Question from Another Parent
We have 5 daughters we have adopted through foster care and taken
guardianship of another. We are no strangers to the ups and downs and
have (mostly) come to terms with the difficulties. What we just can't
seem to get right is helping our children transition to adulthood.
Our oldest daughter who we got at age 14 and adopted at 18 is married
and doing quite well in another state. A few months after graduating
high school she was skipping her college classes, skipping work and
really not doing much of anything. We gave her some options and set
some guidelines which she completely ignored, no fight, no discussion,
just ignored. We told her she could not stay in our home unless she
was willing to work, go to school, or both. Without a word she moved
out with her boyfriend. After that it was a series of moves until she
found her husband. He is actually a great guy, and we are so grateful,
but he takes total care of her. I wouldn't call our relationship
strained, but it is distant. She seems to surround herself with people
who require little of her and that is not us. Although I'm sure she
feels like we've pulled away, we feel like we've always been here, but
that she just doesn't always need us the way we are. Even phone
conversations are difficult. She is quiet until we get her talking
about what she wants to talk about. She rarely even remembers things
we tell her about the rest of the family. I don't want to give you the
impression that she's mean. She's actually very sweet and all things
considering is living quite a productive life.
We had guardianship of another daughter. She left shortly after high
school graduation in a huff (we're still not sure why). She joined the
army, came home for a strange, unannounced Christmas visit, went AWOL
and we didn't hear from her until we were contacted by a mental
institution a couple of years later. She had had a breakdown and was
not the same girl we knew.
Now our 20 year old daughter is a junior at a university 3 hours away.
She's actually doing really well, but has moved 5 times, still doesn't
have a group of really good friends and seems to sabotage relationships
with boys. Now, we're finding each visit home to be less and less
enjoyable. There's a tension that's hard to explain and very very very
subtle manipulations. She's always loved to be the victim but now
she's a master at this. When there are problems, there is no
discussion, she just shuts down. She leaves mad, we're mad and things
are uncomfortable until I reach out and then we can never address the
problems or we'll just start the process over again. There will come a
time, on her terms where she will address the issues. She has all the
right and seemingly sincere conclusions and answers but seems
completely unable to really work those answers in real life.
Now, my husband and I know that we are far from innocent in all of
this. We are demanding, protective and involved. I'm sure many times
our children feel that nothing is good enough. We are also on constant
alert trying to protect ourselves from manipulation and that's probably
a tough wall for our kids to break through sometimes.
So we're looking for resources to help ease the problems adulthood
brings. We have this feeling that we raise our children only to lose
them. If this is part of their learning curve and their journey, we
can handle that. What I find difficult is that we could very well be a
big part of the reason they cut and run.
Thanks for your time!