Placing your child in residential treatment is a bridge no parent wants to cross. But what happens when you realize he or she is doing better there than they did in your house? It happens often. What do you do? How do you respond? Here are some thoughts…
It’s a warm sunny afternoon on a Saturday in early September when we load our kids up in our super-used Chevy Suburban to make the hour and half trek across our state to visit our kid in residential treatment. This is not our first rodeo with this scenario. We’ve been here before. It never gets easier. Sure, it becomes routine…after some time, but never easier. On this particular afternoon we’re confined to campus due to bad behavior in the days prior.
It’s a trial many parents find themselves in when their child ends up in residential treatment or juvenile detention. How do you continue to be a parent when your child lives somewhere other than home?
Twice a week, I visit my son. Twice a week, I sign myself out on a lined piece of paper. Twice a week, I retrieve my belongings from a locked box as a staff member walks me to the door. Twice a week, the door swings shut behind me and as I cross the parking lot. Twice a week, my eyes well up. Twice a week, I turn the key in the ignition and catch my breath as the tears are too much to hold back.
We know the feeling. More importantly, we know the wrestling match you’re in because you don’t feel the guilt you think you’re supposed to feel. But, this honest admission doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent.
He prefaced the statement with, “I’m ashamed to admit this.” Then he paused, took a deep breath, lowered his head, and finally released it…. “My son doesn’t live at home right now, and I don’t feel guilty about that. In fact…” he paused again, choking back a reservoir of emotion building behind his eyes, “I love the peace that we feel without him here. I’ve waited so long for it.” I placed my arm on his shoulder empathetically. “I know,” I said, looking him in the eyes.
*Editor’s Note- This is a guest post by our good friend Lisa Qualls. She is a writer, speaker, mom of 12, and the creator of Thankful Moms
, where she writes about motherhood, adoption, faith, and grief. Lisa is a mom by birth and adoption. Along with her husband Russ, their adoption journey has been marked by joy as well as challenges of trauma and attachment. You can visit her blog here
, and connect with her on Facebook here
Holidays are wonderful family times, but holidays can also be are hard – especially for families with kids from “hard places.” The pressure of special events, increased anxiety, and disruption of schedules due to school vacations, can sometimes bring about true crisis.
Four years ago, I wrote a post to my readers on Christmas Eve. It was early in the morning; my family was sleeping and snow was falling outside the windows in the pre-dawn hour. I’d been silent, unable to write for several days as I tried to make sense of the crisis we found ourselves in.
We’ve personally been down this road 4 separate times with one of our kids. It never gets easier. How do you make it through the devastation of placing your child in residential treatment?
In today’s episode of Honestly Speaking, our co-host Nicole Goerges turns the microphone on us, and interviews us over this topic because we’ve walked this road several times in the past. It never gets easy, even when the absence of your child creates peace for the rest of your family.
It’s one of the worst decisions you may have to make for your child on the journey of foster care and adoption. Placing your child in a residential treatment facility is never easy. But how do you know when the time is right to do so?
We’ve been down this road 3 separate times in the past. We know exactly how it goes: Your family is on pins and needles. You cautiously move through your house on a daily basis as if you’re walking across a frozen lake that may collapse at any moment. Looking at your child the wrong way could send them into a tirade. Your spouse, and other children, have experienced so much secondary trauma you hardly know how you’ll recover as a family.
It’s a decision we had to make 3 times in 4 years with one of our children. It never got easier. There were only more questions and more what-ifs. Along the way I asked the question…. “Am I a failure as a parent for making this choice?”
Not a day goes by where my mind doesn’t drift to that day. I can close my eyes right now and remember everything clearly. I’m standing in a warm office on the hillside of a residential campus in Missouri. It’s December, just a week before Christmas. I keep noticing how the barren trees on the rolling hills, surrounding us, form a murky gray color. Fitting for the circumstances. In another building, across the campus, my son is meeting the people he’ll live with for the next 15 months. It’s taking all of my strength to hold back tears.