November 24th, 2007
Posted By:
Categories: My family

Imagine my surprise to check in on my blog tonight and find a message from “Amy”, who used her real name, signed in and dressed me down in a comment. A previous blog sported another comment from “fearless” who sounds even more like my very disgruntled son, Tommy. Some of my family members are of the opinion that Tommy talked Amy into commenting. Who knows.

In “fearless’s” latest comment, he/she (?) stated “I hope you learn to forgive him for things you have both done to each other.” Additionally, he states he didn’t accuse me of being “a mad mother to the other three”, only to the two I “couldn’t control.” It appears he believes the difficulty in those relationships was solely due to “my issues” and had nothing to do with the kids … and yet there is that comment about “things you have both done to each other.” So which is it? Either I was mean and controlling, or the kids had something to do with it but I wasn’t allowed to have any feelings or reactions to what they did (or didn’t) do.


First of all, I am hurt, I am wounded, I am frustrated, and I am depressed and yes, somewhat resentful over the way things unfolded with Tommy and Amy. But incapable of “forgiving” them? No. I have thought a great deal about “Member’s” recent comment that Amy’s “crime” is rejecting my love. And about “Member’s” fear that the “punishment” I meted out was blasting Amy on my blog. I write about my pain because I feel it, it is real, and I seriously doubt I am the only parent of an attachment-affected child who feels the way I do. Whether or not I write about it, I feel it. My mom flat-out stated she couldn’t “put it all out there” the way I do. Most folks can’t. I don’t know why I can. What I do know is what I feel and what I write resonates with others in my shoes. We can’t all be making this up. We can’t all be feeling our feelings in a vacuum. We surely can’t all be “failing” with our kids because we “can’t control them.” But I get that expressing my pain is quite uncomfortable for the individuals who had much to do with creating that pain. I will honor Amy’s request to not write about her “adult” life. But Lord knows I am not looking to be involved. I didn’t solicit the frantic phone call from Amy’s boyfriend’s mom. Must’ve been something about Amy that prompted this mom to do her own research. How is that because of me?

Does “fearless” really believe things didn’t work with Tommy and Amy because I “couldn’t control them”?

I am having a hard time writing a coherent blog because of all the thoughts swirling through my head. I’m trying to meld my memories of kids who were so angry they were dangerous, or so shut down they didn’t bathe but wouldn’t take medication or participate in therapy to make improvements, with the concept that things didn’t work because I “couldn’t control them.” I’m trying very hard not to dredge up the past, dwell on poor choices made by the kids in question, or absolve myself of any responsibility for the outcome of these two failed relationships, but I can’t help but question why other areas of these two individuals’ lives are so challenging for them if the problem was all me. Tommy only lived with my family for about one-eighth of his life. How is it that his problems and issues are all because of my treatment of him?

My folks read Amy’s comment and their response was acknowledgment of how angry she is with me. And for what? Because I expected things of her? Like bathing, basic money management, some academic interest, just a whit of acknowledgment of all she received by living in our home? Are those such terrible expectations?

I have to chew on this some more. More thoughts to come. What do you all think?

Photo Credit

30 Responses to “Another country heard from …”

  1. ATHiker says:

    You know it was pretty difficult to read the entry by “Amy” and the entries by Fearless. I keep thinking if it’s hard for me to read it, and I didn’t live it… how hard it must be for you.

    I think your entire relationship with her was pretty accurately summed up in the card she gave you thanking you for letting her be a part of YOUR family. She essentially repeated the concept in her post referring to no longer being the child living in YOUR home. It’s really sad that she never felt that she belonged there.

    Knowing your fondness for simple, plain talking… might I ask a question? Do you think blogging about Amy and Tommy helps you purge the pain, or do you think it keeps you stirred up and angry about the ways things turned out? I’m curious about your take on that thought.

    I have to end this by letting you know how much I enjoy reading your blog. I look forward to hearing about how things are going with little Dora, how Beth is continuing to work through her feelings, and all the other things you share. I’ve followed your story since the beginning and you’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know. We are the very proud parents of an international adoptee and I pray every single day that he really knows how wonderful and special he is to us. I think the best piece of advice I ever got from you was that I had to believe he was competent and capable of doing what I asked. It’s made a difference in how I approach him. I never want him to feel like I don’t think he can succeed.

