• Toni Hoy

    In the depths of winter, there arose in me, an invincable summer. Albert Camus

  • This blog is dedicated to children whose adoptive parents were forced into trading their custody rights for mental healthcare due to pre-adoptive trauma tonihoy@comcast.net

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HB 5598 Update

On, 4/10/14, HB 5598 moved out of the Illinois House of Representatives with a unanimous vote of 101-0-0 !!!


HB 5598 (which my family affectionately calls “Hoy Boy 5598″) moved to the Senate on 4/11/14 and Senator Julie Morrison quickly signed on as Chief Sponsor. This is wonderful news as she has a parent in her district who has been fighting this issue since July of last year.

I keep asking myself why we are fighting so long and hard for kids that have an automatic entitlement under EPSDT!

This bill could move quickly through the Senate, so parents are mobilizing a strategy to educate the Senators. It’s safe to say that they will each be receiving a copy of “Second Time Foster Child.”

Along the way, there have been concessions on both sides.

Initially, the bill was intended to have three layers. The first and most important part is the Intergovernment Agreement. If that works the way we all hope, there will be no need for the other two parts! The second part was a temporary 180 day Voluntary Placement Agreement in which the parent retains guardianship, but child welfare takes responsibility for care and placement while the funding is worked out. The third part would have given CRSA binding authority very late in the 180 day process in case all the rest failed, in a last ditch effort to keep the case out of Juvenile Court, which is a child protection system, not a clinical system.

Because Rep. Bost attached a large fiscal note, and because of opposition by DCFS and HFS, families conceded all but the Intergovernment Agreement, which again, is SUPPOSED to work. The current bill retains an accountability measure which requires DCFS to report annually the number of relinquishments. Families will be monitoring the numbers closely and if they continue to rise will QUICKLY be back at the legislative floor asking for VPA and/or CRSA binding authority once again. We’ve been made promises regarding system reform before which have not been kept. 

The state agencies could make a concession back to families by allowing CRSA at the table as a 3rd party independent facilitator at the Intergovernment Agreement, which statutorily is their role anyway. We’d like it to be a little less David v. Goliath!

As an aside, it has not gone unnoticed by the parents that the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership failed to sign on to HB 5598 in support in the original bill or the 2 successive amendments. In speaking with them directly, they said, “We’re watching it with interest…” Hmm…shouldn’t they have championed this all along?

Overall, the bill is trending well. Now that the bugs are worked out, we are hoping for swift, unopposed passage through the Senate.

The Governor has already agreed to sign the bill into law once it’s passed the Senate. And a little birdie told me that one of his advisors remembered me paying him a visit on this issue back in 2009, noting, “You’re gonna get this done!”little birdie





HB 5598 Hearing

Adoption Reform Committee

Springfield, IL    3/26/14

 First, a special thanks to my Superhero Trauma Mamas and Trauma Papas who accompanied me to the hearing-Sheila Trznadel, Jeana Lindell, Amy Garcia, Antoinnette Bohanan, Robert Huck and Wally Busch. We had representation across the state!

Second, a very special shout out to the two young men who had the courage to speak to the legislators about the effects of the system on them and their peers-Schuyler Walker and my son, Daniel Hoy. More about that in a bit.

Third, a special thank you to the 90 proponents of the bill which far outweighed the few opponents, especially NAMI, which supported this bill in FORCE. Numerous NAMI affiliates signed on in support and I felt an extra dose of strength when I glanced over and saw NAMI IL Executive Director, Lora Thomas, enter the room and greet me with her giant smile!

The committee addressed several bills and got to our bill last. The committee voted unanimously to accept the amended bill and we watched it be voted on and move from the Rules Committee back to the Adoption Reform Committee. Two of our opponents were DCFS and HFS. A summation of their reasons:


  •          Concern about too many youth entering residential placements/least restrictive placements
  •          Concern about who makes the decision about residential placement
  •          Played up future plans to improve system

As an aside, while HFS expressed concern over who made the decision for RTC, Amy Garcia testified from her case that DCFS attempted to have their LCSW overrule the recommendation of her children’s PhD.


  •          Concern about extreme financial burden
  •          Stated it does not fall on their agency, rather HFS

As an aside, after hearing my testimony and my statements concerning being charged with neglect as a mechanism for obtaining funding, DCFS stated that they “don’t charge anyone with anything.”   ????!!!! Several of the parents in the room, including me HAD been charged or threatened to be charged.

Unfortunately, from our group, only me, Amy Garcia, and my son, Daniel had an opportunity to testify, partially because the agencies took much more time in their testimonies. Christine Walker, an ICG parent and her son, also testified as proponents, stating their disagreement with relinquishment and their gratitude that it hadn’t happened to them, as well as sadness for others they knew who were forced into it. They both stressed the importance of some youth needing long term services and maintaining family support. We were not allowed enough time for everyone to be heard.

I was most impressed by my son Daniel’s testimony for so many reasons. He has had over a year of stability and I am so thankful that he was able to get up and speak to the legislators with the personal conviction that he showed. A copy of his talk appears at the close of this post.

