For those who have adult adopted difficult children....

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by dashcat, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Did your difficult child search for his/her birthparents?

    My daughter is 19 and we adopted her at 8 months. Her birthmom was 15 and had been in the foster care system for several years. She did not voluntarily surrender daughter but, when CFS moved them to separate foster homes and began adoption proceedings, BM did not exercise her legal right to fight it. We feel that she knew she was not able to raise her daughter and wanted what was best for her.

    Even though it was a closed adoption, we know more than most people in similar circumstances. We have met all the foster families who were involved, we know the BM's name and we know a little bit about her family situation.

    We've always been very open with our daughter. She has said, from a very early age, tha she would search. We told her we'd be supportive of that, but she needed to wait until age 18.

    When she turned 18, she said she wanted to search and I put her in touch with a local agency that helps with such things. They ask that you join (I said I would pay the 1st years dues), and attend at least two meetings. Then, they put you in touch with an intermediary who will help with search and contact. daughter blew off the first meeting, saying she wanted to wait until her first year of college was over. She has since dropped out, is now 19 and seems to either have lost interest or she is attempting to do this on her own.

    I am supportive either way. I would understand if she wanted to search, and would also understand if she didn't. I think part of her - a big part - is afraid of waht she might find. I have BM's SSN, (daughter does not) so finding her would be fairly easy. She has a very common name, so googling, facebook, etc might work, but not easily. I've cautioned her that an intermediary is very important - you don't just knock on someone's door and say "SURPRISE!".

    What kind of experiences have you had - either yourselves, or with your kids?

  2. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Hi Dash,

    No experience here. I've asked Rob several times if he wanted to search out his biomom (and that I would help him) and he's always said no.

  3. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I posted my experience as an adult adoptee in another thread.
  4. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Where did you post?
  5. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Hi Dash,

    My son is also 19. Last year when he was still at home his therapist really felt that adoption was a big issue for him. He had started talking to him about how some of his anger at me might at least in part be anger at his birthmother. We have always been open about his adoption and so at this point I started bringing up the issue. Letting him know that if he wanted to contact his birthmother I would totally support him and would feel fine with him doing that. At one point I suggested we take him to the safety deposit box where we kept several letters from her (which he had seen before) plus all the adoption info we had. I figured now he was 18 he should be able to get whatever info he wanted about his adoption. There was some tough information in there too... but i felt he had the right to the info. When I mentioned it he wanted to go that very day. So we did. It was emotional while there and him seeing the stuff. One of the few times recently he let me really hug him. He came home and read though all the stuff, asked a few questions in and then came to me for a hug. Then he went and hugged his sister. It was really powerful... it was like he let down his guard with me for a few moments. We talked about what he needed to do to contact his birthmother. I told him he needed to call the agency. According to him he called, and they said he would need to talk to a counselor and they would call him back and they never did. Shame on the agency if that is true. A part of me really wanted to step in and call the agency for him, but I really felt that this is his journey, if he asked me to I would, but I did not feel I should take things into my own hands. So I think he dropped things at that point. I hope as he is getting sober, that he will call the agency and follow up. We are in a good situation because she did write him a letter after he was born, and sent several cards and letters to him in the early years. I think it did help him to read those letters because she was very clear she loved him but was not in a situation where she could take care of him.
  7. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Thank you for sharing your story. We also have a letter from A, (her birthmother) that she'd written the last time she saw daughter. She also gave her a locket with a lock of her hair in it. We gave her both when she asked if she'd left anything for her. i made sure I scanned the letter -and I even scanned the locket - in case she lost them.

    Your son clearly has some strong emotions about his adoption. I'm glad he was able to open up to you when he did ... we'll take every one of those moments, won't we!!?

    You were very wise to offer help but then to let it go and not interfer. I know excactly how that feels.

    I know my daughter has huge issues regarding her feelings about her adoption. It helps to hear from others who are in a similar situation.

  8. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest


    I don't know about you but I had no sense when we adopted our son the kinds of potential issues adoption would bring. I did understand about the loss of adoption but I think I really thought with the openess, the letters from his birth mom, etc. that it would help a lot of the adoption issues. And I am sure it does..... but it doesn't solve them. I think before we adopted our son I really felt that nurture would trump nature, and that with enough love it would all be ok. I figured out pretty early on that nature had a much bigger role than I thought. LOL. Both my kids are adopted and yet they are so different in how they react to life, and to the adoption issues.

