Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jesus, healing, and forgiveness

I've been thinking lately about when Jesus was on the cross and said, "Father forgive them"... I have struggled with the forgiveness I extended to someone years ago and the recent recurrence of trauma symptoms over what was forgiven. I don't understand really. I forgave, I let go, I moved forward but I got a little too close to the old situation and before I knew it I was 10 yr old Jessica. Not good. Not good at all.
I've questioned if I forgave or if I forgave "enough" since my nightmares and feelings were back. Tonight I was reminded that Jesus extended forgiveness while still dying. He wasn't healed. He didn't feel better when he forgave. His forgiveness didn't magically fix His wound so its OK that forgiveness didn't fix mine. Its OK for me to still feel pain about those things. One day it will get better, just not now.

Friday, October 30, 2015

To the New Professional Working With My Child

Dear New Professional Working with My Child,
While it is customary to greet new people with a sense of curiosity and hopeful anticipation, I pray you understand that the very fact that I would need to meet you fills me with sadness, fear, regret, and a general sense of anxiety that you will be just like the many others who have come and gone in our lives not fully understanding how deeply their actions affect our family. I need your help and am terrified it will make things worse all at the same time. I long for relief but hate that I am not big enough to fight for my child alone. 
You see, my child is very ill and has been that way for many years. Much the same as a parent of a child with cancer or a physical illness, my child's illness is NOT my fault. Their illness is the result of biological and environmental issues that reach far beyond my time as their mother. 
As their parent I have stormed heaven and earth searching desperately for anything that might make the monster of mental illness leave my child alone. I lay down each night with tears rolling knowing once again that an answer was not found; each time becoming a little less hopeful that it ever will.
At this point in our lives I desperately need a few things from you; some before we even get started on this journey together.
The very first thing I need from you is to please take a moment and review as much of my child's history as you can before ever calling me. Or, at least know their name and basic info before you call. If you don't have time, ask first what it is you need to know about my child and our family. Doing this lets me know that you care about my child and our family. It makes me feel like you might listen and not try to fit my child into the same cookie cutter treatment plan we have tried many times over and failed. It lets me know my child is not a diagnosis or case number to you. Most of all, it opens a door of communication that if not opened now I may be too exhausted to ever try and open again.
Second, I need you to understand that while you have credentials and a degree, I am my child's parent. I know them. I know every nuance and pattern, but more than all of those things, I know what we have done. I know what has failed, what has made our lives easier, what has and has not worked. Please ask me. 
Third, I need you to communicate with me regularly. This especially important when dealing with the more manipulative aspects of my child's illness. You will be lied to, it will always sound very believable. Every lie you fall for wastes time; mine, theirs, and especially yours. I am terrified we are quickly running out of time.
Fourth, please know that more than a treatment plan I desperately need someone who understands the tremendous loss we are all dealing with. Unlike a death, it is a continuous grieving of what can never be and terror over what comes next. 
Finally, I need you to know that every time you fail to do any of the above it makes me feel like I am all alone, fighting monsters far too big to fight alone, monsters that have already stolen so much of my child and our family. When you fail to do those very simple things while you busy yourself creating treatment plans, it feels like you are watching us drown while writing notes about drowning. It is a truly horrible feeling. It is a feeling I know they don't teach you about in college or internship. It is a feeling most parents are too exhausted, or afraid, to share with you, but in over 16 years of working with children who suffer from mental illness, there is not one parent who has not expressed these very same feelings to me.
I can't change my child. I am learning to live with what is, while grieving heavily what I know can't be. In my grief I have struggled and prayed for a purpose, for something good to come of the tragedy that has been my child's mental health treatment. What I realize is that while my child is now an adult, there are so many other parents who still have time, and so for them, I decided to write you. For them, I pray you will listen. You can be the difference. 
In hope,
A Mama of Many

*** Please feel free to repost, copy, paste, use some or all when dealing with the new providers working with your children. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

September 25, 2014 Abuse Incident at Springbrook Behavioral Health in South Carolina



