Laura Reppenhagen made a difficult choice 17 years ago. She adopted her niece's daughter, Mickayla when she was 4 months old, and chose to raise her as her own. What Laura did not know was that Mickayla would grow up with mental health issues, diagnosed on the bi-polar spectrum at age 9. Though challenging at times, Laura’s love for Mickayla has never been stronger. She says she wouldn’t change anything for the world.
Laura lives in a three generation household. Her mother lives upstairs, while Laura lives downstairs with her husband, Dennis, their biological daughter Allison, age 13, and Mickayla. The family unit helps provide support for Laura, but it has not always been easy.
Mickayla is diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder on the bi-polar spectrum. This results in intense mood swings, anger, anxiety, and depression. Though she’s never been physical, Mickayla describes that side of herself as “mean.”
Raising Mickayla was challenging for Laura. Mickayla had outbursts at times, some which required hospitalization. She was frequently on and off different medications, struggling to find the right ones that would work for her condition. This made it hard for Laura to help Mickayla because her moods were so unpredictable. Today Mickayla is on ten different medications.
“Looking back now, I felt so alone before Highfields came along. Highfields has made a huge difference,” said Laura.
Mickayla received the Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) Waiver through Community Mental Health (CMH) which is a package of mental health services for children under the age of 18 who have severe mental health issues. It is designed to help kids by delivering services in their own homes before they need to be placed in a psychiatric hospital.
The SED Waiver opened the door to many different services for the Reppenhagens. One of which was Highfields.
Laura became involved in Highfields’ Wraparound program two years ago when Mickayla was a sophomore in high school. Wraparound is a process which builds a support system for a family in need.
Erika, Highfields’ Wraparound Facilitator, has helped Laura identify areas of strength and areas of need within her family. She works with her to find the resources and people that can support them and their goals. Ultimately, their goal is to help Mickayla succeed in the community and thrive as an adult.
One of those resources is Family Support program, which provides a mentor to help children socialize with their peers and be a part of the community. Because Mickayla is homeschooled, she doesn’t go outside of her home much. With this program, a family support worker comes to their house and takes Mickayla out to do fun activities, like go to the movies or volunteer.
“Without Highfields and CMH, Mickayla couldn’t have access to all of these things,” said Erika. “We work together and it truly is a team effort.”
Laura is so thankful for the opportunity to work with Highfields to help her family. During Mickayla’s younger years, Laura was unsure about asking for help because she was used to doing it on her own. She says she didn’t know what she was missing out on.
“Now even if I have a late night decision to make, I always have someone to call or text…it’s a totally different situation than pre-Highfields,” said Laura.
Erika will continue to work with the Reppenhagens until Mickayla turns 18. Then due to state law, the waiver will end.
“We’re trying to help Laura get through the hoops so she can continue to help Mickayla,” said Erika.
Laura is worried about life without Highfields, but is confident that Mickayla is making progress in the right direction. She wants the brightest future for Mickayla and will do whatever it takes to make it happen.
Click Here to read Laura's poem from our Strengthening Families Fundraising Breakfast, Slipping Away.