Introducing Fred

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by danablue, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. danablue

    danablue Guest

    Hi, I'm new here. I've spent the past couple of weeks reading hundreds of pages here, trying to get some insight on what to do with my oldest son, "Fred."

    Let me describe him. He is turning 14 next month. We adopted him at 4 months. He is just under 6' tall and about 180 lbs. He is brilliant, but lazy and defiant -- so he barely got out of the 7th grade, and 8th grade isn't looking too much better. He can be charming and funny, and he's a very good basketball player. He has an engineer's mind: he can see the whole picture and solve the problem, whether it's knowing exactly who to throw to on the basketball court, solving math equations in his head, or navigating our way back home while I'm driving. Every teacher he's had since kindergarten has suggested that he probably is a genius.

    But. He lies all the time. He steals from anyone and everyone, constantly. He has used my credit card on the internet without any sort of remorse and takes money from my purse. He is addicted to porn (so we have to be super careful with parental controls) and has acted out on it once. He is disrespectful to his teachers and disruptive in school. He is beyond disrespectful with me, as in, I don't have to do anything you say. Part of this is sexism; he isn't nearly as defiant with men as he is with women. Unfortunately, because of his size, he comes across as very intimidating. He toes the line with his dad, mostly because we all understand that Dad will, in fact, knock him out if pushed too far. He cannot keep many friends because eventually he pushes them too far or steals (PSPs, cell phones, etc.) from them. He tries to be the class clown for attention, but doesn't know when to stop.

    It's not the end of September, and he's already been suspended from school once for lying and disrespect and lack of integrity, and was kicked off the bus for a week. He is not allowed to be in the school property without supervision because of the stealing. We had a long talk with his assistant principal yesterday, and I am so depressed at this monster we're raising.

    For her part, the asst principal doesn't think that Fred needs to be medicated (her point of view is guided by her years working in the DYS and DSS setting, and her opinion that black boys are too readily medicated). She did support the idea of an outside neuropsychologist exam, especially after we told her what little we know about his bio mom (complete lack of prenatal care; probably drug or alcohol involvement; three or four older siblings with ADD/ADHD).

    Me, I'm torn between finally getting on board with whatever medication anyone wants to suggest, and thinking that maybe he's just a bad person. I know that's a horrible thing to say, but there it is. I'm just so tired -- so freaking TIRED -- of being disappointed.

    I want to be able to trust him. I want him to focus on his education because I do believe he has the intelligence to be a rocket scientist. I want him to get to be an adult without involvement in the crimnal justice system (that's looking more and more unlikely). I want to stop apologizing for him. I want to stop feeling like the world's worst parent.

    We're trying to feel our way through next steps: counsellor, therapist, psychologist; psychiatrist. Any suggestions you all have will be greatly appreciated.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi. Welcome to the board, but sorry you have to be here.
    It sounds like this child has never been officially evaualted. I've adopted four kids (two asian and two black) and I evaluated all of them, even the PCs, because I wanted to see if anything was up. With my now seventeen year old, he had been exposed to drugs/alcohol and we got him at two and KNEW something was up so we started the path of getting help right away. I would not NOT not (can't stress this enough) try to diagnose a complicated, adopted kid myself (sounds like more than ODD or ADHD to me and could be partly drugs or partly genetic or VERY genetic).Has his IQ ever been tested? Even if he's a genius something isn't right and in my opinion a neuropsychologist evaluation would be a great idea (albeit a bit late in the game, but better than nothing). Then after the neuropsychologist evaluation I'd see a psychiatrist for medications. No educator on earth has the aptitude or training to tell you how to treat your son's behavioral disorders. That is not an educator's field and I get angry when they try to diagnose or tell us what to do with our kids...they can't. As for too many black kids being medicated...that could be so, but maybe Fred is one who really needs it. L., my own son who is African-American, was on medications for a while.

    I know how difficult it is when a kid just puzzles you. Did you adopt him out of foster care? Anyway, good luck and in my opinion the best thing you can do is start evaluating him, not just for IQ but for psychiatric and neurological problems too. NeuroPsychs can be found at university clinics and are very thorough. You also want to make sure that Fred isn't abusing recreational drugs. If his birthparents have, it is genetically very bad for him to do it at all...he is more apt to become addicted (or so we've been told_). Good luck!
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I wouldn't take medication advice from a school administrator. I would definitely get a complete evaluation. I also have 4 adopted children (also all black).

