Today John turns 20. And I can truly say that I am proud of him. He doesn't have a job right now and he's going to jail on Monday for 30 days, but I'm really proud of the person he is becoming.
First of all, a quick run down of why he's unemployed and going back to jail. Spring 2009 -- in a group home for adults, going out with a 15 year old girl, her mom invited him to move out of the group home and to move in with them. He did against our begging, pleading, and wishes, forfeiting a CADI waiver, which, in MN is like gold. (It pays for services as an adult). The 15 year old's girlfriend's mother was divorced, and when her father found out our 18 year old son was living there, he had him arrested for 3rd Degree Sexual Misconduct (Statutory Rape). He spent last summer in jail.
He came home from jail and we allowed him to move home and have one last chance. Three years prior we had had a very ugly dangerous scene where he threatened to kill Bart and bashed in windows with a bat. At that point he was arrested and then spent the remainder of his "childhood" in residential settings with a few brief tries at foster care. If you've been reading our blog since the beginning you have read John's history for about 5 years... in and out of lots of places.
So we let him come home. He struggled quite a bit first semester. Couldn't get up for school, couldn't find a job, ditched school when he did make it there, and basically just had a hard time battling the transition from residential living and jail into a home setting. But he followed the bare minimums, he kept communicating, and we kept hanging in there.
Last February he found out that his new (really new) girlfriend was pregnant. We weren't surprised as John had always said he saw this happening. But we had BTDT with the whole unexpected pregnancy less than a year before with Salinda, so we were more prepared.
Soon afterwards John quit school and got a job and slowly moved into his girlfriend's parents house. There was never really a "move out" time, but he just stayed longer and longer each time he visited. And then he bought a bed. A king size one. For her room. that's kinda the last time we saw them here.
John was able to follow his probation with the exception of ONE thing. He was assigned to attend a "Criminal Sex Offender" treatment program, which was group counseling for adult male offenders. He said it was creepy. He didn't think he fit in. He couldn't make himself go.
So now, he has to pay the consequences of that, and spend another 30 days in jail, which meant he had to quit his job.
And I'm SO proud of him. Isn't that odd?
Why am I proud of him?
1) He is a very gentle man. After years of a violent temper and uncontrollable anger, he has found healthy ways to deal with that and he we haven't seen any of that for quite some time.
2) He looks for ways to remain connected to us. He texts. He calls. He and his gf stop by and see us a couple times a week. They stay for dinner. When they find out we are going to be doign something fun, they ask if they can join us. They WANT us in their lives.
3) He is making some wise choices in regards to money and trying hard to be a good bf and wants so badly to be a good dad. You should see him with Gabby. He is so gentle and patient. And he is kind to his gf as well.
4) He is figuring out who he is, at his own pace, and it's so amazing to watch.
And to top it all off, I sincerely like his girlfriend, Courtney. She is authentic and fun and she understands my sense of humor. It cracks me up that this is one of our earliest encounters . SHe is so easy to be with and she likes it that i'm a straight shooter. It's so fun to have her in our lives. This is one of the added bonuses I never thought about -- the girls that my sons
And so there you have it. The answer to the question, "How can you be proud of an unemployed son heading back to jail?"
Compared to the violent 11 year old who went in the psychiatric hospital for the first of six times....
compared to the 14 year old who manipulated the system for months, with diagnosis going back and forth from bipolar to conduct disorder...
compared to the 16 year old who bashed in our windows...
compared to the 18 year old who walked away from the plan we set up for him to make big mistakes..
compared even to the slinky 19 year old 18 months ago....
he's becoming a wonderful man. He's going to make an incredible father, and it looks like he's being a very good boyfriend as well. I'm proud to be his mom. I love you so much, John!
(Sometimes John has been frustrated about me blogging so much, but I explained to him why I tell my kids stories. I tell him that I hope that his story in particular will convince other adoptive parents not to give up on their kids. And so understanding that he may not always like it, but I think he understands why. He's always had such a tender heart).