Don't Know Where to Turn for Help

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by bradpumpkins, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. bradpumpkins

    bradpumpkins New Member

    My wife and I need guidance. We are a large, blended family with 8 children between us and have been married for 6 years now. Our oldest child is now 17 years old - my stepdaughter (Ava). I'm not sure how to help her and would like whatever suggestions pop in your minds. Here is our situation:

    Ava was always a strong willed, very defiant child. Always getting into trouble at school... major issues with any kind of authority there, home, church... anywhere. In 6th grade, Ava was angry at a teacher who she thought was too hard on her in class so she wrote a letter to the school accusing him of molesting her. She is very vindictive when you don't do what she wants. We are extremely successful with our other children. They are all excellent students, well-liked by their peers, teachers and neighbors. Ava is our wayward child and we are confused about her behaviors. We now suspect that she has bi polar disorder or some other behavioral disorder based on her extreme reactions to small matters and her inability to see reality.

    Two years ago, she started becoming increasingly disruptive in the home. I am the primary disciplinarian for our other children, but with Ava, my wife takes the lead and I back her up as needed. After a long string of efforts to help Ava manage her behaviors appropriately, she got angry and ran to a neighbors house and falsely accused us of abusing us and "begged" for help. Fortunately, though we didn't know this person, they returned Ava to us and didn't go to the police or social services. A perfect storm was brewing. During my own custody trial from my first marriage, my ex wife falsely accused me of sexually molesting one of our children. The charges were fully investigated and dropped, but as anyone with experience knows... the stigma of "child molester" is very precarious. People "play it safe" around you - just in case there was truth to the accusation. We kept Ava from knowing about this accusation by my ex wife, but we always feared that if she learned of it she would definitely use it to her advantage and make an accusation against me as she did to her teacher.

    My wife and I knew that Ava had the power to pull social services into our family with such an accusation and possible cause me to lose custody of my own children. To protect ourselves and the stability of our family unit, we sent Ava to live with her father in another state. Ava's father is bi polar, as is her grandfather. It hasn't been an easy 2 years for her father dealing with Ava's behaviors. She has turned against him as she did us and has escalated her accusations. Tonight we learned that Ava is falsely accusing her father of beating her and is threatening to go to the police unless we let her come back and live with us again. As much as we yearn to have her in our home again, she is too willing to burn our family to the ground with lies to government agents. My personal experience with Child Protective Services, though I was totally innocent, has filled me with a healthy respect toward the power these people weild to ruin people. My wife and I cannot afford the risk to our family to let her come back home. But we want to help.

    As so many disorders are diagnosed through verbal interviews with the patient, we are in a predicament. Ava utterly rejects any suggestion that her behaviors are inappropriate and refuses to participate in any form of counseling. She would refuse medication if it were to be prescribed. At this point, Ava's father is asking us to take her back because he can't cope with her anymore. We can't take her back... WHAT DO WE DO?

    I have many questions, such as: can she be forced into therapy or forced to take prescribed medicines (if that happens) against her own will? To whom do we adults turn to for help? I don't know any options for placing her in a home or state custody or anywhere else... I don't know where to start. Please direct me to any resources... web sites, discussion threads, personal experiences... ANYTHING that you think might help us. Thank you!
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    First of all, to protect the rest of your family, you can't let her return to your home. It would be disastrous to the other children to have her throw these accusations out and have the other children removed from your home. That is not fair to them to basically be at your mercy.

    No one can force her into therapy or to take medications. That is the sad truth to the system. I know you've had bad experiences with CPS but I would advise your wife or her father to contact a Mental Health worker through your local government agency for help and guidance. How long before she turns 18? Who has legal custody of her right now? That is the person that should contact them. However, even they aren't able to force anything unless she is a physical danger to herself or someone else or has broken the law in some way and been reported, gone to court, and had it court ordered.

    That is the harsh reality. Unless she is a danger, no one can do anything unless she consents.

    Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Others will be along probably tomorrow to offer their suggestions. I am even more sorry you are all in this predicament.
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    First of all, welcome! Sorry you had to find us, but glad to meet you.

    One of the biggest mistakes you can make is letting her come to live with you. You have 7 other children who do not deserve to have their lives entirely uprooted due to her lies, and if she returns she WILL use CPS and threats to control you and the entire family. Her father NEEDS to get CPS involved. He needs to go to them, to tell them of her problem history, of her history of lying about molestation and abuse, and to ask them to help him. If he goes to them first, her accusations iwll have far less credibility, esp if you and your wife are willing to speak with them and/or send an affadavit to them about her history of lies.

    PLEASE do not let her come and throw your other children into chaos and danger. Foster care is not very safe - most foster children are abused at some point while in the system. Your other kids don't deserve that. No kid does, but if Ava thinks things are so bad at home then SHE can go to foster care at her father's community and SHE can deal with what she has begged for. I sound very harsh and uncaring, and I am NOT. I just think your care needs to be placed wth your other children and with your own safety and your wife's.

    The accusations that Ava can make could honestly ruin your life. You can lose your job, your income, your home, your reputation, and pretty much everything else if someone believes her accusations. I have seen it happen. Even having the accuser admit that it was all a lie won't get your job back, or repair your reputation, or replace the lost income or make up for the trauma.

