Anyone adopt an older child? I'm so confused& need help — The Bump

Anyone adopt an older child? I'm so confused& need help

 This seemed like the best place to post this. I am sorry if I offend anyone since we aren't really adopting. I just figured someone here has had to have dealt with this.

We are in the middle of getting custody of my 14 year old sister in law. Her mother is a drug user, and currently been arrested under felony charges.. Her father is a selfish jerk. And things are a bit rocky. and I would love some advice on how to handle some problems.

She refused to do anything without step by step directions, I'm not kidding. I asked her to fill the dishwasher yesterday and I had to sit there and show her where every little thing went. This is not the first time she has used the dishwasher. I asked her to turn the Vacuum on because I was across the room. She stands there without looking at the Vacuum and goes" I dont know how". I have a kirby and there is a HUGE button that says " ON OFF". I said look at it and I bet you can figure it out. She throws up her hands and walks away.

I tried to talk to her about walking away from me or my husband when we ask her to do something or have a question, explaining that its disrespectful and WE would like to figure out a way around it. Any time we explain that something isn't going ot be allowed she throws it in my face I'm not her mother and her mom is in jail so I shouldnt yell at her. I am 21 years old I'm not trying to be her mother. I'm trying to run a smooth household. I'm trying to lay the ground work for a good relationship. and I do care that her mother is in jail. I understand she is under a lot of emotional stress , but seriously I'm not going to let her use that as an excuse. What do I do ? I am so lose? Do I take it easier or just keep doing what I am doing?

I know alot of this is my fault, I had a rough childhood due to my mothers illness , but we were always taught life is hard and you suck it up and deal with it. That you still have to be a good person and work hard no matter what. I know she hasnt been taught like that and everyone has babied her because "poor E " has been through so much. And I do need to stop expecting so much. I just dont understand her.  by the time I was 14 I was the  one cooking/clean and taking care of my mother when she wasn't in the hospital.  I don't know if this is an act that she doesnt know how to do dishes , vaccum ,fold laundry.But the fact she wont even try drives me INSANE.

Another thing. I'm pregnant. We are trying to get her into the pregnancy , but I didn't want her coming to the first ultra-sound DUE to the fact I had had a lot of problems during the first 12 weeks and I was so scared we would go in and something would be wrong. We got her her own picture of the baby and a frame. She wont let me lives it down. Trying to make me feel bad that my husband and I dont want her in our lives we were just forced to take her. Which isnt true , We fought for her. We went through hell to get her, but I dont feel right telling her that. But she already makes comments about how " this baby is going to keep her up" , "we'll love the baby more". I'm worried about that.

okay the last thing that really worries me. Her father sent her here with $50 . We will go to the store and she will ask for a candy and I tell her no , we have candy at home. She then will grab the candy and buy it herself, This happens if she wants clothes or anything I say no to. I don't mind her buying stuff for herself . ITs the fact that when I say No she just goes around me. What should I do for that.

Thank you and I am sorry that this was so long. I'm just that lost. And yes I am in the middle of trying to contach someone like a soical worker to help us , but in the meantime I need help. Thank you

Re: Anyone adopt an older child? I'm so confused& need help

  • Just remember she's 14. She's a girl. She's going through a lot of new things, not just in your home, but in her head, heart and body. If you have to start treating her like a younger child, ie giving her some set chores. We had a 10 year old and she had specific things she had to do - set the table, clean the table off after dinner, help with her laundry (put in the washer and fold it), keep her room clean. Very simple things and we also gave her rewards. Instead of telling her no every time, surprise and buy her something. Try saying "Instead of candy, why don't you pick out a magazine, book, game, etc." Also, designate some time that you can spend with her not doing chores or things around the house. Find a tv show that you both can relate to and sit there like sisters and enjoy the show. Our 10 year old and I use to sit and watch The Biggest Loser together and then I would watch iCarly with her. We also went out on lunch dates while the other children napped. Just take little steps, she sees you as a threat in replacing her mother. While you know you're not trying to be her mother, she doesn't see that. 


    Again, just remember she's 14. She's a girl. And remember - even if she didn't have life problems - being a girl at 14 is a lethal combo! :)

    And like fred said - she needs some counseling.  

