Thank you for sharing your concerns about this young man. Experiencing trauma in early childhood can dramatically affect one’s ability to form healthy attachment to others, especially if the abuse comes at the hands of someone who is supposed to love and protect you. Sometimes the person may have difficulty showing affection and developing a bond with someone else and sometimes it’s just the opposite and they attach too easily and demonstrate poor boundaries. This could very well be the case for this young man. At the extremes it can lead to a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder or Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder.
The fact that you have been a stable and supportive male role model in this boy’s life is wonderful and it will increase his chances of knowing that he is worthy and lovable. Acting like a father figure for him is a positive thing as well. It may take him time to connect and bond with his new stepfather — and it may help even more if you encourage their relationship. But, I also agree that his overly affectionate behavior toward adult men could be misinterpreted by some and could put him at risk. I encourage you to speak to his mother about getting him into therapy now that he is older. It would be an ideal place for him to work through his abuse and learn appropriate boundaries.
Finally, since he exhibits a strong connection with you, you have the ability positively influence him. You can speak to him about good touch and bad touch, learning who it is safe to trust vs who to be cautious with, etc. But, guiding him is not your sole responsibility either. Let the professionals help.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts