New Member
My hubby and I took emergency custody of his 2 out-of-state grandsons in 2006, when their bio parents went to prison. Both parents were (and still are) drug addicts, and the children were prenatally exposed. The children were 31 months and 7 months old when we took them in. We later legally adopted them.
The older child was obviously autistic, and we knew that soon after they came to live with us. He also has a seizure disorder and a growth disorder. He is now 14, with the mind and body of a 7 year old. He is a very sweet, compassionate, obedient child who obsesses over Legos and the Weather Channel.
The younger child began having severe meltdowns in kindergarten, when his teacher would give him instructions. He became aggressive and destructive, and extremely defiant at home and school. From age 7 to age 10, he was hospitalized 4 times, had individual counseling, family counseling, Intensive In-Home therapy, Day Treatment School, and multiple medications. Nothing helped. His autistic brother has always been his #1 trigger. Sibling rivalry that escalates quickly to violence. When he was 10, I signed the paper to send him to a Level 5 PRTF. It was a lockdown facility 4 hours from home. He was officially diagnosed with Aspergers, ADHD, ODD, Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) and Mood Disorder not otherwise specified. He hated the facility, but the strict rules and structure was exactly what he needed. He "graduated" to a Level 3 group home, where he stayed nearly a year. It was long enough to learn how to steal, curse and talk like a gangster. In August he "graduated" to a Level 2 Therapeudic Foster Home, where he was suspended from school several times for fighting the other kids and cursing the teachers. He was sent to an alternative school for 2 weeks last month. Throughout this all, I was bringing him home for weekend visits as he earned them. Our weekend visits were stressful, since the brothers could not be left together unsupervised. The younger child is VERY inappropriate and seems determined to corrupt his autistic brother. He sneaked our WIFI password off the router and hooked his tablet up to the internet, then was caught showing his brother a pornographic video. I was furious, and refused to bring him home for a full month. He also steals from us while home on visits.
I received a call from the foster home director on Tuesday. They are sending my son home this Monday. Our state insurance has decided that he's been there long enough. He will have therapy, crisis line, etc. in place, but I was told I have no choice except to bring him home. My family is in panic mode. Our autistic son has been thriving while his brother has been gone. He no longer hides under the bed, and he is much more social with us since our home is peaceful. My bruises are long gone, and I honestly am not sure that I can hold my own against a raging 12 year old who now outweighs me. My hubby works 50-60 hours per week (our family company), so I'm the main caretaker for the children. Since our son has been out of the home, we've welcomed 2 grandsons into our family. They both live nearby, and visit regularly. Both my adult son and my adult daughter have made it very clear that they don't want the babies around my younger son, and I don't blame them at all. Our lives were pure hell before he went to the PRTF, and he hasn't improved at all. I don't think we can go through that again. I don't want to walk away, since we are the only family he knows. But I'm feeling backed into a corner, forced to choose one son over the other. What are my options?


Well-Known Member
I do not have an answer for you. If you refuse to pick him up, you might have child protective services become involved. It is possible that they would remove both children from your care. He is clearly a danger to you and to your other son. You might want to contact an attorney to find out what you can do legally to protect your family.


Roll With It
I am so very sorry. I truly know how you feel. I had an older son who was much like your younger son.

I would tell the courts that you are his grandparents and are not up to the task of raising him. You are fine with his brother, but he is so difficult you just cannot handle him. Get a lawyer involved to help you (a very good one!). Also make sure there is a doctor for your older son who says that having his brother in the house is not good for his health, his mental health, or his safety.

You may have to take the younger son home for a few days or a week, but it probably won't take longer than that for him to act out. Call the cops when he gets violent or does something really wrong and insist they take him away. Then get a judge involved and say you just cannot handle the younger son any longer. He is too difficult and he is too dangerous for you and for the older son. Heck, get a lawyer on this before you take him home. You probably have enough evidence already from his visits.

