When is it time to give up?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by MidwestMom, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Sorry, Mods! I posted this in Teens and Substance Abuse first, but it really belongs here, with parents of grown children. Thank you.

    I don't mean give up loving my child, but when is it time to stop trying to get a response from my grown son that I exist to him? He is the one who married his controlling wife and both of them joined a questionable, very non-inclusive church and we haven't heard from him since. I leave messages and send nice cards for birthdays and holidays, but he never recipricates. We had no argument to explain his behavior and he won't talk to anyone about it, but he hurt his sister a lot and the rest of the family too. When is it time to let it go and stop trying? His sibs are all furious at him and don't want anything to do with him anymore.
    We just found out he and his wife have traveled to China for another vacation. He told nobody. He has an automatic e-mail response that explains where he is and when he'll be back.
    How do you detach from a child who no longer wants you? In his mind, we adopted him at six so we had nothing to do with his early development, and I'm sure he also believes that we are people doomed to go to hell. Please tell me how you detach from a child who won't give you the time of day? And, no, I don't think it's just a phaze. He is a very deep thinking adult, who plans his life carefully and without impulsively. I'm sure we won't see him for the holidays. He goes to his "Chinese" family's house (wife's relatives). Sometimes he visits his father as a favor, but only when he knows we won't be there, and with reluctance. In no way is he immature. He made a thought out, detailed decision to exclude all of us from his life. I need some words of wisdom as the holidays near. Should I get him a gift? Send a card? Is that pushing it? I can mail them. Or should I just Let go and Let God (God as *I* understand Him).
    Me, over 21, lifelong mood/neurological problems, doing great
    Tom, hub of 10 years
    Mark, 29, easy child, anxiety disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)-Lamictal and Xanax SR
    Julie, 23, former difficult child/drug abuser, clean now for four years, adopted from Korea, my best friend
    Lucas 14, adopted at two, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified
    Nicole, 11, easy child adopted at birth, sweet, social, loving, some Learning Disability (LD)'s
    Scott, 30, adopted from Hong Kong at age 6/doesn't want family contact right now--nobody knows why. Attachment problems?
  2. WhymeMom?

    WhymeMom? No real answers to life..

    Well he is obviously pushing you away....so I think I would send a card, and forget any gifts, doesn't sound like he appreciates them anyway.....

    As much as you want to be a part of his life it doesn't look like its going to happen. Concentrate on your other kids and just send cards for occasions.

    I know you think the wife caused a seperation between you, but she may be the way to get to him if you can't give up having this broken relationship. Start out by sending cards to her, sending her a daughter-in-law birthday card. Anything that will accent the "connection" of family. Any gift you may send buy something that she would use more than he would.... She obviously values her family connections so might have some respect for your relationship as adoptive parents. He has closed the door, but she may have left a window open....

    In the end I think you are running into a brick wall. He seems to be hung up on blood family (his wife's) and has compartmentalized that you don't fall into that category. I think it will only cause you grief to think you will ever be a part of his life. Sorry he has turned to this thinking.....

    Rejoice in the family that acknowledges you.......and let him go...
  3. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    by the way I wrote ant a letter just today and told him some stuff I had to get off my chest. I mentioned his childhood, the things we did, the way I stood by him. I also told him the things I am disappointed in about him, and that I will no longer pay for him to call me, and will not be visiting. why??
    last night he called and told me off once again and hung up on me.
    it was the last time I can let this happen. my last hurt from him, I am closing the door for a while. I called and cancelled my acct so he cannot call me. he can write if he chooses but from this day forth, all efforts must be generated by him and not me.
    I love him but I must let him know my boundaries. he has stretched them to the limit.
  4. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    MWM, I think it is important to do what YOU feel is appropriate for a mom to do. If you want to send a card and gifts then do it. You will never wonder the 'what ifs' if you do it. You will know you continued to tell him you love him each year with a Christmas and birthday card.
    If he sends it back with the desire for you not to send the card, well you will still know you did all you could do to reach out.

