17 years ago, my husband and I traveled 5,000 miles to Perm, Russia to adopt a 14 month old baby girl. We traveled 5,000 miles back home with her to Boston. And then our journey really began...
It's Raining Cats and Dogs...
Ah yes, the etymology of the phrase "it's raining cats and dogs"... There are a number ofversions running around on the internet. I like these two:
The first: with 16th century European peasant homes frequently being thatched, animals seeking shelter from the elements would fall out during heavy rains.
The second: that drainage in 17th century Europe was typically poor so they would,
during heavy rains, disgorge any of the animal corpses that had accumulated in them.
So... To take up where I left off. After our 9 hour visit to the ER, we took
Yelena back to the ER the following Friday. Her return to the ER was also recommended by our in-home therapist and our family partner's concern for Yelena's safety and our safety. My husband made a list of everything that had happened in the past two weeks and it was quite a formidable list. Our family partner wrote the list down. This is the list: List of Inappropriate Behaviors:
Stole $15 worth of chocolate covered strawberries that belonged to the girls
Stole other food that belonged to the girls
Dug in flower beds after being told not to
Scraped moss off of rocks after being told not to
Kicking the car with karate kicks
Spit food out, threw salad on the ground and stormed up the street
Brandished a knife (threateningly)
Brandished a large spatula (threateningly)
Broke a knife
Stole $75. in $5 dollar bills and a leather jacket
Stole another student's notebook in school
Left the house twice without permission for 6 hours and refused to get in the car
when I went out looking for her.
Barricaded me in my bedroom, took her baby pictures out of their frames and
tore them up and ripped up the book I was reading.
Unfortunately, we got to the ER on a Friday evening of a holiday weekend and Yelena's ER visit turned into a SIX DAY STAY IN THE ER. It still blows my mind to think about it. Totally inappropriate. They kept moving her around from room to room and finally ended up putting her in the area with locked doors and guards. Then began a totally fruitless daily effort to try to get her out of there: emails and phone calls to everyone we could think of. We were told that there would be no CBAT beds for two weeks. Her therapist from school said that April and May were the worst months for hospitalizations with kids. Amazing. Yelena had a great time. She stayed in bed, watched TV all she wanted and had her meals delivered to her. She had a group of Child Life Specialists who brought her games, art materials, a portable DVD player and videos. And this went on for six days. On Wednesday, I was told that she would be moved to an inpatient hospital about an hour south of us. Also, aside from being an impossibly far distance to visit regularly, it was a hospital with a lousy reputation. I hadn't hear ANYTHING good about it. My husband and I were on the phone all day (not unusual) - back and forth between each other, the ER, the agency that was looking for a bed, the psychiatrist. I was told that she had to go to an inpatient facility as the psychiatrist in the ER would not allow her to go to a CBAT. I called the psychiatrist and was given a very short and smug reply. She essentially told me she was too busy to talk and I asked her, please, to just listen to me for a minute and she said no. She called me back a little while later to tell me that my daughter was going to an inpatient facility. I was furious. She was not able to hear me. I asked to speak to her supervisor and she said "I'm not sure" and I said "What? You're not sure of what? You're not sure who your supervisor is?" She said "No, I know who my supervisor is. I'm not sure you can talk to her." The attitude and bad vibe she was giving off was unbelievable. I begged her to consider a CBAT instead of in-patient but it all fell on deaf ears. I called the agency that was looking for the bed and asked what would happen if I refused to sign her in. The woman told me that if I refused, they would probably would file a 51A against me - which is effectively telling the State of Massachusetts that we are abusing our child. It's what everyone seems to threaten me with when they are trying to force me to do something I don't want to do for Yelena. Something that I don't think is in her BEST INTEREST. The State of Massachusetts and I seem to disagree about what is in Yelena's best interests. My husband called and told me it was too late, she was already in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
A NOTE ON IN-PATIENT HOSPITAL PROGRAMS vs. CBAT PROGRAMS (Community BasedAcute Treatment):
In hospitals, you cannot be forced to do anything. You don't have to take a shower, you don'thave to wash your hair or brush your teeth or change your clothes or wash your clothes. You can watch TV all day if you want to. You can stay in bed all day if you want to. You can use the telephone as much as you want to call anyone you want and anyone can call you. There is very little to no therapeutic work done with patients.
A CBAT is a highly structured, and monitored therapeutic milieu and crisis stabilization program where there is a very specific schedule that takes into account all of the above. As a parent you specify who can be in communication with your child andwho they are allowed to call. They have regular exercise and school work. Males and females are strictly segregated. To my mind, the CBAT is much more highly structured (which Yelena needs) and far more therapeutic.
There was a basketball court opposite the door to the hospital wing where Yelena was. I askedher if they ever went out to play basketball (which she loves) and she said no. They were confined to a small courtyard that the adult patients also used. They ate meals in a cafeteria with adult patients. None of those things are appropriate for Yelena. She told me that the adult patients used the courtyard to smoke cigarette and crack (no, I didn't ask her if she knew what crack was because I know she has no idea.) Yelena called me about 20 times a day while she was there - for no real reason I think but just because it was something to do. I didn't answer ALL the calls...
They released Yelena from the hospital on Wednesday. She is scheduled to start a partial hospitalization program on Tuesday for 2 weeks. It covers her for the vacation between middle school and high school but leaves us with a number of days with no plans for her - not a good condition under which to release her from the hospital. I spent most of the day with her today which is my day off from work. I feel like there is a kind of institutionalization setting in. She is now spending more time in hospitals and other programs than she is at home. She said shewas really tired and needs to rest (?) I said: you have been resting for two weeks, you need to get out an do a little activity. I told her that her in-home therapeutic mentor is coming tomorrow. She said: "Oh no, I just got out of the hospital. Give me a break.You can't make me get out of bed tomorrow." I said "She's coming at 11 and what happens after that is between the two of you. We went shopping and she refused to help bring the groceries in from the car and help put them away - she made herself a sandwich instead and sat down to eat. She learns a lot about how to behave from the other kids in the hospital and they are not there because their behavior is exemplary. She is graduating from 8th grade on Wednesday. Her teacher said that all of the kids get dressed up in really nice clothes. I have been asking about what she wants to wear and asking to take her shopping. She says she won't wear a dress. I have suggested a number of things and she just says no. She only wears dirty baggy jeans and old T-shirts. I think I want her to get dressed properly for once so she will not feel out of place and be embarrassed but I really can't protect her from that and she needs to find out for herself. She is wearing bras that are about 2 sizes too small and she refuses to go with me to get new ones. Ok, I am going to leave it alone. Not one more word out of my mouth. I swear.