Need some help!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Blueknight, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Blueknight

    Blueknight New Member

    Hi all,

    I just joined the forums after reading some of the helpful, prior forum posts. I've come to some road blocks for my son and would appreciate any info to maybe help-

    My son is turning 11 this year. He has lived with his mother entire life. His mother and I were involved in a 'one night stand' and never had a relationship beyond that. She now lives in California and I live in Colorado. Earlier this year, the mother has been going through a divorce and I know is having a difficult time. My son has several issues - ODD, ADD, anxiety, some depression, anger issues, etc. He is currently on ritalin for breakfast and abilify & zoloft at dinner. The mother has some issues of her own, I don't know if they are being treated or not.

    Since the divorce began, and the other parent moved out of the home, I get crisis calls from the mother that my son is out of control, destroying property in the home, won't listen, and she is at wits end. When they first moved to California (Riverside area), he was placed in the regular school program. After sexual references during class, fights, and general failure to listen he was moved to a day program at a residential treatment facility. His IEP team has not recommended residential treatment as of yet. I have made calls to his day treatment counselor/therapist but have not received a return phone call (to check on his progress).

    Literally over the course of the last 11 years, I have had very minimal contact with my son. He often will stay with relatives and myself when on visits. Of course, our lives change over time and now I am married with a young son and a newborn daughter. My wife and I are concerned with their safety and do not feel that it is a viable option to try and bring my 11 y/o in the home (not to mention the responsibility would basically be placed on my wife, since I am away at work most of the time.)

    I have done some research online and did see info about Voluntary foster placement in California. With both his mother and myself included, we can not come close to residential treatment placement on our own ($). I like the idea of my son getting the help he needs, his mother getting the help she needs, and a great transition for him to return home. The voluntary placement appears to be a much better idea than residential treatment but I do not know if this is as easy as it sounds. I just worry a lot because the last phone call I got, mother was disciplining 11 y/o and he threatened to cut her throat in her sleep. They are both constantly going to therapy and between that and the medications it doesn't seem like anything is working.

    I apologize if this post jumps around a lot - I am really just wanting to find ideas on how to handle the situation. To avoid some flaming, I know that I am the father, he is 50% my responsibility, and without going into a huge explanation just know that there are other reasons why I don't feel that I can give him the care he needs. On top of all that, I live in a rural area that does not have near the options of the area he is currently residing in. I'm very worried that his mother will just figure that she can't handle it, send him out here, and I have no idea what I would do past that point! I want to help as much as I can at this point so that everything ends up well.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi J, welcome.
    I am glad that you have stayed in touch with-the biomom and your son, even though it was a one-night stand.
    I agree, you need to be aware of the safety of your own family, especially with-a newborn.
    If the mother is giving you crisis calls, has she allowed you partial custody, or Power of Atty or anything? Even if you wanted to do something, could you?
    Have you visited your son in the past 5 yrs? Have you actually witnessed his behavior?
    It sounds like you've got a fair amt of info for not really staying in touch.
    Best of luck.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    While you do need to think about the safety of your newer family, don't be deluded about foster care. I did it for a while and quit because I felt it was so bad for the kids. First of all, voluntary or not, the state takes control of your child once you sign that child into care. Make no mistake about get the state involved and they make the calls. It's not supposed to be that way, but it is.

    Also, the foster parents probably have no more training raising children than the average person. I know I didn't get the instruction I needed and we begged for it, but it never happened. Many foster parents are also in it for the money. It can pay up to $1500 a month (tax free and it doesn't count as income) in some states. I met many foster parents like that. They would take any kid just to get more money. Some homes are overcrowded.

    Myself, I would never put my child in foster care. I don't like most residential treatment centers either if they are run by the state. I saw a few foster kids go into them and we visited a nd you could hear kids screaming and beefy security guards coming to put holds on them and put them in isolation. Gave me the creeps, some of the kids were sooooooo young. However, I'm sure some residential treatment centers are good and if you have the $$$ and can look around and visit in my opinion it's a better option than foster care.

