Help - FamilyEducation
03/18/2008 at 11:50 AM

I am writing today because I am at my wits end and feel lost.  I dreamed about adopting a child my entire life.  I knew by the time I was ten that I would adopt.  So when after having two incredible biological children, I decided it was time to make a difference in the life of one needy older child.  Everything seemed to go as planned, we were certified as foster parents and then adoptive parents.  Just a few weeks after our final trainging, we were presented a 4 year old girl who was deemed normal.  We knew that she could possibly have some emotional and developmental delays due to the neglect situation surrounding her first four years as a foster child.  CC was a spitfire from day one.  All of the things we trained for came true.  She bit everyone, she cussed everyone out, she broke everything she could get her hands on and she urintated and deficated on every nice thing we owned.  Beleive it or not, that was actually the easy part of our lives.  Fast forward four years and the struggles just keep coming,  CC started going through puberty at 5 so she is on a strong hormonal therapy which makes her mood add more layers of complications onto her already endless list of issues,  CC still uses diapers at night and has "accidents" at school at least twice a month.  CC still breaks and loses everything nice she is given and now it is not just is what it is.  CC's comprehension for school work is almost zero.  Due to being exposed to both crack and alcohol as a fetus, she has almost no short term memory.  CC has sequencing problems too.  Like for example the time she looked both ways and then ran in front of a car because she forgot the order in which they go.  CC struggles so much with basic things that she has very little time to be a kid.  For example, it takes her two hours every morning to get dressed and eat.  Her ability to process information is so slow that this fact alone leaves her almost no time to herself.  When she does have time for herself, she has zero creativity and gets mad when she has no one to play with because she needs others to lead her ~she has no original thought.  CC never laughs, has no funny stories and is always hours behind when something for example her friends may laugh at the clown at the parade and she will understand why 20 minutes later.  I feel lost because I find no joy in being her mother.  Our 20 year marraige has been strained due to the enormity of the task of raising this girl.  On the one hand, I want to have equally high expectations of CC as I do the other two, but I also do not have the required "extra" 6-8 hours a day to follow her around reminding her what to do and how to do it.  CC is not retarded and score average scores on most subjects.  I realized the other day that living with CC must be like living with someone in the late stages of Alzheimers disease.  CC does not smile or laugh because it takes so much concentration for her to remember the tasks she is supposed to be doing that she is always lost in her own world.  CC does not have autism but may have a learning disability ; we are trying to get to the root of it.  It just seems lately that there is no joy in being with this child.  I have realized that my role has become only to direct, redirect, remind and discipline.  I used to feel love for this girl.  I have been her mother half of her life and she does not remember her life from before.  I am all that she knows now and there is no love between us.  The hard work required to raise her has left me exhausted, chronically sick & empty.  When we have had good days she finds a way to sabatoge them.  Like the time I gave her 3 dollars at a dollar store (while on vacation) and told her to pick out a toy or two.  She did, but later we found out that she also stole two more...even though we offered to buy them for her.  This is a very hard thing for a parent and non-psychologist to understand.  I have found myself avoiding CC and putting her to bed immediately after dinner because I cannot stand one more 'incident" or stupid question (like mom, when I am 200, how old will you be?)  The school says she has an average IQ and yet I just do not see it.  There was a time when I did feel like we were bonding and I felt hope for her future.  Now I just feel dispair because I am eagerly waiting for her to grow up and go away (if I live that long)~ I am scared that by adopting this child, we have forever damaged what could have been a wonderful and happy outcome for our family.  Since I see no improvements in her bahavior (stealing is now an ongoing issue) I worry that the stress of raising CC could end our marriage and cause years of suffering to all of us.  CC's entire family has been or is in prison for all kinds of crimes.  I used to believe that being a criminal was a result of environment not I am wondering if the years of drug abuse have taken a permanent toll on CC's DNA....a collective dysfunction that is too hard to overcome.  This little girl has a student success team at school 2 tutors during the week, countless loving adults (including an extended family that adores her) and experiences that most kids would drool for.  She does not react to negative conditioning, she does not react to positive conditioning.  She had zero reaction at Disney World and the same is true for Christmas, birthdays and so on.  It is just so hard to love a child that gives nothing in return.  I used to believe in unconditional love, now I do not.  Love is conditional.  It is a human response to sentiment, altruism and fond memories that are reinforced.  If you never see joy, if you never see laugher, if your hugs are always greeted with stiff disdain and you add in the outrageous amount of work involved in thinking (and cleaning up after) another, then you have less than the happiness that even a dog or cat will give you.  This is why I am so lost.  After years of therapy, I just do not know how to "reframe" this relationship so that I can begin to care again.


