Then there are those who are professionals, or who suffer from the same illnesses, who come to read. To know more. Because the more we know of the stories, the more we learn ... and hopefully, the more likely we are to not repeat the mistakes.
Another question I get is this: Why are you doing this?
I do this because our family is not the only one. We are just one, but we are one with a member who writes and speaks publicly and who doesn't want to see this ever happen to anyone else again. To warn people, before they adopt or foster, of what they need to know FIRST. To encourage the State of Florida ... and all states ... to learn more about mental health issues and to get their noses out of the air and, by golly, start doing their jobs. To educate people about the mismanagement of organizations such as DCF and the community-based care programs across the country. To stop the outpouring of financial support until these people vow to get it right, instead of being hell-bent on proving themselves right, they don't care who gets hurt in the process.
I read every single comment. Last week, a professional gave such an amazing report, I asked her if I could use it for this week's post. So here it is. I encourage you to read every word. To know the truth. And,if you are from the state-side, if you are a DCF worker, or with a community-based care, etc., read carefully. This is not an angry parent speaking.This is one of you ... but one of you who decided to do more than slap the alphabet after their names. This is one of you who decided to know.
I would like to offer my professional opinion about this situation. I have worked with high-risk children for many years as a foster care social worker (SWIII) and in-home family therapist working with DSS, mental health centers, and the Methodist Home for Children in North Carolina for over 20 years before becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. I've watched this landslide of bureaucratic mismanagement from afar and could so clearly see what was happening, and honestly, I am not surprised.
I have worked with many teens like J. through the years. Deeply emotionally wounded early in life, they are taken and placed in loving homes, only to viciously turn on the very same people who have attempted to love them and give them a home. Children like this have personality disorders, usually borderline personality disorder concurrent with physiological imbalances like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Their view of the world and their place in it is warped. One classic symptom of emerging Borderline PD is the sudden (and sometimes violent) turning on people that they claim to love. The truth is, these children don't know how to love. They only know how to pretend to love to get their very basic needs for safety met, a skill learned early in life to cope with their chaotic and painful childhoods. Some become so severe as to form Reactive Attachment Disorder, the inability to truly attach to anyone at all, even their own child. Paradoxically, it is when they get into a safe place that they begin to act out their very deep and frightening anger at the world. They misdirect that anger at the very people that made them safe in the first place!
I know firsthand how easy it is to be manipulated by these children, who are often very bright and convincing. And, I'm not saying that they all are lying. Sadly, on rare occasions their stories are true.But when there is a clear diagnosis of mental illness, no evidence to substantiate wild accusations, threats of violence and sick behaviors and their cases are being managed by social workers who clearly are young and inexperienced and may have lost their objectivity, there is a recipe for disaster. Not only are good people devastated emotionally, financially, and socially, but the child is learning that manipulations, lies, and acting bizarre 1. gets a lot of attention 2. feeds their desperate need for power and control over others 3. and feeds the need for vengeance for wrongs done to them early in life. In other words, J. gets to do to the Everson's what was done to her, and if someone doesn't confront her with that, then she may one day do it to her own children as well.
I am deeply sad for this child and this family. They all have been deeply wronged. Although I believe it is safer for both J. and the Everson's to have J. removed from their home, to have them be denied parental rights and to treat them as the enemy here has been a miscarriage of justice and a prime example of social work at its worst.
I understand. Careers are at stake, jobs can be lost, and after all, social workers are all overworked, underpaid, and not trained to deal with sick children--at least not to the extent they should be. I deeply respect the unsung heroes of social work. The job is brutal at best. But it wasn't until I became a therapist that I really learned how much I didn't know when I was a social worker and how much the system has deteriorated in the last ten years. It’s scary to think how often this is happening and how many lives are being destroyed in the process. I hope someone has the courage to stand up and do the right thing.
Deborah B. Dunn,LMFT