• 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@gmail.com

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    The articles in this blog are the express opinion of the author. They are not intended to be used for medical, clinical, or legal advice and are intended for informational purposes only.
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Funds will be awarded to NAMI Barrington Area

House Bill 4096 (House Amendment 1) passed out of the House Human Services Committee this morning and is currently on third reading in the House.  NAMI Illinois supports this bill; it will enable reasonable access to children’s mental health care under the Individual Care Grant (ICG) Program.  Please contact your State Representatives and urge them to vote in favor of HB 4096 (HA 1)

  The ICG Program is the primary way Illinois funds treatment for children with a serious mental illness.

 HB4096, HA 1:

*  Removes the Psychosis Requirement for Eligibility for an ICG because Psychosis does NOT Often Manifest Until Young Adulthood.

*  Prevents Custody Relinquishments for Families Desperately Seeking Care. Increasing numbers of families unable to get an ICG for their child have turned to DCFS for residential treatment, but are forced to relinquish custody in this process. This rips the family apart and causes irreparable damage to the child who is already suffering with an untreated serious mental illness. Making ICG accessible where appropriate will stop this.

*  Creates a Children’s Behavioral Health Cabinet in the Office of the Governor, and includes DHS, HFS, DJJ and other state agencies and stakeholders to more effectively design and manage children’s behavioral health care across Illinois.

*   Transfers ICG to HFS in Response to the State’s Anticipated Settlement of N.B. v. Hamos. HFS will be the primary state agency responsible for implementation of Children’s Behavioral Health Reform following settlement of the lawsuit.

*  The ICG Psychosis Requirement has Simply Shifted Costs for Residential Treatment from DMH to DCFS. The overall cost to the state will be about the same given that many families in need of an ICG turn to custody relinquishment, or their child cycles through multiple psychiatric hospitalizations without treatment.


Changing Rehoming Laws Isn’t the Answer


Photograph by Brian Chillson, Arkansas Times

by Julie Beem

Executive Director

Attachment & Trauma Network

What do the stories of Arkansas Rep. Harris and his wife, Torry Hansen (who returned her son to Russia in 2010), and the families in last year’s Reuters report on rehoming have in common? All were adoptive parents who found they could no longer safely parent their children in their homes. While tightening up custody transfer (rehoming) laws in this country seems like the answer, it is just a surface “fix” to a much deeper problem.

Why would adoptive parents, vetted through home studies, need to find new homes for their children? The answer is early childhood trauma and attachment disorders and the behaviors exhibited by children who have endured significant abuse and neglect. Neuroscience tells us that trauma changes developing brains, so children available for adoption are definitely at risk for these trauma-based disorders. Adoptive parents are often ill-prepared for the intensive therapeutic parenting required and few trauma-focused resources are available to them. Paradoxically, children with early attachment trauma have their greatest chance for healing in forever homes with loving therapeutic parents. Each move of a child to a new placement, whether legal or not, is retraumatizing. Regardless of custody transfer laws, unless we provide post-adoptive supports and interventions thousands of children and their families will continue to suffer.

ATN released the following press release regarding the Harris story:

Attachment and Trauma Network Statement on Rep. Justin Harris (AR) “Rehoming” Controversy

The solution to rehoming is in resources and support for those parenting traumatized children to preserve permanency.

The Attachment and Trauma Network (ATN), a national organization providing education, support, and advocacy for families of traumatized children and those with attachment disorders, receives hundreds of calls annually from parents who have reached the limits of their abilities to provide permanency while maintaining safety in their homes, schools, and communities. Children who have early childhood trauma, exposed to abuse, neglect and maltreatment can develop severe emotional and behavioral disorders such as Reactive Attachment Disorder.  The largest majority of these children are adopted; however, any child can be traumatized, and ATN also serves parents of biological children and kinship caregivers as well.

The lack of mental health services, especially for children, has existed for decades, yet most efforts to reform state systems have failed, leaving families like the Harrises,who need intensive services, unserved despite repeated requests.

Often families are told that they will face abandonment charges or risk having other children in their family removed if they attempt to transfer custody back to the state.  Still other times families are told they must relinquish custody to state’s child welfare system to receive the intensive treatment.

Recent stories on rehoming have focused on creating legislation to stop parents, primarily adoptive, from this dangerous practice.  But relinquishment to the state or having all the children in a family removed from parents because one traumatized child’s behaviors create an unsafe situation is still rehoming, just sanctioned by the system.  And children, especially those with traumatic backgrounds, view either rehoming as just one more abandonment by people who were supposed to be their forever family.

Nearly all children who are domestically adopted, like the Harris children, receive Medicaid as part of a subsidized adoption, which is given to them to provide medically necessary treatment. However, most states continue to deny funded services, especially for mental health, which children are entitled to under the EPSDT provision of Medicaid.

State budgets cannot support the cost of intensive treatment that many of these children need, so costs that should be contained in state Medicaid budgets are simply shifted to the child welfare agencies that are ill-equipped to deal with their mental health needs, at the cost of the child’s permanency and the parents’ reputation, since involuntary relinquishment is frequently accompanied by abuse or neglect charges.

ATN encourages the federal government to reform Medicaid laws so that the money follows the children, regardless of the state system they are in. This solution to relinquishment/rehoming will ensure that children are able to get the treatment they need while preserving their permanency. It will also better support state governments by serving children in clinical systems rather than child welfare systems, which are not designed or equipped for supporting children with mental health issues living within a healthy family.

