adoption disruption, family

The Prodigal Son…Visits?


This is a post I never wanted to write. I just never thought things would turn out this way. Despite my best intentions,my hardest work, and all of my love, this is where we stand. We started with a sibling group of 4. The teen boys disrupted before we could officially adopt them. We have now adopted the younger two. The adoption fairytale isn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Is that wrong? No. It just…is. I thought I was OK with it. Maybe I was wrong.

Our children’s oldest sibling, Marcus, has been in touch with us for a time. It’s weird to think of ourselves as just one in a long line of “foster parents” for him. I still feel like his mother. We had every intention of adopting them. Only Marcus has stayed in touch. (This is the story of meeting Marcus and bringing him home) In the end, he chose not to be adopted by us. His attachment issues ran too deep to allow him to be in a family.

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Marcus. When he left it felt like a part of me was dying. Why didn’t he choose to be in our family? Why didn’t he choose to be adopted? Why didn’t he choose to have a mom. Even more painfully: why didn’t he choose me?! I wrote him an open good-bye letter (you can read it here.) This was cathartic for me, in a way. I’ve never stopped loving him. Sometimes I miss him so much it physically hurts.

Marcus aged out of foster care. He signed himself out at 18 and bounced around a bit. He lived with a girlfriend, and her family. His job was supporting a lot of the people living there. He contacted us for money because he was so hungry. Luke gave him advice about how even if he loved this girl, he shouldn’t live where he couldn’t eat food. He also shouldn’t be supporting a family of 6-8 people.

We didn’t send him money. Luke and I had made a pact about letting Marcus learn to stand on his own two feet now that he had chosen not to be adopted. He needed to know that being an “adult” didn’t necessarily mean getting to do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. It’s hard work! (I caved and sent him and Amazon care package of food overnight anyway.)

As always, Marcus only lasts with a family for a short time. He bounced again, this time back to a former foster home. Marcus had been very close to the foster mom and we had facilitated visits between them when he lived with us. We didn’t want him to lose anymore people that were important to him. He always referred to her by her first name,  but I knew he loved her. Then he was gone from our house, gone from another foster home, and now about to leave his girlfriend’s home.

He was contacting us a lot during that time, and I think he wanted to ask to come back. He never said it, though. Our contact went something like this. He was making a lot of bad choices at the time. Drinking, getting high, and hanging out with a tough crowd. He was still enrolled in school. He still texted me pictures of his report card. He still wanted me to be proud of him. He still called me, “Ma.”

I was glad he was going back to that former foster home. Maybe he really belonged there the whole time. Perhaps we just hadn’t been the right family for him. Only it didn’t last. Now he has a few weeks left before he has to leave that home, too. He tells me it’s because he lost a job by falling asleep. He works in the day and is getting his high school diploma at night. He says his former foster mom is telling him this is “tough love.” I’m not exactly sure that it isn’t because of drinking, irresponsible behavior, or not working. Marcus usually tells his own version of a story.

It doesn’t matter what the story is, they all have the same ending, Marcus moves on to a new family.

He’s been asking me just for a visit. Just a day or a weekend. I’m conflicted. I don’t want to keep the littles from their brother. Sometimes, I feel like it will be too much for them to see him, and then not see him again for who knows how long? The thing is, I want Carl and Mary to see that we still have a relationship with Marcus. We still love him. No matter what happens, our love is forever. I also get the feeling that Mary has fears that her behavior might get her “kicked out” somehow.

I want her to know that we NEVER “throw away” people!

Should we have him over? Show them that he is still family even though he is an adult making his own living arrangements? Will it break their hearts?

Will it break mine? 


**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.





18 thoughts on “The Prodigal Son…Visits?

  1. Kelli S says:

    Yes. Please be the one single beacon of the true light of love for this lost and confused soul. Even if it doesn’t work out at least he will have witnessed a taste of it. You never knkw when it will grow and manifest.


  2. Anka says:

    Our son’s older sister decided not to be adopted by us and currently refuses any and all contact with our son. He hasn’t heard from her in over a year. It’s broken his heart. I would give anything for him to get a letter or phone call from her. Let your kids have whatever contact they can as long as he is safe to be around! They need to know that family is forever, and you will do whatever you can to keep their siblings in their lives safely.


  3. Whew! This sounds like my own foster son story, to a tee (except mine was never adoptable)! It’s hard to just leave them to their own devices but I agree that “tough love” is needed. And sometimes you feel like things will never change for them even when showing tough love. Prayers for your boy and your family!


  4. I feel your heart ache! Our adopted son loves seeing his bio brothers, though at times it tears him up inside. Over the years, sometimes they / their family are willing to see him and other times not. But the connection has meant so much.

    If it’s safe, perhaps the best thing to do is show that love is always there, and have a visit?


  5. My heart aches reading this. You’ve been so strong for so long…and clearly Marcus still knows you love him or he wouldn’t reach out to you.

    Please know we didn’t foster so I can’t truly understand this, but we make all of our decisions about our son based on what’s in his best interest. When his birthmom was doing okay we facilitated get togethers. When she became less stable we set boundaries, and she hasn’t chosen to meet with us at the agency so she can see T again. It’s hard but his interests always come first.

    If you believe Marcus’ visit would be good for Carl and Mary then you already have your answer. If you’re not sure, maybe you and your husband could take Marcus to lunch and catch up before setting up a weekend visit. You’re walking such a fine line, holding so many children in your heart when it’s a balancing act like this. Sending prayers your way.


  6. Pingback: The Prodigal Son…Cancels? | Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

  7. Pingback: The Prodigal Son…Returns! (No, Seriously!) | Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

  8. Hi – I work for Children’s Home and LSS. Would you allow us to republish this blog on our blog ( We help families with foster care adoption and I think that your story would be very helpful to families who may be struggling with attachment issues with their older kids as well as those adopting siblings. Please email me at publisher (at) if you are interested or not. We would link to the original publication, and I’d also love to link to the updated post about his visit. Thanks for your consideration! Erin


  9. Pingback: Am I Losing My Mind/Son? Part 1 | Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

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