After he spoke, State Rep. Sommer faced us both and offered a sincere, hearfelt apology for what our family endured, continuing to state that relinquishment is a terrible problem which MUST be fixed. State Rep. Feigenholtz continued by saying that this is more than a financial or systemic issue but a “moral issue” which is unfathomable that it has continued to exist for as long as it has, on the scale that it has, that nothing has been done about it, and that we simply cannot allow it to continue any longer.

After that Rep. Sommer excused himself to go to another committee and Daniel excused himself to go to the restroom, taking my book, “Second Time Foster Child” with him. A moment later, he returned with pen and book in hand, and with a smile on his face told me that Rep. Sommer would like my autograph.

After the hearing, parents split into two groups with Fact Sheets, copies of family stories, and copies of my book and passed them out at the State Rep. offices.  Some very cool things happened along the way.

At one of the offices, we were a bit confused as about where to go, so we asked if we were allowed to enter a certain hallway. The aide told us, “This is YOUR building. We just work here. This is YOUR building and you may go wherever you like!”  How many of us remember that our Capitol is OUR building?

Daniel learned quickly from our advocacy and completely on his own, began approaching the legislative aides and began advocating for HB 5598! For a young man of 19 years, who spent 5 years in RTC’s to be at the Capitol advocating for himself with State Representatives gave me such pride and joy that I have not felt in a very, very long time! Proud, proud Mommy moments!

Daniel’s state rep. is Rep. Greg Harris and I pointed that out to him when we arrived Rep. Harris’ office. When the legislative aide realized that “Second Time Foster Child” was about one of Rep Harris’ constituents, she handed the book back to Daniel and asked him to write inside the cover the reasons he wanted him to pass HB 5598. I had another proud Mommy moment when he was happy to oblige.

Overall, we believe we made an impression on the state reps. Currently, the bill drafters are reconvening with HFS and DCFS to address their concerns and possibly make another amendment. We made an impact, but we have a ways to go. The bill will be read two more times, will likely see another amendment and then have the final vote in the House. After that, we need to follow it through the Senate in the same manner and hope that it’s signed by the Governor as law. I have faith that the state agencies, the legislators, and the advocates can come to an agreement on the final language which serves children and families well.

See the Reuters article on the Trznadel family http://www.reuters.com/investigates/adoption-follows/#article/part3  Sheila Trznadel attended the hearing but was not allowed time to speak.

I close this post with the speech that Daniel so reverently delivered before attentive legislators and teary-eyed parents:

My name is Daniel Hoy and I am 19 years old. DCFS removed me from my biological family when I was 6 months old. I was lethargic and starving to death. The hospital fed me with an eyedropper once an hour to keep me alive. When I was 2 yrs old, I went to live with my adoptive parents, Jim and Toni Hoy. I was too little to remember being severely neglected, but I have learned that the trauma damaged my brain to where I could not regulate my emotions.

When I got to be 10 years old, I became violent and aggressive and I couldn’t control it. After the 11th psych hospitalization when I was 12 yrs old, my parents told me that they had to leave me at the hospital so they could have funding for a residential placement.

I was very scared. I didn’t know who was going to take care of me or where I was going. A DCFS worker picked me up from the hospital and took me to a group home. When I asked about my parents, she told me they were in trouble. I had never been around other kids like the ones in the group home. They were gang members, substance abusers, and sex offenders. Another DCFS worker visited me a few more times, intensely interrogating me if my parents hit me or abused me. I was confused because my parents are good people and were always helping other people.

I spent 5 yrs in 3 different residential centers. I missed my parents, my brothers and sister, and my home a lot. Every month, a DCFS worker interrogated me about whether my parents abused me. Sometimes CASA and the GAL also interrogated me. I felt like they were posing the questions so that no matter how I answered them, my parents looked bad. The CASA volunteer lied to me and bribed me with monetary things and tried to convince me that my parents hurt me.

I hated when DCFS workers called me “my child” or the CASA worker called me “my CASA child.” I belong to my parents and I eventually stood up for myself and started telling them so. I hated that everytime I needed permission for something, I had to call the DCFS caseworker and ask to go on a field trip or go to a school dance. I just wanted to call my mom like every other kid.

I could see the stress and pressure that was put on my parents, especially my mom. That hurt me a lot and I feel a lot of guilt that my parents suffered so much to help me get treatment. I love my parents and I should not have lost them for any amount of time for a chance at getting better.

I am now in a transitional living program. Staff helps me with medicine, therapy, school, work, and living skills. I have made a lot of progress over the last year. I need all the services that I’m getting and I still need my parents too. Without either one of them, I would be on the streets or in jail. I don’t want any other kids to go through what me and my family did. Please pass HB 5598 and because my mom fought so hard for me, I hope you call it Daniel’s Law.

Please register as a proponent of a bill to end relinquishment in Illinois

NAMI Illinois Action Alert – House Bill 5598


House Bill 5598 prohibits parental custody relinquishment, but allows voluntary placement, when a family seeks mental health treatment for their child through DCFS when all other treatment options have been eliminated.