    Thank you Nancy for being willing to lay it all out there. I’m sorry that you’re still hurting and worried about your other two long-since-grown babies.

    May God bless you and keep you always!!

  2. BEACHLADY says:

    Hang in there Nancy.

    Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  3. wirth says:

    I’m curious as to what type of medication Amy refused to take. Did she ever take medication and did it help her?

    I’m quite surprised at the quality of Amy’s writing, given her age and upbringing. My first question is what is this the result of, possible learning disabilities, mental deficits, ADD, or other problems? My second comment/question is that most children, with the above, can be taught, and learn basic writing skills. What happened with Amy? Was she ever evaluated or given special education services in school?

  4. Wirth, I’m not going to get into med options, for many reasons, but suffice it to say we tried several, over many years, for different reasons, and saw no change. She felt no change, she was opposed to taking them and didn’t comply. Several different docs involved. And yes, many, many evals and therapists and professionals involved all along the way. The consensus was the tools were there, the willingness was not.

  5. pat johnston says:

    Where IS this comment from me, Nancy? The link doesn’t go there, and I don’t remember being this publicly blunt with you!

  6. pat johnston says:

    So I’v'e now spent half an hour looking back at my posts and still couldn’t find what you are referring to. Then I began to look at posts that were NOT mine.

    You think I’m the person who posted twice to the 11/20 blog as just “Member” don’t you?

    Not me Nancy! I NEVER post ANYTHING on the Internet anonymously!I don’t even use an alias. When I have something to say publicly here or on any blog or board I use my full name–Pat Johnston. Never have, never will. Sometimes I write to you privately, but I NEVER post anonymously.

    Apology accepted without being posted.

  7. MamaS says:

    Nancy: Yes, you and hurt and angry. Yes, it sometimes shows in your writing. You would not be human if it didn’t. But the love you have for Amy AND Sammy and the regret you have for their choices also shows through. It is not surprising that they don’t hear that in your blog — they never heard it when you told them in person, did they?
    When I started reading your blog, it was the personal experiences you had that resonated with me. Anyone can say “A RAD child can be resistant and disruptive.” Your story about Amy never giving Christmas presents was a mirror of my Sassy who (at age 8) trashed a 6-foot-tall Christmas tree because she wanted to open all the presents NOW — not tomorrow!
    If you think NOT writing about Amy and Sammy will improve their lives, then stop immediately. But if the writing has no more effect than the years of hands-on parenting, then please keep writing to help the rest of us.
    And in case Amy is reading this: You may be an adult, but you are and always will be your mother’s child. My Sassy is 25, but she is still my child and I will always love her and care about her whether the love is returned or not.

  8. Pat, I am VERY sorry, I screwed up and just THOUGHT that post was from you because it reminded me of other conversations we have had. I didn’t pay attention as I should have when I linked it because I just had it in my head it was openly from you. I guess this is partly because I do a great deal of thinking about what you say to me, and you have been much on my mind lately.

    At any rate, it is corrected and I am very, very sorry.

  9. bumblebeeskies says:


    I think you are confused. I read Amy’s post, and there is nothing that shows an inability to use basic writing skills. Amy writes and uses grammar fine. Perhaps you are thinking of the posts by Fearless? He doesn’t write well at all.


  10. sarramb says:

    Hi Nancy,
    You have a right to discuss anything that happens in your life. Anything you know to be true. I am sorry that Amy is not happy with your discussions about her. It was nice to see that she knows she makes her own choices and has to live with the results. That’s a good thing.
    I can tell you that what I have read about Amy’s journey has helped me immensely with my 17 year old daughter. She and I are working hard to get her on track with a plan for her life. It is hard for me to change my mind set about her. I am definately not sure she is competent and able, but I am giving her the message that she is and WOW she is believing it.
    I have stepped back and stopped saving her. It is sooo hard for me but she has stepped up and has started saving herself. I am amazed. It was the peanut butter diet that gave me courage. So thank you so much for sharing that. My kid has actually started to budget her lunch money, is not buying food for her friends because she has been hungry at lunch time. She has gone without make up (gasp!) because she didn’t do any work to earn money. It has been mind blowing to watch.
    I have been calm in the face of tears and mock tragedy ( I was as dramatic as she in the past) and lo and behold she got over it and came up with a solution on her own.
    My goodness Nancy, you write so clearly that I have felt like I was watching you parent. I have been able to use your blog to get me through what I thought would be a terrible time in my kid’s life. I had lost hope for her future and even showed her the bridge she would be living under when she turned 18.( I did say I was dramatic.) Instead I am hopeful and realistic. My daughter is too and that is the blessing. By helping me you have helped my daughter. So, sorry this is so long but thank you and keep writing.

