I would have to agree about the bonding and its relationship to an addictive personality, though I believe, based on my own limited experiences there are exceptions. My brother is ten years younger than I, but his childhood was much different than mine. We had an alcoholic grandfather, but he died before my brother was born. I only knew he was an alcoholic because of the stories my mother told about her childhood. Dad came from a stable home.

When I was young my mom did not work outside the home unless I was with her. (She worked at a childcare center.) I always had adult attention. Although my dad had to travel a lot, he paid a lot of attention to me when he was home.

My brother was hyperactive and dyslexic before anyone understood those conditions. Medical issues, both his as an infant and my mom’s when he was about two, separated them for several days at a time for periods before he was three. I had to take over a lot of care for my brother — anything that involved lifting him.

Then Mom went back to school and to work and a housekeeper handled his after school care after I left for college. He had trouble learning to read and got the idea he was too stupid to learn. By his high school years he was already drinking, and he went on to PCP and other drugs. I’ll spare you the details. He never doubted Mom and Dad loved him, and he did know they were there for him, but he finally had to move out as a young adult when he wouldn’t follow house rules anymore. He did not like change and missed being home.

He later married another alcoholic and they did drugs together, though we didn’t know the full extent of it. After they had children the drug issues became worse. When my younger nephew was five and my older one was 12, both of their parents were arrested on drug charges. Mom took the younger boy and we took the older one. We had them for a year. Both boys were acting out and feeling the separation from each other and their parents. It is a shame Mom lived so far from us, and the boys could not see each other very often during that year. Neither of us could have handled having both boys. We only had space for one of them.

Both boys were dealing with abandonment issues. My older nephew always wanted to stay with me if we were running errands, whereas my own children had usually opted to stay in the car while I ran into the store. My nephew said he was afraid of being abandoned. His dad called him every week from jail and my nephew let me know he knew his dad was always there for him.

The abandonment issue and lack of bonding seemed to be more in the relationship to their mother. When my brother got out of jail, he turned away from drugs and got clean. Unfortunately, their mother kept violating her probation when she got out and finally went to prison. Her younger son confronted her when she was out once, accusing her of loving her drugs more than him.

My sister-in-law finally entered a rehab program that helped, and has been clean and home ever since. Both boys have grown up now are are making something of their lives. Both had been in trouble the first years they were back home.

The nephew who had stayed with us told us before he went home that he was glad to be going back to his dad, but he knew he had better friends when he was with us, and he almost predicted that when he got back to his friends at home he’d get into trouble. He did. But just as happened with his dad, the experience of losing his freedom turned him around. He graduated while in the juvenile camp. Since then he graduated from college, got married, and has a job as a prison guard.

My younger nephew is still dealing with issues, some of which are drug related, but he is holding a job and going to college. We hope he is resolving his issues. The entire family was in counseling for several years when he was in junior high and high school.

My sister-in-law had a rough childhood that I believe included being molested by a step-father. I think her drug issues were worse than my brother’s because he grew up in a stable home and she didn’t. There was never any doubt my parents loved each other and us. My sister-in-law’s entire family was troubled and dysfunctional.

We adopted our children after their father was put in jail for molesting Sarah and their mother abandoned them by giving them to the county, saying she could no longer pay rent. Sarah never bonded with her mother — only with her brother. She never bonded with us. She was nine when she came to us. We did everything in our power to show love, but I think her lack of bonding or the molestation made her unable to receive it. She later admitted that she wanted to control her life more than she wanted love.

Jason, Sarah’s brother, was five when they came to us. He did not have the same issues because he had bonded to Sarah and actually thought she was his mother until he learned differently from the social worker. He had been separated from her for a year while they were in different foster homes. Their dad wrote to them from the state hospital where he was confined, but their mother never made contact. We met her when Jason died in an accident when he was 14. Sarah had located her and she came to the memorial service along with many aunts and a grandmother. It was in the conversation afterwards we found Sarah would not even allow her mother to hold her.

Sarah was always troubled, and the counseling she had never seemed to help. Her story is too long to share here. She did abuse substances after she left us. She took her life when she was 34. I don’t think she ever recovered from her brother’s death.

The photo shows our family picture on adoption day in the judge’s chambers.My husband and I are on the left. The social worker is in front of the judge. The children, then seven and eleven, are on the right.

Written by

Christian, bereaved adoptive mom, blogger, amateur nature photographer, voracious reader. Married 54 years. Central Coast of California. https://barbrad.com

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