Finding an unwilling adult
October 25, 2009 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Is there any way to find my friend's bipolar/schizophrenic sister?

This woman has been estranged from the family for a long time. She has joined what seems to be a cult - non-ordained ministers, meets at a private home, and is definitely not taking her medications, possibly because members are telling her "Jesus will heal her."

Two weeks ago her father tried to call her, no answer. He received a call back from her housemate (possibly fiancee) because it was the last number to ring the phone. She was missing - it was unclear how long - but had left her purse and phone. They were later contacted by a social worker asking questions about her sister, and why there had been repeated admissions to mental healthcare facilities.

It's all very obscure, but apparently my friend's sister is in a hospital somewhere. However, since the woman was cutting contact with her family, it's unlikely she'd give permission for contact, so the family can only guess as to what happened and what hospital she's in - clearly, it wasn't her housemate that took her in, since he too was trying to find her.

The major things the family wants to accomplish:
1. Where is she? They're aware they pretty much don't have rights in this situation, as the woman is 40. Social workers have been calling her parents but are unable/unwilling to give details on why their daughter is in custody.

2. She may/may not have gotten married in the past two-three months. Is there an actual FREE not-requiring-membership database on the Interwebs to look this up?

3. There has been discussion among the family of reporting the church for exploitation of a vulnerable adult. How does a person do this?

4. What's going on on the social worker's end?

5. Is there a central location to check police blotters, etc. to see if an incident report might give some clues as to what happened?
posted by medea42 to Human Relations (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A private investigator usually has resources that can help you. In Minnesota they have to be licensed. Here is the list of them. If you could get a personal reference that would be the best. A lot of times they're ex-cops and still know people at the police department.
posted by kathrineg at 4:09 PM on October 25, 2009

I would call the local chapter of NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) and ask them to suggest possible means of contact. NAMI is an extremely well thought of National Family Advocacy and Research organization with local chapters. While they do not usually provide direct c;inical services they are often excellent resources for those dealing with family/friends/loved ones who have a mental illness. While patient confidentiality is paramount in most State laws/regulations some jurisdictions have explicit waivers to help family locate other family members in the case of emergency admissions or treatment. Good Luck
posted by rmhsinc at 5:55 PM on October 25, 2009

re #3 - the place to report abuse of a disabled adult would be Adult Protective Services for the county where she is/was living. However, if she is not currently being harmed by the church I don't think they will act. Furthermore, abuse generally includes things like physical or verbal abuse, neglect on the part of a caregiver or taking advantage of her disability to steal from her. However, unless she is found mentally incompetent, she is free to take or not take medication and to spend her money how she wishes.

It might be worth a phone call to see if APS to see if they would take a report and/or if they have any advice or suggestions but I would not expect much practical action against the church unless the situation is much worse than described.
posted by metahawk at 9:49 PM on October 25, 2009

-Social workers have been calling her parents but are unable/unwilling to give details on why their daughter is in custody.-

The relatives receiving telephone calls should insist that the caller provide their name, work title, employer and location. It would be the height of unprofessional behaviour for any social worker etc to refuse to supply that basic information when calling about such a sensitive matter as mental health issues.

If an organisation/hospital is identified then a letter of petition should be sent to the CEO/Adminstrator outlining the situation and seeking a minimal amount of information: where is she and how long has she been there and (most importantly) the name and address of the treating doctor. After that, it's sensitive and gentle enquiries.

I'm not sure reporting the 'cult' is a worthwhile undertaking without something more tangible in the way of evidence than hearsay. Also, being non-confrontational on that front might assist in establishing contact with the estranged woman: if the 'cult' name and location is found, write to their leader after doing some online research about them. I think -gentle steps- is the operative maxim in all of this.
posted by peacay at 11:07 PM on October 25, 2009

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