Lots of great news and one concerning piece of news on Charlie.
1) Great news – Charlie is coming home in two weeks for his first home visit! He has made a lot of progress processing his trauma and has gotten past the (understandable) behaviorally-concerning reactions that had required close observation in the safety team home at his residential treatment. It will be very short – a Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning – and will be primarily focused on family time. We will be at 4:30 Mass at Sacred Heart then at Whitehall pool in the evening 7/17 if any local friends want to come by and say hello!
So there is finally light at the end of this very long tunnel! There will be several more home visits which increase in length before Charlie finally comes home for good, but we don’t know how many and don’t yet have a final homecoming date. I am hoping he will be home before Thanksgiving.
2) Good news – Your donations over the past month were just enough to allow us to pay for Charlie’s July therapy. You are amazing!
3) Great news – After over a year of IEP meetings and having hired a special education attorney, neuropsychological testing and more, Prince Georges County Public Schools has FINALLY agreed to cover the remaining cost of Charlie’s treatment!
By federal law, every child is entitled to a free and appropriate public education. If a child cannot access his or her education in a regular school setting, special education must be provided. This is not just for learning differences, but for emotional disturbances as well. In Charlie’s case, he cannot access his education right now without 24/7 therapeutic care. Between our school district not agreeing that his residential placement was necessary and the delays from Covid last year (he went to treatment about six weeks after the lockdown started and it wasn’t possible to get the neuropsych testing done until late fall), the process took way longer than it should have. But we are now working out the fine details of the settlement with the school district and they will begin paying soon!
This means that I no longer have to do fundraising! Those of you that have been making automatic monthly donations can cancel those at this time (if you are one of those people, please PM me to let me know you saw this). A HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated along the way. Together you donated a total of $248,584! We would never have been able to afford keeping Charlie in treatment for 14 months without your help.
(Note: If we end up with any unused funds in our donation account, it will be used to help pay for transition care after Charlie returns home. This is specialized therapy and coaching to help him transfer the skills he learned in treatment to the real world, and us to effectively implement the parent training we have received over this time. It is generally needed for about six months.)
4) Some concerning news – Charlie was recently diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which is a serious tick-borne disease which can cause long-term issues. He has been complaining off and on of joint pain since before Christmas at least. He has a high threshold of pain and sprained his ankle playing basketball early this year, plus he had Covid in December which can cause lingering effects, so it made the possibility of a different type of infection hard to detect. After many doctors visits, imaging, and tests, I asked them to test for Lyme. They did a tick panel and it came back positive for RMSF.
He never saw a rash, although it may have been harder to notice with his darker complexion. He had Covid in mid-December, but otherwise never had the flu-like symptoms that normally accompany tick-borne diseases. I am wondering if perhaps the RMSF was a false positive, and Lyme perhaps a false negative. I am requesting that he be seen by an infectious disease specialist, at well as by a rheumatologist in case the joint pain could be a symptom of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Please pray that a proper diagnosis can be determined, that it can be treated successfully, and that his joint pain will go away. After all he’s been through, he does not need to be dealing with long-term physical pain!
That’s it for now! I’ll post another update after his home visit to let you know how it went.
Tom had an excellent visit to Charlie at his residential treatment center over Memorial Day weekend! We have made eight trips to Missouri to see him so far, and thankfully we keep finding new things to do! They went to a local cave, hiked at a State Park, went to an arcade, got Chinese and Buffalo Wild Wings take out (Charlie’s favorites!), and watched zombie movies. Charlie also enjoyed the cats at their AirBnB, which is great because he thought he wasn’t a cat person, and we adopted two cats after he left for his treatment program 🙂 .
Charlie is really struggling right now. He switched therapists and has finally started to process his trauma. It took him a year to feel ready and safe enough to start doing that. He really wants to come home, and realizes that he’s got to do this before he can do so, and it is HARD. He has to revisit and relive twelve years of so many types of trauma.
