Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

Archive for the ‘return adopted child’ Category

How to Listen to Disclosure of Family Estrangement or Difficulties

Posted by Marcia on March 2, 2011

In my last post I wrote about the process of deciding to share difficult information about one’s family. This post is devoted to receiving this information.

Some of the richest and most heartfelt conversations I have had have been when someone decides to confide in me or when another person listens to my story.

When your family member or friend is having family problems and decides to share these issues with you, it takes a lot of courage, hope and trust that you will not judge, will listen carefully, offer help if asked, will not gossip. This is a confidential and difficult conversation.

Truly listening means that you turn off distractions: this is not a time for watching TV, texting and taking calls. Turn off your phone and give that person your attention. Listen with your head and your heart. Don’t ask a lot of questions, just a few to clarify the situation if needed.

Don’t change the topic unless you’re very uncomfortable hearing this news, and if you are, it’s better to just say you’re uncomfortable.

This conversation is about the other person, not you and your family, unless you’ve experienced a similar situation. Then it’s appropriate to share but limit your input: this person has a lot to say.

Be private and confidential. If the person wanted all of the family and friends to know, there are many ways to alert everyone. It can hurt the person’s feelings if you talk about this to others and damage your own credibility as a confidante.

Don’t judge the people involved. You’re hearing a part of the story and you’re hearing it for the first time. It may be shocking news, but all of it is in the realm of the human condition: the things that happen to people and the decisions we make.

Ask if there is anything you can do to help and provide resources if you have them. One woman called me regarding her son and after listening to her story, I asked if she wanted resources or how I could best help her. She was looking for resources and I gave her a few places to start, indicating there were additional resources in my book and on the blog if she needed them. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re already dealing with a stressful situation. I also keep in touch, ask how things are going, and remember her on Mother’s Day and Christmas, two really hard holidays for her.

When you see or talk with the person in the future, ask about his or her child. I know from personal experience that the concern people show is helpful. It helps me to know that they haven’t forgotten I am a parent, and birthdays and some holidays in particular are really difficult.

Keep in touch and show concern and compassion. That’s the best way you can help anyone.

Posted in adopted kids, apology, behavior of someone using drugs, changing parent's behavior, cope at the holidays, defiant adopted kids, enabler, enabling, estranged, estranged from dad, estranged from father, estranged from parents, family difficulties, FASD, feelings about Father's Day, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, file restraining order against son, forgiveness, juvenile hall, kid on meth, listen to family problems, mental illness, mentally ill son, mentally ill teen, meth addict, missing our son, Mother's Day avoid, Mother's Day dread, Mother's Day sadness, orders of protection, orders of protection against son, out of control teens, Parents and teens, repaired relationship, restraining orders, return adopted child, rewarding good behavior, sadness at the holidays, signs of drug use, step-parent, teen and addiction, teen intervention, teens and consequences, Troubled teens, truancy, truancy and penalties, violence in mentally ill people, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Toni Hoy’s Update: Suing Illinois for Help for Adopted Son

Posted by Marcia on September 20, 2010

Toni Hoy was our guest blogger on April 12, 2010. To follow the thread of thought and experience, it’s best to review her her blog and slideshow at and then see her guest post.

If you are moved to comment, kindly consider your words before you type.

“Hello friends,

I decided to send this as a group email.

I wanted to let you all know of our recent decision to sue the state of Illinois.

My husband, me, and another parent, will be joint filing a federal lawsuit against IL HFS for injunctive relief from the state of IL for obtaining residential treatment for our children under the EPSDT provision of Medicaid, and return to us, custody of our children. This is a case that has been won in mulitple other states and is slated to be a landmark case here.

We are represented by class action law firm, Collins Law, in Naperville, IL. Of consult is Professor Mark Heyrman, UIC Clinical Law Professor, who is the major mental health influence in our state.

Since June, I have been working with a large group of people, which includes county mental health board presidents, IL mental health stakeholders, state departments, and senatorial staff. In our state, the only kids that get residential are the ones who have drug/alcohol problems. Kids with mental health issues alone, are subject to the ICG grant, which awards residential to 6%-18% of applicants. The rest can sue the school district, or request help from another state dept, CRSA. However few people know it exists and they will not accept cases when another state dept. has taken responsibility. For those forced into relinquishment, the process is futile.

In June, HFS agreed to license RTCs as PRTFs so they can accept Medicaid. Chaddock, where our son Dan resides, is one seeking to be licensed this way. One week later, another family was forced to relinquish, and another may relinquish in October. The other parent relinquished in the spring. She has two adoptive sons. The states attorney is threatening to terminate her parental rights. He does not think that a single parent can manage a boy with schizophrenia and bipolar. Currently she visits her son twice weekly.

A few weeks ago, I met with Michael Gelder from our Governor’s office. While he and HFS Director were mortified at what is happening to us, HFS continues to move at a snail’s pace. First meeting, they agreed to license the RTCs as PRTF. Second meeting, they are talking a year or so to make it happen, and acknowledged that they have talked about it for 10 years and done nothing. Simultaneously, Michael Gelder agreed to ask Governor Quinn for an Executive Order for an official task force to resolve this issue.

I’d like to ask for support and encouragement from all of you. Many of our allies and support systems have deserted us as a result of taking this step. I have been a little “email lonely” this weekend, but it gave me time to redirect and refocus.

I have no idea what is going to happen moving forward. I only know that my son deserves treatment and his parents.

I received two emails regarding an Oprah show on this topic last week. One from Darcy Gruttadaro, senior attorney from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and one from Mental Health America in Virginia. I don’t know who they will select to be on the show. This is a risky venture as it places families in a vulnerable situation subject to be under attack by those who are unfamiliar with the seriousness of this situation. We can all pray that whoever is selected will focus on the issues and approach it in a sensitive and knowledgeable manner.

