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SD wants to go live with her mom

completely overwhelmed's picture

SD is 16 and doesn't get along with her father at all. She and him are complete opposites and she is exactly like her mom (and BM and DH can't get along either). SD is failing school and has been placed in a Special Ed program (she was a B/C student in regular classes up until 9th grade when she started having problems with mental illness). The future and what she will be able to do as a career/job after high school is questionable and now her answer about what she wants to do when she turns 18 (she's not going to graduate from high school) - I want to live with my mom. She thinks her mom will take care of her. But her mom can't take care of herself. She can't even stay out of jail.

SD has even told her Special Ed teacher she's going to go live with her mom this year and she doesn't need to do anything in school because she'll go to a new school where her mom lives.

Very long story short: BM is currently in jail due to violating her probation. Her main issues are drug related, but she's also mentally ill. SD is 16 and has lived with DH and I full time since she was 12. BM does not have any visitation and DH hasn't allowed her to have any phone contact.

SD begged and begged to go see BM in prison a few years ago and DH agreed against his better judgment. SD freaked out at the prison and cried and screamed at her dad for making her go (after she begged to do). DH always said no to SD when she asked to go to see BM again because she would do the same thing again. But now he's worried SD hates him enough that she'll go to live with her mom when she turns 18 just to spite him. He has been looking into getting a conservatorship for his daughter to prevent her from going to live with her mom and getting involved in drugs and worse.

I have no idea what to do in this situation. I leave most of dealing with SD to her dad but I told him I think he should just let her go. I'm not sure when BM will be out of jail, but probably in the spring. DH knows I don't like SD and honestly would love for her to live somewhere else. I know it's not good for her to live with BM, but it's inevitable at this point. SD will probably end up on drugs, probably live on the street at some point and do god knows what to get money just like her mom.

Anyone have experience with this? Is a conservatorship really an option?

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

DH is between a rock and a hard place.

He's got a sick child who he wants to protect and a wife who understandably is ready to be done.

Honestly it's up to him how he goes about it.

Ispofacto's picture

Just fyi - if this child is special needs and will not graduate, and she goes to live with BM, DH will be on the hook to BM for child support FOREVER. This is also the ticket they've both been waiting for: BM and SD to go on SSDI/SSI for life as caregiver/disabled-child.

SD needs intensive treatment. I hope she's getting it.

completely overwhelmed's picture

SD refuses to cooperate with treatment. We paid a ridiculously amount for a special boarding school/in-patient program and she refused to get out of bed then told them she wanted to kill herself. The special ed class she's in now allows her to go to a quiet room when she feels overwhelmed and she stays there most of the time. She doesn't care. No one can make her care. Every time she's been hospitalized she's simple there. She doesn't participate in treatment. She barely talks. They send her home hoping she'll do better here but she doesn't. She simply exists here.

Lately at school she sobs and cries about wanting her mommy to get attention. She doesn't do homework or any classwork.

strugglingSM's picture

Sounds like she needs professional help, since she's a minor, could you put her in a residential program for severely disturbed children? Was the last boarding program ill-equipped to handle her needs? Did they offer you any insight into how to help her?

Is there a school counselor who could offer any insight?

Has she had a formal evaluation to figure out what her specific issues are and what treatments might help her?

It's difficult to figure out what to do if you don't know what her specific issues are.

If she can't be ruled incompetent, once she reaches age 18, you won't be able to force her to get help.

Finally, is your DH surprised that you want your SD to live someplace else? She sounds like she's an extremely troubled and challenging child. It can be hard enough to love someone's child, but loving someone's difficult child is impossible. I'd be concerned for my own safety if she was living in my house.

completely overwhelmed's picture

She sees a therapist twice a month, a psychiatrist once a month and there is a school counseler. They do what they can but they can't force her to do anything. There are a lot of complications with her psychiatric medications since she also has a heart condition. She was at residential program in the summer but they couldn't deal wth her and the small rural hospital also didn't want to adjust meds without a cardiologist experienced with pediatric psychiatry.

Since she had issues with mental health, development delays and behavior it's impossible to find a facility that will deal with all three of those things and the heart condition and a girl who regularly refuses to get out of bed, walk or eat. She refused to drink even water at the boarding school/rtc she was at and their staff couldn't deal with her since she doesn't respond like a usual teen. She doesn't care. Medications so far haven't worked but there are long lists of the usual meds she can't take due to her heart condition.

Every time someone new (shrink, counselor, therapist) gets involved their reaction is - why isn't she on (names of several well known drugs)? Then figuring out about the heart condition then trying to find out if they can risk giving her the drugs with the heart condition and then discussing trying other meds which will take months to tell if they are working. The only solution we ever hear is different combinations of meds.

