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The System Failed Us Horribly

We live in a world where someone is innocent until proven guilty.

But do we really treat them that way once there’s been an incident?

We teach our children about the difference between bad guys and good guys.

What about the in between guys?

What makes a person bad?

What makes a person good?

After all we can do and after exhausting every resource, we send our children to places and people that are supposed to help them, only to learn that sometimes they do the opposite.

How is it that we as parents are judged so harshly, and yet people at these places get a free pass?

Over the last two months I have watched the system fail us horribly over and over and over again.

The System Failed Us Horribly

I have seen how this script of good guy versus bad guy plays out in the most horrific ways, as I was trying to fight for someone who makes good and bad choices each and every day.

It still shocks me how as a parent, I need to be perfect in every way, or else there are harsh consequences, yet caretakers who are trained and hired to help my child, can do whatever they want and are protected because apparently their behaviors were warranted.


You Will Be Charged with Abandonment

On Thursday, July 8th, I received a call stating that I could finally pick up Sunshine. The interstate contract had been revoked. (If you're just joining our story now, be sure to read, How to Work with a Broken Mental Health System first.)

I was told that I had five days to pick up my daughter, or my husband and I would be charged with abandonment. She would become a warrant of the state where her RTC was located.

It still baffles me how the system couldn’t protect my Sunshine from being abused where she was placed to get help, yet somehow it’s my fault, to the point that I lose my child if I don’t do exactly what I am told in the short time I am given. (I would never abandon my child.)

What would have happened if I hadn’t had the funds in my account to make that 8 hour trip one way?

Would have happened if I didn’t have transportation?

What would have happened if my husband and I worked outside of the home and couldn't get the time off?

Why does the system treat parents as the enemy?

I will never understand this.


Hard Decisions

After spending the weekend preparing, I drove to Sunshine’s RTC on July 12th by myself.

My husband stayed behind with our other kids, in case anything happened and I couldn’t make it back when I hoped to.

All the way there, through the rain and wind, I prayed.

What do I do?

I had no idea what state Sunshine would be in or if I would become her next target.

The answer I kept receiving was to minister to her. 

For whatever time we had in between placements, I was to minister to her.


A Dose of Reality

When I arrived at the hotel, near the residential treatment center, I called the RTC to let them know I was there and asked if I should come get her that night, or in the morning.  They requested I wait until the morning so they could get all of her things together.

I showed up at the RTC to pick up Sunshine first thing the next morning.

Nothing was ready.

I waited over four hours to obtain all that I needed to take her home.

The RTC thought it to be okay that I leave with only one day’s worth of meds.

I refused to sign paperwork without prescriptions and communication with Sunshine’s psychiatrist at home.

The RTC thought it would be okay that Sunshine leave unbathed, without hair or teeth brushed, in rags without shoes and covered from head to toe in bruises.

I refused to sign paperwork and leave until Sunshine was bathed, her hair done and a complete body check completed with paperwork to document all of the bruises.

Thankfully I had brought a new pair of clothes, toiletry items, and had even gone as far as purchasing a new pair of shoes just in case. 

Staff asked to use what I had brought as they didn’t have items on hand for Sunshine otherwise.

The RTC thought it would be okay to send Sunshine home with nothing, even though we had sent several pairs of shoes, clothing sets for all four seasons, with endless supplies of socks and underwear.

We had sent her stuffed animals for her birthday and for Christmas.

Only minimal stained rags came back. Sunshine didn’t even have a pair of underwear to her name.

While at the RTC as I waited, I listened as the nurses station was paged over and over and over again for holds etc. The nurse would reply she was the only one there and she hadn’t even had the chance to distribute morning meds to some of the children. She could not help out where needed.

I had to ask and demand that Sunshine receive her meds on time.

Paperwork stated that a discharge safety plan needed to be set up and explained to Sunshine before she was able to leave.

Staff had no issues with forgetting this step. I had to refuse to sign, until it took place.

And just like that after four hours of waiting and witnessing the chaos of what “help” looked like at this  RTC, I loaded Sunshine into our twelve passenger van, Big Red, and we left to make the long trip back together.


The Rules of the System

Meanwhile that same morning, my husband had a meeting with the county at home. 

You see, due to the fact that Sunshine had made no progress in the RTC, she was still considered a danger to our family and the community.

The county knew the situation we were in, but the rules of the system are what they are, even if a placement cannot be found when needed.

My husband proposed our safety plan, seeking approval.

Sunshine would stay in a local hotel, close to the sheriff’s office and local ER with parents rotating out until her next placement became available.

Her siblings would not have contact with her in person. She would have a parent as a one-to-one at all times.

The county approved of our plan, but could not provide any financial support towards hotel costs.

Everyone on the county community services board felt horrible but could do nothing. 

Sunshine needed to be in a residential setting for the safety of those in the community. That's how the system worked. There were no exceptions.

My husband texted me after the meeting with the county, letting me know of their approval of the safety plan. I was still waiting for staff to get it together at the RTC before I left with Sunshine at the time.

I don’t know what would have happened if the county said no to our proposed safety plan. 

I do know what would have happened if we had brought Sunshine home and she hurt someone.

It would have been our fault. 

My husband and I would have been charged with endangerment.

I still wonder, what would have happened if we couldn’t figure out how to pay for the hotel?

How is it that the system expects families to do all of this on their own?

Still even now, none of this makes sense to me.


Crossing State Lines

My goal once Sunshine was in Big Red, was to make it into our home state by day’s end.

I had every e-mail from both states on my phone needed for documentation purposes in case things went awry and I had to call police.

I had every piece of documentation from the RTC that I needed in case upon seeing Sunshine’s bruises, law enforcement thought that I had abused my child.

I knew the drive would be slow, because Sunshine wouldn’t be able to handle much, and it was.

But we did it without any complications.

The first part of Sunshine’s transition was a success.

We didn’t know at the time, that it would be the easiest part.

The System Failed Us Horribly

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