...Aaaaand it just got worse

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by greenrene, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    Yesterday, difficult child and her cousin walked up to the nearby drugstore. difficult child bought a prepaid VISA and put $560 on it. difficult child's cousin, bless her, went immediately to her mom and grandma and told them about it.

    After a long interrogation about where in the world she got that kind of cash, including threats of us having no choice to call the police if she didn't 'fess up (this is a FELONY!), difficult child finally admitted whose money it was.

    It was MINE. MY super secret emergency rainy day cash stash that was hidden in my closet. She was going to use the money to buy a phone.

    If you saw my other thread, this is now the 3rd time she's stolen since she has been home for Christmas break.

    We are at a complete loss as to what to do. I'm so beyond disgusted and angry!

    There is now talk (although nobody has said anything to me about it - my sister in law told me) of not sending her back to school in January, which means that she'd be dumped on ME all day, every day.

    That can't happen.

    If anyone has any advice, I'd MORE than welcome it. She's out of control. That she'd steal that kind of money AFTER all the drama over the theft of the iPhone... I'm dumbfounded.
  2. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Press charges! She isn't stealing minor things or amounts of cash. The only way you are going to nip this is to let her face the legal consequences of her actions.
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I agree with GN. You're not going to be popular for doing it, but... this isn't the first time, and it isn't small stuff, and it's getting worse.
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It's pretty remarkable that anyone could possible consider putting you in the position of trying to control her. I would press charges.
  5. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Okay...I'm going to not be popular, but I have been exactly in this position. My son, at 17, stole minor amounts...a bag of home improvement goods with the receipt still in...took them to the store and returned $25 worth, the rest was trashed. We found out, he left home, came back went to counseling, etc. Turned 18 between him doing and us finding. While in counseling and "working on the problems" he stole more, guitars, guns, archery equipment and pawned them. We got most back. In fact, he got the guns back and we only knew about them because of the case being missing from one. He went to college, flunked out, came back, we told him ONE MORE ITEM and we'll call the cops. He took almost $700 that was, yep, in the back of the closet in a jug. The betrayal and the violation of my privacy hurts more than the money.

    We did NOT call the police. #1, because cash is too hard to prove. #2, because it IS a felony and I just couldn't bear it.

    We DID make him pack his bags and get out.

    Your stepdaughter is 17. In my state (Missouri) that is an adult under criminal law and she would go to adult county jail and possibly adult prison. I could never do that to someone that age for stealing. If she is still a juvenile under criminal law...yes. I might very well call the police. Cooling her heels in juvie might be best. She's too young to put out of the house without you being responsible for her and possibly being charged for doing so. That darn 17/18 age is SO problematic. Too young to cut loose, too old to control. Perhaps you could call the juvenile officer in your area and talk to them. Ask them if there is anything that can be done thru the juvenile court system instead of thru the adult court system?
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Lil - If I have my facts straight, greenerene's difficult child is not staying at home. She's been living with grandparents, who believe they can handle her better than her mom.

    difficult child is home for the holidays. Things aren't going well either where she is living, or here at greenerene's.

    The grandparents are likely going to "give up"... and send her back to "mom"... which isn't going to work.

    It's a rock-and-hard-place situation.

    If the courts there have CHINS or similar (child in need of services), court can be a big win. Otherwise? It's a really tough call, but knowing the history a bit on this one... I still vote for at least contacting police.
  7. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Oh, sorry. The signature says, "Custody since age 3" so I thought they'd had custody since she was 3, meaning living with them, up until boarding school.

    But still, as I said, 17 is tough. If she's still a juvenile for the court system, I would likely press charges. Adult? That's stickier and more serious. I'd have to seriously think about it before I picked up the phone.
  8. greenrene

    greenrene Member


    Yes, we (husband and I) have had custody of difficult child since she was 3. She is my stepdaughter - her bio mother lives in NC and is basically out of the picture.

    She currently attends a boarding school a couple of hours away from here - it's a school for kids with learning issues. Her behavior there has been problematic.

    I would be more likely to press charges IF this wasn't a felony. Her recent mental/cognitive testing shows very low IQ and a functional age of around 9.

    Her motivation in these thefts is her obsession with social media and texting. She has proven time and again that she can't conduct herself appropriately in those areas - she is basically an online predator's dream. We have had to take away all of her electronics, and she still persists in trying to get her hands on them by borrowing phones/tablets/laptops from friends, etc.
  9. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    I am so sorry you are going through this. The low IQ, the obsessions, the diagnoses....it seems so complicated, but most of these cases are, I guess. Lots of history, underlying causes & illnesses.

