Where we are, a year post-reunification
Around this time last year, BM took DH to court to get more Child Support and to force him to help pay for SS19's college tuition. At that time, DH had not seen SS in 2.5 years or even heard one word from him in over a year. SS was alienated at age 15. We saw him twice around 16, and then not again until last year this time, when he was 18.5.
After DH reported in court that he was alienated from SS and was given instructions on how to file to try to stop child support, a miracle happened! SS began responding to DH's emails and texts. DH had regularly texted him through the entire time of alienation - maybe every month or so, got no response; and suddenly he was responding and willing to meet DH for dinner.
At first we all were guarded and it was tense and challenging. He'd ignore DH's texts for a few days or not respond at all, then he'd respond again. He stopped responding for a couple months around Christmas, we didn't see him at all. DH kept trying and he'd eventually respond.
My DH is not a Disney Dad, he won't buy his son, and he won't stop trying to be a parent. He would right off the bat call SS on his poor school performance, plan for becoming independent etc. He hasn't ever been willing to stop being a parent just because SS was alienated. It was always worrisome to me at first that SS would get mad and disappear, but DH has always believed he has to keep being a father to him no matter what.
Now it's been almost a year. SS brought a friend over tonight to meet DH, and the three of them went to a car show. This is the 3rd friend he's met of SS's, including his now ex-girlfriend. He consistently responds to DH's texts. He even texted DH from Canada this past weekend when he was traveling with BM. Bear in mind, he hadn't regularly texted DH since the alienation began at age 11 or so, and BM had been the gatekeeper for all communication, so him texted DH while away with BM is huge.
He still hasn't called DH "Dad". But they seem to be getting closer and I'm hopeful that all of these friends are giving him feedback about us not being the monsters BM says we are (well, DH - she's never targeted me). He has been down to visit with my family as well, who he hadn't seen in 5 years.
For my part, I started off very anxious and avoided seeing him as much as possible. He did so much lying and manipulating, but SS has always been respectful to me and likes me, so gradually I decided that I would deal with my anxiety and participate in things with him. I'm still guarded with him, and I will be until he realizes what really happened to him, which may be years. He's talking now about moving back to Canada to work, he liked some job options he saw up there. I don't believe he will until BM has collected that last Child Support check 17 months from now, but we will see.
And ... BM is quiet. DH ignored her bullying and harassment and attempts to gatekeep and she's gone quiet, thank god.
Anyway, just reflecting on how far we've come, and maybe giving some hope to those whose skids are alienated (and who are upset by that). I really didn't think he'd be back until his late 20s, if ever.