Here We Go...


New Member
Just found this community a few days ago. Thank you for all that I have already learned from your generous posts. We are several weeks out from truly being Emeritus with our son who his about to turn 18. I believe that this group is a treasure unearthed because you are already in the phase of the journey we are about to enter. Thank you for being so welcoming.
The saga began when we adopted him internationally at 3. Bonding/attachment work, therapeutic parenting training, multiple hospitalizations, RTCs and currently in foster care through joint managing conservatorship with CPS after he seriously endangered his younger brother. Youngest was a surprise ("Don't you know everyone gets pregnant after they adopt" NO!). Number Two (NT) never should have been in a home with other children, especially younger siblings but we don't regret adopting him. We had times that showed us who is in there and we've done all we could figure out to help that amazing kid to win the battle within. He is loved but considers himself alone in the world.
This week, we had one of the most honest conversations ever with NT. He sees himself as a survivor that belongs on the street. This puts his first run from our home at age 7 into perspective. We have no record of his life before 1.5 years but we suspect he was on the street with someone then. NT is bright and resourceful, has little concept of the impact of his actions on others, is very adept at using a victim narrative and lies to lure people into service. From the onset of puberty he has progressed to what may be considered a sex addiction. There is no evidence yet of substance abuse but we figure it is just a matter of time. As a little one, he would steal candy from anywhere he could to get a sugar high.
He has been out of our home for three years. We have visits and remain involved in his life. The plan for him to do more therapeutic work toward reconciliation with his brothers in order to live at home safely did not take from his side. We've been working on loving detachment for some time but struggle with finding the right balance of detachment. As he prepares to bail on a conventional life we feel absolutely clueless how to be his parents and not his enablers. We have so many questions. I am hoping that you beloved new companions on this crazy ride might offer some wisdom on the following:
  • He has psychiatric issues but none so severe at this point that he could be admitted. He is surprisingly clear in his communication and intentions. His world view is very distorted due to his early trauma but he is able to function, even making decent grades. Is there a different option than just letting him go into the world just like that when he turns 18?
  • We have offered help but he says he wants none. He doesn't hate us (yet) but everybody else is to blame for his pain and suffering. He wants to be alone, truly alone. What do we do, if anything? One thought is to at least get copies of his vital documents to him in a pouch he can wear. What else might be in the category of not helping? Info on public assistance might seem to him like us trying to make him live our way of life but we wonder about that too.
  • He has run from his placement a few of times in the last several months. He has slept in parks and other makeshift places. He views this as a reasonable option so the motivation to work for something better is just "...everybody else's idea of how I should live." Since we are trying to respect his choice without an expectation of hope from a "rock bottom," should we offer him some gear like a flip phone, pack, mylar blanket...etc?
This is just the beginning of our questions. Any insight would be appreciated. We are continually devastated and confused by parenting NT. I left out descriptions of all our pain because I don't have to explain any of that to you. You know first hand.

Thank you for being here,


I wish I had more experience in what you are going thru, it sounds like you will not have much control once he is of age,

I have heard that some families had success with Job Corp, and others did not. Do you think it is something he might be willing to look in to? Newksm


Hi LoveTempered and welcome. I have never heard a story on this forum that is more like my own than yours. Son adopted at same age, trauma, lots of behavorial problems in school, all kinds of counseling/therapy. Only we are now three years past our son’s longing to leave us at age 18. He too, thought living on the streets was kind of an experience that he needed to have and thought little about how totally unprepared he would be for living on his own in any sense, let alone being homeless. He pretty much romanticized the idea.

Once he turned 18, he felt like he was an adult and could do whatever he wanted, so he left. He was still in school and thankfully, the school stepped in and helped get him through the last half of his senior year and graduate. I told him he could not come back home if he left and we have stuck to it. (Many, many bad experiences in the home….threats, police called, doors, walls smashed etc.) We didn’t want to live that way anymore. That was the definition of tough love and boy was it hard. I cried for months knowing that he lacked any skill to survive in the world but there was really nothing I could do but watch and wait for the other shoe(s) to drop. I wish I had known about this forum then, but unfortunately I didn’t and I spent months being just devastated.

