Burning Mad

Tuesday we had our team meeting. There were 12 of us in attendance and that was a “small meeting” relatively speaking. My grandmother used to say “too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth.” I think the broth around here is definitely rotten.

The meeting started with clarification from our cw’s boss that they do not have plans to move Daffy. He said that he has never seen a child stay in a home for a year and then be moved so we really dont have anything to worry about (providing we continue with the current plan). I was quite relieved until I realized he was only talking out one side of his mouth. Later in the meeting we discussed permanency goals and Daffy’s desire to be adopted in December, and he readily agreed that was a good goal. That is, until he realized that Donald and Daffy might not be “ready” for adoption at the same time. Our sw and WWK’s worker both said that daffy should not have to wait to attach and move on with her life simply because her brother was not ready. He completely disagreed and said that it would be too detrimental to Donald. Nothing like putting Donalds needs ahead of Daffy’s. Again. So, all in all, we ended up at the very same place we started. Wait & see what happens.

The therapist brought up the need for Daffy to receive a psych eval or at the very least be evaluated for ADHD meds. The state reps of course hemmed and hawed. A psych eval requires a court order. Why on earth would they want to go through all that work to determine what issues face this child when they have far bigger fish to fry? Ugh. Right now we are in a holding pattern waiting for the therapist to write a formal request to the cw and we will go from there. There is absolutely no sense of urgency for Daffy’s needs.

The update from the group home regarding Donald was interesting to say the least. They started with 2 points:

1. Donald’s primary objective is to attempt to scare and intimidate people. He wants to see their fear.

2. Donald wants to be in control.

The consensus at the table was that this is “classic” domestic abuse. (No kidding. I just LIVED it with him in our home.)  They went on to say that he is agitated all the time and that “this time around” his behaviors are far more willful. He is not simply raging and accidentally causing harm, he is very purposeful in his actions. I took the insinuation to mean they they believe that in the 13 days he lived with us, we single handedly ruined the 2.5 years of work they did with him during his previous stay. Get real. He was ALWAYS purposeful, they just turned a blind eye because they did not want to believe someone so young could be so damaged and so dangerous. They commented about 2 incidents: one where he threw a sled at another child and one where he kicked a hole in the bathroom door (neither of which resulted in restraints). They also noted that he is using vulgar language. (Ya dont say!)

We set up visits for the next 2 weeks (one day each week) and I was told we can add more when “we are ready”…. wait, I thought this new plan was to go on HIS timeline to determine when HE is ready to move forward??? Honestly, I dont know when we will be ready. From what we have been hearing about his behaviors since fully coming off the meds, I dont even feel comfortable seeing him THIS weekend, especially with his sister in tow.

During the meeting the group home also mentioned the new supplements they have Donald on and mentioned they have a “benefactor” who is paying for them. What? They are so expensive they need a benefactor???? Way to set us up to fail. Need I remind them that we are a FAMILY and we dont have BENEFACTORS to pick up such expenses? It was also interesting when the cw asked them confirm they had gotten approval from the medical part of the state and no one seemed to be able to do that. Who ARE these unmonitored out of control people and why are they allowed to make these choices? Ugh.

So, it turns out, while the meeting was going on, Donald was deciding he had enough of school. This was only his first full day since the end of January, after all. He refused to do his spelling and when he was removed from the classroom, he threw a chair at his sped worker. They decided to “send him home” for the rest of the day. WHAT??? Its okay to physically assault school staff and all he has to do is go home which is what he wanted in the first place???? Its no wonder this kid has these types of behaviors, there is clearly no incentive to change!

More irritating to me, though, the school did not call me. The group home did not call me. I learned of this incident from Donald himself when I spoke to him on the phone that evening. Are you kidding me???? I was totally taken by surprise. I do not feel I can be an effective parent if I am not respected as a parent. I immediately sent an email to the group home (copying the cw) and to our social worker. I was ticked!

My emails spawned a new conversation about what kind of communication is necessary and we are still in the throws of working those details out. My social worker asked for a daily report and the group home replied they would do their best to provide a “weekly report”. Not acceptable. They have a freakin staff of nearly 20 people. SOMEONE can send a 2 sentence update daily. Heck, as a high level foster parent, *I* was required to keep daily notes on Donald myself and *I* didnt have assistants to help me with such tasks! (Can you tell I am pissed? Just wait, I get angrier….)

