours working with these children on respite and in foster care only to watch them dissolve when they return home. There are some fantastic programs across the nation and we encourage you to research all of them. We, of course, are partial to Karyn Purvis and Nancy Thomas because they have made such a positive impact on us and the children we’ve ministered to over the years. Faith in God to sustain you during the rough years is most critical!
For our part, we have committed to use this 12-acre farm for some Respite Retreats, mini family-bonding "camps", week-long "intensives" with reputable attachment experts, therapeutic/motivational respite for children of the families we serve, training respite providers/ teachers/pastors/therapists, and (in the future) a therapeutic equine program modeled after Terena Thomas'.
There is a charming rental cabin at the bottom of our driveway that is convenient for families we are working with. We hosted Nancy Thomas and James Dumesnil here for powerful, week-long "intensive" programs for hurting families in 2011 and 2012. With our recent move to this new property, our plans for future intensive programs are negated ... but just two miles away is a cluster of cabins that would be ideal for a week-long camp directed by Nancy Thomas. We will be reaching out to Karyn Purvis, Paula St. John of the Gladney Institute, and other credible attachment experts to determine how to include them in our outreach.
We have first-hand experience living with and parenting EBD children. God has left us with a powerful testimony and we invite you to learn more about how God used our son’s illness for His glory.