  11. Chromesthesia says:

    I don’t know what to think.
    I’m sorry you and your family are going through all of this.
    For all it’s worth, i’ve learned a lot from this blog.

  12. wirth says:

    So lack of will and resistance, rather than a cognitive problem, or disability are to blame. What a shame! I can’t imagine how frustrating this must be as a parent. Who would have thought, that these invisible mental/emotional issues, could be more potent, than things like dyslexia, or ADD?

    In the end, Amy’s resistance and lack of will, are going to come back at her, in so many ways. I wonder if she thinks about her future, beyond, the next hour, day, or week. Does Amy believe and think about a higher power’s purpose for her in life?

    I wonder if Amy can recognize her own resistance and need to control? If she can recognize it I wonder if she knows that this knee jerk need actually has nothing to do with the here and now. It has to do with a baby in an orphanage who developed these dysfunctional mechanisms to cope and survive? I wonder if knows that if she gives in instead of resists, her parents, her world won’t crumble. Poor Amy, her brain just isn’t working right! Complying and pleasing her parents are good things, not things to fight. They want what is best for her.

    Unfortunately, there is probably no pill or person, that can cure Amy. This truly is something that she must do herself. I do know from Nancy’s blogs, that if Amy ever gets past, her past, she will probably develop into one extraordinary young lady. Who wouldn’t with all effort, care, and concern that Nancy poured into her for so many years.

  13. pat johnston says:

    Like every young adult, Anchulee/Amy has problems both from her past and her present to deal with.

    However, now she has very clearly, and politely, I think, asked her mother to stop posting about her. There are rights to share info, and there are parental responsibilities about it.

    I think Amy’s mother needs to respect and honor her request.


  14. MamaS says:

    If “Amy” had not posted using her real name, most of Nancy’s readers never would have known it. Nancy has always been careful to use pseudonyms for all the children.
    “Anchulee” put it out for the world to know, not Nancy.
    I find it interesting that she has almost no contact with her mother, yet she reads the blogs? Maybe the blog is the only way Nancy can continue to reassure Amy/Anchulee that the door is open for her to return if/when she chooses to do so.


    Nancy, Everytime I see friends and relatives with biological children and see them fussing over this activity and that activity and whether not going or going to preschool will make a difference and *Gasp*, child being “heartbroken over having Thomas the Train taken away” because of the lead issues, I think “Wow! These are PROBLEMS??? I have showered and will continue to shower on my parents and parents-in-law the love and “being there” that they were during our early years especially that my husband and I grew up in our biological families. No, it was so material gift that they have given and they continue to load it on in our adulthood and my husband and I are functioning and fully able to support ourselves and yet, our parents still gift and gift us…None of that matter because they are always there…always…our parents have no clue what a gift that is…NO CLUE despite all that my husband and I try to tell them.
    Putting Humpty Dumpty back together again is the work of the Lord, I am convinced. This does not mean we don’t use “horses and chariots”, but they are not what we trust in…I am thankful for having children that only GOD can put back together again. I am reminded day in and day out as things come up…”You, Father, have given me the tools…I trust you to work and I am thankful that You know their hearts, even when I can’t even fathom the hurts”. We may lose all, but we have gained immeasurable in other ways I can’t even begin to count.

    Nancy, you have given in ways that 99.999 % of the populace is more than happy to give you advice about and criticize you for, but the courage you display in the face of the onslaught is a heritage that your children will prize…think of how much Tommy and Amy would despise you if you gave in? I can’t imagine…

  16. Bippette says:

    Gosh, I think we are so much alike. I KNOW from my little experience of three months with a child with trust issues how painful it can be.

