About Me

My photo
Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday's Southern-style Faith

I am always amazed at how the number of readers of this blog spikes on Fridays. Those who have known me for a long time, those who knew our relationship and love for our daughter J., come to know "just what happened." Then there are those who hear about it, who are naturally curious how such a nightmare could have occurred. Not just with the illness, but with the State of Florida's mismanagement of the illness, our case, and our child. I hear "In this country? But this is America!" time and again. 

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


  1. What a powerful and insightful post! I so identify with so many of these issues and pray that the Lord use these Friday posts to bring about the needed change in Florida and other states. Thank you Eva for baring your soul and also many blessings to Deborah who has helped many people process some of their own family pain today.

  2. Thank you for psoting this...I think it gives all of us a better understanding of why the system fails so often in so many ways. We haven't met personally, but have talked on the phone and I "see" your heart...praying for you and for J that she will get the help she needs and one day be restored to your family.

  3. Wow, Eva, this is powerful.

    It must bring a level of relief and freedom to hear her voice from the "other side" what you have experienced and brought to light as wrong.

    Praise God for her willingness to stand up and speak the truth along side you. Continuing to pray for you as you boldly expose the evil deeds of darkness in a system that continues to harm those it is supposed to be helping.

    I for one am proud of you for using your gifts and talents to speak up when others may not have the ability to do so.

    Thank you for this post...


  4. Dear Eva Marie,
    I have followed you and seen the tragic situation form with J and how it can absolutely tear apart good families, friends, and cause people to wonder: can this really happen in America?

    For too long we have avoided what is happening, and I congratulate you for being willing to be transparent, and let us now see the reasons behind all of our questions answered by a professional who is also willing to tell the whole truth.

    Thanks for caring and sharing, and it is a powerful message we all need to hear. Will be sharing it, and praying that we all listen and see what part we have in helping solve the many issues that good people like you face everyday!

    "Simply" Sue

  5. This was a great post. It says what needs to be said about the system in place, but also gives the caregivers the respect they need. Parents and foster parents hurt when all the love and affection they pour out is trampled and thrown away. It is emotionally draining. I wish there was a way of reaching these children earlier and working with them in such a way that some of the negative things can be overcome. Thanks Eva for posting this message. I hope the right people will read it and understand that changes have to be made in the way they "help" these children and deal with the parents who struggle with the every day battles.

  6. I immediately thought of a good friend, out of state, who has been dealing with this in her adult daughter for years. Now this adult daughter has two children and damage is being done which my friend as the grandmother, has little ability to do anything about. Keep speaking out. Keep writing.

  7. Thank you, Deborah and Eva, for bringing these horrendous situations to light. They are not isolated incidences. Thanks to both of you for speaking out!

  8. Dear Eva,

    I have just joined this group, so I am unfamiliar with your story, but I am anxious to learn more. Our family, too, has suffered from a case of mental illness. In this case, it was and is my husband who has battled bipolar disorder for almost 18 years. It has brought many, many changes to our family and our lives. This was compounded by a car accident less than six months after a severe mental break that permanently disabled my husband and forced me to take on many new roles. I survived by writing. But, up until now, the writing was just for me. I have been encouraged to share these journals with others, so I am now writing and immersing myself in the story of what I thought would be Ron's recovery, but it really mine.

    God bless you for your courage; I cannot wait to read your books


  9. Since I have worked with families caught in the system, I had to share this post on twitter. Those who know the failings within the establishments meant to protect our children understand the critical role your blog can serve to raise public awareness to this issue. Illumination makes great strides toward transforming the travesties done in darkness.

  10. Oh man. This is such a tough issue. My MIL is a borderline, so I've lived with and researched it thoroughly. Even seasoned therapists have a tough time with BPD clients. It sounds like there's no one person or entity to point a finger at. Our existence, the world around us, is horribly fallen. Our enemy is tearing into everything he can to destroy us, our witness. But we serve a God who is stronger by far. Lifting you up in prayer, hon.