How to help boyfriend?
I have a boyfriend who was adopted. He's 18 years old, and lives alone. He still stays in contact with his adoptive parents, but they are now divorced and his relationship with his adoptive mother is not very good. He seems to have most of the signs you have mentioned, like a need for attention, but he luckily did not turn to drugs or alcohol, instead he went to music. He now plays and sings the music for his own songs. But there is, and always will be that emptiness there.
He recently discovered some information about his biological parents. Both were drug abusers with psychological problems. The family history on both sides suffered either from depression or schizophrenia. He also learned that he was the result from his mother's night of drinking with her male best friend. This news nearly destroyed him. He is keeping his head up, but inside I know he wants to cry.
Plus, he doesn't have anyone else to talk with about this private matter, and I reassured him that I will be there. I suggested that he see a psychiatrist, but he refused, and cannot afford to see one in the first place. His behavior is changing, and I see signs of depression in him.
Can you help me, or offer advice that would allow me to help him "the right way"?
In my opinion, there isn't really a "right" way to help somebody who is going through a difficult time. It sounds to me like you are doing everything you can be being there for him if and when he decided to let you in. Remember that your boyfriend is not only dealing with the original abandonment of being adopted, but also the divorce of his adoptive parents, which sometimes feels like an abandonment as well. It is wonderful to hear that he has chosen to channel his feelings into music. It is certainly better than drugs and alcohol, but can be detrimental if he attempts to "lose" himself in his music.
Generally, adoptees envision their parents as being rich, famous, or royalty. Your boyfriend is reeling from the disturbing knowledge that there is a great deal of mental illness and drug abuse in his family. Adoptees frequently fantasize that their parents were madly in love and were forced to give them up. To learn that he is a product of promiscuity is a difficult fact to swallow. Couple that knowledge with the fact that he does not get along with his adoptive mother and you have a boyfriend with many issues. These issues will haunt him and his depression will only get worse if he continues to keep all his feelings inside. I realize that he can't afford a psychiatrist, but I am sure that there are sliding scale counseling centers near him.
You sound like someone who truly cares about him, otherwise you would not have written your note to me. However, he needs professional help and intervention to help him accept the cards that have been dealt. The following are my suggestions for you (and him):
- Tell him how concerned you are about him.
- Reassure him that you love him and will help him see this through to the end.
- Let him know that you have written me and direct him to this web site.
- Check out your local listings to find sliding scale counseling centers.
- Go to http://www.calib.com/naic/database/index.htm and click on your area. There are nationwide resources for support groups and counseling for members of the adoption community.
- Assure him that just because he has mental illness and disease in his family, it does not mean that he is doomed to suffer the same fate. He should however be extra vigilant about his health and use of substances.
- Let him know that it is ok to cry. Real men do cry.
- Remind him that there is hope and that he is never alone. There are many other adoptees who feel or have felt just as he does.
Good Luck, and be patient with him. Patience and love is what he needs right now.
This question was answered by Kasey Hamner. Kasey Hamner has a Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology, a Masters of Science degree in Counseling, a Pupil Personnel Services Credential authorizing her services as a School Psychologist, and is a Licensed Educational Psychologist. She specializes in adoption related issues including search and reunion, abandonment, self-esteem, substance abuse, depression, and relationship difficulties. Also amongst her specialties are children's issues including adoption, abandonment, ADD, special education and so on. Her approach is eclectic and is adapted to suit the individual's needs.