I was only 13. Just a child. Living all alone in a big world. My adoption is what I call a failed adoption, after 7 years and countless years in rebirthing and attachment therapy they gave up. My adoptive parents were good people but I believe took the advice of some bad people. I was forced into rebirthing therapy and aggressive attachment therapy in Evergreen, Colorado. A place called the Family Attachment Institute run by Lani Tolman, a self proclaimed expert in rebirthing and attachment issues faced by adoptive children, and families.
My family looked for options to send me to a boarding school. I’m not sure why honestly other than they didn’t want to deal with the challenges of managing a child who pretty much hated them after years of what I consider torture. I dreaded rebirthing therapy, I dreaded talking about my past. I dreaded the drive to Evergreen from Lakewood once a week, and sometimes twice a week. I still dread that town, and even going near it.
My parents searched out a place with the best intentions of providing me an alternative living situation, a safe place to go to “heal”, and to attempt to have a normal family life. I believe they had finally given up, they realized I would never be their son. I would never assimilate. So they sent me off to a place called Pinehaven.
What is Pinehaven ?
Pinehaven was supposed to be a safe place. It was started by Bob Larsson to help troubled youth* . Instead it was 5 years of hard labor, retribution, and abuse at the hands of right wing fundamentalist extremists. The focus not on rehabilitation and healing, but on social programming dead set on teaching all of us that The World around us was evil, and not to be trusted.
In hindsight, it was probably much like any group home. A variety of kids with a variety of problems. Each child is sent to a house with 11 other kids, and a set of house parents. But for those 5 years I lived in hell. I was always walking on eggshells. I was pushed down the stairs once, hit by a chore truck once, and in general was pushed around quite often. The thing that kept me pushing through was that I knew this too would pass. Deep inside my heart I knew there was another story.
One day when I was 16 I was in town with my housedad and I saw an Amish family driving a horse and buggy through town. For weeks I studied the Amish. I fell in love with the concept of non-resistance. I realized all the violence, physical and verbal that was afflicted on us was wrong.
I knew I could make it a few more years but it was hard to keep my head up at times. I would fall into depressions that would last AGES. I would be grounded for MONTHS. Unable to talk to anyone, unable to talk to my family, or find hope in this situation. Constantly being over harshly punished for things that are normal. I was constantly singled out, made to stand in the corner for hours.
Those last two years never felt like they ended. When I was 16 one of the boys in my house ran away and committed suicide because his time there was so hard, and he had come to Pinehaven with problems that Pinehaven staff never once tried to help address instead they sought to punish him for the side effects of his problems. Our house parents never told us he killed himself. If they had I would have ran away, I would have told authorities to this day all parties involved fail to see the truth. They do not wish to investigate his death, do not wish to hear the stories of the children who like my friend were abused, mistreated, and ignored.
The day I turned 18 I pondered walking right off the Ranch but I had nothing, I had no one. No one would listen. I asked my parents if they would take me home and they said Pinehaven was ‘best for me’. It took me a long time to forgive them for sending me there. Maybe this account will convince you otherwise. Pinehaven is not trained to help your child. Pinehaven is not a safe place for children. It’s a place that hurts, causes pain, and abuses children.
I’m not bitter. I have many friends from Pinehaven. The reason I share this is to ask you to not send your child to Pinehaven. He could end up like my friend Ricky. Killing himself inside of a camper trailer, and his body not being discovered for five months.
If you, a friend, or a loved one are thinking of sending your child to Pinehaven think twice.