When Jim and Toni Hoy’s adopted son Daniel began showing signs of severe mental illness, they were willing to do anything to get him help. And in their case, that meant relinquishing custody of the then-12-year-old so he could receive the necessary medical treatment that was too expensive for the Hoys to afford, even with insurance.
“To this day, it’s the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” dad Jim says of the day he told Daniel that they were turning him over to the state. “I was crying terribly. But it was the only way we figured we could keep the family safe.”
After Daniel started experiencing violent outbursts (he even threw one of his brothers down the stairs), doctors determined that he needed residential services to protect himself and the rest of the Hoy family. There was one problem: both the Hoy’s private health insurance and Medicaid wouldn’t cover the steep cost.
So the couple chose the only option they had, which is a process known as custody relinquishment. By giving up their son, the state of Illinois would be required to pay for any medical treatment he needed, including specialized care. According to a study by the Government Accountability Office, over 12,000 families in 19 states have done the same thing.
“So you get residential services, but then you’ve given up custody of your child,” the Hoy’s attorney, Robert Farley, Jr., explains. “Which is, you know, barbaric. You have to give up your child to get something necessary.”
Fortunately, the Hoys were able to sue the state and regain custody of Daniel when he was 15. They were also awarded the funds to pay for his continuing mental health services.
Now 24, Daniel has been out of treatment for six years and lives near his parents with his girlfriend and their daughter. And while both Jim and Toni are grateful that he was able to receive the help he needed, they still believe family is just as important.
“Kids do need services. But they also need the support of their families,” stresses Toni. It’s a sentiment that her son echoes, saying, “Sometimes it’s so hard to do it for yourself. It almost helps to know that I’m doing it for myself, but I’m also doing it for my family and for our relationship.”