My son had a little exposure to some drugs in school but after he left home he pretty much stayed high for the next three years. He managed to get kicked out of any living situation that could have benefited him mainly for not following the rules. He failed two treatment programs. We have kept a relationship in spite of all this. He knows we love him and he loves us and willingly shows it. But he says he has always felt different and sort of alone in the world.

Fast forward to today. He committed a non-violent crime and has been in jail in another state for four months. He is clear-headed for the first time in three years since he has been without drugs there. It has been a real eye-opening experience for him. He hates it and is frightened of what could happen there. He also realizes that while he has been on a three year high breaking rules and doing whatever, his friends have grown up, gotten good jobs and are maturing into productive young adults. They are passing him by.

He is at the point now (finally!) where he wants more for his life. It has been a very long and trying three years but some maturity has finally kicked in. He now knows homelessness is no longer an option and will only keep him in a cycle of poverty, drug abuse and possibly more trouble with the law. I wish it didn’t take jail to get him to figure this out but people have different rock bottoms, I guess.

I cannot tell you how to help your son as far as what to purchase or not purchase for him when he becomes homeless because I think that is a personal choice and sometimes you need to do for them what brings you comfort but without enabling them. In my case, I would drop off food for my son occasionally, or take him out and buy him a meal. One of our members, JMom, bought her homeless son a tent. My strongest advice would be not to make it too easy on him because he has made a very hard (and bad) choice and he needs to feel it. That is the hardest part. Letting them feel the result of their poor choices and if necessary as a lesson, fail.

I feel for you so much, because he is still young and immature, probably fantasizing how great this homeless and free life will be when we all know how utterly ridiculous that is. And he will have to learn the hard way as so many of these difficult kids do. I would keep the lines of communication open if you can, and let him know he is loved. But keep your boundaries as you have done already and work hard not to enable him.

Keep posting here and keep us updated. It helps. The next few years may be real difficult depending on the choices your son makes. But it is possible to come out the other side, possibly with some strong lessons learned. I think he will have to grow up some before that is possible, though.

And my son is just beginning his ascent into maturity. He could stumble, of course. But what I always tell him is that as long as he is trying to help himself, if I am able, I’ll help him. (Help, not enable—always a fine line)

Be sure to take good care of yourself during this time because it’s so easy to let these kids dominate our thoughts and keep us in a depressed or anxious state. There are lots of ideas on this board for self care.

Best wishes to you.


by the way…my son was given probation recently and will be entering treatment again only this time he really wants it. Being without drugs for four months has really opened his eyes. The fog of drugs is gone and there is some clarity in his thinking. It is encouraging to hear him talking about his future— a future he couldn’t see when he was 18 because the pull of his fantasy life of independence was too strong.


Well-Known Member
Hi. I am so very sorry for your pain. We too adopted from abroad and our daughter feels similar to your son. She however sees herself as more a victim than survivor. She became abusive to all of us.

My daughter never did benefit from all we did for her nor did she ever feel a part of our family, which includes two younger siblings, our biological children. Kay is very different from the rest of us. Heredity really overcame nurture here. We are quiet, non confrontational and bookish. She is VERY loud and combative and flamboyant and not one for school. She has a musical gift, which she won't use. None of the rest of us have music in our bones, and Kay could have done something wonderful with her gift. But she didn't. Her beautiful voice is now ruined from smoking.

It is interesting that so many parents who come here have adopted adult children. It's a disproportionate amount. And most are now homeless and unwilling to follow societal rules. Drugs are big with them too. Don't know if it's part of attachment disorders or what. I was told by a therapist who specialized in adoption that a huge amount of adopted children have attachment disorders. Kay certainly does.