The boarding school used a rewards system where girls got more privileges as they moved up each level and none of the rewards she cared about or even applied to her. Most programs are like this. At the boarding school, Level 0 was no makeup and Level 1 was lip gloss and higher levels were allowed more makeup and clothing choices. SD has sensory processing disorder. She freaks out if there is anything on her skin. She never wears makeup and refuses to wear sunscreen. The boarding school staff had no idea what to do with her. They were used to normal teen girls who would do whatever it takes to get their makeup back. The staff had no idea how t deal with a kid who cant be motivated to do anything and refuses to get off the ground or walk.

Rags's picture

Take that away... all of it... all of the time... and my forecast is that she will improve very quickly to get it back.

Basic behavioral consequence management.  Military schools have opperated on this model for centuries.

Comply or live a life of abject misery. Engage and reap the benefits.  Avoidance of misery motivates even the most stubborn of noncompliant folks.  At least in my experience.

The support you and her dad have provided is amazing and inspriational... but at some point containment rather than improvement may be the best option for everyone.

completely overwhelmed's picture

We’ve tried that and it didn’t work. She’s willing to be miserable. All she is ever anymore is miserable. She’s had the door taken off her room, the mattress removed. Nothing has worked.


The therapeutic boarding school used that principle of making students earn everything and they had no idea what to do when SD was willing to hide under her bed covered in urine and feces and refuse to eat. 

Her special ed teacher said the 1st time SD wasn’t miserable is when she told everyone that she was going to live with her mom. But that cannot happen so...

Thumper's picture

I am going to bump this one UP. Has anyone heard the status here from completlyover?

Her situation is huge and often not talked about too much here. I dont know why considering so many kids are reported to have no means to support themselves into adulthood because of mental health /disabilities AND child support turns into a life long payment to the custodial.

Ladies be very careful and be aware that is a child (a child) is diagnosed there is equally the chance for life time childsupport.

OPs skid should maybe enter a group home setting to gain as much independence as possible. In the interum most cities offer what is known as Voc-Rehab. Their goal is INDEPENDENCE, maximizing the kids abitilites, helping with job placement, private therapy sessions etc.

ISPOFACTO also made a similar is 100percent on point below

Just fyi - if this child is special needs and will not graduate, and she goes to live with BM, DH will be on the hook to BM for child support FOREVER. This is also the ticket they've both been waiting for: BM and SD to go on SSDI/SSI for life as caregiver/disabled-child.






Rags's picture

necessary to contain her and get her as independent as possible.

One of my childhood BFFs was Dx'd as schizophrenic in his early 20s and has been incapable of living on his own for more than 30 years.  His parents supported him for as long as they could financially then had him declared a ward of the state.   He actually still lives at home in a garage apartment at their country home where he cleans the pool, does yard work, fills the bird feeders, etc..... Monthly he meets with his state assigned official and the beat goes on.  If he does not stay on his meds and continue therapy his parents have  him taken into state facilities.    They still support him to a significant level but the majority of his support is from the state.

At some point this young woman will have to be held to count for her crap. Yes, I am clear that she is mentally ill but nonetheless she needs to be where her crap can be contained.


IMHO of course.

completely overwhelmed's picture

He’s looked into putting his daughter in foster care, but due to his income he would be required to pay child support of up to $3,500 a month. She would be a ward of the state, he would have no say in her care and would be treated like a child abuser who had his child taken away and be required to take parenting classes to have visitation.  The state has made it next to impossible for parents to get rid of these kids even when parents can’t tolerate them any more.

Things have gotten worse but I’m not sure how much I want to post.

SD’s teachers and aide at school reached their limits to her behavior and she was warned about being expelled. So, her reaction was to immediately tell the teacher, vice principal and counselor she was going to kill herself knowing that would mean she was going to get a 3 day involuntary stay at the hospital.  That ended up to be six weeks but nothing has really changed. She sleeps 20 hours a day and rarely if ever talks.

Her mom is scheduled to be released from jail at the end of May but there’s been no contact with her.

mathfed's picture

I've been in a similar situation with my wife's youngest son.  Here is how things went with us. 

My wife and I have been together almost 5 years, married over 3 years.  As long as I've known my wife's youngest son, he has been more than I can handle.  He was 15 when my wife and I got together.  In total, he lived with us for maybe 7 months.  His dad has some fairly severe mental issues, and has never been part of this kid's life.  His father is a bipolar alchololic who has figured out how to work the system for most of his life.  My wife's son is also extremely bipolar.  I haven't been around the son for a few years now.  In the time I was around him, he flew into rages when he didn't get his way, screamed at his mother that he hates her almost daily, referred to her as his birthgiver, punched and kicked holes in the walls when he was asked to mow the grass.  He was taken out of the house in handcuffs and placed in a 5150 observation when he was 16.  I lost track of how many times he was suspended from school.  

