ADVICE! ADOPTED 3YR OLD ADDICTED TO HEROIN*BEHAVIORS*

Cayla - posted on 09/22/2015 ( 22 moms have responded )

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I need as many people to give advice as possible. I have a son who is 3. He was born addicted to heroin and meth. Then he was traumatized until the age of 1 1/2. He was used for child pornography and left to die in a storage unit and was found tied up in a sheet. First off I just want to say I love this little boy to death! He is extremely smart, sweet and loving (when he wants to be) and has the most awesome personality.

However, he has anger issues. When told no and he gets put in the corner he will mutilate himself scratch his own face punch kick scream etc. He squeezes his hands and fingers as if he has so much emotion going on inside of him he doesn't know how to handle it or control it. My wife and I have another baby we adopted, she is 1. He attacks her often. And its usually for no reason. He does not understand boundaries. I can tell there is a disconnect and it seems like he cannot grasp the concept of most things like when I explain to him what he did wrong and why it is wrong. I don't think he has a conscience or emotional feelings for that matter. He lies, manipulates, and tries to find out what you don't like about im and keep doing it to upset you. He also looks for things you like so he can destroy them (cell phones, makeup, my sons drawings, babies toys etc) He also collects "tools", nails/screws, broken mechanical pencils and hides the shards in small containers. He will randomly attack my older kids' friends that come over. He just hit my sons friend in the head with a metal bat last week and the kids is supposed to go in the heart surgery soon. I'm glad he didn't kill him, but im worried because if he was older and stronger he would have done just that. My oldest son who is 14 is scared to go to college because he thinks the baby will try and kill us, And the most emotion I see from my youngest son is anger and when he is happy is when I explain to him how he hurt someone, almost as if it brings him joy to see other people in pain. My wife and I have had to stop him a couple of times from trying inappropriate things with his baby sister while we are changing her diaper. At night we have to lock our baby up and strap down bungee cords real tight and fasten them onto the baby gate we drilled into the door frame. We do not leave him alone with her for both of their safety. She was born with the same addiction but thankfully she did not endure trauma, she was taken at birth. At first my wife and I thought we just had a little cereal killer on our hands because he snuck concentrated powder draino from the trash can and 2 weeks later poured some on everyone's toothbrush (including the babies) except his own. Then places the drano back in the cabinet but I think he forgot we threw it away. I was brushing my teeth in the shower and my mouth started to burn, thank God I was the only one who ingested it and not one of my other 3 kids. (2 older biological children and the baby). Or my wife. Now I have heard of people have temper tantrum issues or kids being destructive, but it seems calculated. I think that drugs completely destroyed his brains ability to comprehend emotion. He is only 3 years old, I know time is running out to teach him right from wrong before he gets stuck in his ways. The only perception he has of right and wrong is "If I do this bad thing, will I get caught or not?" If ANYBODY is familiar with these issues and knows the name of what is going on with him PLEASE give me any and all information you have. I just want to protect my family and help this little boy become a good person. He deserves a better shot at life.

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Sarah - posted on 09/23/2015

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You have a hard road ahead. He may need a treatment home, but may some of Karyn ' s information will help you. She does run a treatment facility in Texas (might be something to look into too just in case you might need something like that). She has some amazing stuff about brain development and what happens to the brain when there is abuse or stress. Look at the attachment stuff. There is definite attachment disorder. There might be some sensory issues, which can lead to him going off when there seems to be no reason. Sometimes a smell, a sound, a word, etc. will just set them off......sometimes that is because subconsciously it brings him back to the abuse. Then his body goes into a fight, flight, or freeze motion. For him it sounds like his body goes to fight. This is how he survived through the abuse, but this is also what hinders him from moving forward. You will also want to get a psyc. evaluation to make sure there are no issues that way. There might be some psyc. issues his parents suffered from. Many times those that do illegal drugs are self medicating a mental illness. His early abuse can also create psyc. issues. For some they go within their head/mind to survive.

Sarah - posted on 09/23/2015

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Cayla read Karyn Purvis' stuff it will give you a better understanding about what I am saying and why you can't do in the corner. You do need to address the behavior but that comes second to the need. He can't communicate the need to you. He may not know what need he has. He may need a hug, but the only way he knows how to ask for it is my being violent. His brain might be going crazy and he can't verbally tell you that. Really Google Karyn Purvis. I am an adoption social worker and her books and Dvd's are a requirement for all the families I work with.