So yesterday, I got quite a nice update via email with some details about what happened on Tuesday. I also learned that 3 incidents required removal from the class on Wednesday (only a few details were provided about 1 of 3 incidents). At least I knew what I was in for when I called last night. I put Daffy to bed at 7pm and picked up the phone and called Donald at 7:03pm. He was LIVID that I was “late” calling him. Seriously? THREE minutes???? We were told we had a 15 minute window in which to call him, so 3 minutes is NOT late, in fact, its on the early side. I was able to change the conversation fairly well and the call went as usual.

Today, I got an email from the group home stating that Donald threatened to “punch” and “kill” 2 of the children in the group home shortly before our call last night. Apparently while “processing” his behavior, he told the child care worker that he made the threats because I was late calling him! The email from the group home basically insinuates that its MY FAULT that he made these threats. ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME?????? My head almost spun off my body when I read this! To make matters worse, its copied to everyone on the team, even people I have never met. I immediately wrote back and requested confirmation of the 15 minute window we previously had discussed and indicated that Daffy’s bedtime is at the same time as the scheduled calls. I asked for their suggestions on how to resolve the issue. And then I promptly swore out loud. The group home called me twice after receiving the email. I know its not a very grown up thing to say, but I bitch buttoned them both times. I was FURIOUS and knew that I could not speak in a kind or rational manner at that time. Hell, its been nearly 6 hours and I STILL have no interest in talking to them. I did talk to my social worker and vented about my frustrations. She was, of course, soothing and said we can work to create a better plan tomorrow as to what kind of communication we are requesting.

I put Mickey up to calling Donald tonight. The passive agressive side of me wanted to call late, so it seemed like a better choice to simply let Mickey handle the call while I put Daffy to bed. The staff spoke to Mickey prior to the call and indicated that Donald had a “good day” which means he did not need to be restrained. Thats a GOOD DAY???? Lets be honest here, folks. Throwing things, swearing & threatening peoples lives are NOT behaviors of a good day whether they result in a restraint or not. These people need to GET SERIOUS about the  issues that Donald faces. HE NEEDS MEDICATION! This nonsense of having him on a homeopathic course is NOT a good choice for a child who is truly mentally ill and suffering from so many different and complicated disorders. HE IS DANGEROUS. I dont know how many times I can say that or what it will take for someone to hear that. He is going to seriously harm or kill someone if he stays on this path. How can they not see this???? How can they be doing nothing to protect the other children he is on contact with (at the group home and at school)? I would be LIVID if I had a child in contact with him and was not made aware of the seriousness of the situation. I honestly believe we are headed towards a Dateline episode after something horrible happens. My face will, of course, be in the shadows and clips from this blog will roll across the screen in an eery foreshadowing of things to come.

I dont feel like I can trust anything or anyone at this point. There is no guarantee that Daffy will stay with us. There is no guarantee that Donald will ever be well enough to live safely in a family. I feel very discouraged.

-Minnie xo

[All names have (obviously) been changed to protect the privacy of our family.]

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  1. I wish they’d separate the cases and let Daffy go on and live a relatively normal life with monitored contact from him.

  2. Wow and wow. I know things are rough, even with Daffy, but you are off to a good start and one day, if you are allowed to adopt her (as I certainly hope will happen) maybe even a couple of yrs from now, you will have a happy ending. This transition and her issues can take years to get past but you guys are doing great.
    Donald is dangerous. I am glad he is back in a more structured environment. I really hope that Daffy can be seen as an individual as her path should not have to be tied to her brother’s. It is possibly that he did decompensate during the time with you but that is not your fault! There is no one to blame. No one is a prophet and Donald is a complex kid, no cookbook answers to be had. As far as how school deals with him, I consult in schools like his. Schools are in tough positions. Their choices are limited. An assault on a teacher destabalizes the whole school so often there is no choice but to send the child home (often pending a meeting before coming back, a behavioral contract or some reparative requirements). The school safety has to be maintained before anyone can worry that an individual child got what he wanted. When teens behave this way we often involve the law and have kids arrested, natural consequence to assaulting someone.

  3. I hate to say this, but this is SO typical of the system.

    Life as a foster/adoptive parent is FILLED with social workers who double-talk and twist the truth from day to day; professionals who blame you for what ails your child, even though you didn’t cause it; and mental health workers who deny, deny, deny and deny the severity of a child’s problems in order to save the agency money.

    I am sorry you are going through this, but I think you are learning the bitter lessons that we learned. The system isn’t there to help kids or to build families. The system denies problems, and tries to foist the most severely disturbed kids on unsuspecting families. When those placements fail, and they always do, they blame (and sometimes even prosecute) the families who were only there, trying to do their very best.

    I know I sound bitter, but I have learned that abusive, violent kids often don’t get better, and the system will ultimately blame the foster/adoptive parents for that failure.

    Good luck to you. This is a difficult path you have chosen.


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