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Old 08-30-2019, 09:49 PM
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Default Birth Dad in Prison

I sent something similar to a reply on the Intro forum but this looks like the right place for this stuff!



I was adopted at birth and found my birth mother and the rest of that side of the family many years ago but about 2 years ago, after decades of searching, found my birth father in a Texas prison. We have never met each other and he has been in for the last 30 years. He has a long history of drugs, burglary, kidnapping, rape, murder and prison from California to Texas and who knows where else. I have researched all of his convictions in Texas starting from 1975. After many attempts I finally sent a note a few weeks ago. He has replied. I sent back a brief life history this week and asked him to tell me about his family and life before prison. So I anxiously await. He will be eligible for parole in 4 or 5 years and will be about 75. He says he is in good health, has found God and is a master leather craftsman or something like that. I have shared all of the information with my birth mother so she knows we are in contact and has encouraged it. I would like to visit him, I think. I am worried he will ask for help that I cannot give and even more help if he gets out. Only time will tell of course.
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Old 08-31-2019, 12:07 AM
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My birth father died in March. He was never in prison, but I have a sense of what you are talking about.

Look, first and foremost, be certain within yourself what your limits are. Be clear with yourself what you are and are not willing to do, what you are and are not willing to reveal about yourself and your life. Be clear with yourself how much you want to let him into your life. Once you know your limits, you can set them with him.

This is amazingly important with a man who has his criminal record. Such a record indicates he may be a psychopath or have some other cluster B personality disorder. Such people can be very dangerous, and are very good at manipulating the unwary. It does not matter if he has found god - psychopaths will use religion to manipulate others.

You are not responsible for him. As an empathetic person, you are going to want to help your biological father out when he leaves prison. This is not your responsibility. Let him get on his feet himself. Come at him as one adult to another. You share genetics, nothing more.

Are you talking with your adoptive parents about this? Hopefully they are helping you navigate this and hopefully they have given you enough of a foundation so that you can maintain your boundaries.

My adoptive brother is a psychopath. He is not in my life. I am much safer that way.

My biological father was a pretty cool guy and we had a relationship that lasted around 20 years. I met him twice and most of our relationship was via email. I read a couple of his books, marveled at his family (only his wife knew about me), and generally enjoyed the relationship. My biological mother? Saw her once and that was enough for me.

Be confident of your boundaries and do not let him cross those boundaries. My rule as a defense attorney is to never let a psychopath or a narcissist into my personal life. Psychopaths can be quite fun to deal with professionally, but they are very dangerous in your personal life. Borderlines and narcissists just take too much energy for my tastes - I would rather spend my personal life on my personal life, and not managing their crises. You need to choose for yourself whether you are willing to risk it with him.

Glad your relationship with your bio mother worked so well. Remember, there is a reason she did not stick with him.

Personally, the most loving thing my mother ever did for me was give me up for adoption.
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Old 08-31-2019, 07:24 AM
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Hi there, I also found a birth parent later in life and so I have some understanding. Mystory is a little different but then every story is different.

I grew up with my father and step mother.My birth mother left when I was born literally within a few hours of my birth and I didnt see her again until I reconnected with her in my 20's.

I always though she had reluctantly left due to her being very young when I was born. I did not consider the thought that she just did not want to be a Mum , but that was the case. She hadnt gone reluctantly she couldnt have left quick enough and she genuinely had no interest in me.

She agreed to meet me when I found her and contacted her but it was more curiosity on her part than any genuine need to reconnect. It was good for me to see someone that I looked like. We were like a mirror image of each other. However that is where the positives ended and from then on any contact came from me. She continued her disinterest in me and my children. Although she had two other children by the time we reconnected and meeting and building arelationship with my 2 half brothers has been a great positive in my life.

She past away a few years ago and I was with her in her last days.I went to care for her thinking finally I would get some answers and some explanation as to why she had no interest but that didnt happen. It seemed fitting she was there at my first breathe and I was there at her last.

I guess you learn not to miss what you have never had.