Sarah - posted on 09/23/2015

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When you state that you don't feel he intends to do these things:
" And no, I do not think he does these things on purpose either, I am simply saying we know there has to be something else that's wrong with his mind but just want to find out what it could be"
I am sorry but I disagree, he hides tools to execute future acts, he plotted a poisoning. He intends to hurt you and your family. Is he RESPONSIBLE? No, I don't think so. He has not learned empathy. To put him time out in the corner, may bring up PTSD of him being locked in a crate wrapped in a sheet. At 3 he may not be able to tell you what is on his mind or why he wants to hurt you or others. I know you are doing your best and you are desperate and not looking for opinions just advice. Have you contacted the University of Chicago Children's dept. or Robert and Ann H Lurie Hospital? They both have top notch program for kids. I think you are out of your depth and 24 hour supervision is not out of reach, does he have an alarm on his bed or door? So you know when he gets up?

Dove - posted on 09/23/2015

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He desperately needs constant one on one care, so whatever steps you have to take to make that happen... is likely the only way things will ever get better.

Dove - posted on 09/23/2015

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He's 3... if he is given constant supervision and a full grown adult is still going to be afraid of being hurt by him (since if he is constantly supervised he will have no access to anything dangerous)... you guys are screwed. If he picks locks... try getting a safe w/ a keypad... You need to talk to the social worker or therapist for additional resources and I fully agree w/ Sarah about time out being harmful here.

Yes, respite people 'should' be trained to handle him. Situations like yours are what they are for.

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Gardensparrow - posted on 09/29/2015

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You're so welcome, Cayla. I know it's so hard finding the right help for issues like these, and you can often feel like you're running into a lot of dead ends. But I'll be praying that your family will find the assistance you need for your son. Keep us posted on how he's doing, OK?

Sarah - posted on 09/25/2015

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Sarah H. brings up a good idea; contact Karen Purvis' institute directly and ask for help. Someone must be able to offer some referral to a clinician that can help you. At 3 he is too young for residential treatment, but that may be a good option in the future if you continue to struggle with impulse control. God Bless you for opening your hearts and home to these kids. I can't imagine how hard this must be for you!

Sarah - posted on 09/25/2015

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That is one thing I wish states would do a better job at. They need to educate families on the realities of older child, mental health, abuse, and alcohol exposure. Then they need to have families research and have a list of resources for when they do need them as they will need them at some point in the child's life.

I would try to do a Google search for sponsorship and grants. I would also see if any of the Karyn Purvis information has any financial help resources. Her institute is really good and this is where I would sends my kids if I needed help.

Cayla - posted on 09/24/2015

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Sarah Hofland..This definitely makes sense. We do not know a lot about his birth mother accept that she has a long history of drugs and criminal activity and so does her mother (grandmother). I was super happy to see emotion come from him yesterday, I witnessed fear and sadness. That sounds bad so let me explain lol. Before we knew in depth about these issues (which is just recently) we were worried about his behaviors and couldn't understand why he was acting out more and more. So we explained that when people make bad choices and choose to hurt other people they have consequences for their actions. The people who make very bad choices have to live with other bad people who make bad choices and they do not get toys or t.v. etc etc, basically we were explaining "jail" but in a sugar coated easy way for him to understand. Now I understand that we should have never had that conversation with him because of his mental disability, but like I stated before, we were given very minimum knowledge about his issues and did not understand what was going on in his mind. We felt like he needed to learn about consequences because we didn't want him to get older and have worse behaviors and it snowballed into something major. The only reason why we discussed this with him is because any type of action we did to show him consequence for him hurting other people or destroying things (removing certain toys, movies, time out etc) nothing seemed to work and the behaviors worsened, not in front of me and my wife but mainly when we were not around. I can tell he does not want to disappoint us but when we leave his side his mind switches to "what can I get away with while my parents are gone" ... or so we thought. So long story short, my wife and I were discussing that we needed to speak with an officer to get some advice about another issue we had (a civil matter) and he jumped in the conversation and looked worried and said are you going to the police house? We said no. At that moment I felt a big relief because he does NOT show any form of emotion unless its anger. Even when he cry's he is still angry. Now my wife and I know that we took the wrong approach and will have to fix what we did but it is a learning process. These kids and their mentality are extremely fragile and you have to be ever so careful of how you explain, teach, and "read" them. I just wish we had better help because the people we work with are not showing any positive results with progress, and they do not give us advice on how the entire family (all 4 kids) can work as a team to help each other. I would love for someone to explain to my kids his issues and teach them how to interact with him. My older kids don't understand and think he is just a bad little kid. But then again they are only 12 and 14.