    That is how I would handle it. I would send a card every year. If my difficult child cuts me out of her life someday I will send a card with a Starbucks gift card in it as I know she likes one of the drinks there, but she rarely gets it due to $$. I would only stop if she asked me to.
    It would make me feel like I was telling her I loved her every year at least twice and she would never question my love for her.

    BUT, you can not expect a response or thank you. I do not think one will come. Rude? Yes. But, you still got to tell him you love him.
  5. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    I agree a card would be appropriate, if you feel willing. It is a tough road to go.

  6. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    I can hear the pain in your posting.

    Sometimes, it isn't up to us. The only thing we can do then is to behave in the best, most positive way we know. It is never wrong to love someone, never wrong to tell them so.

    The thing that needs to change is your expectation that your son will respond.

    Can you teach yourself that what he chooses is not in your control?

    You are his mother.

    You can love him, wish him well, mourn the time you no longer have with him, and celebrate the time you did have.

    Those are all things no one can take away from you.

    It is not an easy thing, to lose a child.

    For those who have lost our children in these ways, there is no socially acceptable way to validate or grieve that loss.

    Knowing your child is doing well financially doesn't make it any easier to survive that emptiness that fills the place where his face and his scent and his sense of humor used to be.

    Be gentle with yourself.

    You are grieving.

    Continue to love him, continue to do those things you feel are appropriate.

    He cannot change or take that away from you.

    Parents just don't get to choose whether we will love a child or not, or whether we will miss him.

    But we have to be wise enough to incorporate that loss, that grief, and go on.

    Keep posting about it.

    Posting always helps me so much.

    I am so glad the site exists, so grateful for everyone here.

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks all. I think I'll stick to birthday and Christmas cards.
    I have no idea when his wife's birthday is, but she's probably not the one to reach out to. She wants him clearly to herself and her own family. And I don't think she feels we count as family and I don't think he thinks so either. Maybe he met his birthmother in Hong Kong. We had her address. If he did, it would be odd because I know she is an atheist. I used to send her letters and tell her she was in my prayers and she said, "THank you for your prayers, however we don't believe in God." Maybe her blood relation to him makes up for that, but I'm not convinced that he met her. She seemed like a smart, together woman if he did, but all this is guesswork.
    All this had made me sorry I adopted an older child. Maybe with some it works, but, after so many wonderful memories of this now young adult, he clearly is not attached to us that way. Our birthchild and the kids we adopted two and under are bonded to us, but he has always had trouble with the concept of Mom and Dad. Maybe he feels more comfortable with a family of his own origin, even though he only met them two years ago.
    Since I"m still upset, I welcome any other words of wisdom. The angry part of me wants to never contact him again, but that's so selfish and maybe, without my knowing it, even if he rejects us, he doesn't want or can't handle being rejected in return. He is very intelligent (IQ 150) and very well off so no gift will do any good (plus I think his religion frowns on gifts). All I can do is still tell him I'm his mother in my heart, and cry sometimes.
  8. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    {{{MWM}}} I know your [mother-heart] is hurting and I am so sorry for that pain. Wanted to send you some supportive hugs.

    If it were me, I would send at least a card for every occasion that I normally would. Not in the hopes of getting a response, but for myself, because it would be a gift of thought and love, from my heart to my ds/daughter, because he/she is my child, because even if he/she can't reach out to me at least I can reach out to him/her.

    Giving a gift under any circumstances is usually about the giving part, not about what you receive in return, correct?

    So, if your heart is telling you to send a card/gift/both, then do it. I know that if it were my difficult child, she would think the reason I didn't send a card or gift is because I am angry or feeling resentful or trying to punish her.

    Go with your gut and your heart, MWM. Hugs~♥
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    Your situation with your son is somewhat similar to ours with stepgfg. She just waltzed out of our lives one day with the grandkids after all we did was attempt to help her and make her part of the family.