I wanted you to know that your story touched me.  You would expect that if you do the right thing you would get a good result, and that isn't happening to you.  You make me think of Mother Teresa.  I wish I could say something that would help you.

I guess my husband and I will just have to learn how to step back and ignore things that in the big scheme of things, do not matter.  My husband tries so hard to be fair (and he's really the easy going one) but tonight he said (after an eight hour day of frustration) "That child brings no joy to my life." I guess this is what makes us the most sad.  Sad mostly for the child who was already "ripped off" by her biological parents...she should have joy that flows both ways.  I appreciate your did make me feel better.  I am not overly religious, but I did respect Mother Theresa very much.  She just kept putting one foot in front of the other and never gave up.

I want to say that this story makes me very sad. Sad for both you and your child. When I first read this, I thought, " What a hateful, cold, heartless person! " But the more I thought about it, the sadder I became. I reliaze you must care and that is why you told your story. So I so feel for you. HOWEVER, you are an adult. You committed to this child, just as if you had given birth to her. She deserves your love simply for existing. No matter what it takes, you HAVE to change your mindset on this. If the counseling she is getting is not enough, get more. I would also suggest that you talk to your doctor about getting a mood stabilizer for you. Again, whatever it takes....

Please excuse the hyphens and periods, it's the only way I've figured out to make paragraphs---------------------------------------------------------------. . .It is so easy for us on the outside to judge. Just keep on. You don't have to change anything, you have been taking care of her for years and years without seeing much joy in return. And it is not wrong to hope when there is no reasonable expectation. That is what hope is. Hope makes putting one foot in front of the other possible. ---------------. . . The biggest mistake I am willing to admit to on this forum was in response to my third child. She was bright and capable and she could not feel love from me. After she stole $20 from a family member I said something like "In our family we don't steal. If you can't live with our rules, we can find you another family." Sounds kind of reasonable but it is the WORST THING I could have said. She spiraled into a suicidal depression that took years to address. If I could do it over I would say something like "In our family we don't steal. We just love each other and help each other learn how to be good people." ---------------------------. . . . It takes your girl a long time to learn things. It will take her a long time to learn honesty, too. You will have to be very vigilant. ------------------. . . . I remember that each of my six kids stole something at least once that I know about. Most of them stole more than once. That part of your little girl's story is the part I recognize as "normal." We learn to be moral by trial and error, as well as by precept and example. ----------------------. . . I don't know how many years daughter #3 spent without perceiving love. Here is a thought. Even though CC doesn't "remember" being abandoned, have any of your therapists looked at reactive attachment disorder? I think that is the thing I mean, it is a problem in kids who have been abandoned. Our therapy didn't do any good until the therapist finally got it through his head that the abandonment trauma was the key for our family.

My brother also adopted a child at age 2 one of a sibling group. The youngest has fetal alcohol syndrome. A very real diagnosis! you are describing a more severe form. Get a good diagnosis from a MD or PschologIST so you can get help. Our CA is now in her early 30's and will come over and dump all the hand soap down the sink in the bathroom. Loose stuff, take stuff. These kids have no impulse control. You need some respite care so you can recharge your batteries so you can continue on this hard road. There are people out there who care and understand. Praying for you Tammom67