After an unstable childhood, Tom and his sister Ana were adopted by their stepmom, Luci. Tom had already started to turn inward, and the atmosphere at home grew tense.
“There was a lot of tension in my house,” recalled Tom.” We argued over even the smallest things. My neighborhood was bad, and we had to move, so that put more pressure on me. I was coming out of a hard time in my life I took it out on people around me.”
Tom began isolating himself in his room and didn’t make friends.
“He was really dark. He wore dark clothes and was very moody, depressed and didn’t smile. He was always angry. He didn’t have any respect for authority figures. I was afraid that his life would take a path that I didn’t want for him,” Luci said.
Luci took Tom to counseling, but things continued to get worse. She looked at a variety of programs, even out of state. But she had trouble finding something that was fit with Tom’s needs and their family’s finances. Ironically, it was referral list from a program in Texas that led her to Eagle Ranch.
“They gave us resources for Georgia. There was a list of about 5, so I took it to Tom’s therapist at the time and read off the list, and she said ‘Oh, I know Eagle Ranch.’ She even had a brochure in her office.”
Being at Eagle Ranch, Tom had time to reflect and see that his life wasn’t where he wanted it to be. He met people who understood him and started to open up.
“I found people I could connect with, people who actually understood. Now I’m more open. I’m able to communicate and have better relationships with my friends and family,” Tom said.
His stepmom watched Tom make a dramatic transformation.
“You ask anybody at the Ranch, it’s really hard to not like Tom. Whereas before, it was really easy to not like him. I think it was for him a way to protect himself. Since he’s been at the Ranch, he’s really let down walls,” Luci said. “Now, he’s into sports and he’s outgoing and he laughs. He’s funny and witty.” She watched him mature in many ways.
“He will listen to people’s wise counsel, and he will think about it and consider it. And when he see’s value and benefit to him, then he actually applies it, which is something that even as adults we struggle with,” she said. “While we’ve been here, he’s been challenged with some really big adult decisions that didn’t just affect his life, but affected the family, and he really handled them with grace and compassion. He not only thinking of himself, but what’s best for the whole family – and that’s a big thing. It blows me away how far he’s come.”
Luci is excited to have Tom back home with his sister, Ana, who also benefited from participating in family counseling sessions. Thomas’ and Ana’s stepsister, Zoey also was helped. “Ana really has come out of her shell and will stand up for herself in a positive way. Zoey is learning about choices and consequences, and I’ve learned too. I don’t need to control everything,” said Luci.
When Luci tells others about Eagle Ranch, she describes it as “a place of hope.”
“We felt more love and compassion and selflessness here,” she said. “It’s just the generosity and true love – it’s a ministry that comes from the heart. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Eagle Ranch. We’d be in a really dark place. Eagle Ranch really cares. It changed out lives.”