One of my children was a patient at Springbrook Behavioral Health from 05/29/14-10/19/14. Springbrook Behavioral Health is located at 1 Havenwood Lane Traveler’s Rest, SC.
I received a call from Shannon Childress, my child’s therapist, and my daughter for a family therapy session on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 3:17pm. I was glad to hear from my daughter because she had not made her regular phone calls that week. It was quickly clear why she had not.
My daughter first informed me that I would be very proud of her because she handled “it” well and used her coping skills. The sad truth is my child is known to lie, exaggerate, and attention seek so I normally simply listen and reflect back what my child has said rather than believe ad act on what she says. The therapist, Shannon Childress, knew this and interrupted long enough to tell me that what my daughter was going to tell me was the truth. My daughter proceeded to tell me the following:
·      A peer spit on staff
·      One staff got angry and was kicking and punching the peer
·      The staff had rings on and made her peers neck bleed
·      Another staff was helping beat up the peer.
·      The peer was lying on the floor while the staff kicked her.
·      A staff got thrown onto my daughter in the process
·      The staff members responsible for the assault were Ms. Benita and Ms. Amanda.
·      The staff members can’t work there anymore.
·      There were multiple other adolescent clients and staff in the gym at the time of the assault.
I immediately ended the family therapy session and asked for details from Shannon. The incident happened on Tuesday. This was not reported to me, nor the police or other governing authorities in a timely manner. I was told they “were going to call the police but I had already done so, so they didn’t.” I was not aware of the incident and did not call the police until two days later. The only positive out of this whole situation is that there is a video of the entire incident.
After explaining to my daughter that I was not upset with her but needed to end the phone call early, I called the Police Department at 864-834-9029 to report the incident. The police department is located at 6711 State Park Rd. Travelers Rest, SC 29690. I was told that an officer would call me back shortly.
At 4:42 pm I called the Greeneville Department of DSS at 864-467-7750 and left a message for a worker to call me back.
At 4:49 pm I received a call back from Officer Tice who stated he had gone to the facility and viewed a video of the incident, that my child was not hurt, though a staff was thrown on her. He stated two staff did assault a client after the client became aggressive. He also stated that he could not give me any more details.
At 5:15 pm a worker from South Carolina Child Protective Services called me back from 864-467-7700 and stated that I could not file a report because it was not my child who was harmed.
At 5:45 I received a phone call from Shannon Childress apologizing for the incident and telling me how great my daughter was handling it. I do not want my child handling another peer being assaulted by adults well. She should not be calm or ok under those circumstances.
Officer Tice, multiple Springbrook staff, and South Carolina Child Protective services told me that the judges in the area were not very considerate of mental illness and that everyone was trying to help the patient who was assaulted by not pursuing it legally since she assaulted staff first.
My child was in a facility to have treatment for mental health issues caused witnessing and experiencing abuse and neglect in her past. Rather than get treatment, my child witnessed more abuse and experienced abuse and neglect by the staff’s failure to report and handle the situation properly. In what way is she not harmed?
What about me? I live with the everyday heartache of having a child who is too sick to live at home. I am forced to trust other’s to provide the care that I can’t. Living with the knowledge that I handed my child to people who would only repeat the very abuse and neglect situations that led to her hospitalization in the first place is overwhelming.
I lay awake at night wondering about the peer who was assaulted in front of my child. The only thing I know about her is that she is in state custody without any parent involvement. I know that like my daughter, she suffers from mental illness. How is she? Who is speaking for her? Why did the South Carolina Department of Children’s Services choose not to press assault charges on the two staff despite there being video evidence? How is it helping a patient to let two staff who brutally assaulted her go free?  Yes, they were fired, but without any legal action or record they may go work in another facility and abuse another patient. This is not a he said/she said incident; there is a video. Even if the video is somehow lost, there is a police officer that saw the video, and a police report (Tice-14-13331).
This story has now made the news. Please keep sharing. With knowledge comes change! Warehousing Our Children

Friday, July 24, 2015

Ninety Six Reports of Abuse at Springbook Behavioral Health and I was Clueless!!!!

After over a year of phone calls, letters, tears, and complaints filed, here we are! I'm begging you to share this and keep sharing! Our most vulnerable children do not deserve the way they are treated by the agencies paid millions of dollars to "help" them or the governments continued efforts to hide behind privacy laws and loop holes to protect institutional child abusers.

When I agreed to allow my child to be placed at Springbrook Behavioral Health in Travelers Rest, SC I had no idea that in recent years they had 96 reports of abuse

I agreed to toss out privacy for the sake of safety for my girls and the many children who require out of home treatment in group homes or residential placements or who due to no fault of their own end up in foster care.

I am so honored and humbled that Lauren Sausser of the Post and Courier decided to be a megaphone for my voice! Thank you so much Lauren!!!! You can read the story here.




Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sexual Sin...Now that you have finally showed up...I have something to say



The post below was written in 2015, but with the Coalition of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood "Nashville Statement" on biblical sexuality that was released today, my heart screamed it needed to be shared again. 

