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My husband and I adopted two siblings from foster care 8 years ago. At the time of the adoption our dd was 2 and ds was nearly 7. They had been in and out of several foster homes their entires lives.
Our dd formed an attachment fairly easily but our ds just never seemed to mesh with our family. He was always just putting on a show for whoever was around, manipulative to the likes I have never seen before and just in general very "fake" in his emotions. He was and still is the type that becomes like a rigid statue when you try to hug him.
Over the past years we have had many issues with his lying, manipulating and such.
We have always considered him just as our own biological child would be and love him and give him and our dd the world. But recently our ds ran away from home. It was the most gut wrenching day of our lives. Thanks to a friend we found our ds hiding under a bridge with a bag packed with supplies, he had been planning this for a very long time.
We couldn't understand why! I mean we are nice loving people, fun and nurturing and treat our children like kings and queens and shower them with love..... Why would he run away!!?
Turns out our ds couldn't give us an answer to that either.
After much discussion he admitted he has never accepted us as his family, doesnt love us, can't stand to be around us and just doesn't want to be in our family..... Even though he admits we are great parents and he can't understand his feelings toward us either.
He said all he wants is to graduate, turn 18, move out and start his own life. His biggest desire is for us to stop being his parents and to basically just be the adults in his life that meet his basic needs until he is off age. He doesn't want to have to be involved in any "family" stuff, not even family pictures...... Basically he just wants to be this teenager that lives with us.
This was a couple of months ago and honestly we have been in shell shock ever since. Our ds stays at friends almost 24/7 since it is summer break and only comes home to grab a shower and change of clothes. It is as if we have lost a child. These past several years we have believed we had this happy family consisting of Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter......and now it seems that it was all a fake, only we didn't realize and now we are seeing that we have been playing the fool.
I have been going through what I am guessing is akin to grief. Truly it feels that I once had this son, but now he is gone. Now that I look back all the signs were there, we knew he was fake as could be about sooo much, but I suppose we were in denial.
We are not sure what to do next. Ds seems very happy now that he has admitted his true feelings and has basically dropped out of family life. I overheard him telling a friend on the phone the other day " yeah I told them how I really feel and I am so glad to not have to pretend I want to be j this family anymore. Three more years and I can walk away completely, yeah!"
It would seem his plan is to shake our hands, tell us thanks for taking care of him all these years and simply walk out of our lives the day he turns 18. And honestly it seems he already has one foot out the door.
I am posting this because we don't know what to do at this point. Do we just accept that's"it is what it is" and move on with our lives, and accept that we just have some teenager that just lives with us until graduation? Or do we try to make him want us, our family and participate as a family member? What is the next few years of high school gonna look like in our home...... The next 20 years in our lives?
We would love to hear from anyone who has any insight, advice, or can relate in any way.
What professional help do you have now?
You have 3 years to go before he's 18 and it sounds like you've given up. I understand that you are hurt, but are you listening to how he is feeling?
Teen years are critical - and are a big emotional roller coaster . . . . and there are bigger emotionsal issues to deal with when you are adopted . . . and even bigger issues to deal with when you are adopted from foster care and have a history of trauma/neglect. Is he really not attached to your family? or is he saying that to test your and his own feelings? By giving up, are you reinforcing his feelings of not belonging?
Get a good therapist. Try to find someone with experience/expertise in attachment/adoption issues. If your son refuses to go - go yourself. Go with your husband and daughter.
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Rough :-(
Does he want to maintain a family relationship with his sister?
Some family therapy does sound in order, if only to set some ground rules so that he is treating you and your home with respect. You don't want resentment to add to the hurt. The good news is that you have hit rock bottom together and have all survived. It sounds like you have all been able to talk openly about some very scary and painful issues. Over time, and with the help of a good therapist, it might be possible to rebuild your relationship into something sustainable as he heads into adulthood.
I agree with the pp to include your daughter in therapy. She is likely a mess of conflicting emotions and loyalties right now and having some help to process such big changes might be very useful.
Perhaps Jensboys or Millie will find this post. Both have teenagers, and being a teenaged adoptee comes with a whole trunk load of differences to when they are cute kids who love to be adopted...