I truly mean that I understand. My older son has Aspergers, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), ADHD and severe depression. He was an incredibly violent teen. I could not keep him in the same home with his younger siblings. His little sister was his target from the time she could move on her own. Never his little brother though. At age 14, we had to have the cops remove my son. He was so violent that one of us was going to die and the other was going to prison. Meaning my son and myself, because he had to go through me to get to my daughter. The cops were even telling me that it was NOT going to end well if we didn't do something fast. He spent time in hospitals and the county youth shelter. I finally had to insist that he couldn't live with us because we were terrified of him. I had to choose not to sacrifice my other children on the altar of my oldest child's problems/mental illness. My son is MUCH better today, but not everyone gets that happy ever after. At your son's age, and for years after, I would NEVER have guessed that my son would have a future that included anything but a prison cell or a pine box. I am glad I was wrong, thrilled in fact, but we just barely escaped that. Mostly because some of his peers were too afraid to complain to anyone.

I seriously would tell the court that you simply cannot handle the younger son's violence, and that the older son is terrified of him (it sounds like he is). Get the doctors to say that the older son should not be around him, in writing!). This will help get the courts to put him in care of social services.

I know that it is hard to give up custody. For the sake of your family, you need to. It simply isn't safe to have him around. He has worked hard to show you who he is, and who he wants to be. Believe him, and don't let him inflict more damage on the rest of the family. Let your younger son live with the consequences of his choices, which do not include life in your home with his brother and lots of very nice privileges and people. This is HIS CHOICE, indicated by his behavior.

Many hugs, and please stick around. This board truly is a life saver. We understand and have been there. No one will judge you or get upset with you. We tell you what we think, but we know that you will make the decisions that you need to make for your family at this time, and we won't think the worst of you or get upset with you. Not ever!


Well-Known Member
I have adopted a son who was substance exposed at birth and he also has a form of autism, although at 24 he is kind and independent. Substance exposed kids all have degrees of damage.
Your youngest in my opinion is not misbehaving due to wanting to...he in my opinion and from what i have learned about drug exposed people is suffering badly from certain brain differences because of drugs and alcohol ingested by him in utero. Alcohol can cause organic brain damage that impedes a person's impulse control, hyperactivity, cognitive reasoning, behavior and sometimes inability to learn from life...they repeat the same errors over and over again and don't understand cause and affect. Fetal alcohol spectrum is actually not a psychiatric disorder so it is often misdiagnosed by psychiatrists. I would seek out a Neuro psychologist and be very forthright about birthmothers substance abuse during her pregnancy
The person with substance abuse brain damage often eventually uses substances too and can be dangerous. They often also don't have normal self control. That can cause bouts of rage.

You can't expect to raise this child and keep your family safe. We adopted an unsafe child...in his case he was a sexual predator. This is not the child with autism...but this child also had damage due to his birthmothers substance abuse. We called CPS and reported what he did and said he was not safe for our younger kids. We BEGGED them to remove him. They took him and he never returned. They were very helpful and worked closely with law enforcement and paid for family therapy.

I would call CPS and tell them your fears. They may decide to protect your other child by removing this child from the home. That doesn't mean at all that they will remove the other boy. And you can visit your son and have visits.

If this child has any hint of fetal alcohol spectrum, which is hard to diagnose except for medical history and behavior,
he needs more looking after than a family can give. It is not curable and of yet not highly treatable sinse it is brain damage. I don't believe a lawyer can or will do anymore than CPS. Cps is a powerful government agency and Judges value their input greatly. Sometimes I think they have TOO much power, but in your case, they can help. Lawyers don't really have more power than the influence of CPS. We did call a lawyer but he told us just that. He said we can hire him anyway. We didn't and saved a ton of money and still got what we needed.

You have to protect your family beyond this poor boy. I would talk to CPS before he came home. There is certainly a trail showing that he is not seen as safe.

My experience with having adopted a dangerous child is that we were not blamed or punished by not wanting him in our house. We were helped. The boy got help too but not under our roof and I have no clue how he turned out. The adoption was reversed. We asked if they would reverse it. They don't usually do that in our state, but they did.

I hope you find a good resolution. Be proactive. Nobody will punish you for protecting your other child and looking for long term care for very damaged son. You are good people. I wish you the best.
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Long road but the path ahead holds hope.

You have such a challenge ahead if you after being through so very much.

First you are not alone and what you do to preserve your family and yourself is not right or wrong it is what is necessary.

I would tend not to accept son home. He is older and needs to be accountable. It simply too dangerous for all of you.

You have had some great advice from past experienced parents here. You are not alone.