“July 23, 2015, was the absolute worst day of my life,” says Judge Brent Hall. It was the day he and his wife dropped their daughter Maddie off at Shelterwood. “I cried the entire time I was there. My wife and I cried the entire 500 miles back home from Shelterwood, and we did not talk to each other for days. It was numbing. It was the hardest decision of my life — but looking back on it now, we cannot even begin to count all the good that has come out of it. There has really been a lot of restoration. I would do it all over again.” Judge Hall shares his family’s story of restoration.
Maddie had been a happy child who enjoyed school, until things took a turn for the worst. “Things happened really fast for us,” recalls Judge Hall. In a matter of seasons, his daughter Maddie had changed. “Maddie was completely debilitated, self-harming and giving up on herself. She had a heart to help people, but she did not have a strong self-identity. Once we got through the psychiatric hospitalization, the back at home suicide attempt, the second psychiatric hospitalization and the suspension from school . . . Maddie knew she needed help.”
The family explored many options, looking beyond their home state of Kentucky to programs in Indiana, Georgia and Alabama. “We were calling all of these programs, filling out forms, figuring out finances . . . we did not know which way to turn.”
Navigating insurance and finances was no easy feat, but Judge Hall and his wife were committed to getting Maddie the very best care possible. “We leveraged everything to get Maddie there and through the program.” Ultimately, the decision focused on the people who would be caring for Maddie — “putting your child in the hands of people that love your Lord and love your kid as much as you do.”
The next few months were challenging, with Maddie progressing slowly, but a turning point happened several months into her stay at Shelterwood. “After seeing friends graduate, Maddie decided she was going to invest in the program. She started really seeing herself and her actions, and understanding how they affected not only herself, but others. She started seeing the entire dynamic at Shelterwood.”
Maddie participated in a wide range of therapies at Shelterwood. “From equine therapy to Brain Balance, she did everything we could think of.” The young adult mentors were also key in Maddie’s transformation. “They are just the backbone of the program. They always had Maddie’s back.”
Judge Hall still remembers how important Maddie’s therapist, Kenny DeBlock, was to the whole family’s restoration. “Kenny was a lifesaver. Kenny worked with us to give us different perspectives and a different view of things. We were learning not only where Maddie was, but where Kenny hoped she would go.”
One year after the tearful arrival, Maddie graduated from Shelterwood. “We were scared to death about the transition home. We were scared about any little pitfall,” he says. Yet, Maddie was able to successfully leverage the tools she had gained at Shelterwood. “She had all the tools she needed to deal with adverse influences and triggers in her life.”
Today, Maddie is thriving. “We have a lot of hope now for Maddie’s future,” Judge Hall says. She is enrolled in college prep and Advanced Placement (AP) courses and wants to pursue a career in the sciences, technology, engineering and math fields. She is an avid and competitive lacrosse player and even enjoyed time at a space camp recently.
Maddie’s relationships with the rest of the Hall family have transformed beautifully, Judge Hall shares. “There has really been a lot of restoration. I am finally getting to see my three daughters have the relationship I always hoped they would have.”
“Just seeing that she has a future she has defined for herself and a future that God has planned for her — she is excelling beyond anything we could have imagined. You cannot put a price on your child’s success. You cannot put a price on that kind of healing and that kind of restoration. She is doing awesome.”