Reposting because I think my first may not have posted properly
Hi everyone! My name is Charlotte and I although I have been reading the forums for some time now, this is my first post.
This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write....
I am dealing with some issues and would really love some feedback, insight, advice or just general support on this.
We have two children we adopted seven years ago...well almost 8 years ago technically. When we adopted our children our youngest son was 20 months and our oldest son was seven years old. (We have no other children, biological or adopted) They are a sibling group who had gone through multiple placements before we got them. They lived in our home for about six months before we actually adopted them. During this six months we bonded very well to our youngest, he did have his fair share of "issues" but it never hampered the attaching it seemed. By the time we adopted our boys I can say with confidence that our youngest was very attached to us as we were him.
This is not about our youngest son however.
The issue I am writing about is with our oldest. From day one I can honestly say we felt "uncomfortable" around him. He was incredibly manipulative, calculating and just seemed like some phoney child version of an incredibly selfish adult. He was passive aggressive to the extreme level as well. Trying to give physical affection to him was like trying hug a poccupine. Everything he did was fake, from affection, playing the part of the adorable child to being upset about various things. Yes, sure he was brand new to us but it was still like living with a stranger in a costume and it was just very unsettling.
We decided to "fake it till ya make it" because we desperately wanted to give both the boys a chance at a good life and loving home. Also there was the looming fact that we deeply loved our youngest and the caseworkers had made it very clear that keeping siblings together was priority number one, these boys were a package deal and if we didn't want both they would find a family that did. We couldn't imagine life without the youngest of the two and were certain that in time we would feel the same about the oldest.
Flash forward nearly eight years later, we are still "faking it till we make it." I have worked incredibly hard at giving our sons equal love and affection and to make sure he doesn't suspect I am not attached to him. I honestly thought that by now with all the love and attention we give our oldest that not only would he attach to us but that I would attach to him. It was just not something I ever consider not happening. I mean isn't that the way it works?! You give your whole heart to someone and they in turn give you theirs? It didn't happen that way in our fairy tale thats for sure.
We went to all the classes, did all the research and asked all the questions before we adopted. So, we knew the risk of an older child not attaching and we were willing to live with that because we figured we had enough love for a child to substitute for the love that the child couldn't give back. What I never heard in all those classes and trainings was of parents not attaching, it was all about a child that may not attach.....the thought never even crossed my mind. I mean how could any adult not attach and love dearly any child that was in their care? So yes, attachment issues on the child side I was aware of, attachment issues on the parent side was a total surprise.
So here we are now as mentioned before, nearly eight years later and we have two sons, one of whom I can actually say I love in that parent/child love and bond kind of way. The other I can only say I care deeply about. How can this be!?
Our youngest is a very loving, kind hearted boy without a selfish bone in his body. He loves us, his parents dearly, is affectionate, happy, and in general just everything you would expect a child to be that grew up in very loving and nurturing home would be.
Our oldest however has not changed since the day we met him, except for getting worse in many areas which may just be due to his getting older. He is not violent but he hints at violence or attacks passive aggressively. He has caused many many rifts in our lives. He has made me an emotional wreck even when he does nothing. We he texts saying he is on his way home, I start having panic attacks for no reason. Being alone with him at times makes me almost hold my breathe the entire time, scared and worried of what he will do next. My sister in law who works with war vets and deals with post traumatic stress disorder says I remind her of the vets she works with and suggest that perhaps I have some sort of version of ptsd. I don't know if I buy this but there it is.
Recently after one of his shananigans (we found out he had been sneaking out of the house and sleeping in the park or in friends backyards and such) we were trying to understand his actions. We couldn't understand why he would do these things, I mean we have provided him a wonderful life and all the love and affection a person could want, why was he doing these things!? He finally got angry and stood up to our faces and yelled "The problem is that I don't love yall ok!!!! I don't know why, you are good parents but I don't love you and I can't stand being around you!!!!"
So there we had it, he admitted to not loving us, which is something we have suspected for it wasn't a shock. We told him that was ok, he didn't have to love us, but we loved him. He said calling us Mom and Dad all these years makes him want to vomit each time he said it and that he has never accepted us as his parents and he can't stand it when we tell him we love him or try to be affectionate. He said pretending to love us and be around us "makes my skin crawl."
This was hurtful to hear but again we suspected it.
