and admit that I had the wrong idea about Katie........her mindset, at least. Seems my last "gut reaction" was based mainly on fear and pain from the past. But I'm a big girl and I can admit when I am wrong about something. Katie is a difficult child. There is mental illness going on, severe depression and anxiety that I am certain of, probably something else as well. She has physically abused and neglected Kayla and Alex in the past. She is medically neglecting them now. None of that has changed. What has changed is that for the first time I know what is going on in her head and what she is thinking and feeling. In order to clean and decorate I had to sort through their belongings and bag/box up some things that were just in the open so they could be stored in the family room. And I will openly without a guilty conscience admit that I snooped more than just a bit while I was at it. I discovered katie's journal and I read it. My house, my rules. And in my house when it comes to dealing with a difficult child, anything is fair game if it increases my chances of being able to help them. The journal was started Aug 4, the day they entered the shelter in St Louis. I was told they were in the shelter in June. So 2 months they spent on the streets of that city. It makes me shudder with both rage and heartache. But I did suspect that, so it didn't come as such a shock. What did come as a shock was that Katie's mindset is exactly what comes out of her mouth only more profound. As I read the severe depression/anxiety is obvious, but the hopelessness is overwhelming. Often she talks of wanting to change and trying so hard to change and she just can't figure out what she's doing wrong. She begs God to please take the pain of the migraines away and wonders why she can never seem to find relief from them. A frequent theme is for god to please just take her life to let her join her paternal grandfather and her stillborn son Matthew, and asking god why he took them from her. She did not take mother in law's death well, nor the fact that she never got to say good-bye and that seemed to really bring up the wounds that her grandfather and sons death caused. She talks about Alex's out of control behavior and how neither she nor M can seem to keep him under control, how she has no clue how to parent him as it seems nothing works, and how afraid she is that one day he is going to really hurt someone and it is going to be her fault because she is such a failure as a parent. (hmm that sounds familiar) In it too are some horrific stories of that shelter they were in. How they'd take their money if M happened to get lucky and they chose him to do some yard work and such on any given day. How she would pray for him to get work. How they would go hungry sometimes for a couple of days even though everyone was "donating" their foodstamps to the shelter....... Then there are the desperate hopes that so and so will come and bring a few donated 2nd hand toys to the kids, or school supplies, or clothing and her gratitude if a person actually came through for them, which many times didn't happen. The tone was child like in many ways. Not like M at all, but still that was the tone......like a lost child with no one to turn to who could show them the way. Her entries were all written in the form of prayers. Over and over she kept asking god why he was punishing her. The pain was raw. She did however own her own bad choices and decisions. At one point in there they had gotten a decent amount of money and it was just so nice to have money again that she wound up blowing it all and beating herself up for it afterward, realizing how foolish it had been. She actually agonized over whether or not to come here, it it was the right decision. There was no mention of wanting to stay with any of the family, or the expectation of it. Just how badly she missed us and wanted to be with us again. She stopped writing in the journal when she came here. There was much more that both broke my heart and helped me to understand her on a level I haven't had since she was about 13. It doesn't change anything really except my attitude toward her.......while making me feel like a class A witch with a capitol B for my reaction. She dropped the ball on job hunting and shelter calling, she is now enjoying the natural consequences of those actions. I feel like a witch because as soon as I saw them falling back into old patterns of behavior I shut down out of fear of her running, that "man" she is married to, and the pain of the past when I should have bawled them out and pointed out what they were doing as I would have to any of my other children. Then I assumed the worst. Nichole is not the only one in this family who messes up in a big way when they do it. ugghhh Whether my reaction was justified or not makes no difference. Katie is sitting up there in dayton feeling like we pushed her away. Because when I said the second I knew they had no money for motel rent I handed her the number to that shelter I'm not kidding. There was no talk nothing, I just handed her the phone. I am not making excuses for her. But I know how debilitating severe depression can be and how it can skew your view of reality. I know how crippling utter hopelessness can be even when you're trying hard to claw your way out of the pit, because every bump in the road seems to you to be another big punch in the gut and makes you sink lower. When you're that overwhelmed it is next to impossible to find your way without someone to help you, to call you on it when you're having a pity party, to support you when you've stopped believing in yourself, to encourage you because it's hard, and to guide you because you've lost your way. It doesn't seem that Katie dealt with her grandfather's death, which took place when she was 16. Katie's biomom was totally dependent on her dad until the day he died. I hadn't realized until reading the journal that Katie had been as well. She adored her grandpa, but he was sort of an overbearing controlling man......I guess it shouldn't really surprise me. And I know that at that time is when M became her world literally..........to the point where biomom allowed him to move into the home and basically take over. (which we didn't find out until she came here when she was 20) Matthew would have been Darrins age. Evidently she has never moved past his loss either, and losing a child can be utterly devastating. So the desire to change is genuine. At least on her part there is no ulterior motive. (no I wouldn't say the same for M) At this age and with her fear of the mental health system, her mindset may be permanent. But I think she came here because she needed a mom. While biomom is not a bad person, she has no maternal skills which is why she called me for every little thing concerning katie. So she'll get a mom and all that comes with it. She'll get my shoulder, she'll get support and encouragement, she'll get guidance. I'll show her how to set goals and how to set up steps to meet those goals. I'll teach her to budget. I'll slap her down when she's on a pity party trip, I'll call her on it when I see own patterns surface. I did that when she was 20, but at 20 there was no desire to change, M was her knight in shining armor. I'll even attempt to get her to seek treament to deal with her losses and the depression ect. Either she can or won't do it. I doubt it will take too long to know how serious she is. If the desire isn't real enough to make the needed changes the focus will once again be completely on the grands and removing them from a hopeless situation. The other thing that blew my mind was her utter emotional dependence on M. It is all through the journal. I think I get why.......he's been the one constant in her life since her grandpa died, and evidently a really bad constant is better than no constant. Her self esteem isn't in the toilet it's in the sewer. She feels like a complete and utter failure, as a person, as a child, a wife, and a mother. I'll help, but she still has to do the work. Doing the work, feeling the accomplishments is how you learn to climb out of that hole. I found out from Nichole's bff who lives in the HUD apartments they hope to get into that the manager will most likely allow them to fill out the application and submit it even though M still doesn't have his birth certificate, they can bring it in when they get it. Evidently the turn over there is high, so the wait shouldn't be that long. I'm going to encourage her to spend some of her phone minutes each day to call this shelter to check for openings. It's difficult to help her much from this distance even emotionally as her phone minutes are limited and she has to walk to the library (which is some distance) in the weather to communicate by email (dragging Evan along). There they are not getting bus passes and here FRS will transport them for free to interviews, doctor appointments, and even work if they find it. (husband and I will not be toting them around other than to fill in applications and to go to buy food once a week) I've given her an assignment to write down the big goals of her life, and for M to separately write down his as well (she's not to help him, I told her as long as he could translate what he writes it's fine...I am used to dealing with Travis afterall) then to write down the steps she thinks it might take to reach each of those big goals. Then we'll go over them and brain storm when she comes to visit. Even if they don't do this, I'm going to talk with them (which means directed mainly at katie). It's time the lines of communication open wide. I have to stop being so darn afraid she's going to run off again, because she can do that anyway, regardless of whether or not I'd do or say what I normally would as a mom. My hopes of her changing aren't very high, but I'll give it my best shot to help her.