 ATN logo

Where’s Toni?


The Universe of Therapeutic Parenting

April 24-26th

2001 Waukegan Road
P.O. Box 176
Techny, IL 60082
Phone: 847-272-1100

Register now-tickets are going fast!  http://parentinginspace.com/register/

I will be presenting on:

IEP’s in SPACE: From Alienation to Collaboration So Special Educators “Get It” Too!

Somewhere along the way, you GOT it! And then you realized that your educational team wasn’t “getting it.” Learn how to use SPACE to help them make the paradigm shift from confusion to understanding trauma and attachment. Did you know that you don’t need a formal diagnosis to request or receive an IEP? Or that you can request teacher training as a related service to meet your child’s goals in his IEP? Join me to learn how to write trauma-centered needs with corresponding accommodations and specially designed instruction for your child’s IEP meeting so that parents and teachers are both operating in the same SPACE.


Adoption Support & Preservation Conference

Sunday, May 31, 2015 – Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sheraton Music City Hotel

777 McGavock Pike

Nashville, Tennessee 37214

(615) 885-2200

I will be co-presenting with Julie Beem, Executive Director of the Attachment & Trauma Network, on:

“Keeping Families Together, Let’s Act!”  

The issues of rehoming and relinquishment are prevalent across the nation, but how did we get here? Join Julie Beem and me to learn how the landscape of the late 90’s led to some of the issues that families are facing today. You will learn how adoption promotions moved faster than post-adoption support, the impact of families raising traumatized children without social system supports, and needed federal changes to support permanency in a meaningful way.

Presented by

Register here:  http://www.cvent.com/events/asap-adoption-support-and-preservation-national-conference/event-summary-b3fb5d0393284296b54720c93d2dd8a8.aspx


American Bar Assoc. Law Journal February, 2015


Letters: Support for parents

Far from Home,” December, misses a major aspect of how our child abuse and neglect laws operate to prevent children who are adopted and also biological children who cannot be safely cared for at home from accessing reasonable alternative support without relinquishing custody.

Even when custody relinquishment is the only available option to families who have made the reasonable determination that they cannot care for the child at the present time (often because the child’s behavior is dangerous to other family members), the parents are labeled neglectful no matter what they choose to do. Some parents face an excruciating “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” decision because by keeping the child in their homes they are subjecting their other children to risk.

Read Toni Hoy’s excellent memoir, Second Time Foster Child, before making the plight of desperate adoptive parents even more difficult by criminalizing private relinquishments. Certainly, a publicly available relinquishment process—such as through safe haven laws or a right to surrender children based on a variety of factors, including inability to address the child’s needs—could be beneficial, but what is most needed is a way for children to keep their fragile family ties but be served in community placements that do not force relinquishment on many families in desperate situations.

Calling for criminal penalties in the face of the criminal lack of resources for families with children who are more than troubled—i.e., children who have serious mental health needs (often due to childhood trauma)—seems like a step in the wrong direction, except in cases in which the parent doing the re-home is truly reckless about the replacement decision. There need to be plenty of safeguards for the parent who has run out of options short of the re-homing or relinquishment decision; and the article, by calling first for criminalizing what is broadly labeled as “re-homing,” should not be something we clamor for.

Diane Redleaf

Happy Apps

You all know the song that Andy Williams made famous—

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”

Are you entering what you hope will be a memorable holiday season with joy in your heart and a swing in your step? Maybe you are planning for the best and preparing for the worst. Perhaps you have the procrastination approach-wait until the last minute and then find a way to get through it. Then there is always the scaled down version of what we really want because that is the only way some of our loved ones can engage with everyone else.

Whether your holiday plans are a little laid back or a flurry of activity, take some help from technology to keep yourself calm and in good spirits.

Mobile phone apps offer a host of applications aimed at reducing stress. The challenging issue is deciding which ones are right for you. How do you de-stress? What sounds make you calm? Would a timed breathing exercise help? Do certain sounds relax you? A waterfall, the ocean, a crackling fire, a piano sonnet, sounds of the rain forest, or an owl in the night? If you can identify the sounds, rhythms, and pace that calms your soul, there’s an app to help you garner a path to recharge. The only instrument you’ll need is your cell phone. Before the season gets frantic, grab some apps to keep you happy.

With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap – appiest season of all

How One Voice Makes a Difference

Attachment & Trauma Network Executive Director, Julie Beem interviews with Toni Hoy on advocacy. Listen here:



Sponsor a family’s membership at the Attachment & Trauma Network by donating here http://www.attachtrauma.causevox.com/



HB 5598 Passed out of the Senate 58-0 !!!


What does that mean? Where does the bill stand now? The bill passed out of the House of Representatives committee with  5-0 unanimous vote. Then it went before a full vote of the House of Representatives and passed out of the House with a 101-0 vote and moved into the Senate. The Senate assigned the bill to a committee and it passed out of that committee with a 8-0 vote. Then it passed the full Senate with a vote of 58-0 and now it goes to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. He has 60 days to sign it or veto it.

HB 5598 includes:

  1. Makes it illegal for the state to force parents to trade custody for treatment
  2. Creates an intergovernment agreement to intercept cases on the brink of relinquishment
  3. Requires the state to file an annual report of involuntary relinquishment cases the reasons they occurred


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