My adopted dd is finishing high school soon. It has been a battle to find ways to connect with her. She started pushing us away her freshman year because she wanted more freedom from our rules. I know she has some emotional scars because high school has been difficult for her both socially and academically. We try everything to support her and show that we care. Mostly, it hurts because she has developed an attitude against us which plays out in her mean or sarcastic personality. Lately, she has found another family that she likes better than us. They are more fun and interesting in her words. Sometimes I wonder if this is an indication of RAD or just typical teen behavior. We adopted her as an infant and bonding was not an issue until high school - or maybe I've been blind to it all along. Whatever the issue, I feel abandoned, used, and jealous of other families whose children like to be around their family. I find myself questioning my own bond with her. It's difficult for me when the strongest common bond we share is my checkbook. So, no question really, just hating the splinters these days.
Most kids go through a stage where they don't like their parents. I can't say a whole lot, not a parent, but I know I went through a short stint of this.
Questions, though, that may help others help you: What have you tried to do in resolving this? What year is dd in with HS now? How long has this been going on? What rules is she upset with?
Our rules are nothing more than trying to stay on top of social media abuses, keeping her away from boys that are only after her for sex, and discouraging friends that are a bad influence (morals, language, drugs). What did we do to resolve the issues? She is attending a private school (her choice) with much better people around her now. She has morals, faith and is focused on her future, for which I am thankful. Even though we have relaxed the rules with her, she wants her independence - completely. She spurns our affection. When she is home, it feels like she is just marking time with us so she can leave and be around other people. I understand that she needs her own friends and interests, it's just that our family time has all but disappeared. There is zero interest in hanging out, watching movies or even going on vacation together. She doesn't hate us, she just doesn't like us - if that makes sense.
Our rules are nothing more than trying to stay on top of social media abuses, keeping her away from boys that are only after her for sex, and discouraging friends that are a bad influence (morals, language, drugs). What did we do to resolve the issues? She is attending a private school (her choice) with much better people around her now. She has morals, faith and is focused on her future, for which I am thankful. Even though we have relaxed the rules with her, she wants her independence - completely. She spurns our affection. When she is home, it feels like she is just marking time with us so she can leave and be around other people. I understand that she needs her own friends and interests, it's just that our family time has all but disappeared. There is zero interest in hanging out, watching movies or even going on vacation together. She doesn't hate us, she just doesn't like us - if that makes sense.
Not saying it couldn't be any kind of attachment thing, but it really can be one of the challenges some teenage girls go through. I spent most of high school arguing with my mom (and arguing included yelling/ screaming/ name calling/ "I hate you"), doing everything I could to be somewhere else, and marking the time until I graduated. I wanted to go live with a relative I didn't really know, because they lived in a much cooler place than we did (totally unrealistic plan, by the way). I was going through some difficult stuff, but even had I not been, I think I would have gone through something similar. Girls are hard, and girls and moms can be even harder.
I would actually worry more about things like depression and anxiety than I would about attachment. Depression in teens often comes presents as detachment or extreme irritability. It could be helpful to get her in to be evaluated by a good counselor who specializes in adolescents or by a child psychiatrist, especially since it is a change in behavior since she hit high school.
midlifemom
My adopted dd is finishing high school soon. It has been a battle to find ways to connect with her. She started pushing us away her freshman year because she wanted more freedom from our rules. I know she has some emotional scars because high school has been difficult for her both socially and academically. We try everything to support her and show that we care. Mostly, it hurts because she has developed an attitude against us which plays out in her mean or sarcastic personality. Lately, she has found another family that she likes better than us. They are more fun and interesting in her words. Sometimes I wonder if this is an indication of RAD or just typical teen behavior. We adopted her as an infant and bonding was not an issue until high school - or maybe I've been blind to it all along. Whatever the issue, I feel abandoned, used, and jealous of other families whose children like to be around their family. I find myself questioning my own bond with her. It's difficult for me when the strongest common bond we share is my checkbook. So, no question really, just hating the splinters these days.
Adoption and being adopted MAY be the elephant in the room...
Being adopted is hard. Being a TEEN adoptee is probably the most turbulent of times. Teen years is the age of separation and independence, that in itself can provide parents with a lot of anguish and fear. NOW add on to the fact that your child had a past before you, despite the fact that she came home as an infant. You do not clarify if your adoption was open, semi-open, or closed. If closed, and she has no more info than what you would list on an index card - she could be really struggling with the why's that she accepted as a child, but now, they make no sense - things like she loved you so much she gave you away (using those words for people to see how it COULD be perceived).
Does your daughter have other adopted peers in her life? It matters, it makes a difference. Why else would us old folks hang around an adoption forum - if not for the community of others just like us. Please think about that.