    If your son can be helped by medication, wouldn't you want to know???
  4. danablue

    danablue Guest

    Thanks for being willing to discuss. He's been in therapy a couple of times, and we've consulted with his pedi (you know the drill: fill out this form and have his teachers fill out one). The first guy said, he's too young to diagnose (he was maybe 7). The next lady talked, talked, talked -- and he manipulated her like salt water taffy. Oh, poor thing. She was going to set up a neuropsychologist for him a little over a year ago -- but she died suddenly. The pedi says, hmmm, he's not so far out of the box that he screams "disorder." And to be fair, he does have periods of time when he's on the high side of normal. And that tends to indicate to me and his dad and everyone else that it's controllable, that this is adolescence. And then he goes off the rails again.

    I don't want to medicate adolescence, but at the same time, I don't want to punish stuff he can't control. I'm stuck. And I haven't been impressed so far with the professionals.
  5. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Hi danablue, sounds like your son is no joy to live with.
    A thorough evaluation by a liscensed clinical psychologist would be my first step. I agree that the school adm. isn't qualified to suggest or not suggest medications. This is not her specialty. A psychiatrist who specializes in adolescent psychiatry would also be part of the evaluation process if it were me.
    I'm not hearing symptoms that can be treated with medications.
    He seems to need a more structured environment in which to spend his adolescent years. Have you thought about an alternative school placement? It's not cheap but it may be something to keep in the back of your mind.
    Tell us more about him. When did you see his challenging behavior begin?
    What have you tried so far?
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Just kidding. We really are totally colour-blind here.

    My kids aren't black, by the way. They're various shades of pink and brown.

    Seriously though, if a kid could benefit from medications, then it's worth a try. However, given his propensity for stealing, I would guard the medication supply carefully, keep it locked up and only dole out the pills as needed. make sure he takes them. But first make sure this is something where medications are appropriate. Even where medications ARE appropriate, they are not a cure.

    The respect issue - where did that come from? Why does he disrespect you? If his father respects you, then so should the child, unless he is already hanging around with a very disrespectful bunch.

    Sorry about the cancer diagnosis. I've just had the same fun and games myself, I started the year in perfect health (so I thought). Had a routine mammogram in early Feb, got a callback within days, was in surgery having invasive cancer removed on 26 Feb. I've just done the radiation treatment (no chemo needed, they got it all and it wasn't big) and have just had the six month post surgery check-up with flying colours.

    The cancer diagnosis is going to complicate his respect issues and really, you need to get this sorted fast. Find out where it comes from and work on it. With dad's help.

  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I, too, have more questions. What was he like when he was little. How much of this is new behavior? How much of it was present before but it getting out of control because he's a teen?
    Funny/weird about how the asst princ. said black kids are too readily medicated. He's a teenager, not a toddler. I've had the opposite experience--people saying he should be medicated when he was little, and we fought against it.
    Definitely, get a thorough workup and psychiatric evaluation. for him.
  8. danablue

    danablue Guest

    Fred has always been high energy. We have likened him to an engine that revs at high rpms. Everyone else is in 2nd gear, while he's in fourth. In elementary school, things like staying in his seat were a constant problem, but, depending on the teacher's style, could be handled. And then he'd get into a fight and get suspended. He read early and, as I said, can do math in his head, so many of his behavioral issues were chalked up to being bored in class. We've done the behavior charts and books, and his teachers have his dad and me on speed dial it seems.

    The disrespect is fairly new, within the last year or so. Essentially, I don't have to do what you say because you're not Dad. And when Dad agrees with me (which is most of the time, although we always present a united front), he complains that I'm "overruling" Dad. It's not a matter AT ALL of Rev not respecting me -- these children have never seen us argue, let alone disrespect each other. We have a very supportive family -- both sides -- which makes Fred's behavior all the more puzzling.

    He'll start high school next year, and unless he gets his act together, he won't have the letters of rec to get him into a charter school. He's taking the exam for private schools in November, but, honestly, he's too distractable to be a good test-taker, so I'm not holding my breath. When he wants to concentrate on something, he can; when he doesn't, he won't. Even so, that kind of academically rigorous environment is probably not a good fit. I have been looking at a therapeutic high school, but I don't know yet what it costs.

