Our Story



My husband & I have custody of our 13 yo niece, my brother's daughter. We've had her since she was 2 so we are pretty much the only family she has memory of living with. The birthmom is around in varying degrees depending on where she lives..sometimes in other states. My brother lives nearby but is not involved at all. He visits but does not interact with his child at all. The bm means well but she often complicates things. She has untreated bi-polar and her life has been a mess...very unstable. Right now she's in school and things seem to be going ok for her.

Anyhow, we have 4 other younger children in the home.

Not sure where to begin this...we have always had a hard time with our difficult child, she has always been...spirited...but things have been awful for the past year or so. She is very impulsive and engages in dangerous behavior. We are having a heck of a time keeping her in the house. She wants to roam the streets with older kids who are up to no good. We know she smokes when she can and I wouldn't be surprised if she tried alcohol or drugs. For her 13th birthday party, we caught some of her guests huffing in the backyard! We are 99.9% sure that she didn't participate then but I am not so sure that she would abstain if given the chance.

Life has been very volatile. She gets in my face and pushes those buttons. I would have said that I was an extremely patient person but somehow she would work me out of my normal calm behavior and into frazzled mom mode. Her 'attacks' are just relentless!

We've had a few breaking points over the past few months...finding out she had sex with a boy in what was supposed to be a supervised situation. Just no impulse control whatsoever. We have called the police twice now to report her missing. We wouldn't let her do something and she would just take off anyway...or she wouldn't come home from school. It's been a nightmare tracking her down.

She does have bi-polar, adhd, anxiety disorder and her latest diagnosis is oppositional defiance disorder. She is a cutter with severe scars on her arms. After her last incident of running away, (just last month) the police baker acted her because of her scars and because she was hoarding knives in her room. She spent 4 days in a ymhc. At that point, my hubby and I were at the breaking point and almost ready to terminate custody.

As a last ditch effort, we attended an empowered parents conference and we have made some changes in how we deal with her and we have seen some small steps in the right direction. We have seen her make good choices and it gives me a tiny bit of hope. The next big thing for us is to attend a weekend camp with her later this month. She doesn't know a thing about any of this yet and I am expecting some explosive behavior. We don't know how to implement all the little stuff we have learned at the conference so I am hoping that camp will help us tie everything together.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Just a quick welcome Lost Mama, I have to run off to work but wanted to let you know I'm glad you found our little corner of the world. Others will be along soon.


Well-Known Member
Welcome! Glad you found us, but sorry you had to.

So, your niece is following in her BMs footsteps perhaps? What about your brother is he stable?

Sounds like you have had the evaluations and such. Is she taking any medications?

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
Okay, this sounds like my home life with ktbug (tho she's getting much better). I'd like to offer that you take on the most dangerous behaviors first.

With my tweedles, I'd have to break it down to health/safety before addressing all the other behaviors/choices kt & wm made. Is your difficult child on birth control? That would be my first move. The drug situation ~ many parents have their kids tested.

My kt has stopped running when I allowed her 6 cigarettes a day - I had to pick my battle. I've made school, case manager, etc aware of my decision & they are turning a blind eye to it. While it's against the law, it's helped here at home. We also pulled all cell phone & internet priviledges ~ when kt cannot communicate with less than stellar peers the anxiety & need to run lessens 100%.

kt & I have been working on art, cooking & baking together; she's found she loves gardening & she has a couple of "approved" friends that she has over.

Your difficult child is at the tough age of 13. She's trying to develop a sense of self & fit into what she considers "her world". I expect difficult child needs help defining her world; likely she needs help finding out where the heck she fits in given birth parents attitudes & almost blatant abandonment. Why does she live there versus with bio mom or dad? I expect difficult child has some self esteem issues as well.

Is difficult child stable on her medications? I expect that she could use a medication adjustment given her age & raging hormones.

Just thinking out loud here - trying to come up with a few things for you to consider.

Again, welcome ~ please keep us updated.


