By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
By Angelica Leicht
By Jeff Balke
By Sean Pendergast
By Sean Pendergast
By Jeff Balke
Stare as long as you want. Lance's face yields no secrets. Nothing in the eyes or smile of this handsome, dark-haired boy says stop, wait a minute, tread carefully. At least not as his face lies captured in a photograph, restful and calm. He could be any boy from Middle America, any boy who would make any parent proud, any boy with all the promise in the world.
But he isn't just any boy. He's Mark and Kim Lindquist's son gone astray and in desperate need of fixing, and there isn't any money to do that. The Lindquists believe he needs long-term residential care and they don't have the funds. Insurance companies won't pay for the treatment Lance needs. And the state of Texas won't pay for it either.
Lance is on the verge of becoming a lost soul, forever condemned to a purgatory filled with the demons in his mind. The only way out seems to be for the Lindquists to peddle their private problems to the world at large and try to raise money for his treatment.
Or give him up to Children's Protective Services and declare him "abandoned."
Lance is 13 years old.Mark Lindquist thought his eight-year-old son was just strong-minded. The boy would challenge him from time to time, but Mark dealt with that through the usual time-outs, loss of privileges, grounding, extra chores and the occasional spanking.
But things got worse. Any sort of punishment seemed to lose its value. Lance continued to defy his father. He would break things on purpose. He would sneak out of his room at night and take things from his parents' and his sister's rooms. As he grew older, he got into heated confrontations with his father. His grades in school took a dive, and his father believes he purposefully failed the seventh grade. Lance began cutting himself on the hands and arms with razor blades. On one occasion, he threatened to hurt his father. He talked of death. He said one of his friends could get him a gun.
His parents locked him in his room at night and set an alarm on his door. They had his younger sister and a newborn baby of their own to worry about.
Kim Lindquist is actually Lance's stepmother. Unbeknownst to Mark, a former girlfriend had Lance without telling him. When Mark found out more than a year later, they married, but the union didn't last.
Mark got joint custody and eventually he remarried. Five years ago his former wife, saying she couldn't afford Lance and his younger sister, gave the children to the Lindquists.
The Lindquists took Lance to a counselor on and off for two years. In 1998, the counselor diagnosed him as having Reactive Attachment Disorder, an inability to form bonds or attachments with others.
Last March 12, the Lindquists took Lance to a psychologist who said he would not treat Lance on an outpatient basis. They immediately took him to a psychiatrist who told them Lance should be hospitalized that day.
Because Lance refused to sign a contract pledging not to hurt himself or others, he was put in the most intensive care ward at the Devereaux facility in League City, Mark said.
The abruptness of the hospitalization brought relief to Kim, shock and depression to Mark. Looking back, Mark said the family had grown used to the gradual escalation of Lance's bad behavior and it took the grave concern of outside experts to make them realize how truly bad things had become. "The threshold of what you put up with changes," Mark said.
Lance stayed at the Devereaux facility for a month until repeated appeals on the part of Kim to NYL Care and contractor Magellan Health ran their course. At first, Lance was only going to be allowed to stay a week. They appealed and the vice president for medical services reversed the decision "after my wife mentioned to their customer service that our story would soon go public," Mark said.
But when Lance's doctor said the young teen was no longer a threat, Kim stopped fighting the insurance companies. Lance was sent home, which was another disaster because after just three days he wouldn't take his medication. Although he first appeared resigned to returning to treatment, Lance got in a wrestling match with his father after refusing to take off his steel-toed boots for the trip. Police were called and three officers helped contain the young boy.
Emily Akins of Channel 2-KPRC came to the rescue, pulled several strings and got Lance placed in another local facility, Upward Reach, where he is today. A doctor who saw the TV news report on the Lindquists called and offered free help. Lance's parents don't see him getting better there, but it is a safe haven until he can get to a facility that can better help him.
The Lindquists are running out of time, though, because the original offer was for six to eight weeks and he's been there two months.
Kim and Mark have found what they hope is a suitable place in Colorado, but it costs $3,400 for initial therapy for the whole family and then $3,200 monthly after that. They've been told their son probably needs to stay there for two years because his problems are so severe. They don't know how they're going to raise enough money to get him there.