Week 7 in Wilderness Therapy Camp

Wilderness Camp

For those of you following my blogging or Facebook posts, you will know that we had to send our teenage daughter to a wilderness therapy camp in mid September. Tatiana and her younger brother were adopted by us from Russia in 2004. She was almost 11. As soon as she started to learn English the horror stories began of the abuse she suffered those ten years in Russia. By the time she entered high school it was obvious she felt different than her friends and began to seek out troubled kids…who she felt most like. Her choices in friends and activities were going downhill fast and she was beginning to not listen to us anymore. I am not sure how other parents of troubled teens cope with this all the time, but we hated it. We knew we had a great kid…talented, funny, pretty…who was going to end up on drugs, on the street, and with people that would continue the hurting cycle she was used to in Russia. Luckily, we have a family that was willing to help us get her into a wilderness therapy camp.
She has been there 7 weeks now. Living outside in a tent with no running water or facilities. It is now November and it is getting cold. We only have communicated through letters and her therapist. She has complained of how cold it gets at night and how it is difficult to sleep when her feet are freezing. She has written us long letters of apologies for her behavior at home and it seems sincere. She has also written to my husband hoping they can try to have the father-daughter relationship they never had. She misses us and wants to come home. However, even after being able to cope in the wilderness for 2 months we know she is not ready to come back and cope with the friends and activities she has here. She has changed. Her friends have not.
So last week we wrote her and told her we are having her attend a therapeutic boarding school right after camp. She was not happy to hear this. She cried but the therapist said she still admitted we were probably right doing this.
The past week has been a scramble to find the best place for Tatiana…who needs a small nurturing family style setting vs. the large dorm like places that there are so many of. Hoping to maybe have the state of IL help us with tuition costs we were amazed to see that the places they want our daughter to enroll in begin at $10,000 per month. That would mean putting her in one of these high cost places that are not the right environment and 3 months down the road, when they finally decide if they will help us out or not, may say NO and then we get stuck with a bill that we can’t afford.
We did find a very nice place that is much lower cost..however, still not within a budget we feel good about, and will serve our daughter the best. She’ll get a good education, therapy and a family like setting. She needs to feel the family setting otherwise it’d be like sending her to another orphanage…which was the pattern of her past.
It has been a very stressful week and my stomach has been in knots constantly. We need to decide when is the best time to bring her to this new school…before or after Thanksgiving. There are pro’s and con’s for both decisions. Again, we are digging deep for money to get us there to see her graduate from her camping program and then take her to her new school.
Pray we have to strength to get this all done and that she doesn’t fight us too much on this decision. We are looking forward to seeing her again and know she is a very different girl than the one we had to send away 7 weeks ago. It will be a tough couple of days as my husband and I have to join her in the wilderness…sleeping in a cold tent, and worse…not having any bathroom facilities. We also have a lot of soul searching talking to do with her while there and that will be draining emotionally.
No one ever said parenting was easy. And we knew when we took this little girl that she was coming to us with a lot of emotional baggage. There was a part of us that hoped by having her in a loving family that she’d not suffer the aftermath of cruelty by adults in Russia. So here we are….struggling with issue of having a troubled teen but thankful that we are able to offer her some help. I think of all the kids that are just given up on by parents and family because it is too difficult to deal with them. They grow up to be messed up adults with huge problems and probably then passing these problems on to their innocent children. It’s a horrible cycle.
I’d like to hear from others who had teens, biological or adopted, that struggled with them but somehow got them out of that cycle and into a normal adult life!
I’ll continue our saga as we soon head to the Colorado mountains to meet our daughter!

Deborah Mumm
The Adoption Coach
Everything for Adoption

13 responses to this post.

  1. Debbie, all I can say is that I hope everything works out for your family. We will keep you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.


