My son burned our house down.


New Member
We adopted my 11 year old when he was 3. He was the model child until a couple years ago. He started having violent outbursts. We took him to counselors, doctors, anyone who we thought could help. We also have 2 bio children who are younger. The day after Thanksgiving, adopted child announces he wants to hurt himself and others. We call his counselor who advises us to take him to the hospital. He was baker acted and spent a week inpatient. In December, I woke up to smoke. Hubby was at work. The kids and I got out of the house and called 911. When the fire marshall came, my oldest admitted he'd started the fire. He was baker acted again and spent Christmas and New Year's in the mental ward. He came home a few days after New Year's and it was terrible. The last straw was when he pulled a knife out of the knife block in the kitchen and told his father he would stab him. He went back to the hospital. They recommended long-term treatment. The only place our insurance covers is 9 hours away. A few days later, he is transported to the new facility... where he still is today. He's been gone since January 21st.

The doctors there have tried a couple different medications (abilify, then risperdal) but nothing is really helping much. He's made lists of people he wants to kill and makes plans to do it. He cusses at the staff and threatens other patients. They haven't set a release date but think maybe August or September.

I'll be honest - I don't want him to come home. I don't think I could ever feel safe with him here. I'm worried about the safety of my two other children who are younger and smaller than him. My younger two are both in counseling because of the trauma of losing our house.

We've spent over $100,000 since December, replacing things we've lost and paying copays for Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Additionally, the insurance company is refusing to pay since the fire was intentionally started by a minor. The fire marshall isn't charging him with arson, thankfully.

I don't know what to do. I don't know what our options are. We can't make the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) keep him till he ages out. But we can't put our other two at risk of being hurt or killed.

I feel like when there are school shootings we always see the parents and public saying "We just didn't see this coming..." Well, we see it coming. But we don't know what we can do to stop it.

I don't think we can surrender custody without it jeopardizing all 3 kids. We don't want to be charged with abandonment. Any help or advice is appreciated!


Active Member
I am no pro at this, but if it were us, (I just let hub read your post, I won't share what he said:eek:) he'd never step foot into our home again. It is your responsibility to keep your bio children safe, as well as yourself and your husband.

I would think that you have ample evidence that 11yo is a very real danger. How would you ever get a nights sleep again? I'd be in fear of one of us being stabbed in our sleep.

I am so sorry you are going through this. I don't know who to talk to about these type things, but I recommend that you get started on that ASAP, see what your rights are to rescind custody(?). Or, have him sent to a group home for the mentally ill. Consider hiring an attorney. It sounds like you're in FL, where the term 'baker act' is used.

I found this:


Well-Known Member
We adopted an 11 year old boy who had a stellar psychiatric record, but fooled his last five foster parents and us. In actuality, although he was great at acting like an angel to adults, he had sex repeatedly with my two babies and scared them with ing threats not to tell us. They didn't. He also killed two beloved dogs. We didn't think it was him the first time. The second time it HAD to be him and his entire story emerged, all of it.

We called CPS and told them to take him before we killed him. They did. We never saw him again and social services paid for therapy for our family. We bonded stronger than ever as a family and survived but we are done adopting. Reactive attachment disorder is too big a risk. We do have one biological grown child and three adopted kids who came at young ages and are delightful and beloved. They are all doing well.

Some kids are too damaged/dangerous to live in a family.

We severed the adoption without consequences. He was never coming back. Period.

You don't have to do this, but this is what we did and have never been sorry. He kept perping in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) until he aged out.

I hope you find a solution that works for your family. Big hugs.


Well-Known Member
I am so sorry... Did you adopt thru a state agency or private agency? Would they be any help? are there any records that might give you insight to his problems? Maybe talk to an attorney that had knowledge of adoptions being rescinded?

My other suggestion would be to have DNA testing to find out what medications would be best metabolized by his liver enzymes...

Would DCF offer any help? Would the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) staff have any ideas for future placement?



Well-Known Member
I agree with the others. You cannot live in circumstances where you feel unsafe and are unsafe and most of all, submit your children, birth or adopted to imminent, ongoing danger.

These are all true things, that must be acted upon. There are times in this life when there is no best option, only the best of the worst. Even if there is risk, how can you justify keeping this child where he could potentially murder your kids, other kids, other people--and you know about the risk. There is huge potential culpability and liability here.

That is why the insurance company is not paying. They are holding you responsible because you should have known. I learned that recently about insurance, from my agent. He said that insurance companies can get out of liability if the homeowner should have taken reasonable proactive steps and did not. Of course the real risk is not material. It is human life. You are cornered, here. You must act.

I agree with this:
Consider hiring an attorney.
Or maybe get consults from both a family law attorney and another attorney who can help you with the insurance. I would think an astute attorney could help you with your claim for the house.