    I have just been struck by the statistics on kids in various troubled teen type programs. The percentage of kids who were adopted in those programs is like 30%, whereas the number of kids adopted in this country each year is like 1 to 2 %. That is a huge difference and just goes to show that adoption is a big issue for teens... not necessarily for all but it is an issue.

    I just had no idea about that when we adopted our kids. I am not sure that knowing that would have made any difference at all along the way.
  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I've seen those same stats but when adjusted for parental mental illness, in utero drug exposure and early childhood abuse/neglect, the numbers are very similar between children being raised by their genetic parents v adoptive parents. in my opinion, it isn't "adoption" that is the issue, it is the issues leading to the need for adoption that are the issues.
  10. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Our difficult child has wanted to find her birthmother for years. We told her when she was 21 we would help (in our state the legal age to search is 21). When she was 18 I contacted the agency to see if they would help find her so that difficult child could meet her. At the time difficult child was in the midst of some legal trouble and we were hoping she could help straighten difficult child out. They did contact bm and she was suppose to fill out paperwork for the reunification and never did. We filled out our paperwork and agreed to permit sharing of emails. For months we waited and I kept calling and the agency said she was not in a good frame of mind. We found out (from internet searching) that she was married twice, divorced twice, foreclosed on her home, lost her job, had numerous legal problems and still had the same alcohol problem that she had when she was a young girl. Now we knew what we were dealing with. difficult child was doing and acting the exact same way as her bm, even with all the nuturing of a good stable family and every opportunity to succeed. It was then that we finally realized that nothing we did could have changed the inevitable. Like toughlovin said, we knew for years that nature trumps nurture, but it was incredible how closely she was following her in her bm's footsteps.

    We are debating now whether we should contact bm and tell her that difficult child has a serious drinking problem and has been kicked out of the house. But she is living in the basement of a friend's house and has just had another lawsuit filed against her by yet another bank so her support would not help.

    So we continue to lie to difficult child and tell her they cannot find her birthmother. I am convinced she could not help difficult child now and may even cause her more problems.

  11. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Oh, boy, you nailed it with the expectations and lack of preparedness. I just assumed that I'd raise this child in a loving home, surrounded by a loving and highly functional extended family and she would be fine. I had no clue (until recently) that nature does indeed trump nurture a huge percentage of the time. It's interesting, because she really knows she was given a great childhood (when she's not inventing stories of abuse, that is!). Last week, she had the occasion to meet with the foster family who had bm with them when she was pregnant and the mom was in the delivery room when daughter was born I've known all along that these people were involved (small town), but they didn't know we'd adopted the baby that was born to their foster child. Long story as to how they found out, but she called me and wanted to see daughter. I had them to dinner and daughter was in the living room with them going through her scrapbooks. I was in the kitchen crying becuase she was narrating "This is when my mom took me to story time at the library and we dressed up for Halloween" "this is when my 2nd grade class came for the end of the year party" "this is the day I got my dog".... She knows, in moments of clarity, that she was given many opportunities.

    I'm so sad that the bm did not fill out the paperwork. That must have been devastating for your daughter. And your words rang true with me. My daughter is doing much of what her biomom did and it's so eerie. I think my daughter is just hardwired for risky behavior and all the nurture in the world cannot change that. I do take some comfort in the possiblity that we may have stalled it somewhat by giving her the childhood we gave her, but now that she's 19 and "out in the world", she's drawing on nature while nurture is thrown out the window.
  12. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    JJJ - I didn't mean to imply that it was the fact of adoption that caused the statistic, just that it is startling that so many adopted kids need these kind of services. The reasons for the statistic could be many, including the issues that lead to adoption as you describe, as well as adoptive parents are often better off financially and so seek those services earlier etc. I do think for a kid who is already not real resiliant already that adoption issues are just one more thing they have to deal with. However there are many many many adopted kids who do great and do not have these kind of problems.

