February 17, 2013

A Parent's Network -- APN Revamp

It has been a very long time since APN has been online. Originally, this was the Adoptive Parent's Network. It was a very successful and supportive website and forum for parents of Adopted Special Needs and Foster Children. We closed the Adoptive Parent's Network in 2008 after 5 years of online support for parents of some of the exceptions and most special needs children. A lot has happened in My Life and in the lives of my children since that day.

During the past few years, everything in my own personal life has completely changed. I have recently celebrated my 50th birthday and decided to complete the 2 years of education needed to back-up my act and be taken seriously. I have lived the system offered by the mental health services and education system. I have seen it from the inside, as a parent of a child with sever emotional, social and behavioral, mental health issues, and prenatal drug and alcohol exposure. I have also come to learn that, many children are effected just as my children, however they remain with their biological families. The issues my children face, are issues many families are facing with the children they are parenting. It is a reality and without support, information and change this reality will continue to effect everyone in our society.

Parents are Key to understanding, treating and helping children regardless of the issues and needs the child faces. My experience and observation is that there is a general lack of support and services For the Parent's of the children with special needs and mental health issues. In some cases, there is no support and parent's are blamed for the failure of the system and treatments offered. As an adoptive parent, I personally have not faced the overwhelming implications that I personally may have caused some kind of damage to my unborn child. I have not faced the kind of shame many other mothers and parents know is very possibly their fault. I do however, understand that many parents come to know the reality of their own situation and the implications that their child does in fact suffer some of the same issues. One of the hallmarks of an addiction is in fact denial. Many parents come to recognize this denial does not heal their child. For those parents the first step is to accept the truth and learn to advocate for your child's best interests.

My experience with finding quality mental health services and meeting the educational needs of my children can be summed up with All Roads leading to the Same Place. Ultimately, no matter how, who, or why, my child is Special Needs and at the end of the day, my responsibility to parent.  What I have found while seeking support, therapy and services for my children is a system designed to set a lofty goal, provide some superficial service, and then when the goal is not met, point to the family or parents as the reason for the failure of the service, close the case and file, and move on.

There is some General Implications, that I just need to hang-in long enough for the Criminal System to get involved or until my child is 18. There is little effort to consider long term outcome. The system insists on thinking of Only the Moment and only the day whatever works is fine. If it is not, and it continues to escalate, the Law will step in and continue to institutionalize our young people. It starts early with the identification of Behavior Risks, Threat Risks children. Those sent to the Behavior School, or child care center for future felons. Basically, the county school for children who have pre-criminal behaviors typically demonstrated at school. My child drew blood on the special education teacher before spending 4th grade across town, housed for several hours a day, with other children tagged to be criminals growing in the community. She learned a lot that year.

I have no real answers at this point. I do however think it is about time we as a country start to recognize the issues that are facing our children today. There should not be mass shootings, or bloody murders of innocent people for this country to recognize we need to look long and hard at the systems we have created to date and what needs to happen to make a change soon! Those of us who are Parenting a child with special needs, emotional, behavioral, mental health issues and social problems need to organize and mobilize We need to share stories, experience and ideas. We need to put them together and find a way to present what we know from the first-hand experiences we have encountered.

We the Parents are the first and most important authority in the lives of our children. We are their best advocates and we are the only one's who Love our children regardless of the special needs they may face. We want more for them then to get them to the age of 18 without horrible incidents. We have hopes and dreams for our child no matter what. Some of us have shame and guilt for the ways we caused or failed along the way. Some of us see or feel something we wish we did not about our child. About ourselves, about our families, our mates and each other.

My hope is that other parents will get involved with A Parent's Network, and share their stories. Share, experience and ideas, things that worked, things that failed. Network and brain storm ideas that might help, might work, might be realistic and possibly make some kind of change. What is happening now is clearly not working, what needs to happen requires Parent's of the children to be empowered and supported.

So, as I start the last few terms of my college education (only because experience means nothing without it), my hope is that the effort and energy I have right now will carry my 50 year old bones to speak up and prove this was all worth it. That the future of my children is more to me then getting them to age 18 without babies, drug problems or jail. I want them to grow, develop at their rate and reach for more than the system seems to feel they are doomed. I think we all want more for our children then that--and I think it will require a new way of thinking about our children, their needs and what our role in all of it is. One thing is clear, what has been going on does not work, so as Parents it is up to us to stand up for change.


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