Trying to reach out to estranged grown child?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I adopted a son from Hong Kong, and he never really gave me any trouble, but also seemed detached (probably had some attachment problems...he lived in an orphanage until he was six). He is a brilliant young man, already a millionaire. We were all a close unit (at least I thought we were) until he became EXTREMELY religious and married a woman who is even more religious than him. When I say religious, I the point where he thinks the Bible is the literal word of God and he has gone to Promisekeepers. He thinks divorce is sinful and men are the head of the household (although I can't imagine his wife taking a back seat to him). He pretty much cut off contact with his family. I am wondering if his church told him not to hang around with non-believers, even if they are family? I'm more New Agey than Christian--and the rest of the family is not religious either.
    I would like to try to reach out to him, but I don't know how. I'm not going to share his religious ferver or think like him. I want to know if his church is telling him not to hang with us or what the deal is. He won't talk about it at all. I am really confused. It's been three years since we spoke. It would be nice to establish a relationship with him again even if it doesn't include the rest of the family (they are ticked off at him for his treatment of them and me). Suggestions? Anyone know others who are members of such an extreme church that they are told not to talk to non-believers, even if they aren't in the family? I have to clarify that son thinks Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and anyone in a denominational chruch aren't "real" Christians either. I sort of think there's no hope because none of us are ever going to believe the way he does...he and his wife are like one tight little unit and neither will give us the time of day.
  2. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Active Member

    That's really sad. I have no clue about his religion or any religion that teaches it's followers to behave that way to their family. Does he live close? Could you visit him? Do you have an address? Maybe sending him a card stating that you would like a relationship with him would be the way to go? Maybe he needs to set some type of boundaries to feel comfortable meeting. That sounds odd, but so does not having contact for 3 years and no one knows why. I know this must be painful. I hope you find a solution.
  3. ML

    ML Guest

    I have trouble with people who are that extreme either conservative OR liberal. The judgement factor seems to align with those extremes. But that isn't really what you asked.

    I think I would just put it out there. Ask him to have lunch with you. Keep the conversation light and keep expectations to zero. Sure, you're never going to fit in his world but you are still family. Appeal to that. "I know that you're lifestyle doesn't mesh with ours but we love you and would love to have you in our lives if even for an occasional lunch".

    I can't imagine anyone not wanting you around MWM, you are VERY cool.


  4. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    In your situation I would write a note to him and his wife to tell him that you love them despite having different view points about life but that you will be there when he wants to rekindle a relationship. I would tell him that you want nothing from him but to have a relationship with him even if it's for a cup of coffee once a month or year at the local fast food place. You could also tell him that there can be no talk of religion or politics. Just family members talking of shared memories that are loving and happy or funny.

    No one can make someone do anything. He may or may not want to be part of the family. At some point you may have to accept his thinking for his individuality. He could be lost to you because of a drug user lifestyle. It's the same self destructive isolation.
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I would send a "Thinking of You" or "Missing You" card to start with. Maybe include a very short note about something that happened lately that reminded you of him. Send a few then write a more serious note or call him.
  6. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree with Fran and Andy - you have to move gently and slowly. You cannot force or push.

    More importantly, you need to find a way of not setting yourself up for further heartbreak. Try not to have high expectations of what the outcome or reaction will be to your reaching out to your son. I know in your heart you want a happy response, but I do recall this issue and it seems that he's become very cut off from all that he knew, sort of like a past life. I'm sorry it's been so painful for you. Go ahead and reach out, if that is what your heart is telling you to do. Just remember that you have no control over how he responds, if at all - take care of yourself. Hugs~
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    This probably varies from "church" to church, but I do have a couple of members in my family who have gotten very extreme about their religion. I don't think their church tells them to cut off contact with other members of the family, but I think between some people in the family being tired of hearing religious lectures, and the specific people being offended or thinking they can't tolerate what they perceive as sinning from the rest of us, and the different way of thinking in general, it has left a situation where each has gone their separate ways.