    Good luck, regardless of what you decide to do. Is there another relative who can try to care for him and get him help? Maybe a relative who has no young children that he may hurt?
  4. Blueknight

    Blueknight New Member

    Thanks for the quick replies!

    TerryJ: My son comes out for a 2-3 week visit every summer. Sometimes, he has also been sent out during a holiday visit. I have noticed his behavior on several occasions, however it has never been as severe as it apparently it with his mother. She has primary custody but medical/school rights are split. Part of my problem is that while I feel for her, I think his mother is having a hard time in life and isn't able to cope well. In fact, I just had him out for a visit a few weeks ago and he has only been home for about two weeks when she had another crisis moment. I've spoken to both her's and my son's therapist about the issues, but I have to say it is EXTREMELY frustrating to be on the end of a phone trying to help a situation states away.

    Midwestmom- Unfortunately, where he can stay is part of the issue for me. I have my own worry problems;) and I always look to the worst case situation. Because of that, I contacted the local DSS and asked them what I should do if she just dropped my son off at my house. They basically said I could call them to have wrap-around type services but that I'm basically stuck. While this is very difficult to say - I honestly feel that I have to choose the lesser of two evils. Try and help my son but put my other kids at risk or basically try and place my son in foster treatment. A bit of background that I left out: Two summers ago my son came out for his visit. He was 9 at the time. We found at that he made sexual contact with my niece who was 3 at the time. This obviously caused a huge roar in the family and now, it splits the family apart every time he comes for a visit. Until that happened, the best person to watch him was my mother. But now, she is aging and it kills her to think about other family members alienating her other grandchildren for their safety.

    This is where I run into problems, trying to plan for the worst. I don't know what to do if she just dropped him off. I want her to get what help she needs, him to get medications or the situation balanced out, and I really believe it is best that he continues to live in California at this time. To my knowledge, she has not included Social Services in her support team. She has been relying on the therapist, special school therapist, school district, and a church group. If DSS is anything in California like it is in Colorado then that would be a first stop for help for me. As far as voluntary placement, I'm just inquiring about it because I want to help his mother in finding help/making choices to benefit my son. Since there are so many issues for him with me, I just want to know what options would be available in worst case situations.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Some parents have used therapeutic foster care, which is a very different situation from just run-of-the-mill foster care... but also very expensive.

    Given the behaviors you are describing? Having him live with you would be a worst-case scenario.
    What happens if you contact DSS or equivalent in CA and find out what the other options are?
    What about her side of the family, anyone with a family already raised who might help?
  6. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    If he made sexual advances to your niece you absolutaly can not bring him into your home. Like you said, you have two children and while your son is your child, too, you have to make sure that the other kids are safe. That is a top priority. Does your son's therapist know what happened when he visited you when he was nine? Do you know if this behavior is something that has continued?

    It sounds like your son's mom is falling apart and she is never going to be able to help him unless she is able to pull herself together, and I'm sure that he knows that. I think that alot of difficult children use a parents weakness against them at times and it would not surprise me at all if this is what is happening. Does the mother's former spouse have any contact with your son? Has his behavior gotten worse since he left the house?

    I have no advice for you. Just wanted to say welcome to the board and that I hope that it gets better.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    We were therapeutic foster We got no more training than regular foster parents. The only reason they called us therapeutic was because we took in harder children with special needs (this is how we got Sonic and we ended up adopting him). Nobody else would take him because he was so disruptive as a child. DCFS was no help at all with us. They kept giving us difficult kids that we didn't know how to parent so we gave back our license after we adopted Sonic. It was horrible. Especially for the kids. Many were sexually abused as they went through the foster care system and they were afraid to tell anybody. But this poster is in a terrible bind. I see why he's looking into it.
  8. Blueknight

    Blueknight New Member

    InsaneCdn- unfortunately, the mother came from a broken household where her upbringing wasn't much better. As far as I know, her family is spread out all over the country, her mother lives in another country. So besides her, the only other family is myself or my immediate family. We all live in the same area and, as shown, would not be beneficial for anyone. I have not called California's DSS yet, but did talk to his mother about having them involved. In my view she just may need some wraparound service or something. Or, better yet, just some Xanax:)

    Bunny- Thanks for the welcome! I have been thinking about finding a forum site for help with these issues and stumbled onto this one today. So far I have received some great feedback and not a lot of "He is your kid, you should have thought of that before having sex, etc". Many, outside of this forum, have basically told me that he is my child, that I need to at least give it a shot. I, however, can't stand the thought of something happening to my other children while I 'try out' helping my other son.

