Friday, August 30, 2013

Predictable Pain

Adopting a baby changes things, even though infants as well can be traumatized, of course, and too often they are horribly emotionally traumatized via many caretakers, raising a baby from birth allows you to provide stability and security, to meet their every need and thus build their self-confidence, amongst other positive character development that will then be assured. It's a blessing when that happens.

But the vast majority of children going through foster care are unbelievably severely traumatized - even those with high intelligence cannot comprehend the scope, depth and breadth of their own trauma.  Heck, I can hardly wrap my overly educated head around it all, no wonder they generally act out their intense and unremitting furious anger.

In their early teens, when hormones kick in, it's not unusual at all for the rule infractions to grow alarmingly high, for the rebelliousness to be ridiculously amped up, often there is DJJ involvement, police activity, probation and court dates.

Around age 16 or 17, when they realize they'll likely be leaving like their other peers who move on during life's usual currents, they sadly and very often leave earlier just to couch surf, wrongly believing that their certainly justified inner anger will guide them through all the pitfalls of late adolescence.

The Real World - with no Mom Rules - seems oh so much more appealing than having to make their beds, say Grace at the table, attend church, and go to school every single morning.

But they predictably will pick a huge fight over nothing that the parent never sees coming, but in which said parent is forced to respond either for their own safety, or for that of the others, and the kid interprets it all as a Reason To Leave Mad.  This is Adoption 101, and it is as routine as the sun setting.

"You're gonna leave me like my birth mom did," unsaid usually - as they then leave me, or you,  standing there open mouthed and slack jawed in shock.

"That was dumb of me," they'll generally tell me six months later.  But by then they've burned an impressive number of bridges, they've cost themselves so dang much.

When one has raised 39 kids, surely one is then at liberty to report that which she's observed with almost comical regularity, right?  If I didn't snicker at the routine, that doesn't need to happen, I'd surely just cry and grieve.

Again, it is a very rare once traumatized child that leaves home properly after age 18 for college or an apartment.  10% is a high estimate.  Yep, that means 90% will break your heart into smithereens and harm themselves all too often in the process, even with copious amounts of therapy available.

Grandma, who has had a ringside seat, as had Dr. Mandy, have both expressed their surprise and disappointment that always occurs.  "Why don't they ever learn from seeing other kids make this same mistake?" Grandma has often asked me, even after observing, I dunno,  everything.

In one large sibling group, the two oldest left properly a good bit way after age 18, while their more troubled  younger siblings individually and predictably chose to leave angrily at various points and go live in a trashy trailer park with thugs and thuggettes.  Their two younger siblings still here, at age 16 and almost 18, thankfully not showing signs of following their middle siblings.  But I've learned to not hold my breath.

For a parent, it really gets old.  Especially when this parent knows what's likely gonna happen.  And the lies that get then told about me to justify their own immature and ridiculous life choices?  Oh my.  Yes, it hurts.

"You never ever did anything for me anyway!"  they'll scream irrationally.

I know how much I have sacrificed in order to give them a decent life in a home, amongst a family with a pool, church, school, structure, stability, beach vacations, and a supportive community.  I know that I have made super human efforts 24-7 for decades.  Good thing that I know this, because if I listened to their irrational screams, I'd crumble within and be unable to continue.  I'd be emotionally paralyzed by the lies, as it is, I make no claims anymore to normalness, instead I gaze with envy at non-trauma humans.

The trauma drama, the terribly traumatized children? They're literally not mad at me, they're mad at themselves for their own dumb decisions, they're severely and irrationally mad at their birth parents for abandoning them, and they always then take it out on the adoptive parent.

Read that again, Mamas.

They always take it out on the adoptive parents.  You're just a physical or emotional punching bag.  Period.   You've proven that you won't leave, you've proven that you are a safe person for them, so conversely you must pay.  That's just the way it is.

Don't waste your breath listing all that you believe you have done for them.  They can't/won't hear it, nor is it even comprehensible for them.  In their minds, in their immense inner painful turmoil none of it mattered, simply because you did what their birth mom did not do, and that pisses them off hugely.  So much so that I nearly used an exclamation mark at the end of that sentence, but I find that excessive use of exclamation marks is emotionally exhausting to one's readers that need all their energy to deal with what they are enduring.

Honey, I get it, I truly do and I feel your pain.

5 comments:

Maureen said...

My friend sent me this link. This is exactly what we are going through with our oldest right now. Turned eighteen and the next day he left. I am so glad to have read this. Thank you for posting.

Mommy to 7 said...

Wow! I needed to read this today! It has been one of those days where you just don't know how you will make it through. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom. The challenge that I am facing now, is that I am pregnant. I wasn's supposed to be able to get pregnant...but I am. The kids are acting out in such a way that I don't know what to do. I beg, plead, cry, and talk until I can't possibly come up with any more words to say. They just don't here it. It just keeps getting worse. Reading this lets me know that I am not alone. It also reminds me not to take what they say personally. Thank you.

morten said...

But do you really feel they never have any legitimate reason to complain? Like not wanting to go to church and saying that they can decide on their religion from age 16 on (in some countries age 14)? Or complaining that they do not have the necessary funds to go to an event that costs 3$?

Vicki said...

I am so glad you wrote this. Our 18-year-old, the oldest of our adopted children (we have five birth children) made himself such a problem at 17 that we had to put him in a group home for everyone's safety. Three months after turning 18, he signed out of the group home with nowhere to go. I got him a cheap apartment with his SSI money. He now has a job of sorts but is teetering on the brink of getting kicked out of his apartment. He smokes like a chimney, has repeated bouts of bronchitis, smokes marijuana, drinks, and abuses Seroquel (maybe other drugs as well.) We did adopt him as an infant. He has reported us to CPS in the past but has a fairly good relationship with me at present, none at all with my husband. It is a continuing problem. Sometimes I want to give him a one-way plane ticket to the (far away) city of his choice and wish him well. Thanks for letting me know how common this is.

Dawn said...

We are at a crossroad right now with the decision to adopt 2 late elementary boys. We believe that one (or possibly both) will give us this kind of heartache in the years to come.
I am so glad I read your post. It gives me perspective so I can move forward with my eyes wide open.