    Dash - I have felt for a long time that my sons issues, especially with impuslivity etc. are his hard wiring. Definitely his nature. However I have also felt that we have been a protective factor for him too. I just can't imagine what would have happened to him if he had ended up in the foster care system. I think it would have been catastrophic and there is a good chance he would be dead by now. He just is not resiliant and I do think it was our love and support that has kept him going until the age of 19. Now of course he is an adult and it is up to him. I do think our love and the values we taught him will help him navigate the world as long as he is sober. If he is using all that goes out the window. So I do think our love that we give our children give them some real tools to work with, even if for a period they totally ignore them, however it does not mean they will never go back to the core values they grew up with.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Sometimes the kids just need to "know." They need to know who they look like, why they are good at this and that, etc. My level-headed f ourteen year old told me, when she was in a very calm mood, that being adopted in a special need and all adopted kids are special needs kids. I respect that. She is probably my most stable kid.

    My youngest adopted daughter was upset about her birthparents a few years ago so I just got back in touch with both sides. The birthmother is married to my daughter's half brother's father (I hope you could follow She married him after we had adopted our daughter, whom I call Jumper. Her hub isn't cool with her talking or writing to Jumper...they have three kids together and he gave up kids from another relationship as well. So we wrote on the sneak for a while and Jumper got to see all our of correspondence. When she saw the obvious love and respect BM and I have for one another and also BM talking about how she loved Jumper, Jumper was thrilled and all of her problems seem to disappear. The mystery was gone. She saw pictures of BM and all of her half brothers.

    She also got feedback from her boyfriend's family and they sent pictures and really wanted to see her. But boyfriend had been in jail several times for drug use and Jumper didn't want contact with him at all. She did look up his inmate picture (yes, she did)!! And she said she loved him and hoped he would change, but right now she isn't ready to see his family.

    All in all, this child has been an angel since finding out that both sides of her genetic family loved her. I think it's good for the kids and great bonding for the parents and their adopted kids. My oldest daughter expressed interest in finding her birthmother in Korea (she's "iffy" about it...kind of afraid). I encouraged her to do it and I'd help her. But she is 26. It has to be up to her. I think adoptive parents worry about kids searching for nothing. in my opinion it' s good for everyone to know the truth. The child will learn to deal with it if it's not the best.
  14. I understand the desire to know birth parents and the curiosity of investigating family history etc etc etc... I was raised by my own bio-parents and have LOTS of connections with extended family members. I STILL LOVE to meet my own distant relatives etc and gain insight to how much within the family is genetics etc....

    Our adopted kids were adopted out of EXTREME trauma. The eldest of our sibling adoption group, was first placed with us for adoption, then re-united with her birth-father. At age 18 she was murdered during a holiday visit to her (and our adopted kids') bio-mom.

    More than 10 years later the case remains unsolved.

    It appears experts do not consider bio-mom a suspect... but the reality is she has been addicted to a very dangerous lifestyle for a very long time.

    I get how it is natural to be curious and want to pursue roots... I know first hand how it is not always in the best interest of the child.

    We encouraged our kids IF they want to try and make contact it would be wise to wait before opening that door until our youngest had finished high-school. ANNNNDDD proceed with EXTREME caution!!!!

    A former long-term foster parent to the murdered sibling cracked open that door before our preferred time-frame. Our kids Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)-explosion followed shortly afterward.
  15. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    That's a heartbreaking story. Our difficult child's bm is homeless and unemployed and as far as I know still an active alcoholic. It would not be wise for our difficult child to reunite with her.

  16. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    What a tragic story. I cannot imagine...
  17. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure how the registries work and do not have an adopted child. In '69. '70 and '71 I was an approved home placement for pregnant girls in Miami. There were approximately eight who lived in my house and helped with the kids.
    My very, very favorite stayed for almost a year after giving birth. She was a delight. In l978 she called me and wanted to see us and introduce her fiancee. She had registered with every agency providing information so her birth daughter could locate her. It was hugely important to her.

    I don't know if I am right but I think that easy child's who give birth to easy child's probably have a smaller chance of having contact at a later date. Probably the adoptive parents have offered the opportunity but the child didn't feel the need. There is sadness on both sides. I'm sure if contact is ever made I will hear...and I still hope for that call. DDD