    Being a nuturing, loving Mother is a part of our identity. And when a child we love desperately rejects our mothering, it FEELS like they are rejecting us, our family and all that we stand for.

    That’s hard to take. I can’t imagine dealing with it for 20 years without breaking.

    I think that if Amy and Tommy have any doubt that you love them, they need to go back and read your original journals on the ATN site. The love, the hope (that was constantly dashed) are so apparent there.

    I think you have a right to post about your history with them, and about your current feelings about them. Posting that you were thinking about Amy when you cooked your saurkraut the other day is fine. Per Amy’s request, I would not post about any current information about her life.

    I get so much from your open and honest blogs, and I hope you keep posting that way.

  17. wirth says:

    Developmentally, Amy is stunted, despite the opportunities Spoolstra provided, and her innate potential. The impact of neglect/abuse on a developing infant’s brain is completely underestimated by most. Spoolstra can’t even cook a meal without PTS related to Amy. How many parents started out on their adoption journeys emotionally solid, only to end up abused/neglected by their adopted children? How many are overwhelmed with their own PTS directly related to their adopted child? Pat Johnson would you suggest that a woman who was abused, emotionally/psychologically, for a decade or two, shut up and be quiet, to protect her abuser. I give Spoolstra credit for speaking out and helping others. I don’t for one minute believe that she is doing this at any expense to Amy. Amy was given every opportunity to heal, but instead she chose to bestow the evil done to her, onto her parents. Who was protecting Spoolstra’s rights, during the many years of emotional/psychological abuse, from her adopted children? Amy and Tommy were fortunate that Spoolstra had enough resources within her (love, knowledge, desire) to pick herself up each day, and try again. Most women would have crumbled, under these children.

    If Nancy shuts-up, many people will suffer. Amy will be Amy, whether Nancy blogs about her or not. It would be nice to give Amy the benefit of the doubt, and believe that her dignity was violated by Nancy’s blog. The sad truth is that dignity and self-worth are most likely very low on Amy’s priority list. Nancy’s blog may have cost her a meal ticket, boyfriend, or shelter. It’s all about meeting their immediate material needs.

  18. pat johnston says:

    Nancy can educate and advocate(and she does it well) without sharing her children’s detailed histories in so public a forum as an internet blog, wirth.

    I find it difficult to understand how you can equate a psychologically damaged child to an adult emotional abuser!

  19. wirth says:

    I’m equating the trauma they both cause to those they live with.

    Have you lived with a child who abused you physically or emotionally, everyday, for years, Pat?

    I wonder how many adult emotional abusers were psychologically damaged children?

  20. Chromesthesia says:

    I can see the simularities, but like most things, there are degrees to consider.
    It’s possible and I’m not sure how many parents can get enough help for it.

    I am torn. These issues need to be presented for all to see so that the children, regardless of age can get the help they need to become whole and their parents.
    And Nancy has diguised names, again, I am torn…

  21. pat johnston says:

    A blog is not a private diary or a best friend on the other end of a private telephone line to whom we pour out our fears, our failures, our successes, our worries. A blog is a very, very public document, and, unlike a book or a magazine article, there is no objective editor working with the author to help him or her to carefully assess what is being said and to whom and what personal and even legal consequences it might have.

    Furthermore, blogging (as opposed to talking privately or presenting a carefully crafted workshop) about such private family information goes against the grain of all good adoption education that tells new parents that their children’s stories are their own to share, not their parents!

    Wirth, Nancy is not Amy’s or anyone else’s victim. I’ve not heard her claim to be.

    While she freely admits that (despite hearing it from others) she didn’t “get” attachment risks and challenges when she chose to adopt a toddler-aged child, she learned, and she learned well. She then went on to bring four more children with special attachment issues into her family. Some of these have “worked” and some have not.

    All this same time she has been a strong and well informed advocate for other families dealing with attachment issues, founding and running ATN, serving on boards, spending enormous amounts of time on the telephone and at conferencecs and in email conversations with parents and parents-to-be. She has continued to VOLUNTEER for all of this–the personal and the volunteer-professional.

