A little background. I first met this child when he was about 18 months old. His father was no longer in a relationship with his mother for a number of reasons I don't need to go into at this time. We were married within 7 months and we moved away a few months after that. We had to do what was best for us at the time, and over the last ten years it has proven to be the right choice again and again. We've always supported his son financially. When he was 3 years old, his mother wanted him out of the way so she could remodel her house. He came to live with us for about 9 months. At that time he was not potty trained or even close to it. He was still drinking out of a bottle. In fact he would walk around with it hanging out of his mouth. He threw a lot of tantrums, and I just chalked it up to terrible twos/threes. I had no children of my own at that point so I did the best I could given the circumstances. While this post is not about money, I will note that she did not send a dime to support her son while he was living with us. I worked full time so I had to pay for him to go to daycare. I returned him bottle-free and potty trained.
Fast forward a couple years. We had been trying to get him for the summer and/or holiday breaks with no luck. She finally agreed to let him come for the summer when he was 5 - IF we took his older sister too. She's not my husband's kid, but we agreed to it so we could spend time with our son. By this time I had my daughter who was around 15 months. The two kids came for a month. It was the only way it could work given the differing school schedules between our state and theirs. Again she sent no money to support her children. We had to pay $100 for each for the unaccompanied minor fee to send them back. We were not reimbursed. During their stay I noticed his behavior seemed a little unruly but again I'm no parenting expert so what did I know?
Every summer since then we were unsuccessful at getting him to visit. His mother was always full of excuses and kept putting him in a "summer program". Finally this past summer we booked a ticket for him. He arrived the day after his school got out. Throughout the summer it became very evident to us that he had not been properly cared for or supervised back home. At ten years old there is a certain expectation of self-sufficiency and responsibility. This child displays none of those characteristics. I could tell that his reading was extremely poor. I urged my husband to keep him and enroll him in school here. I fought for him to stay. Finally a few days before school was to start I won, or so I thought. Both bio parents agreed to give it a year. I enrolled him in school and began the painstaking process of peeling the onion to uncover all of the mess underneath.
After several conferences with his teacher and the pediatrician, we have obtained an ADHD diagnosis. He's receiving special ed services for emotional behavior disorder. That basically means they make accommodations for him because he's a pain in the ass. He was receiving similar services at his school back home. His mother never said a word about it!! Had we had this information we wouldn't have been spinning our wheels for months. It is so infuriating how some parents don't care how their children behave or what they might need. Try spending some time with your kid instead of working 24/7 in pursuit of material things.
Even though I know the kid has issues and we have him on medication, I still find him extremely annoying. And I can't change the tone of my voice or the look on my face to conceal my annoyance. Does that make me a monster? I'm not treating him any differently than any of my other kids. I let those two know when they are annoying me as well. Part of the problem is he's a liar. His mother is a habitual liar and she's taught him to tell lies to try to avoid consequences. It seems to be the only thing she has ever taught him. He cries at school when he doesn't get his way. Now everyone in his class is annoyed by him too. He doesn't cry at home, which leads me to believe that he knows exactly what he is doing. He is constantly seeking attention. Not for anything good either. Maybe he never got attention because his mother was never home. Or maybe the ADHD makes him do it. Whatever the cause, I don't reward attention-seeking behavior with the benefit of my attention. Go be a clown somewhere else.
Academically he is not struggling at all. He has excellent grades. At the start of the school year he tested at a third grade reading level. He's now testing at a sixth grade level. We make him read every day and we give him extra work to do during school breaks. He struggles socially. That's an understatement. He behaves so immaturely that we commonly joke that we have three 6-year-olds. Our kids are 2, 6, and 11. He is constantly bickering with his sister. The behavior seems consistent with her age but not his. She actually takes more initiative to help with the baby and do things around the house than he does. He really only has one chore - sweep the kitchen after dinner. Yet there's a 50/50 chance he will forget to do it.
I'm really trying to be a good mother. I know I lack empathy. The nice mom voice. Fun ideas to keep them entertained. But I have more patience than a lot of people. I only snap when they are being really ridiculous and I'm outnumbered.
If I can remember to blog I will explore ways of dealing with ADHD and making a happier home.
P.S. He's been here nearly 8 months and she's yet to send any money.