Shelli Myles’s plane ride to bring her adopted daughters home from Ukraine was the most difficult trip she’s ever taken. “I could not console our youngest, Madison. She was hitting her head, rocking, and crying the entire time,” said Shelli. “It was so overwhelming, in fact, that I was crying too.”
But that was just the beginning of a transformative journey for Shelli.
Things didn’t change upon returning to their home in the United States. “Madison was the most difficult child I have ever been around,” said Shelli. Shelli and her husband had felt prepared for the challenges of adoption. They had taken classes through their adoption agency and thought they knew about all the potential pitfalls ahead.
Yet, they quickly learned that they weren’t actually prepared for the realities they suddenly faced. Collectively, their daughters battled attention deficit disorder (ADD), fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and reactive attachment disorder (RAD). “We recognized the symptoms of RAD from our adoption classes. Yet, nobody educated us on how the disorder would impact the entire family. Many days I wondered what I had done.”
Meanwhile, Shelli and her husband had three boys and their other adopted daughter whom they needed to raise (not to mention another surprise baby boy on the way). But it was all too much. Due to the immense stress they endured as parents, Shelli and her husband ultimately divorced.
Moving forward and with strength
Shelli persisted in her passion for adoption and family despite her confusion, disappointment, heartache, and loss. Throughout all of her transitions, Shelli began helping other parents from the United States to adopt children from Ukraine. While doing so, Shelli met her oldest daughter in an orphanage in Ukraine and adopted, yet again.
As a single mother of seven children, Shelli knew that she needed to take care of herself to stay strong for her family. She started going to counseling to work through her divorce and single parenting. She began to feel strong. That’s when she realized that she wanted to help others feel strong too and began graduate school to become a counselor herself.
During graduate school, Shelli met a professor who introduced her to neurofeedback. Shelli learned how the modality could help her daughters with ADHD and trauma. Together, she and her professor worked with her daughters. “I will never forget how it felt to see my daughters better able to accept attachment therapy and transition them off of their ADD medications,” said Shelli. “Their personalities and demeanor changed as they opened up to me in ways I had never experienced. That’s when I became a believer in neurofeedback as an important addition to therapy. I saw how important it is to physically change the brain.”
Shelli’s full circle back to children with trauma, from a different perspective
After Shelli attained her Masters of Arts in Counseling, she went on to work for nearly five years as a mental health counselor on a hospital psychiatric unit. In the meantime, however, her passion and belief in neurofeedback continued to grow. She completed further neurofeedback training and began practicing privately. Shelli continued to learn and incorporate a variety of therapies and holistic healing techniques in her practice, including mindfulness therapy, neurofeedback, and biofeedback.
Today, Shelli is a part of our comprehensive team at the Institute for Attachment and Child Development. She continues to persist for her seven children, as well as the children who come into her life everyday through her career. “The fact that Shelli has adopted and understands trauma fits perfectly into the circle of security we provide our kids here at the Institute and enables her to better understand our parents as well,” said Forrest Lien, Executive Director at the Institute for Attachment and Child Development. Though her journey was long, winding, and painful, it has led Shelli to everything she felt inspired to become—long before she even knew it. And for that, we are so grateful.
Our mission at the Institute for Attachment & Child Development is to help kids overcome the effects of trauma. Neurofeedback/biofeedback is one part of our model that helps kids to have calmer brains and gain the most from our program. Yet, insurance plans rarely cover nonpharmacological treatments.