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When the adopted son’s mom refuses to admit…

Dear Shannon,

Many thanks for your letter to Vince. We have read parts of it to him, to let him know you love him and are thinking of him, but edited some of the other content. I hope you will understand when I say that we have to put Vincent first in whatever we do.

We would like to read him your letters, but right now, the language isn’t what would be best for him. He knows Gloria as his mother and me as his father. He wants to call you “Shannon” now. He knows and understands that you are his “first mom” and will always be that to him. But at five and learning the nuances of language, the words we all use can have a deep effect on his inner life. We can’t know what goes on there, but we can protect him from confusion.

Although it may not seem like that much of a deal, it is very important. He knows that home is here, and that he used to call Reno, NV, home, but here is where he wants to stay. He talks regularly with his grandparents and relishes keeping that connection and those relationships. We hope that one day he will have a solid relationship with you. But as you know, sobriety and honesty on your part are the keys to that.

So, we would like for you to respect these boundaries. He has adjusted well. The kind of familiar tone that your letters display can only produce confusion and doubt at a time when he really needs to know where his home is and who his parents are.

With that in mind, I must be completely forward and tell you we will continue to stand on our demand that you be clean from drugs and alcohol for at least six months before you can have a conversation with him over the phone.

Six months is an arbitrary period of time. Arbitrary but definite. I have dealt with hundreds of alcoholics and find that they need a good bit of time to cut the fog and begin to mature into sobriety. The newly sober are oftn more volatile than those who are still drinking.

Mom and dad have complained that we are being too strict about this, that, in fact, it would be better for you if we were to let you talk to him as soon as you leave treatment. But I’ve pointed out to them, as I will to you, we need to know that you have been able to clear your head and gain some sober experience. We have to look out for Juan and he is far too fragile still to suffer an overly emotional, uncontrolled conversation with you. particularly if you again plead with him to not pay any attention to us, claim to be his “real mom,” and that you will soon “redeem” him.

I’m sure you will be offended and hurt by this note. I’m sorry. There is nothing I can do about the way you receive my message. But I have told you personally about the way we want to go about establishing a relationship between you and Vincent now that we have adopted him. That hasn’t seemed to be enough. That’s why I add this note to our tumultuous conversation the other day. I will keep a copy. I’m sending one to mom and dad, too. They also seem to want to tread across boundaries without regard to our wishes or to what Vincent may need or what may be best for him.

Your decision to give your parental rights to the state of Nevada was a permanent decision. That may be hard to accept, and you may get other messages from our parents. But we must insist that as much as we would like to have amicable relations between you and Juan we, as his parents, will determine how to proceed. Regardless of how much moma and dad believe they are in charge, they are not Vince’s parents.

I hope you are able to stay away from drugs and alcohol this time. I really do. I would love to see and you Vince develop a relationship. I pray for it.

Patrick

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