Like your SD, my SS decided that he wanted to go and live with his dad.  My wife let him do that.  Whenever he would have to be accountable for something, he would decide he wanted to move back with us.  He moved in and out of our house three times in the span of about a year before my wife and I said no more.  If he moves out, he stays out.  When he moved in with us the last time, my wife and I put together a contract that we made him agree to before he was allowed back in.  He had to maintain at least a C average or get his GED.  He had to get a part time job so that he would have some responsibility.  He had to start going to therapy for his bipolar, and take any medications that were deemed necessary.  He agreed to all of this, and signed the contract.  He was with us for about 2 months before he decided to move out again.  I believe he is always looking for the easy way out, and life with us was adding too much responsiblity on his plate.  He moved out again to live with his dad.

Living with his dad fell apart, and he wanted to move back in with us.  He was 17 at the time.  My wife and I both agreed that he wasn't moving back.  Frankly, I think he is a dangerous individual, and I won't have my younger sons around him again.  He ended up in foster care for a short while, and then became a ward of the state.  My wife gave up her parental rights to him, hoping the state would force him to get help for his mental stuff.  He was placed in a boarding home until he turned 18.  My wife and I paid child support to the state while he was in the boarding home. 

This kid has dropped out of high school, doesn't work, and developed a pretty serious drug problem.  He's launched into tirades at me to the point that I have nothing to do with him anymore.  I wouldn't allow him in the house because I think he's dangerous and will end up hurting someone.  When he lived with us, he kept collecting big knives.  One time, I found a homemade, two-headed spear he had made out of a yardstick and two knives. 

After he turned 18, he surfed from couch to couch, until he'd worn out his welcome with all the people he was using.  He then lived in a campsite in Oregon for a time.  I don't know exactly all of the places he's lived since he moved out of the boarding home.  His life has been pretty unstable, and I've refused to get sucked back into his chaos.

He turns 20 this year.  He eventually hit his rock bottom about 2 months ago.  He signed himself up to attend an inpatient mental health treatment center that also specializes in drug addition.  He was there for about a month, and has since moved to an inpatient facility for longer term care.  It is near San Diego, I think.  My wife says he has been clean for about a month, is attending counseling, and is taking meds for his mental stuff.

Since my wife and I have been together, we have had some pretty difficult conversations and all-out bad fights about her son.  She had spent most of his life rescuing him from the world, never holding him accountable for his behavior.  We almost split up twice.  I ended up telling her I can't spend the rest of my life being ground up in the gears between her and her son.  If that's what being with her means the rest of my life will be, then I want out.  She finally understood that I couldn't take anymore and stopped dumping everything about her son into my lap.

My point is that we had to let my wife's son go and hit his rock bottom before he started to wake up and realize he needs help.  Life with him was a war zone when he lived with us.  I can't and won't go through that again.  My wife knows it will be the end our our marrige if her son moves back in with us.  I don't have a relationship with him at all.  My wife is hopeful that he is getting himself on a better track.  We still don't really talk about him very much.  In the past, when my wife would talk to me about him, it was because she wanted to jump in and rescue him from the latest situation he had put himself in.  That usually meant expecting me to go along with him being back in the house, putting my younger sons in his firing line and living in a war zone again.  So, I'm still wary when she wants to talk with me about him.  I've completely disengaged from him, and will stay that way until I see sustained proof that he isn't just blowing smoke again.  I really can't take being around him, and don't want to be after some of the things he's said to me.  He stooped so low as to bring my dead mother into one of his tirades at me.  After that, I completely cut him out of my life and don't interact with him at all.  He is my wife's son.  I support her relationship with him because she is his mother.  I'm not his parent, and won't get pulled in for more abuse again.

It hasn't been easy, but it's getting better.  You'll have to set boundaries that work for you, and then stick to them.  If your DH is like my DW, he feels guilty about how your SD is, with actions ruled by that guilt.  You'll have to stand up for yourself when it comes to your SD because your DH probably expects you to just go along with everything.  That's how my DW was until I finally said no more or I'm done.

completely overwhelmed's picture

We keep waiting for SD to hit rock bottom but things keep getting worse. And honestly, rock bottom likely is her succeeding in taking her own life. 

DH doesn’t know how to help her. He feels guilty over that but there’s no real way to parent her. There are no consequences that work. She doesn’t do anything other than want to sleep. She says she’s dizzy, lightheaded and tired all the time. She falls down on the floor if you try to make her stand up.

She is miserable at home, at school, at the hospital. 

If we thought spending the money to put her in foster care would help, we would. But there aren’t enough foster home for the kids already in the system and a severe lack of beds in psychiatric facilities. The social worker DH spoke to told him SD likely would be placed in a group home and if she was non-compliant as usual moved to a juvenile detention facility the county uses for over-flow teens in foster care that cannot be controlled. The state is also sending kids like her to out of state psychiatric facilities.

