by Maralee Parker

Unexpected: A Memoir of Endurance and Triumph in Raising a Challenging Child

Has your life gone as planned? I can hear many of you saying a big NO to that! Life can be very challenging, and full of the unexpected.

God has called me to share the story of our family’s unexpected struggles and ultimate triumph after our daughter, adopted shortly after birth, was eventually diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, Asperger’s, and bipolar disorder. Raising her was definitely not what we had expected, and had us asking God, “why?” The challenges began when she was a toddler, but she’s now 33 years old, and so much has changed, thanks to the goodness and faithfulness of God. I documented our entire experience, and titled it: “Unexpected, a Memoir of Endurance and Triumph in Raising a Challenging Child.”

I’ve attached the introduction and Chapter one, to whet your appetite. To God be the glory!

If you’re interested in reading it, or know someone who might benefit from it, click on the link to find both the paperback and the kindle version on Amazon.


Life didn’t turn out the way I had expected. Does it ever? I had an agenda for a happy marriage (got that), two children (got that), a great career (got that), and a happy, peaceful life (that one was more challenging). Yet, looking back, my husband and I can trace the hand of God directing our lives through all the joys and challenges.

God has His purposes.

We’ve learned to trust Him, but it’s an ongoing, daily goal to trust Him, not a once-and-done pledge. “Why write a book?” you might ask. I want to encourage parents (or others) who have mentally ill loved ones to realize they are not alone.

Living closely with someone with mental illness can be an isolating experience. There is no end in sight. Even when life gets hard—really hard—exhausted parents need to realize that many others are walking or have walked similar rough paths. It’s brutal at times. Occasionally, there is a period of smooth sailing when families can catch their breath. Not in every case, but sometimes there is recovery. I love to attest that, in our case, this is true.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalms 30:5b).

We are grateful our “morning” has arrived. We pray it stays. We love morning. We want to encourage, support, and comfort all who are still in the trenches. We want them to know they are never alone. Many are walking a similar path—sometimes in secret because they are ashamed.

Mental illness needs to be brought out into the open to erase the stigma associated with it.

We must talk about it, seek help, and learn that many other families are experiencing similar struggles. With education, there will come understanding. It’s my prayer that this book will remind you that you’re not alone. If you feel you are—and have no one to support you—reach out to your Heavenly Father, the source of all comfort. He sees all, knows all, and loves you more than you will ever comprehend.

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1 :3-4)