    I was so devistated. It made no sense. The whole family was devistated.

    For a few years following I tried searching for her.

    Finally I reached a point that I realized I was just hurting myself more, causing more pain by trying to find her. She is perfectly capable of picking up a phone and calling. Our address has changed but the phone number is the same, and we're listed just so she CAN contact us if she ever feels the desire.

    I came to accept that we can't force her to be part of our family. She made her decision. Her sibs loath her for what she did and how she did it. It still hurts when I let myself think about her and the kids. But the acceptance let me move forward.

    I've made it as easy as possible for stepgfg to contact us if she ever wants to. That's all I can do. If I'd know where she was all along.....Well, I dunno what decision I'd have made. But even if I knew for sure where she is now, I wouldn't attempt contact. Took me a very very long time to get to that point.

    Follow your heart on this one. It'll tell you what you need to do.

  10. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    When there is no change in sight and it is negatively affecting you on a daily basis. -RM
  11. Wishing

    Wishing New Member

    I would send cards but not gifts. I would step back as he is. He is lucky that he has a mom that wants him in her life and someday hopefully when he grows up he will realize this.The fact that you send cards to wish him well is the greatest gift he could have. He knows he is in your heart and no one can be closer than that and he knows this. He has to sort through a lot of feelings and maybe he is not ready to do this.
  12. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    I tend to, morbid as it may seem, when in a difficult situation, try to picture myself at the end of my life, thinking back, with the goal of having no (or at least only a few...) regrets about choices I've made, particularly in regard to relationships which, in my opinion, is about the only thing in life that really matters much.

    I believe, in the face of a beloved child, adopted or otherwise, who is choosing to reject his family, I would find a way to remind him, once and for all, what family means.

    I would go through all my photos and select some special ones, particularly shots of him with you all, and make an album including text and little momentos, if you have them, that tells the story of his childhood as part of your family.

    I would also add a note telling him that you'll be there if and when he ever feels the need to reconnect. This might also remind his wife of who he is...
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    The influence of a wife can definitey trump the influence of a
    Mother. I have detached from the son who was closest to me and
    later to husband and me prior to his marriage. His wife is not evil
    but she is very territorial. He is not evil (in fact, lol, he
    has high moral values, is hardworking, bright and almost as much
    fun as his Mom). He evidently can not figure out how to be attached to his family and also raise a family with his wife. We
    have bowed out as gracefully as we can. Instead of the close
    relationship we were used to, we see him a couple of times a year
    and "sometimes" get a couple of calls.

    Perhaps your son is similar to mine. He doesn't understand that
    love multiplies as you share it so he sees it as a choice he should make. No doubt his wife encourages that philosophy.

    I do understand your pain. I would not attribute the problem to
    racial divide or to religious differences. As much as you love
    him and admire his strengths, I think your son does not have the
    intestinal fortitude to balance his loyalties. It is not your
    fault. He isn't necessarily at fault either. He just can't do
    it....or at least that is what I would guess. Hugs. DDD
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, all.
    This all happened right before his wedding and has never changed. I gave him all his baby books--he doesn't care.
    For those who have adopted, remember that he came at six years old--I think that makes a big difference. However, I am still mystified. I do think the religion has a lot to do with it as does his wife, but, in the end, it's his call. Keep the suggestions coming. And thanks to all!
  15. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    It happens. I expect there are some attachment issues but it happens with bio kids, too.

    This has been going on for a long time now and it must feel like you are beating your head against a wall. And you probably are...for now, at least.

    To be honest, I would let it rest for a few months. I know with Rob that the more I pushed, the more he withdrew. I would let Scott know the holidays without his family in it. I would follow his lead and if his lead is to do nothing, then I would also do nothing. I wouldn't make any grandstand plays- I expect you've already tried that and it didn't work anyway.

