adoption, family, mental illness

At Least She is Safe

The holiday season is the WORST for our daughter. It always has been. This is when Mary is typically hospitalized. This year is no different, except that she is safe in a psychiatric treatment facility. When Mary is with others outside the PRTF or the home, she is happy and pleasant. When she is with her attachment figures, it can flip in an instant.

Mary’s already had multiple violent outbursts this month. Earlier this week, she threw herself backwards down the stairs during a meltdown. Now she is covered in bruises. She’s been running away from school.  Yesterday, at her PRTF, she threw a weight directly into plaster wall, leaving a hole.

Tonight the staff called me to help “support.” I am not sure if I was supporting Mary or the staff there. She had been in a protective hold twice for attacking the staff. She went after her primary caretaker there. When I asked why my daughter said, “She deserved it. I don’t care.”

But Mary DOES care. That’s why she goes after the mother figure closest to her. It comes down to triggers specifically about the shower and the holidays. Also, having a mother-figure is a huge trigger, in addition to being something she craves. Mary’s longtime trauma therapist says there may be some kind of pre-verbal trauma Little Girl doesn’t even remember. We may never know what it is. But somehow we must learn to deal with it.

I can’t eliminate shower/bathtime. I can’t eliminate Christmas. I can’t eliminate moms. And I can’t do the therapeutic work for her. EMDR, play therapy, IOP, PHP, TF-CBT, attachment therapy, psychiatric service dog and in-home services are just a few that we’ve done over the last 4 years. And we won’t stop trying…it’s just…well…

I hate to say this but I’m glad she is safe at her PRTF. I’m glad we are all safe here at home. Mary needs residential. It’s so sad to admit that. We’ve tried everything possible to keep her safe here. We cannot meet these needs in a home setting. Now she will be transitioning to a new program. We start with a 45 day evaluation and then see if Mary qualifies for the program. It’s a prestigious school that specializes in complex developmental trauma and relational problems. It was not easy to get her there.

Now we have to hope that her new therapeutic residential school helps. She will start there sometime this month. And, yes, I have to tell this story. Because who else will? This is what parenting through mental illness and developmental trauma looks like. If you are a parent out there struggling to help your child, you aren’t alone. If you are the praying kind then please pray for us.


**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.


14 thoughts on “At Least She is Safe

  1. I am so glad she is okay. I am so glad you are okay. We also struggle with bathing and Christmas with our kiddo– our “duck and cover” time. It can be odd more than anything to have feelings of dread along feelings of good seasonal cheer. Complex as usual. I hope you fair decent through the remaining of this holiday sprawl.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. deansandrazmm says:

    My heart goes out to you! We deal with these exact issue’s on a much smaller scale and we are nearly overwhelmed, I cannot imagine how you must feel, although I will admit a small part of me wished my daughter could be somewhere safe too. Kiana is just under the need for inpatient care. Some days she absolutely would benefit, other days I know it would only make her worse and so we flip flop back and forth trying to be loving parents as well as safe parents which she feels is unloving. The mom figure triggers her too. She gets furious with her friends and does mean things to them because they have a mom and she doesn’t. She rages and just recently has been hurting me and telling me I deserve it cause she hates me and I am a mean mom. Then she turns around and wails about how sorry she is and will I please forgive her. She digs treasures out of her room to give me but 5 minutes later she is raging again and we go down the whole road again. Over and over, it’s exhausting…but why am I telling you? You already know this first hand! I think my biggest fear is that she is getting worse as she gets older and I feel our little girl healing time is slipping away as the teen years and those issues fast approach. We also think she has pre verbal trauma and we just have to learn to live with it. But when you don’t know what it is, and the triggers change with her moods, it’s hard to stay on top of things. Anyway, praying for you and your family! Sandra

    On Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 1:11 AM, Herding Chickens and Other Adventures

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Margie says:

    Just a little word of encouragement. My cousin adopted a little girl who also ended up in a residential treatment facility. And they seem to have worked miracles. Little one is back home and truly a changed child. So hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train, but true light. Praying for you and family everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. C says:

    I was on the child end of this, but I can’t imagine being in this situation as a parent. I hope that you are able to figure out what is behind her triggers. She is safe but she is also blessed to have a family advocating for her, loving her and doing the work. I don’t mean work in a negative way. I had a professor who always said in any relationship it’s only as good as the work you put in. You are doing the work, which in my opinion any parent should be willing to do for their child. However, we both know too many parents are not. I am also glad to hear you found a program that seems like it will fit Mary’s needs better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, C. Being in touch with you helped us to search for a program that would be helpful. I appreciate the compliments. Sometimes I feel like we are just hanging on for the ride. In the long run we really need to find something that can stabilize her to the point of safety. Adult survivors, like yourself, are crucial to the understanding of parents. Thank you!!


  5. Pingback: The Hard Truths | Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

  6. Pingback: Are You My Mother? | Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

  7. crazedladychronicles says:

    I teach in a PRTF and think the kids I work with are the most amazing and inspiring people I have ever met. Yes, I agree many of them need the structure and support, but it doesn’t mean they can’t achieve so much. So many of my students do not have parent support and I just want to personally thank you for advocating for her and being involved. I am glad she seems to have found a good place to receive care.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s