The theaupeutic boarding school she went to had no clue how to deal with a teenager like her with both mental and developmental issues and no desire to have any social interaction and whose fine sleeping for weeks on ends without even getting up to use the toilet.

She’s on a new combination of medications which can cause heart issues  and she’s not suppose to take those meds due to her heart condition but that’s the latest thing they’re trying.

mathfed's picture

You're in a hard spot.  My wife's youngest son used threats of suicide to keep my wife from making him do anything.  In the contract that we wrote, one of the items was that threats of suicide would result in immediate calls to 911.  He was on notice that any more threats of suicide would be taken seriously, and he's be on a 5150 hold every time he did it.  We called his bluff.  He stopped making those threats.  My SS knows exactly how to manipulate his mother, and to make it really difficult for her not to give in every time he demands something.  My wife finally realized that her son needed help beyond what we could give him.  He was becoming a dangerous person, and the help he needed was beyond anything we could do for him.  Your DH may need to come to the same kind of conclusion.  Once kids get to this kind of place, I think they need someone with professional training.  Most parents just aren't equipped to provide that kind of help. 

In the state we live in, my wife couldn't force her son to get help for his mental stuff unless he agreed to it.  He refused to get any help, and his behavior just kept escalating.  We eventually had to put him out of the house for everyone's safety.  Now that he is an adult, he has to make the choice to get better.  We can't make him.  He has a lot of issues that are related to his dad.  His dad really only interacts with him when there is something to be gained from it.  The son deserves better than that, but I don't know how to relate to him anymore.  It looks like he may be finally starting to pull his head out of his rear, at least.  

My wife's son spent time in a group home out of state.  I'm sorry y'all are in this situation.  There are no easy solutions.  For us, or at least for me, things got so bad that I had to make the choice that I'd have to walk away from my marriage if that's what it took to keep myself and my kids safe.  I can't make my wife stop the cycle she and her son were spinning around in, but I decided my kids won't be pulled into it anymore.  I hope you and your husband find something that works.  My wife and I realized we were in over our heads, and that her son would only get help when he was ready to receive it.  When he was taken out of the house in handcuffs at 16, he didn't have his phone charger with him.  He kept begging my wife to get it for him.  He wanted to escape the situation he was in through his phone.  I convinced my wife to not get his charger.  Her son needed to experience the consequences of what he was doing without being able to escape from it through his phone.  As long as he could remain comfortable while acting like he was, there was not motivation for him to change.   

Rags's picture

Though not a special needs or psychologically challenged kid, a good friend of mine initiated forced emancipation on his out of control daughter.  That got him off of the hook for support, gave her what she really wanted which was no rules, and it protected the rest of his family from the toxic spawns manipulations and shenanigans.

That might get her into the system as an adult and get her and  you and DH the support you need to address h er issues.

completely overwhelmed's picture

I think she would have to be self sufficient to be emancipated. Right now she’s in a psychiatric hospital refusing to talk to anyone so... not sure a judge would go for that.  She doesn’t want to live with us or come home but I’m not sure anyone would let her be emancipated.

marblefawn's picture

If you could do it, I'd say load her up on the mood-altering drugs and don't worry about the lethal consequences to her heart. Her quality of life is so compromised, a short happy life would be better than a long miserable one. And it sure would be better for the rest of you. But no doctor will risk liability prescribing those for her.

A psychiatrist once made a housecall to evaluate my schizophrenic grandmother. He came out and told my mother, "The best you can hope for is a heart attack." I'm afraid you're in the same boat. I see no easy way out for you and you have my heart-felt sympathy.

I have never heard of a parent being on the hook for lifetime child support. She could get disability (at least until that program goes away), couldn't she? Personally, I'd rather pay the support and not have to live with her than see her go downhill with no means of affecting change.

I'm also wondering if the mom will want this girl living with her. Why would she?

I'd look into the emancipation possiblity, maybe a group home, or maybe a workshop setting that will get her basic skills to work in fast food or a warehouse. I'm afraid all of these are a long shot, though, with her medical and mental conditions.

completely overwhelmed's picture

The drugs just aren’t working and there are so many side effects. SD is so tiny and the list of meds she is on is crazy. 

We just keep hearing over and over to give the drugs time to work. This is her 5th hospitalization of more than 2 weeks. Most of that time it’s been the same thing - she sleeps and waits for drugs to work. Then the drugs don’t work and they give her another combination. 

There just doesn’t seem to be any other options.

Any discussion about jobs or the future is out since it stresses her out and there are so many obstacles it’s overwhelming to her.

She still in the hospital and by now they were hoping to see improvement but of course there hasn’t been