The Secret Sacrifice

To get help for their mentally ill children, some parents have to give them up

Janis Adams, an electric-company employee in Waynesville, Mo., knows her local mental-health system well. Her son Caleb Quesenberry, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has been in and out of hospitals for a decade. Caleb, now 13, would routinely visit the hospital for a week or so, be stabilized and then go home. But in the fall of 2001, after he grabbed two knives and threatened to kill himself and his mother when she asked him not to watch a cartoon, Adams realized that Caleb needed more intensive care.

She contacted residential treatment centers in her area, but administrators told...

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