Since his birth mother eventually chose not to be in his life, and for the first part of his life his father was stationed overseas in the military, my adopted stepson has large fears of abandonment. During his early years he was raised by his paternal grandmother while his father was overseas, and unfortunately do to the work he was doing, he rarely had a chance to come home, leaving him little opportunity to get to know his son until he was about four years old. And while he loved being in the military dearly he knew the toll it was taking on his family, so when it came time to reenlist or move on, with a heavy heart he chose to move on, knowing that he could not have the career in which he had always dreamed of, and still be a stable and constant force in his son’s life.
While I have been in his life since he was eight years old, and have shown that no matter what life throws our way I will not give up and leave, walking out on him as his mother did, he still has fears. Over the years the fear of me leaving has diminished since there have been chances for me to walk away or stay and fight and I have always chosen to stay and fight, but there is still a fear in him, that his father will leave. I am not sure why, since although a typical hard headed man, my husband has never really shown that he would walk away from his son. Perhaps an ingrained fear that he is not good enough for his biological parents, perhaps a fear of not measuring up to the standards of those who created him, or perhaps simply a fear of being left by the only biological parent he has left in his life, the fear tends to come and go in waves.
The interesting thing is, is that when that fear seems to rear its ugly head of not being good enough, my adopted stepson’s behavior goes off the charts with laziness, and doing the worst job possible in all aspects of life. Almost as if to say I reject you first by not attempting to measure up to even the smallest and easiest of standards. Sometimes he is able to talk about and rationalize his fears, while other times he hasn’t a clue as to what is going on with him, and simply goes a little haywire for a time. And when I say little, I mean absolutely without a doubt mind bogglingly haywire…just so we’re clear as to what we are dealing with.
He went for a long time, yes we are talking years here folks, in this haywire “I absolutely will not meet any standards no matter how low you make” them mode. Then he turned a corner, almost as if over night, but really after we moved when we look back on it, and began doing everything in the world to impress his dad. It was as if his father had passed the test, he didn’t give up and stayed, and only then was my adopted stepson willing to put forth any effort in impressing anyone with his many abilities. Of course then puberty hit and it all kind of went down hill to normal teenage laziness and the “I know everything and don’t need you to tell me what to do” point of view, but hey, at least they are NORMAL issues, and in this family that is quite the bonus! We went through many years of very schooled doctors from all areas of degrees and specialties scratching their heads, and turning us away with nothing more than a ‘boy am I glad that isn’t my child” look once they heard of all the issues that we were dealing with.
For a long time I was baffled at his resistance towards his father. The one biological tie that he did have was the one relationship he really didn’t seem interested in growing. But after a time in became pretty obvious that it was simply the one relationship in which he was scared to grow. He seemed consumed by fear that his father would too reject him, that he would not be able to measure up, and then where would he be? He was so afraid of losing the little bit of relationship in which they did share, that he simply could not fathom being closer and then somehow lose his father altogether just as he did his mother.
They now have a much closer relationship, and function quite well together, which is wonderful to watch. They still have their ups and downs with each other, but more so on a normal father son relationship than before. With the fear of rejection subdued in my adopted stepson after years of showing him in everyway possible that we are a family and families don’t give up on each other, it seems as though it is finally sinking in.