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Just want a break....

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Everyone here is a great source of help for me and the constant rollercoaster of my adoption. Now I am dealing with the bio family acting as though we have adopted the entire family and not just the one child. We have taken in my sons entire bio family at one point or another- brother who is our age, bio mom who is 12 years older than us, and younger bio siblings. We have had younger siblings for several weeks at a time, almost always around back to school and Christmas, which means that they come with nothing for back to school so we have to buy it or they are here for the holiday and we have to scramble to get gifts. This last time was TWO days after my mother passed, and bio mom stayed too. Didn't offer any help, we carted her to work and her probation obligations. Older bio brother, who is 1 year younger than me, once told my son that when we adopted him we needed to be ready to take on the whole family as our family. This was right after we said we would not give bio bro 20 dollars for gas.

2 weeks ago we were asked to bring the younger kids back from their brothers to their house, a three hour drive. We only did it bc our son wanted to visit with them. Now the bio mom wants our son to babysit younger sibs. She lives an hour away and wanted us to drive him down there, drop him off and pick him up again 2 days later. We said no, but that she could bring them to our house. So she is! For not 2, but FOUR days. Didn't even ask us, just told our son she was dropping them off Sunday and getting them Wednesday. We didnt make a big deal bc it's our sons siblings, they need to see each other.

But I am just ready for a break from this bio family. I know she will come here, even though I don't want here at my house, and do everything in her power to make me jealous. She always does, tries to show how she is his mom, not me. So she will refer to herself as mom 50 times in a five min conversation, make him kiss her on the lips bc "that's how you kiss your mommy", take 20 min to say goodbye, etc. I'm done. I'm over it. I didn't want her at my house bc I want it to be a place that's just us, if that makes sense. I just don't want her here. I need a breather.
post #2 of 13

grouphug.gif

 

THis sounds very very challenging! Will write more a little bit later. 

post #3 of 13

So I was wondering if there is a difference between you and bio family in terms of socioeconomic status and value system. The assumptions the family makes that you are describing sound like part of a value system that is more connected with low income families (or the poverty class in society). The sense that "if you HAVE, you will SHARE; later when I HAVE, I will SHARE." Sometimes later never comes, but the assumption still persists. It has been described to me, by people who live in chronic poverty, as a primary reason why the government checks are spent by the end of a day or two when they come, regardless of whether the rent fully got paid or not. But it is a cultural value system of survival, in which low income families try to survive together. The values of families living in chronic poverty have been documented in a training called "Bridges out of Poverty," which may be worth your while if it ever comes to your town. Now these are not excuses for bad manners--but the bio family may simply be incapable of seeing things from a middle class value system that seems so obvious to you. Let me know if this line of thinking resonates at all for you, or if I am completely barking up the wrong tree!!

post #4 of 13
I agree with the above poster.

I wonder if a good rule of thumb might be...what are the boundaries you think would be healthy for your son to have with his bio family as he grows older? And do your best to model those boundaries. Get help from a therapist to sort this out and be consistent.

My Mom's family is like this. There is no end to the need, only where you place the boundaries!

Good luck.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Lauren - there definitely is a difference. We are middle class, they are low income. That's a whole separate story, in that bio mom has always found men (not sure how she does it) that take her and all of her kids in and the man supports them all while she doesn't work. This last time she broke up w one guy and had another guy to support them all in one week! However, current bf lost his job teaching 3rd graders bc he showed up to work drunk. So now she has to work, but only tries to get under the table jobs and has only been able to hold them for short periods of time.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hillary - boundaries are something we have been trying to establish since we got our son 3 years ago. He's 17 now, so really it's up to him what boundaries are to be in place throughout the years now. Yesterday he wanted to give her money and I told him he shouldn't have to do that and he got defensive. When bio family asks for things, we do explain to him how it's not our responsibility to do that. Hopefully she doesn't guilt him into helping support her and the younger kids in the coming years like she did the oldest child.
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by krisnic View Post

Lauren - there definitely is a difference. We are middle class, they are low income. That's a whole separate story, in that bio mom has always found men (not sure how she does it) that take her and all of her kids in and the man supports them all while she doesn't work. This last time she broke up w one guy and had another guy to support them all in one week! However, current bf lost his job teaching 3rd graders bc he showed up to work drunk. So now she has to work, but only tries to get under the table jobs and has only been able to hold them for short periods of time.