    I agree with contacting Families in Need of Services. We went that route when our son was about 17. They were no help at all, and instead gave us a talk about not letting him push our buttons. If we had insisted on more, perhaps good would have come from it. My brother (judge) highly recommended that route.

    Hope you get some help and answers...that things look clearer soon as far as best course for your step-daughter.

  10. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    You guys are literally in a prison of your own. You can't trust difficult child around things and you can't control her either.

    At this point you have a 17 year old CHILD living in your home. I don't mean that she isn't physically grown I mean mentally she never will be. You should apply for services for her. With her mental delays and low IQ I would think she would be eligible. I think you are in a bad spot all in all. You have a physically grown child who has the mentality of a elementary school kid. She probably understands right and wrong but isn't truly able to comprehend the concept of what can happen when she does wrong. Having her arrested probably wouldn't change this. She has already been removed from her home basically due to bad behavior. Sending her to jail would be a similar consequence.

    From what I have read this child will need some support for the rest of her life. I'm no expert but I would think it would be similar to what MWM has for Sonic. People to assist her with getting a functioning life and managing herself. (as much or as little as is needed) She wont be able to stay in a boarding school forever and her attitude makes it nearly impossible for you to be her care taker for the many years to come. What is the schools hope for her? Do they think she can be a functioning member of society on her own? Do they think she will need support? How much support? Unless you want to be caring for her until your dead she needs to get the services that will allow her to live as healthy a life as possible.

    While I understand the need to punish and the need to keep these things from happening I just don't know if the answer for a mentally disabled child is the law.
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Thanks dtsc... I must have missed the disability part of the picture...
  12. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    Insane I think it was in a previous post.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is a disabled child who is also a difficult child. Bad combination. Did her birthmother drink while pregnant? Almost sounds like maybe she has been affected by drugs or alcohol in utero, in which case she will not be able to learn how to make good decisions. This is brain damage and she will need people to take care of her choices most of her life. She sounds very vulnerable and naive and I wonder if she is on the autism spectrum too or alone. Something is going on with her besides just being a disrespectful kid.

    Step can be evaluated for Disablity, which puts you in touch with tons of services. It doesn't help all kids because even disabled kids have "rights" and they can't be totally watched, as if they were a minor child. My son with autism is on Disability, however he is not a difficult child and is doing well in services and doesn't really need much looking after. This child may need to live in a group home, but I do believe they can choose to leave the home.

    I have no idea of this birthmother's history, but the care she took of herself while pregnant is very important. You will bang your heads against a wall trying to change anyone with brain damage from prenatal alcohol exposure. My son who has autism is adopted and his birthmother definitely took cocaine (it was in his system when he was born) and obviously if she would take cocaine she didn't say, "No, I"m not drinking tonight. I'm pregnant, remember?" We are lucky that our son is as functional as he is, considering all the strikes he had against him. These things affect each child differently.

    That would explain stepdaughter's low IQ and mental delays. The #1 cause of mental retardation in the United States is the preventable disease of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum. It is best to have her evaluated by both her schools and outside professionals, such as a neuropsychologist, before she turns eighteen so that she can get all the help possible...Disability, job training, and housing out of YOUR home, but somewhere she can be helped. Even if her birthmother was a Saint when she was pregnant (and why do I doubt it?) this child still sounds as if she has a disorder that will require adult care for her.

    I am tough on crime, but I'd never turn this particular child into the cops. They aren't going to help her one wit and I feel this particular child needs help more than a record. In the meantime, take precautions that are necessary when she is home and think of the possibility that maybe she can't help her behavior. If sh e is alcohol affected, these kids AND adults do not understand the meaning of right and wrong, which is why they are always in trouble...and they don't even know why. They also do not learn from their mistakes. Sometimes they don't even remember their mistakes. They are VERY hard to control or live with an d need outside help. Please do yourself and her a favor...and have her seen by your local Aging and Disabilities. Something sounds very "off" to me.

    Dstc, Sonic is actually pretty capable, thank God. And he does learn from his mistakes and is not difficult. His IQ is in the normal range, but he has trouble figuring out certain things that other kids don't have trouble over...hard to explain. Autistic spectrum disorder is a bonafide disablity and he does qualify for services. I'm glad he has them :)
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  14. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I missed the part about the intellectual disability as well. For that I apologize.

    This child will need life-long care to at least some degree. The wheels for that should be set in motion asap.
  15. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I'm glad I read through all the posts and have the clarification that while she may be 17 her mental awareness does not match that age.
    My first instinct was to contact the police but with the above knowledge that would probably not be the best route. She may benefit from an officer talking to her about what she did but I would not press charges as she may not have the mental capacity to understand and could cause more harm than good.

    MWM has some excellent advice.

