The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

The Contact

Posted · 21 Comments

Billy and Robin in 2004 when they came to us...

This week Billy was contacted by his birth father via Facebook message.  They were Facebook friends for a while, though they never actually talked, until the man signed his comments with DAD one too many times and Billy, who says he only has one daddy, deleted him from his page.

Billy showed me the message.  When I asked what would be his response, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Nothing.  I don’t have anything to say.”

And I wonder if that’s wise.

Nothing to say? Surely there must be something.  Answers wanted, questions lingering, unspoken anger hidden far beneath the surface where that neglected and abused kid remains hidden as he emerges into a man.

Robin says she has plenty to say.  She says if he ever contacts her, she’ll tell him where to go. She seethes with hatred for a man she barely remembers. It does no good, I told her just today, to be angry. It serves no purpose.  But she says she can’t help it.  Just knowing he sent Billy a message made her heart beat faster and her fists curl at her sides.

“I dare him to try to talk to me,” she says.  “I’ll tear him up.”

And I believe her.

I’m to blame, you know. I, the evil adoptive parent who spends all her spare time bashing their loving biological parents.  Or that’s how it would be told by the other side.  The reality is, my kids who have appropriate bio families, have contact with those bio families. I’ve never stopped it. I’ve never wanted to.  How wonderful for my kids to feel loved from all sides!  But it’s those who are not appropriate who blame me for their life choices.

I’ve been the target of blame for many a year, by many a bio-parent, as they’ve pointed their guilt and anger at me, the one who ‘stole’ their children.  Interesting, I’ve always thought, how I can be accused of ‘stealing’ a child who was being bounced around the system for years before I even came into the picture.

They’ve made their beds, these wayward parents, and yet they somehow swear up and down somebody else tucked in the sheets. Take responsibility for their actions?  Not gonna happen…

Today he messaged Billy again, this time in all CAPS, saying something to the effect of, “If you don’t want to talk to me just tell me!”

“Really?”  Billy says.  “He’s angry at ME for not answering him?!?!  If he’d ever made an effort….if he’d ever apologized…if he’d ever even acted like he’d done anything wrong, I could talk to him.  But he only makes excuses…blames other people…oh, someone spiked my Koolaid… bullshit.  One of my few memories of him was him yanking my mom off the couch…was that an accident too?  When he went to jail for those years for beating the crap out of her…someone set him up? Did his arm slip?  And what, he meant to throw those drugs in the garbage, but they bounced off the trash can and into his needle?  It’s not his fault…what a load of crap.”

“So what are you going to do?” I ask.

“Not say a word. If I got started, they’d have to delete all of Facebook because of all the bad words I used. And then everyone would be mad at me…so I’ll just keep my mouth shut.”  He laughs, because laughing it off is easier.

“Oh, I’ll answer him…” says Robin, eyes narrowed.

Oh, the difference in the two reactions…Robin, who barely remembers the abuse, raring to go, ready to take the first punch.  And Billy, afraid to get started…for fear of where it will go.

Billy was about eleven years old when he said, “It’s like there’s a wall inside my brain.  And sometimes the wall gets little holes in it and I can see through.  There are words on the other side that tell it all, but they’re all scrambled up and I can’t read them.  Sometimes the letters change around and I see things.  I see the divorce fight.  I see those people that did the bad stuff.  And then the holes close.” (read My Lost Boy)

Maybe Billy’s brain isn’t quite ready for those holes to open for good.  Maybe he’s afraid if he gets too close to the edge, he’ll fall inside and never climb back out of that pit in which he floundered for so many years.  Maybe, saying nothing at all is the best answer…for Billy.  And nothing else really matters.

21 Responses to "The Contact"
  1. Dad in Tx says:

    Single Dad of one Adopted (now 14 yo girl) child, love and light of my life- but she feels like 8 kids!!! OK, maybe not. But between her (normal) teen drama, and her (abnormal) Adoptive Mom, my Ex,
    I am quite innundated.

    This is good- really good. So glad I fell upon your page.

    I am divorced simply because I could watch my (then) wife having so little interest in out adopted daughter. She never bonded – was so very sad. When I lost all respect, I couldn’t continue.

    But as a single Dad, my focus remains squarely on my girl- as it always will, as this committment is lifelong.

    Well- I will read on- thx for all your efforts!!

    Dad in Tx

  2. Complicated says:

    Maybe Billy has some wisdom in not reacting. It is complicated and far too complicated for a child. Let them be children, but listen to and respect their voices as you have done so far.

    Whether they want to or not they will one day have to deal with these emotions. When you don’t deal with them they haunt you from the inside in the form of illness – like stored energy that needs to be released.

    My situation is a bit different, but I clearly understand how complicated it can be. I was adopted at 11 days old to a family with a Mom and Dad and three other children. Unfortunately back in the 1960’s social services didn’t have the knowledge or information to know that my new Dad had already been beating my Mom. As a small child I got to watch my Dad beat my Mom and these memories were stored so deep in my brain that I didn’t recall them until I was in my late 20’s in the form of flashbacks. These flashbacks seemed like a dream and I had to confirm the details with my Mom to have the realization that the memories were real.

    They got divorced when I was 5 years old and I saw my Dad maybe a handful of times. He never once paid child support. He died last year and we were notified by the police. I hadn’t seen him in almost 28 years. My brother, his wife and I cleaned up his apartment and arranged for his cremation. This was a form of closure for me. Now I know where he is and I can let go.

