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J.R. Buchanan


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March 20, 2015

Leaving the Nest

Earlier this week, our 18 year old moved out. She's adopted, and had recently been showing interest in her biological dad. She's been in touch with her biological brothers for years, and we arranged for them to meet on occasion, and through them, she she had been in touch with bio-mom.

A few weeks before her birthday, she had contacted bio-dad on Facebook. She had also been planning on moving out, but had vague plans, so we assumed that we had time to arrange something planned and orderly.

She has autism (mild) and an intellectual delay and is never going to get a high school diploma, but we had assumed that she would stay in high school a while longer. We had been setting up plans for her to get disability and had been work with a local provider to receive adult services and move out into the community. We had been planning to set her up in an apartment.

Then, about an hour after her 18th birthday party, she announced that bio-dad would be picking her up, and she would be moving out of town with him. Shock.

He showed up a few hours later, she'd quickly packed (if you could call it that) and left with him. He seems like a pleasant person, we know little about him though, and really, he knows very little about her. He hadn't seen her since she was 5 years old. When my wife told him about her autism, her intellectual delay, her dropping out of high school after being on a certificate of completion track, and several other important things of a personal nature, well, he looked like a deer in headlights. But, to his credit, he didn't panic, and he did go through with it.

We've been shocked at how judgmental some people can be. We've gotten a lot of, "How could you allow that?", "I wouldn't have let her leave." How could we have kept her? Tied her to a chair? She's 18, we didn't have guardianship (it had been applied for), and she made it quite clear that she was going to leave one way or another. It just wasn't practical, or even possible to keep her here.

We've been in touch on the phone and by Facebook, but it's just not the same. We're sad, shocked, somewhat angry that after all these years she just up and left with no notice. I've been crying, not a very manly thing to do, but there you have it.

It's inevitable that kids leave (well it ought to be, I read about kids who never leave), but we just weren't ready.

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