Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Where, Oh Where Can He Be?

My blog title is too flippant for the subject at hand, but it conveys some of the ambiguity -- moments of concern and moments of relief -- in my dilemma. Our eighteen-year-old son Mike, with whom we have had so many challenges over the past ten years, has not been in contact with us for over a month now. Which isn't that unusual actually, based on history, because there was a time period a year or so ago when he was in county care that he wasn't in contact with us for about three months, at his request, and did everything he could to push us to the point of relinquishing our parental rights, which we would not do.

What is unusual this time is that no one else has seen Mike around either, and usually we have heard from someone in the community (or one of Mike's siblings has heard from friends) about his location. Since my last telephone conversation with him a couple of days after Father's Day, in which he begged and pleaded to come home, we have not heard from him. In the past we have been able to see evidence of his presence online to at least let us know that he was alive, but we don't even have that in hand now.

It worries me because Mike has FASD and a range of other emotional challenges that make him very vulnerable. He presents well, and his IQ is high, so upon first glance or conversation most people wouldn't have any idea that he is so challenged. But he is.

After our last conversation I took the initiative to check online to see what his current legal charges were, and discovered at that time that he had two new charges from another county shortly before his last call to us. The terms of his release from jail on the earlier five (or was it six, I forget now?) charges included the need to stay drug and alcohol free and law-abiding. I wonder, since he knew he violated the terms of that agreement, if he has decided to move on geographically with his life.

Because he has no permanent address but ours and no reliable people connections in the community, it makes me wonder. If something were really wrong, who would know, and who would even take the time to contact someone who could help him? If he were abducted, injured, held hostage or otherwise incapacitated, who would know or care?

This is a dilemma that no parent -- adoptive or otherwise -- wants to bear. The fact is that Mike cannot live in our home because of his behavioral choices and his refusal to abide by our family guidelines. We have offered to help him work with the county social services agency to get him some assistance, but he has refused. We have offered what we can, short of having him terrorize us in our own home, but he has been nonresponsive.

And now he is incognito. And I worry. Because even though he is a mixed up, organically challenged, legally encumbered "adult" in the eyes of society, he is still my son. And, like Mary's lamb of children's nursery rhyme lore, he is prone to wander and follow whomever appears to provide direction, wherever that might be.

All we can do now is wait. And pray. It will have to be enough, even though it seems a paltry resolution to an imposing, chronic difficulty.


Linda B. said...

Bart, I am praying for Mike and for your family. Mike could be any of my children. I often wonder about their futures, but then I get too overwhelmed and try to just get through the day. I hope you get some sort of sign that he is OK and will be alright.

Gary Zimmerli said...

Joining you in prayer, Bart.

From James 5:16 - "The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective."


Bart said...

Linda, I have learned not to obsess about what may or may not be, and I hope you will find some peace in that, too ... it does no one any good to become overwhelmed by "what if's." I try to content myself in knowing that for years and years we did everything for Mike that we could, and that we probably saved him from situations earlier that otherwise he would have found himself in. He has reached the point in the eyes of our society where he is an "adult," so I have to let some of my sense of responsibility go, especially when he isn't open to our help. Getting through the day is a helpful strategy; thank you for reminding me about it!

Bart said...

Thank you, Gary. At this point, like so many in life, it is truly in God's hands.