    I do think that he is an excellent button pusher. He knows how to say and do the right things to drive his mother crazy. Prior to her divorce, his step-father was in the home. I never heard of many issues then, but I do think he was having problems. Probably the main reason I didn't hear of anything was that the stepfather was heavy into discipline (Marine sergeant). So to answer your question I believe his behavior has gotten worse without a male in the house. I know this sounds horrible, but I think if his mother found someone (which I pray is a good person) that he will help discipline and possibly be that dad in the home for my son.

    InsaneCdn you took the hope out of my voluntary foster plans! j/k I know that and residential treatment are options that can help or hurt him, but the reality is at this point I'm not sure there are other options. Ideally, I think if he was placed in a supportive home with no children that would be the best option.
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I wasn't trying to take away hope... and, as each country (and each province/state on this contenent!) is quite different... we of course start from different assumptions. One being the training behind therapeutic foster care, which HERE is definitely dignificant, as in... they won't hire you for that role unless you have prior training, because the system can't afford to do the training. But as a result, the number of available spaces is very limited.

    An 11 year old, from an unstable background, who may or may not have some degree of insecure attachment and definitely has serious behavior problems, is definitely going to find another transition to be major. And "difficult child" kids (like so many on this board...) don't handle transitions well at the best of times.

    If wrap services and other major interventions are possible where he is, it is probably a better option. The "major-in-discipline" (aka punishment) military-style step-dad might have kept a lid on things, but not necessarily addressed any of the real issues.

    Have you ever read the book "The Explosive Child"? (R. Greene) It's an interesting read if you have a child who is wired differently and who doesn't seem to respond to "classical" discipline.
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome. I'm glad you found us, but truly sorry you had to. You're sure in a tough spot. I don't have any practical advice for you, I wish I did. I just wanted you to know I read your post and am sending you warm wishes that you find your way through this dilemma. I think you're doing your best in a difficult situation.
  11. Blueknight

    Blueknight New Member

    I checked out that book and it seems like it would have a lot of great info! Thanks for the suggestion!

    I've tried to offer some suggestions to the mother and she always just says that I sound like a therapist and make it sound so easy. I'm sure theory and real life application are quite different. She is under the assumption that she is being the best mother she can be and doesn't seem too interested in books or outside opinions on how to parent.

    Sometimes I wish I was in this situation 6 years ago, when I first got married and did not have kids yet. At that time I think it would have been ideal for me to try and step in to help him. Up until 6 months ago though, she would never have agreed to that. Now that they are all going through a tough time, it seems I am now an option :sigh:

    Medical side note: When my son was visiting last month, I noticed he had odd eating behaviors- like eating a banana and the peel, bits of his mechanical pencil, and nose gold... Anyone know if this is attached to a disorder? Medically I recalled pica from a genetics class and thought maybe this could have something to do with some of his issues. Just curious if anyone else has ran into the odd eating stuff.

    -Thanks for the wishes recoveringenabler!
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Remember that I'm just another parent with a challenging kid... but the "munching on stuff" bit? Almost sounds like a sensory issue.

    Speaking of which... has your son ever had a comprehensive evaluation? (neuropsychologist, or child behavioral/developmental team at a teaching hospital, or equivalent?) Ever had an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation for sensory and motor skills challenges?

    The Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation would reveal any sensory processing or sensory integration disorders. These can be stand-alone, but often go with disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or Asperger's. My difficult child has sensory challenges and is not on the autism spectrum - but has an alphabet soup of dxes that often go WITH an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/Aspie diagnosis, if that makes sense. It's not uncommon for our challenging kids to be complicated! Sensory and/or motor skills issues are treated with Occupational Therapist (OT) therapy, and other interventions and accommodations, no medications.
  13. Blueknight

    Blueknight New Member

    His mother is planning a trip with him to Colorado this coming week. I hope to be able to sit down with her and discuss some of the info given - including questioning if a medical workup has been done or not at this point. While this trip out has sparked my concern for her just leaving him in Colorado, I hope that is not her intention and that I can offer suggestions that she may follow. Short of that I think I'll just have to wait it out and see how things go.

