01-24-2018 11:09 PM - last edited on 01-25-2018 02:32 PM by taokat
I am in the USA, but the site is down so I am posting on here.
11 years ago, through a series of bad decisions on my ex-wifes part, we lost custody of our then 3 year old daughter, who I will refer to as CL. Full custody was given to her great-grandparents. Since then, she has been bounced around between different family members, including my ex-wife who was told never to have unsupervised custody of her. In the past couple of years she has been in and out of troubled youth centers and behavioral health centers. About 1.5 years ago, I moved out of state to help my family. This past october, I received a phone call from her grandfather (son of custodial great-grandparent), saying if I did not take her, she would become a ward of the state and placed into the system. After 11 years of saying I wanted custody of her, I obviously said yes. 3 days later she was flown to where I live and I finally had my daughter. I knew going in that there would be an adjustment period for both of us. For the first month, I struggled with trying to get to know her and getting her acclimated to her new surroundings. The process for transferring custody has been ongoing, as her mother is MIA and they have been trying to contact her about the custody hearing. I have not been able to get her into school because I don't have the proper documentation proving custody. So she has been pretty much stuck in our small apartment with my girlfriend and her 5 year old son. I just recently started a new management job and we have been struggling to find a new place where we can all have a little more privacy. I had also set her up with a psychiatry appointment, but was holding was cancelled and I have been waiting for a time to reschedule. Backstepping to November, I found out that CL had circumvented the parental controls I had put on her phone and was using social media messengers, i.e, facebook, instagram, snapchat, to begin very inappropriate online relationships with guys. Some of the stuff I saw was horrifying. So her phone was taken away. We started to see some progress with her attitude, and her willingness to abide by the rules. At the end of december, she was given her phone back, with even more restrictions, including GPS tracking. Everything seemed fine for awhile. She started a "relationship" with a boy she met through my youngest sister. We met with him and his parents in person and we all laid down the ground rules for them. Again, everything seemed fine for awhile. We decided one night after she had hung out at his house, that we would randomly audit her phone. We found messages between her and her "boyfriend's" older cousin revealing that they had been kissing and trying to sneak off together. Our response was to call her "BFs" parents, explain the situation, and decided that she was not a good influence on their son, so the two were cutoff from each other. Obviously she was not pleased with that. She really wasn't pleased when we replaced her smartphone with a oldstyle flip phone. Her social media accounts were deleted and she has been very bored for the past couple of weeks. Tonight, while I was at work, she was texting one of her relatives back home. They messaged me and said that she was talking about hurting herself, suicide, how she doesn't want me in her life, and if she can't go back home, she would rather be in another behavioral center. It was very heartbreaking to read. Part of me knows that she is bored, and angry with me. She has a history of depression, anxiety, and self-harm. She also told my GF that she had started self harming again and showed her evidence. I called the local behavioral health center last night and was told I should bring her in but they couldn't see her until 9am the next morning. So as I'm typing this post, I have been up all night, waiting for 9am so I can take her in. I can't go to sleep for fear of her harming herself further. The most stressful part of all of this is not knowing how much of this is her just being an attention-seeking, drama-laden teenager, and how much is an actual mental health issue. I am also struggling with my own anger with her mother and great-grandparents, who let her run rampant with no discipline or rules for the past 11 years. I just would like some insight from other parents who might have an idea that I haven't thought of about how to help her and help us connect. Thanks.
01-25-2018 10:08 AM
Hello @Mikesf and welcome to the Australian forums.
I am so happy that you have found us here during this really stressful time and really hope that some of our members can connect with you.
My heart goes out to you and your family – you have been doing it tough for years now and this in itself must have been tough leaving aside the events of November and December and leading up to last night.
I do want to reiterate that as we are based in Australia it isn’t possible for us to give you any specific advice for any US resources you can turn to, but I am really heartened that you are helping your daughter seek help with a trained professional (even though that process seems to be a little rocky). I would urge you to keep on going down that path. I think that seeing someone who can help you both understand what is going on a little better will give you a little more clarity. Your appointment at the local behavioural health centre is a great step also.
Do you think it might be helpful to ask for advice about what 24-hour helplines are available in your area – both for yourself and your daughter to help you navigate the really tough times like you experienced last night? To have those numbers at your fingertips and to use them when things really get tough might be comforting?
The love you have for your daughter really shines through in this post and it is only natural that you should be feeling anger about what led to this situation mixed in with your worry about how best to support her. I really hope that this appointment will help you as well as your daughter by providing you with tools to look after yourself so that you can be the best carer possible.
At any rate, I would love to reconnect with you after that meeting to see if any of the advice and guidance they provided has made you feel any better.
With respect to your daughter’s self-harming I did want to highlight this section of our website which has some information about supporting teenagers who are self-harming and talks about positive coping skills around this behaviour as well as information about communication skills. I know that you have had to have some pretty difficult conversations in the household at the moment and perhaps some of these tactics might help for you to reconnect with your daughter that I hear is something that is worrying you at the moment.
The section on talking to your teen about self harm talks about the fact that your daughter needs to know that you are aware of what is going on and you are there to support them.
Thanks again for getting in touch and I hope that others here can jump in and connect with you.
P.S I hope you don’t mind, but I made one small edit to your post to keep them in line with our community guidelines.