Please Help: 2 Abandoned boys

by Sunflower
(South Africa)

I volunteered in a children's home 4 years ago and have a built a very close relationship with 2 of the boys I met at the home. At the time they 10 and 11 years old respectively. Both were abandoned by their parents, one is doing relatively well and I see him regularly. He was at the children's home for 6 months. The other is not doing very well.

Both his parents were in prison while he was at the home. His father spent most of the child's life in prison and he only knew him for a few months after his release and then the father suddenly passed away. His mother bounced them (him and his two older siblings) around from one friend to another. She went days without seeing them until she finally went to prison and he went to the children's home. He spend 4 years in children's homes (two in all) until just recently when he moved in with his half brother and his two full siblings.

His mother was released from prison a couple of years ago and still barely contacts him. He can go for months without even a phone call from her. He has only recently lowered her from her pedestal and now the resentment is coming out.

I have been the only consistent person in his life for the past 4yrs. I have always kept my promises, never let him down, gave him lots of love and even moved to South Africa (where they live, I'm originally from Canada)to be closer to them. They both used to stay over with me on weekends when I first moved here nearly 2 years ago.

The problem is that he is very unreliable and tends to sabotage our relationship. For example, he will make plans and then not show up or contact me to let me know.
He has difficulty saying no but won't come through on his promises. He lies. He rebels.

He's irresponsible with his belongings and will often lose items such as the 2 cellphones I gave him and another one one he had that I paid to fix.
He's not doing well in school.

He's become conceited, everyone likes him and they constantly tell him how attractive he is.
When he's with me, he always treats me respectfully. He listens to me and he does tell me things he won't tell others. Although he expresses love verbally to me, he doesn't show it with his behavior. He refuses counseling.

I don't know how to react to this situation. I don't know what is the right way to deal with him and his issues. I've tried speaking to him about how his behavior is affecting others and our relationship but it doesn't seem to help.

His abandonment issues are effecting his life in many ways and it's also affecting me personally because I care for him a great deal and it does hurt when he disappears for x amount of time. I'm always the one that makes contact which sometimes isn't an easy thing to do for various reasons (no phone these days being one of them).

Can anyone advise me as to how I should handle this relationship? He's 15yrs old now so on top of just being a teenager, he has all of these other issues to deal with.

Should I keep accepting his behavior, and keep contacting him?

Or should I leave it in his hands to make contact and mend his ways knowing that subconsciously, he expects me to leave him like every other adult in his life and is probably sabotaging the relationship to make it happen.

Like I said, I've tried to set boundaries, I've talked to him about it, nothing is working.

Any advice would be appreciated.

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