    I think if she could find a caring psychiatrist, that doesn't just write out the medications and move on, that the medication is part of the puzzle piece that is causing some of the problems. At this time he is still covered under her ex's insurance. I'll try to push for her getting the tests needed, possibly working with social services for wrap around services, and try to motivate her to get the help she needs.
  14. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    How is he doing at the day school? If you could push the school into placing him residentially, that would be your best option. Does the current school see a need? You may need an advocate or special education attorney to work on that on your behalf.
  15. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Are you LEGALLY dad?
  16. BeachPeace

    BeachPeace Guest

    I have been a "Therapeutic" Foster parent and I also adopted a child I cared for, my son Blue. I am like the others, just another parent, but having been deep in the system in various ways (I am also an RN) some questions popped into my mind.
    Please don't get offended, I am just trying to get you to see how this could appear to the "system"

    If you are indeed legally the father - your child gets dropped off at your home---- please be very VERY aware that any "parental abandonment" either real or perceived can get ALL of your children into the system and get YOU and YOUR NEW WIFE investigated by DCW, DHR or what ever it is in your state.

    It has happened.

    Please just make sure that whatever you do is done legally, safely and in no way could be construed as your abandonment or neglect of your older son. I agree with you - sounds like you better get a plan in place, because if the mom is as described - you may get a surprise on your doorstep one evening.

    At that point - if mom is long gone and he is left with you..... YOU are ultimately held responsible for him.

    Welcome here. You will find many of us are battle worn but there is so much wisdom here....
  17. Blueknight

    Blueknight New Member

    JJJ- I have tried several times to talk to his therapist at the school and never receive a phone call back. I can't say that I've been overly aggressive trying to get a hold of him, but I'll probably call again tomorrow and let someone know I'm not getting a return call. As far as I've heard, he isn't doing so well in the day program. His outside the school therapist has apparently written a support letter for residential treatment. I believe his next IEP is a month out, so there may be further developments at that time. I'm not one to 'suck the system', but private residential is just way too much. I think the school district is not pushing for residential since they would have to foot the bill. And yes, I am legally the father (at least our parenting agreement has shared school and medical rights.)

    Beachpeace- No offense taken. In fact, I am really amazed at how supportive people are on these forums. I really figured people would just be like 'suck it up, he's your kid too.' I work with our local DSS relatively closely professionally, and have spoken to them already about this situation. At this point I've pretty much gotten the same info you have said - if she drops him off I need to figure something out. The person with the local DSS that I spoke to figured they would offer some in-home services in the mean time. I think she misunderstood me though in that I wouldn't need something done that day. Due to the situation with my other kids, I just can't stay on top of my son 24/7. When he visits now, I basically watch every move he makes. On a day-to-day basis there is no way I could do that.

    Why can't life be simple! :choir:
  18. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Blueknight... if life were simple, most of us wouldn't be on this forum! <grin>
  19. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Blueknight, wow, you are in a pickle.
    I would definitely talk biomom into a full neuropsychologist evaluation, even if you have to pay for it yourself. A kid who eats banana peels along with-the banana, plus acts out sexually, has way more going on than behavior problems.
    I feel for you!
    I wish I had some advice.
  20. Blueknight

    Blueknight New Member

    I think the sexual acting out has gone done. I probably didn't explain the banana peel that well: I was using some verbal discipline with him after he called his grandmother a *****. Before taking him out back, he took a banana and started to eat it. While releasing a verbal lashing, he finished the banana and started to eat the peel. I was hot at the time, but watching him make those disgusted faces while chewing on the peel almost made me laugh. So really, I think he does have some issues eating non-edible substances, but in that case I think it was just acting out.

    Hopefully his mother can find local help and we can just get some breathing room to get a long term plan/help figured out.