In 2015 my news feed and inbox were flooded with comments and messages from my Christian friends and acquaintances over the Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage. I must say that in all my years of being their friend, I had never heard sexual sin more talked, worried, prayed, and stressed about. Most seemed certain that because of the SCOUS approval of what they deemed sexual sin; the United States, and many who I love and care for, are doomed. Their lament and public admonishment of this sexual sin has continued to be passionate, loud, and nothing short of zealous. 

While despite the fact that I do not agree that those within the LGBTQIA community are in the wrong, I suppose, that on some level, I can appreciate the excitement about exposing and ending sexual sin. You see,  I have spent years trying to get people to pay attention to the devastation caused by sexual sin with almost no response.

With each new post, part of me, honestly, most of me, feels nothing but rage. Post after post has been made about consenting adults getting married, the transgender community, or about how awful the sexual sin of homosexuality is. It is apparently so awful that God might destroy our entire nation and damn both those who are LGBTQ+ and those who support them straight to hell.

The problem is this…

Where have you been? More importantly however, what about this sexual sin, as you call it, consensual sex between two adults who love one another, is so important that after years of ignoring other sexual sins, you have shown up now?

I have spent my lifetime in churches. I have lived a lifetime of sexual abuse, at the hands of many. I have parented child after child through the foster care system who has experienced sexual abuse. I spent twenty years sitting in church every single Sunday and no one ever mentioned sexual abuse or rape, not once.

Why is two adults having consensual sex more terrible than a father holding his child down and having sex with her? Why is two adults getting married more awful than young girls being sold into sexual slavery? Why does no one care about that? Why does no one see me? Why does no one see my girls? Why does no one see or care about the one in three women who experience those things before the age of 18? Why is homosexuality the worst sexual sin? Why is it so much worse that it is the only one you want to talk about?  I just can't make sense of it. 

I’m disgusted by your apathy to the least of these and your hatred of those who are choosing to love because that love does not look like yours. It is nothing short of hatefulness based on biblical passages enmeshed between others you choose to ignore. We never got to choose, and you never said a word. Where was our protest? Where was our sermon? Where was our prayer vigil? Where was our statement? Where were you?


Every single post about same sex marriage, the transgender community, or homosexuality feels like a violation of everything I am because it is a reminder of the nothing that was ever done to protect me and the many many people I have encountered over the years who are longing for the church to step up and say something. Not to "the gays" but to the rapists, to the child molesters, to the sex offenders, to those really committing sexual sin. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why I Hate Same Sex Marriage Protests


Wanna know why I hate protests against gay marriage? Aside from ridiculous reason that it should not be a reason to discriminate or hate anyone? Aside from the fact that most people who protest quote Leviticus 18:22 but care nothing about Leviticus 11:12 that says eating shellfish is also an abomination...but I digress...

Even if I agreed that same sex marriage was wrong (which I don't), the world is bigger than same sex marriage.

In 20 years of church attendance...guess how many times I have heard molestation mentioned?

NEVER

Guess how many times I have heard child abuse mentioned?


NEVER

And my girls, they are so sick from both they can never really let me love them.

They are so broken, Jesus and healing are a dream never dreamed about.

But nobody marches for them.

No one protests.

And no one makes signs about this one time your dad gave you herpes.

And I hate them.

I hate them for ignoring victims and protesting consenting adults.

My girls never consented and I am so sorry.

The church should be ashamed.

Jesus never said this was ok, and He is flipping tables at their gay marriage protest, because His children are dying.

And to my girls, to every victim of child abuse, sexual abuse, or rape I need to say...

I am so sorry, I am so deeply sorry because Sunday after Sunday I used to sit and hope someone would say something, anything to please tell your story....but it never came...because the gays are getting married and no one gives a damn that your face hurts from your latest breakout or that you have once again pushed your mother away because being alone is better than hoping God would protect you. I'm sorry you can't let your boyfriend hold you or stand the smell of ivory soap because it reminds you of your dad...

I'm sorry. I'm so very deeply sorry.


I won't be back. Not anytime soon, not until I find a place that sees past the same sex couple to the child suffering mental illness after years of physical and sexual abuse. I won't, my heart can't take being ignored anymore, but I am not the only mother of a broken child, and I pray you pause and see them, because they are being lost forever and it won't be long before they leave too. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

It's Just a Flag and Other Lies We Believe

The Nazi symbol was never made to symbolize the death of millions of Jews...but when seen it is what it brings to mind. Thousands of Germans died fighting for their cause, but it did not make their cause right, though I am sure their families grieved their loss heavily.                                                               

I will post here what I posted somewhere else earlier. I actually am quite familiar with what the confederate flag actually was, but I am glad you posted it because I think a lot of people get all excited and don’t know why and for those who wish to support what the flag represents, this is a great informational piece. While the rectangular version of the battle flag that is most well known and frequently hung was not the officially adopted confederate flag, the battle flag WAS very much part of the confederate flag as the website you got the above information from stated.

