Residential Placement

Question from parent of a child going into residential placement:

Next Monday we have our psychiatric evaluation, and if I find the guts to be honest about my son's issues, I believe he may have him placed in a residential facility for awhile. I am so tired of such sick children. I am so tired of my heart breaking. I am terriffied they will have to go into the psychiatric hospital. The doctor said they should have gone in long ago. Oh how I feel guilty for feeling tired of it all. Now I feel inadequate for not being able to handle just a little more. What do I do with the guilt?

Answer from Kris, another mother who has been down this road:

I am completely honest with the psychiatrist. He says I have a problem, but it's the kind the world needs more of, so he doesn't want me to become the 'typical' person that can walk away. Since I started telling him exactly how frustrated, tired, and angry I sometimes get, he's started scheduling longer appointments so I have time to vent. He won't take the kids away. I tried. He says that even burned out I'm better for them than a 'typical' home. (DARN!!! DRAT!!! BAD WORD!!!) People that know our kids understand (at a limited level) the stress we live under and give us more credit than we give ourselves!

INADEQUATE!!!! It breaks my heart to know you could feel that way!! (And if I tell the truth, it makes me give a huge sigh of relief. Once again, I'm not alone!)

When that self-doubt creeps in and wakes you up at night with the memory of the times you didn't react in the 'perfect' way, when you start to replay something and wish you'd done it differently, remember where your kids would be without you. You've heard it all before, but remember, our children need specialized care, and placing them where they can get that care is the act of a loving mom. In a foster home they might get dumped to another home, and another, and another. You try to get them the help they need.

Would they have a family trying as hard as they can to help? Would they have a 'real' mom who cares so much and tries so hard? Would thay have the opportunities to learn and experience life outside their disability? Would they have birthday celebrations, and Christmas presents chosen with them in mind instead of a donated gift for a generic 'teen boy'? Would they have someone who cared enough to take the incredably hard steps of hospitalization and treatment instead of being wharehoused until they're old enough for jail?

We all are inadequate. We can never reach the level we set for ourselves. We constantly drive ourselves to not only be the perfect parents, but also somehow find the magic key to 'fix the kids'. If we didn't have that compulsion we couldn't do this on a daily basis. Our children wouldn't reach the heights they do.

We could have more peace, but if the price of that peace is a heart hard enough to walk past a child in need, then give me chaos!!!

The price of caring is feeling guilty, inadequate, and ashamed when we fail to live up to our picture of the perfect mom. She doesn't exist!!! Look in your mirror, my dear friend. That is the face of the 'almost perfect mom'. And believe me, they don't come any better!!

Kris Gorden

Note from Teresa: When my daughter went into residential placement, she was given the 24/7 supervision she required, provided by several staff who worked in shifts. Right now, my daughter and her roommate have 6 full-time staff who provide direct care, plus a house manager, a program director, a nurse, and a case manager. So it takes about 4 full time people to do the job that I did on my own before. It is unrealistic to expect that kind of care from one person without that one person getting burned out or sick, no matter how much you love that child. Sometimes our kids need more than a human being can provide (even super moms like us) in order to have a safe, healthy home.

I now enjoy a pleasant mother-child relationship with my sweetie. I get to be the non-custodial parent and do fun things with her. I am still her Mom and I still make all major decisions for her. That has not changed. But my peace of mind and stability of the family has changed. It's a hard decision, but sometimes it is the only decision.

If you think your child needs a residential placement but are not sure how to go about making this happen, this article might help:
How Can I Get My Child into Residential Placement?

If you are caring for children who have to be placed in a residential or psychiatric facility, you are probably dealing with a combination of FAS and mental health disorders like RAD or Bipolar. Here are a few links just for those issues:
FAS and Attachment
FAS and Mental Illness
Bipolar and Co-ocurring Conditions

Return to the FAS Community Resource Center