I'm sorry your hurting and perhaps why you didn't list them, but is there anything positive about your son?
Kind regards,
Dickons
Yeah thanks Dickons :) I read this last night and didn't have the emotional energy to reply :) lol
First - 15 is a BRUTAL age for almost ALL kids -- throw in an older child adoptee in that brutal age becomes intolerable.
Let me first say my son is now 18.5 --- he is graduated, and going to university on a full scholarship. He is funny and engaging and sometimes grouchy and very loving to his siblings and appropriately loving with us, his parents. Oh and he is still living at home, now by choice - happily.
At 15 he told me he hated me, that he had never loved me, that he had never wanted me to be his family, and at 18 he would walk out the front door and never, ever EVER come back. He didn't like our "stupid rules" and he didn't love ANYONE or ANYTHING, especially US. I cried - he hurt me SO badly - I love this kid (all my kids) more than my own life. How could MY BABY feel like that?? What had I done wrong - where had I failed him, how oh how had we missed this!!! Then we went to therapy ;) and the therapist could quickly point out that it had nothing to do with our failures as parents, but rather a complex (but normal) process of differentiation, identity seeking and teenage angst going on with my son. AS SOON AS I STOPPED trying to appease him (what are you feeling kiddo? Why do you feel that way? What can I do to help?) and just got completely UNemotional with him -- it stopped.
He needed (ABSOLUTELY NEEDED) to hear that my love was unconditional, and being in the family wasn't "optional". You don't get all the privileges of being part of our family (home, school, sports, clothes, etc) and none of the responsibilities (chores, family obligations, rules etc). I clearly told him I did NOT care if he didn't love me right now, that I had enough love for both of us, that even if he never thought of me as his mother, he would always be my son, and as such I had a moral responsibility to parent him -- and PARENT him meant being his mother. Enforcing rules, consequences, teaching him, giving him privileges etc.
In the end due to rebellious behaviors, we pulled him from school for the second half of 10th grade and home schooled him. That opportunity to reconnect with him was really good. As he has matured, his thought process has changed and so of course has his understanding. He now shakes his head at what "an idiot" he was at 15. And we laugh :) (and OF COURSE inside it still hurts! But I do know that I did right by him during that period of time)
Pinklemonade: I'm so sorry. I fostered a teenager for a year but he was disrupted and went to an RTC. My other teenager, P, has attached to me. Outside the "normal" teen stuff, he's a great kid. Do you know the whole history of your son? I do agree with the posters about therapy for all involved.
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I would not be so quick to give up. I don't believe this is a time for you to need to grieve any (permanent) loss. As I read this, I saw a typical teen attempting to spread his wings in preparation of (eventually) leaving the nest. It probably is made more complicated by the fact that he had been in foster care, then was adopted. He made the best choice for himself under given circumstances, but none of it had been his choosing. He wants to feel his own power, I suspect. But like any teen learns, along with that power, or freedom of choice, comes responsibility. How many times have the young needed to return to the mother nest before finally making that transition into adulthood? Sounds like he has a lot to sort out right now. I don't know whether I would attempt to force him into counseling, but I would certainly reach out for that support through this - and I might invite him to join in counseling at some point, pending what a counselor might suggest. But I believe that, ultimately, baby bird with realize where the mother nest has always REALLy been, and why you chose him (love). It may help you to get some insights from former (adult) foster / adoptive children, as a matter of trying to understand his feelings about all he has been through. He will probably come to realize that none of it was your fault, anymore than it was his. I don't buy for a second, however, his claim that he was always just going along to get along. Ask yourself if you recall moments when it felt very right and real, hugs, cards he may have made you, words of love exchanged.
This is the part of parenting that is tough. 15 yr old teen boy angst is horrible.
Some of the best information I got as a parent of a teen boy (bio!) was from his therapist. He refused to go, but I went alone.
Being apart of the family is not an option. It is already legally been done.
My house/ money/ resources are not "free" for you to take. I am not your doormat, or your emotional punching bag.
There are rules in this house, and you are required to follow them, even if you don't like them. Failure to follow rules result in consequences.
