This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Running Again

She's running again,

I'm not sure which comes first, Kitty getting frustrated and unhappy so decides to run to biofamily, or thinking about running to biofamily stresses her out so much she gets more easily frustrated and unhappy. (Why Do Adopted Kids Go Back to Birth Families?)  Probably an escalating combination of both.

Kitty first moved in with biofamily immediately after high school graduation, then discovered that she just couldn't handle it, and came home in less than a month (lasted one week with biomom, and then stayed with pregnant biosister's baby daddy's sister for the remaining 3 weeks. She'd slept on the floor and acted a a free nanny to the girl's 3 kids).

Now, almost 2 years later, we're going through the same thing again. Kitty is impulsively (less than 2 weeks notice) wanting to move back in with birth family again. They've been applying a lot of pressure for years, and right now Kitty is dealing with a lot of friend and family drama.

It is so hard watching my kids self-destruct and wondering where to draw the line. I know I should let Kitty go again, but I sooooo don't want to be the one to pick up the (probably pregnant) pieces.

On a positive note (kind of), finally the therapist is seeing why I have started giving "Ultimatums." This time I described the process to the therapist (and Kitty confirmed). It doesn't start with ultimatums - it ends with them, because nothing less works (and even the ultimatums only work on occasion)

  1. Kitty informed me that Biomom would be coming to pick her up in a week and a half. She comments that she'd actually planned on waiting until after Christmas to tell us (which would be less than a week's notice). She tells me it's going to be different from last time, because she's going to live with BioGrandma instead of BioMom.
  2. We have a calm discussion (Kitty confirmed this to the therapist) about the issues with moving across country without time to make needed doctor appointments, plans for meds, psychiatrists...

    We talk about the way Medicaid works (cannot get more than 1 month medication at a time and she takes 6 psychotropic meds - which run out at random times throughout the month).

    We talk about the fact that she has no way back since she refuses to get on any type of public transportation (bus, plane, train) - Biomom has been known to be less than reliable and does not want Kitty to leave again (last time she held Kitty's things hostage to get her to stay).
    We talk about Kitty's current financial obligations and how much money Biograndma would need to cover the cost of Kitty's food and rent.

    I let Kitty know that with someone with her chronic, major medical issues traveling across country with less than a week notice... was irresponsible, irrational and not an adult decision and that I do NOT support it.

    Kitty stayed "present" for most of the discussion and participated.
  3. The next day, Kitty restates her decision to leave.
  4. We have another calm, discussion. Kitty doesn't like what she's hearing, but again participates and stays "present." We discuss options to make this work. I make it very clear that while this is possible and I won't make her stay home, it is NOT possible with 1 week notice - especially with most of that during a major holiday.
  5. The next day, Kitty restates her decision to leave that weekend. *UGH!*
  6. I tell Kitty I think this is an irresponsible decision and I cannot support it, because it is not in her best interest.

    I then tell her that despite this belief, I will help her, IF she gets on birth control (specifically an IUD) before she leaves. Kitty refuses, because she doesn't like the thought of putting something in her body (but piercings and penises apparently don't count!).
  7. The next day, Kitty restates her decision to leave that weekend.

This time, the therapist stopped saying I needed to change and let Kitty know that my "ultimatum" is not unreasonable. That Kitty is not making a rational, adult decision and is not accepting any input or being part of a discussion. Without using those exact words, the therapist told Kitty she is WRONG.

Finally, validation for me! I know that's not the point, but it makes it easier for me to quit feeling so frustrated and angry, because someone is validating Kitty's belief that I'm "mean" and therefore EVERYthing I say can be discounted. Maybe that's petty, but it is hard enough living with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder and Kitty's issues with reality, and I don't need it to be any harder.

In a therapy session, the therapist, Kitty, and I came up with a plan together.

Plan/ requirements for Kitty moving across the country:
  • Make an Exploratory Visit (at least 2 weeks but less than 4).
  • Guaranteed way there AND back – $ for a bus/ plane ticket is fine – doesn’t have to be the actual purchased ticket. You do have to be willing to get on the bus/ plane/ train. {has often stated she is not willing}  Counting on someone giving you a ride is not sufficient.
  • Verify where you will get your services (psychiatrist, therapist, medical, pharmacy transportation...). All will need to accept Texas Medicaid until you get your insurance transferred (which may not be for 6 months to a year – depending on how hard it is to transfer).
  • Have a psychiatrist appointment and annual physical before you go.
  • Find out how much money you are expected to pay.  Count on your SSI money to not be transferred for approximately 6 months (give or take) after you move there. Will $100/ month (not including your $11.50 weekly allowance) be enough?
  • Get on birth control. IUD is really the only option - the pill requires taking it consistently AND it is only 80% effectiveness due to your meds. The shot has similar effectiveness and the hormones can alter your mood dramatically. -- increasing issues with impulsive, risky choices - especially when not taking meds regularly and making poor choices about safety and environment. {Last time she lived with biofamily, she did not take her medication regularly and became very dysregulated.}
  • Set up a plan for getting your medication. You can take up to one month's worth with you (the limit with Medicaid) for the exploratory visit, but will need another method after that. To get on a schedule that allows you to pick up a full month of meds on one day will take at least 6 months (this would be done by picking up medications a few days early or a few later {She's allowed to pick meds up about a week before she runs out). Inching her med pickup time closer to once a month.}
I still believe this is a totally rational plan, but we're not dealing with rational.