    My question is, do I go for a psychiatrist or psychologist? We've already tried a couple "counselors" and a therapist. Waste of time.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    At some level this needs to be sorted out, you all as a unit. You could get a professional, you could simply have a family meeting and try to work out where it's coming from (at the meeting, do not 'bite' when he is disrespectful, instead focus on the main issue and do not let him deflect you). Or you could get a friend you trust, a church elder or similar person, perhaps someone Fred respects as impartial but also someone you and Rev respect, to referee. You need conflict resolution and a chance for Fred to feel heard, as well as a chance for Fred to hear what you and Rev both need to make clear.

    Something has got up Fred's nose and you need to find out what, and why, as a priority.

    When I desperately needed help and we needed family counselling (back when difficult child 3 was only a toddler) I found the professionals were not much use at all, although I did what I could with them. The best help came from a church leader who had been delegated to work in the community as a counsellor. The whole community (the village) had people with PTSD, everyone was suffering and this counsellor came in daily for free to see people as needed. He didn't fix things for us; he just got us to a point where we could take it form there. He got us started. It was about all he could do, it was like mental meatball surgery, a la M*A*S*H*.

    Sometimes you need to think outside the square.

    Maybe when you are trying to set this up, ask Fred whose opinion he would value, as a referee at such a meeting. If Fred begins to object to this, point out that he has clearly staed he has a problem with you, and you want to find out what is upsetting him so you can try to chance what is wrong. If he then tries to backpedal to say, "Nothing is wrong," then you can call him on it. But I think a big part of the problem is likely to be "familiarity breeds contempt" - you, the mother, are closer to him on a daily basis, and we ALL tend to disrespect the familiar, to not value it as much as we should.

    We live in a beautiful place. Our kids, however, never liked living here. It was too far away from their friends. Transport was a problem with the last boat home at sunset. No late night parties. This village is "a hole", they kept complaining.
    Then they left home to study, or just to move away, and now they realise how much they love the place. Their partners want to come visit. Their friends, when they were younger, would visit and exclaim how lucky we are to live here.
    Familiarity breeds contempt. We also tend to take for granted, those things we actually really love, but the things that also make us feel secure. We can take the risk of being rude when we know we will be forgiven for it.

  10. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    danablue, Boston Children's is in your neck of the woods. I would be looking for an adolescent psychiatric evaluation team.
    Are you looking for something for the distractibility? the hyperactivity?
    There is not really anything that would treat oppositional mouthy behavior. Nothing for the lying or the flagrant disobedience.
    I'm not anti medications, believe me. My son has been on medications since he was 6yrs old.
    In terms of schools I was thinking of something on the order of a therapeutic high school program. You live in an area that is a gold mine of therapeutic programs in New England. (at least when we were looking for something to help us when our son was a mass of volatile, adolescent, oppositional adolescence. )
    Therapeutic boarding programs can be a very helpful tool to help adolescents get back on track.
  11. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    I have 2 programs that I looked into for my son, in your area, that I can send you if you would like?
    I can't attest to their results but they had what we were looking for. My son's learning disabilities are too great to be able to
    be mainstreamed, despite his IQ but it may work for your son.
  12. danablue

    danablue Guest

    I would love your input. I'm starting to look at a therapeutic high school in Cambridge but would welcome any other suggestions too. I don't want to send him too far away, or to a boarding school, because I'm concerned about the message that would send, given his current fixation on being adopted (with two younger bio siblings). I mean, how could he not feel that he's being sent away again?

    We originally sought help for the distractability issue (of course thinking ADD or ADHD), and never got a clear yes or no. Always, hmmm, maybe mild, but . . .

    Yesterday, we only had one blow up (no, you may not have more computer time) and I just took myself off to bed. Today, Rev is teaching Fred how to mow the lawn. So far, so good.
  13. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Hi Dana, most of the programs that I know of are boarding. I don't know how they affect adoptive children. That is one issue we didn't have. I know when I sent my difficult child to a boarding school, it was constantly reinforced as a way to help him and not punishment. His behavior was not tolerable in our family and he would get the help he needed that we couldn't seem to give him. He was welcome home any time his behavior no longer posed as a threat to the well being of our family.
    I understand your concern. I am not familiar with Day schools.
    I sent you the programs via Private Message.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010