You can't "fire me" as your mother. It is my job to parent you.... forever.
You were not his "babysitter" until he can go back to his "real life", before adoption.
There are ways to disengage, I strongly encourage it.
Remember that it is not YOU, it is everything that the birth family IS NOT. You are a reminder of that.
You will pay the price for everything that they were not, just because you are.
Trauma doesn't go away, it heals, but is always there.
FWIW
My bio son at 15 was insistent that he wanted to live with his father. This is the man I protected him from growing up. I caved, and allowed it to happen. It was disastrous for them both. My son ended up homeless before the age of 17. The damage had been done, and I was still his mom, but allowed natural consequences to happen. He is now 23, still a bit wild, making choices that I would rather he didn't, but still a great young man.
It took lots of therapy and time, but he now comes home "just because" and gives that love that I wanted for so many years.
Don't give up.
Your son needs you now more than ever, you can do this.
You will be stronger on the other side
Hi Pinklemonade, i read your post and no question it's hard.
I am a male adoptee and its easy to know whats in the kids head because much of what he feels, I understand.
My adoption in my 1st family lasted 3 years. I was adopted at 5 months. Supposedly into a loving family. In fact, I was sold into adoption not because I needed a family but rather because my adopting family wanted children.
At age 3 that first stepmother died, and there was abandonment by my a-dad.
When I was 5, a-dad married again. His 2nd wife wanted children of her own, not a ready made family. Discipline of all kinds started.
I began to understand I was an "outsider" and had little value. Slowly the rage developed until it took over. I stepped back, and built a wall. Days melted into each other. I longed to understand the gaps in my head, but there was no way to get to them. Somehow I knew my a-parents could never understand and what was worse, I wasn't able to tell them. At times the "sickness" in my head was almost overwhelming.
I didn't care about anything or anyone. There was every form of discipline, even beating at nite after i had gone to sleep. My best friend invited me to live with his family. I would have gone in a minute and never looked back, but it didn't happen.
I withdrew. I went to school, tried to be perfect in an attempt to be admitted to family, but built a wall. I rarely spoke unless spoken too. I hated everything and everyone. I wanted to be alone in my grief, altho I didn't know what the grief was about. I trusted no one.
My a-mom tolerated me because she had come into the marriage when I was already there. My a-dad ignored me. I was too dumb and stupid to care about.
There was work to do. I was required to take care of my mother and 2 brothers. Little thot was given as to how I felt or what I wanted. When I acted out, little did I know that acting out was a part of grieving.
I would not have been able to verbalize what the grieving was about, but I knew that in my head I could never be an equal with my peers.
My head was full of a daily routine of just trying to get through.
Because of the ongoing abuse, I was constantly reminded that what happened was my fault. Love was conditional and everything has a shelf life. I wanted to fix the grief and loss in my head, but could never get to it. Whatever happened was lurking in the background, much like a shadow that never speaks.
When graduation from hi school came about, I was a basket case. 3 years of working to gain admission to family and the ongoing abuse had taken it's toll. My a-dad had died. He had never given me much, but he was all I had. A new regime had come about.
I was required to pay room and board. Rather than be kicked to the street, I accepted a job in a shyster finance company. At nite I went to the ghetto to look for delinquents. If I had been murdered, kidnapped or been involved in any violence, I would not have cared.
By the time I was 19, altho still grieving for unknowns in my head, I went into the Navy. There I learned that love was not conditional, and altho the grief and loss was still evident, it was no longer on the forefront. In retrospect, had my a-parents been kind, loving and supportive, the grief and loss in my head, I believe would still have come about. It would have helped if they had provided an adoption explanation. Their feelings were that I should be grateful for the adoption and the circumstances surrounding it were not important because I was so young. Having never been through adoption they didn't understand ongoing grief and loss.
I dont know that anything you might have done would have prevented the rage, or lack of bonding that developed in his head. It seems that is one of the pitfalls in males in the adoption syndrome.
I wish you the best.
PinkLemonade
It would seem his plan is to shake our hands, tell us thanks for taking care of him all these years and simply walk out of our lives the day he turns 18. And honestly it seems he already has one foot out the door.
