Saturday, December 3, 2011
Six Years Ago
These few days are an anniversary of sorts, but not the kind you want to celebrate.
SIx years ago we were making the arrangements to check our son into residential care. We didn't know it would be the first of many placements, or that he would never live at home again (except for 2 months in 2006) and would only visit.
During these past 6 years (plus a couple months) he has been in juvenile detention 9 times, shelter care 7 times, 4 residential treatment stays, and 3 treatment foster homes. Not the life you envision for your child.
If you had told me this was going to happen when we first took custody or even at adoption, I would have told you that you were crazy. My exact words were, "He's a regular kid, just cranked up a few notches." Oh, what I didn't know then. I don't think the system wronged us. We had a great worker, and we are still in contact with her nearly 13 years later. However, at the time there were no pre-adoption education classes, RAD was not something that was ever mentioned, and the internet was still in it's baby stages. Living in a rural community put us even further from other families who might educate us.
Now I am connected with so many other families that have lived the type of life my family has lived. I can now easily talk to other families, get resources and learn new techniques.
My friend, Nancy S, got me through those early months of his placement. I was so certain about the placement, until I actually left my son there. I was a nervous wreck when we walked out. Nancy had been through this before and talked me through the various stages of my emotions. Sadly, I learned procedures about checking my son in and out of various facilities, the procedures for juvenile detention, and at shelter care they came to know me well enough that a fax of my signature was the only requirement. They no longer required me to show up in person to sign papers.
Life in our house is so very different than it was then. It's been 8 years since I had more than one child in the house, except for respite kids. Our daughter joined us 5 years ago and T has been out of the house for 6 years. They never lived together. There were times when they were together when he came "home" on visits, but never longer than a weekend.
So as these days go by I can't help but think of the child we yearned for, the losses we have faced (even though some people don't feel we've lost anything) and the outlook on my child's future. These are not pleasant thoughts, but they are the reality of dealing with a child with RAD and other mental health issues.