Understandably, he is having lots of reactions during this process and has been in the safety team home for most of the last six weeks so that he can get extra help and observation. Please pray for him to stabilize enough to go back into his regular team home, as he hasn’t been able to participate in outings, attend school in person, or socialize in the milieu for all this time. It sounds like a punishment, but it is necessary in order to keep him safe until he stabilizes.
This may all sound very discouraging, but it is part of the normal process and actually a sign of progress. It typically takes kids with this kind of trauma 9-12 months to feel safe enough to do this hard work, and they are usually ready to come home 3-6 months later. So he is right on track! They foresee him needing the full six months given the complexity and extent of his trauma, so we are hoping for him to be back home by Thanksgiving.
We continue to be amazed and incredibly grateful for all of your generosity in helping us get Charlie this needed, but mind-bogglingly expensive treatment. So far we have received $236,325 in donations to his fundraiser! However, most of that has now been spent. At this time we only have $3437 left in his account and will be unable to pay the next invoice of $14,800 which is due by July 1st. Thank you for any financial assistance you can provide.
Most especially, thank you for your prayers on Charlie’s behalf. Prayer is what makes all else possible. God bless you all!
A long overdue Charlie update on his residential treatment! A lot has happened since the last one two months ago, in which I mentioned that Charlie seemed to be reaching a turning point. Since then however, he has had some setbacks.
In March, his canine therapist expressed concern that he was no longer taking proper care of his dog, Max. To us it seemed like typical teenaged loss of enthusiasm with a new puppy, and the commensurate failure to follow through on heartfelt promises of consistent care. But it was explained to us that in this case, since the students are taught the therapeutic model through the canine foster-to-adopt program, and since it is designed to transfer to and develop or repair attachment between the student and parents, it was actually a more serious issue. When Charlie failed to get up at night if his puppy needed to be pottied, or clean up his accidents, when he let his Max roam free off-leash unsupervised, when he left him in the canine training enclosure so that he could play video games for hours on a weekend, these things indicated a lack of commitment and acceptance, which affects the dog’s security and trust and attunement between them. So Charlie was placed on a two-week review and encouraged to step up his care of Max, otherwise he would lose fostering status, similar to what would happen in a human foster care situation with lack of consistent care.
We had previously learned that Charlie had asked the canine director what would happen if he took a break from fostering. And oddly, during Tom’s visit in late February, Charlie “forgot” to fill out the paperwork to be able to bring Max with him off campus. It seemed that perhaps Charlie was overwhelmed with the intensity of caring for a puppy, and needed a respite. We were surprised, however, when faced with the two-week review, Charlie opted to relinquish Max, saying that he needed to focus on doing his own work. He said that while he had been enjoying the fun and snuggles with his dog, he had been distracted from his work. We had noticed that during family therapy sessions, (and apparently individual and group therapy as well, we were told) Charlie tended to “hide” behind his dog, hugging him and pulling him onto his lap, which for a 6-month old golden retriever, meant that we could hardly see Charlie behind the dog. His canine therapist said she was proud that he made such a courageous and selfless decision, and that it was entirely possible that Charlie can get Max (or another dog if Max is no longer available) back when he shows time and evidence that he is ready to recommit. Charlie misses Max, and has been continually asking if he can get him back, as it has been challenging for him to engage in his various therapies without the “crutch” of a personal dog (he is always welcome to utilize another dog temporarily if he gets extremely dysregulated), but his program is wisely holding firm to the expectation that he show more progress before he is restored to foster status.
