Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Hand-Off

So much has changed in the brief time that I haven't posted.   When the RTC had said that they wanted DD out AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, they really meant it.  DD's social worker was really scrambling to get everything in place, and I could tell she felt really rushed and frustrated, too.

We had DD's "discharge meeting" on April 14.  DH and I, the new foster care lady, social worker, DD and the therapists were all there at the RTC to see DD off.  We met the lady who'll be doing the "foster care".  Surprisingly (or not), she's very nice and we both liked her.  Also surprisingly, it doesn't sound like their home life is much different than ours, except for more kids in the mix.  She (the mom) works full time about an hour away, doing the same thing I'm doing, except I'm working 2 hours away.  The dad works at night and sleeps all day.  Three other kids.  I had had this vision of some lucky lady who was able to stay home all the time and give DD all the attention she needs.  That won't be the case, and I'm kind of disappointed.  I also think that when, in the discharge meeting, the therapist started really giving details about DD's behavior, the mom was starting to have some doubts....but then she put on a happy face and hid it well.  This is the only option that we've been given for DD at this point.  Today we're going over to their house to see where DD will be.  (But she's already there).  We did not get a chance to meet either parent prior to the discharge meeting, so there really is a big question mark as to how things will work and how involved I/we can be.

It was a really strange meeting.  We talked about all the ways that DD has improved since she went to RTC.  But in the back of my mind was "this is bull!  If she was doing so great, why are you doing this?  Right in the middle of what you've referred to as "the most difficult and important part of her therapy"?  I have a lot of anger and confusion towards the RTC.  But that meeting was not the place to express it.  I'm not sure there ever will be a time and place for that, but I feel like, on DD's behalf, that she's on the losing end of a bad breakup.  We're sick of you, we're dumping you, and no, you can't stay for one more day!

I also met with the attorney that the county is using to help us get legal guardianship.  Right now, DD, being 18, could, in theory, decide she didn't want to live where she's at now and move to Timbuktu, until she ended up in jail.  Hopefully the guardianship will all be in place by June, but there will be a couple of days I'll have to take off to get it all done.

I have such a jumble of feelings about all of this.  I'm relieved that she won't be coming home, because I truly don't think she's changed all that much and I didn't want to have to admit defeat a second time.  I'm scared of the new situation.  I'm scared that it won't work out for DD.  But more....I'm scared that it will.  I'm scared that these people have skills that we don't have, and will be able to help DD in ways we only dreamed about.  I'm scared that she's going to end up loving them more than us.  I'm scared that they'll allow her to make choices that she isn't ready to make.  (Remember that although she's 18 by the clock, maturity-wise, she's only about 11 or 12).  I'm afraid that these people won't want to hear what we think, or what we've learned (or haven't learned) in the past.  I'm afraid of stepping on their toes.  I'm afraid of the harm DD might do to their kids.  They seem very nice, but..... 

It's the weirdest feeling....handing your child over....when you still love them....to go and live with another family....twisted up my heart and really made me feel like a failure.  If DH hadn't become ill....If we didn't have all this debt and I didn't have to work 2 jobs.....If we lived in an area where there were more services and more funding....it just isn't fair at all.  I guess I really do want her back.  Just not like she is right now.

And then, after the meeting, I was helping DD pack up her stuff, and she broke down in tears.  I took her in my arms and held her, felt like a mom again.  And I started wishing unrealistic wishes--that she could come home and we could work it all out and be a family again....and I know that's not going to happen--if it was going to, she'd still be in the RTC.

And now.....she's gone.  She's at the "other' house, with a whole 'nother life.  And I didn't have much time to prepare, mentally.  It's clear that something's changed.  I think DH is extremely relieved.  I offered to buy him a carton of cigarettes if he cleaned the entire house and he DID IT.   The house has not looked this good or smelled this nice in years!!!!  And he's been asking what he can do to earn the "next" carton.  I can probably do one more...but unfortunately, I can't have it be a "regular" thing.  DH also told me that he wants to lose weight and quit smoking!  I know that both of those things are extremely difficult, especially for someone with his issues, but the fact that he is thinking about it is an improvement over how things were before....