So I guess I would encourage you to think of this stuff in terms of cultural difference, not as moral defect. In a different culture, things are done differently. With families that have lived with multi-generational poverty, these habits are all very familiar and even normal, because they help the family survive. This bio mom probably learned these ways from her mom.I know it sounds strange, but it's been proven that these types of habits won't change through moralizing or judging, but through understanding of how these systems have helped the family survive. That doesn't mean that you have to be part of the family's survival system, but in asking your son to reject these values (at his age, after many years of these values being instilled in him) it is akin to him fully rejecting his family, which clearly he is not ready to do. Might he be open to figuring out some other way of showing his care for his mom without giving her money? She has modeled that the "man" of the house gives her money to survive. This is a way that he can gain her affections, through helping her survive. Think through together how else he can show her this in HER language? Maybe not money, but something she needs that will still help her to value him? In most adoptions this wouldn't be happening because at a younger age (for him) you'd be able to set more limits. YOu've expressed before though that he has even gone and lived with her for awhile, so I just don't think this is a battle you can win right now. There has to be a way of embracing his 'culture' or he will be further alienated. 

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
I know. I get it, there are definitely cultural differences at play here. I just don't think it's just that. The comments she makes about me to my son, the poor choices that she makes...there's just so much going on. It's annoying and exhausting to say the least.
post #9 of 13

Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that she doesn't have anything personal with you. You are raising her son. That's pretty personal. So I'm sure that she's going to make snide comments or challenge your ideas to him. When you roll up all the differences in economic class, multi-generational poverty/culture, and her personal issues with you, I would think it would be pretty nasty. And exhausting.

post #10 of 13

krisnic...i just want to say i dont envy your position at all. It sounds exhausting. Its hard enough (i imagine) to parent an adopted teen, esp one with close ties to bfamily...but then to have to deal with all the interactions with boundary-crossing birthfamily just adds a layer of difficulty to the situation. I recently fostered a sib group of three with VERY involved birthfamily (not just parents but both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc etc) and just the agency visits were sometimes a lot to manage. i remember thinking "gosh if this case went to adoption i dont know if i'd want to adopt because i dont think i could maintain openness with all these people who dont always show respect or behave in appropriate ways!" (Luckily the kids went home.) And given that you are younger (if i recall) it makes it that much more difficult. ugh. No advice for you just sympathy! Sorry! 

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post
 

krisnic...i just want to say i dont envy your position at all. It sounds exhausting. Its hard enough (i imagine) to parent an adopted teen, esp one with close ties to bfamily...but then to have to deal with all the interactions with boundary-crossing birthfamily just adds a layer of difficulty to the situation. I recently fostered a sib group of three with VERY involved birthfamily (not just parents but both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc etc) and just the agency visits were sometimes a lot to manage. i remember thinking "gosh if this case went to adoption i dont know if i'd want to adopt because i dont think i could maintain openness with all these people who dont always show respect or behave in appropriate ways!" (Luckily the kids went home.) And given that you are younger (if i recall) it makes it that much more difficult. ugh. No advice for you just sympathy! Sorry! 

Yes, and I think what makes Krisnic's situation so very hard is that it would be hard even to tighten up the boundaries and set limits....because her son has already once left and gone to live with birth mom for a while. In a situation with a younger child, where there was a greater sense of parental protection (based on child's age), the typical advice would be--'you are the adoptive parent, you have to do what's best for your child, and if that means less contact with birth family, or you setting stronger boundaries between your family and birth family, then that is what you should do." But in this situation it just might not work. If you set tighter boundaries, your son might just leave and your relationship with him might be strained beyond repair. It almost seems like you just have to try hard to stay on good terms with everyone so that you can keep the lines open when he (shortly) is an adult. Of course keeping things on good terms, doesn't mean giving them money! (though they might disagree.)

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by krisnic View Post

I know. I get it, there are definitely cultural differences at play here. I just don't think it's just that. The comments she makes about me to my son, the poor choices that she makes...there's just so much going on. It's annoying and exhausting to say the least.

