After getting that phone call in January of 1998, Laura and I panicked. What was Kyle doing in the hospital? Why the sudden turnaround about visitation, let alone letting me take him home?
In order to keep a long story from being even longer than necessary, the short version of the story is that Kyle had been diagnosed with Autism and the birth mother simply wasn’t able to care for him. She wound up admitting him to Children’s Hospital for a two week evaluation period. The problem was that it was in a lock-down psychiatric ward and he had already been there for a week – and she hadn’t visited him.
The next week involved (in part) a lot of meetings, a lot of phone calls, convincing the hospital staff that I had never taken heroin (let alone been an addict as it said on Kyle’s admitting form), and a lot of legal back and forth about a change of custody, and plenty more. Ultimately, because I wasn’t legal custodian of Kyle at the time, I wasn’t allowed to take him home when he would be discharged. The birth mother said flatly that she would not be taking him back. If custody had not been changed, Kyle would have been placed in foster care and I may have never seen him again. Laura and I visited Kyle every day, and he became more and more comfortable around us. The custody papers were filed literally a couple of hours before Kyle was discharged, so we were able to take him home.
I won’t go into the issues dealing with school placement or whatever, but suffice to say that after a couple of months, it was clear that Kyle didn’t have Autism. Something was “off” but we couldn’t figure it out.
Elementary school progressed about as normally as one might expect for a child that came from a situation such as Kyle’s. One background check that we had performed on the birth mother yielded 15 addresses in 5 years time. The lack of stability had obviously taken its toll on the boy. Apparently it had taken its toll on the birth mother as well. In the 3rd grade she vanished again. Kyle had been seeing her regularly every couple of weeks or so for as long as she wanted, really. According to the parenting plan and schedule her visits were rather limited, but I didn’t adhere to it, instead allowing the two to have their own relationship. It wasn’t enough for her, so she left. Naturally, Kyle didn’t take it very well.
It wasn’t until about 5th grade, however, that things started to go downhill. Kyle became increasingly defiant at home. This in itself wasn’t a problem, but the fact that he wasn’t participating in therapy was indicative of a much larger problem. Turns out this larger problem was going to get much larger than anybody had imagined.