My daughter is homeless now. She has estranged us because we closed The Bank of Mom and Dad. It is actually more peaceful now. She is far away from us by her choice. She doesn't contact anyone even though her sister has custody of her son. She left him behind and never checks up on him anymore. My other daughter wants to adopt him.

I hope your story is more successful than ours. I wish you love and send hugs and blessings. I do not believe we would have adopted had we seen how this had turned out.

good vibes

New Member
It's a devastating situation. You posed a couple of questions, here's some thoughts. Although an 18 year old today seems very young, you really can't stop your son from making his choices. In fact, as you've discovered, you really can't stop him now, but obtaining the legal age of 'adulthood' provides him official sanction. It's hard to let go, but it sounds like he's made his intentions clear. It may well end badly, but it also might be a rite of passage he needs to undertake. As Nandina indicates, there is often a time when a young person wakes and decides it is time to grow up. For some, that's a natural progression into maturity. Others need to complete difficult rites of passage before progressing to full adulthood.

So, what can you do? You clearly want to keep the communication open and that might be key. IF he'll accept it, a flip phone with a pre-paid plan would provide him that lifeline. If he's agreeable, the camping supplies also seem like a good idea. You've clearly put thought into it and you've come up with a contingency plan - equip him as well as you can and let him know you're there when he wants to talk.


Well-Known Member
Hi again. After rereading your story....I wonder how much you know about your son's birthparents. Do you know if BM drank during her pregnancy? This is common in Russian adoption...fetal alcohol spectrum. If you have some history (we do not) often we can figure out some of the "whys" and have a better idea how to handle our child and our own deep emotions when our beloved child acts strangely. I am starting to read up on fetal alcohol spectrum because I want to understand what may have caused Kay to be seemingly unable to learn from her mistakes. I don't feel it's 100% willful bad choices. She is extremely impulsive and seems unable to follow normal rules. Not won't. Can't. This is consistent with being exposed to alcohol in utero. But we will never know. And it is also consistent with other things....poor attachment being a biggie too (tired sigh,). We loved her and still do in a special way. My two other children tell me they used to think she was the favorite because we were so focused on her. Please make sure you make time for your other is easy to let the troubled one suck all the oxygen out of our worlds. Most of all, be kind to yourself. You matter!

Sending every single blessing in my heart and soul. Hoping your son benefits from all the love you show him ❤


New Member
Thank you everyone for your wisdom! It has been very helpful. As for details on bio family, we have none. We believe he has some fetal alcohol effects but he is not a case of full on syndrome, as far as MDs can tell.
We have a little more time to work with him on options and then we’ll have to let go. We will let you know how it goes. Blessings to all.


Well-Known Member
Dear Love Tempered

I am only just now seeing your post. There are a number of similarities in our stories. I will just tell you what comes to mind. First, the flip phone and mylar blanket would just be symbolic anyway. He would lose them or they would be stolen. But your son sounds very bright and resourceful. I have no doubt that he has the street smarts and resiliency to make it out there.

This is only the prelude or preface of his story, which I believe will evolve as he changes in response to his environment and maturation. I do not think he will necessary hold to his decision to live feral and marginally although it seems he is dead set to do it now. He needs to work something out. Something about his beginnings, his origins, his worth. My own son has been doing this for the last 10 years. He has changed. Not in the ways I would have wanted, but I am seeing I do not get a vote.

My own son has been off and on homeless, developed a drug problem and is mentally ill. It pained me so much that he would replicate the life of his birth parents, but reading your story, I recognize the pattern.

I think what I would do differently than I did 10 years ago, is individuate. I would not take it all so personally. I would see I have no control and I would also see more clearly that it is not my story, nor my responsibility, to the same degree that I felt it all to be. So much pain and suffering on my part and his, did not help at all. Reading your post, I believe you are in a good place, realistic and loving. I would only encourage you to have lots of hope.

