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OT...but this is where my friends forgive me?

Posted by on Sep. 22, 2012 at 11:15 PM
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Some of you may remember me, many don't I'm sure.  Have been away for quite a while due to many circumstances and feelings that are too lengthy to go into.

I am an a-mom in an open adoption.  My son is seven.  He sees his firstmom a few times a year.  His maternal grandfather started a relationship with him when he was four but fades in and out of his life.  Mostly out.  Missed his last two birthday parties, didn't even call to wish him Merry Christmas, that type of thing.  Maternal grandmother has seen him once when he was about three months old, posed for a picture with him but said she "didn't like babies" and I guess she meant it because she has never seen him again.

Paternal grandparents see him about four times a year and call three or four times a month.  So he is very attached to them.  He spends part of Christmas, Spring and Summer breaks with them and any other visit we can squeeze in.  (They live about five hours away from us so we meet halfway and they pick him up.)  When he is with his grandparents he also sees his bio-dad and his half-sister and brother, aunt and uncle, and great-grandparents too.  It's awesome.  Sometimes I've been tempted to pick up and move to be near them.  (And if my parents weren't the age they are, I think we might have, but I digress...)

To the best of my ability - since I am neither an adoptee nor a firstmom - I "think" I grasp the range of emotions that my son will go through as he processes what being adopted means to him.  I have certainly learned a lot from listening to the adoptees in this group and some other forums. 

So I have been expecting anger.  I truly have.  But I foolishly thought that since he is able to have contact with his family that maybe, just maybe that anger wouldn't  be until later on.

I didn't expect it at seven.  Know what I mean?

So what do I do? 

I'm not against therapy by any means, but I am discouraged because I have seen time and time again in this group how therapists often have NO CLUE about adoption issues - or that they even exist!  So many of them have bought into the general public's view of adoption being sunshine and roses. 

A few months ago we quit taking him to a therapist for this very reason.  We had not and were not even DISCUSSING adoption with her.  We were discussing his behavioral issues in school and I mentioned some concerns about his jerk of a teacher and her reply was  "not every one is going to like him" and later in the session when I tried to re-visit the subject of his teacher, she looked at me with a very annoyed look on her face and said "are you afraid his issues are because of adoption?"  And the look on her face made it clear that she thought I was an idiot if I did.  Needless to say we have not been back.

And I have tried to convince myself that he doesn't need therapy but he has such angry outbursts that I think he does.  He is very, very smart.  Very perceptive.  Remembers stuff from when he was three that really surprises me. 

We have discussed that he and his second brother were placed for adoption.  At three and a half he asked how "J" was his brother?  (We were traveling to see "J" for his first birthday so I guess he wondered how he had a brother who didn't live with him...)  So I explained to him that his mother asked me and another lady to be their moms because she was not able to take care of them.  

He said:  "That's dumb."  And I could certainly see why he thought so, so how could I disagree?  Not to mention that he's entitled to his feelings...

My rambling point is that kids are not stupid.  He certainly isn't.  So I have tried to be as honest as I possibly could. 

I just have no faith in counselors right now.  Maybe there is some way to help him on my own?  A book that could help me help him?  (That is applicable to seven year olds of course...)

Also, I have tried more than once to let his paternal grandparents know that when a visit with them is postponed for whatever reason his behavior gets worse.  And when he comes back from seeing them he is so very happy.  Talks for days about what a wonderful time he had and what they did, etc. etc.  And for several weeks afterwards his behavior is much better.  He seems more content and less angry.

But I think they think I am flattering them.  They blow me off (politely) when I tell them those things.  I truly think he needs to see them at least every two months or more if it could be arranged, but they don't seem to see it that way, even though I know they miss him. 

I know they have a lot going on and it's not always easy or convenient for them to drive two and a half hours each way to get him, but I also wonder if they don't want to acknowledge how missing them affects him because it makes them feel guilty? 