The day after therapy, a cold front hits (gets down to the high 50s). Kitty suddenly remembers how much she hates to be cold.

Kitty decides not to move/ visit - until the Summer.

I'm sure some of her decision is "cold feet" (an excuse not to make the move), but I'm beyond frustrated.

Now we're back to needing to discuss what it looks like to live in our house, but despite being asked to spend some time at home during extended family's visit (Hubby's mom, our nephew, and nephew's fiancee who is Kitty's age)... Kitty spent the majority of her days and nights at friends' houses, only coming home if we planned to go out to eat.

I believe she will be receiving another ultimatum soon.

And Again...

Summer rolled around and Kitty did move in with her biograndma. We helped her load all her belongings into BioGrandpa's truck and they drove across the country non-stop (approx. 15 hours). Not surprisingly, Kitty was a giant triggered mess by the time she left.

This time was a little more organized than the last time (but not much).
  • Trial PeriodKitty understood that this was to be a 3 month trial period. Nothing would be transferred to her new state until the end of this trial, no matter how inconvenient, because transferring everything back would be more so and lead to time without coverage (insurance, SSI, and other services).
  • Medication. Kitty saw her psychiatrist right before she left, so she had a full month's worth of meds. 
  • Medicaid. We verified with insurance that she could access her TX Medicaid in another state (unfortunately, this turned out to be incorrect information and she ended up having to use just our private insurance and pay co-pays)
  • Closure visit with therapist.
  • Other services were informed she was "going on vacation out of state."
Kitty arrived at BioGrandpa's house late Saturday night. She slept most of Sunday (she was unable to sleep in the truck), but did move in with BioGrandma (BioGrandparents are divorced). Monday morning bright and early, I got a call from the social services office. Kitty was positive this was going to work out, so she was trying to transfer everything up there. *sigh* Luckily, as her rep payee I was able to stop this. I reminded Kitty that this was a trial period for very good reasons and that she had agreed to them.

Kitty was being hit on all sides from biofamily, trying to convince her that I was evil and just out to keep her money. Luckily for me, most of time, I was back on a pedestal (we discovered this "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" feeling the last time she moved to Nebraska --> I was horrible and they were awesome until she moved there, then I was awesome and they were horrible). So in general, she was able to ignore their claims and continue to rationally accept my help.

Medical Expenses
Almost immediately after arrival, Kitty started seeing doctors, even though I repeatedly reminded her that she did not have Medicaid there and did not have money for co-pays from our private insurance.

She'd allegedly injured an ankle a couple of years before, and felt that I hadn't let her see any specialists to get it fixed. Of course, during those last 2 years, she'd worn 6" platform heels almost every day and often gone "hiking" with her friends. Most of the time when she'd seen a doctor, she'd forgotten it even bothered her (so I assumed it was psychosomatic).

Every doctor who'd seen her in the last 2 years (when she remembered it hurt), said it was fine. Right before she left though, she managed to convince a doctor that if it was still bothering her after "2 years" that maybe she should see an orthopedist. She didn't have time to get an appointment before she left. 

After multiple x-rays and a couple of specialists, she found a doctor there that said that she'd not healed properly from an injury and needed surgery. I don't know if this was accurate or not. My point was that she'd waited "2 years," and could wait a couple of months until she had Medicaid there. She's on a fixed income and can't afford surgery without it. From half way across the country and not finding out about the visits until after the fact, there was nothing I could do, but continue to pay the bills as they trickled in. 

Honeymoon is over
Kitty lasted a week with BioGrandma before BioGrandma completely fell off her pedestal.

Kitty had been very mature in recognizing that a lot of BG wanting to "spend every waking minute" (Kitty's description not mine) with Kitty was not BG thinking that Kitty couldn't handle things on her own, but loneliness.

Then Kitty started to feel that BG didn't like a biosister's baby daddy and Kitty's youngest biosister (~8 years old), because they were Hispanic. When Kitty heard that BG had once hit the biosister in the face, she moved in with Biomom.

Biomom lived in a 2 bedroom apartment. She shared her bedroom with the 2 youngest biosisters (~8 and 14) unless she had a boyfriend spending the night. The other bedroom was occupied by the 17yo pregnant biosister and her baby daddy. Kitty stayed on the couch.

