Son calls tonight from Residential Treatment Center (RTC) after 3 months of "not wanting to be in this family"


16 yr old Difficult Child has been in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for 3 1/2 years now due to out-of-control behavior. 3 months ago wrote a "thoughtful" letter letting me know that he does not want to be my son anymore, that I am not the Mom for him, doesn't want me to tell him "I love you," isn't going to be part of the family anymore . . .

He hasn't spoken to me since he wrote that letter. Also has not acknowledged me/pretended to ignore me the several times I have been in meetings the past few months, with him & Probation Officer & in his criminal court hearings.

Thanks to this list, I have been able to keep some perspective on this.

Over the past year, I have been able to recognize that he has been in a cycle with me where he will participate in a relationship with me, attend family therapy, come home for weekend visits, etc. Then after some big event that goes pretty well (camping trip, birthday, Christmas) he will totally turn on me, refuses to attend family therapy, curses at me when we are in a meeting, say at school or with Probation Officer.

Since his letter 3 months ago, I have felt surprisingly relieved that I do not have to participate in this unhealthy pattern anymore.

Tonight, out of the blue, he called to "check in." Chatted about school & events happening in his birth family. I tried to stay neutral. He asked if he could have an "Incentive Program" between me & him. Which usually means at his Residential Treatment Center (RTC) that he earns or gets a reward for behaving in a way that most people would consider normal. I didn't even want to go there and brushed past his question.

I feel like I didn't honestly communicate with him, but that I am done being Sugar Mom, who rewards him with "prizes" in order for him to act normally in our relationship.

Do any of you have any hints of how to discuss this? In a way that would be more neutral than pushing him away?


Well-Known Member
How old was he when you adopted him? Adopted mom of three here.
My experiences in older child adoption is that they often don't attach well especially if they still have northeastern memories. We adopted a six year old from another country who never considered himself our son and he left with encouragement from his wife. My young adopters (infants) bonded well. It is hard to miss those early years and have them still bond to us, but it certainly is not your fault nor is it uncommon.


Well-Known Member
Oh.yeah. duh on me.
Discuss it with good neutral psychologists who understand attachment in adopted children. Make sure they have worked with many adopted kids or they are unlikely to get it.


one day at a time
4Tall, bless you for keeping on.

I don't have experience with this, or great words here, but please know you are welcome here.

I do know this: Teenagers do I say this...incredible people. What was God thinking? (lol).
The things my son has said to me over these past years and the ways he has acted defy any tiny bit of logic.

We are here for you. How are you handling all of this? We talk a lot about self-care here. I hope you are practicing that daily.

Warm hugs.


Well-Known Member
Hi 4Tall,

Thinking about you this morning. I hope you stay close to the board and report back often - including stories about the kind things you are doing for yourself every day.

I do not have any wisdom about your situation. Sounds like you and your son have been through so much. Perhaps, you staying more neutral will be helpful to both of you?...thinking, if he thinks he cannot push your buttons any more?