Sunday, March 19, 2017

When Someone Else Cares for Your Child: Our Reality

It's been over a month since I've written. It's not because I haven't wanted to, or that I didn't have anything to say {that's funny, because I always have something to say}. I haven't blogged, because life has had me so numb and worn down.

I'm going to address something that is probably going to make some people uncomfortable, others gasp and maybe there are some sad people out there that would want to say hurtful things. Before I get to it, let me tell you that I am sharing all of this because I refuse to feel ashamed. I refuse to let others look at our family and judge my husband and I's decision when they don't know the situation. Or for other families in a similar situation to feel alone, like there is no one else in the world dealing with what they are. And most of all, I've always said that this blog is mostly for my kids to read 20 years down the road and to have a glimpse into their childhood from my perspective; for that reason alone, I have to share this.

We placed Dayton, our 7 year old son with severe Autism in a residential facility.

This wasn't a haste decision. The idea of just getting on a wait list began nearly a year ago, and it wasn't brought up by us, we were just dealing with his violent outbursts like it was normal. Our case manager and our pediatrician both suggested looking into our options.

How could we trust someone else with our son?
How could we be okay not being present for everything?
How could we do this?

I let the list of possible facilities sit for almost three months. I pretended they weren't in my inbox and that it wasn't something I needed to address. We were told that it wasn't a matter of "if" he'd end up in a group home setting, but more of "when." I was also told to think of the other kids in the house, and the quality of their childhood. They were fine. This was their brother. They knew their brother was special and easily got upset, but this was our life.

Everything changed the day that Dayton pinched and attempted to bite the baby (Jayce). Until this point he hadn't attacked innocent bystanders, only himself and anyone who got in his space. But the baby just merely walked past him. This was getting to the point of unsafe. At the time he was only 6, and I started to fear what the next few years might turn into with his behavior.

I pulled the list of facilities back out and started calling.

We toured a facility last fall, but it didn't work out. Our next facility to look at was two hours east of us. {Fact, there's only three facilities in the state of Iowa that take kids Dayton's age} We submitted our book of paperwork and waited to hear back.

November came, and we got a call that he made it the second round of the interview process to get in the waiting pool. {Waiting pool: they can pick kids based on fit for a house not just by who is next} They needed to meet him in person. So my husband and I took a Friday and headed east with Dayton. The interview went great and  we toured one of the homes; it was a dream! Everything he needed! We were told that someone would be in touch. A few days later we were told he had been accepted and put in the waiting pool: 6 months to 2 years was the expected wait time.

We went on with life as "normal."

Just over two weeks ago we got a call that he had been pulled for a house with two other residents and two day staff workers. A group of employees from the company came and saw Dayton at school, the next day they said he'd been chosen and that we needed to come up to visit ASAP. Two days later we were headed east once again.

The house was in a housing development. It was typical. But it was perfect. He'd have his own bedroom and bathroom. There was a living room, dining room and big kitchen. The staff there wanted to be there. They were friendly and well educated. They knew what it took to work with these special kids and told us all about the daily activities and outings they did. Dayton loved it there! We loved him there! So we said we were in!

They gave us his move in date.....6 days from then.

I panicked in the car on the ride home. This was too soon. Maybe we were making the wrong decision. What about the boys? How do we explain it to them? How do we tell our friends and family?

I cried. I went through a whole host of emotions; excitement, fear, doubt, feeling of failing as a parent, joy, guilt, happiness, guilt for feeling exciting. You name it, I felt it.

We told the boys what was going to be happening at the end of the week, and they got upset as well. They didn't want Dayton to go to a new house. It was hard.

The week flew by. I was crazy anxious and stressed trying to get all the paperwork in order, all of the supplies he needed in order (meds, clothes, towels, etc.). I was frantic.

Dayton made it easier for Jason and I to finalize our decision as the week went on though. He was a hot mess express. Screaming for hours, extremely violent to others and his self-harm skyrocketed. Nothing we could do would calm him down. Nothing.

Thursday we had a going away party for close friends and immediate family. Who knows when they will see him again, and we wanted to be sure they got to see him before the move. He screamed and banged his head on the floor for almost the entire party.
This was Dayton's going away picture with his explains the complete dynamic.

Friday came and we headed east for a final time with the van loaded down. This was it. When we drove back it would just be my husband and I. We were going from 4 boys in the house every day, down to 3.

