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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Adoptees Who Don’t Want Parents

Sadly, far too many adoptive parents don’t find out until it’s too late that some orphans simply don’t want parents.  At all.  Particularly those of the persuasion who practice hands-on parenting, not do-whatever-you-want-but-be-home-by-2:00-a.m. parents.

These are kids, particularly the older ones (but not always), who have had to fend for themselves.  Could be on the street, in the “home” (often a lean-to shack, or abandoned, unheated apartment), or in the orphanage.  Taking orders from us is not their cup of tea and the phenomenon manifests in the strangest ways, at times.

We’ve had our fair share of this, particularly from Mashenka, now 14.5, and ready to spiral out of control at the drop of a hat.  She has her good days, not all days are bad, yet….  She usually works her vicious magic when someone else dares to have a birthday, or, as it is now, our wedding anniversary.

“My, you girls look pretty today!” I start, having bought them some new fall outfits that they loooved when they first tried them on a couple of weeks ago.

She responds with an ugly face, while her younger sister says, “Thank you”, lapping up the praise.

Mashenka makes her displeasure known repeatedly, while I finally ask if she’s feeling well.

“No!  I’m fine!” she retorts.

“Okay,” I decide to not rise to the challenge, “but you’re sending me a message that new clothes make you feel sad and confused.  I would think you’d be happy.”

Keep in mind that this is 7:00 in the morning, and it’s my anniversary.  I’m really not in the mood.

“I don’t have to be happy or listen to you!” is her wonderful reply.

“And I don’t have to buy you anything in the future,” I shake my head, for the life of me not comprehending why I need to go through this on a semi-regular basis.

After she kept on for several more minutes of tirade, I said quietly,  “There will be consequences for speaking to your mother like that.”

“No there won’t!  You can’t do anything to me!”

What a lovely child.  When did I become Public Enemy #1?  When did she ever hear of a time when I did not follow-through?

About that time, my mind goes through a rustling Rolodex of inappropriate comebacks, each one that I reluctantly reject, while wondering if my fairly low-key response is strong enough. Should I:

1.  Smack her in the face and knock her clear into the next county?  Maybe that’s the only “love language” she understands from her past.

2.  Let her walk around in her underwear and see how she likes that wardrobe?  I know that without my intervention she would wear something that looks like she found it in a dumpster.  That’s truly her comfort level.

3.  Allow her to be consumed by her own hatred of herself, and of others?  Make no kind comments nor compliments.  Every time I say something nice, it goes into her black hole of sucking it up and wanting more, more, more, anyway.  Nothing is ever enough.

4.  Get her into therapy post-haste.  Tried, believe me.  “Perhaps you’d like to speak with someone other than Mama and Papa, such as a trained counselor?”  “I’m not talking with anyone about anything!  There’s nothing wrong with me.  I’m fine!”

5.  Send her away for a very long time.  Give us all a nice break.

6.  Take her to a juvenile detention facility.  Show her where she’s headed if she doesn’t shape up.

7.  Expose her to other teens who are much nicer than she is.  This would be discredited as playacting on their part, since she doesn’t believe that anyone can be decent on their own.

8.  Put her on lockdown, no privileges, no outings, no electronics, no laundry, no food….

Actually, she would love #8.  That was her set point before adoption.  That’s her comfort zone.  In a strange way, she enjoys being treated roughly, and we’re not buying into it.  No privileges, yes; no food, no.  Which only infuriates her more.

In her mind, the continuous-loop recording is probably something like this: “Could you go away and leave me alone?  I’m sad, I’m worthless, I’m a loser.  Nobody knows how hard it is, and nobody understands me. I only feel good when I cause others to suffer, too.”

Building up her self-esteem and surrounding her with positivity does absolutely nothing for her. Turns her into more of an ogre.  It makes her lash out with additional negativity, if that’s possible.

What would you do?