Your father has had a difficult past. I know we all make mistakes but rarely do those mistakes include murder or rape. That seems to be indicative of serious personality disorder or addiction. I would be wary and proceed with caution. Who knows what changes he has made or what values he has found but you come first in this and be prepared that not all reconnection stories are good or happy ones.
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Old 09-11-2019, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yourself View Post
Personally, the most loving thing my mother ever did for me was give me up for adoption.



Thank you very much for the reply. My response has been a bit slow but I really do appreciate this information. I bet you have seen them all.

My adoptive parents know about the communication and have always encouraged and supported me in finding my birth parents. That has really helped.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by maytayah View Post
I guess you learn not to miss what you have never had.

Your father has had a difficult past. I know we all make mistakes but rarely do those mistakes include murder or rape. That seems to be indicative of serious personality disorder or addiction. I would be wary and proceed with caution. Who knows what changes he has made or what values he has found but you come first in this and be prepared that not all reconnection stories are good or happy ones.
I very much agree and appreciate your response. I will be careful. My second note has been sent but I have not yet seen a reply. I am anxiously waiting.

I hope he tells me about family members and any relatives he can think of. But of course there might not be any left or few he ever knew. It is a shame I did not find him sooner. His mom died in 2015. It would have been really nice to meet her.

Greg
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:37 PM
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[quote=yourself;7791481]
This is amazingly important with a man who has his criminal record. Such a record indicates he may be a psychopath or have some other cluster B personality disorder. Such people can be very dangerous, and are very good at manipulating the unwary. It does not matter if he has found god - psychopaths will use religion to manipulate others.
QUOTE]

This brings up a point I would like to get more feedback on and since you are a defense attorney you probably have some insight.

Do you think those personality disorders are strictly a result of genetics or can they be linked to learned behavior and peer and leadership roles especially during childhood? I imagine in the worst cases it might be both, but after doing a fair amount of research I am not sure.

Thanks,
Greg
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:58 PM
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[quote=splangie;7793125]
Quote:
Originally Posted by yourself View Post
This is amazingly important with a man who has his criminal record. Such a record indicates he may be a psychopath or have some other cluster B personality disorder. Such people can be very dangerous, and are very good at manipulating the unwary. It does not matter if he has found god - psychopaths will use religion to manipulate others.
QUOTE]

This brings up a point I would like to get more feedback on and since you are a defense attorney you probably have some insight.

Do you think those personality disorders are strictly a result of genetics or can they be linked to learned behavior and peer and leadership roles especially during childhood? I imagine in the worst cases it might be both, but after doing a fair amount of research I am not sure.

Thanks,
Greg
It is an interesting question, and they are doing fMRI and other imaging on the brains of psychopaths to see if there is a “footprint” or some other identifiable sign so that we know who is an who isn't. I mean, anybody can be convicted of murder under the right circumstances, whether they killed a person or not.

The problem is dealing with psychopathy in the real world. My job, thank god, is not to treat them. My job is to help them navigate the criminal justice system prior to adjudication. This is both simple and difficult when it comes to anybody with a mental disorder or defect. Most psychopaths, however, are easy to deal with - they have been through it before, sometimes more times than I can count. They know that their manipulation of me actually detracts from a good outcome, so they tend to be straight forward with me and give me space to do my work.

When you throw in any sort of heavy dose of paranoia or narcissism or borderline personality, things become much more difficult. Their needs then become quite different from actually getting through court to an appropriate adjudication. My paralegal will spend inordinate time stroking ego or letting me know that the guy really just wants publicity or wants to expose some such shameful secret about his girlfriend or something. It is a big time drain and undermines the whole effort to get him either off completely or with the best sentence possible, or even to hook him up with appropriate programs.

In my personal life, my brother is a psychopath, right down to being brought home by the cops at 8 after vandalism and criminal mischief. He has thought about murdering the whole family so he could inherit and not be encumbered by family obligations. Sit and think about that one, if you would. We are fortunate that he only thought about it, bought some guns, and then thought better of it while in prison on a different charge. And then, because he likes to scare people and let them know that the only reason they exist is because he wants us to exist, at least for now.

