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Foster mom considers sending foster daughter back; 'She's ruining our lives. We live in fear.' AITA? UPDATED

Foster mom considers sending foster daughter back; 'She's ruining our lives. We live in fear.' AITA? UPDATED


.When this foster mom is at the end of her rope, she asks the internet:

"I'm at the end of my rope with my foster child and I'm on the verge of sending her back. AITA? I need advice."

I always wanted to adopt an older child out of foster care. I have two stepsons, 12 and 15. My marriage is good. We have stability. Everyone’s relationships are good. I broached the topic with my husband.

We both wanted another child but didn’t want a baby. We knew it would be hard. We did all the trainings. Our kids both have special needs and behavioral issues so we felt like we could handle it.

Earlier this year we were matched with a 9yo girl. Both parental rights were terminated. We had some reservations because she was on some heavy meds (risperidone and 3 others) and she had been living in a RTC (residential treatment center) for a year and a half.

We were assured that her behaviors were under control. She had recently been downgraded from specialized to moderate. She had learning disabilities like dyslexia. One of our sons has dyslexia. No big deal.

We asked questions, read her entire file… Long story short, the behavioral problems are much more severe than we were lead to believe. Our entire lives have been turned upside down. And her behaviors change every week. It’s like playing whack a mole. Either she is severely regressing or we were lied to.

The biggest problem right now is her behavior at school. She is in a special education class with only 5 other kids. The special education teacher, who is very experienced and skilled, cannot get her behaviors under control.

-Last week she was placed in a physical restraint because she attacked her teacher over a coloring assignment.

-Yesterday she bit a child on the after-school care bus and we are in danger of losing after-school care

-yesterday her class took a field trip to a gymnastics place. She threw a fit because she wanted to be in the baby class and started hitting/scratching people.

-She cusses out and flips off her teachers daily.

-She gets offended over everything, even things that have nothing to do with her. Example, we played bingo this weekend. I had 3 tickets to pay for 3 boards. She got it into her head that I didn’t need to pay and had a very public and vocal tantrum about me simply paying for bingo boards.

She then proceeded to cause a scene (loudly screaming things like “this is stupid” so that the entire building could hear her) every single time they called a number that wasn’t on her board and we had to leave.

I gave her a dozen warnings and she continued loudly screaming the entire time. Now imagine this in a classroom. She makes other kids cry and can be super mean to them because she takes offense at everything they do and gets upset if the teacher spends time helping them instead of paying attention to her.

-She is constantly throwing her hands in people’s faces, interrupting conversations and anything/everything we were doing. Basically 24/7 attention seeking.

We tried watching a movie together as a family and she disrupted it constantly, deciding that now is the perfect time to learn to read, something she never does voluntarily, and demanded that I help her read in the dark during the movie.

When I explained that we are watching a movie and not reading right now, tantrum. She couldn’t handle us watching the Tv instead of paying attention to her, so she then proceeded to stand in front of the Tv blocking our view and demanding that we watch her dance and sing.

When we asked her to please sit down, tantrum. She interrupts conversations that have nothing to do with her. I can’t have a conversation with my stepsons without her showing up, physically wedging herself between us, and loudly taking over the conversation.

One stepson might ask the other, what are you doing right now? She could be in a totally different room. If she overhears it, she will get up, run as fast as she can to wherever they are, and try to answer the question for my other stepson. It is constant.

-she bullies other children -we are under constant stress that we will lose childcare and there are no resources for special needs children in our area. If she gets kicked out of after-school care, there are 0 other options.

We did not realize this would be an issue because no one told us her issues were this severe. We did not know that there were issues of physical violence.

-She is horribly behaved everywhere she goes. She begs to go to dance class but during dance class she is a nightmare, refusing to follow instructions and instead rolling around on the floor having tantrums over perceived slights.

-Extreme poor impulse control. Note of the coping skills she has been learning stick because she cannot control herself. Her skills trainer told us that skills training is a waste of time for her.

-She is in play therapy, has a psychiatrist, and is in skills training. We are trying to get her evaluated for a sensory processing disorder and considering starting occupational therapy.

-She has severe intellectual disabilities. No concept of time, struggles with the alphabet, cannot read numbers off a page, cannot do simple addition or subtraction.

All of these are things that we are fine with but we cannot teach her anything because of her behavioral problems. She sees a special education tutor every week and disrupts the entire session, grabbing things out of her tutor’s hands, screaming, shutting down and getting angry, rolling around on the floor.