The bill will be heard in the Adoption Reform Committee on Wednesday, March 26th, at 8:00am.  NAMI Barrington member Toni Hoy will testify on her personal experience with this issue and the need for the current law to be changed, along with several other families.  Add your voice by filling out an electronic witness slip.


Click here to do so:  http://my.ilga.gov/WitnessSlip/Create/80675?committeeHearingId=11645&LegislationId=80675&HCommittees3%2F31%2F2014page=1&committeeid=0&chamber=H&nodays=7&_=1395670305597


NAMI Illinois is a proponent of the original bill and a proponent of Amendment 1.  Please slip accordingly.


For additional information, please see the Fact Sheet on HB 5598 by checking the NAMI Illinois website. http://il.nami.org/HB5598_Prevention%20of%20Custody%20Relinquishment%20Fact%20Sheet_3%2024%2014.pdf


HB 5598 Gains Early Support

Update on HB 5598-IL House bill to prevent involuntary custody relinquishment


Adoption Reform Hearing

Mar 26 2014 8:00AM Capitol Building

Room 115 Springfield, IL

Organizations Supporting HB 5598

Access Living

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Community Counseling Centers of Chicago

Community & Residential Services Authority


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

Home School Legal Defense Association

Illinois Psychiatric Society

Illinois Psychoclogical  Association

Maine Center, Inc.

Mental Health America of Illinois

Mental Health Summit

NAMI Barrington Area

NAMI Greater Chicago

NAMI Illinois

NAMI Kane County

NAMI Lake County

NAMI Northern IL

Next Steps

Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities)


Check back for updates

Thanks to All Who Helped Along the Way

In looking forward, it’s also important to see where you’ve been. The most often asked question that we get these days is an important one:

“How is your son doing now?”

Different people ask that question for different reasons. Those who know us personally care about him and us and they genuinely want to know how we all are now. Trauma Mamas who are not as far down the road want to know if any hope at all lay in store for their own children. And others want to rejoice in his and our success.

But back to the original question: “Where have we been?”

2008 We lost custody of our son. We were charged with and indicated for neglect. We fought in juvenile court to get the neglect finding amended to “dependency-no fault” and we fought in administrative law court to get our names removed from the child abuser list.

2010 We sued two state agencies for provision of his treatment under Medicaid as he is entitled to under federal law.

2011 There was a settlement. The state put us under gag order. We petitioned the juvenile court to regain custody of our son and were successful.

2012 “Second Time Foster Child” was published and the nation learned “the whole story.”

2013 Governor Quinn appointed me to the Community & Residential Services Authority.

2014 HB 5598 was introduced in the IL House of Representatives by State. Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, an adoptee. It is a bill which seeks to end the barbaric practice of involuntary custody relinquishment.

We have many people to thank along the way-Randie Bruno, our juvenile court attorney, Aaron Rapier, our federal court attorney, the honorable Judges Nancy Waites, Judge Valerie Ceckowski, Judge John Darrah, “Ronald” our therapist, NAMI Barrington, and others who kept our hope fires burning.

And for the second question: “How is our son doing now?”

Truthfully, better than he’s been in a very long time. He spent time in 3 different residential centers over 5 years where he learned a lot. He is now in a transitional living program. He stepped down from a group home to supportive housing. As most kids and young people with RAD, he still doesn’t trust us fully, but his capacity for empathy is much stronger than it’s ever been. He regularly asks how my husband and I are and he worries about us occasionally, which is a nice change. He adores our dog and that is a nice change too. He struggles with a lot of the same issues that most 19 years old’s face. And we try to remember to place more focus on how far he’s come, than on temporary setbacks. Despite any setbacks, he’s finally made a personal commitment to his own treatment.

Perhaps a third questions is in order: “How does he feel about having a mother who is a leading child mental health advocate. He’d tell you, “My mom is a rockstar!”

He does feel like he lost the majority of his childhood and because of spending so much time in facilities, we lost a lot of spending his childhood with him too. As the youngest child, while he was away, his siblings grew up. One served in Afghanistan as a U.S. Marine. But he wanted us to share in all the good times he had while he was away, to share in the experiences that he had away from us, so he made this video for my husband and me. From him to us, it was his “thank you” for sticking by him through thick and thin and molding him into the young man he became. And it’s also, goodbye to the “old Daniel” and the “new Daniel” giving life a hug. It’s the new “He’s My Son.”

Watch and be inspired…these kids CAN be healed!

Gratitude Meditation

Click here or on the photo for a 15 minute, relaxing Gratitudes Meditation by Sondra Barrett




Relax, recharge, revive…

Justina Pelletier-the family story

Justina was taken from her parents because of a misunderstanding regarding her physical health where the authorities tried to turn it into a mental health issue.

Kind of the opposite of misunderstanding a child with mental health issues and state authorities turning it into a child protection issue. Yet child protection is involved in both types of cases.

In any case, parents should have the right to raise their own sick children.



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