I Felt Like the “Problem Child”

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Eagle RanchEagle Ranch graduate Hope Leahey is an 11th grade honor student looking forward to college and a bright future. But things weren”t always easy for the 17-year-old, who was adopted by her aunt and uncle when she was 8. With adoptive parents who are professional life coaches and counselors, Hope never envisioned herself at Eagle Ranch, but even the best circumstances can require outside help.

When did life get difficult at home?
In 2009, my adoptive parents” son” who was always like a brother to me” died. We all had a hard time with it. My parents were grieving and paying less attention to my brother Mason and me. I felt a little like I was being abandoned again, as I had been by my birth parents.

I was in middle school and getting into my first relationships with boys. I stopped participating in school, and my grades suffered. I was sneaking out, going to parties, and I just shut down.

My parents tried everything to get me to behave. They took away my phone and my computer to keep me from texting and off of social media. They grounded me from everything possible and threatened to put in an alarm system so I couldn”t sneak out. My mom was like “I”m making my own house a prison, and that”s not ok with me.”# They were micromanaging everything I did.

Why did your parents seek help from the Ranch?
The breaking point came when they found out I was seeing an 18-year-old when I was just 14. My parents saw me going down a path where I would end up pregnant or even dead.

When they first told me about Eagle Ranch, I didn”t believe them. I thought they were just trying to scare me. When we came for our interview, I didn”t speak the whole way there and refused to get out of the car. I thought, “Oh, I”m the problem child. You want to send me away. You don”t really love me.”#

What was it like when you first came?
I couldn”t believe it was actually happening. My roommate helped a lot. She had already been at the Ranch for a year, and she helped me understand how things worked.

Describe the change in your life.
The change Eagle Ranch has made in my life has been a complete turnaround from where I was three years ago. I am secure in who I am as a person. I feel better equipped to deal with the challenges that life throws my way. There also has been a huge change in my family. I feel like we all work together and communicate now.

Eagle Ranch put people in my life that really cared about helping me. They taught me ways to deal with my feelings, and helped me be true to myself.

How was Eagle Ranch beneficial?
The most beneficial thing I think the Ranch offers is that it works with the whole family. The child doesn”t just feel like they are the problem. The best gift you can give a child is a family. I know this personally. The Ranch helps family members rebuild and connect so they can truly be a family.

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