- Posted July 23, 2014 by
Swartz Creek, Michigan
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Reaction Attachment Disorder (RADs)
We are composing this letter on behalf of all parents contemplating adoption in the state of Michigan.
Sarah first came to be with our family through foster care placement at the age of six. We were informed that Sarah had a history of abused and neglected which resulted in her having behavior issues. We chose Sarah for adoption in spite of her history because we were experienced with raising a child with an emotional disorder. In addition, Diane was a licensed social worker who managed group homes for disabled dependent clients. Shortly after her adoption, we started to notice behaviors from Sarah that were disturbing. She started to act out sexually with other children, lie about trivial things, and steal small item in the home. When confronted with these things, Sarah escalated her behaviors. She started to urinate and defecate in her bedroom and other places, she would inappropriately interact with others, and she attacked her adopted mother in fits of rage. We sought help for Sarah through visits to psychologists and with therapy sessions, where she was first treated with having Reactive Attachment Disorder, (RADs). Her adopted mother educated herself and the immediate family on (RADs) and we began to put into practice a program in the home to respond to Sarah and (RADs). Things only got worse. Sarah threatened to kill her adopted mother and ran away from home. It was decided at that time to place her in Havenwyck residential hospital for the safety of herself and the family. Sarah received treatment for her (RADs), PostTraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and Family Conflict for more than eighteen months and made only marginal progress.
Adoption Subsidy decided to terminate funding for Sarah to remain at Havenwyck residential hospital. Sarah was released back into our home despite the fact that we are not equipped to ensure her safety or that of the family. This is especially true for Sarah’s adopted mother Diane. In 2009, Diane was involved in an automobile accident, suffered a closed head brain injury, and underwent decompression surgery to the base of her neck and skull. This has left her physically weaken and in pain, easily confused and distracted, suffering debilitating migraines, and venerable to any attacks. With Diane as the primary care giver, and the inability of support agencies (DHS, GCCHM) to guarantee the safety of Sarah and the family in the home, it was recommended that we relinquish our parental rights.
Our daughter has received out-patience services as well as numerous hospitalizations and most recently a residential placement of two years. CPS has informed us that if we refuse to allow Sarah to return home upon her release that we would be charged with neglect. They would then file a petition before a court and all the children in the home could be removed. Naturally, this would be traumatic to our son who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, and has been disturbed by the recent events of Diane’s automobile accident and Sarah’s attacks. Sarah needs 24-hour supervision, has not reached clinical stability (diminished risk), and is of such severity that treatment in the home setting would be unsafe or ineffective, to which, CMH agrees. Under past hospitalization, our daughter was put on pre-cautions. Due process, stated that, “No one from CMH feels Sarah should be released and CMH is aware that the hospital feels she should not be released.” They also stated that, “CMH is not recommending discharge, only stating that they will no longer pay for hospitalization.”
The following outline the modules of treatment she received upon returning home: Outpatient psychotherapy and family counseling. CMH Services include: Wraparound Services, Medication/psychiatrist. Home-based Services from CMH include: Case management/therapist, psychologist, and department head psychologist consultative services with weekly treatment team meetings. In addition to weekly in-home support, CMH provided 6 hours of staffing in the home during school days and 10 hours during non-school days to support the family and to implement her treatment plan. In addition, 96 respite hours were authorized each month.
In July of 2011, after less than two weeks of being released back into the home from New Hope residential facility, Sarah set fire to a bookcase outside her upstairs bedroom. The fire spread to the wall and ceiling above and behind the bookcase, resulting in approximately $37,000.00 in damages and lost property. She was found competent to stand trial for Arson, but the court dropped the charge to attempted fire setting to insure that she would not be rejected by residential facilities. She was placed at Muskegon River Youth Center. Again, because of her age, the goal was reunification with the family. After two years, the court decided that she had been at Muskegon River long enough (despite almost no progress in therapy) and released her back into the home.
Sarah was sixteen when she was released back into the home. We tried everything to accommodate her. Activities, school, friends, church. One by one each thing we tried became a problem. The library books didn’t get returned. The aerobics class was “lame”. Other peoples’ belonging started coming home from school. When confronted with these issues Sarah decided she would run away. She called friends from school to come and pick her up. They didn’t come, they were all busy. The next Monday she went to school and didn’t return on the bus. Mom called the school and was told she went home with a friend. We called the parents of the friend and told them that Sarah said she was running away and did not have permission to “sleep over” as she had told the friend. They promptly returned Sarah home.
She next took all her psychiatric meds that were set out for the week at once and went to the hospital. She came home from the hospital and went into a day treatment program, instead of school. Sarah kept defying and trying to pick a fight with Mom. She eventually attached her with a physical assault. Sarah was arrested and charged with domestic violence. On January 22, of 2014, we attended a court hearing to determine what would happen to Sarah. After ten years of giving Sarah assistance with her behaviors and having tried every option that we have known of, we had enough. We told our attorney that we would not be taking Sarah back into our home. The charge was dismissed by the court in order for Sarah to be put in placement. No facility in Michigan accepted Sarah. The court eventually found placement for Sarah out of state at Boy’s/Girl’s Town in Nebraska and ordered us to reimburse the court at a rate of $38.00 per day for her placement.
In the past, Sarah has been placed outside of the home in residential settings only to be returned home against the recommendations of the professionals treating her because of Adoption Subsidy, CMH, and the Genesee County court all ended funding for her placement. She was never given the chance to complete a treatment program or allowed to remain outside the home because reunification and funding trumped all else. Sarah rejects any responsibility for her actions. She continues to lie, blame Diane for her problems, and present herself as a victim. She rejects a world of possibilities for one that is limited. Sarah is highly intelligent and thrives on her ability to manipulate everyone, especially when playing the role of the victim.
In conclusion, I highly recommend anyone considering adoption carefully look at all the ramifications that may occur. How would you handle the same circumstances happening to you? If an adopted child cannot be in the home, you will have the State of Michigan, and courts all working against long term placement of the child outside the home.