    Since then I have come to the realization that maybe he knew he was not a good parent and would do more harm to his children than good and that is why he stayed away. There is also the revelation that if I deny that he is my Dad then I am denying who I am. For good or bad he was a part of my life and significantly played a part in forming my early years – I can’t deny that there is stuff I need to work on and that these experiences make me who I am today.

    When I was around 28 years old I met my birthmother and birthfather. I had sugarplums and fairies running around in my head – thinking that everything would be great in my new relationships. Want to talk about complicated – there were grandparents and a husband of 25 years who didn’t even know I existed, siblings who felt misplaced in their birth order, siblings who were excited, emotions that have been stuffed for 28 years, . . .

    Some of the resentment towards the kids’ birthfather is coming across loud and clear. What the kids need to be taught is to focus on the behaviour and not the person. So the kids’ birthparents’ behaviour is bad, the choices they have made are not good because they don’t know better. Otherwise the children may eventually internalize that they share the same DNA and therefore are bad.

    If I would give one piece of advice – it would be lots of counselling and the earlier the better. Give your children an outlet to express what they are feeling because what they are feeling is real. If they deal with some of these feelings now they may not have to address them in adulthood.

    Second piece of advice – LOTS OF LOVE, which you already have covered.

  3. Kristen Giesler says:

    Wow thank you for sharing. I am so proud of you. You are such a wonderful person and mother.

  4. Phew, that’s a load to carry…I know this is so basic, but maybe b/c it’s so basic it gets overlooked-ask him to write the facebook response he would like to write, but wisely won’t. The counselor I saw after the child abuse I went through had me journal through so much crap, it was remarkable. After writing it and burning it up so often, I got it out. Prayers for you all!

  5. Jessica Corcoran says:

    I think he is saying so much by saying nothing…..maybe more than he could say with words. And I don’t think this “dad” deserves the chance to make Billy feel bad about himself later down the line because he said something he might regret or be ashamed of. He has taken enough from Billy already. People like Billy’s bio dad are black holes – I think Billy is wise to stay a safe distance away. Such a wise young man. I’m sure you are so proud 🙂 FYI – could Billy & Robin have been any cuter!! Love that photo!

  6. Buddy L. says:

    Forgiveness, it will set you free, and the real father doesn’t have to share blood, i know this from experience..the boys character will be from the man who’s there.

  7. Wyomom says:

    Billy is at the age where he is beginning to see the adult man he will soon be. It is only natural that he would wonder if some part of him is programmed to be like his bio father, and distance is the safest way he knows to handle it. Contrary to what movies and pulp fiction would have us believe, there are doubts that the “bad seed” exists. A boy will model the man he becomes after the people who make him feel best about himself. He will always, in all ways, be a Riley.

  8. Marcia says:

    Prayers going up for all of you. : )

  9. Mrsp says:

    What a fantastic job you have done with these kids. They are so much more mature than the adults in this story. Hugs to you and the kids.

  10. Lisa McLean says:

    I can definitely empathize with both kids. It’s a lifetime of pain that must be dealt with daily: whether it be consciously, unconsciously, loudly or quietly. I believe your good guidance and love will help them bear this burden and help them find the tools within themselves to make better choices for their own futures. All the best to you and your family. Thanks for sharing another beautifully written experience.

  11. Pam says:

    I can never think of an adequate way to express my reaction to what you are telling us. You are so deep down real and earthy and good. Your young people are so filled with life’s bad stuff, and yet they know you are safe in that you provide a place, a person who will hold their worst whatever, and still love them… with warmth, with firm guidance, with nonsense or no-nonsense when necessary. Your integrity bleeds from your thoughts and words. May you continue to recognize and carry God’s blessings for you and the kids.

  12. Mrs Opinion says:

    Sometimes, no answer is the best. I speak from experience.

    Judging from the few bits of this person’s past behavior, engaging in confrontation; verbal, emotional or physical, is just what he’s looking for. It validates him and his demands for attention. By not engaging, Billy is protecting himself from manipulative behavior until he is old enough to see it clearly for the gradual erosion of boundaries that is too typical of abusers. God bless him and his sister. May He shelter them until they are ready to stand their ground as adults. (Why would an adult engage a child in this way? Absolutely boggles my mind). Thank you for standing in the gap and being said shelter!.

  13. Kristy K. James says:

    On one hand I want to say that it might do Billy some good to get it off his chest, but on the other, he needs to do what works for him. Sometimes it’s right to just let the past go and move on, and he seems to be doing exactly that. It sounds like he has the sperm donor pegged pretty well. It doesn’t matter what he says, the guy won’t ever own up to what he did-or apologize, so why bother? Hopefully Robin will find peace when she thinks about him.

    Some people spend their entire lives wishing they could make a difference. Wishing they could have a real impact in the lives of others. Fortunately, for all of your kids, you’re not on the sidelines just wishing.

  14. justhereforfun says:

    I can’t seem to find the right words for my response… I know so well the excuses the other parent can make for their behavior and I know the picking up the pieces. It seems to me you’ve done a fine job… I wish I had found the right words as you seem to do.

  15. Becca says:

    Praying for you all.
    Letting go of the anger is so hard. It feels like when you let go, you’re saying the behavior was all right…

  16. James D. Haeberle says:

    I had it pretty easy, at least until my eldest was 15 and my youngest was 8 when their momdies of cancer. You seem to take on as many challenges as you can find. I have sometimes prayed for you and the kids, that everything will work out for the best.

  17. Tina says:

    Praying for (((Billy, Robin and you))))))).

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