A letter that I wrote to our Representative in Congress
As a parent of a child with severe mental illness, a child who has been in crisis many times, I would like to voice my opinion in regards to this Act and why I would like to recommend that Representative Cramer not co-sponsor the bill.
We adopted our son David, when he was 18 months old. He was a special needs adoption not because of his birth history, but because of his ethnic background. As David grew older, little things began to come out. Staying awake for 2 and 3 days, destroying property, attacking teachers and family members. Poisoning family pets. For 9 years we did every kind of community based therapy that we could access. We utilized our states Protection and Advocacy Project to work with our school to allow David to continue to attend public school in his home community. In the end, the affect on the rest of the family was so severe that we felt we had no choice but to seek institutional treatment for David.
Initially we chose a facility that was close to our family home. Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch in Minot, ND. After 15 months, they decided they could no longer provide the level of services that David needs. So we applied to a number of facilities in the state, and they all stated that if Dakota Boys and Girls couldn’t meet his needs, they couldn’t either. As a result, David is in a facility in Billings, MT. which is more than 500 miles from our home. Now, where we used to see him every week, we now have seen him twice since we placed him there in January.
One of the diagnoses that David has is a condition called Reactive Attachment Disorder. Having the distance barrier of 500 miles isn’t helping his diagnosis. It isn’t helping us, as his family, maintain a connection with him.
I guess what I am trying to say is that we need more institutional options, not less. I know after all of the work that went into de-instutionalization during the last half of the 20th century, this seems counterproductive. To those people my response is this. At the time of de-instutionalization, we didn’t have the meth manufacturing that we do now. We didn’t have nearly as many kids being born addicted to drugs when they were born. David spent the first days of his life battling addiction and going through withdrawals. As a result he will need some type of mental health service for the rest of his life. After he turns 18, with current service levels, this will likely be in a prison setting. Much as I hate to say that.
I would welcome the opportunity to speak with Representative Cramer at length about this if he feels it would help his understanding. I also have a blog that I use to inform people about our struggle with getting services for David. It is difficult to condense 12 years of a life into a few short paragraphs.
A week ago I wrote the following post: http://whynotfathers.com/2014/05/why-do-we-view-mental-illness-with-negativity.html.
Thank you for your time, and I welcome questions if you have any.