Because the apartment was subsidized housing (Biomom and one of the younger biosisters are on SSI), they didn't want Kitty to pay rent because that would jeopardize their housing. Unfortunately, if Kitty receives room and board without paying rent, then she will lose her SSI money (and therefore Medicaid).

Kitty couldn't understand this and kept trying to "contribute" by paying for the rental furniture, junk food for her siblings, gas for the vehicle, and other mostly non-essentials. 

Transfer Services
I got a call for Kitty's SSI annual review (I'm her Rep Payee so they do this with me instead of with her). Managing everything from across the country, constantly being accused of theft and of not treating Kitty like the adult she thinks she is, dealing with constant demands for more money, and watching Kitty put up with this horrible living situation for over 2 months, when I got the review call from SSI, I threw up my hands and told them that she'd officially moved out of state.

I had everything transferred to the new state, including Medicaid. I kept the rep payee status (they'd mentioned suspending her SSI funds if I didn't), but requested that they find someone (NOT biofamily!) to take it over as soon as possible.

Biofamily Neglect
I received more and more calls from Kitty about how "mean" everyone was to Kitty. At first, she talked about how mean everyone was to her biosibs as well, then she started complaining about them too.

She actually called me one day and demanded that I "do something" about the youngest biosister. I told her she needed to talk to Biomom, but apparently Biomom "wouldn't do anything about it." I have no idea what Kitty thought I could do from here, but she isn't exactly rational at the best of times. 

After having the ankle surgery, Kitty was confined to the couch, only getting up to use the restroom. She talked about how the family would make waffles and pancakes and eat them all without offering her any. I think not getting food (a huge trigger for Kitty) was the straw that finally broke the camel's back. 

She decided to come home despite knowing that she'd have to go to a year-long residential vocational school designed to teach independent living skills to people with mild intellectual disabilities. It's a great program, although Kitty things she'll be "wasting her youth" there. *sigh*

We're downsizing (the house is too big now that Ponito is about to graduate high school and go off to college, Bear is in prison, and Bob is in college), so we need to prep our old house for sale. Kitty absolutely cannot live here during this final push to get things done (18 years of "benign neglect" meant I needed to do some major renovations on the house) and while the house is on the market. She is just not able to keep things clean enough.

How to Get Home?
Of course Kitty had spent all her savings rather than keeping some money for a ticket home. Originally Biomom was going to drive Kitty back home, but she backed out. Then Biomom said she would buy Kitty a plane ticket. Again, she backed out. We did not have the money needed to pay for a plane ticket, and Kitty had stated many times she'd rather die than get on a bus. We'd actually traveled to Nebraska for our nephew's wedding mid-July and offered to bring her and all her stuff home, but she hadn't been ready yet.

Kitty discovered that if she didn't spend the money she received weekly for gas, food, and spending money, for a whole month, that she would have enough for a plane ticket. After 3 weeks, she double checked the price, and discovered that the cost of plane tickets goes up the closer you get to departure date! We informed her that sadly, we didn't have the money to make up the difference, and she had spent almost all her savings on medical bills and the few requests for extra money that I had granted. 

We let her know that if our nephew decided to come here for Christmas, we could ask him if he'd bring her home then. Kitty was still convinced that she was capable of going to community college full-time, so I would have preferred that she stay until December so she could try that for a while there. I wanted her to see that it wasn't going to work, instead of me having to be dream killer yet again.

Kitty decided to take the bus. By not spending her gas, food, and spending money, she had just enough money for her ticket home and one bag (she planned to leave the rest of her stuff with my nephew until he came to visit us or we went there). She could make it home... if I gave her a small advance on her weekly allowance. I agreed to advance her the money.

She had some cash she'd received for babysitting that she used to purchase some food to take with her. I let her know I was impressed that she'd thought ahead and purchased food from the grocery store where it would be cheaper than buying food on the way. Unfortunately, her youngest sister ate all the food (Kitty was upset that Biomom was unwilling to reimburse her or replace the food). Biograndma took Kitty to the bus station, and was going to buy her breakfast, but forgot.

When Kitty called me from the bus the next day, she hadn't eaten in almost 48 hours. I immediately put money on her debit card and told her to get food at the next stop. 

Lesson learned?
Kitty got home at the end of September, and we're still fighting to get her services reinstated. Except for me contacting the social security office and changing her address, she insisted that she could do it all herself, and refused my help.

After a month, she was completely out of meds, had no Medicaid, no psychiatrist appointment, and was finally willing to turn a lot of it back over to me. Three weeks later and I'm still working on it. 

She's already taken her medications back to her room, even though I told her that was not an option. *sigh* We need to reestablish the ground rules for her to be able to function here. I'm not looking forward to it.


Helen said...

I am sorry. This doesn't seem to get any easier!

Thank you for your always interesting and very helpful posts and your generosity in sharing your experience, I bookmark many of them to re read and come back to. Wishing you a very happy New Year.

marythemom said...

Happy New Year to you as well. Thank you.