I’m at a loss

I have a 24 year old son. He has been through a lot and i’m at a loss and not sure what to do anymore.

Where to start...bare with me on the cycle that leads up to now. And time frame might be off here and there by couple years but hopefully you can see some pattern.

Normal early childhood, exceeded in head start and kindergarten but while in 1st grade they said he had ADHD and he needed to be held back and repeat 1st grade which we did. Started him on ADHD medication (not sure but believe Concerta).
This medication made him a zombie and daze.

He was to me a typical boy at the age, yeah maybe hyper, etc.

Anyways when he was about 7-8 I left his mother and eventually divorced her in 2003. I ensured I got my kids (3 total including him two daughters and him) every other weekend if not every other weekend.

His mother than moved like 4-5 times that following year and each time the kids had to start a different school.

Then his mother started dating a guy and over the months or within 1st year him and my son didn’t get along. He came home from school one day and his mom had all his belongings boxed up on front porch and he asked “Mom what’s all this on the porch”? His mother told him that is all your stuff you no longer can stay here anymore.

I wasn’t setup yet to take him in to live with me so he went and lived with his moms mom and dad (his grandma and grandpa who was an alcoholic).

I then started dating a lady and started living with her. She had one son.

Probably after two years he started living with me and my girlfriend when he was in 6-7th grade. It was a struggle, it would take hours to get him to focus and get his homework done. I was always being called to school for disruptive behavior. Then girlfriend and son went to live in basement to isolate themselves from us. My son said to me “Dad how come they don’t want me here”
I said son it’s not you, they don’t want me here either so we left, I went to live in my moms basement and and he went back to his grandmas, because his school was now in another county and I couldn’t get him there. And there were no good schools around my mom that I felt comfortable enough putting him in that had the special learning program (can’t remember what they call this program in school).

Then once I got an apartment I had him comeback and live with me that summer (6 months later) and enrolled him the best school in area (now 8th grade I believe). But I was working afternoons and nights. It was hard for me to give him the time and attention he needed to succeed. He wasn’t doing his home work and I couldn’t afford a tutor, even though he was getting extra help at school, and when he did the school work he was getting passing grades, it was just when he turned in homework he didn’t do or lie to me and say he didn’t have any and leave his homework at school. And again I was getting called into school for his behaviors and grades.

He couldn’t get himself up for school, I had to leave work early to ensure he was awake. Sometimes I couldn’t make it home and he would miss his buss or he would still be asleep when I got home, Or when I called him he said he was awake but would go back to sleep.

So sometime during school year he wanted to go back to live with his grandma because he was afraid he wouldn’t pass 8th grade and wouldn’t make it in to highscool, so he went back to live with his grandma (which is a very rural country town in KY where nearest Walmart was hour a way and they were about 5-10 miles from any business/restaurants, etc.

So he made it through 8th grade and started freshman HS. He was doing ok somewhat passing when he wanted to come back and live with me over Christmas break. I enrolled him in private all boy HS because other alternative was probably worse public school in city and he would probably get killed. Again doing ok when he actually did the work (but now wondering if he just wasn’t copying someone else’s work). But at spring break he told me dad “since when did they start putting letters in with #’s, (algebra class I.E 2x + 3y = 20). This is when I realized that by going to so many different schools that he just got lost In the transition, as each school didn’t pick up where last school was at I.E school A might be teaching A,B,C, and D but his new school was at L,M,N,O, and P so he didn’t know there was an E, F,G,H,I,J, and K).
So at that point I pulled him out of school and we worked on getting his GED which he received at 16/17 years old.

Now during all the times that he lived with me, we have been to numerous therapists and counselors and he’s been on every type of ADHD medication off and on but nothing seemed to help, he either wouldn’t talk with the therapist he would just sit there and say everything is fine or he get mad.

Over theses years he developed anger and anxiety issues. Started hanging with bad people, started doing marijuana, huffing A/C Freon, got caught stealing from Walmart.

So now he’s 16/17 years old. I’m still working swing shifts, (afternoon/nights/weekend). I’ve started dating a lady. So during my free time i’d Either ask hey you want to go over to my girlfriend house with me or I’d say you care if I go over to my girlfriend house tonight and the answer was always naw go ahead. I’d even say if you don’t want me to go I’ll stay here and we could hang out, and he was like no you go ahead. So I did.