Though to be quite honest, that point is mute in my opinion... I don't really think it matters whether it was a battle flag or the adopted confederate flag,

I've pretty much left the confederate flag issue alone that erupted after the murder of nine precious people in Charleston, SC by a racist and hateful human being alone because I have my hands full with too much other stuff, but my stepdaughter shared something earlier and it did two things; one, it pointed out to me how very much people in my own home were being hurt by post like this one and the flag being flown and two, I think it is a really telling photo that is worthy of discussion.

I have distant relatives who were confederate soldiers and while I understand the need some people may have to honor those people (I don't), there is also a big difference in honor and celebration. There is also a difference in a private person choosing to honor what they believe were the admirable actions of their ancestors (again, I don't) and the state or government choosing to display a symbol that is the cause of such heartache for so many.

No, it won't change ignorance or racist attitudes and I agree that it is a matter of the heart, but to semi quote Jon Stewart there has got to be something incredibly hurtful and demoralizing to drive on roads named after generals who fought to keep you from driving or walking into a courthouse expecting justice with the flag representative of the battle to keep you from having rights flying above it. It’s just not ok.

As Christians we are called to love others. We are called to make their burden less. I can't find anywhere that it says if its convenient or if it makes sense to you or if the burden you are easing is a burden to you too...it simply says...bear one another's burdens.

I’ve seen some friends posting about how they are not racist and they are right, everyone isn't a racist, and everyone may not be offended, but many are hurt and offended. I know my Stephen is, I know his children are, I know many of my black friends and family find that symbol hurtful the same way Jewish people find the Nazi symbol hurtful.

I’ve also had many friends saying all of this is merely political and please know that I do understand that there are people grandstanding and using an act by a racist man to promote their own agendas, but I also think it is an excellent opportunity for the Christian community to show up and use what Satan meant for evil for good...

It is an opportunity for healing and to show those behind the loudness of politics that may be being used by political leaders that we love and care about them enough to stop doing something or displaying something we know is a symbol of great hurt and pain much the same as we as Christians would fight like hell if the White House decided to fly a Nazi flag because of what it symbolizes to our Jewish brothers and sisters. I'm not Jewish, technically its not even any of my business, and the Jewish people are frequently used for political purposes, but the Christian community is quick to defend and support them. Why is it so hard to do for our black brothers and sisters?


Those within the black community are hurting and they have been hurting for a very long time. We can't change history but we can do the very simple thing that they have been asking for since the civil war ended.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Why I am always in trouble in class...

In one of my most recent classes a student responded to one of my posts and said something to the effect of 
"I think it is paramount that everyone has a chance to gain an understanding of what God has in store for them and the plan that he has in mind for their life."
And you know me, I agree, but I don't. So once again I send classmates into a tizzy and professors trying to figure out what to do with me and I have resigned myself to being ok with that. I have had the blessing this last semester with a professor who has a past broken enough to get it, so she is atleast not punishing me for being honest. My response to my classmate was this.... I absolutely agree with you that people need to gain an understanding that God has a plan and purpose for their life. However, what I know that most Christians don't seem to understand is that if basic needs are not met, that plan and purpose is irrelevant to the unbeliever. Even Jesus demonstrated the importance of meeting basic needs when He fed the 5000 in Matthew 14:13-21 (New International Version). If God’s Word were enough, why would Jesus stop and feed people? Why would He interrupt His teaching to make sure that people were not hungry? I, as one who has been hungry, will tell you, He did it because He knew that until their basic needs were met they could think of nothing else. There is this really life changing episode of South Park, which is a particularly crass and terrible adult cartoon show, that I am honestly embarrassed to say I watch, but in this one episode that I saw, my God I wish that every single Christian had to watch it! In the episode the Christians were handing out bibles to the children in this African village and the children were EATING them. Wow. So very life changing, if you actually stop and think about it. We are trying to share God’s word and people are hungry, lonely, angry, sad, tired, without the most basic of needs…they can’t see our God if they are worried about the basics. We hand them a bible and they will eat it out of hunger. That is why Jesus stopped, why He chose to feed the 5000. That is why we must stop. Why we must meet the needs of the 5000. They need us. That is why we must stop trying to share Jesus while denying humans basic rights…they will NEVER hear us.FHL,Jessica

Friday, May 01, 2015

Cardinal Innovations Grievance Investigation of Families First Support Services in Shelby, NC

Through hours of blind calling I found out that when a provider does something that you feel fails to meet your child's health care needs you have a right to file a grievance with the insurance company. Because of the many negligence issues with Families First Support Services I filed multiple grievances with Cardinal Innovations. Above is their response. I am saddened to hear that the response is simply that they will continue to work with the provider to improve, especially considering the seriousness of some of the issues related to my daughter's care that were found to be true. It is my hope that by me being more public about the story parents will be able to make an educated decision in the placement of their children who need out of home care, even if Cardinal chooses to continue to use this negligent agency. 