    I'll try to make that easier- 1) these people can't stand to be around others who aren't living as "Christian" as they are 2) If they are around loved ones like that, they feel it is their obligation to try to convert you and get you to "see the light" and 3) it isn't very comfortable for the rest of us to be around them when they are going to be either trying to convert us or fidgeting in their seats trying to tolerate us sinners. This is just the people in my family- your son may or may not be thinking anything like this.

    I agree with the suggestions of sending a card or note.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I can only imagine how much this hurts you. I am sure it may get easier to handle the pain, but the pain must always be there to some degree.

    I would think a short, no pressure card at this time of year might be the way to go. Just a basic "Thinking of you" type card. I would step back from the I Love You type card, simply because he may have trouble with ANY attachment with you and your family. So the lower key the message the better. He simply may have attachment issues tot he point he simply can't connect to you at that level at this point.

    As for his religion or church, it sounds like a cult to me. It has since you first described it a couple of years ago. At least, HE is taking it to the level of cult. The others in the religion may or may not be taking it to that level. There isn't much way to tell unless you actually GO to the church - and that would not be well received probably.

    I am so sorry you are hurting this way.
  9. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    I'm afraid you might be setting yourself up for more pain. Unless you have moved, he knows where you live and how to get in touch with you. I can't see how a small card with a thinking of you message could hurt, maybe he has come to a point where he regrets the cut off and it could be the nudge he needs, but I wouldn't do anything more. I am sorry for the deep pain I know this causes you.
  10. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I am in contact with my Bio-Father after almost no contact in 16 or so years. We had seen each once or twice in between.
    Very little contact before that and a very weird relationship in between.
    I know you have very different story.
    I had a very good reason to not be in contact with my Dad.
    But he has gone through a life change and midlife crisis.
    So about a year and half ago he started contacting me via e-mail. I did not respond at first.

    He kept up. He asked questions, kept writing. Letting me know how sorry he was.
    I finally wrote him back, I was very direct about the rules of our relationship.
    Like I said, I know this is very different.
    But the point is, I never, NEVER thought I would ever talk to my Father again. He lived somewhere in Mexico... He has a terminal disease. He could have been dead for all I knew.

    So now, we are actually becoming friends again. I have seen him 3 times since that e-mail.
    It will never be perfect, but we may be friends. My girls have Grandparents.

    I would send cards or e-mails. Even if you do not get a reply, you never know.
    If this is worth it to you to pursue.
  11. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I remember how much pain you were in and his constant rejection. I'm afraid you're just going to get hurt some more. He does know where you are. He knows how to contact you. He's chosen to not do so. If you really feel you must try again, I would suggest you do no more than write a note letting him know you're thinking of him.

    I wish he truly understood that being a Christian means accepting and not judging. By ignoring you, he is breaking one of the commandments. He is being cruel, definitely not something in the teachings of Christ. I'm not sure how he can claim to be a Christian and behave the way he does, but there's nothing any of us can do about it. I'm so very sorry.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, All. In his mind, he thinks judging is good because The Bible says clearly what is right and wrong and that you should behave that way.
    I'll try writing to him again. He hasn't responded so far (sigh). Yes, he knows how to reach me. He didn't even contact his brother when I left a message on his answering machine that they had a baby. He didn't send a card either.
    He is very active in his church and teaches there. I tried asking the church to intercede, but they didn't seem too friendly...ah, well.
  13. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    my brother joined a religious cult when he was about 23 or 24 and married another cult member and had children with her. My parents had no contact with him for a long time because the cult wouldn't allow it--they took literally the part in the Bible that says something like "hate your mother and father"--I don't remember the literal quote but in context it is really saying that you should love God above all others I think--it wasn't using the word "hate" the way we do now.