  • image fredalina:

    i think she needs counseling for all that she's going through and you probably all need counseling as a family to work through it.

    Sorry i can't be more helpful.

    Counseling--STAT! She's 14 and hurting, and she needs help dealing with all the changes in her life. Professional help, AND help from you. It's OK to let your housekeeping slide a little and make her feel important. Many children regress in adoption situations as well--they want to feel cared for, and trust that you will care for them.

    Good luck.

  • I will start by agreeing with everyone else.  Counseling but not just for her.  You and your husband need to participate also.

    You have so many issues here.  First you have a hurt child. 

    Second you are only 6yrs older than her.  This is just going to give her more fuel for the arguement that "You are not my mother".  You are probably never going to be able to turn this into any type of mother/daughter relationship. She must see this as a cooperative relationship.  You have final say but the more input you can give her the more she will be willing to comply.  As for chores she may never had been made to do them before and this might be how she treated her mother.  Children with addicted parents often ignore them or are very defiant with them.  Spend the extra time with her to explain things.  Don't assume anything.  She could be testing you to see if you care enough to work with her to make her conform to the norms that are expected in your family.  Don't worry so much about the going around you.  When her $50 runs out she won't be able to do that anymore.  It is her money and she can spend it how she wants.  She asked you if you would get her a candy bar and you said "no", so she got it for herself.  This might be something she has done a lot with her mom.

    Third, you are expecting a baby.  You are very excited about it.  It is taking away a lot of her security.  Not your fault but it is the truth.  Older kids almost always feel that a baby is more loveable and on top of that this baby will be your biological child.  It is natural that she be concerned.  The less secure she feels the more she is going to act out.  Almost trying to prove she was right.

    You've got a long road ahead and I am no expert. Get help as soon as possible and just keep reassuring her as much as possible.  If you are a reader there is a book out there called Parenting the Hurt Child which I hear is very good.  It might give you some tools to help.

  • I would find a counselor pronto.  Not only is she going through puberty (which is difficult in itself) but she's being moved around with a choatic background.  She needs someone to talk to, you need someone to work with.

    * Google "counseling adolescents" or "adolescent counselor" in your area and some counselors or agencies should pop up. 
    * Call the school counselor ask if there's a therapist they like to work with.
    * Ask her pediatrician
    * Look up a list of mental health professionals under her insurance

    As far as what you can do at home...

    Give her choices "Would you like to empty the dishwasher or vacum the living room, "  "would you like to have this bedroom or that bedroom"  "Do you want carrots or greenbeens with dinner"

    Give her choices with in the confines of Structure, Stability.  Be able to predict what's going to happen day to day. Give her the structure to know that each person has one chore - but she can choose.  Give her the structure in knowing homework is after school or homework is after dinner but she needs to decide which one.


  • Ditto everyone else.  I just adopted a 7 year old with a tumultuous past, and although he's not a teen, we are dealing with many of the same issues (see some of my previous posts on this board, including the one titled "the first time you hear").

    Her behavior is actually exactly what one would expect of someone in here situation.  Chances are, she's never had a strong, adult authority figure in her life before that held her accountable for her actions.  She is acting out, pushing you away, and testing you to see if you will cave or remain firm...and she will only really trust you if you remain loving and firm.

    If I hadn't read Parenting the Hurt Child and other similar books, I would have been completely unprepared for the difficulties we're facing.  But since I have, I can take heart in the fact that although it's hard, his behavior is exactly what we should have expected, and we just have to push through it as a family.  On the other side, with the tools we've been given--including counseling (which I think is an absolute imperative in your situation)--I'm promised we'll have developed trust and a loving bond.  I can see it working already, although it ebbs and flows.

    image lilmufish:

    Give her choices with in the confines of Structure, Stability.  Be able to predict what's going to happen day to day. Give her the structure to know that each person has one chore - but she can choose.  Give her the structure in knowing homework is after school or homework is after dinner but she needs to decide which one.  

    This part is crucial with older children.  She feels like she has no control in her life.  Things just happen to her and people tell her what to do, when and how.  By giving her choices, she can have a say in how things will play out, and she can be held accountable to keeping up her end of the bargain.  It's the first step in developing that cooperative relationship that's going to make her feel part of your family, as opposed to just being ruled by it.

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