Monday, September 15, 2008

Talking About Their Parents

It is difficult to know how, precisely, to talk about our children's parents, particularly when we are talking with our children. In general I know what to do: I need to talk respectfully and sympathetically while at the same time supporting the child/youth while he works through his own feelings about what is going on.

I'm having a hard time with that right now. I'm getting pretty angry with Gary's dad. I remind myself that I don't know the whole situation, but I am still angry.

I was irritated when Gary told me that he had spotted his dad's vehicles outside a house. See his dad had told him that the family had moved, but refused to tell him where. Gary isn't allowed to go there, you see, so why would he need the address? Also when he left his youngest siblings were babies and toddlers and they don't even remember him. It would just be confusing for them if, you know, his existence was evidenced by him sending a letter or calling the house.

But I remind myself, what Gary did, did hurt his step-sisters. I cannot and should not judge what boundaries they and their mother need to feel safe. I don't think that Gary is a threat to them, but my perception of reality and, again, wha they need to feel safe are not the same things.

It was irritating because Gary's dad also did not tell the state where he lived and so he never got notices about hearings. He also complained that no one ever told him anything except Gary. (I find this part confusing. Do the letters not get returned? How could social services really not have figured out that he moved?)

Anyway, all of this I could emotionally accept because they still had regular contact. Both had Verizon cell phones and Gary called his dad every other night or so. When his dad was working out of state, Gary knew what time he could expect his dad to be home, alone and awake. Sometimes they would talk for a few minutes. Sometimes for an hour.

And about two weeks ago, Gary's father's cell phone number stopped working. When Gary calls his dad now he gets a message saying that the number is no longer in service.

Which means that there is no way that he can get in touch.

It breaks my heart for him. Gary doesn't want to talk about it much, but when he does I try just to listen and sympathize. I try to communicate to him that what he feels is reasonable. It is okay to be angry. Being cut off like this is not something that he deserves. It shouldn't be this way.

At the same time though it just infuriates me. A couple of months ago he was promising to make a home for Gary. Now he has made it impossible for Gary to contact him.

I'm just angry.


  1. I don't blame you for feeling angry. We've had our own times where we wished we could reach through the ether and choke the living daylights out of our child's biological mother for the things that she's done.

  2. On a different perspective, not all situations and children do best with ties to the past.

    Although in the majority of circumstances it would make sense to allow that child to have that continuing contact, in some cases, its better to let them have a clean break. A fresh start. Without being tied to the emotional baggage of being permanently typecast as the villain, the black sheep, the "satanic spawn" (yes I've really heard that used).

    Maybe this is just going to be an easier way to TPR for Gary. Maybe he'll have a chance to be part of a real family without feeling torn for loving someone new (you guys).

    Yes, it sucks to be "dumped", bad when you're the ex-girlfriend, worse beyond belief when you're the ex-kid.

    But maybe having one big emotional crap moment is better than a million smaller ones over the next lifetime, of being shunned at holidays, deaths, births, weddings, etc.

    Time heals, but if you never have a real chance to be away from it long enough to heal, then its always going to be there, constantly reminding you that you aren't like the others and that you don't belong (at least according to the parent)

    Just a thought. Poor poor Gary.

  3. There will be no TPR (termination of parental rights) for Gary, and I am comfortable with that plan.


  4. I'm surprised...the 2 states we've lived in move to start TPR after 6 mos no "productive" contact...

  5. I would be angry too. As an adult, I find what his dad is doing frustrating and wrong, I can't begin to imagine what it would feel like to be his kid. I am so glad Gary has you guys.

  6. I, too, don't understand that they wouldn't pursue a TPR if the parents have purposefully gone out of touch. It's not really fair to Gary, either, to have "parents" who aren't there for him but legally are still his parents.

    I guess it's partially up to him, isn't it? If he's said he doesn't want them terminated, they wouldn't be. But what if he says, "I want them terminated" would they pursue it? On the other hand, what would the father do then?

    Are you going to tell the SW the father's new address?

  7. I'm working on a post about why I think that not pursuing TPR is the right decision for Gary. Life is busy and it will take me a bit before I can finish it.

    I told the social worker that Gary saw his Dad's new house. It was in the context of the affect it had on Gary. The letter she got was returned, so that confirms what I told her. I don't have the specific address, and I'm not asking Gary. Gary knows that his father doesn't want the officials to know, and I want him to be able to say honestly that he did not tell them. I don't want even to put him in the position of having to deal with me questioning him.

    They do know what town he is living in. I think the social workers will be able to find his address.

  8. I'm sorry this is happening to Gary. It is so hard to sit back and watch someone's actions or inactions hurt someone you care about and not be able to help. Hubby's relationship with his parents is bad. It hurts to watch it.

    Hopefully this will be a temporary situation as his Dad settles in. I know, I know but I can hope for it.


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