Dear Your Honor:
Two-and-a-half years ago we started having difficulties with our son, seemingly out of nowhere.
We said: there is something wrong.
The police said: there is something wrong.
The DFS investigator said: there is something wrong.
The DFS therapist said: you know, there might be something wrong.
We had more problems. We sent him to boarding school. Things improved.
Then they got worse. He came home. Things got worse again. He went to detention.
We said: there is something wrong.
The investigator said: there is NOTHING wrong – you must be bad parents.
The therapist said: there is NOTHING wrong – you must be bad parents.
The caseworker said: there is NOTHING wrong – you must be bad parents.
Our son went to foster care. The foster parents said: there is NOTHING wrong. But that might have something to do with the fact that he had few boundaries set, few rules to follow, and was allowed to eat, sleep, and run around without restriction.
After about six months or so, the therapist said: you know what, something MIGHT be wrong; here are the notes and reports from back when, and they say there might indeed be something wrong.
The caseworker said: huh – there might be something wrong.
Most of our family and friends said: yup, there might be something wrong.
The doctor said: there IS something wrong.
And yet, exactly a year ago, to the day, we had said, unequivocally, there IS SOMETHING WRONG. And we’d like our son to be admitted for treatment. And all the people involved said, at that time: there is NOTHING wrong, YOU are bad parents and YOU are the problem.
By the time six months had passed, and it turns out that reports had stated that there MIGHT be something wrong, it was too late. The powers-that-be decided that our son was “too old” for residential treatment.
And where are we now, yet another six months down the road? Why, now he’s 17. That apparently means he can take off whenever he wants, follow the rules or not, and we have to let him in when he comes back – even if it’s just for an hour or so, even if it’s just to verbally abuse the family. Apparently it also means that adults can take him in and not inform us; it means that he can go anywhere, do anything, and we can’t stop him. The police won’t look for him, or – as was the case last night – even return our phone call asking for information. It also means that he can skip out on doctor’s appointments and stop taking his meds.
How has any of this helped my son? Why does everyone automatically assume that faulty parenting is to blame and that with enough “communication” everything can be fixed? Why does no one own up to the responsibility of getting the right treatment at the right time? And why, oh why, is it now “too late”? For the state to write off kids just because of age is WRONG. He could have been receiving nearly two years of treatment prior to his 18th birthday, but everyone insisted it was OUR fault.
So much time wasted.
And now, Your Honor, you aren’t going to hold him accountable for skipping town for a week, not telling us where he was staying, leaving his job, not doing his community service, not following up on his education. You’re going to hold yet another expedited hearing, in two weeks. In the meantime, what do we have, what is the situation?
He is gone again. He lasted exactly an hour and a half in our home before becoming verbally abusive and aggressive and threatening violence and property damage. We don’t know where he is, or what he’s doing. He has a bottle of prescription medicine. And within the last 12 hours broke into our home, causing damage. Likely while I was sitting here working, alone. He’s on probation for assaulting me.
Am I not able to feel safe in my home? Am I supposed to worry to death about what he’s doing, who he’s with, and whether he’s complying with psychiatric treatment? Aren’t you sending a message to him, loud and clear, that it’s perfectly alright that he’s ignoring your rules, as well as ours?
The officer who came here told me that *I* am responsible for whatever my son does – because he’s not 18. Yet, because he’s 17, he can do whatever he wants, the heck with probation and court orders? He can break into my house, and that’s okay? Tell me this: how can I be responsible for him if he’s not here, under your blessing? Doesn’t that make YOU responsible?