A family law attorney can lay out your options and the potential ramifications of each. You know, though, that doing nothing will have its own set of ramifications. From this fact you cannot turn away, I think.
I don't think we can surrender custody without it jeopardizing all 3 kids. We don't want to be charged with abandonment.
Of course you do not want to be charged with abandonment. A good family law attorney will tell you how to do this. Last week I found an article on the internet from a newspaper or magazine, I do not remember which. I posted it here. It was about parents who felt forced to surrender their children, birth and adopted in order that they receive mental health services which they needed for which insurance would not pay. These parents felt the only way that their kids could get this essential help was by relinquishing parental rights.

I would not think that these parents would have taken this step if they felt they or their other children would be at risk.

Finally, I want to tell you how sorry I am that you have found yourself in this terrible situation. I am an adoptive mother. While we have had our share of challenges I thank G-d that I have not had to confront something as difficult and challenging.

I am glad you are here with us.


Well-Known Member
Would DCF offer any help?
I think this is an excellent idea. The best, yet. But I would speak to an attorney if I could first, if there are funds to do so. And if an adoption agency was involved they may have access to an attorney.


Well-Known Member
Or more idea...don't know why I didn't think of this sooner, in our state families can apply for an SED waiver. The local mental health office helped us with the paperwork. We qualified for our teen dtr after she had an overdose and had an inpatient stay. We have good insurance, but we got state insurance as secondary and we had no out of pocket expenses. I think they said they could go back and cover up to 90 days of previous expenses. SED stands for severely emotion disturbed...I also helped cover regular medical expenses, my dtr got new glasses while we had the waiver. After about a year of the coverage, the case mgt team felt her condition no longer warranted the extra coverage.

Hope this helps. KSM


Well-Known Member
I don't know why I didn't think to add this.

If you adopted him through our country's foster care system, he must have medical coverage and you'd likely have an adoption subsidy. They took our kid's medical assistance and used his subsidy until the adoption was finally severed. We did have to pay child support until the adoption was severed, but we did it no problem. I had two traumatized babies and two beloved dogs dead. My kids were terrified of him and kept making sure he would not come back and as they trusted us not to bring him.home, they disclosed more and more things he'd done and for how long.
He also liked fire. He used to set little fires in his room, we found after he left, and told the kids not to mess with him because he was Satan and if they told us he would burn the house down and we'd all die. After learning about how he terrorized kids (not just mine but I was told other stories too) we realized his entire three years with us had been torture for the children and pets (and in front of us he acted loving toward everyone). His last foster home still doesn't believe what he does, although he admitted prepping since age five in all his foster homes. I don't blame their denial. They ran a daycare, and he loved to help. I'm sure he did love too (cough) help.

He has no memory of being abused himself, but obviously he was. And he was damaged to this point before we ever heard of him. But we had to think of the rest of the family and we'd never be safe if he ever came back. He has no remorse. He told people at his Residential Treatment Center (RTC) that he didn't miss us, but that he missed the toys and money he got from us.

Make sure your other kids lock their doors at night. Every night.

We did not need a lawyer to undo the adoption. We only went to court once and the judge was very understanding. This case was big county news. Due to the severe circumstances, if you make this choice, doubt you'd need one either. It may be different if you adopted him from another country or privately. Not sure.

Hugs again and hope you find a solution you can live with.
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Well-Known Member
I am not sure what the state secondary insurance covers. I do know it covered the copays for what our Insurance didn't cover, like a $150 a day copay for the 3 day stay....

Here is what I found when I googled SED waiver and the name of our state:

Services provided under the SED waiver are for children 4 to 18 years of age who experience serious emotional disturbance and who are at risk of inpatient psychiatric treatment. SED waiver services provide children with special intensive support so they may remain in their homes and communities. Parents and children are actively involved in planning for all services. The SED waiver is a federal Medicaid waiver program. Local Community Mental Health Centers provide services covered by the program. Children who meet eligibility requirements will receive a medical card and are eligible for Medicaid physical and behavioral health services.

SED Waiver Services Include:

  • Wraparound Facilitator: A person who works with the family and their identified supports to set treatment goals and decide on services for the child and family.
  • Parent Support and Training: Services designed to provide education, assistance, and other support to parents and families.
  • Independent Living Skills Building: Staff supported development of the skills needed in order to live independently.
  • Attendant Care: A staff person who helps the child with daily tasks.
  • Professional Resource Family Care (Crisis Stabilization): Intensive support services provided to the child outside the home in a safe environment.
  • Short Term Respite Care: A service given inside or outside the home to provide caregivers and the child a break.

This is not based on the parents income, but on the child's needs. There is a chance they will charge the parents a small monthly fee...but they didn't charge us.


pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
Welcome to our little corner of the internet, AdoptiveMom. I am so sorry for the anguish this child has put you through. My late husband fell into psychosis and became completely irrational. One of the first things I did was find a good family law attorney. They are used to handling mental illness issues and can guide you accordingly.

