Colorado Life Coach: This Sucks

IMG_2120My son and I are finishing up our first documentary film!

It’s been an interesting process, for sure.

Brendan has done all the filming, editing, lights, sound, and cinematography. He’s the creative one. He has a vision for the finished project before we start.

I remember taking Home Economics in Junior High School. You can tell my age by the fact that Home Ec. was a class, and by the fact that I attended a Junior High School, not a Middle School! During the sewing lessons, I could never see how the material I picked would look, once it was made into the pattern I was supposed to use. I’d hold it up, and lay the fabric around my body, trying to imagine what it would look like. I just couldn’t see it that way. I was usually surprised by the finished project (and not always in the good way).

This is sort of how it is with film-making for me. Brendan has a vision that he describes to me. I try to see it in my mind, but usually I’m totally off in how it actually turns out. What’s cool is, I’m usually surprised for the better! I’m truly amazed what he can do with the interviews we shoot.

IMG_1725I used to think film-making was glamorous. I’ve learned the truth! It’s long, sometimes boring, and depending on the topic, it’s emotionally draining.

The film we’re finishing tells the story of three families who adopted using the same adoption agency, from the same orphanage, at the same time, and all three children lived in the same room. Fourteen years later, all three of the children are living in other homes. It’s a tragic, but interesting story! How could this happen? What’s going on here?

The story screamed to be told. We needed to tell it. We needed to show it. We’ve lived it, and were amazed that there were (at least) 2 other families with the same story. We thought we were alone in this horrendous journey. They did as well.

This has been difficult!

~We had to tell our story again and again

~We listened to the heartbreaking story of these other families again and again

~Brendan had to watch and listen hundreds of times to be able to edit it together in a meaningful, yet interesting way

~Our story is traumatic, and it causes some Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms sometimes

~Brendan and I don’t always have the same vision for how we want the final product to look

We’re so close to being finished, and both of us are tired of the project.

Have you ever worked on something that you knew was important, you had passion for it, you wanted to do it, and it was horribly difficult to finish?

Me too.

This is how I felt as I was finishing my book last year at this time.

So we set it aside for a time. We come back to it with fresh eyes and ears, and a settled soul. We’ll get it done.

Just not today.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.

Title Credit: Brendan O’Toole


Documentary: Here We Go!


We have filmed our first several shoots for our documentary! We’re so excited for this project!

Over the last few years, my son, Brendan and I have been working together shooting videos for my website, Podcasts, and short films. As I published my book, Relinquished: When Love Means Letting Go, detailing our journey of adopting our son with severe Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), we’ve discovered how little people know, or understand about the topic of adoption and attachment. We talked at length about how different our lives would have been if we had known about RAD, if the agency had given us a thorough history of our son, or if we knew where to find better treatment. We truly believe adoption is a wonderful thing and we want more people to adopt. We also know first-hand the problems associated with parenting a traumatized child.

We kept asking, “What can we do about it?”

We couldn’t find anything in print or on film addressing our questions, so we decided to do something about that! We decided to make the documentary!

The adventure begins! We don’t know where it will take us along the way. Unlike a feature film, where you have a beginning, a middle and an end; with a documentary, we start with a question and see where it leads us.

We begin with the question, “What is adoption?”

IMG_1725Brendan and I filmed at the Institute for Attachment and Child Development (IACD). IMG_1726Forrest Lien, Executive Director for the Institute explained a great deal about attachment, how it should happen, and what families face when traumatized children don’t attach. He shared the model of treating Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) used by the Institute. So many families could be helped with this treatment model! I wish we had known about it when Sam was in our family. I would have brought him to the Institute! Our next shoot was with Chris and Dyan Roosma. They are treatment parents with the IACD. These are a brave, well-trained, non-reactive couple who have chosen to share their lives and their home with their biological and adoptive children, as well as 4 children in treatment at any given time. These kids come into their home because they are not doing well in their own homes, and their families are falling apart. Chris and Dyan are not always successful, but they describe how they work in their home, with a treatment team, with the families, and within the community to help these kids learn to trust and eventually transition back home. IMG_2116Carrie interviewing Chris and Dyan Roosma. We’ve interviewed a young couple early on their journey toward adoption. Adam and Jamie have given us permission to follow them through the process! It was so amazing to hear their story, and get a glimpse into their hearts for adoption. We can’t wait to share their story with you! On a different note–we filmed with Kim and John Shepard for a different short documentary that we will hopefully be able to produce in the next month or so. Through my book, we discovered that the Shepards adopted from the same agency, and the same orphanage, at the same time we did! We have video of our kids in the same room at the orphanage in Vietnam! The heartbreaking part of this story is that both children are not living with their families at this time. We’ll take a look at this interesting coincidence. IMG_2120There you go! our first documentary blog! Stay tuned for updates, and share with anyone you think might be interested! If you click “subscribe,” you’ll automatically receive updates. This post written by Carrie O’Toole, M.A.

Contact Carrie O’Toole to schedule a confidential telephone call or appointment for coaching.