Well after two years of this I moved out of house I was renting and got me an apartment in same complex as girlfriend just right above her. So we moved over there. Basically I stayed downstairs with girlfriend and son stayed upstairs with now his older sister (4-5 years older). Son got a job over the summer, I bought him a car and he started dating a girl.

Around Christmas he told me he was going to move in with his girlfriend and her mom, and I said are you sure, because my lease is about to be up and I’m not going to renew my lease and said yeah I’m sure. So I didn’t renew my lease and just lived with my girlfriend. Well within that month him and his girlfriend broke up and since my girlfriend didn’t have room in the apartment he went back to his grandmas.

After the next several months to year he got arrested for paraphernalia, his car engine blew up. I couldn’t afford to pay for his car but paid for his lawyer. He ended up getting probation. Well he couldn’t stay clean during his probation failing drug test and again getting arrested for marijuana. He ended up doing 90 days in jail.

After getting out and running with wrong crowd and being strung out on who knows what drugs, he called me and said he was going to commit suicide. So I drove an 1.5 hours to get him and take him to psychiatric hospital. After waiting about 6-8 hours to see him, he had calmed down and when they asked him about killing himself naw i’m good I was just being stupid. So they released him. As we were driving him back to his grandmas, as we dropped him off he just looked sad and girlfriend was like get him back in truck he can live with us.

He said ok so he came to live with us around Xmas time. (He’s around 20/21 at the time). He ended up getting job, we ended up going to depression group session togethers. He was seeing therapist and psychiatrist, was on medication. Things were looking up even though he was very combative, argumentative, manipulative, had paranoia, staying up all hours of the night and hanging out all the time in the garage, sleeping all day, anger outbreaks. I knew he was up to no good but couldn’t find actual proof, just his behavior. He wouldn’t take his medication regularly. He’s take it regularly for a week then miss couple days, etc.

Till one day he snapped and we got into argument and he said you don’t want me hear I’m leaving, and I said that’s not true I don’t want that attitude here and if you leave that’s your choice. He called someone and got a ride. (Not realizing it was his sister and her boyfriend that came and picked him up and as he was leaving he said I’m going to slit your throat and burn the house down with everyone it.

So when I realized it was his sister who picked him up, I told her he can know longer come back here and live with us know more and if you don’t want him there then take him to a shelter.

He stayed there probably a month until they couldn’t put up with his anger and destructive behavior that his mom took home to rehab place in Florida (Centerstone I believe). He agreed to it at the time.

He stayed there about 90 days and said he learned a lot and was healed and ready to come home. I told him he wasn’t ready and he needed to stay longer but he didn’t listen and took a bus home.

He went back and stayed with his grandma and grandpa and was staying in an RV camper on their property. He seemed happy, but what few and far between job opportunities are out there he couldn’t keep a job. He couldn’t handle the stress of the jobs or being around people caused anxiety and anger so he would lose his jobs. Plus his grandma doesn’t have a vehicle and his grandpa is not a nice person. Their is no cell phone service either.

Then couple months ago, his sister asked him to come live with her this past June/July because her boyfriend was being mentally abusive and she was scared for her and her two children (that’s a whole another story).

He really seemed like he has been trying to get his life back on track he just doesn’t have the tools or know how and know which direction or path to take. He has no vehicle, anxiety, and anger issues, it’s like he is at everyone’s mercy and feels like no one wants him, but he gets mad and believes everyone should respect him and that he is entitled and deserving.

So just yesterday CPS was called on my daughter and they searched the place and found paraphernalia and her and her boyfriend blamed it on my son (even though her boyfriend and her both smoke marijuana) so CPS said my son had to leave or their going to take the children, (my grandchildren). So I’m letting him stay with us as of today but he has already thrown an outrage and been demanding saying he deserves respect.


Well-Known Member
Hi. Sorry you ended up here. This is not a good place to have to be but the people are nice and help.

I read all of your post and my head is swimming. I will post my thoughts and dont take them all that seriously. The end is all up to you and we support your choices.

I do not mean to be harsh when I say this :)

What is done is over but your kids really had NO stability in their lives so they could not settle into one place with one main caregiver and just learn in one school while being kids with long term friends.