    Nancy is not Amy’s victim. She’s Amy’s and Tommy’s very sad and disappointed mother.

    As her long time friend, I’ve told her that I fear that she is burning herself out big time, and I think that’s leading her to make less well informed decisions than she has ever made before. This blog’s content is part of that.

    I’ve said my piece now–both the public part and the private part. I cannot continue to watch my dear friend derail her train here! I’ll not post further, and I’ll try my best not to allow myself to rubberneck, either.

    With love and hugs to Nancy.


  22. MamaS says:

    Pat – And you — not Nancy – just gave us Sammy’s real name. Maybe all blogging should be banned?

  23. Tony says:

    Hi, it’s me. I have been reading all the blogs you have been writting about me. I’m not going to sit here and have you bash me, just because you some how think fearless is me. I don’t know him or her and I was going to leave both of you alone just because I didn’t want to get involved. You have some nerve thinking I would bash you that way. Now that you have written stating that I could, I am now going to set this record straight. how have you not been listening, when I called you during those phone calls. Ihave told you that, I don’t blame any one for my mistakes and I take full responsibility of the mess I left, when I left. I don’t want to go to therapy because I dont think the problem is me, nor you. I believe we both have strong opinions that really won’t mash together, and every time we do we just get into a heated argument. I have already told you and the family I love you but i can’t deal with the way things are in the family. I have had several of the family members telling me of things they wished they could change about you but I will not break the trust I have formed with them no matter what the magnitude of your comfort is. I don’t know how else I need to express i dont like you writting about me, but as i have figured this much you won’t stop, no matter what. I have made many dark mistakes in my life. I thank you, for not writting about them in your blog’s and I hope this won’t make you break the barrier you already have. You do have a raw disposition in your writtin. Which could be seen as a angry mother wanting revenge. But I wouldn’t blame you if you are, I did put you in a strong situation and I feel bad. I don’t call you are the family any longer because I know if I do some how it will get back to you. thus, my personal life getting in the internet. I wished I could call you, but I don’t want to feel like I don’t have no privacy in my life. Once again I do LOVE YOU and the family. I don’t know how else to express this but I also know I just can’t deal with you MOM. take It as you would like, But I still love you and no I don’t blame you over the past. I believe we will never get past us getting along and I’m fine with that. I’m sure not willing to try. I am open for phone calls if you promise not to share my now and future life. Go ahead share all you have from my past for it is my past and i can’t change it. I won’t have my goals and dreams placed like it means nothing because to me they are serius enough not to share with you if you tell the world. it’s not for them to decide or dictate or even see who I am. I’m not going to have others I don’t know, see me or treat me like spectacle when they write or read about me.

  24. eastern girl says:

    Well, Tony,for someone who doesn’t want his privacy intruded upon, you certainly are choosing a public forum to make your point.
    Don’t you have your mom’s email address?

  25. guppy says:

    Hello Nancy;
    I value your blog immensly. I find it 100% helpful in dealing with realities that seem so relative (depending on many variables). In light of your children’s recent comments, my personal reaction would be major “backing off” from mentioning them even marginaly. That’s me and that’s my defense mechanism…
    I think, Pat Johnson has a point regarding possible legal implications and privacy. Since blogging writing is fairly new media, I am not sure if any laws govern it or what they are.
    From my perspective, to give the person (i.e. your mentioned child) yet another reason to hate you (regardless of who is in right) would simply not be worth it, for me.
    My past very unsuccessful relationship ended up to be a very distant and noninteracting existence for me and the other person. Simply because any interaction would ultimately bring wrath on me or disappointment of what could be. I got tired of it. I still try from time to time but… see no point.
    The more distant we are, the better we get along (I joke, but it’s the truth).
    I pray for you and your family.

  26. Sunbonnet Sue says:

    wow. Nancy, which kid next, maybe Kyle, Marie or Steph will chime in?

    Thoughts regarding your girl: she is finding her voice and has a lot to say. As an adult adoptee, she is a legitimate stakeholder in the adoption community. She acknowledged your right to share the story of her adoption and past struggles. She asked you to keep her current comings and goings private. Seems like a pretty easy decision!?

