To the Brink and Back

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Adoption / Family Ties / Foster Care / Parenting Skills and Spills / Wrestling with Angels

The “D” word.

I said the “D” word.


Despite my reservations, I let E go down for a week and a half-long visit with Bmom and his bio siblings. I couldn’t come up with a better reason for him not to go than “I don’t think it’s a good idea,” and couldn’t explain beyond that, so I caved. Next time I’ll know better, but you know what they say about hindsight. 

During the summer, E and I had talked a bit about him getting a new phone. He has a basic pre-paid phone, and some button wasn’t working right. I told him to save his money so he could get a new one. Later, he said Bmom could give him hers when she upgraded.

While he was down there, he called. They were at the phone store. He needed to be added as an authorized user to be put on our family plan (something we’d discussed as a possibility, but not decided on definitely). By doing so, his new smartphone would be much less expensive.

All of a sudden, there were many more factors to consider. We’d never talked about him getting a smart phone. This situation was Bmom buying a phone, not upgrading and giving him the old one. And HELL no was he being added as an authorized user to Dude’s account (not that he could at 14 anyway). 

After a little bit of arguing, I told him I’d think about it. I talked to Dude. We decided that I’d upgrade, since I’ve been eligible for months, and E could have my iPhone. I told E. He did not find this an acceptable alternative. He asked why Bmom could not just put him on her plan. I nipped that idea in the bud. I’m  the mom, handle the cell phone usage.

On our way down to get him (because Bmom apparently couldn’t afford gas until she got paid), E called. I repeated the “no you’re not going on her plan” idea. He started getting angry. I started raising my voice, and then took a breath and calmed down. He did not. He started screaming at me. I put him on speaker so Dude could hear. I kept calmly repeating that unless he stopped yelling, we would not continue the conversation. He didn’t. I finally said, “I’ll see in you in an hour. Good-bye,” and hung up. I never hang up on people. I think it’s rude and unhelpful. However, E was clearly not going to calm down, and I was not going to sit and be treated like that. Done.

When I picked E up, he got in the car, said one rude comment, and then was silent the entire 2+ hours back, and went straight to bed when we got home.

I had camp the next morning and had to leave before he got up, so I confiscated his iPod and phone and left a note that said he was grounded and we’d talk when I got home. Not my favorite way to pass on that message, but I wasn’t about to deal with it the night before, wake him up, or let him have his stuff until I got home, so that’s what was left.

When I got home, we talked. Or tried to. He said he was done, he wanted to go home, that the only reason he wasn’t going back was because he knew he’d have to go into foster care again. I kept my calm. I listened. I told him I didn’t think that was a good decision, and that I didn’t think he’d become the person he wanted to be by living down there. We talked a little more, and I was able to hear that some of his anger was due to my relationship with Dude and all the changes. Then he called me a name, and I ended things, telling him that we’d continue when he could be respectful. 

He did not like this. He wanted to go to his friend’s house. I reminded him that he was, in fact, grounded. He threw a fit and demanded our old social worker’s number so he could call and be removed immediately. I hesitated at first, not wanting to give in to his demands, and then relented, telling him to go ahead and call. I was going to walk the dogs.

I left, and a few moments later my phone rang. It was the house. I ignored it, figuring he hadn’t gotten through and wanted to make more demands. Instead, I called the social worker’s cell phone (I’d given him her office number) and left a message for her to call me, that I thought we were at risk for disruption.

She called back quickly, and we talked for my entire 3.5 mi walk with the dogs. She said she’d drive up to visit the next day, talk to E about the reality of what this would mean, and then talk to me and/or us. 

I got home and told E she was coming tomorrow. I don’t think he expected that, honestly. I think he figured I’d argue and plead and refuse to let him leave. However, at that point, I honestly wasn’t sure him leaving was such a bad thing. 

She came. They talked for two hours. She and I talked for another hour. E came down and the three of us sort of talked for a few more minutes. He would stay, and we would work on our relationship. No visits with Bmom scheduled for now. She left, and I turned to find him in the kitchen covering his face. 

I went over to him and held him. We talked some more about what had happened, and what we could learn from it and his behavior. Later, the five of us went out for pizza, and tried to re-connect as a family.

That was two weeks ago. We had a wonderful few days of awesome behavior. I knew it wouldn’t last, but so far at least there’s been no mention of wanting to leave. Things are back to normal. 

School started last week. He’s already behind, having to finish homework at school tomorrow because he put it off and ended up not having time today between being at friends’ houses. I jokingly said something about a good lesson to learn, and he (most likely over-tired), responded disrespectfully. I gave him a couple warnings, but he’s lost his technology again. Not that he has his phone anyway–it’s at one of the friend’s house, because he couldn’t find it.

Yeah, that’s the way to show me he’s responsible enough for a smartphone…sigh. Teenagers.

The Author

I'm a pastor. I believe in radical love and ridiculous grace. I love to sing and sew, and have a shop on Etsy. I'm trying to make my ecological footprint smaller. I have chickens who provide endless entertainment. Oh, and I'm a formerly single mom by choice, son E (born 6/00, placed 11/23/11, adoption finalized 11/21/14) and now making a life with The Dude and his two kids, Girl-E (12/02) and C (9/04). Baby Bumpy due to arrive around 5/25/15! This blog chronicles my thoughts on faith, family, and the wild adventure we call Life!


  1. Found you via NaBloPoMo. I’m sorry for the struggles. I do wonder though…how the heck could she afford a smart phone, but not gas?


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