You mom, grands your women ex's men, the moves ... They never had one place to call home. And are still moving around to different places with different people and drugs and an abusive SO They are doing what they know.

And it sounds like nobody makes them get careers or full time jobs....do they work? Who pays their bills? Do they have any long term goals? No matter what, it can get better.

My best uneducated guess is to not be so willing to let son move around to your various homes, especially with no full tume job. He in my opinion needs to stop freeloading and pay some rent and help in the house.

People with ADHD and anxiety and dysfunctional childhoods CAN and DO learn to live stable, self sufficient lives, work, take care of themselves or they could end up homeless. Or even in prison.
They need a plan for their lives to aim for. We all do.

In my opinion maybe have Son stay only in one place with rules..... maybe no drugs in your home ever or he must leave, a job, and some at least minimal rent, chores, respect, and no other places to go if he doesnt like the rules. Try to involve the entire group of his rescuers.

He will not grow up if he isnt taught how to grow up. He needs to make stability out of his life and that wont happen if he doesnt stay in one place and be forced yo follow adult rules. If he wont there are shelters. Many of us have gone there.

I dont know what drugs he takes but he could benefit greatly in a long term rehab with rules...more than 90 days. Some of our kids spent a year or so sober in rehab and are now doing gteat. See RN.

But the adult kids were not allowed to come home afterward and not follow societal rules. He is NOT the.boss of all of you. I assume you pay for him. Right?
YOU are in charge.

If he wont adult, many of us have tearfully allowed our kids to live on the streets. Then they grow up. Or not. It is up to them. We cant control another person, even our kid. But we donthave to enable them....do for them what they can do, or learn to do, for themselves.

Rescuing adult kids never works.

I strongly suggest getting a stable family system going. If you cant, you at least can remove yourself as somebody who will jump in to the rescue. They only learn by facing consequences.

in my opinion no more paying fines or lawyers. Dont buy things. A car for what? Make him work to get an old car and sustain it. My kids all did that and they are not perfect but all work hard and pay their bills. And if their cars broke down they fixed it. Their Dad helped if he could. He is a mechanic. But we never paid.

For us we had a rule that if you break the law you are on your own. Worked at least for us.

For your daughter please tell her to leave and go to a shelter for Domestic Violence. Hopefully she will.

Stop the Bank of Dad. Both adult kids you have can apply for SSI and MAY get it , sign up for Medicaid, food cards, Welfare ,Section 8 Housing and other local charities Dont let them mooch off of family or they could be mentally children for life or end up in prison.

They had a hard past.Many people do. They do not all end up helpless or in trouble.

Have you ever read A Child Called it? Its by David Pelzer. Read it. He ended up in the military! And he was a product of the third worst case of child abuse in the state of California.

My autistic son lives on his own too. He works and is happy. If he can do it with serious challenges your kids can too. THEY CAN!

Its if they will.

Some of that depends on if the family allows them to get family help.... money, food, comfort and lodging while they dont learn to be adults. The rest is up to.them. its certainly not too late but you, grandparents, ex, and even sister need to change how you behave toward him. Sister has enough on her own plate.

Nothing ever changes unless we change. And yes it is very hard totsay no. We feel selfish and mean. We all cry when we know they are homeless, if it comes to that. But this just is not working. Also take care of YOU. You matter. You dont need 25 year old temper tantrums and holes in your walls.

Think of how you will change the game for your beloved kids. If you want them to change... You must change how you handle their many crises.

Love and light!
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Well-Known Member
It's troubling that he didn't have algebra until high school. When kids change schools, things like that happen, and it holds them back because the teachers don't always have time to help them get caught up. If a kid doesn't have algebra by grade eight, they are going to get very behind and it will take a lot of effort and intervention to get them caught up. We really prefer them to take algebra by grade seven.

I think he's angry about all the moving around. His anxiety was probably due to the instability. I see kids whose grades drop just because their mom breaks up with a boyfriend. It sounds like he has been through a lot of that.

I don't know what kind of drugs he has used other than pot. Long term residential rehab might help, especially a facility that does dual diagnosis. I would be very worried about letting him in the house, considering the threat he made.