    Perhaps both Tommy and Amy absorbed more of your style than you are maybe able to recognize. They both are aware, reading, making decisions, asking you for something only you can give. They are expressing goals and dreams. They are not hiding behind psuedonyms. (as their mother never has)

    Yes, they are angry. You are angry too. Who wouldn’t be? You’ve all been badly wounded. The losses involved are staggering. The challenge moving forward is figuring out how to stop wounding one another. Time, distance, a truce? You’re a smart bunch of people, and will figure it out.

  27. Bippette says:

    That was a great post, Sue. Very very wise.

  28. SunnyAndrsn says:

    The lyrics from that old Mike & the Mechanics song has been running through my head, “every generation blames the one before, and all of their frustrations come beating on your door…Crumpled bits of paper
    Filled with imperfect thought
    Stilted conversations
    I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got.

    Wishing you, Amy, and Tommy love and healing. I hope now, as adults, they can heal and understand what you tried to do for them.

    I recall my onw anger at my father, who I believed had made so many horrible mistakes. And I was “normal”! I had a “normal” childhood! I don’t know how or when I came to this realization–it was before we adopted DS or did foster care, but I realized one day that not only did my parents love me, but they worked hard to raise me. I didn’t always agree with their methods but what child does?

    Those of us who support you and have been down the same road as you know your parenting comes from a place of love. I truly hope your children will find the healing to see this.

  29. says:

    {{{{Nancy}}}} It has been very helpful for me to see and experience through your blogs the world that you have been living in for so many years. In many ways, it runs similar to my own.

    My RADish says that he loves me, and yet his actions speak so much louder. His father and I were victims of his in years past…. as the myriad of reports to out local police department will attest. He also displayed other actions and behaviours which were not illegal.

    Forgiving him was easy. It is the forgeting part we continue to struggle with, especially in light of continuing behaviours we see him using with other people. Our son is like a wildfire…. when he runs out of fuel where he is, he moves on to where he can continue to burn.

    He has asked in the past that I not share his adult story in a public forum, and I have tried to honor that. He clearly is concerned about this, though, because of how it may look to other people. He still doesn’t want to face the truth. The fact that so many parts of my own story and journey intersect with his, and therefore make it sometimes difficult to keep them private, is immaterial to him.

    I see in you the true heart of a mother…. with an infinite capacity to love and open to be loved. You have clearly experienced hurt and pain in the past – what parent hasn’t? – but in a manner not typical of “normal” families. Yes, you are an imperfect person and a flawed mother who has made mistakes over the years – but who isn’t? We all know that thriving relationships are a two-way street. You have children who have chosen to walk this path with you, and are involved with vibrant relationships as a result. Yet there are two who choose to not accept what is offered to them, just as I have my one. That brings its own deep sense of pain and loss.

    Please know that the love, and prayers, of so many are with you.

  30. Kelly says:

    Sorry I’m late in chiming in Nancy. It’s been fairly crazy here, but what else is new?

    Having spent several years at your house on almost a weekly basis, I know how much you DO love your kids, and I know how much you ARE frustrated by bad choices they have made.

    We have talked so many times how your experiences are similar to the ones I am going through now. It is so incredibly helpful to talk to someone who understands and doesn’t just give platitudes. That is one of the biggest services that this blog, and ATN provide. Allowing parents to know that they are not alone, and they are not crazy.

    Amy/Anchulee, if you’re reading this… Having been around you for several years, I have seen the neat woman you can be when you want to try. You have met my son and know that I am dealing with the same issues with him. As a mother, you can not sit back and watch your children make choices that could potentially destroy their futures without feeling something. If parents felt nothing, they would be horrible parents.

    Could your mom have done things differently? Sure. Every parent makes mistakes that they wish they could change, however, that did not stop her from trying time and time again.

    Living a life of anger is not healthy for parent or child, but boy it sure is easy.

    Nancy, and kids, I wish you all peace. I pray that someday there will be “normal”, healthy attachments, and a letting go of anger. Kids being angry creates parents who are angry and an endless circle. I know, I’m in one.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.