Dear Adoption Agency
Letter #1: I read this thread http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/45548#comment-25698 (several times). I feel that I have to chime in, as I find myself in a position I never thought I would find myself in. I have no help, no one to turn to, only a few close friends to hear me out. It has been a downhill roller coaster ride for awhile now.
We adopted a 5-year old girl six years ago via ICA. Little did we know what was ahead of us. Both my husband and I are professionals, we are educators as well, we come from pretty stable families. Our agency did little to discourage the adoption of our daughter, but instead encouraged it as we adopted previously her newborn brother. We were not made aware of the issues that adopting an older child would have on all our lives.
Our home is a stable two parent home, we have a loving, caring, patient and fun home. We are very present parents who give our children alot of attention. We have given our daughter everything that any other upper middle class girl could have and probably even more. She has had dance lessons, gymnastics lessons, swim lessons, yoga, horse back riding lessons, has participated in team sports, arts and crafts classes and has even attended private schools. We moved her to the public school system this year with disastrous results. Much of we were not prepared for. Our daughter at home is quiet and respectful. She is not hyperactive at all.
She is very athletic and artistic, and social. She is an easy child who does not ask for anything. She is very pretty and gentle and reserved. And yet....
Little by little, she has become more and more unstable. This Spring she tried to kill herself, she has depression and or is angry, she has stolen from other people and lied to us. She suffers from grief and loss, she has difficulty learning, she has speech issues, she dissociates...and on...and on.
We have diagnosis coming at us left and right from RAD, to mental illness, to depression to anger, to MR, to LD, to FAS/FAD/ARND, grief and loss to whatever other alphabet soup of diagnosis is out there. It depends on how she is and what she has done. I gather that each doctor or specialist would label her differently throughout her life. That is a reality that APs/parents have to prepare themselves for.
The problem is, we still don't have a diagnosis because getting an appointment is a feat in itself. We get suggestions from a pediatrician and each diagnosis morphs into another or one gets ruled out. The problem is, there really hasn't been a true diagnosis, it is very difficult to get one and thus medication or treatment. There are not that many good child psychiatrist, even harder to find a good RAD specialist that does not involve holding therapy. I refuse to go to any therapist that is either going to rebirth our child or have her sit on my laps while she eats a cheerio off my nose (actually therapy suggestion).
We have been waiting for an appointment with a specialists for four months already. When she had a meltdown and suffered from suicidal ideation, the pediatrician wanted her hospitalized long term to get a diagnosis, the problem is that no hospital in our state would take a child under 12. She had already been hospitalized in an Acute Unit at a Behavioral Center but the length of stay is only 3-5 days. The pediatrician wanted her at a longer term stay to stabilize her. He had her on Zoloft but did not work, so he did not want to give her any meds until she got a diagnosis and left that to the child psychiatrist. So long story short, she is home with us, not on any medication and not getting therapy. Truly, a 45 minute session where she is a read a story about how a Princess finds her forever family and live happily ever after is not going to help her at all. This is the reality that we are facing. We are told by our pediatrician in the mean while, to watch her all the time, as we cannot predict what she will do. Keep in mind, we have younger children in our home.
Do you think we are drained, exhausted, hurt and desperate? You bet. Who wouldn't? ANY parent (AP or Bio) who wants to get help for their child because they need it and can't get the help that they need, feels hopeless.
I am sure that the school experience of anyone with a child who has mental illness, has not been pleasant either. The schools are neither equipped to deal with the needs of a traumatized child nor ...care. They have the avg child to teach. She was placed in special education classrooms even though she is not Special Ed, this just made matters worse. That was the schools way of dealing with her. Keep in mind, she is an easy child and very quiet. She is not disruptive nor difficult, just not working on grade level and has speech issues. Her first suicide attempt did happen on school grounds. Little was done by school officials to ensure her safety. We are still speechless about this.
I finally got an appt with the geneticist (the wild goose chase begins) for...September. September people!