We just don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m living in a nightmare. We knew it would be hard but it’s impossible.

I spend all day at work with my stomach in knots because I’m so worried about what kind of report we will get from her teacher and after-school program because every single day is an onslaught of bad behavior. She does not have good days.

These are apparently the same behaviors she had in the past and they’re why the last adoptive placement with her aunt failed. After that she spent a year and a half in an RTC (residential treatment center) where behaviors improved dramatically.

CPS skillfully avoided questions about what happened with the aunt and what behaviors she had in the past, emphasizing how well she has been doing in the RTC and making it sound like the aunt was the one with the issue.

Now that we’re having all these issues at school and we’re at our limit, the CPS worker is all “yeah that’s what happened with the aunt.”

The problems are so numerous that we are just overwhelmed. And it’s different every week. If we get one behavior under control it is quickly replaced by another even more annoying behavior the next week.

Is this a child who needs to be in an RTC? Has anyone had success helping a child like this?

She is on 4 different meds, including the max dose for her adhd and 2 different mood meds. Please help. I don’t want to give up on this child but I dread every single day. I'm on the verge of sending her back. My entire family is suffering and I feel so guilty for putting them in this situation. AITA??

Before we give you OP's updates, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

feasthae writes:

NTA!!!! I feel this post. My younger son was 8 when he moved in with us and he had some incredibly severe behavioral issues. There were periods over that first year where we almost felt defeated.

He was/is in a behavioral school that is incredibly solid, but our options for any after-care were literally zero. Dealing with his behaviors every night all night was soul-draining. Not disrupting the placement was the most difficult thing I've ever had to do in my life, and it took a serious toll on my mental health.

What made the ultimate difference for us was the inpatient hospitalizations our son received. He was hospitalized three times over the course of his first six months with us.

Once for trying to push his behavior coach down the stairs, once for hitting his therapist with a stick and then running out of the building into traffic, and finally once for suicidal ideations.

It absolutely broke me. It almost broke us as a family, but we somehow managed to get through. It was only after his third hospitalization that they FINALLY honed in on the correct meds/dosages and it was night and freaking day.

Those meds worked great for about a year before a major growth spur and some pre-puberty hormones kicked in, and he ended up hospitalized once again a few months back.

They put him on Lithium at this hospitalization this time, taking him off almost all of his other meds, and the improvement is even more staggering than it was the last time.

There were lots of other things that helped of course- in-home behavioral coaching, therapy, and his school being the three big ones- but we don't feel like he'd be ready to process any of that without the meds being right. We don't want him to be on these heavy meds forever but it's what he needs to function/heal right now.

Of course, that may not help or be enough in your case, just a potential option to explore. If it turns out the best option for your placement really is an RTC it could end up being best for all involved.

You have other kids to worry about too and you can only do what you can do. As an experienced foster parent told me, "you cannot pour from an empty cup".

festique writes:

Soft ESH. You need to remember that kids from broken homes often come with a lot of preconceived notions about their self worth. They want to challenge these notions, or affirm them. And the fastest way is often to act out. How bad can my behavior get before another parental figure abandons me.

For some kids it's almost like a game of chicken. How close can I get before I pull back? It's not even usually conscious, they're just addicted to the drama of their broken homes :/

creime54 writes:

NTA. I have some thoughts. If you try to fix school behaviour from home it will (probably) break the placement

The best help you can give school is to make home life calm and stable and loving and from that base help her access therapy and support - but it’s a long term solution and it’s sounds like after school isn’t being coped with and is at risk

Sometimes it’s very important to recognise what you can and can’t have immediate control over

In extreme situations where school conduct is very poor and clearly beyond normal misbehaviour I would suggest totally separating school and home life (from her perspective)

to ensure you don’t end up in a self fulfilling loop of poor school meaning a stressed and punitive home life meaning more poor school etc etc - once that is believed by the kid truly and experienced by them then after-school (and school) may become less triggering for her (?)

A lot of the non school issues sound like attention issues, stimulation issues and shame issues and generally being out of her comfort zone so maybe reduce the places she goes and activities she does where she doesn’t cope and try to stick with a smaller...

more predictable life only doing what she does cope with ok until more security is established and therapists and doctors have a better grasp of her issues and medications etc.

fake075Q writes:

NTA!!! GET RESPITE! You are going to need help. You are going to need breaks. Ask your Cert Worker or the child's case worker to find you another family to help once or twice a month by taking her overnight if possible. You are going to need a break and your other kids are going to need a break.