In other news, while Charlie knows he needs to process his trauma before he can come home, he still, almost a year in, hasn’t felt able to do so. On my visit this past weekend, I asked him what is getting in the way. He shared that he doesn’t feel safe with his therapist and doesn’t like her, because one time she responded that she understood what he felt like when he was talking about what it was like to have no parents for so many years, and that there was no way she could possibly understand this, having grown up in a healthy two-parent family. I’m guessing that this was either a misunderstanding or a miscommunication, but if at this point, Charlie isn’t able to be open with her and doesn’t feel a connection with her, we need to ask for him to have a different therapist. I feel sad that this has been the case and Charlie wasn’t able to tell us, and worried that this will set him back for many months, having to start from scratch with someone else. But on the other hand, I also know that therapy can only be effective when there is a strong connection between therapist and client, and that with the right therapist, if Charlie can finally be vulnerable and share and process all the painful things he has been through, he will be able to come home faster. Please pray that this happens.
Happy New Year! We have recently returned from visiting Charlie at his residential treatment center and have SO much wonderful news to share.
1) Many of you saw on my personal page that Charlie was diagnosed with Covid a week before Christmas. We are so thankful that he recovered after experiencing only mild symptoms, and that our trip to see him was able to be rescheduled. We greatly missed being with him on Christmas Day proper, but as Christmas is an octave, it was still Christmas when we picked him up after he got out of isolation and our celebration was merry indeed!
2) There are ANGELS among us! Just before Christmas, someone (“a friend in Bowie”) anonymously donated $70,000 to Charlie’s fund! I now have a deeper understanding of the term “dumbstruck” because that is exactly what happened to me when I received this news. I literally could not speak at all for several minutes; I was just so overcome that someone would love Charlie and our family so extravagantly. Thank you, thank you, thank you! That donation will pay for almost five months of treatment!
Of course all year long ALL of you have been angels to us through your prayers, donations, and shares. We have received an outpouring of love from so many, from a mini Christmas tree loaded with gift cards on our front porch, a Secret Santa gifting us a $1000 Amazon card to buy Christmas gifts, anonymous donors leaving donations at the parish office for us to pick up, etc.
I also want to thank all the many donors who throughout the year have given smaller donations. $25 and under donations have added up to a nothing-to-sneeze-at $3885! Truly, no donation is too small.
3) Our visit with Charlie was so, so good. He recently qualified to foster his own dog, so we got to have his four-month old puppy Max with us. Max was a joy to be with and very regulating on the few occasions when someone got triggered. It was also lovely to see Charlie caring for the many needs of his puppy with such patience and gentleness, whether it be dropping what he was doing to take him out day or night, cleaning up accidents, or training him not to bark unnecessarily.
Our recent Thanksgiving visit to Charlie at his residential treatment was both wonderful and challenging. Even with all our challenges, there is much to be grateful for. We are so glad that we all tested negative for Covid before the trip, that Charlie’s program was able to allow Thanksgiving visits, that we were all together, and for the local grocery store’s proprietary ice cream brand “It’s Your Churn” – we tried a different amazing flavor every night of our trip (favorites were Bourbon Barrel and Monster Cookie)!
I have good news and bad news to share today. The good news is that we finally got some insurance reimbursement for Charlie’s residential treatment! The bad news is that they only covered the first three days he was there. They say that further treatment beyond that is not medically necessary.
This is, of course, ridiculous. Charlie’s PTSD is so severe that he could not safely be with us at home without wanting to take his own life! The level of complex trauma that he suffered cannot be healed in such a short time. There is a reason that the average stay at his treatment center is 15 months. We are appealing, obviously. Please pray for that to go well.
No other real news to report. The kids have been doing watersports in their Adventure Therapy with a focus on learning good communication skills. Apparently Charlie picked up waterskiing really quickly – he is quite the athlete!
The fundraiser is up to $122,813. Donations have really slowed down, but we have enough right now to cover a few more months. I trust that when we need more, God will take care of it just as he has been doing all along.
We are at $69,050 which is enough to cover 36% of the cost of Charlie’s treatment. We are paid up through July and have enough left to pay for August and September. Thank you so much for your generosity!
