Sunday, December 24, 2006

Miss E's Story

Miss E is one of the youth for whom I have often provided respite. She shows up in a lot of my posts, and I thought that I would link together those posts. It is not quite like the other "story" series though. As her respite provider, Miss E tends to pop into my life during transitions and other times of trouble. The long stretches of time in between are not documented.

I want to say first, since I only decided to do this now (December 24, 2006) in many of the posts I do re-introduce her. It may be repetitive to read them all at once.

Second...let me here give the beginning of my time with her.

It was the summer of 2005. I regularly take one or two girls for Mandy for a week or two during the summer. Miss E was fairly new at her house, and when Mandy first asked me to take her she said that Miss E had a lot of anger, but would not be a problem for me. When she dropped her off she said that she just found out that the hearing regarding Miss E's adoption was scheduled for the middle of the week and that Mandy hated leaving Miss E right now. Mandy left me with a lot of phone numbers.

Miss E worried a lot about the hearing. She was angry. She was there with Georgia, which helped. They seemed to have a good relationship.

Georgia has a bad knee and in the middle of the week she dislocated it. I drove her to trauma clinic and Miss E became very protective of her. She had to help Georgia; I could not. Privately Georgia told me that though Miss E's attentions were a little over-whelming she thought it was keeping her distracted and she did not mind.

A couple days later Miss E found out from her social worker that she (Miss E) was not allowed to go to the hearing on her adoption. Miss E was furious. She wanted to tell the judge about how horrible these people were. She called everyone she could think of. She threatened to force her way in. She told me over and over that she would hurt herself, run away, do whatever she had to do if they made her go back.

Later her social worker came to our house to tell her that her parents had decided to terminate the adoption. The social worker told me that she expected that this would be difficult for Miss E. I realize now that Miss E had a different sort of scene in mind. She had imagined telling the judge how horrible the mother was. The judge would be shocked and sympathetic. Her mother would cry, and Miss E would be vindicated. Instead her mother and father decided to leave her.

Later she asked to make a phone call. She called another girl from the family, her soon-to-be-ex-adoptive sister, to ask if she would still be a bride's maid. Not surprisingly the girl laid into her. She called Miss E a b*tch, said that she had ruined the best thing that ever happened to her. The conversation went on and on. Miss E got progressively more upset. I finally went to her and said softly, "You need to tell her you have to get off the phone now. Tell her I said you have to hang up." I had to say it a couple of times.

Miss E went into her room and Georgia followed her. Georgia came out saying she was really worried. Miss E had hurt herself in the past and she had never been this upset. Miss E came out in her running clothes and said that she wanted to go for a run. I told her that I understood and that I would drive her to the Y, pay for admission, and she could run on their indoor track. She said she needed to run now. I told her that I was worried; that if Georgia were not hurt I would ask her to go along, but that I did not feel safe letting her be alone right now. She insisted. I asked her if she could promise not to run away and not to hurt herself. "No. I can't promise anything. I don't know what I will do."

"Then I can't let you go."

"I'm going."

"If you leave, I will have to call you in as a runaway."

"Okay." She hugged Georgia (unusual behavior for her) and said, "Goodbye" and left. I called the police. They looked for her, but she came back 45 minutes later, before they were able to find her.

I tried to comfort her, but she did not want to talk to me. Georgia did talk to her and again expressed concern. I considered driving her to the emergency room. Miss E came out and asked if she could talk to Mandy's older daughter. I said yes and the daughter came over. They talked for a long time. I left them alone for a while and later came back in and told Miss E that I was worried about her. Did she think she would hurt herself? "I don't want to right now, but I don't know how I will feel later." She also did not want to be taken to the hospital. Mandy's daughter asked her if she could promise to ask for help if she started to feel like hurting herself. She said that if she knows that when she feels that way she is not able to ask for help.

I asked, "Could you push a button?"


"Could you promise to push a button? I can program my cell phone so that [Mandy's daughter] is on speed dial. If you wanted to talk to her, you could call her. If you felt like hurting yourself and couldn't talk, all you would have to do was push the button. If she gets a call from my cell phone number and you don't say anything she will call me."

We agreed that if Miss E made a silent call, Mandy's daughter would call me, and I would sit with Miss E until Mandy got there. Mandy's daughter even said that if it were at all possible she would use a different line and not hang up on Miss E.

Miss E agreed. She could promise that if she felt like hurting herself she would push the button on my cell. I programed it. Mandy's daughter assigned a special ring and we demonstrated. I gave Miss E my cell phone. She carried it around the rest of her stay (three days) and never made a call. She seemed to feel stronger and safer.

And that was my first respite experience with Miss E.

She and Georgia came over for a weekend in the fall and again for New Year's, when Mandy traditionally leaves to visit her adult children.

She was also here with Georgia when Evan was detoxing before going to rehab.

And then came the blow out in April.

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