Bill and Beth Cole decided to adopt children after they learned they would not be able to have their own. The couple was aware of a need in Belarus for adoptive families, which led to adopting two children from this country in 2001.
The Coles welcomed two-and-a-half year-old Alec, and 15 month-old Lauren. Sadly, the excitement quickly faded.
“We loved Alec dearly but he was a handful from the start,” Cole said. He and his wife tried psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, medications, and stimulants but saw no progress in Alec’s behavior.
The Cole’s soon exhausted the traditional treatment options while Alec’s behavior continued to worsen. His violent rages led to placement in a psychiatric crisis unit on three different occasions. Alec frequently told his parents he would kill them, targeted his younger sister, Lauren, and threatened other people.
When they adopted Alec, the Cole’s weren’t aware that he was taken from an alcoholic mother and that he had likely endured significant abuse. Psychiatrists recommended Alec be placed in residential treatment, but the Cole’s wanted something more compassionate for their only son. Discouraged, they were at a loss and didn’t know where to turn to help Alec.
Then they learned about the Ranch for Kids.
We were thrilled to find out about the Ranch for Kids, The Ranch was our saving grace; they gave us a lifeline.
Cole said Alec arrived at the ranch for the first time at nine years old. The hard work and dedication of the staff helped Alec calm down. Slowly, his rages decreased in frequency and fervor. Alec began to develop a different perspective and the staff taught him to have a good work ethic.
“They helped our family heal.”
After a year-and-a-half at the ranch, the Coles brought their son home. Though he’d made significant strides at the ranch, Alec eventually reverted back to his old behavior and began getting into fights at school.
“Even though he’s violent and out of control, he’s still a kindhearted boy. We wanted to protect his future as much as possible,” Cole said. “That’s when we found out they had started the teenage boys' ranch so we took him back out.”
At age 15, the Coles didn’t foresee taking Alec out of the ranch’s supportive environment in the future. At the ranch, Alec grew spiritually and became involved in the local church and his behavior continued to improve. The Coles know Alec will need continued structure and support. Alec successfully graduated the program and went on to Montana's Youth Challenge Academy where he completed his 6-month stay. After MYCA Alec returned to Eureka and is working at the Western Building Center in town.
“The Ranch for Kids has been a lifeline not just for Alec but for our entire family. They provide a safe environment that’s a great alternative to other facilities. It’s a well-rounded way of living. We’re very thankful for the ranch and what they’ve been able to do.”