    So I would let him *feel* your absence for a few months to see if it triggers any feelings of missing you. And in the interim I would concentrate my efforts and attention and love on those at home who appreciate it.

  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Scott doesn't want us in his holidays. He did not join us at all last year and this Easter he hosted a family who HAD no family rather than seeing us. It obviously didn't occur to him that he could have brought them too. But, of course, it did occur to him, and he just didn't want to see us. He does see K's family all the time, and I don't think he misses us at all. He is their son now. They think he hung the moon. He is a very charming young man with impeccable manners and is unfailingly polite and attentive to older adults. He was like that to us too. That's why his siblings were so shocked and devastated when he read a book called "Boundaries", declared that he used to do nice things because he felt he had to and that he wasn't going to be nice anymore. Apparently, that only applies to us. At his wedding, K's relatives gushed over him.
    I talked to my ex today about Scott. Scott had seen him Sunday (he is the only one he will still see, although it is with great reluctance) and helped his father change the tire of his car. Then he left. Today, my ex e-mailed him and got an automated message that said he would be out of town until Nov. 5th. Ex said to me,"Isn't it a little odd that he's gone out of town and didn't tell me the day before they left?" I told him that Scott no longer considers us his family, and he agreed. Scott had told my ex a long time ago that he and K. are traveling, once more, to Mainland China, and we figure that's where he is--with K's relatives in China (recall, Scott didn't live in China as a kid--he lived in Hong Kong, but this must be close enough for him). He taught himself Mandarin and is very fluent in the language. He is also quite a rich young man and can travel at will and for long periods of time. I'm proud of his accomplishments, and glad I knew him, the way he used to be, but he is clearly no longer a family member. I need to focus on the blessed children who are in my life--my biological son, Mark, who is thirty years old tomorrow (and is making me a grandma), his fantastic wife, my twenty three year old ex-difficult child who is now into health food and working out, her significant other who I love like another son, my precious Lucas who is such a sweet soul and my baby Nicole (the baby is eleven)!!! And, of course, I have my hub and my father is still alive at eighty-three. I wish Scott was part of our family still, but there will be lots of laughter at Thanksgiving and Christmas and in five days I learn if my grandchild will be a boy or a girl, so Grandma can go SHOPPING! Nicole is very excited about being a young aunt.
    My heart will always hurt for Scott, but it's better for me if I let go of this child. He came at six years old, and maybe that was just too late for him to bond with us. I think the dealbreaker was this my father had surgery last week, and he always asks about Scott, and I left a message telling Scott that his Grandpa was ill. My other kids called their Grandpa, but Scott just ignored him. I realized how cold he'd become--how uncaring. My father can't live forever. He's eighty-tree (did I already mention that? I realize I'm ranting). If Scott doesn't care about that, then I have to find the courage to let go. Yes, he'll get Christmas and birthday cards, but that's all. And he won't care or send us any cards, but that's ok too. Thanks again.
  17. goldenguru

    goldenguru New Member

    It is not uncommon for adopted kids to embrace their bio family at some point. In some way maybe this is what your son is doing. That is ... since he never found his bio family ... maybe his in laws are like some surrogate bio family. Especially given the fact that they are of the same culture, ethnicity.

    I'm not trying to diminish your hurt or excuse his thoughtlessness. How he is treating you is wrong ... but, maybe it explains his behavior a little better.

