> No More Secrets And Lies: Whose Discharge Plan? – August 2008

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Whose Discharge Plan? – August 2008

In late August of 2008 I received a copy of Mary's Forest Ridge discharge plan in the mail, and I was surprised to discover there had been some talk about discharging her. I didn't know anything about this. There hadn't been any discharge plans from the other group homes at this point — at least none that I was aware of. I was even more surprised when I found out that her discharge plan was for her to go to her mom's house and not to my house. This is what the plan said — that she was not to go to her father's house when she came home. I couldn't believe this and at first I wondered if it might be a mistake. I immediately called Forest Ridge and talked to the director, Chad, and asked him why this was in Mary's discharge plan and who had put it there. He told me Mary's corrections officer and social worker had told him this was their plan for Mary because they said Mary's problems were caused by the tension between her parents and that "Mary played her parents against each other." He said their solution was to have Mary live only with her mother.

My mind start racing. Yes, there had been tension in our family — we were a divorced family with joint custody of our children and we had been through a difficult custody battle. But that was years ago. And Mary wasn't playing us against each other. This would be admitting that her mother and I had been oblivious to the heavy-duty manipulation of a teenager for years, and I know I don't allow the girls to do this — to talk badly about their mother — and my girls don't allow me to do this either. This is divorce-101 stuff. I don't know if their mother allows Mary to "play me against her" or not, but if she does, then the problem isn't Mary's.

But it didn't matter if any of this were true or not. It was my problem now, and it was going to present a big problem for the girls if I didn't act quickly. I was extremely distressed at the prospect of having to go to court again to keep someone from taking my children. Were the kids and I going to have to go through another long drawn-out custody battle, only now against the County? We were all more than tired of this sort of thing, but it looked like it wasn't over. All I wanted was to be left alone to parent my children without having to worry someone was going to take them.

I told Chad I was never asked, nor told, about any plan like this and only found out about it when I received it in the mail. And as far as I knew, the plan had always been for Mary to live with both parents, as she always had — the status quo. He said he kind-of wondered what this was all about and told me he would change it back to the way it was, and send me a new copy. And he did.

I was troubled when I realized the County was planning on taking Mary from me, and I wrote the following in my journal that evening. 

My Journal - August 14, 2008

First I can tell you that Mary's behavior has about as much to do with the tension between us or Mary playing us against each other as it has to do with phases of the moon. If Karen and I were a happily married couple we would still have these problems with Mary. To suggest that this is a solution to Mary's problems is typical of the short-sighted solutions her social worker and corrections officer have been offering ever since Mary has been in placement and which have resulted in this girl being moved to over fifteen different homes with no plan in mind, with little or no input from her parents, or at least her dad.

There has already been a huge loss of contact between Mary and her parents. Now it would be making this worse and removing from her life the last and only person she is close to — stripping her away from the only person she has in her life that she has an emotional bond with — me, and will put her parents through another custody battle.

If anything these people should be promoting the relationships with both parents rather than restricting them. Their discharge plan is to remove dad from Mary's life, to reduce me to the status of a visitor in her life.

After this happened, Mary's lawyer called me one evening to boost my spirits, feeling a little sorry for what I had been going through with Mary's workers. I wrote what she said on the back of an envelope and kept it next to my desk for the remainder of Mary's group home experience. She told me not to concern myself with what the corrections officer or social worker thought and to not let this stop me from trying to help Mary.

"You're the only one who's trying to do anything positive for her and move this thing along, and they know this, and Mary especially knows this. Don't give up, John."

Mary's lawyer kept me sane when I thought I was going insane. I don't know what I would have done without her. I don't what Mary would have done without her.


SAVED1 said...

Don't give up John! thanks for sharing your story ... Jacqueline X, Founder of Family Solution Center.

I hope Mary is at least home now... or soon to be.... let me know!

John Brosnan said...

Thanks for the comment. Mary did come home. I got her out, raised her by myself, and she did better than she had in years. But then things happened. Her social worker, from before, contacted her without my knowledge, convinced her (threatened her I think) to turn on me suddenly without reason, and wouldn't tell me what happened to her. I haven't had any contact with her for over two years. That's one of the reasons I'm writing this, and I explain all of this in the next part of the story.

John Brosnan said...

"Equal Custody Between Parents Should Be the Legal Norm" by Fred Silberberg from the Huffington Post

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