Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Over and over again, we heard that our son did not want to live with us anymore and that we needed to find him a place to live--or kick him out.  We were going crazy because we didn't know what to do.  
I still wanted to get him into some kind of treatment program, but just kept running into brick walls with every telephone call that I made.   Apparently, the same insurance that we had 2 years ago that allowed residential and day treatment, doesn’t cover either one, now.  Other state or county programs had 6 to 8 weeks waiting lists just to be able to be evaluated,  

What are people--who don’t have the finances to put their child in residential treatment--supposed to do while they wait 8 weeks to see if they can get their child into one of these programs?  Put their son under house arrest?  Let him run amuck and do whatever he wanted to do in the meantime?  Every private program that I checked into ran from $160.00 a day to $6,500.00 a month.  Who can afford that?

A few months ago, we learned that friends of ours had a daughter with a cocaine addiction.  Their insurance allowed them to put her in a rehab facility for two weeks.  Two weeks?  The first two weeks are the weeks that the child is angry and uncooperative.  After that, they slowly let down their barriers and begin to realize that everyone there, including their families, are trying to help them.  And even then, the progress is slow.  Two weeks isn’t long enough.  It made me want to find a way to start a foundation to provide scholarships for young people to be able to have the addiction recovery treatment that they so desperately need.  I had no idea that I would soon need that kind of assistance myself. 

At that time, I felt so bad for our friends, felt that I knew what they were going through, and wished I could help them.  I was happy that we didn't have to go through that and felt good about my son doing so well with his sobriety.  I had no idea what was coming.  You never know what is going to be the trigger that ends the sobriety and starts the relapse.  I guess the battle over school and the battle over privileges were his triggers this time. 

And now, things were not going very well in our home.  Sometimes it was so bad that I almost wanted to kick him out.  No matter how bad it got, I wouldn't do it and definitely didn’t want him to run away, go live with some unknown people, go live on the streets, or have anything bad happen to him, 

I didn’t know where else to turn and even though I didn’t really want to have DCFS (Division of Child and Family Services) involvement in our lives, I thought they might be able to help us figure out what to do with him.  After being transferred around and given different telephone numbers to call, I finally got through to a supervisor and she told me that a 45 day temporary placement might be an option while we got things figured out.  I knew that it would be heart-breaking to have him placed somewhere else, but what else could we do?  

After several weeks of waiting and calling and waiting, a Post-Adoption Family Preservation therapist made his first weekly visit. Our son was not excited that we were having a caseworker come to our house and told me that he was going to leave before the therapist got there, even if he had to go without shoes or coat again.  So, I asked the caseworker to come in the morning instead of the afternoon, just to catch my son off guard. 

He would either be just waking up or would still be sound asleep at that time of day.  He has always seemed to have problems sleeping, but now, just to be obstinate, he was staying up really, really late at night and then sleeping most of the day.  It made it hard for me to sleep because I felt like I had to stay awake too, so that I would know what he was doing. 

One night, I heard him in the kitchen at 2:00 a.m.  He was looking for some food and I told him that he just needed to go to bed and at least try to go to sleep.  He gave me a “make me” look and said that he was going to stay up as long as he wanted to because there was better stuff on TV at night than during the day.

I didn’t get into the argument with him that he seemed to be itching to have.  Sometimes I think his addictive nature feeds off confrontation just as much as it feeds off substance abuse.  I just had to walk away from that “make me” look, even though it frustrated me so much.  He loved throwing it in my face that he had the power to sleep or not and there was nothing I could do about it. 

He was very annoyed in the morning when the caseworker arrived just after he woke up.  The caseworker asked us a lot of questions as he tried to understand our family dynamic.  Our son was defensive and argumentative.  He even stormed out of the room at one point when he didn’t like hearing my husband’s opinion and feelings.  When the caseworker got to the drug history part and asked about our son’s desire to use drugs, he said, “I will probably smoke marijuana after I turn 18, but it isn’t worth the hassle right now.” 

It hurts so much to hear that.  “Why does he not get it?  Out of all of the things that have happened to him, that he has been taught, that he has seen, and that others in AA have shared, how can he still want to smoke pot, or use drugs of any kind?”  He has even said that he knows that he has damaged his brain and is not able to do certain things that he used to be able to do, mentally, because of all of his drug use—and yet he still wants to do it.