    Anyway, after some years (not sure how many) I guess the cult loosened up because he was able to start calling my parents and even visiting (he was living in S. America by now). He and his wife divorced and she left the cult and he remarried and had more kids.

    My mom told me that during that time when there was no contact that she had to come to the realization that she didn't really have her son anymore and I guess she felt like he had died or something. But, he did establish contact again and even though he is still in this cult (he joined in about 1973 or 74) he has mellowed out.

    I'm so sorry for your pain, this must be so hard. It sounds like you just have to wait and see if he will become less rigid in time. I'm sure those 1st 6 yrs in an orphanage really did a number on him.

    Take care,
  14. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    No matter what it is that you try, I feel it would be better if you come to terms with the thought that he might not reply. I know that you are hurting. I don't know if what I do with my own situation like yours is, is right. I remember that you have reached out before and that he never has responded to you in the way that you would like him to.

    I always worried that M and L would push me away so long as I continued to approach them. I made them take a stand against me. For us with M, it only worked out - as little as it has - once he reached out to us. I know that you want there to be Christmas times with him. That may not be what will happen. I also tried the same approach with my family. Minor contacts, cards at holidays. I got responses, but nothing more, and when the time came that I told them I wanted more, I was told I wasn't welcome. It wasn't worth the pain and worry to reach out to them when they never once thought to reach out to me, and in the long run was a waste of time and effort on my part when I could have been enjoying the things that I had.

    Will there come a time that you will wait until he wants contact with you? It has to be 'give and take' for it to work.
  15. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    well as a christian I would say his church should not be telling him not to hang around non believers, if anything I am surprised he's not driving you nuts by witnessing to you 24/7, LOL most new belivers go through that phase of witnessing to anything that moves.

    A note sounds good and maybe a childhood xmas toy or picture to stir up those boyhood memories.
  16. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    My easy child son quickly married a local girl who was syrupy sweet and did "not" connect with any of us. There was no arguing etc. She just acted like an Aspie (something I didn't know about then) and therefore the funloving dynamic of our family was altered. Due to complicated circumstances she was able to bond easy child to her...and discouraged contact with any of us.

    After a year without contact from him I decided to write a letter from my heart in hopes that we could reconnect. His wife did not "like" the letter and three years passed with no contact. I honestly wanted to get violent with her as she had "taken" our kid away. :( THEN, darn it, I had to accept that he was bright, achieving, etc. etc. and HE should be the focus of my angst.

    Very very very slowly we have regained a connect. They came for TDay
    this year and it was genuinely fun....there actually was laughter! ;)

    Obviously I don't have "the answer" but very small unobtrusive bits of contact do sometimes lead to a form of reconciiation. I sent little gifts to the grandchildren, for example. This year the 6'1" easy child Grandson said to me
    when we were briefly alone "I am so sorry that we don't get to spend more time with you....I love the time we share." I almost got teary. It
    was more than I had hoped for. Hang in there. DDD
  17. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    Well I am a 'fundamental Christian'. I believe that the Bible is "the literal word of God". So, by your definition I too am "very religious".

    I can't speak to 'what his church is telling him' because I don't know what church he attends. But, I can tell you that if he is shunning his family in the name of his faith - then he is in error.

    Is he detached because that is his personal choice? Or is he detached because the church is telling him to detach? I don't know that I see the distinction. Your son is still making his choice to pull away.

    If I remember correctly, you have tried to reach out to him previously and he has not responded. I think I would take this cue, and respect his wishes to not be involved at this point. Hopefully, at some point, he comes to his senses and wants to be a part of your family again. Until then, I think that repeatedly reaching out to him is not respecting his wishes. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh - but that's the way I see it.

    Hugs to your hurting heart!!
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi again. Naw, it doesn't sound harsh. It's what I have to do. I guess I'll keep on doing what I've been doing--sending cards and not pushing matters--always telling him that I love him. If he decides to get in touch one day, it's up to him. Thanks for the kind words and suggestions.