My husband and I adopted a seven month old baby boy from the county in 1989. He was seemingly healthy and we had no knowledge of reactive attachment disorder at that time. He had been taken away from his 16 year old birth mother at 3 months and had been in 3 foster homes before he came to us. He was our foster/adopt child until we legally adopted him when he was 2 years old.
It is impossible to tell the whole story about our lives with him here. He was a difficult child, but at about age 13 or so things got much worse. When he was 15 years old, after lots of counseling, therapy, etc., we put him in a treatment center for troubled teens. He was running away from school, home, coming back home high on who knows what and basically out of control.
He was at the treatment center for about 18 months, and just as he was turning 17, we brought him home, but it only lasted 4 months. We had to have him transported in the night back to the treatment center. This was one of the most painful moments of my life. He was there in the treatment center until this last June when he checked himself out of the treatment center because he was 18 years old, and has been living mostly on the streets ever since.
We had told him that we would help him to get back home if he completed the program at the center which he did not.
His diagnosiss are, reactive attachment disorder, bi polar disorder, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder and other mood disorders. He also seems to have misperceptions of reality and maybe a personality disorder.
He has anger problems, lies and steals, and has substance abuse. He has stolen from us many times, tried to break into our house, shop lifted, broken into vending machines, etc. We cannot have him live in our house. Before we sent him away at 15, I was afraid to get out of bed in the morning for fear of what would happen that day.
But we love him dearly, life has not been fair to him and beneath all of this he can be a kind and loving boy. He is good with animals, mechanical and athletic.
We have told him that he cannot live with us, but that we will help him get services to help him. He refuses us, but calls us and shows up at the house wanting clothes, food, etc. We will not give him money. He blames us for all of his problems and tries to make us feel guilty.
We are trying to figure out how to maintain a relationship with him, but protect our own selves too. The situation is such a heart breaker. Does anybody have any experience or suggestions that might help us?
Much of what you've written is very similar to our own family's story with one of our older adopted children. This child, however, was six when we first met him, so we never had any type of 'normal' bonding with him throughout those infant years, KWIM? At his age then, much of the behaviors we saw then, only became worse.
Our son as been in RTC for many years. He has turned 18 as well; and the prospects of where he can reside at this point (should he decide not to deal with the program anymore) are very small indeed.
Even though he's lived in RTC for many years, his progress is less than minimal, and I fully understand your NOT having him live in your home due to his dangerous behaviors.
Have you consulted an attorney about this? Just from our own experience, and another similar situation from a family friend, this may be a situation that you'll only be able to 'love' from a distance. After all, just like RAD.....the child/kid/adult must CHOOSE to change and connect with those who love him. There is little you can do to make him change...though, I'm sure you've tried as much as you can to do so.
I'm sorry I can't give you suggestions to help. I just want to let you know we have found ourselves in a very similar situation; and I daresay there are many more of us as well.
Thanks, Linny
Your answer helps even though none of us have any way we can help these kids if they won't try to help themselves. I'm glad your son is still in RTC; when my son was there even though he also made no real progress, I at least knew he was safe and had some help if he wanted it.
Thank you. I do want to add this though. Even though my son is still in RTC, his actual time is running out. Once he's completed all of his high school credits (according to his IEP)......the funding for his RTC program will be gone.
What's to happen to him after that, continues to be a mystery. As I mentioned, there ARE a few places that will accept very mentally challenged individuals; but they are few and far between.
Like you, no one will know then, even though his relationship with us has grown very slight over the least we know society at large is still safe too.
What's to happen after this? Who knows.
As an adult adoptee also dealing with mental health issues (thankfully not as severe as your son's), I think you are doing all that you can do. Loving him unconditionally, while accepting that he must take responsibility for his choices in life. Unfortunately, he will not heal until he can accept that responsibility, and many individuals with personality disorders never do.