I am posting this because we don't know what to do at this point. Do we just accept that's"it is what it is" and move on with our lives, and accept that we just have some teenager that just lives with us until graduation? Or do we try to make him want us, our family and participate as a family member? What is the next few years of high school gonna look like in our home...... The next 20 years in our lives?
We would love to hear from anyone who has any insight, advice, or can relate in any way.
I was the same way, I never really felt like part of the family and hoped some day I would meet my parents again. I'm guessing he was surviving the best he could. I know I was just surviving, I think it takes a lot of guts to be honest with you. I would treat him as part of the family, see how that goes. I do believe when he turns 18 years old he might think of you as family, but he might still think of his parents as his real parent. I know when my real parents got to see me again. I still stayed in my fosters life, but only because I though I had too. But both ended up dying, so they never got hurt by me, but I was starting to spend more time before my real parents. Actually at some point I hated them and I'm glad they didn't have to deal with that. It's hard to be foster, then adopted or legal gardian. It's like being kidnapped and put with strangers.
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My son that we had adopted at six never gave us any problems while growing up. But he walked out of our lives at about 25 after he got married. We have never seen him again. I guess it does happen. I had to go through the grieving process. I do not hold out hope that he will ever come back again. He tries very hard to make sure we don't know where he is or what he is doing. Although he never had problem behaviors or said he was unattached to us, I guess he really wasn't.
Hi PinkLemonade, I read your post and don't have much to offer, altho I can relate to the feelings your son has.
Somewhere, in his treatment he has had to deal with some serious trauma. As a result, there are trust issues.
My only thoughts are for him to get some therapy so that he doesn't continue to fight as a loner. There are people around who care about him and are willing to help if he will let them.
I fought my emotional battles on my own, as an outsider, and looked at it as being alone to handle what battles came up.
It's different now. All kind of help is available and more is known regarding adoption, abuse, trust issues, etc.
If there is an adoption, or child therapist not too far, I would try to get help from that source, rather than prolong your feelings of grief and loss in the hopes that he will mend on his own.
I wish you the best.
:love: :love: :love:
PinkLemonade
My husband and I adopted two siblings from foster care 8 years ago. At the time of the adoption our dd was 2 and ds was nearly 7. They had been in and out of several foster homes their entires lives.
Our dd formed an attachment fairly easily but our ds just never seemed to mesh with our family. He was always just putting on a show for whoever was around, manipulative to the likes I have never seen before and just in general very "fake" in his emotions. He was and still is the type that becomes like a rigid statue when you try to hug him.
Over the past years we have had many issues with his lying, manipulating and such.
We have always considered him just as our own biological child would be and love him and give him and our dd the world. But recently our ds ran away from home. It was the most gut wrenching day of our lives. Thanks to a friend we found our ds hiding under a bridge with a bag packed with supplies, he had been planning this for a very long time.
We couldn't understand why! I mean we are nice loving people, fun and nurturing and treat our children like kings and queens and shower them with love..... Why would he run away!!?
Turns out our ds couldn't give us an answer to that either.
After much discussion he admitted he has never accepted us as his family, doesnt love us, can't stand to be around us and just doesn't want to be in our family..... Even though he admits we are great parents and he can't understand his feelings toward us either.
He said all he wants is to graduate, turn 18, move out and start his own life. His biggest desire is for us to stop being his parents and to basically just be the adults in his life that meet his basic needs until he is off age. He doesn't want to have to be involved in any "family" stuff, not even family pictures...... Basically he just wants to be this teenager that lives with us.
This was a couple of months ago and honestly we have been in shell shock ever since. Our ds stays at friends almost 24/7 since it is summer break and only comes home to grab a shower and change of clothes. It is as if we have lost a child. These past several years we have believed we had this happy family consisting of Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter......and now it seems that it was all a fake, only we didn't realize and now we are seeing that we have been playing the fool.
I have been going through what I am guessing is akin to grief. Truly it feels that I once had this son, but now he is gone. Now that I look back all the signs were there, we knew he was fake as could be about sooo much, but I suppose we were in denial.