And to top it all off?  On the same day I met with the attorney and the same day that we did DD's discharge, I learned that I have lupus.  I've started taking anti-malarial drugs for the skin issues and the pain and fatigue.  It was a huge relief to know that that was what was wrong, because lots of doctors in the past had treated (or tried to treat) various parts of it, without looking at the whole.  Now that we know what it is, maybe we can make things a lot better all around, instead of fix one thing and then something else pops up.  The kind of funny (depending on how you look at it) thing is, I didn't really feel like there was something that serious wrong with me until I KNEW that there was something wrong....now I'm noticing the fatigue more....and the aches and pains....and the hair loss.....

My emotions are all a-jumble.  Just like my life.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

DD roller coaster!

I wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts regarding DD.   Yes, I do think that she acted out because she was afraid of the freedom and responsibility that coming home would mean.  I am sure that she was not consciously aware of that, but I think you are right.  Despite this, however, she did not handle the news well.  There was, as I anticipated, a lot of screaming and drama.  And a lot of rudeness towards DH and I.  DD was of the opinion that DH and I had made the decision, not her.  She believes that we don't want her any more.  I feel awful about that, but if she is going to be physically and verbally violent, there is just no way that we can do it.

So here's where things have been this past week: After they broke the news to DD that she wouldn't be going home, we learned that the RTC wants DD out as soon as possible.  They said that it's because she is still not stable, and that she (as of yesterday) has turned 18 now, and if she assaults a child in the RTC, the RTC will have to press charges to protect the children and they don't want to do that.  So now, they don't even want DD to stay until her funding runs out in June.  So I guess all the "planning for discharge" and whatever has been flushed down the toilet!   It's really weird.  And I'm angry about it.   Nobody, in the entire 10 months that she has been in the RTC, knowing that her 18th birthday was coming up, told us that things could happen this way.  It has been very sudden and abrupt.  We knew for several months that DD would either be coming home or going to a "group home" after discharge, but we figured the timeframe would be the same either way--just the destination would be different, and we would all have time to get used to the plan.   I feel like they weren't realistic about what she was capable of , and now that expectations have not been met, they're washing their hands of the entire situation as fast as they can--it's extremely disconcerting and frustrating, but it doesn't sound like there's much to be done at this point.  They are giving up on her.  Her discharge meeting is April 14!  We did not have a say in when she would be discharged, or how fast this happened.  Nobody consulted with us at all until they told us what was going to happen.  Makes me want to scream and act like DD!!!!

Then we found out that due to budget cuts in MN, the group home funding is very limited.  In fact, according to the county, a current group home resident will need to die in order for DD to get the funding allocated for that person.  They are not giving out any additional funding.  The funding that the state provides for residential housing is not enough to pay for DD to be in a corporate group home (like the ones that I work in at my 2nd job).  In our small and poverty-stricken county (and I'm still not sure I understand this completely), the best thing they could come up with was to place DD in a child foster home for violent kids about 7 miles away from our house.  Supposedly DD can stay there as long as she stays in school.  This is our ONLY option in the county.  If we do not go along with giving this home a shot, DD may be placed in one of the more urban counties in the state that may have funding available quicker.  DH and I will still be her guardians, but she will live with another "foster family".  I don't really understand how it works, as I've never heard of a situation like this before, but we, as DD's legal guardians, will be electing for her to stay in this foster home, just as we would if we were electing for her to stay in a group home.  There would be no court hearing, and supposedly we will still have a great deal of input into DD's life.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this.  I know we said we can't handle her any more.  And I believe that is true.  But I still feel like this placement into this foster home is somehow saying that there is someone out there who can be better parents than we can (which is really probably true, but it hurts).  I hate the thought of someone else being her "mom" and "dad".  And I'm worried that they will do a bad job.  And I'm worried that they will do a good job.  And I'm worried that since there are other kids in the home, and it is undoubtedly less structured than the RTC, DD will assault one of the other kids in the home and get kicked out, or worse.  There is no backup plan right now.  This is the only option in the county until/unless someone dies. 

As I stated before, part of me wants to just give up and move on, have her be someone else's problem.  And part of me knows that she will run back to her "real" mom on a moment's notice, make bad choices and end up in jail, despite my best efforts to keep her out of trouble.  So sometimes I just feel like "well, let's get it over with--it's gonna happen anyhow..."  But dang, I still love her.

There's been so much emotion this week.  And I feel like I'm being swept along on this wave....and I can flail my arms, and look to see where the wave might be going, but I really don't have much control over what happens.  And as a parent, that's a terrifying feeling.