Expectations

When you go out to eat you have certain expectations. You expect that your food will come out a particular way and that your waiter or waitress will treat you with respect. You assume the restaurant will be clean and that those working in the back will have had the training necessary to prepare your food in a safe manner.

When those things do not happen, you have the ability to complain, to ask for a manager, to call a posted hotline and ultimately to decide whether or not you will frequent that establishment or not anymore.  In fact, every single restaurant is required to post their health ratings so that customers can easily see them before choosing.  There are many options available to customers and having poor marks visible doesn’t bode well for business. Because of this, managers and companies work very hard to make sure that they keep their stores clean, train their employees well, and take care of their customers.

When you are the parent of a child with mental health issues, you have certain expectations. You expect that your child will be safe. You expect that the staff will be trained. You expect that your child will be supervised and protected. You assume that those in charge are monitoring the therapeutic foster parents and the case managers to make sure they are doing their jobs. You expect that the staff will be honest. You expect that your child will be treated with dignity and respect.

When that does not happen the only people the parent knows to complain to are the same people they need to complain about. Because there is no clear complaint process parents are left making hours of blind phone calls desperately trying to find a solution to a problem while knowing the delay or negligent treatment is causing harm to their child. Most parents, already exhausted from dealing with children suffering from mental illness decide fighting the system is not another battle they can start and give up. The mental health system banks on this. It allows them to continue to operate in a dysfunctional yet profitable manner. 


I refuse to continue to be this mother.  I will not be quiet about what happened to my daughter at the hands of Families First Support Services in Shelby, NC.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Chosen

A Facebook friend of mine shared a news story this week about another incidence of child abuse and posed the following question:
I've noticed it's common for abusers to pick one or two children to give the most severe abuse to. Anyone know why?
The responses were many but there was one that really stood out (deeply upset) me that I think needs to be discussed because sadly this is not the first time I have heard it.
The response was this:
I think it comes down to literally who, if anyone, is prayin for them. God limits Himself to our free will, He needs to b invited to help, save us. Some prayer warrior somewhere ignored the call to pray... It's ALL ON US AS HUMANS until He returns!! Shoot, it coulda been ME and I'm sad about that.
My first 3 responses magically disappeared before I finished typing them which I think was God's way of telling me to slow down and be respectful because what I was saying needs to be heard and not discounted because of the angry undertones of my first few attempts.
I ended up with this:
Dear Person,
That is nonsense.
I am truly sorry for whatever you have learned or saw to make you think that even saying something so awful is ok.
Child abusers are opportunistic. It is about control, coercion, and causing pain. They choose one child over another because of a variety of reasons, almost always related to the ease of which they can. Having other children in the home that they can treat normally allows them to justify their treatment of the chosen child. It is at it's most basic level sinful human beings behaving sinfully in a broken world.
What it is absolutely NOT however is the result of one child being prayed for over another and I am truly heartbroken over anyone who may see or believe that post as it justifies the very reasoning abusers use to control their victims:
NO ONE CARES FOR YOU AND IF THEY DON'T GOD DOESN'T EITHER
The truth is the child survived the abuse because people were praying for them. The truth is that child is beautiful and strong and brave and God has already used what the devil meant for good to bring healing to hundreds if not thousands.
A more practical way to view it now that my head has decompressed a bit:
In what world are the following statements biblical?
Dear Child A,
Sorry you were abandoned by your mother and beaten and raped by your father when you were five while he left your brother alone. You see, no one was praying for you.  Love,
God
Or for those unfamiliar with abuse, maybe this will make more sense as to the ridiculousness of what was said above.
Dear Child B,
Sorry you have Autism and your brother does not. When your mother was pregnant with you she and others didn't pray hard enough. Perhaps they will be more diligent next time.
Love,
God

You Want Her Whole

You want her whole. Trust me. For when she finds her muchness; when she gathers all the pieces of herself, all the pieces you have broke...