We got him all moved in and settled. He was having the worse day I've ever witness him have. Dayton bit one of the staff (twice) and pinched the hell out of everyone else. It was horrible. We signed all of our paperwork and took him to his doctor's appointment. The house supervisor saw us off and told us not to fret, Dayton was going to be fine and this it totally normal. Normal? I was scared that they were going to call on our way home and say that we needed to come back and get him. But it didn't happen.

I got an email later that night telling me how he eventually calmed down. He finally ate something and he had taken two baths. They said after his first bath he was giggling and smiling; and even more so after the second one they let him take. I felt at ease.

It was done.

I'm sure you're reading this and have questions floating through your mind. Let me answer a couple.

Why now?
Yes, Dayton's violent outbursts was the catalyst for us, but our other boys were our main reason. We couldn't focus our ENTIRE lives around everything that could potentially set Dayton off. Our boys knew things we could and couldn't do because of him. I refuse to have our children look back on their childhood and resent us for not allowing them to go to Train Days (we had tried, and lasted 13 minutes) or how we always had to leave other events early because Dayton was melting down. They deserve the right to be normal kids and did normal things.

What did we tell the boys?
The truth. We told them how Dayton was moving to a new house, and that they are there to help him with his Autism. They talked about how it'd be nice to not be pinched and bit, but wanted to know if we would visit him. Of course we will. (Our current plan is once a month.)

Are we okay?
We are amazing. We went out with some friends after we got back from moving Dayton (and used full advantage of a sitter). They kept hugging us and telling us how we didn't have to be tough and it was ok to be upset. But we weren't upset, we were relieved. He was in a facility designed to help kids like him. He would have staff with him 24/7, something we couldn't give him at home.

Are we still his parents?
Yes. Nothing can get signed or done without our approval. We will receive at least a weekly email update on what he's up to, but more as needed. Also, we can call at any time and check up on him.

Will he come home?
Probably not. We will most likely go up there the week before holidays, because holidays are a huge stress for him and make life miserable for everyone. Plus the logistics of driving and meds, it makes it really difficult.

Why am I sharing?
We have a great friend who (with 100% good intentions) said not to share this on Facebook etc. because people who don't know the situation would be judgmental. That bugged me. Not sharing this makes it seem like there is something to be ashamed of. It makes it feel like we should have this big family secret no one talks about. All that does to me is makes my heart hurt. I don't want the boys to think that they can't talk about how Dayton lives somewhere to get help. Not talking about it sounds like he died. I also can only imagine the thoughts that people would think when they see pictures of everyone but Dayton, and sometimes people's imagination make up crazier stories than the truth.

I also feel the need to educate people on the reality that some families face. This wasn't something we wanted to do. We did this for Dayton. We wanted what was best for him, and getting him the constant help and supervision is just that. Our feelings and your feelings have nothing to do with it, it's all about what is best for him and our other kids.

How will it change your family?
We are trying to adjust to be "normal." What we consider normal has always been abnormal, so this is a change. Jason and I both noticed we are calmer parents and our kids are calmer. Everyone seems less stressed. Yesterday we went on an outing that we typically wouldn't be able to do with Dayton, and it was fabulous. I started crying when Layne looked up at me and told me that "this is the best day ever!" A little bit later when we were driving and Kayden said, "I don't miss Dayton." He was sad when he said that, I think because he thought that he should feel sad. I told him that it's ok not to miss him, because we will get to visit him and that Dayton is busy having fun too without us. It'll take time, but we'll adjust.

If you made it to the bottom of this forever long post, I applaud you. I just needed to get this all out. I don't want to have to explain our reduced numbers to anyone, so here it all is, laid out for the world.

Still have questions? E-mail or message me, I'll gladly answer them.
Hateful things to say? Get bent, go waste your time with someone else.
Educate others? Please share this. No one talks about things like this, therefore people going through it don't know anyone else going through this.

As always, thank you for reading and following along!

If you'd  like to follow along with your daily dose of crazy, be sure to follow me on Instagram.


  1. Screw the people who judge, no one knows what it's like to you through what you guys have. Sounds like he's in a great place and that you guys are too. Xo

  2. Thank you for posting. There are so many layers here and you did a great job of trying to explain the feelings many families have to face alone when their child needs an out of home placement.

  3. Wow. Good for you for doing what's best for your family. It must be so difficult, but it sounds like you're giving all of your children their best chance this way and that's what awesome mamas do. Thank you for sharing your story. Hugs!

  4. Thank you for sharing this and your heart. You did what was best for your child. Don't let others tell you how to raise your child.