Why I hung up on my son

By:  Nancy Spoolstra

It has been nearly five years since I regularly blogged at adoptionblogs.com, and I have been excited to resume blogging, although on a less rigorous schedule. So it was surprising to me that I was struggling to get this first blog written. I think I wasn’t quite sure how or where to start. As many of you understand, five years can be a long time and a big change in our families … or, it might be five years later and the same old, same old. In my case, I am five more years down the path of redefining my life without the daily reality of breathing the same air as one or more children with severe attachment issues.

Recently, I considered the possibility of joining a friend in submitting a proposal to co-present a workshop about parenting children with RAD who have emancipated. Ultimately, I decided not to do it because I wasn’t sure I would have anything positive to contribute. My therapist friend agreed with me, noting that people attend conferences to learn something and to find hope. While I might have something to offer about learning to live with and compartmentalize your experiences with very challenging kids, I am pretty sure I am low on the “offer hope” scale. 

Case in point … although my bio states that one of my adult adoptees is “MIA”, as of yesterday that is no longer accurate. He called last night, the first we have heard from him in well over a year. Rather than just tell me what was going on in his life, I was required to “ask questions”. I did, getting the basic info. He then asked a few basic things about us, including did we still live in the same place? At one point, he referred to the family as “you people”. And then he stated that he wanted me to tell the rest of the family that he had called, and he wanted US to initiate further contact. Now bear in mind, we have had no contact information for him for at least 15 months.  After one phone call, because he is lonely, I am supposed to jump in and pursue him for a relationship. (Never mind that I have repeatedly done this, as I have with both of my estranged kids.)

Heartbreak with Adult Children
Heartbreak with Adult Children

I would love to have a relationship with this young man, and I would love to have a relationship with the daughter that lives a half hour away, but I am so done with being the ONLY one to work on that relationship. I spent a very long time and untold hours of blood, sweat and tears trying to integrate these two into our family, and they wanted no part of it. So now the “burden” is on them, although my son mightily objected to that phraseology. My conversation with my son went nowhere, just as it has in the past, and ultimately I told him I was sorry, but this conversation wasn’t working for me, so “take care of himself” and then I hung up. I never raised my voice or became emotionally intense, because I am past that degree of caring. I won’t be in a unilateral “relationship”, especially one that is solely based on the needs of the non-relational party.

I’m sorry if this first installment is a downer, but perhaps if any of you have had similar experiences, you won’t feel so alone in your response.  

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