This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bear doesn't love me

We first met Bear's current therapist a couple of years ago when he was working with a known attachment therapist. He didn't take our insurance so we found another therapist who was pretty good, but a talk therapist (FYI talk therapy does not work well for kids with RAD). The talk therapist worked with Bear for over a year and was able to get Bear to talk (something we had trouble with in the past). The talk therapist finally said there wasn't much more he could do with Bear.

I felt that the talk therapist hadn't helped Bear deal with his past and how it effects his future. We tried EMDR therapy with Bear, but again, Bear refused to talk so we stopped. Bear didn't go to therapy for about 6 months, but we were still having difficulties of course.

After Bear's adoption was final, he qualified for TX Medicaid. We didn't use it much because most of the doctors we used didn't take Medicaid. Then we just couldn't afford the $25 copays anymore and I started looking for someone who accepted Medicaid. I remembered the attachment therapist we'd met with way back when, and called him. He was taking Medicaid patients and we started seeing him.

We just kind of started seeing him, and didn't really go through an interview process. We didn't fill out any paperwork, because I had a 25 page time line (which the therapist didn't want to read until a couple of weeks ago so he could "form his own opinions. While I know that at age 16, Bear is a little old for attachment therapy I figured it couldn't hurt. Apparently the therapist didn't realize that attachment was my goal until this session!

He mentioned that he does EMDR therapy which I didn't know. In explaining this to Bear I mentioned that we'd originally come to this therapist for attachment therapy. The therapist made a comment about Bear of course being attached to our family. I apparently made a surprised derogatory noise - it could possibly have been a snort. Maybe.

The surprised therapist asked me if I didn't think Bear was attached to the family. Say what?! Why doesn't he know this?

I said that while Bear thought we were nice people, he has always said he didn't feel he was part of our family. I also said I understand that, and I do. The therapist seemed totally surprised. I turned to Bear and he confirmed this with a nod.

The therapist didn't seem to believe us, and asked me if I thought Bear loved me. Bear didn't say anything, but he made an expression with his mouth. The therapist didn't see it. I said no I didn't think Bear loved me, and told the therapist about Bear's confirming expression. The therapist didn't ask Bear if he loved Hubby, and that was probably a good thing. Bear would probably feel pressure to lie, while I felt that so far he'd been telling the truth.

It did hurt though. A lot.

Frankly I was glad that Hubby and the therapist heard it though. Hubby has been insisting that there is no difference between Kitty and Bear, and I've been saying over and over that Kitty is almost attached to me, while Bear is not. It effects how I treat them and how I feel about them.

It's hard to love care about someone who doesn't love care about you.

But I'm used to it.


Kelly said...

This is so sad to me. I really can't understand how you can live with someone that doesn't love/care about you and get used to it. I fear that with our young foster (hopefully soon to be adopted) children will one day feel this way about me and I do not think I could ever get used to that. This is just so sad. How do you do that? How do you take care of, provide for, nurture, even be nice to someone that doesn't care back? Bless your soul. Even if you "knew" it, having it confirmed to you by your son had to have broken your heart in two. May God comfort you.

marythemom said...

Thanks Kelly,

I wish we'd started attachment therapy the minute they moved in. We just didn't know anything about it. Kitty is attaching to me and the attachment therapy is making a difference. I don't want to say I think it is too late for Bear, but I do. It's different for younger kids. We just had so much stuff to get through (he was 13 when he moved in, undiagnosed bipolar and RAD, rages and aggression, spent 6 months in residential treatment...), before we could even start to think about bonding.

How do we do it? We just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It was harder when he was raging. Now it's easier to think of him as a boarder (one who you can't kick out and who steals and lies). I try to keep in mind what is best for him when it comes to discipline, but I don't always find it easy.

Thank you,


Lisa said...

Sending you a hug.

Anonymous said...

In some ways both you and your husband have Bear as a step-son. Your husband is succeeding at being a step-dad, in part by believing you and Bear have a loving relationship. Step-parents can have loving relationships, or they can have horrible ones, or the in-between of mutual respect, enjoyment, etc. Most know to aim for an in-between ground because getting to "love" can be impossible.

It hurts because you are sacrificing things that you love for Bear, and he is not changing and he is not appreciative of the sacrifices.

It is like when I discovered that A had been eating junk food every day, when I had been getting sick from being sure she had physical therapy, aqua therapy, horseback therapy, rec therapy ... Something snapped and I just couldn't keep sacrificing myself and my family for her. Even if she didn't understand. Especially since she didn't understand, because she would keep doing it.

Fighting so hard for someone who doesn't think there needs to be a fight really sucks. I'm glad you've got a way (this blog) to vent.

Tell your husband, flat-out, that you and the rest of your family need to have Bear's door alarmed. It can be on a trial basis -- 2 weeks, or 1 week of school and 1 week of vacation. Maybe your husband will notice that the stress level of the rest of the family goes down ... if Bear is to be *included*, he must be *contained*. There is simply too much you don't know about him, what he will do next, who he will steal from next. I predict, however, that Bear will be climbing out his window before 24 hours are up.

Miz Kizzle said...

I have to say, the expression in Bear's eyes in the pictures you post is very disturbing. He shows no emotion.I wouldn't feel safe living with someone like that, particularly someone who rages.
My own sons don't like to be photographed but the rare photos I manage to take of them show emotion, even if it's exasperation. They're both responsible young men, college students, the eldest of whom recently turned 21 and asked permission from his father and me to keep a few bottles of beer in the fridge in his room. We were delighted that he respected us enough to ask.
My worries about my sons and my daughter are the normal ones -- being careful behind the wheel, dating the right people, keeping their grades up. I can't imagine what you go through with your difficult children. And not to feel love in return? That must be so sad, particularly when you love all your children very much. Maybe you'd be better off to think of Bear as a boarder. He'd probably prefer it that way.
Do you think Bear will be able to live independently at some point? Does he have realistic plans for himself after he graduates from high school?
I tend to think it's too late to get him to attach at this point. Plus, the bipolar diagnosis makes it harder. It seems like it's not worth it to try and contain him any more than you do already because he'll jut find a way to do what he wants to anyway.
It's a shame that his current teacher doesn't understand how disturbed Bear really is.