I have rambled on and on and I am really sorry.  So many worries for him and no where to really openly discuss them.  Bottom line is should I find a therapist and where???  And should I find a better way to drive home the point to his paternal family that he needs them more and more, not less and less...

Thanks for listening.


by on Sep. 22, 2012 at 11:15 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by Silver Member on Sep. 22, 2012 at 11:25 PM
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You were right in removing him from the therapist. Finding one who understands that he IS defined by adoption will be tough. When he has his angry times have you ever thought of sitting beside him and telling him that you understand that being adopted hurts and that it is ok for him to feel that way? Validation is a wonderful and powerful healer.
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by Bronze Member on Sep. 22, 2012 at 11:50 PM

Hi VP - yes I have thought of doing that with him except that I'm not sure he even knows that's why he's angry.  You know?  So should I bring it up?  In my amateur opinion, I think some of his outbursts are indeed about adoption but released under the guise of other things - if that makes sense?

A few months ago he got in trouble for misbehaving and he told me that I was not his mother.  And I am a big old crybaby so I was really proud of myself for not getting emotional.  I told him that I was his mother but that he also had another mother.  That he had two mothers.  One that gave birth to him and one that is raising him.  We talked about "E" giving birth to him and looked at pictures of them together.

He talked about having two mothers off and on for a couple of hours after that.  Almost like he was trying the phrase on for size or getting comfortable with it?  And the only description I can give is that he seemed relieved.  Relieved that I wasn't upset by what he'd said.  Relieved that he could say he had two mothers.  Hopefully that was a validation?

I mention that only because I wonder if I need to generate more conversations like that?  I've been kind of waiting for HIM to lead those types of discussions at HIS pace, but maybe sometimes I should feel him out?  Maybe I haven't been doing that enough?

I don't mind talking with him at all, although I will admit to being afraid he is going to ask why "E" and her parents aren't around or as available to him as his father's side of the family.  He is one smart kid and he knows what is real and what is bull...

Was feeling guilty for making this post here, but maybe it's a good thing?  An expectant mom considering adoption should hear firsthand that even with the best of intentions, open adoption is no solution for adoption grief.  In some ways I think it can even compound them.

by Silver Member on Sep. 23, 2012 at 12:17 AM
From what I can comprehend from adult adoptees, they do not feel that they can express themselves about their lost family because of the loyalty they feel to their raised family. They also have the fear of being "abandoned" again and don't want to rock the adoptive boat. I think you bringing it up will allow him to feel that he can talk of the real issues that are causing his behavior.
For example: I had a fight with my daughters father about him not taking out the garbage. This was about 1 year after I lost her and a few months after her adopters closed our open agreement. I was extremely upset about something that truly did not matter. I grabbed a staysharp knife, walked into the bathroom and sliced my wrists open. It wasn't the garbage, obviously, but something I couldn't express as I was told to forget and move on. If only he had hugged me and just said "I miss her too and wish I would have protected you".
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by Bronze Member on Sep. 23, 2012 at 1:11 AM

Wow VP...thank you for sharing something so personal.  I'm truly sorry for your pain. 

And I'm definitely going to find a quiet time to just come right out and ask him what he's feeling.


by Silver Member on Sep. 23, 2012 at 10:20 AM
The thing is that he might not even know why he feels this way. He may just FEEL but it is displaced.
How often does his other mother visit? Do his mood and actions change with a visit from her?

Have you picked up the book "the Primal Wound" yet? I have read clips out of it and it is amazing.

Quoting blessed3times:

Wow VP...thank you for sharing something so personal.  I'm truly sorry for your pain. 

And I'm definitely going to find a quiet time to just come right out and ask him what he's feeling.


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by Bronze Member on Sep. 23, 2012 at 12:58 PM

You're right - displaced was the word I was searching for, and I do think he's got some displaced feelings.

His other mother sees him three or four times a year.  She is very reserved around him and so in turn, he is very reserved around her.  When he was a baby and toddler she was more affectionate with him and he was more affectionate with her, but it has since changed...However her family in general is not very demonstrative so that could be all there is to it.