Postscript:  After all day of huffing and puffing and threatening to blow our house down, her heart convicts her at last.  By the end of the evening, she comes to me, repentant, and teary-eyed.  I talk with her and reassure her that, no matter what she may think at times, we will always be there for her.  Meanwhile, her father takes away her electronics, few though they may be, just to let her know that last-minute, jailhouse religion doesn’t always spring the guilty from all consequences.  Forgiven, yes, free as a bird, no.



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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Linda says:

    Sounds familiar… Especially the: I’m not going to listen to you! and You can’t do anything to me parts…
    But also the teary-eyed child looking to get a hug…
    It’s hard sometimes to be a family child, when all you knew for so long was the ch…

    Luckily we’ve seen huge improvements in the quantity of these mood days, befor it felt like it was daily, now usually just when he’s nervous about something, and doesn’t know how to handle it. Then the trick is to come up with what is wrong and talk about it, and before that to get him to stop acting up, because otherwise, there’s no point in even trying to talk to him…

    • avatar admin says:

      I hear you, Linda, same here, it’s gotten much better. That’s why when it happens, it still throws me for a loop! I think in many ways they feel very conflicted, and it takes a while to work out these feelings….

  2. avatar sarah says:

    Hi Alexandra, my youngest Gracie (3 from St. Pete ) yes, 3 years old is Mashenka to a tee. She has come so far since she rocked our world when she arrived at 18 months yet new environments, being overtired and god help us everyone. She can really be a lunatic. We have seen a huge improvement continuously since she came home. At the end of August when we started her with two sessions of OT for sensory issues caused by the deprivation of her nasty baby home her fits dramatically improved. Her ability to deal with 95% of the situations that arise now is amazing. Frankly, I thought she needed life long therapy . Instead 2 hours of OT a week and she is a much changed girl. Anyway, I am with you, in this one. I quake in my shoes over her being a teenager. My son Sasha from a great home in St Pete is such an easier package. I am sure Gracie’s awful baby home has a lot to do with it but I also think her birth parents who are married yet products of the orphanage system in St Pete probably have a ton to do with her issues…..Maybe some alcohol in utero, maybe some drugs? Who knows? Sasha has a much better story. Teenage university student living at home with her Doctor and engineer parents. He was 10 pounds at birth and has a gifted IQ. Gracie is very bright, gorgeous and a fabulous athlete…….it is just her ability to cope and her behavior that are really terrible. She is a classic RAD child (but loves animals). You sound similar to us in that we have a child that looks like she fits in to the our world of living in Europe and outside NYC…..attending a fabulous International school which she completely adores, has tons of close little friends. She has all the best things in the world yet, all the love and therapy I can’t help her get a grip on her behavior….I wonder if it is inherited instability along with some cocktails mixed in? I hope for both of our girls and all the others like them they have the ability to overcome their obstacles and embrace the amazing situations they are in, take a deep breath, exhale and enjoy their lives and let us enjoy them!!!!

    • avatar admin says:

      “…take a deep breath, exhale and enjoy their lives and let us enjoy them!!!!” Amen to that, Sarah! I have no problem whatsoever understanding that age 3 can be close to 14. In my unscientific cafe-sidewalk-grocery store “studies”, lol, I see that 12 mirrors 2, 13 mirrors 3, 14 mirrors 4 year olds, etc. It’s a phase, I tell myself, and today she’s good as gold. That’s fabulous that the OT helped Gracie. Ours were used to fending for themselves and taking care of (or trying to take care of) those around them. To “let go” and be a young person who can take instruction from others must be scary in a way and take awhile to learn….

  3. avatar Sybil says:

    Hormones figure in there too I bet. If she loved the outfit a few weeks ago, I doubt that would change. I would say ignore the face she makes if that is all she does and keep saying what you want to say. Or stick your tongue out at her! Just don’t take it too seriously unless it is much more than a “face”.
    It has to be disheartening though.

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