Two months ago we began the process of refinancing our home to take cash out to fund Charlie’s treatment. Refinances right now are taking way longer than usual because low interest rates have caused a spike in demand. That has turned out to be a good thing for us, because it has given us more time to raise funds. The more money we raise now, the less cash we will need to take out. It is a very difficult thing to think about starting over on another 30-year mortgage after being ten years in.
So, if anyone has been thinking of donating, now would be a particularly helpful time. Next week is our deadline for any changes in loan terms.
Thank you all for your prayers and donations!
I just had the most wonderful weekend with Charlie at his residential treatment program! It’s the first time I’ve gotten to visit since he arrived there two months ago.
Parents aren’t allowed on campus right now because of COVID, so they have a clubhouse set up down the road with board games, air hockey, arcade games (I surprised Charlie with my Galaga skills!), Cornhole, arcade basketball, and video games (I did not impress Charlie with my non-existent Xbox skills ). We also celebrated his July 4th birthday early – I had lots of gifts to give him from our whole extended family.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, and was trying not to have any expectations, but Charlie was really glad I came, and didn’t want me to leave at the end. That felt so incredibly good, after all the months of him feeling triggered by my presence. It was such a blessed weekend of playful connecting.
I also have good news from the fundraiser! It is now up to $62,598, which is one third of what is needed for his 12-15 months of treatment. We are so grateful for all who have prayed, shared, and donated. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Time for the weekly Charlie update! Thanks to all of your shares, prayers and donations, his fundraiser is up to $52,892, which is 28% of the total need and will cover about 3-1/2 months of residential treatment.
As Charlie progresses through his treatment, he will become eligible to foster (and someday adopt and bring home) his own dog. The process involves an application, writing essays and providing references, training, placement, and finalization ceremonies, much like the human foster/adoption process.
Charlie will learn how to train his dog to regulate it’s impulses, thereby learning the same skills. He will also learn how to co-regulate emotionally – if Charlie is upset, the dog will either help to calm him, or become visibly sad, which will motivate Charlie to learn to regulate his emotions to help the dog.
By learning to provide commitment, acceptance, and security to his dog, and learning to attune to its needs and meet them, Charlie will essentially be practicing safe and healthy attachment, which is designed to be transferable to us upon his return home.
Do you need a little good news? Charlie’s fundraiser donation total is up to $41,527, which is 22% of our total need. This is almost enough to pay for three months of his residential treatment.
Our country is hurting so much right now. We can only oppose hatred with love. Each one of you who has prayed for Charlie, contributed to the cost of his treatment, or shared his fundraiser on your timeline has done just that. Thank you.
Thank you all again, and please continue to keep Charlie in your prayers!
We are amazed and humbled at the love everyone is showing for our son! Our total in donations right now is $32,087, which is 17% of our total need. This is enough to pay for two full months of treatment plus the co-pays from Charlie’s recent hospitalizations. Thank you so much!
Today it has been one month since Tom took Charlie to his residential treatment center. Charlie continues to feel quite depressed. The doctor is making adjustments from week to week. It is an excruciatingly slow process, trying to find the right medications (or combination of medications) in the right doses.
Being with the other kids and taking comfort in the therapy dogs is getting Charlie through right now, while his therapists and treatment team focus on building a trusting relationship with him so that he can eventually feel safe enough to do the hard work of processing his trauma.
Remember that all donations are tax-deductible, have no fees, and are sent directly to the treatment center.
Thank you all again, and please continue to keep Charlie in your prayers!
Adoptive Families Coalition (AFC) is writing to you on behalf of Charlie’s family. We are assisting them in funding their son’s treatment not covered by insurance. There are very few resources for adoptive families who face the challenges of expensive and lengthy care. We need a community of support! Please consider if you can make a one time or monthly donation to offer Charlie a bright future.
100% of your tax-deductible donation goes directly to the treatment provider. Thank you!
AFC is a non-profit organization dedicated to the holistic support of adoptive families. Families who faced similar challenges firsthand and understand the need for support founded the nonprofit.