> No More Secrets And Lies: There is Something about Mary

Monday, October 15, 2012

There is Something about Mary


Despite our efforts to convince Mary's workers to get her the neuropsych evaluation Forest Ridge had recommended, Mary's lawyer and I were running into a brick wall. Her corrections officer and social worker simply refused to do this for her even though we felt she needed this more than anything at this point in her journey to nowhere. In order to get this done for Mary, her lawyer had to hold another court hearing and convince the judge to order her workers to schedule a neuropsych appointment for her. The discussion amongst the team then turned to trying to decide where Mary should, not only get her evaluation, but where she should wait until she could get her evaluation.

While the rest of the team debated these things, her corrections officer went ahead and scheduled Mary's neuropsych appointment with a psychologist in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota (120 miles away) for December 29th (at least three months out) with a Dr. Tim Tinius. She told us she had no choice but to schedule Mary's appointment that far away, and that far out, because she checked and there weren't any openings any closer or any sooner. I had doubts about this, and I called almost every psychologist in our area, and even some in neighboring towns. Nearly every one of them told me they had openings for neuropsych exams in the next week or two. I also asked them if the County had contacted them to schedule any neuropsych exams for my daughter. None of them had been called by the County. Mary's corrections officer had lied to the team again.

For reasons that were never clear to us, Mary's workers also insisted she wait for her exam at the North Homes group home in Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids wasn't anywhere near the city she would be getting her exam, and it certainly wasn't anywhere near her home, and Mary didn't want to be that far away from her home any more. Her lawyer and I tried to get her workers to instead look in the Twin Cities area for resources for Mary because there were more to choose from and because it was only an hour and a half from Mankato. We had tried to get them to do this before now, but they always insisted that group homes in big cites like Minneapolis or St. Paul were full of bad, inner-city kids that would corrupt Mary. I thought this was crazy, and I don't think her workers actually believed it themselves.

But we didn't give up. The Twin Cities area made the most sense, and we thought it was time they started looking there for help for Mary. There were undoubtedly plenty of resources to deal with whatever the neuropsych would tell us, and there would be a good chance we would find the right group home or specialist in that area too. Plus, we had nearly exhausted every group home in our state, and Mary's last placement had to be in a neighboring state. And now we were considering sending her back to a group home near the Canadian border that had already told us they couldn't treat her. None of this made any sense.

Mary was sick of being moved. I was sick of her being moved. Her lawyer was sick of her being moved. And Mary was getting sick from being moved. It was time to start focusing on what she needed instead of just saying we were, and time to put an end to this non-stop tour-of-homes foray that was taking her nowhere. We should have made this a priority a year ago — after her fifth or sixth move — to let it go on any longer was unacceptable. When were we going to start listening to what Mary wanted for a change?

Mary sat and waited at Elmore while the team argued over where she should sit, and wait, after she was done waiting at Elmore. And even though she had been abused at Elmore, she stayed there for a month and a half while we tried to figure all of this out.

Around this time, Mary's lawyer brought in her own social worker to begin looking at other placements for Mary. One place she looked at was a group home for girls in the Twin Cities, named Avanti, which had recently opened up and which came highly recommended by a number of people, including Dr. Oberstar. Her lawyer's social worker spent a whole day at Avanti putting together a detailed report covering nearly every aspect of this group home, and then she emailed her report to the everyone on the team. But as usual, Mary's lawyer and I were the only ones to respond to her report even though we encouraged the rest of the team to seriously consider this and to let us know what they thought.

Mary's lawyer, her social worker, and I all advocated strongly for the Avanti group home, saying it would be a much better placement for Mary because it would be much closer to her home and might actually result in one less move for her. We argued that she would most likely be able to stay in the shelter part of Avanti while waiting for her neuropsych exam, and then move to the treatment part after her neuropsych exam was completed, depending on the results possibly meaning one less move for Mary. It made sense to begin considering the Metro area for Mary's placements for a number of reasons: she would be closer to her family, she could start to build a relationship with a therapist, she could stop moving from one end of the state to the other, and her mother and I could be involved in her treatment and her transition back home. But for some reason, which they never disclosed, corrections and social services kept advocating for Mary to be placed back at North Homes, and they eventually went to court to get the judge to approve their request. Before court, however, Mary's lawyer and I talked to the corrections supervisor one last time, voicing our concerns about Mary being so far from her home, especially considering her growing vulnerability to abuse. He assured us he wasn't going to ask the judge to send Mary to North Homes — and yet, once inside the courtroom, he did just that. The judge agreed with him and ordered Mary to be shipped back up to North Homes, against her wishes, and despite our concerns.

I was pretty saddened by this for a number of reasons, mostly because it meant Mary was going to have to spend another Christmas far from her family in a place that had already told us they couldn't treat her a place she did not need to be. But what saddened me even more, was that once again, she would be handcuffed and placed in the backseat of a transport vehicle, driven for hours across the icy hinterlands of Minnesota to some remote location, only to be left, once again, until we were ready for her — and then moved again.

I know now, and I was fairly certain then, that the only reason Mary's workers placed her so far away from her family was so that they could place her far away from me — never mind what this meant for her — that didn't matter a whit to them. Later it would be verified by others on the team that this was the case. (If they disagree with this assertion of mine, I invite them to comment here on this blog regarding their reasons for continuing to place Mary far from her home.)

It physically sickened me whenever I thought about what Mary must have been going through and what her life must have been like. After being moved more than 20 times in less than two years, she had to have given up all ties to people at this point in her life just to survive. She couldn't dare let herself get close to anyone any longer because the emotional pain of separating would have been too much for her to bear. It would have literally been dangerous to her mental health for her to continue to form bonds to anyone any longer. I felt lucky, however, that she had me. I absolutely know I was the only one Mary had in her life, and she knew she could always count on me to call her, to visit her, and to fight for her. To this day I still don't know how she survived this. There is something about Mary.





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