Last night, my wife was at the store getting food for Easter dinner. I was home with my daughter. She was looking through the refrigerator and cabinets for something to eat. She then said, "I need the phone to call mom and tell her to get me some food" I told her that she was not calling her mom to get food because we have food in the house to eat and we didn't have money to buy extra things right now. She stormed out the front door, I assumed to go back outside and play with kids next door since that's where she was just prior to coming inside. A few minutes later, my wife called from the store. She wanted to ask my daughter about something before she purchased it. I walked outside to get her and didn't see any of the kids, so I assumed they had gone in the neighbors house where there granpda was. After a few more minutes, I called next door to tell my daughter to come home, but the boy answered and said that my daughter wasn't there. He then proceeded to tell me that about 20 minutes prior, he had seen her walk into the wooded area behind our home.
I immediately went outside to look for her while calling my wife. After a few moments of not being able to locate her, I called 911. I advised the dispatcher that she was 14 and under the care of a psychiatrist for her behavioral disorders. I also advised them that she should be considered endangered due to her suicidal ideation’s. While waiting for law enforcement to arrive, it began getting dark. My two sons gathered some flashlights and headed off into the woods in an attempt to locate her. After law enforcement arrived, we provided them with all the details, as well as current photos. I then joined my other children in searching the surrounding area and back roads. We searched the woods, boat ramps, and parks with no luck. We searched from 7 pm until around 1 am before coming home. We were distraught over the fact that should would be out on her own all night. We went to bed around 2:30 am out of pure mental exhaustion.
At 6:15 am, we were awakened to a patrol car in our driveway. The deputy told us that he had located our daughter and that she was safe. He did not tell us where she was or when she was found. He told us that our daughter stated that she did not want to come home. He asked about the events that led up to her running away, so we told him. He also advised us that since she had made no threats of suicide or had any fresh mutilation marks she did not fit the criteria for a mental health hold. He said that since she was adamant about not wanting to come home, he would need to call DCF to investigate.
At approximately 11 am, a DCF investigator arrived. She asked me to go into the other room while she interviewed my wife. I was in my room for over an hour when I observed on my security cameras the criminal investigator who had been to our home for the last runaway report. After about an hour and a half, I was called out to be interviewed/interrogated. The DCF investigator told me that my daughter stated she was "afraid" of me. My daughter also showed the investigator a bruise on her upper arm and led the investigators to believe I had caused it. I could feel my blood pressure rising, but I remained calm. I told her that I had no knowledge of any bruise on my daughters arm. I also advised them that I had never put hands on my child. I informed of the event a few days prior when my daughter threw a clock at me. I was asked how things had been in the seven days since my daughter was released from residential care facility in Atlanta. I told them it had been miserable and chaotic. I told them that things could not resume the way they had been going over the past seven days and that we would revisit the idea of continued residential care. She asked if our daughter could stay with a grandparent and I told her no, she could not. She then recommended a local facility for runaways that serves as a place for teens to cool down. I told her that would be fine. She also recommended a residential facility in Jacksonville and provided me with some info.
My daughter was allowed to pack some clothes in order for the DCF investigator to transport her to the local facility. The two of them left around 2:30pm and the criminal investigator shortly after that. In all, we had law enforcement personnel and DCF staff in our home from 6:15 am until 2:45 pm.
Since we had missed church and most of what we had planned for Easter, we headed to my mother-in-laws to eat dinner. After eating, at around 5 pm, my wife received a call from the local facility. It was our daughter, she said "can you come pick me up? This place is stupid and I hate it here". This is exactly what she said about being home, that is was stupid and she hated it here. My wife told her that we would not be coming to get her and that we would follow up with the DCF staff the following day to determine next steps.
Lord, give us direction. Let you path be known to us because we are unsure of what to do next. We are weary Lord and need you more than ever. Help our daughter see that we are here for her, no matter what. We only want what is best for her and are tired of being verbally abused. Place a hedge of protection around our home and let there be peace. In Jesus name, Amen.