A Mother’s Story
By Cindi Kirkpatrick, GA
June 7, 2006
I began having difficulties with my teenage daughter. Several months after the problems began my daughter, Taylor, decided to leave school without permission – which, of course, was a bad idea. I received a telephone call from Taylor’s school informing me of what happened.
Just when I thought things could not possibly get any worse, I was informed by school officials that she had been expelled. I could not believe this was happening to us. With no schools available so late into the final semester, and with her acting out and misbehaving, I did not know what to do.
I found myself doing what many parents would do – looking for answers on the Internet.
As I did a few random searches using key words and phrases like “teen problems at home” and “help with my teen”, I received a number of pop-up ads touting phrases like “Help My Teen” and “Teen Solutions”, each one claiming to offer the same things.
They claimed to specialize in helping the troubled teen. They claimed to have specialty and therapeutic boarding schools boasting to promote education first and foremost, self-esteem, and respect for authority … you name it, they had it. And, it all sounded great … just what the doctor ordered.
Oh, and the biggest thing was that you did not have to be worried about taking your teenager to them because they had a professional transport group that would pick her up for a nominal fee of $1,500.
As I look back now, I still cannot believe that not only did I send my only child away, but I let two strangers come into our home in the wee hours of the morning to take my daughter away.
After eight days of hell slowly went by, I knew something was very wrong. So I trusted my mother’s intuition, and I went to the school, Carolina Springs Academy (CSA) to get her.
On my way to the school another CSA student’s mother called me on my cell phone. After I shared all the horrible thoughts I had and information from the articles I had read, she pleaded for me to pick her daughter as well. I gladly agreed.
When I arrived, I could not believe my eyes – the building, the grounds – nothing that I could see even came close to looking like the beautiful pictures they have on their Web site. As I got out my car, it seemed I had just entered a thick fog.
Even as I stepped onto the porch, things appeared to be strange, right on down to the man raking … who by the way, would not even look my way. The office was not very clean and had a musky smell. When I told the office employee I was there to pick up my daughter, she became – well let’s say – not so nice. When I went on to tell her I was also picking up another child, she became downright rude.
When Tara Hall, the so-called Family Representative, finally arrived at the office she was also unhappy with my arrival and decision. She asked me, “Why? What had changed my mind?” When I shared with her some of the articles I had found and printed out, she got angry and said, “Well, you can’t believe everything you read, especially on the Internet.”
I said to her, “you’re absolutely right.” As luck would have it, I had articles regarding allegations of child abuse and neglect at Carolina Springs Academy which I showed her. With that she got on her walkie-talkie and ordered someone to bring the girls right away.
Of course when Taylor saw me she almost jumped out of the car before it even stopped. I can’t begin to tell you how emotional that reunion was, and still is. My heart hurt as I saw how dirty she was – her hair, her clothes, her overall appearance was dirty. She even smelled dirty. My heart hurt for her.
As I hurried the girls to my car, I felt as if everyone was watching. The three of us agreed they all seemed to have that far-away, foggy look in their eyes. The girls and I were crying so hard you would think we would not have noticed them. But we did.
The drive home was unforgettable. We all felt so very grateful – for the sun, the trees, and the wind that kissed our cheeks as we got out of the car. The two girls told me so many horrible stories … some I still can’t get out of my head, not to mention my heart. I’ve told my daughter a hundred times how sorry I am for sending her there.
I have nightmares – I can’t sleep at night – I am still having a very difficult time forgiving myself for the entire CSA experience. In fact, for as long as I live I do not believe I will ever be able to forgive myself for allowing two complete strangers to enter my daughter’s bedroom in the middle of the night, waking her from a deep sleep, forcing her to get dressed as they watched, forcing her into their car, and taking her away from her home and her family.
What was I thinking?
God help me, because I don’t know. I have nightmares about those two strangers picking up my daughter and never bringing her back. All the while, I’m running and searching for Taylor, and I can smell that horrible smell. And then it gets so bad that I can’t breathe or even move. That’s when I realize I’m no longer asleep.
Scared and confused, I get up to go watch my daughter sleep. I lay there beside her and I take deep breaths just so I can smell her. Then she notices I’m there, and says, “Mama it’s OK, I’m home, I’m safe, and in some way or other it was meant for us to cross paths with that so-called school. God sent us there so we could help others.”
Her words are comforting and at some point we both drift back to sleep. It has been almost a month since we’ve been home. At times it seems she never left. But then night comes, and once again I remember that horrible smell and the two strangers who took my daughter in the middle of the night. This is when I find myself praying to God to give me another chance. This is when I pray that no one will have to go through what I do every time sleep comes.
Please take a moment to read Taylor’s story and visit our website at www.cindiandtaylor.com.