Still waiting on getting a Child Psychiatrist appointment.
So I have a child who had suicidal ideation, stole, lied and is angry and suffering from grief and loss and not on any meds and is a ticking time bomb .....and with no treatment.
My main purpose of what I post is not about leaving a child in a RTC place and walking away, but about getting appropriate help. I think that whether a parent is either an AP or bio the lack of appropriate RTC, hospitalizations (fyi- some Univ hospitals charge the AP after 3 days, most insurances do not cover that), the lack of specialists or trained therapists in RAD who can distinquish between RAD, mental illness and FAS/FAE/ARND and are aware of how grief and loss and trauma affect the adopted child...is LIMITED.
I have not encountered yet when the insurance runs out yet, I have no idea what happens then. I can see a parent faced with a enormous bill of over $100k a year for life, with a child who needs help and is putting the family at risk, feeling desperate. Placing a child as ward of the state to cover health care costs is not an easy decision. I refuse to believe that any human being would be able to do so without much grief in arriving at that point.
Keep in mind, we are talking about children traumatized and who shouldn't have been adopted in the first place, because with or without adoption, the end is the same.
I think PAPs don't realize this. I don't think that those not dealing with this situation first hand don't realize this. And how to the stresses of living in America, schools, assimilation, racism just compounds the whole situation. They are not going to adapt without it affecting already compounded issues that the child already has.
The AP having then to make the decision to place the child as a ward of the State is truly for (to use that overused adoption agency jargon saying) "in the best interest of the child" at this point.
It is a combo of safety for the whole family and the APs being totally drained. What AP or parent is equipped to deal with a child diagnosed like this and with no light at the end of the tunnel? Mental illness does not get the attention that it needs. How many Sandy Hook Elementary school incidents does it have to take to make people realize that people with mental illness need help?
But I agree with you that why then does the AP drop out of a child's life? Can't they visit? Then why did the bioparent drop out of the child's life? Can't they cope or visit? Unless, the child has no connection at all or has hurt the AP/parent or the other children in the house, and is in some catatonic state of mind, then I can see not wanting to visit. How many of you have sat in a mental hospital visitation hour in a group setting with your child who does not want to communicate with you and clearly does not want you there? The parents also have other children at home to keep safe and raise and add the necessity of having to work as things that they have to deal with. Maybe so much pain has happened that it hurts even more to the see the child/teen/adult child? Sometimes being there hurts the child who is trying to heal. And at some point, the teen/young adult can choose not to see the AP. Will people dealing with this patient 30 years from now, know all that has transpired years before?
So what are we suppose to do now? At no point did our adoption agency even hint that older adopted children have trauma. At no point did our adoption agency even give a hint that we may face problems. At no point did our adoption agency tell us that there will be no help if we needed it at some time. At no point did our adoption agency let us know that our child would suffer severe grief and loss, depression, anger, had speech issues that would contribute negatively to her self esteem, or learning issues, poor working memory, no remorse, no conscience and try to kill herself and wind up stealing and lying and who may have or be MR or or have RAD or have FAS or FAE or ARND or suffer from major depressive disorders or is psychotic or a sociopath or just may be that she does not want this life. And now what? We love her and care about her but are we prepared for this? Can we deal with this long term? There is a possibility that this is a child that will never be independent, are we able to support her indefinitely until she is old? Where is the money going to come for treatment centers and a slew of drs? What about if we have to hire an attorney because she gets arrested? To match a child with such severe needs to an unknowing family is cruel. Even crueler is what the system has done to this child, taken them from their home yet provide no assistance to cope with the decisions made by unknown adults about her life and where she would wind up.
I don't know....but what I do know is that now, I have a totally different perspective about all of this. I can't judge others by reading only blurbs of anyone's story which usually has much more depth and twists and turns than is being written about. I don't know how our story will end, but we will give her all the help she needs and be there for her.
I cannot cast any stones, as I live in a glass house.