Not sure what you can do now at this stage other than provide suggestions - she's almost an adult. It might be good to do some googling for adopted teen support groups in your area. It might help if you never talked about her adoption other than how wonderful it is - if you did talk about the loss side- good for you and perhaps it's time to revisit if she's feeling like she's struggling to know who she is - her nature or her nurture and how does she blend in what she doesn't know...
An idea of what I mean when I speak about adoptee support groups at the link below.
[url=http://www.pactadopt.org/adoptees/services/teen_tween_clubs.html]Pact Teen and Tweens Club[/url]
Kind regards,
Dickons
I don't think you're dealing with RAD. The age of onset is by early childhood. And, you have said that you had a bond with her until recently.
In the teen years, developmentally, we are supposed to seek out independence. This often is seen through becoming more attached to peer groups than to parents.
The added layer of being an adoptee might be present, too. Adolescents are trying to differentiate themselves, but at the same time they are also trying to figure out how they fit into this world. Adoptees often don't have access to their original families, so we don't get the genetic mirroring that others can take for granted.
Without the mirror, we don't always see the beauty and talents we possess.
So, that might come into play. But, honestly, she sounds like a fairly typical teenager.
When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.Ӕ
--Mark Twain
Thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful comments. I had a good relationship with my dd until I found out that she set up a secret Facebook account to contact her biological family. It was the start of a power struggle between us her freshman year and continued into other areas of her "leave me alone" behavior. We know plenty about the biological family and they are very dysfunctional people - even dangerous. She had some limited knowledge (we seriously could not give her the sordid details of what they did to their own children) but she resisted our advice to hold off contacting them. Now she regrets having opened that door and wishes she could be a normal (not adopted) child like most of the other kids. She has several friends that are adopted, but I worry about whether they are a positive influence. They are struggling with their adopted families and pushing the boundaries to see what they can get by with (according to my dd). This is probably separation anxiety on my part because I was not prepared for it. I wasn't ready for the rejection. She is searching for a place to belong on her own terms. I am hopeful that she will eventually enjoy our family time again. I think the Mark Twain quote is so true.
Most teenagers push boundaries. That isn't specific to adoptees.
But, it isn't surprising that adoptees often have additional challenges during adolescence.
What does your daughter regret about her reunion with her first family? Is she regretting the stress? The emotions? Being caught in between the wishes of two families?
Most adoptees wish we weren't adopted. Many wish they had been born into their adoptive families. Being adopted, having to deal with additional layers because of being adopted, can be exhausting.
I'm not quite clear on this: is the fun and interesting other family her biological one?
You say you adopted her as an infant. How old was she, exactly? Children adopted under 6 months don't have attachment problems (any more than a biological child would), children adopted at 6-12 months occasionally have attachment issues, and children adopted over 12 months often have attachment issues. (Although insecure/disorganized attachment is more common than full-blown RAD.)
You say you adopted her as an infant. How old was she, exactly? Children adopted under 6 months don't have attachment problems (any more than a biological child would), children adopted at 6-12 months occasionally have attachment issues, and children adopted over 12 months often have attachment issues. (Although insecure/disorganized attachment is more common than full-blown RAD.)
This is absolutely incorrect I was adopted at 3 days old and would have met the diagnostic criteria for inhibited RAD as a teen had my parents had a therapist trained in adoption issues. Adoption is a loss regardless of age of placement and there is always the possibility of adoption related trauma. For the first few years I seemed attached in most ways, but as a preteen developed many of the issues you would see in a child with RAD. Even if what the OP is describing is not RAD it could very well be attachment related or grief and loss related, especially if her daughter is mourning the loss of a fantasy after reuniting with her birth family and finding her hopes and expectations were not met.
I was misdiagnosed as ODD and treated with "tough love" by desperate parents following the advice of a therapist who only treated the behaviors and not the underlying cause. It wasn't until I worked with a social worker in my late teens that the behaviors diminished, as she acknowledged my loss and helped me work through my grief. It took years of therapy after that to fully recover from the attachment issues. Incidently, one of the things that bothered my parents the most was my lack of physical affection.
My advice would be to validate her experiences and feelings whenever possible. You can set clear limits, but acknowledge her feelings when you do so. Offer to share what you can about her biological family. Withholding the truth, even if it is ugly, will only cause further negative feelings. Don't push her to talk if she doesn't seem open to it, but also make it clear that you are willing. If she does talk with you listen more than you speak, acknowledge her reality even if it is different than your own, and don't become defensive or judgemental. Remember this more than likely isn't about you. It is about her dealing with strong emotions that even adults struggle with. Dealing with them as a teen along with the normal hormonal changes and drive for independence makes everything harder!
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