He got his degree in prison. He wrote a bunch of mental masturbation and called it poetry in prison. He has done a bunch of substance abuse stuff in prison, and dropped out of every program possible. Why? Because he knows better. Besides, unlike somebody in on murder, his sentences have been reasonably short, giving him the ability to max out and say stuff it to parole and his counselor. Why? Because that is who he is.

He is an expert at playing my parents, convincing them he has changed and he loves them and from now on he will be a good boy because he has seen the error of his way. He can quote the Bible to anybody who thinks that is the only way to leave your criminal life behind. My parents, wanting so badly to believe he is alright and will be all right, always buy into it. Dad died believing he was clean and sober and a good man while my brother was in another room lighting a pipe.

Could he be genetic? Sure. We are not genetically related, so we all turned out very different from one and other. He was a problematic kid from day 1 - blame genetics.

Could it be nurture? Sure. We ran wild the bulk of our youth, and he slipped into the bully role early.

Probably a combination is what I would suspect. Does it matter? Nope. It is more a matter of how to deal with the psychopath in your life.

Now you as the child of a guy who is probably a psychopath are wondering what traits you got from him. Part of you is probably wondering if you are a psychopath as well. You can do the Hare PCL-R and see where you fall on the spectrum of psychopathy. If you are a psychopath, blame your father. If you are not? Blame your genetics and your upbringing - you do not have to inherit something just because one parent has the disorder.

I look at it this way - my hands are pretty much identical to my bio mother's hands - they are the same size, the fingers have the same shape, etc. but they are different as well - 30 years of judo have a few of my knuckles large and twisted, and I have a scar on the back of one hand from a childhood encounter with barbed wire that did not go as planned. Our hands may look alike, but they are still as different as night and day, right down to how we address our nails, the number and types of rings worn, and the scars, age spots, and grip strength.

You will find things about you that are like your father. He gave you 50% of your genes after all. But, they are still yours, and have been yours all along. They will still always be distinguishable from him. Even if you are a psychopath, your psychopathy will present differently because of upbringing, experiences, career, and everything else that you have done with your life.

Take the Hare PCL-R. Settle the issue with yourself. If you are a psychopath, use this knowledge to make your life better. If you are not, use the information gleaned from the test to help you understand your father and to set up some defenses for any sort of manipulation you might encounter.

Knowledge is power and very rarely a death sentence.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:08 AM
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Quote:
This brings up a point I would like to get more feedback on and since you are a defense attorney you probably have some insight.

Do you think those personality disorders are strictly a result of genetics or can they be linked to learned behavior and peer and leadership roles especially during childhood? I imagine in the worst cases it might be both, but after doing a fair amount of research I am not sure.
There are very few psychological illnesses that are solely genetic. We do not live in a vacuum, either as children or as adults. The few DSM diagnosable illnesses that are purely genetic that I can think of are slowly being phased out as "mental illness" because they aren't truly psychological, rather neurological. (The DSM just removed homosexuality not that long ago as a "mental illness" - but kept pedophilia. Because attraction to the same gender has been scientifically proven to be something one is born with, but sexual attraction to children has not been.)

That said, there are some environments which pretty much guarantee, if not psychopathy, then some other mental illness/social dysfunction. Take a look at Romanian Orphan Syndrome. Those (now) adults had no hope of becoming even vaguely normal, despite the fact that most of them came from non-mentally ill genetic stock. And the environment in which they were raised permanently changed their brain structure/development - so therapeutic intervention is not a possibility.

It really doesn't matter, nature/nurture. What matters is actions. By the time we hit adulthood, nature and nurture combined will have shaped us into some form. Most of us are able to change that form if we want to. Not all of us will have that option.

Caveat: my mother ticks every single box for sociopathy, should never be allowed around small animals or children. I carry her genetics and was raised by her so got both barrels of nature and nurture. I also hied myself off to therapy in my early 20's and have been in therapy since then (no small amount of time) because I didn't want to be my mother. I've met plenty of people though who seem to be of the "good enough for mah Daddy, good enough for me" mentality, who choose the easier path of following the family line than the far more difficult line of creating a new paradigm in which to conduct themselves.
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