I’ll keep you all posted. Jim, me, and the rest of the kids appreciate your support.

Toni Hoy”

Posted in adopted kids, defiant adopted kids, family difficulties, return adopted child, Toni Hoy, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

Dore Frances’ Radio Show 8/30/10

Posted by Marcia on August 26, 2010

I’ll be on Dore Frances’ “Family Solutions Today” live radio show on Monday. You can listen live (call-in to talk) or download from iTunes later.

Details and a link are on her press release.

Posted in adopted kids, alcoholic father, author, book talk, changing parent's behavior, chart progress, compliment your child, defiant adopted kids, enabler, enabling, entitled, estranged, estranged from parents, family difficulties, juvenile hall, kid on meth, meth addict, missing our son, nagging the kids, out of control teens, Parents and teens, return adopted child, rewarding good behavior, self esteem, step-parent, Troubled teens, truancy, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

What’s of interest to my readers?

Posted by Marcia on June 13, 2010

I recently spoke at the library and a private event and saw some familiar faces in the group. Mirroring other presentations, attendees were generally there due to pain and difficulties with their kids and they want help, they want to feel they are not alone, and several people expressed some interest in forming or having access to a support group. My purpose in speaking is to raise awareness, increase the dialog and, as any author, I want to sell my books.

I look at the statistics on my blog to see what’s of interest or what information you’re seeking. I look at the number of clicks on the pages and what topics have the most hits.

Learning about what’s important to you helps me determine what I’ll write about and what kind of guests I should approach to write for the blog. My 3 most viewed pages, other than the index page, are:

Did the Self Esteem Movement Create an Entitled Generation?
Parents Want to Return Adopted Child
My Book

Some of the most common topics people use in search engines to find the blog include the self esteem movement, family difficulties, difficult or troubled teens, adoption, and restraining orders.

The links people use from my blog also tell me something. I will interview or ask guests to write about restraining orders, the self-esteem movement, and then expand my resources page.

What’s of interest to you? What would help you? Can you help others? You can post a comment and it’ll go to me for approval. If you are just sending me a private note, just let me know as otherwise, I will publish it.

Posted in adopted kids, author, book talk, defiant adopted kids, enabler, enabling, estranged, family difficulties, nagging the kids, out of control teens, Parents and teens, return adopted child, self esteem, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Speaking at Campbell Library 5/13, 7 pm

Posted by Marcia on May 12, 2010

I’ll be speaking at the library Thursday night and I’ve really been looking forward to this opportunity. A PDF flier about the event can be viewed here.

The last time I spoke, we had around 20 people in the room. Most of the people had a son or daughter who going through a terrible time, and the adults were worried about how to handle the situation.

I can’t provide the answers, just some experiences from my life and the interviews from my book. I also mention some of the calls and emails I’ve received. There’s some comfort in knowing you’re not alone in this situation, and it’s helpful to know many kids grow out of that terrible stage and that there is help.

If you’re in the Silicon Valley, I hope you can come to this event. If you know of another venue interested in this topic, please contact me.

Posted in adopted kids, author, changing parent's behavior, chart progress, compliment your child, confidence, defiant adopted kids, entitled, estranged, family difficulties, meth addict, missing our son, nagging the kids, out of control teens, Parents and teens, return adopted child, rewarding good behavior, Troubled teens, worried parents | Leave a Comment »

Guest Blogger Barbara Neafcy, RN: Everyone is a Victim

Posted by Marcia on April 30, 2010

I exchanged several emails and talked with others regarding the recent return of the adopted boy to Russia.

Barbara Neafcy is an RN who specializes in the care of disabled children. She is a public speaker on FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and is married to an adult with FASD, Stephen Neafcy, who is author of “The Long Way to Simple” a book that describes what life feels like from the perspective of one who has it. This book is the recipient of the Mom’s Choice Award.

“Reports on CNN indicated the birthmother was an alcoholic and that his behaviors fit the behavioral profile of someone with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). I feel strongly that we need to educate our adoptive parents on two levels. If this mom understood what services were available for her new family, this outcome might not have happened. If she had been informed at the outset that her new son had been exposed to alcohol in utero and has abnormal brain development as a result, she may not have signed the papers. If she did sign to become his mom she probably would have taken the commitment very seriously and worked with professionals to improve the child’s chances for a successful life.

This is a tough situation for child placement agencies in Russia. What it would require is honesty on their part toward the parents, and a likely significant reduction in adoptions, which they desperately need for their kids!

94% per cent of individuals with FASD have some form of mental illness. In those who are shuffled around in foster care or orphanage type settings, the incidence would be much greater.

This mom was alone and scared with her experience and reacted in a state of panic. The result is that the worst possible scenario occurred for her son. He was rejected again, as he has felt all of his life. If he has attachment disorder, his resistance to all bonding will grow more rigid and thicken the fortress walls he has built around himself.

There are only victims in this very sad story, but the greatest victim from conception to today is that little boy who has no clue what love can do for him, and hasn’t the healthy neurotransmitters to help his thinking. Society around him is likely to suffer from the anger and bitterness he will carry everywhere with him.

The interesting thing is, FASD is the most prevalent and preventable disability that exists on the planet today. In fact, it is 100% preventable.

For more information about FASD please visit This site contains worlds of information and insights on this troubling disorder, offering hope for those who have it or love someone who does. My husband’s book can be seen at and at”

Posted in adopted kids, defiant adopted kids, FASD, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, out of control teens, return adopted child, Troubled teens, worried parents | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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