    I'm really sorry MWM. I think you are wise to 'let go'.
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, from my experience with adopted adults this sort of "cut you out" is highly unusual. Many adoptees search. I've never met one who cut off the other family, most still call them "my family." That's certainly part of it with Scott though. He lived in Hong Kong for six years. My other grown adopted daughter, who came from Korea, came as an infant and has shown no interest in her culture of origin, and has been dating a caucasian young man for four years. I think those lost years can't be taken back. By the time Scott came, this too-intelligent-too-well-behaved-too-handsome little boy had developed his coping skills in a very precocious way--by charming everybody. He also refused to let me to "Mommy" things like help button his shirt or hug him. He wanted to do everything himself. I told my ex, "One day he'll just move to California and we'll never see him again. It's not like he thinks he's ours." So we adopted our daughter at five months, and what a HUGE difference it is. Ditto for my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) son who came at two, and my eleven year old that we watched being born and took home from the hospital. You just can't make up six years. I think, more than anything, those early years are important. Being really bright, my son has said, "My formative years happened before I ever got here." He's right. He was who he is before we got him. When people ask me about adoption, and many do, I tell them, "If you want their heart, adopt as young as you can. If you want to give a home to a needy child, and perhaps get nothing back, adopt an older child."
    I am thinking of becoming a foster mom for drug-affected infants when my youngest leaves home (I'll be 61 when she's 18, haha). I just like having kids and family surrounding me. And I selfishly love the unconditional trust and love one gets from an infant. I think that a loved infant feels it for a lifetime, even if he screws up. I can't do anything about the fact that Scott had no mommy love when he was in the orphanage. Those are six years he can't get back. I hope he finds love and happiness with his wife.
  19. KFld

    KFld New Member

    I adopted my easy child daughter when she was 1 1/2. I have heard so many different sides of adopted children wanting to find their biological parents, or not. Mine has absolutley no desire. Her feelings are that we are her real parents because we raised her and it is all she has ever known and all she wants to ever know. I've always been very supportive in letting her know, if she ever feels differently, not to feel guilty about it, but so far nothing has changed.

    I don't know how I would ever deal with her not wanting to be a part of my life, as I feel the same about her. She is my "real" daughter. I don't think any differently of her as I do my biological son. They came into our world in two different ways, but both just as meaningful and beautiful.

    Shame on your son for not realizing this!! I hope he does someday and can return to being a part of the family who gave him so much.
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My son Scott isn't particularly interested in his birthmother, I don't believe. I don't think he's ever gone to Hong Kong, and I gave her his birthmother's address. I think he is horrified because she is an atheist. He has two half-sibs too, but, as far as I know, he hasn't met them either. I think he'll meet them one day, but he will judge them harshly for their atheism--his whole life is now his wife and his own personal interpretation of the "literal word" of the Bible.
    Scott was a very nice part of our lives for a long time, but it never felt like he was as bonded to us (EXCEPT FOR HIS SISTER, WHOM HE DUMPED). I felt closer to the other kids--we are as close as me and biological kid.
    I hate to bring this up, and hope it's not true, but Scott is HIGHLY materialistic. He has a huge house in a fancy suburb of Chicago. He has a Lexxus van (with all the bells and whistles and it's paid up) and an Infity (also paid cash). When he came up to Wisconsin for Mothers Day, the last time that he ever recognized the holiday, he brought K. with him and did NOT want to bring her to my humble home. It is quite small without new furniture. I had to put my foot down and insist he come or I wouldn't go to meet them in a park. I'm not sorry that I did put my foot down, but it has crossed my mind (and that of Scott's sibs) that he feels he is too good for us. He has always been twenty to thirty IQ points above everyone else, and has always saved up to buy the best stuff for himself. For a while he was very generous, especially with his younger siblings. Then, after he met K., he decided that birthdays and Christmas shouldn't be about presents and gave them pretty much garage sale stuff (his wife has a huge diamond though so it doesn't apply to them). It's like he's the opposite of what he was before. Look, we don't want his money and we love him even if he gives us NO presents, but his change was so abrupt; so sudden. It makes my head spin to think about it. So many possibilities.
    I need to move on. And, after my talk with my ex, I think we both are realizing that, with a grandchild on the way, we need to focus on those who want us, not the one who doesn't. That's what I'm going to do. I'm blessed that I have four other wonderful children, and this grandbaby that is making me walk on thin air. Thanks, guys.