Last note.. (sorry for being so long winded) Now that the adoption is final, any other help that he may need that is not the bare minimum basic, the state does not pay for anymore. That would have to come out of our pockets. I know the help he needs can be very expensive but again, that is another thing they failed to mention. Would you happen to know of any organizations, etc that help fund or are non profit that would be a good place for him? I don't trust the "facts" from the internet now days and I don't want to waist our time and his when time is so precious right now.

Cayla - posted on 09/24/2015

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sarah, we just recently got an alarm but thought maybe we might be going to far with that. Also the alarm we got is very loud and if we wake the baby up she will NOT go back to sleep for the rest of the night. She was born with the same addiction as her brother. They both have the same mother. But with the baby she definitely shows lots of emotion and is extremely loving. But I am also worried that because of the issues she has with her brain that she might start to have behaviors in the future as well. Especially since she sees what her brother does and mimics him sometimes. Another thing is her temper is way worse than his. You could accidently bump into her and she stomps, screams, yells, and tries to grab, bite, pinch etc. But I think she got that way more out of self defense than anything because her brother tries to abuse her physically as often as possible. I want both of them to be able to have a play mate and healthy interaction but don't know anybody with kids their age for them to play with, and with my son having random harful outbursts towards anybody he comes across, I would not want to put anybody's child in harms way. But if I met another parent who had a child with similar issues, would it be safe for them to interact? Or would that just add fuel to the fire?

Cayla - posted on 09/23/2015

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I have just emailed them. I am researching her now. I will purchase her book this weekend. The social workers and therapists are not giving us the proper help. The social workers just recommended we put him in a home when he turns 10 and I wont do that.

Cayla - posted on 09/23/2015

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When we put him in the corner it is usually because he hurt someone or destroyed something. We have tried asking him a million different time and a million different ways about how he feels, why he did that, is he ok, does he want to talk, what happened etc etc etc, he is in silence. He wont tell you anything. He just stands there and stairs at you. We have even tried cuddling in the bed with him and getting him very comfortable, rubbing his head and face telling him how much we love him and asking him when his guard is down... still doesn't work. He clams up. And we have explained over and over what he did was wrong and how it was wrong, he needs to understand that there are consequences for his actions especially if he has no emotion because it's going to be hard for him to feel bad for what he does. He has no remorse.

Sarah - posted on 09/23/2015

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You really need to talk to your adoption social worker and get some resources. Also Google Karyn Purvis and read her stuff. You are actually continuing the damage by how you are disciplining. You can't do time outs or sitting in a corner.....that is one of the worst things for a child who has been abused. In many ways it continues the abuse because at that moment he has a need......he is not communicating it in the right way, but by you putting him in the corner continues the neglect of that need. Instead you need to look past the behavior and figure out the need.

Cayla - posted on 09/23/2015

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There is no one we can hire that he will not try to physically harm. We have tried that. And us taking sleep schedules is not going to work. My wife had to quit her job just to stay at home with him, but if she stays up all night how is she going to care for the baby in the morning until the kids get home from school, and we cant have our older kids help us parent. They need to focus on school and being kids. When she was working we have already tried to change our schedules as much as possible so he is not left at daycare for very long. He has already been kicked out of a few day cares and they do not want to deal with him. They call us to come pick him up. When I get home I have to let her get rest and help with the kids, clean, run errands etc. The work is never done. I just recently heard of this thing called respite that we can try to qualify for, but I don't know if they will have someone who is trained enough to handle him. I would be worried sick that he would try and harm that person while we are gone. But we are going to give it a shot.

Dove - posted on 09/23/2015

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Sounds like you need to hire someone to watch him at night... or take sleeping shifts w/ your spouse or something, so that he is completely supervised 24/7.

Cayla - posted on 09/23/2015

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And the baseball bat is my oldest sons, he had it in his room and my young son go a hold to it. I am not sure where to put it and I don't want to get rid of it, that's not fair to my oldest son who plays with it. We don't just keep dangerous things laying around. He sneaks and finds ways to get to these things.