  2. Hi Deb,
    My prayers are with you! When do you leave for Colorado? Just remember the Lord is with you and is strengthening you through this……continue to lean on him!!!
    Love, Carol


  3. You and your husband are such good people. Tatiana was so blessed to be welcomed into your family and hopefully she realizes that now. Prayers will continue for more healing for Tatiana to deal with her future choices in life. May god be there waiting for all of you with open arms when the going may get rough at times. Stay strong in your faith! Hugs, Alice


  4. You and Dennis are beautiful human beings for reaching out, opening up your family, and extending your hearts. I am so sorry for all the hurt everyone is going through. But I feel great hope for a loving future for all. When you get through a mess like this there are great gifts gained. You are giving Tania the gift of how to feel safe and loved again. And in return I’m sure it will come back to you tenfold in the loving family memories created that will last a lifetime. Keeping you in my prayers.


  5. Posted by Dore E. Frances, Ph.D. on Sunday, November7, 2010 at 3:35 p11

    Other parents cope with this one day at a time. Sometimes one hour at a time or even one minute. And no one likes it. As for being recommended to pace that cost $10,000 a month, I am not sure who recommended this, however that is absurd. Is it a program they are in business with? As for Thanksgiving, if she has kids in her group she has been with for awhile, I say after is better. More bonding time around a holiday tradition. My daughter is not adopted, however, she was in residential 10 years go. I am adopted and assist many families with their adopted children. wishing you all the very best.

    Dr. Dore Frances
    Horizon Family Solutions, LLC


    • Thanks for the message. We are leaning towards getting her early now mostly because of costs. We’ll see if this CO program can match the weekly cost of the school in NE we have chosen for her to stay past Thanksgiving. Traveling on Sunday after Thanksgiving is another issue we have to work with. Hmmm… And yes…I think I am coping one minute at a time right now. It is so stressful to be in this situation. We want the best for our daughter but can’t financially put the rest of our family in danger. Maybe I’ll win the lottery! However, have heard you have to play the lottery to actually win it! Sigh….
      Thanks again for the support. Not that I like to hear that other parents have been where we are, but it does help to know that we are not the only ones who have faced this with our kids.

      Debbie Mumm


      • Posted by Dore E. Frances, Ph.D. on Sunday, November7, 2010 at 3:35 p11

        Most programs I know will change the daily rate to the daily rate of the school program for an extended stay, especially around holidays. It is okay to be coping one minute at a time. After 7 weeks however, have you been in coaching and/or doing some work to progress along with her?

        This is stressful for her and for you, and you have to be along the same lines of working together for a resolution to home reunification. Treatment is expensive and unfortunately kids don’t come with a guarantee that they will never have more than a cut knee. Once e take them into our lives we make that commitment. And oh my goodness, I would hope by now you have connected with parents in the wilderness program to gain support, and have been offered other resources for support as surely you must know there are literally thousands of parents right now today exactly where you are. The more you become involved the less stressful it really is. I surely do hope you have and are getting support. Your daughter is counting on it.

        Be well,

        Dr. Dore Frances
        Horion Family Solutions

  6. What Problems do Parents Bring to Educational/Therapeutic Consultants? November 22 – 12 :05pm PST – Dr. Dore Frances and David Heckenlively, MS, MFT take your calls and and answer your questions.

    http://www.latalkradio.com/ -1-323-203-0815 -Parents are usually overwhelmed with information and decision factors when they are exploring schools and programs. If there is a crisis involved, the situation is even more distressing. Very few parents know how to tell if a program is appropriate or not.

    Research and published materials on programs are simply not adequate and the results of parent surveys are never enough to assure that your child’s needs will be taken care of. In many cases, children need some form of crisis intervention, psychological and educational evaluation, as well as a referral to an appropriate school or program. Previous evaluations and services may have been inadequate or incomplete. Parents need objective advice and information as well as commitment to their family.


    • We are happy with our decision of a small therapeutic boarding school for our daughter. It is quite family like with plenty of therapy. She will have chores and responsibilities, which is also good. Our Educational Consultant lead us to this one. You are right, it is overwhelming to find a place for your child. So glad to have someone helping us who is knowledgeable about what to look for!
      Thanks for your response.


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