We are not sure what to do next. Ds seems very happy now that he has admitted his true feelings and has basically dropped out of family life. I overheard him telling a friend on the phone the other day " yeah I told them how I really feel and I am so glad to not have to pretend I want to be j this family anymore. Three more years and I can walk away completely, yeah!"
It would seem his plan is to shake our hands, tell us thanks for taking care of him all these years and simply walk out of our lives the day he turns 18. And honestly it seems he already has one foot out the door.
I am posting this because we don't know what to do at this point. Do we just accept that's"it is what it is" and move on with our lives, and accept that we just have some teenager that just lives with us until graduation? Or do we try to make him want us, our family and participate as a family member? What is the next few years of high school gonna look like in our home...... The next 20 years in our lives?
We would love to hear from anyone who has any insight, advice, or can relate in any way.
Sorry pink! My message was sent too quickly! I am using an old iPad and not my full size laptop because my adopted daughter and shady friends stole it, along with everything else they could carry from our home. Around five grand's worth of goods. All gone to pawn for drugs. And yet I truly mean DON'T DESPAIR!! I adopted a three and five year old brother and sister sixteen years ago. We didn't know much about RAD then. Still don't. Can also be borderline personality disorder. My own two also inherited the addiction gene. Not uncommon that drugs and mental disorders go hand in hand. Both are wonderful human beings who are both the joy of my life and the bane of my existence. But the latter happens only when I let it.
My kids are now 19 and 21. The 19 year old has been through years of counseling and three rehabs. Same for her 21 yr old brother, although since he is not the"squeaky wheel" we didn't know the extent of his problems until he turned 18. His sister was diagnosed with oppositional defiant behavior at age 13. Not a big help Even her pediatrician told us it was just a mother daughter thing and i should ease up a bit I felt like ellyn burstyn in The Exorcist She would be sweet as pie one minute, then if i said no honey, you cant sleep over at friend's house for second night in a row, it was "Eff u, *****, i hope you die and i wont go to your funeral,you're not my real mom, etc etc " You get the drift. And then sweet as pie when daddy got home so I was Mean Mom. It was only when bio mom suddenly turned up on her Facebook page and we subsequently met her that things became clearer. Bio mom was untreated BP. And delusional. So at least we had a name for our daughters disorder. Or at least one of her disorders
We have been through and back to our own private hell. All of us. Our childrenwith RAD and those of us who have to deal with it somehow. Kids who have had the parental bond broken, often repeatedly through multiple foster placements, suffer irreparable harm. All the love we give to these children won't "cure" them. But all the love we gave them DOES make a difference. I have been told many times (and sometimes I even believe) that if I had not adopted these children they would be dead or in prison by now
So where is the silver lining for us? For me, twelve step programs like al-anon have helped tremendously. RAD sufferers, like many afflicted with mental disorders, tend to seek relief through unprescribed substances. When your children are under 18 you can try and help them with counseling, rehab etc. but eventually they move out. Or I our family, both were kicked out after multiple infractions, robbery and jail. Both have refused offers of clean sober living houses and choose to live with their "real dad" who abandoned them years ago, had his rights terminated after being given four loong years to shape up, and who now wants to play theGood Parent by letting them stay at his place and do what they want when they want
Of course, I don't think their choices are good ones. But I can't say that I am unhappy now. I --with the help of good friends in and out of al -anon and more friends I hope to meet in this forum -- can now make a conscious choice of happiness. Sure, I get sad --a lot -- but not as bad as it used to be when days would go by and I couldn't face the world
Dear pink you are in a hard place now, especially since you have to witness your child's hostility--his sickness --on a daily basis. Just please remember that it IS a sickness, and that you didn't cause it. You also can't control it or cure it. Try a twelve step meeting, or any group you can find that will help you to set boundaries and not let your son's illness make you sick, too. Many of us have been and continue to walk in your shoes.
My kids are not well now. But I am getting better. And I pray to god everyday that my kids will get better too. But I no longer plan my life around them. It was literally killing me
Do something nice for yourself today, pink. You deserve it. Believe it you are a good mom and somewhere inside his mixed up and hurting self, your kid knows it, too
Love and prayers to you!
In meantime
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