Thank you all so much for replying. It's really tough for me to admit how things are. It makes me feel like a failure...and that's hard because I want to be the best mom that I can be.

We have custody because the mom and dad both agreed that we could provide a loving home environment for her vs their unstable lives. So, this wasn't court ordered, although we did go to court on our own to legalize the arrangement. And I suspect that given enough time, difficult child would have been taken away from the bm. Neither of them contribute any money to help with their daughter not do we get any assistance from the state. She's on our insurance.

As far as self esteem...yes. She has very low self esteem. Last night in our weekly parenting mtg, the facilitator asked me to read the section on gang activity. He said to just scratch out gang and insert the most recent boy's name that she is infatuated with. Anyhow, that was eye-opening. It said that these kids are looking for love & acceptance and a sense of family. And when I look really hard, I can see that we allowed her to pull away from our family. We could feel it happening and we didn't like it but we didn't know what to do.

She does hyper focus on the fact that she doesn't live with her mom but at the same time she can't stand spending time with her mom. To me, it's like she's finding everything negative and wallowing in it. This child has a dream life compared to my extremely difficult childhood.

My brother? He's not stable. He seems to go through severe bouts of depression. he has not held a job for a couple years now. He mooches off his latest girlfriend. I'm sure there is a warrant out for him not paying child support on another child. There are times I think he is schizophrenic but other times I wonder if he's faking to set up a grand plan to get disability. He has always looked for get rich quick schemes...anything so that he wouldn't have to actually work.

Medications: She's on Abilify and we recently switched from Concerta to Vyvanse. The abilify seems to have helped minimize explosive behavior but it hasn't fixed everything. The adhd medications helped her concentrate in school but she is really struggling because she totally lost her desire to do well. She is incredibly smart but seems to have given up. She may fail the 8th grade because of one class. She has an opportunity to make the grade up but she is not doing the work and she's not doing the work for the new 9 week period. She sees a psychiatrist and a psycologist on a somewhat regular basis. (It's hard to come up with co-pays for more frequent counseling sessions so we have to spread those out although I think she needs to be seen more.)

This week I plan on working on displaying love & affection. It is true that she doesn't feel worthy of love and she doesn't feel like she belongs.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
LostMama, because of my children's extreme attachment disorder I used the books Love & Logic for help; I added in nurturing ideas from the book Parenting the Hurt Child. (I didn't/still do not agree with any holding therapies). Please know that I'm not implying that your difficult child is attachment disordered, I just wanted you to check out the many many ideas for nurturing & building a sense of family for difficult child.

Your difficult child doesn't know anything but her life. She wouldn't understand your difficult childhood nor should she until a certain age. Please know I'm not being critical.

I also wonder if difficult child is concerned/frightened that she might have to go back to live with very unstable mom or dad. There's a need for a sense of permanency for many difficult children. You have custody but have you adopted her? See where I'm going here.

I understand the inability to pay the co-pays; have you checked out county mental health? They generally have a list of providers that allow payment on a sliding scale. AND given that her parents have more or less abandoned her I might apply for medical assistance based on your difficult children need & her parents inability to raise her.

Again, thinking out loud.


Linda, yes I agree with what you wrote. I know that she doesn't know anything different and maybe it is unfair of me to expect her to be happy with what she has.

We can't adopt her because the mom won't give up her rights. My brother would in a heart beat. She does live in fear of being sent back to her mom. After an especially disturbing incident with our difficult child in January, I was ready to head back to court and terminate our custody agreement right then & there. I don't know how to say this other then the fact that it felt like dealing with difficult child was/is destroying my marriage and my family life. Today, this moment, I have hope but I do feel like I am perched precariously on hope and that a strong wind could knock me right off.

I meant to answer some of the other questions here but my children aren't cooperating. Please know that I appreciate the comments and I have considered or looked into the suggestions here.


Lost Mama

I don't have much input or experience, but I do have my prayers to offer to you and your family.