Need some guidance


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8 years ago, we adopted our daughter from CYS after it was determined that her biological parents did unspeakable things to her. Needless to say, she has been a challenge. Has lied from the moment we adopted her. Yesterday, at the age of 13, she stole $300 dollars from me to buy an iPhone from another kid, whom evidently, stole it from his mother. This transaction happened in school...I am not sure what I should do. Do I call the cops on my 13 year old that has a diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder, PTSD, ODD, Depression and anxiety? I am so lost and feel like I have no one that understands...


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Are you getting her psychiatric help? To me, at her age, that would be more important than the police. I assume she has had a lot of psychiatric help. I would keep this up. Maybe see if there is additional help.

Some people here mention art or dance therapy or equine therapy. I would not quit any help she is already getting but I would definitely add to it.

Does she do anything really well or have a hobby? Maybe you can have her volunteer to maybe teach her more compassion. I wish I had thought of these things back then. My daughter lacks the ability to feel for other people. I feel maybe we could have changed this a little if we had known more.

My daughter is adopted and obviously has problems. She stole but not until she started taking drugs. I think you need to make sure that your daughter realizes that this is a big deal, but in my opinion I would not involve the police. I think a better idea is to not let her have a phone and need to work off, in some way, the cost of the phone.

This is really.hard. Adopted kids can suffer much trauma from before we met them. Some were exposed to substances before birth too. It is hard.

God bless you.


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Welcome. Many of the kids that bring us here are adopted, my own included. While many have traumatic pasts, it seems that adoption itself proves traumatic. I read recently that half the young people (I don't remember the age; sorry) in therapy were adopted!

You will find support here and good counsel. But it seems like we have a smorgasbord of ideas, that are kind of one size fits all, for new members. When we know more about your daughter and the circumstances, we can begin to be more specific with ideas. I have found that the thing that benefits me most from this forum is writing out what I think, and feel, and what I know. And it's as helpful or more helpful to post on other peoples' threads. After all, most of us are in the same boat.

I agree with everything Busy said. Has she had a neuropsychological exam? Best to go to a regional children's hospital. They could help you refine a diagnosis. You can get a referral from your pediatrician. Does she have an IEP? Services through special education could help. Is she vulnerable? Is she easily influenced? What does she say happened? Has she spoken to you about what happened? What is her attitude?

I think it's time to lock up your money and valuables. I also think she needs to experience an increase in structure and supervision at home as well as school.

I agree with busy about expressive arts therapy and I agree about equine therapy, which can be free, if she has an interest in horses.

If all of this happened at school, is school aware? I think there needs to be an intervention so that your daughter is not around this other child. I think she needs more supervision at school. An IEP could help. The neuropsychological exam could help you get special education services.

I might think about calling the police to talk to her; not that she be punished but that she understand that there are consequences to breaking the law, and she has broken the law; even by stealing from her mother. They will talk to her with kindness and care.

Are you involved with a spiritual practice? This is my biggest regret with my own son, that I did not involve him in my faith. I think children need moral/spiritual/involvement, teaching and community.

What is your daughter's peer group like? How can you support her to get into a good group of kids, with common interests? Did I ask about hobbies? What about socially?

Is she close to family members? Who?

Does she talk about her past?

I hope you keep posting. It helps. Take care.

PS While I don't believe she should be punished, I do believe she needs to experience her life changing as a consequence of what she did. This cannot be same old, same old. She needs to know that stealing is very, very wrong. And that life will not be the same for her, with this kind of behavior. Is she showing regret and remorse?

I am thinking about this other child who sold her mother's phone. For what? Drugs? I would be very alert to the possibility of drug use. Why is she hanging around this child?
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Have you asked the school about getting involved? Since the incident happened at school, maybe it would be best to have a counselor (who is aware of her diagnosis) talk to her, and also the other student involved.

At her age, I would rather not get the police involved, but she shouldn't get away with out any consequences.

Of course, speaking with professionals is needed too. Ksm


Sending good vibes...
Welcome Kate,

I don’t have a lot more to add but I’m wondering if in heinsight you might recall other items or money missing from your home. In my humble opinion this seems pretty drastic to go right to stealing $300. Perhaps without you realizing this may have been a progressing problem without your being aware. Thirteen unfortunately is not too young to start dabbling in drugs. Likely that’s about the age my son did too.

There’s a lot of pieces missing (because it just takes time to lay them all out) here but I think definitely talking with her to get more of a sense of her level of ownership or regret or not that she showing. Do you feel she has any remorse etc I guess is what I’m asking?

Unfortunately sometimes when we step away and not just focus on what currently transpired we see that there’s more going on than meets the eye.

Keep posting. You will find strength and compassion here.


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Welcome. I too have an adopted child and it is what brought me here. She is an adult now. It’s been rough.

I like the idea of art or Equine therapy.

I posted at the other thread. I mentioned:
1. Get her a therapist weekly.
2. Exploring her skills. Art? Drama? Sports? It might keep her away from trouble.
3. Temporarily taking away a privilege for stealing money from you. But warn her if she steals from you again, you will call the police and then do so (if she steals again).
4. Return phone to rightful owner.
5. Set clear boundaries in household.
6. You get therapy for yourself to help with this stress.
7. Check out a book called “Yes your teen is crazy.” It has good ideas. i suspect you have more to deal with than typical teen antics. BUT, still some good/ helpful input.

Keep posting.


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I agree that there needs to be a consequence , and you protecting all your valuables from theft to the best of your ability in your home .