And now, OP's update:

It’s been a while since I posted… and my post was so doom and gloom that I thought I would post a positive update.

We indeed went through a very difficult time with our 9yo adoptive placement. Thank you to everyone who listened and let me vent and who gave me support.

A lot has happened since that post. We went back to her psychiatrist and explained what has been happening. He put her back on risperidone and increased the dose to 1mg in the mornings.

The physical hitting and cussing dramatically improved almost overnight with only a couple minor episodes. Her behavior at school has also improved dramatically over the last couple weeks.

Her reports went from having constant negative feedback all day, every day, to just small chunks of negative feed back. For example, today, she had about one hour of moodiness but cooperated the rest of the day. I can’t tell you how huge that is.

But, other things have been happening at the same time that I think helped too. Our sons have been making more of an effort to bond with her over the last month. It started small with letting her watch them play video games.

Next thing I know, my oldest is taking her to feed deer and my middle child is spending hours laughing and playing silly games with her.

We’ve also had a lot of family events that she has really enjoyed. She went trick or treating the first time on Halloween, and our older boys were very sweet guiding her around the neighborhood and calming her down when she became frustrated.

We also went to a wedding out of town where we spent the evening dancing with other kids, and she said it was the “best night of my life.”

As her behavior has been improving, we’ve had more energy to do fun family things like parks more often, which in turn seems to be helping her bond better and feel more secure, which is also having a positive effect on her behavior.

When we left off with the last post, we were going to have her evaluated for a sensory processing disorder. We are on a waitlist. We have been experimenting with a weighted lap belt for school and weighted blanket at night and those things seem to be helping.

She had a new psychological exam and was finally diagnosed with something, DMDD. We are trying to understand the diagnosis. She has had additional evaluations at school, and we will learn those results in a couple weeks.

We had a parental consult with her therapist who encouraged us to let go of her school behavior. She told us to trust the professionals at school to correct her behavior at school and for us to focus on creating a loving, nurturing environment at home.

We have been trying to do that. Her behavior at home is pretty good and has always been better than her behavior at school.

She is talking a lot more about her grief and complicated feelings. She is asking questions about why she was removed from her mom because she can’t remember. She fluctuates from missing her family to expressing anger and resentment from feeling unwanted.

Her therapist told us that she believes her family put her in foster care because she is dumb, which could explain the severe anxiety she feels at school and when she is being taught new things and why she acts out so badly in those situations.

She is also asking for pictures of her bio family because she has nothing to remember them by. I contacted an aunt a few weeks ago, and I have put a photo album together that I will be giving her this weekend.

We have also requested the CPS files relating to her mom so we can give her answers about why she is in foster care so she knows it is not because she is dumb.

We fired her skills trainer who was supposed to be helping her at school. It’s a long story, but the skills trainer was extremely negative about her and we came to realize that the skills trainer was causing her stress, not alleviating it.

The last conversation I had with the skills trainer was her essentially telling me that our 9yo daughter has no future, she will be violent and will injure teachers when she is older, and she will never be independent so we should “factor that into our retirement.”

She is one of the people we hired to help our daughter and we decided there is no point in keeping her around if she can has already written our child off. She has made me cry every time I’ve talked to her because of her negativity, so I can only imagine how she makes my daughter feel during their sessions.

Essentially, the last few weeks have felt… blissfully normal. There have been some moody episodes but nothing totally unexpected for her age. Her doctors think anxiety is driving a lot of her behaviors.

Her psychiatrist added an SSRI this week and wants to very gradually try transitioning her to an SSRI instead of risperidone. I know it will probably be a roller coaster for a while.

I am not deluding myself into thinking she is “fixed.” But this has been a welcome break from a really rough road and I feel very encouraged that we are headed in the right direction.

Readers continued to weigh in on OP's "happy" update:

fessss09 writes:

NTA. My son has DMDD, and while it is significantly less severe than OOP’s daughter, he does take risperidone. I was an adolescent therapist and had a number of clients in this particular boat. Despite being effective in mood and behavioral disorders, it’s a heavy duty atypical antipsychotic.

So it’s not uncommon for doctors to try to wean pediatric patients off of it after periods of extended stability.

But when it becomes obvious that the medication change is not working, you put the kid back on it. My son was off the drug less than a week because his symptoms returned.

To have the medication change fail this spectacularly and then do nothing should be considered malpractice. I don’t know why OOP’s daughter and OOP’s family had to suffer for months.

Sources: Reddit
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