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Coming up for air

Posted Jan 31 2013 11:19am

This title of this piece has multiple meanings, one a literal application to the many aquatic stars we saw last month at the Georgia Aquarium, but another just in trying to sort 0ut a life gotten much too layered and complicated to handle.

DSCN0132 Kind of like sorting out the complex layers of African cichlid existence in an underwater river setting, our lives at this moment have trails shooting off in all directions. Some of them are quite positive: Little Miss has really settled into eighth grade, supported by a fine AS teacher, and enjoying half a day of classes with her peers. She has also overcome many of her sensory issues and had taught herself to sing and dance AT THE SAME TIME while she’s using the Wii dance programs. Who would have thought it, five years ago or especially ten? A lot of hard work on all sides. Well done.

Dr. Doo-be-Doo has matured significantly as he’s moved into high school age, making some of his social interactions rough, but not more so than a good proportion of other young men his age. He’s found a gaming club to join to stimulate his imagination, and has become involved–even auditioned–for the local Meadville Community Theatre Youth show in March, which makes his father and me both happy. We’ve met so many nice people through there, and we know this will be good for him.

Both kids have improved their grades, their social interaction and their grip on this world. We’re very proud. DSCN0074

Having an exchange student has helped a lot, I think, showing what a “normal” older sibling would act like. Because Yurie is from Japan, she’s used to a more standoffish interpersonal mode that works fine in our house with the spectrum kids. Everyone has plenty of time to work solo and not be overwhelmed by the others.

The other part of it is, of course, while we’re not having our lives sucked into oblivion dealing with the Captain’s apparently incurable issues, we can actually interact with the others in a pleasant way and build good relationships.

Which is why, when the therapeutic foster care people threw up their hands after 18 months of treatment that had achieved exactly zero because the Captain thinks therapy and learning coping skills is “stupid” and he has no intention of changing anything about himself, we came to a crisis decision.

DSCN0091 With the sharks circling, and the county’s plan to send him home, completely unchanged other than to have gained new manipulation tools and catch phrases from the therapists, what to do? We went through an escalating four years of hell before he was placed. We asked for help from agencies, doctors, respite people, family members, and followed every lead we got. He still continues to have no accountability or take no responsibility for his acts. He’s not sorry about anything. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he turned out to be a Newtown-style shooter, especially since he has confessed that the reason for all his transgressions is to get attention.

And their best suggestion is now to send him back here, unrepaired and they’d toss six hours of therapy each week the family had to endure KNOWING that the Captain will have none of it?

No. No thank you.

What this means is personally humbling for me, of course, because the only other alternative is to release him into the Children’s Services system. Ironic that this is where I work every day, representing other parents whose children are abused, and neglected. Those caseworkers are now going to have access to information about my personal life and the right to dictate what we’ll do. We’ll likely pay child support to the state for keeping him in care, even though his placement there is entirely of his own doing. A humiliating ten months left until he turns 18 in December 2013. But I’ve cleared it with my boss, and he understands exactly what we’re up against. He supports me.

DSCN0055 There’s always a possibility that the Captain will see the error of his ways, especially mixed in with the general CYS pool of placees, and realize all he has to do is make a real change, not just a plastic one.

But I think taking him in before we’re sure of this is no different than wrapping ourselves in jellyfish tentacles, so pretty to look at, but deadly and continual poison injections into out lives thereafter.  He’s admitted in the last two weeks that he did so much of the stuff he did to punish us and to get attention. And he hasn’t worked through one whit of it. He stands just where he was after he’d lived in our house locked in his room at night for eight months, after he lived outside in a tent for two, and after 18 months in therapeutic foster care.

As much as we care about him and want him to do well, we also have to look at the big picture.

We have saved the other two. Years of TSS, occupational, physical and more therapy, testing (Little Miss is off for another round in Pittsburgh next month), daily, constant prompting with any medium available. Perhaps that’s all we can do. The decision’s been hard, but now that it’s been made, it at least feels right.

DSCN0083

So we’ll see what the rest of the year has to bring. E is expanding his teaching, enjoying it. I’ve got six novels coming out in 2013, after 6 in 2012 as well. Still practicing law, so we’re coping on a daily basis. Absent a magic wand or some potion to make the Captain see his way clear to wanting to be a helpful, cheerful, determined member of the team and working to get there, I don’t see what else there is. If the family falls apart altogether, maybe there’s a possibility of splitting the kids in some sensible way, where he can come out of foster care. But if the family falls, I fear for the well-being of everyone. We can’t let this one link break the chain. I hope. One month down. Everyone fasten their seatbelts for the rest of the ride.


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