    While this is very hard to go through you have support here. Do not forget to take care of yourself. It is so easy to become so consumed with the issues of our difficult child that we forget ourselves in the process. It's a delicate balancing act but it is vital to take care of yourself.

    Sending you ((HUGS))
  16. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    Having been a guardian for someone with you daughters disabilities I think I am qualified to understand your unique challenges. If you daughter is so obsessed with technology that she is stealing over and over, maybe the answer is to give in for her desire to use technology but also to use it to protect her by using apps to block what you don't want her doing. If she wants to be on FB only allow approved friends and family to communicate with her and block the rest! Use privacy setting to prevent unknown others from contacting her. Allow her to have "friends" that are popular media people that she likes. Here is one app that helps keep control on FB: https://www.facebook.com/SaintApp
    Here is another for mobile applications:
    Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID's) can get fixated on all sorts of things and in this case I don't think the issue is with her using it, but as you said controlling how she uses it. Many people with ID's have a very hard time communicating in appropriate ways, which now that I know more about your daughter I understand. My sister got a IPad and I do know that while she had her own money to pay for her's Medicare will pay for these devices - only it takes a while to get them approved. Once my sister had her she was able to get Speech Therapy paid for by Medicare/Medicaid to teach her how to use it.
    There are all kinds of interesting things of a person with any kinds of disabilities to do safely on the internet - in your case you will just need to use the child type block to protect who/what she communicates with.
    I think it can be very hard to deny a person with ID's something they are consistently focused on and it is extremely hard to control them once they are fixated on anything.
    Since she is enrolled in a school for people with ID's I think you should working (TELLING THEM) with them on the safety feature and factors that she needs to use these devices in a safe way. I can say will almost complete certainty that nothing else you say or do, besides giving in on this issue will work - their brains are just wired that much differently than ours are, that they can not reason with anyone to not get their way. The job then as guardians of people with these disabilities is to allow them to do what they want to do within safe boundaries.
    I do agree she should not be able to return to your home as she needs specialized care. Having said that, the moment she turns 18 I would have her sign a POA so that you do not have to go the costly guardianship route which involves lawyer and court fees whereas POA doesn't. You and husband will still be able to make decisions for her (where she will live, what happens with her etc.) with this in place. One thing I will warn you about is that if you do not stay on top of the people providing your daughters care, they will always tell you how it's going to be instead of it being YOU that TELLS them how it is going to be. They are being paid by the state (more than likely) and if not, either way, YOU (husband) or absolutely 100% in charge of telling them what your daughters needs are, and then they are paid to provide it. If you are not already in charge of what is going on with the programs your daughter is involved with, what she learns, you are already behind and need to get on top of the problem. Many people who have their children (even adult children) in some kind of state care think that once that happens they have no right to tell the organizations in charge what to do, that the school or organization has all the power and that couldn't be further from the truth. The reason being that if you want to move your daughter because YOU don't agree with the care or they are not following your instructions - you can move her with that money and the group telling you no will lose the funding for her and it will go to the next group that will follow your instructions.
    Sorry this is so long but the "whole system" for people with ID's is a mess but I wanted you to know that YOU are in charge.
  17. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sorry Greenrene I hadn't realized the extent of your difficult child's disabilities, your predicament is a difficult one. I hope some of the advice of the others has helped you. I'm sorry this continues for you. Sending big hugs and warm wishes for a solution to arise quickly that is supportive of you.
  18. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    Thank you all, especially 2m2r, for your input.

    2m2r - we tried restrictions, and it turned into one of those "if you give them an inch, they'll take a mile" situations. When the school year first started, we sent her to school with a laptop that was VERY locked down (both I and my brother in law, a computer tech, worked on it). She still managed to get around the restrictions into dangerous territory (chatting/texting with vulgar strangers). We took the laptop away.

    Then, about a month later on a home visit, we got her a phone with very strict restrictions. What happened THAT time was, she stole an old smartphone of ours and took it back to school too. She registered the stolen phone with the tech department but did NOT register the legit phone, and then she proceeded to use the stolen phone to do whatever she wanted. It was then that we took away ALL of her electronics.
  19. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    Yes, you certainly have your a computer savant with a one track mind there. Well just keep in mind what I told you abut hose you "hire" (with state money) that THEY find a way, though services like behavioral therapy to bring this situation under control. If I could get anything cross to you it is that no matter what get that POA signed (at 18) so that you can make the right choices for her.
  20. greenrene

    greenrene Member

    I hadn't thought about a POA, although husband and I had discussed him getting legal guardianship once she turns 18. A POA might be the better option. I suppose we would contact a lawyer to draw up the paperwork? Sorry if it sounds like a stupid question - the Big 18 looming ahead is new territory for me, especially dealing with difficult child.