How Can We Be Jolly – A Family vs A Residential Treatment Facility

How Can We Be Jolly – A Family vs A Residential Treatment Facility

Everywhere we look, there are reminders that this is the season.  The season to be jolly.  The season of good cheer and hope.

I blog regularly over at my site  For some readers, what I am about to say may not make a lot of sense.  I recommend you review the above site. 🙂  Yes a bit of shameless self-promotion.  I hope my editor will not mind.

Marc is our youngest, our baby.  He is 12. He is the youngest in a family of five kids. Two girls, three boys.

Marc is a special needs adoption.  We knew there was a potential for special needs when we adopted him into our hearts, our family and our home.  Marc has had more than 20 placements in his life.  Either hospital stays, foster care stays, residential treatment facilities, shelter care or, briefly, respite care.

To be honest, we stopped counting.  To us it isn’t an important number.

To us what is important, is that Marc is family,  he is our son, he is a brother.

Our son is what I would call severely mentally ill.  If you can name a mental illness, at one time in his short life he has been either diagnosed with it, or tested for it.  Not all mental illnesses have tests.  No two mental illnesses are the same.

Currently, our son has multiple diagnoses that include Bipolar, Severe ADHD, Autism, Developmental Delays, Reactive Attachment Disorder and a couple of others.  These are his primary Axis I diagnoses.  He has diagnoses, through Axis VI.  Some levels have one or two diagnoses listed.  Axis I has seven.

Our son has been in his current psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF) since Oct 2012.  This is his second PRTF level facility placement in 3 years.  He successfully completed his first placement. He was brought home, and for a multitude of reasons was not able to attend public school in our community.  We home-schooled him for about 6 months.

One facet of his mental illness, is that he requires little rest, very little sleep.  He can be awake for 48 hours at a time.  As the stay at home parent, let me assure you, this can be trying.

We had a respite provider for a bit; but they, rightly so, were worried about the safety of their animals around Marc.  The summer of 2012, our son tried to kill two of our family pets.  As a result of that, we utilized short term shelter care, mentoring, and hospitalization for our son.  We sought a placement in a second facility.  After Marc moved to the facility, we cleaned up his room.  We found knives.  And other things, that quite frankly, scared the hell out of me. Holes punched through walls, and knocked into the flooring.  Lighters, matches, keys.

A Family vs A Residential Facility | Special HappensIt made me wonder what he was plotting.

Toward the end of his time before placement, all of his siblings took to hiding in their bedrooms as much as possible so they didn’t have to deal with Marc’s aggressive behavior, violent outbursts and constant stealing.  We had locks on everything.  Bedrooms, the fridge, cupboards, and cabinets in the living room.  I had sold all of my firearms.  It was like being prisoners in our own home.

“Mom” and I had high hopes for success at his current facility.  It is 45 minutes from our home.  Our whole family can make the trip to see him.  If our son is having a bad day, cutting the visit short, while sad, isn’t that bad.

The school located within the boundaries of the facility had talked about how they didn’t feel it was an appropriate placement for Marc however, the staff working with our son everyday outside of school assured mom and I that it wasn’t for the school to determine his placement.  We were assured a number of times that they were not ready to give up on our son.

As parents, we have struggled to keep our son in his current placement.  We argued, begged, asked for medication changes, recommended coping strategies, we did everything that we could to keep him in his current placement.  We were successful to a point.

Here we are, less than two weeks before Christmas. Faced with moving our son.

It may not be a big deal.  After all we should be used to having to travel a bit to see him.  The new facility is 500 miles from home, and currently, the only facility that will accept him unless we want to move him further away.

We told Marc a couple of weeks ago that he would likely be moving.

Our hope now is that we can control it enough to not have the move take place until after Christmas.

To us, this should be a non-issue.  Who takes a child that far from home just before the holiday?  Who moves him to a place where he knows no one during the holidays?

Over the last bit, we have been constantly reinforcing the staff at the facility that we wanted Marc in our area for Christmas.  We didn’t want to move him.  Today, we were basically given notice that the facility would like to see him moved within 30 days.  Sooner if possible.

I absolutely refuse to move him before Christmas.

To even consider such a thing is a travesty.

He already has issues with abandonment due to his adoption.  He has issues with abandonment due to the Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Anger.  That is what I feel.  Sadness is large part of it.

The insurance provider states that this is a lateral move between like facilities.  They want to know what Marc will gain by being moved out of state.  All of the other facilities that we applied to in the state have declined to accept him.

Most of all, I feel let down. I feel that Marc is being let down.  Not necessarily by us, as his parents we only want what is best for Marc and the rest of the family.  I feel let down by a system that does this to a child.

On the other hand, it is the next level of care for Marc’s condition.  How can we argue with that?


(Photo By: TJFlex2 via Flickr)

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One Comment

  1. Jennifer Butler Modaff
    Jennifer Butler Modaff December 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    I can’t begin to imagine how difficult this must be for your family. Keeping you in my thoughts.

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