There's more interaction with his siblings when he sees her.  As opposed to when he sees his birthdad who doesn't always have his other children with him (depending on what weekend it is).  Anyway to some degree he's more about playing with his little brothers than with interacting with his mother.  She and I are usually talking while the kids play.  Although he does tell her about school a little bit.

Coincidentally I happened to text her a picture of him suited up for his first soccer game of the season yesterday and she has not responded.  So I'm guessing her number has changed again.  That delays contact because she "falls off the radar" from time to time.  Am hoping to get her to come to one of his games.  I think he would really like that.

I have heard of the Primal Wound - onethentwins I think was the first to mention it to me several years ago.  It sounds like a very valuable resource but I guess I wrongly assumed that it would be more pertinent for him when he got older?  If you think it could help me to help him now then I will definitely look into getting it.

I've also heard that Joe Soll is pretty good about answering emailed questions.  (Or maybe that was Marlou Russell who does that?)  Anyway, I wonder if either one of them has any sort of database about good adoption therapists in different parts of the country?


by Bronze Member on Sep. 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM
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You have come to the right place. You only want your son to be as healthy mentally as possible. What mom doesn't want that?I love how you reacted when he said you weren't his mother. It gives him permission to talk about her without rejection. He knows you love him unconditionally.

No matter if our children are born to us or adopted, they will test you, and challenge you during different phases of their life. You are doing a good job! Hang in there.

by Silver Member on Sep. 23, 2012 at 4:03 PM
I agree that you did a great job when he said you weren't his mother. I know it's different, but I have had to remind my son that his step dad is his dad, too.

And about therapy, or not knowing how to talk to him or bring it up, is understandable. I'm glad you took him away from that therapist! And I've heard too, that they are hard to find. Do you know any adult adoptees? Or maybe you could find one close to you? I know they may not have a license for therapy, but with all of them I see trying to reform adoption and make it easier, maybe one would agree to be his "therapist?" Just someone he could talk to that has been there. Just a thought.

Also about the paternal grandparents... I'm not sure if it would help, instead of just bluntly telling them he needs more contact, could you just try to time the visits closer together. Like if you would normally do another visit in 4 months, ask them if maybe they would like to set up a visit for 3 months? I don't know if it would work or not, but it might be worth a shot.

I am sorry your son is having some problems right now. But I am very glad you reached out for help for him. :) That is much better than continuing with a therapist that don't have a clue!
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by Bronze Member on Sep. 23, 2012 at 4:09 PM
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Thank you 2jeffsmom - you are so sweet!  And I appreciate that you don't think this was the wrong forum to post this in.  I don't know what I would have done these last few years if I didn't have my friends in this group to talk to.  It is so awesome to have people who understand my concerns instead of brushing them off like his therapist did. 


by Bronze Member on Sep. 23, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Thanks to you also Vikki77 - that is a great idea about finding an adult adoptee!  Not sure who I know that is close by...will have to think on that.  The adoptees that I know are primarily online, although I do know some in real life.  The trouble being is that one adoptee friend is in complete denial about her feelings, although she would argue that point to the death if I told her that.  Another friend had a terrible childhood with his adoptive family so I'm not sure how much he would want to discuss certain aspects of adoption.  And neither one lives near me.  Still your idea makes me stop and think...maybe I could search around and see if there is an adult adoptee support group somewhere in San Antonio.  (Largest city near me.)

I have tried suggesting visits closer together just by saying "he misses you" and not putting pressure on the grandparents and more often then not, (lately) they will find a reason to postpone scheduling one.  His grandmother is only ten years older than I am so it's not that they're "too old" but she has not been the same in some ways since she went through breast cancer four years ago.  Physically she's gotten a clean bill of health but emotionally she is different.  Hard to explain.  You'd just have to have known her before and after. 

But I am thinking of writing them a letter about all of this.  Just in a gentle, "I need your support" kind of way.  That way they can mull it over and maybe really absorb what I am saying without the pressure of being put on the spot on the telephone.  What do you think?


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