In my experience, even her behavior beyond you isn't just cultural. My partner and I are both from a low economic status and we have friends from that status as well. I've known people like this, people that are able to get others to pay their way through life even to the point of mooching off their own children, they seem like a "there's one in every family" (at least for poor people) sort of thing. There is no "When I have, I'll share" implied. No one around them likes it. These people leech off of others and force their loved ones into the sticky situation of being repeatedly taken advantage of or seeing their friend/relative living on the street. They often self-sabotage to ensure that they have to get taken care of, too. 

 

I think the cultural aspect is that these people may be more common in low class families, or at least are more of a problem- I know a woman from a rich family who never works and leeches off of her rich parents (her mother complained to me a few times), but her parents can afford to take care of her so it doesn't spread to anyone else and doesn't put their financial security at risk like it will in low-class families. But from what you've described of this woman- she's the kind of person where her friends and family are likely frustrated by her actions as well. Her children may believe it's normal because she's taught them to, but since she guilts the older ones into giving her money, it's likely that they're as frustrated as you are- you just arent close enough to them to hear about it. I know someone who just graduated college and all throughout college her mother was guilting her out of hundreds of dollars- she hated it, but didn't feel like she had a choice.

Even for your son, it sounds like he has a lot of conflicting and confused emotions going on, I imagine he's hesitant to badtalk his birthmom to anyone- especially you. He may feel annoyed by her mooching off of him, but also feel guilty for feeling annoyed because she's his birth mom and he likely feels like he owes her, and when you try to point out that her actions are wrong, it also brings up the conflicted feelings he seems to be feeling about being adopted by you and leaving his birthfamily.

 

In an earlier topic you said that your son listened better to your husband- has your husband raised the subject of giving money to the biofamily? Has he responded better? It might be better for your husband to be the one to address things involving the biofamily with your son instead of you.

 

It definitely also sounds like that woman is trying to take advantage of you out of spite, and she's likely taught her children to do the same thing. It's a crappy situation even when you aren't dealing with trying to parent an adopted teen- I'm sorry that you have to deal with all that. I don't have any suggestions. Even if you teach your son he shouldn't have to support his birth mom, she may still guilt him into doing so.

post #13 of 13

Gosh- with a 17 year old, that is even tougher because developmentally they are going through a lot.  Is he in therapy?  Its a lot do deal with and talking to anybody in his life about his feelings probably feels unsafe to him- if he says he resents B-mom to you, he probably feels bad about it.  most of what I say is repeating one poster or another.

 

Boundaries at your house certainly seems like something that might be a relief for him and you.  Can you, your husband and your son talk about what you want in your house?  While I understand there may be cultural forces at play here, you have the right to protect yourself- I imagine that this is straining on your relationships with your husband as well.

 

So, about the house and boundaries- maybe talk with your son about how he is balancing everything.  How does he babysit for multiple days if he is in school?  How do the bio-sibs go to school when they are at your house?  Ask him about how he manages everything when they are in town.  Would it be helpful to have advance planning for those things?  Would it be helpful to set a limit during the school year when he has to be in class? 

 

Does he feel like he can say no?  Maybe just even asking about if he feels comfortable saying no and then dropping it if he feels comfortable will plant the seed in his head that it is okay to set boundaries, especially if you are modelling this behavior with your family.  Is it possible to open up a conversation about how different families have different expectations about things?  Again, not as a judgmental thing, but simply as an observation- planting seeds for him to work out on his own. This is going to be a long term process- baby steps. 

 

I would also emphasize that he is loved by his bio-family and your family- unconditionally, no matter what.

 

I also just thought of something- It might be good to talk with him about how he is a role model for his younger sibs- this might backfire, but it might be good to talk about what type of role model he wants to be.  It might be a non-threatening way to talk about hopes and dreams and boundaries and talking about hard conflicting feelings.  It also might help to understand why he wants to give mom money-and it might be a good way to broach the subject with your husband.  Not to pry, but in someways is the man=money thing in someway replicated in your house?  Is Dad the breadwinner or only income support?  If that is the case, talk with him about the dynamic came about and your choices in that- if he only sees the end product (dad=breadwinner) and doesn't see or understand that you both made that decision together, that you made that decision as a family after carefully considering options, that if you wanted/need to get a job you would, he may not understand the difference.  Of course, if you work outside the home, then this whole paragraph was pointless and disregard.

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