So here is my issue, after this happened I think it finally sunk in how things really are, and at the same time I think my true feelings for him, the ones I have been trying to mask and bury deep inside these past nearly eight years, have come to surface. I have been in denial I guess about the fact that I never attached to my oldest son. I was sooooooo good at "fake it till you make it" that I think I never allowed myself to process anything emotionally. These past several weeks my anxiety has gotten worse, I am on the verge of tears almost constantly, I go through periods where I just don't care anymore, I feel a HUGE amount of guilt for not being able to love my oldest son the way I love my youngest.....and just in general I am miserable....thankfully I have had years of practice at putting on a smiley face for my family so nobody suspects a thing. :-/ But honestly this faking it till I make it is making me feel ill.
I have been doing a bit of research, trying to figure out what it is I am feeling and what I should do next. The one thing that keeps coming up in my internet searches is Post Adoption Depression. The list of symptoms fit me oh so well BUT it seems that all the cases are women with young children and only a short period of time after they adopt. In my case my adopted child I am having the issues with is now a teenager and we adopted several years into the past. Does it still apply? Can someone have all these feelings come to surface finally after soooo many years after adoption?
Just to make it clear, I feel HORRID about writing these feelings down. What kind of mother says she cant seem to love or attach to her child!? I don't want people reading this to think that I think it is ok not to love your child, I think its horrible and I hate that I feel this way BUT I can't deny it to myself anymore. Would I ever admit to my child that I never attached to him? HECK NO! I want him to always feel I loved him and was attached to him even if he doesn't feel the same about us, I think every child should feel loved....even if it is a "fake it till you make it" love.
So there you have it. My confession if you will. I know this was long, and I apologize. I would love to hear from anyone who has any insight, feedback, advice....anything. I feel very alone in all this.
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I am writing in support, though we are only about 9 months into our adoption journey. I am caring for an attachment disorderd girl who sounds really similar but not quite as severe as yours. She can fake being a nice human for some people but not us at home. And the passive-aggressive stuff is really hard to take. I fear that it won't get better and I will be where you are in a few years.
As for the depression, I am pretty sure there is no statute of limitations on post adoption depression. You held it together longer than most, perhaps, but you sound very depressed and that needs to be addressed. You also sound like you have PTSD and there are moms here who can attest that you can develop that from chronic, interpersonal stress like this.
I had read about not being able to bond with the child, as well as the child not being able to bond with the parents, but I was still not prepared to experience that. I don't have a lot of advice to offer, but I do offer support and understanding. I get how it feels to say ugly feelings out loud and people not really understand. People understand here. Take care--Stars
Charlotte, your son is now a teen, and his behavior is actually 'normal' for his age. He is attempting to try his wings for the first time. However, he does have the added baggage of having been adopted from the foster system, and he had made the best of options offered to him, but those were not necessarily HIS choices. The fact is, he had not real choices in his life. But I do not believe he has not grown to love you on some level in all this time. He has, I assure you. His was mad talk because he did wrong and you called him on it.
That said, even birth mothers can be closer to one child than another. It has to do with personality. But that does not mean that they do not also love the other child. It only means that they somehow manage to connect better with a particular child. I suspect that you do love your son, or you would not have worried so much about his feelings to even bother with 'faking' anything. To me, you just seem like you are really upset right now, and he has probably been pushing your buttons for a while.
Someone else had posted about a very similar situation on this forum. They ended up going to counseling, the son eventually joined in, and a family was reunited with more love than ever before. My suggestion would be to start with a counselor yourself, to see if there are any better ways to work through issues with your son.
Charlotte, I know you posted this back in 2013. How are things now? Were you able to find help that worked? My husband and I are in a very similar situation. We are going on 10 years... we would love any ideas or tips that you found helpful.
We adopted a 15 mobths old from Ethiopia back in 2015. 3 years later now I still feel it was a huge mistake. I dont love him and scared to think I have to see that face for the next decade at least . . Our relatiobship with husband is almost close to divorce right now and we both know adoption played the main role in this path. Our bio son who is just 9 months older is very connected to his adoptive brother and he feels wierd about the whole situation. The adopted one is fine but he is not our son. In every single way. It is so sad and frustrating and feels like life is over - at least the happy family life we used to have before the cursed day of his arrival.. i regret so much adopting him.
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