    The interviews to see if a child has been molested can be damaging to a child. Of course this is nto the intent, but kids are suggestible. If you ask a child (or adult for that matter) if something has happened often enough, eventually the child will say it has happened even if it hasn't. The child will come to BELIEVE it has happened even if it hasn't, and this is damaging Occupational Therapist (OT) the extreme. Often enough, in terms of how many times the child is asked, isn't a big number. With many kids it is under 10 times, from the research I have seen. I looked at research on this last year as a child I know had her mom allege her dad had abused her. He didn't, but I wanted to know more about this. I was shocked at how few times a child has to be asked the same question before they start giving a false answer and believing that answer. Kids do this because they want to please adults, but it doesn't make it any easier to cope with the aftermath.

    Ava's dad needs to find resources in his community, and get Ava into foster care or a residential treatment facility, in some way out of his home and your home simply cannot be an option. It makes no sense to risk your other kids, who have in NO way done anything wrong, for a child who is lying to get her own way and who clearly has some sort of complex problems going on that won't ever be treatable until she is able to recognize them and accept and participate in that treatment.

    It does NOT make you bad parents to refuse to allow her to come to your home. Actually you are making her stay to deal with the consequences of her lies, and you are protecting your other children, which makes you good parents in my book at least.
  4. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    Welcome to the board. I agree with the others when I say that you can not allow Ava to come back to live with you. You and your wife have alot of children to consider and you have to think about their safety and well being. Having Ava back in the house, knowing that she will continue to cause major trauma to everyone is not what anyone, including you, need.

    How much longer until she turns 18? I know it sounds harsh, but once she turns 18 she is a legal adult and can be out on her own. If she is so unhappy living with a parent, then once that birthday rolls around I think that it's time that she be shown to the door and the locks changed after she walks through it.

    Does she attend school? What is she doing there?
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You can't save her nor can you force her to take medications or go to therapy after a ridiculously young age...12 in some states. Leave her where she is. Her accusations are dangerous and serious. I know about CPS too and I wouldn't risk it.
  6. Methuselah

    Methuselah New Member

    Hi. I am sorry your family is going through this. My difficult child 1 is similar to your daughter. She tried to harm us through false allegations and lies, too, including accusing me of starving my children and sexually molesting her. Visits from CPS are a parent's nightmare. It is a horribly stressful situation for everyone, except my daughter; she was happy as could be. My daughter isn't bipolar, as yours may be. If your daughter is bipolar, treatment will get her life, and yours, back in order.

    I have learned the best thing to do is document everything, including writing down every conversation you have with her. (My difficult child 1 loves to morph the truth into an outright lie, always has always will.) Documentation has been our saving grace.

    For our family's health and well-being, , we decided she is out when she is 18--141 days from now.

    I hope your family can find peace.
  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi Brad, and welcome.

    Just a few quick thoughts - Ava has all of you exactly where she wants you. The mere mention of DCFS or police, and you're all scrambling to figure out how to avoid that involvement. She has all the power, and you guys have given it to her because of your (understandable) reluctance to deal with- those agencies. Until you call her bluff, she's going to keep it up. I know DCFS isn't a ton of fun, nor is dealing with- police reports, but she's holding you, your wife, her ex, and all of your kids hostage right now all because she's threatening to file a false report if she doesn't get her way! Quite frankly, I'd hand her the phone, or better yet, make the call yourself (or biodad should since he's the one currently being threatened by her). Succumbing to her emotional blackmail is not helping her, or you guys. I know there are a lot of horror stories out there about DCFS - my personal experience with them was good. We had a report of abuse filed against us, they came, they investigated, I gave them the long list of doctors and medications and interventions, and the report was unfounded. I found it empowering because the next time my little cherub threatened me with filing an abuse report, I handed him the phone. I may be Polly-Anna, but if you have done nothing wrong, it's worth the inconvenience of dealing with- these folks in order to call Ava's bluff *and* get it documented that she's making up allegations.

    I have to agree that I would not allow her back in your home. The damage behaviorally challenged kids can do to their siblings is pretty significant, and since there is an alternative living arrangement (though I understand biodad isn't happy), I'd be firm about not allowing her to return. How does your wife feel about all this?

    I doubt at 17 you can force any treatment. psychiatric age of consent generally is younger than 18.

    Supports for dad - his own counseling, school staff, and again, I'd really recommend he contact local PD and/or DCFS to discuss her threats of crying abuse. I can't see what other option he has. Confront it head on and call her bluff. Get it documented - especially since she's threatening to do it if she cannot come live with you again.

    Again - welcome.

    Edited to add, with emphasis: There has *got* to be a trail of documentation. If she's skipping school, breaking curfew, running away - there needs to be a paper trail with- the appropriate folks (police, truant officer, etc.). Biodad needs to make sure that each and every incident is reported to appropriate authorities. It's exhausting, but it's in his best interest for self-preservation and to possibly get her treatment she needs.
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. I have not been there done that but I very strongly believe in keeping a daily journal with entries showing each threat or abnormal response. You and your wife can take turns and it doesn't have to be carefully worded. Should she take action to harm your family a notebook with different parental notes will be considered evidence of an ongoing problem.

    Congratulations on having a successfully combined family. From experience I know it isn't easy. DDD