New Member
I have no advice to share. Your story is so similar to mine in many ways. I am on this site for the same reasons you are. I love my child. I know when I have done in the Past but paying all her bills, lawyers, letting her live in my house, all the crazy stuff that went on for so many years did not work. I am following the advice of those who have been here for a long time and I’ve been through these things and have learned from them. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I know how very hard it is.


Well-Known Member
Dear guilt ridden dad

I could be guilt ridden too. I probably am but I suppress it. Which is even worse.

I dragged my son all over the western hemisphere. First for work we lived in 4 places. Then I decided I wanted to be an expat. And we lived in 2 countries and visited 2 more for months at a time. We'd come back and forth to the USA. I was my son's only continuity. He had ADHD too. When he had trouble in school I blamed the school, fought them or yanked him out.

You see. Until I read your post I had not realized I had to blame myself for all this. I thought I was enriching our lives when I was really destabilizing him. I remember one school administrator telling me this. I got mad and blew her off.

The thing is this: what good does it do this guilt? All of us have to start where we are. Today. There is no all good or all bad parent. Or kid. All of us can only vow to and do better day by day.

When our kids get to be the age they are which for most of us is young adult, the power and responsibility is their own. We can love them with all our hearts but our best shot is to insist they take responsibility.

There are many people who do not have the continuity with one parent your son has had, regardless of how you wish you'd done or been more.

But everybody has to step up and deal with where they are. You. Your son. Me. My son. Everybody. Guilt changes nothing.

The operative word is responsibility. What can each of us do today to take responsibility to do the right thing? Today.

Welcome. I hope you stay and post. It helps.


Well-Known Member
Copa....what you did was different in my opinion. You were his only caregiver. Far as I know you didnt have boyfriends and J did not have a lot of caregivers to deal with. Only you. Thats in my opinion different.

I think kids can adapt to moving. Army brats do it all the rime. If the family stays together The kids do have stability. Your son enjoyed those years. He was with you, his mother.

What worries me about this situation was how the siblings were seperated and bounced from mom to grands to dad add a couple of SO's. I know about attachment from my adoption experiences. I learned a lot.

Your son was only with you. That is way different. Kids need somebody to count on, usually mom and dad or one primary parent. J had YOU. Its the passing around that had me thinking instability here.

That does not mean the family cant pull together NOW to help both the son and daughter. But they in my opinion need what they never had before and dont understand....consistency and expectations. The past is the past. The adult kids need expectations made on them and not a bunch of rescuers in my opinion.

Copa I wish I could have traveled with my kids!


Well-Known Member
Swot. I did not have boyfriends when my son was a child. He could depend upon me completely, except for the demands of my profession.

The point I wanted to stress to this dad is that he has to go forward. Falling on his sword only makes things worse. He has to deal with what is and what makes it better.

When your kids were abused by the adopted child you faced it, dealt with it, engaged with every resource you could to help your kids and family and yourselves to mend. And mend, everybody did.

It is not necessarily what happens that is formative, but the response. How you deal with it.

Or course this young man is suffering. Every parent here has suffering kids. Every parent here could have done better. But guilt does nothing except crippling us. We have choices now. Past choices are in the past.


Well-Known Member
Swot. My son looks back at our time traveling as idyllic. And he is trilingual. I love that. Perfectly fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. And English.


Well-Known Member
Copa, I think what you did sounds like so much fun. I would have loved being able to travel with my kids!

I agree that we all need to go forward too. Part of that in my opinion is not letting this young man live here, live there and run away when he stops liking demands made on him or for any reason...so to me, the way I see it, this is sort of a family problem. The young man is still jumping from rescuer to rescuer and being allowed to do it. But it doesnt help him grow up.

But I hope to stress that my opinion could be wrong. We all deal with things our own ways. I am not an expert.

I think you were a great single mom. You were always there for J. Thats in my opinion the best way to parent. But I do think adult kids who had it rougher (and I dont think J had it rough) need to find ways to move on anyway.

David Pelzer of "A Child Called It" is one of my heroes. His mother never fed him, made him drink bleach, made him sleep in the garage when it was cold, had his brothers pick on him, she almost killed him many times, yet he rose above it and I honestly dont know how he didnt end up in prison. Nobody really helped that kid. Yet he goes around helping other kids who ended up being foster kids and claims ti never spank his son. He has three books.

Love and G-d bless.
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