The 17-year-old daughter of Ruth and Thomas Goodrich Sr. of Columbia is emotionally disturbed. Their efforts to get care and treatment for her has led to frustrating impasses with an assortment of state and local agencies and a court case, and have cost them an estimated $54,000.
The Goodriches took Linda into their home when she was 8 years old, after her parents had abandoned her. They legally adopted her two years later. She suffered from hallucinations, distrusted adults and suffered from an identity crisis. She often became depressed, sometimes suicidal.
But Thomas Goodrich says efforts to find help were repeatedly frustrated.
"We went before an interagency committee (of health, social services and education representatives). They all agreed Linda needed assistance. But nobody offered to come forth and help."
If treatment was not provided, Goodrich says, "She would have been in an institution for the rest of her life."
Linda spent two years going to a child psychiatrist and attending regular school. But after a severe crisis in February 1977, she was placed in Holy Cross Hospital. The Goodriches say they tried without success to find help for her in publicly funded institutions, where they were told she either was too old or too young, or that her condition was too severe or not severe enough. After Linda spent a few months in the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, she went in December 1977 to the Taylor Manor, a private institution in Ellicott City, where she stayed three years.
"We placed her there under our own insurance. When our insurance ran out, that's when we sued the state," said Goodrich.
Two weeks before the court case began, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene informed the Goodriches that it had found a program for Linda. But during the court case, several psychiatrists testified that a move at this stage would be bad for Linda.
The Goodriches won the first case, but lost on appeal. Linda stayed at Taylor Manor until February of this year, when her condition had improved so she could go to the Cheltenham Center. She is a day student at Cheltenham and is expected to move into regular public school within a year.
But now the future of Cheltenham is in doubt. Thomas Goodrich is a member of the legislative commission on emotionally disturbed children and adolescents and is president of the Cheltenham PTA.
The Goodriches estimate they have spent $54,000 on legal and medical fees.
"If she had hit a teacher, we could have gone to Juvenile Services and made her a ward of the court and we wouldn't have had to pay," Goodrich said. "But because she didn't fit into the exact definitions, she wasn't acceptable to anybody."