Two years ago this weekend, I told my adopted son, "Nick," that I wish we'd never adopted him.
He had just backed me, even weighing nearly 100 pounds more than him, into a wall so hard that my backside left a crater there. Family portraits hung on the wall fell and shattered on the floor.
Nick was enraged. He'd disrespected his mother a few minutes prior to this incident. When I informed him matter-of-factly the consequences of his chronic disrespect -- no more video games for the rest of the weekend -- his transformation from quiet seventeen year-old kid into unrecognizable Hulk-like attacker, was instantaneous. It had happened many times before (way too many times before), but with "fuck you's" instead of fists.
My wife dialed 911.
He went after me digging at my eyes. Grabbing my balls. Trying to yank my hair out. Biting. Kicking. Spitting. Screaming. Scratching and clawing at me like a furious lion. Et cetera.
I wasn't trying to fight back per se. Merely contain him as best I could. Keep him inside our house so he couldn't leave and fulfill promises of hurting himself. Keep him away from the windows which he threatened to hurl himself through if I didn't let him go. Keep him away from my wife and his three younger siblings (one of them developmentally disabled), who'd thankfully, by then, locked themselves in the bathroom. Keep him contained, essentially, until the police arrived. But trying to do so was like trying to hold on to and restrain a 140 pound porcupine with my bare hands. I was exhausted after just a few minutes. Sweating buckets. Asthmatic. Cut badly. Bleeding. And I'm a big strong man.
I never threw a punch in retaliation. I can at least claim that. But I did throw a punch of a more violent nature, an unforgivable punch, a low (but bigger)-blow, much worse ... that finally knocked the air out of him, that finally squelched his frantic fight. In reply to his unending litany of "fuck-you-let-me-go-motherfucker's," I let loose a secret regret of mine, a knife aimed at his emotional jugular: "I wish we'd never adopted you." And it was the truth.
My rejection didn't outright calm him down initially, but quieted him some, stopped his flailing for a second, enough time for me to get his arms down and a knee in his gut, securing him to the floor. He sobbed through vulgar threats, while my sweat and blood, but not my tears, never my tears, dripped off me and onto him.
"I wish you'd never adopted me either, Asshole," he choked out, panting. At least we felt the same toward one another. One of the few times we ever agreed on anything.
It was, simply put, a match made in Hell: "Nick," and our family.
We'd had such high (and I guess, in retrospect, naive) hopes for him, adopting him into our family officially just before he turned thirteen, falsely believing, turned out, that we could love all the accumulative years of pain and wounding and neglect and abuse and maladaptive effects his being birthed by an alcoholic woman who binged while he was in utero, out of him, over time. But we couldn't, no matter how hard we tried, no matter what we tried, no matter how much time and money and patience we spent on specialists, therapists, experimental treatments, and weekend seminars. We learned the hard way, that despite the good intended truisms foisted upon unsuspecting parents by adoptive agencies, sometimes love is not enough. Sometimes love does no good at all. Sometimes love is no match for a kid who's grown up and can't emotionally attach.
The unanswerable question I still sometimes ask myself is: How could events in our family have deteriorated so drastically over the next five years from the day we adopted "Nick"; culminating in what became such a nasty and sad confrontation, that last day he lived in our home, when the police came and had to tie him by the ankles and wrists (four police officers it took to restrain him), and then carry him from our house horizontally, like pallbearers carrying a coffin, out to their squad car, as stunned neighbors gawked, and on to the hospital, then psych ward, then group home, and then, ultimately, if not completely out of our lives, out into the limbo fringes of our lives, forever?