For me, safety is the highest priority. If you don't feel safe in your own home, your whole world turns upside down and inside out. The stress is horrendous. I feel horrible for you that it is a young child causing this stress, but he is nonetheless. I wouldn't want him in my house either.


New Member
Thank you all so much for the responses.

He was adopted from the state - and when I was doing some research yesterday, I discovered that the state's lawyer who terminated parental rights on my son is now in the private sector practicing family law. I think he'd be a good one to consult? He knows the ins and outs of both the foster system and family law.

I spoke with our old caseworker right after the fire, but she didn't seem to have any suggestions :confused: Go figure. I think it would probably be wise to speak with an attorney before talking to the folks at DCF again.

I will definitely check into SED waivers!

We spoke with a liability attorney a few weeks ago, and the insurance company has the burden of proof in showing we were somehow negligent. The fire was at 6:00 am on a Saturday morning... so it's not a time parents are typically awake. He had to turn off the alarm, open the door to the garage, find the lighter, etc. The lawyer said that if we'd been sleeping at 2 pm with matches laying around all over the house... different story. Plus we had him in counseling, so we weren't ignoring his issues.

He called first thing this morning and told me Happy Mother's Day. The whole thing just breaks my heart.

Thank you so much for the support - I'm so glad I found this group!


Well-Known Member
Sounds like you have a good plan. That lawyer sounds perfect.
The insurance company needs to step up. I was not going to bring this up, but an adoption acquaintance of mine took in a young foster boy and he burned the house down and this was in the middle of the day. While the house was burning and they were watching, he asked, "can we go to McDonald's?"
They had been wanting to adopt him but obviously that never happened after he did that. He was no longer there...friend said she had to be restrained after he asked about McDonald's. There were no arrests.
Adoption workers should in my opinion teach every single prospective family about reactive attachment disorder.
At any rate her insurance covered everything including the hotel they had to stay at while the house was being rebuilt.
I wish you good luck now that you have some plans.


New Member
What is Baker Acted?

FYI - People reading your post on sites like this can be from all over the country / world!

I think Baker Act must be a Florida thing :) It's an involuntary admission to the hospital, like if someone threatens suicide or is a danger to themselves or others. The Baker Act paperwork has to be signed off by a judge and typically means a 48 hour minimum "hold" in the hospital.


Well-Known Member
IN out state, if a child is adopted from foster care, they automatically get to keep the state insurance, even if the family has another policy. Also, many kids qualify for a monthly check to help cover additional expenses. Can you see is he is eligible for any additional help? Or if they covered up vital information before you went thru with the adoption?

Glad you have an attorney involved. Good luck, happy Mother's Day, and keep in touch on here. It is a great site for parents to get support. KSM

Sister's Keeper

Active Member
Have you discussed discharge planning with the hospital that he is in now?

I think that is a good start. I would address the safety concerns upfront. Explain to the present hospital that it would be to the psychological detriment of your other children that he return to the family home and that you are not and do not, and don't at any time in the foreseeable future see yourselves being safe with him in the home. If need be involve the counselor that your other children are presently under the care of.

It is possible that the hospital social worker may have some ideas as far as long term placement, but I would start making it known now that unless there is some incredibly drastic change he will not be returning to the family home.

I would also agree with consulting with a lawyer who specializes in family law.


Well-Known Member
He called first thing this morning and told me Happy Mother's Day. The whole thing just breaks my heart.
It is sad. He knows he crossed way over a line. It is heartbreaking, all around.

If you are in a position to suggest it, I would ask that your 11 year old be evaluated by a child neurologist. There could be something neurological influencing his behavior.

I am an adoptive mother too. My son was 22 months, just a little bit younger than was your son, when he came home. I am putting myself in your shoes. It is hard to even go there.

I think the social worker at the agency stonewalled you because of fear of potential liability. Jerk.

Your relationship with your son is not adversarial. There is nobody here on trial. There is nobody who can be held responsible or not. Even though he caused it. Because he is a young child.

Your decisions are based not on love or not loving. There are based upon having to do what is necessary and correct based upon what has come before. You will find that place in you to speak from.
the insurance company has the burden of proof in showing we were somehow negligent.
I am glad. So glad. This sounds right. I would talk to the attorney first, as is your plan.

Mom. Your voice sounds stronger in just a day or two.


Well-Known Member
Your story reminds me of what happened in our community. Two years ago, a 14yo boy, poured gasoline thru out his home, especially the hall way upstairs where the bedrooms are. He lit the gas, grabbed his guitar, and left the home. His father was able to escape, but his mom and younger sis was trapped in the house and perished. Later, he only asked about the family cat... The house is two blocks from us.

Please, please, keep your family safe... I hope there is help for your son. But put the safety of the rest of the family first. KSM