Saint John

Parent support: A story

We have a 20 year old, adopted son Joe. Joe was placed with us under a court order at age 3 because of an extremely abusive relationship in his home. However, after nine months, his mother managed to regain full custody and the abuse continued. When Joe was 4, his mother had another baby and decided that she could no longer keep Joe and would allow us to adopt him.

We enrolled Joe in school and provided him medical and mental health attention. He was diagnosed with hyperactivity and given appropriate medication. He also started counseling with a pediatric psychiatrist. Things went pretty smoothly through grade school.

However, when Joe started Jr. High School he would no longer take his medication. We tried new counseling sessions and even started new schools, but by the time Joe was 14 we had pretty much lost control. Joe has a difficult time telling right from wrong. Finally he was put in foster care with home visitation, which proved to be very stressful. By 16, foster care was terminated and Joe was on his own. He has been homeless for periods of time since then.

The last four years have been tough for Joe, but also for us. After several years of therapy my husband and I found a “Family of SafePeers”. We meet on Monday evenings to share the struggles of trying to be the best parents we can. We listen, we talk, we express our emotions and we even may cry, but no one EVER criticizes our efforts. We have attended workshops and other recovery programs and work to remember that we are important too and that we must take care of ourselves. We love Joe but he has to be responsible for himself now. We have done the best that we can do for him and that is all anyone (including ourselves) can ask from us.

At the present time, Joe has made some inappropriate choices, after going through a 28 day Recovery Program at Ridgewood and a six-week program with the John Howard Society, he finds himself incarcerated. We as parents continue to attend Parent Support Groups on Monday nights, where we continue to receive emotional support from other parents. We are also continuing to attend Parenting workshops sponsored by PASAGE and are learning new skills daily which help us support Joe and also help us to keep ourselves emotionally strong.