Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Toni Hoy, Guest Blogger: Custody Relinquishment for the Sake of Mental Healthcare: Answering Objections and Offering Solutions « Strained Relations

Toni Hoy is in a unique position to comment on the return of the Russion adopted child. Please see her blog and review her slideshow at I understand this is a controversial topic, and if you are moved to comment, kindly consider your wording before you type.

Every time there is a major news story about a parent leaving a child at a psychiatric hospital or disrupting an adoption due to severe mental health concerns, there is a public outcry. People assume that a family can live in the same home with a dangerous child or that mental healthcare is easily accessible. There is vast sympathy for the child and blatant criticism for the family. There are no criminals and no crime here. There is a mentally or emotionally sick child without access to appropriate mental health services. By providing access and funding for intensive and residential treatment when required, to eliminate “lockouts,” “psychiatric abandonment,” and “disrupted adoptions” adoptive families can be preserved.

Families are seeking treatment, but in most states, you can get out patient treatment, or short term in patient treatment, but not longer term residential care. This care is excluded from family policies. Either families don’t qualify for Medicare or if they do, it does not cover the child’s diagnosis. For domestically adopted children, residential services are excluded from adoption subsidies. There is no coverage at all for the $400 per day fees.

Families face severe stress and emotional strain, often becoming victims of secondary trauma in trying to function while living with a dangerous child. They exhaust every treatment they can find and spend every waking moment dealing with severe emotional trauma. They do not have access to the same tools as residential treatment centers have such as; three shifts of staff, seclusion rooms, and sedation medications, yet they are expected to manage the child’s behavior far less equipped than required.

Society feels sympathy for the child and criticizes the parents. How horrible to leave a sick child! Society neglects to consider that the parents were not offered any appropriate alternatives and in no way, desire to abandon their child. They simply want treatment and custody, which if available, would negate the need for abandonment.

Departments of Children and Family Services “exist for the protection of children.” They “err on the side of the child.” Yet, when a family is forced to abandon a child at a hospital to protect other children, the family is also “erring on the side of the children,” all of them, yet state departments are quick to charge families with neglect for taking the same steps they take every day.

“Child with RAD Burns Down House Killing Family of Six.”

How would society respond to that headline? I would imagine it would be something like; Why didn’t the parents do something? They knew the child needed treatment. Why didn’t someone help them? Should we wait until it happens? Or should we help them now, while the child is safely housed in a psychiatric unit?

The solution for biological families is to provide them with the services they need instead of the ones they don’t need that are forced upon them by the state. Afford them the same rights as parents who have children with cancer. The solution for domestic adoptive families is to include residential treatment into adoption subsidies for pre-adoptively traumatized children. The solution for internationally adopted children is intercountry agreements which have a long term plan for children with RAD (reactive attachment disorder) and FASD (fetal alchohol spectrum disorder).

The solution is Family Preservation and Adoption Preservation that does not cut the cord for the most severely afflicted children.

For more information, see Toni Hoy’s blog and videos at

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