I am reading between the lines of what you write and I feel such capacity in your son, and so much love on your part and his. I am glad you found us.


Well-Known Member
Hello. And welcome. I recall when I first came here especially , the comfort , help and camaraderie was extra special. It still is wonderful.

Our adopted daughter is in her early thirties now. What a whirlwind experience. I had ZERO idea that I had put myself and the rest of my family in some kind of ultra high risk situation.

….continuing (having computer issues)


Well-Known Member
Continued …No matter what we just didn’t seem to help her or go right. My friend with an adopted daughter called her daughter a “bottomless” pit. Mine ….basically the same.

Since my health has always been basically so-so, I could not cope with all her needs and work full time and help her too. So, I worked PT and gave up a lot.

But I spent a lot of time with her helping her through trials, getting doctors and tutors.

She was argumentative, moody, at times violent, disrespectful, uncaring , ungrateful, stressful (that is a huge understatement) and caused collateral damage left and right.

She has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and got on disability. I believe she has other mental health issues too. Maybe even Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE).

Recently she did something so egregious to our family and shows no remorse. She seems to be making her way to a beloved trailer.

Our engagement with her is now limited to her cell phone and some medical help. VERY limited.

But getting her on disability was a good move. She can’t work plain and simple. She is too mentally unwell.

At this time there is no evidence of drug abuse either…but?

So…if at all possible this might be something to consider. (Disability)

Take care of yourself and if you are married..your relationship. This is urgent.

I don’t know what to give him if he literally chooses to be homeless. Perhaps a jacket? Yes, information on public assistance is not a bad idea. Perhaps an inexpensive cell phone if he doesn’t have one already.

What a painful ordeal we have all been through. It’s not your fault. Make time for yourself and other family members. Try not to take this personally. I’ll never understand it all either. I know I tried with all my heart to help help and help some more. It made little to no difference. Life moves on. It is good. This is hard…but life is still good.

Sending good thoughts and hugs.


Well-Known Member
*wanted to mention that our daughter , similar to your son and similar to others here..maybe especially adopted adult kids (I’m not sure) seems to feel being in low cost housing, or on the streets is cool or maybe even her destiny. Nothing wrong with low cost housing, but why would someone aim for this and not hope for a little better if do-able? And why in the world would anyone want to be homeless? It’s a strange way to look at things when you’ve been raised in a loving family that has provided fir your needs and is willing to help you and of course hopes for the best for you. It’s very sad.


Well-Known Member
Nomad, great point. Kay didn't really WANT to be homeless. She lived in the house we bought her then the mobile home we bought and the apartments we paid for. But she continuously did behaviors that guaranteed she would get kicked out. We finally stopped buying her time off the street, since she didn't seem to care about doing the little you had to do to stay inside (like not take drugs, not fight loudly with her husband, and not play music and the TV way loud.

You can't help anyone who won't follow rules. And Kay sure can't stay with us....she gets violent. And she won't get help.

Seems like these adopted adult kids had every opportunity to do well and to get help....but they don't. It has been such a heartbreak. In our case, we would not have done it if we could have seen the future.


New Member
UPDATE: Our son turns 18 on Wednesday. After several runs from his placement over this school year, he agreed to enter a program in another town about 4hrs away. I am holding my breath The program director believes he will graduate from high school next month, on time. They will also work with him on transition to independence. Not counting my chickens by any means because, all know the drill. We are optimistic because graduation may come before the honeymoon is over at the new location. For this reason, we are hopeful. Over here praying for one more day and then another and another... Thanks for the support!


LoveTempered that is great news! With the kids we have been blessed with (wink-wink) we need to look at every little movement toward adulthood and independence, or responsibility as a great big deal, in my opinion. Much more so than any other parent out there who thinks it’s just normal that their kid graduates, gets a job or starts to mature, right?

I hope your son continues to progress and you will get all those good days you’ve been praying for. We are always here for you and hope you’ll continue to update us. Many blessings to you and your family.