One of my sisters is dead.
Not my biological sister, not either of my sisters-in-law, but my sister nonetheless.
One of my RAD sisters, who understood the heartache of loving a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Understood the pain and the long road, the uncertainty and the suffering that seems to have no end.
One of my sisters, DEAD, presumably at the hands of her RAD daughter.
I didn't know her well. Had never, in fact, even met her. We were bound together only by a support group full of parents raising children with RAD....all sharing that invisible bond of friendship that comes from finding someone...finally...who understands.
This group of friends has supported me in ways that no one else could, giving me that calm understanding and sometimes needed advice; a safe place in which to vent the strongest of emotions.
Every frustration, every failure, every horrible day, every small victory.
Shared trials and triumphs.
They pass no judgement, for they are also on the frontlines, living the same uncertainty as I.
And now one of us is dead.
Today this hits me incredibly hard. It has, after all, been only a few months since my own son threatened to kill me...and my husband...and our baby son. Sure, it's easy to pass those threats off as simply a way for our son to manipulate; an attempt to get his own way and force us into action. Such threats are usually just that. Manipulation attempts.
But sometimes they aren't. And then what?
I'm angry right now. Angry that no one seems to take us seriously...the hurting, stressed, vigilant, exhausted and abused parents of these emotionally impaired kids. 'If only we loved those poor kids enough. If only we were more structured as parents, or less structured, or more permissive, or less permissive, or more understanding, or more forgiving, or more this or more that. If only, if only, if only.'
So many people pass judgement and yet would be unable to stand up for a moment in the shoes of a RAD parent.
Yes, I'm angry.
Angry that there is so little help to be found for these traumatized kids.
Angry that so many mental health professionals have no training in attachment issues and don't understand RAD enough to make a difference.
Angry that we spent months making phone calls to everyone and anyone that would possibly listen, and yet our family, church family and close friends are the only ones that came to our aid.
Angry that our insurance (which is considered the best) won't pay for the only therapist in our area that specializes in adoption, attachment and RAD because the letters after his name aren't the "correct" letters.
Angry that the adoption medicaid that is supposed to pick up the cost of anything our child needs has also refused to pay for our therapist simply because the insurance company would pay for someone else...none of whom specialize in adoption related issues.
Angry that insurance refuses to pay a cent for residential treatment for our son's severe mental illness, or any mental illness for that matter, but would gladly pay if he was an alcoholic or a drug addict or had an eating disorder.
Angry that the adoption agency and the foster care system from which our son came have no resources or motivation or desire to help.
Angry that the state of Michigan was going to force us to bring our violent, threatening son home for in-home counseling before they would help in any way. They are more willing to put our five little children (and ourselves) in danger than to part with a single dollar.
Angry that even if the state of Michigan HAD agreed to fund treatment, it would not have been at a facility that specializes in RAD because they are all more than 200 miles away. No exceptions would be made.
Angry that the only option the state of Michigan gave us if it was truly too dangerous to bring him home for counseling was to "Let the Juvenile Courts have him." He is mentally ill and needs help, for crying out loud...not JAIL!
Angry that the only way to get him into a facility that could help him through the Juvenile Court system was to actually abandon our son to the courts, leaving us open to charges of neglect.
Angry that no one seems to take mental illness seriously until an entire first grade class is murdered, or the parent of a RAD child is found stabbed to death in her home.
And I'm angry that there is now one less person on the planet that understands what parents like us go through. One less, instead of one more. When what we desperately need are more.
It wasn't that many years ago when autistic children didn't get the help and intervention they needed, when insurance refused to pay for necessary, life-altering therapies, and when people didn't really understand what it meant to be autistic. It wasn't too many years ago when children with learning difficulties were labelled "retarded" and were given no extra help...no chances to succeed to the best of their abilities. Mercifully, these things are beginning to change.
How many systems will have to change, how many people will have to die, before children with mental illness get the help they need? When will the insurance companies and the state agencies begin to care about what is best for the families and not about the dollars involved? And all those parents...the ones in my support group, who are persevering through the worst...when will their concerns be taken seriously?
Today I am rattled. I hate to admit it, but whenever I hear a story like this, my heart skips a beat. It hits too close to home, because my family is walking a similar path as that of this poor woman who lost her life.
God, please don't ever let that shattered family be mine.
Sister, you truly had a Joyous Heart. Thank you for trying to make the world a better place and for all of your efforts on behalf of a traumatized child. Thank you also for your input and your many words of encouragement. You will be missed.