For many couples, a shared dream of having children is a vital part of their relationship. And with this in mind, when they’re finally able to become parents, everything changes in their lives for the better — or, at least, in most cases it does.
However, one couple who adopted a newborn didn’t find themselves as fulfilled by parenthood as they imagined they would be. Instead, years later, they were left wondering if their daughter had been the right fit for their family, even though she had already reached adulthood.
In the first place, Beth and Jim adopted their daughter, Madie, just after she was born. However, she exhibited various troubling issues, and it wasn’t until she was nine that the family received a diagnosis for some of them: she had ADHD and bipolar disorder.
When asked why her parents brought her to the doctor in the first place, Madie, now 18, told TV’s Dr. Phil McGraw, “I believe it was just because of my hyperactivity. I was very energetic and I had a lot of mood swings when I was younger, too, like I would just be really happy and then really sad.”
The official diagnosis wasn’t a source of relief for her family, though. Instead, “from there, stuff just went downhill,” she said. Consequently, her parents shuttled her to psychiatrists, psychologists and other medical professionals – Madie estimated she had met with between 20 and 25 doctors.
According to Madie, her parents had even asked police to step in too. Notably, she said she had been arrested her for mental health checks, as ordered by Beth and Jim. Once, she claimed, she had even been committed to a psychiatric hospital and kept inside of a padded room.
“My parents treated me as if I was disabled,” she said. “I ended up taking a bunch of different medications. It just made things worse.” Madie believed her parents were “looking for something to be wrong with [her] so that they’re able to hide their own faults.”
Despite her stoic appearance on the Dr. Phil show, Madie did admit that the way her parents treated her over the years had hurt her deeply. In fact, she shared snippets of her ongoing internal dialogue with the psychologist, and a lot of it was extremely emotional.
The thoughts she shared included that she’s “damaged goods,” “disposable,” and, if she was her parents’ biological child, they would treat her better. Indeed, Madie also believed she was the “black sheep” of her family, and that her parents considered her younger sister to be “perfect.”
Perhaps worst of all, Madie believed her parents regretted the fact that they had ever made the now-teenager a part of their family. “My mom said that she wished she would have thought more about this adoption,” she said. “When I heard that, I felt rejected, unloved.”
But Madie’s parents, Beth and Jim, had a different side of the story to tell. In contrast, they said their 18-year-old daughter regularly lied to them, even about something as mundane as a missing bag of frozen strawberries. “We’ll find the whole melted big bag in her room,” Beth said.
Moreover, her father told an even more harrowing tale. “Last month, Madie scammed us, telling us that she had a new job that she needed tools for. Beth and I agreed that we would buy the tools,” Jim said. The tools cost $900, but their investment wouldn’t last long. “Days later, we found out that Madie had returned all the tools for cash,” Jim added.
Furthermore, Madie’s parents also said she had been accused of stealing from her school’s locker room; that their daughter was also verbally abusive; on top of that, that she threatened to break her mother’s arm; and that she had regular, uncontrollable emotional meltdowns.
For these and other reasons, Madie claimed her parents had kicked her out of the family home, although Beth and Jim denied it. “You told me to get […] out of this house after we had a fight,” she said. “Yeah, no,” responded her mother to the contrary.
However, Madie’s parents did admit to calling the police to enact a mental health warrant on their daughter. To explain this, Beth reasoned, “She was getting more physical about things. She was taking off with people. We didn’t know where she was going, she wasn’t telling us what she was up to.”
With the family unable to reach a resolution on their own, Dr. Phil stepped in to provide counseling. First of all, the psychologist shared that, from his observations, Madie did not seem to “suffer from any profound pathology,” meaning she did not have any major diagnosable mental health issues.
Dr. Phil did not let the 18-year-old completely off of the hook though. “You do have behavior that you need to work on,” he told Madie. “Oh, yeah,” she replied, nodding, clearly intent on bettering herself. He then turned to her parents to advise them.
“I do think that [Madie] has really questioned who she is and where she fits in,” Dr. Phil said. “And you two can help with that greatly. You don’t have to love everything someone does to love them,” he added, receiving applause from the audience for his final sentiment.
He went on, saying, “That’s what she needs to understand. You might not love the behavior she does on a Tuesday afternoon, but she needs to know, independent of that, you love her unconditionally.”
With that, he offered the family an actionable plan to improve their relationship: workshops at a treatment center in Tennessee, where they could work together and separately to improve their overall relationship with counseling instead of with medical treatments. In the end, Beth, Jim and Madie agreed to attend.