Natalie R

When our son came to us on December 23, 1998, he was just a few weeks shy of turning 4. We were to be his foster parents until he was legally free to be adopted. I was his fourth mom that year and my husband was his first dad ever. He came to us with his prescription of Aderal, which we immediately stopped. How could they put a three year old on medication for ADHD? We knew he had some behavior and attachment issues but we knew our love for him would be all he needed. Counseling for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was started first. I would rock him on my lap while giving him a bottle and feed him in a high chair. He loved it!

Fast forward to 1st grade, I pulled him out of school to home school. He was very disruptive in class and wasn’t absorbing anything. Around 2nd grade, I had him privately tested and he was diagnosed with ADHD. We reluctantly put him on medication, Focalin. Medication wasn’t helping and his behavior was getting worse. Cursing, throwing things and punching holes in my walls was on a daily basis. Counselors. Guilt. We were told it was because we weren’t handling him correctly. Love and Logic, Boys Town, reward systems, nothing helped.

Finally at around age 11 (I have dates and reports filed here, but it really doesn’t matter when, just what), he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder along with ADHD, RAD, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). We also finally had a counselor and psychiatrist that confirmed what we always knew, it wasn’t our fault! He and a good relationship with his counselor . We had good and bad days, behavior stayed the same but it didn’t get worse. After maybe six months, she told us she wouldn’t see us anymore. “There is nothing I can do for you. Be prepared to have him hospitalized in his future.” What just happened? I was empty, confused, angry and sad. We walked to the car, screamed and cried. How could a so called professional say that to us? What could my son possibly be feeling about this? Our faith in the mental health system hit bottom. We eventually stopped seeing the psychiatrist as well. He was an insensitive prick.

He returned to school in 5th grade. (Two years of 4th grade home schooling. He wouldn’t do the work yet he blames me to this day for failing him!) More counselors, medication changes, and he was eventually hospitalized. Four inpatient within his four years of high school. Graduated on stage with his class. Then, he stopped all medication.

Throughout all this, we loved him. We tried our best to guide him to be a good person and a productive member of society. It wasn’t an easy time. Fighting with him, fighting between me and my husband, kitchen chairs broken, holes in walls, broken doors, stolen money, drinking, drugs, suicide attempts. Unemployed, sleeping all day, video games all night. Disrespect. Name calling: fucking bitch, fucking whore, fucking cunt. I cursed back. Who calls their son a fucking asshole?! A mom that is lost, angry, confused and helpless. We aren’t perfect but we did good with the little resources we had.

I love my son. I do not regret adopting him. I do miss him. We kicked him out on 4/12/15. We had no choice. I could not let a 20 year old, high school graduate treat me with such disrespect any longer. Our hope was that he would realize what his family really means to him. He would realize all the love and support we gave. We were wrong. He hates us and blames us for all that has gone wrong with his life. The car we gave him was “a piece of shit”, he wrecked it. The cell phone I gave him , broke, so he wasn’t going to pay for the contract anymore. The jobs; quit or fired. Sad thing, I think he truly believes it is all our fault.

He was living in a tent for awhile, then a “trailer” in someone’s back yard. I believe he is living with a family now. I spoke with the gentleman on the phone. He says he is going to help my son get on his feet. I hope he succeeds. I won’t lie, I will be pissed if my son ends up doing well there. We raised him! We did all the grunt work but they get all the credit and his gratitude! But those feelings pass quickly. My love for him is too strong. I want my son to have a wonderful, happy life. I want him to have a job, home, wife and babies. I want him to call me and tell me about his work. I want him to call me and tell me about his friends. I want him to call me and tell me he loves me. But every time the phone rings I’m afraid it will be the police. Jail, hospital or death. That’s reality. That’s mental illness.

3 responses to “Natalie R”

  1. Madeline says:

    Thank you so much for posting this heartbreaking account of parenting. I can totally relate. Our son adopted at birth is very similar to your son. He’s only 12, and I’m worried about his future. I hope your son figures it out and comes back to you with love and thanks for everything you’ve done for him. It is so hard and you are so incredibly brave to post your reality. I have said horrible things to my son, too, and feel like a failure as a parent. So far, medicine is helping him, but I have a feeling he may stop taking it as he gets older…I know this is common. Take care of yourself.

  2. Sebrina says:

    I hope it does not sound as if I am blaming you or criticizing your choices.
    That being said, too often expectations of “normal” or “success” of mental health treatment are unrealistic and can never be achieved. Each persons mental illness is unique and the reality is that some may not ever be able to “do well” based on your idea of doing well. Doing well for him may mean just staying alive everyday. His mental illness may mean he is never able to have a job, wife, or children. Your success should be that he is alive. I urge you to keep searching for the right mental health professional for him and the right combination of medication that works for him. Trust me he does not want to feel the chaos inside that is mental illness. Getting on his feet may mean living in a group home being monitored the rest of his life. This is okay. Remember success means living to see another day sometimes. Don’t give up help is out there. Research, research, research. Please don’t forget to seek help and support for yourself and the other members of your family who have lived with the effects of his mental illness.

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