Someone who sponsors a lot of young men told me this:  “It doesn’t surprise me when someone relapses, it surprises me when they don’t.”  That is how often it happens.  He said that he went to rehab four times in three years before he finally realized that he wanted a life of sobriety and wanted to help others more than he wanted to self-destruct.

Every time I hear how long the relapse/recovery process can be and think about how bad it gets in our family with our son’s addictive and oppositional defiant behaviors, I wonder how we will ever get to the point where he has learned from his mistakes, is still alive, and ready to make a difference in the world. 

Our caseworker probably thought that we were a really messed up family.  Just to hear us try to communicate and to see how we interact with each other, surely makes us seem hopeless.

He asked my son if he would be willing to go to a day treatment program and he said that he would think about it.  As the interview went on, he changed his tune and began saying what he thought the caseworker wanted to hear.  He said he would check into programs and would see if he could get my son's name moved up on some of the waiting lists.

Being on waiting lists, though, meant that our son was in limbo.  He needed to be enrolled in school again, but I wanted it to be in day treatment, not at our boundary high school (which I call the Den of Iniquity because of his drug connections there).  Not going to school was just fine with him.  He thinks it is pointless because he is so far behind in credits toward graduation, anyway.  For me, having him around all day and night, never knowing what kind of mood he was going to be in or what was going to set him off kept me on edge all the time.  It would have been nice to have that 8 hour reprieve during the day.

When it was our turn to talk to the caseworker alone, we explained again that our son doesn’t want to live in our home and wants us to kick him out or find him a place to live, how he acts like he can’t stand us, how he wants everything in our house to run HIS way and if it doesn’t go the way he wants it to, he works himself into a rage.  

The caseworker said that his purpose was to keep our family together and that he would work as hard as he could to help us with that.  He wasn’t very encouraging on the topic of having our son temporarily placed somewhere.  He said the WE would have to pay $500.00 a month in child support to the state.  That was pretty unrealistic for our financial situation.   He was going to try to help us come up with other options and try to help us work through our problems.   

As the allotted time with the caseworker drew to a close, he warned my son to stay out of the “red zone” (which probably means blow-up mode), to stop screwing up, and to make sure that there weren’t any more incidents between then and when he went to court on the drug charges.  He said that if our son got into trouble again, the judge could give him consequences that he wouldn’t like. 

And then our son responded with, “I would love to go to Juvie.”  He just had to show what a "Bad A" he was and that he could care less if he got a harsh consequence.

The caseworker just ignored that and asked my son what he was going to do for the rest of the day.  I said, “I am thinking about taking him to the guitar store to see what is wrong with his guitar--if he promises to be nice to me.” 

He liked that idea, but had to show that some DCFS caseworker wasn’t going to change his mind about not wanting us to be his parents anymore and asked me this ‘dagger to the heart’ question:  “After we go to the guitar store, will you take me to the courthouse too?”  He was still certain that he could become emancipated.  The caseworker told him that the chances of emancipating were about 1 in 1000 and that he didn’t have anything going for him to show that he could be self-sufficient.  It didn't make any difference though.  He was still adament about going to there.  I really didn’t feel like taking him to the guitar store anymore.   

You just don’t know what it feels like to have your son constantly swear that he does not want you to be his parent.  I wanted this child so much.  I fought to keep him when he was a baby in the legal/risk foster care placement.  And now I was fighting to keep him as a teenager.  I love him so much and it is sad that living in our house, with us as parents is so terrible for him.  This isn’t what I thought his teenage years would be like.    

I tried not to show how much I was hurt by his request and I just said, “I will drive to the parking lot and I will sit in the truck.  You can go into the courthouse and do whatever you are going to do.”  He said that was fine with him.

After we left the guitar store, as I was driving toward the courthouse, he said, “You don’t have to go to there today.” 

I replied, “We might as well.  We are only two blocks away.  This is a good opportunity for you to get started on it.”  But, he just said no and that he was okay for now.

And we came home.

I guess he was going to give it another day.

I would be happy with one more day.