Written by: a Family Formed Through Adoption.
We were already adoptive parents when we adopted M, he was almost 12. M had some mental health issues, had been diagnosed with ADHD and was finishing counselling with Kinark when he came to live with us. He displayed minor behavioural issues. Though immature for his age and making some bad choices, they were relatively typical to other kids/adults his age.
M graduated from Police Foundations, got married and now works as supervisor in the security business. He is 30 years old.
Several years after adopting M, we were approached to see if we would consider adopting again. J had experienced a failed adoption and was back in a foster home. We considered for a long time whether to proceed with this adoption, as six year old J had many issues. She was diagnosed with PTDS and ADHD and had troubling behaviour including major outbursts and attempts to run away.
J realized at 17 that she needed to go away to a locked hospital to get help.
We had her come to our home for respite weekends and after several months we did decide to proceed with J’s adoption. CAS provided 10 hours a week of respite for us and extra support at home when needed which lasted several years. They also paid for a Montessori school for her for grade one and grade two
We had many issues that affected all of our relationships. We weathered the difficult times at home and at school. By the time J was in grade seven we were reasonably settled, though there were numerous relationship issues and other issues.
We started to see real issues when J was in grade eight. She wouldn't go to school and wouldn't do her school work. She would fly off the handle. J started self-harming and threatened suicide and by this time, we were on our own to deal with her major issues. Our marriage was in jeopardy and we did what we could to help her have a good first semester of high school despite the challenges.
The issues escalated in second semester. She was using drugs, running the streets, having casual sex and would not go to school. The self-harming and threats to hurt herself escalated. J was seeing a psychiatrist who thought she was bipolar and prescribed drugs that had her sleeping all day. I wasn't working at this point, my day was taken up supporting J and it was very stressful.
Finally she ended up in Youthdale. However, there was a huge communication issue and she only got three weeks of support, which wasn't enough. Though alternative programs were tried, she didn't really go to school for almost a year.
Eventually she ended up finally getting therapy from Kinark after two years on the waiting list. These sessions were very good and J realized at 17 that she needed to go away to a locked hospital to get help. There was nothing in our area, but eventually she ended up at CAMH for three months where she finally got the right diagnosis after 10 years. J had actually been struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Finally receiving the right treatment, a mix of the correct medication and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, had a huge difference in her life and her family’s life. J still has relationship issues and some rough times but has graduated high school at 20, is working full time and hopes to go to college. At 21 she still lives at home.
For CAMH Mental Health Week, we have been asked to ‘learn, talk, reflect and engage others on issues related to mental health and mental illness.’ As we reflected on our family’s story, and barriers to accessing mental health services for our daughter, we decided to share our journey with you.
#GetLoud about Mental Health
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