7 e. Unwanted at Home

Some youngsters come here because their caregivers refuse to continue with the responsibility of raising them.  Perhaps, as the youngster grows, he or she becomes more rebellious and difficult to control and the grandparent, or the custodian parent, decides to request that the parents or parent here send for them, as the problems get more serious. Then, this young person has to struggle with a mixture of difficult feelings: on the one part, the excitement of coming to the land he has known only in the TV, movies and long tales. However, on the other, he is being sent here in a way that makes him feel unworthy of love, “disposable” and rejected. Very much like a punishment. Furthermore, he is coming to a parent that has not really invited him, but who is just allowing him to come because “there is no other alternative or, because everybody is tired of him/her and believes that he needs to get out or, that he/she will be in greater trouble”. What an unsavory start for a new life with this barely known parent in a totally new environment!  So, it is no surprise that as these youngsters arrive, trouble begins very shortly after.

Edwin came from a large city, where he was under the care of his mother, her husband and grandmother.  A rather challenging child to care for since he was very little, he had been diagnosed as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder during elementary school. Although in treatment with a psychologist, difficulties in the private school he attended, where his behavior had resulted in him being expelled, and growing conflicts at home with his mother and stepfather had resulted in increased truancy, drugs experimentation and run away behavior.  With a chaotic life, at 15 he ended up joining the Army by lying about his age. Training in weapons and a few very scary experiences during patrols had him back with his mother, who this time decided to send him to his father, now remarried and living in the US. His father and stepmom wanted very much to give him a chance at a better life, however they had not been told the extent of the problems this child had experienced. They were in for a shock when Edwin started showing abusive behaviors with the half brothers and sisters, skipping classes, leaving the house at night and finally getting caught in a shoplifting incident that took him to court. Of course, in part it was his impulsiveness and difficulties in using his judgment that was at the base of all these problems, just months after his arrival.  However, it was his need to test the limits to which his new family would go before they would get rid of him too, that was also an important part of the dynamics involved in his rapid deterioration. When talking to him, it was easy to see his great vulnerability and anxiety under all the bravado and the boasting about all the experiences he had survived.  His longing for containment and care was easily observable. Fortunately, even though this situation almost broke the marriage, the parents were willing to continue to give him a new opportunity as they were able to understand the feelings under the surface of his acting out.  At this point, they were also supported by the legal system here and Edwin was put on probation. Edwin finally calmed down, started to feel safer and more secure in the relationship with his father and stepmom and begun to finally engage in the business of being a student. How could he do that before, if he constantly felt he had one foot here and the other out the door?