Cayla - posted on 09/23/2015

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Dove, don't you think we have tried all of those things???... All of our cleaning supplies is put high up safe from little kids to get to them, child proof tops, duct tape the cabinets at night, everyone locks their doors at night, but then he hides these little tools and uses them to pop locks, tear duct tape, grabs chairs to stand on to get to high places. I can only secure my house so much every night. My house looks damn near bear to the bone because of all the stuff I have to put away to make sure he cant get to it. I tried locking the chairs in the garage at night, but he hops on the kitchen counter and unlocks the dead bolt to get in the garage and not only gets the chair but also hides even more "tools". My kids have to hide their school supplies, we have to burry the knives in places we hope and pray he wont break into and find. We all sneak in the house to put things away so he doesn't see our hiding spot and its not like we can lock him up at night because he was locked in a storage unit, that would make him flip out!... So yes Dove... we have tried all of those things. We have had classes and multiple talks about cleaning supplies etc and how dangerous it is and not to touch it. Showed him the skull and cross bones symbol etc, this was BEFORE the whole draino incident. And I wouldn't mind putting him on medication as long as it doesn't make him a zombie, that's not fair to him. We just recently purchased pad locks, but he gets a hold of the keys. He will sneak when the kids get home and go into their room and get the keys. I can tell my kids to make sure to lock their bedroom door every time they leave their room, but eventually somebody is going to forget. They are just kids themselves. Trust me, we have tried EVERYTHING.

Dove - posted on 09/23/2015

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Why isn't your home severely child proofed? All poisons and sharp objects should be under lock and key... he should not have access to things he can use as a weapon (like a metal baseball bat...).

He very well may need to be medicated... I'm not saying he WILL, but don't shut that idea off completely because medication can and does save lives w/ some disorders.

Cayla - posted on 09/23/2015

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I know we don't have a serial killer, That's why I posted that we knew it had to be something going on with his brain and that he is not just violent because of the trauma but there is something wrong due to the drugs. Yes we have someone that we use but it seems like that makes his behaviors worse. He was passed around a few times before my wife was contacted and asked to keep him. I think that he thinks anybody who looks like they work for child services could possibly take him away. But even though he is fully adopted now he still thinks that way. And no, I do not think he does these things on purpose either, I am simply saying we know there has to be something else that's wrong with his mind but just want to find out what it could be. The therapist we use is useless. We need more help then that with him and I don't and wont put him on medication if its just going to make my son a little zombie. There is minimum help we are receiving and because of his case, child protective services wont hardly tell us anything of the full extent of what happened to him.

Last night when I got home from work he was super happy and loving, the whole house was happy and it was great. I gave him some candy for being a good boy that day and he passed out lots of hugs and kisses. But then late last night when everybody was sleeping my wife caught him digging in the silver wear drawer and wasn't making anything to eat because there was nothing to make without help from us or the big kids. He has been known to raid the fridge from time to time.

But thank you so much GardenSparrow for providing some type of information to further help our search and not just giving your personal opinion of what we already are aware of. I will definitely be looking into that.

Sarah - posted on 09/23/2015

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I agree that therapy is critical! And with a psychologist that deals with this sort of child. He is certainly not beyond help, but it 's going to take so specialized therapy to help him learn empathy and compassion. He was never shown love or affection at only pain and abuse. On top of the drug use during his gestation, he is a troubled child. The Drano on the toothbrushes is worrisome because it show an ability to plan for intended consequences. It was not a simple outburst of rage like the bat. He is a lucky boy to have parents who love him and want to help him, best of luck!

Gardensparrow - posted on 09/23/2015

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Well, I'd have to second Jodi's advice to strongly consider therapy. A lot of adopted children who come from difficult backgrounds, like your son, can have attachment issues (Reactive Attachment Disorder). So, you would need to find a counselor that specialize in this area to see if that's what you're dealing with.

If this is the case, don't give up hope on your son. There is help available out there. In fact, if your family is interested, there's someone by the name of Dr. Karyn Purvis (The TCI Institute of Child Development-http://child.tcu.edu/) who has done a ton of research and work on this subject. She even wrote a book called The Connected Child that covers a lot of what you shared. So, it might be worth checking out the website above and seeing if they have any referrals in your area.

But, in the meantime, I'll certainly be praying for your family as you seek to know how to respond. I hope some of this info helps...

Jodi - posted on 09/23/2015

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I am assuming you have this child in therapy of some kind. If you don't you need to - the therapist will then be able to support your family with this little boy. The problem you have here is a child who has endured extreme trauma. Trauma such as this causes the brain connections to connect in ways that don't happen in normal development. He is not a "serial killer", that's a really unfair assessment. To suggest that he does these things deliberately is also unfair. You need a therapist to help you with this. Unfortunately, there are some brain connections that likely will never be made. It is a biological fact that there are windows of development for some things with regard to neural connections. But the brain is a wonderful and fascinating thing - it is perfectly possible for you to work with this child to form new brain connections and while he may always have issues of trauma, he will be able to become a functioning member of society.

So please, get help ASAP. The sooner you seek this help, the better.

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