Parenting Stepchildren/My husband just met his long lost 12 year old daughter
I am a 25 year old mom of 4 biological children and one step child. My husband and I have been together for 7 years and married for 2.
I am writing because I am concerned about my husband. He first found out about the possibility of a child from an official letter he received from the state in 2009. He was very disturbed by the letter and wondering how he could have a child that he didnt know about. He followed orders and went to all of the court dates and did his part of the dna testing in 2009. The courts kept setting new court dates because the mom never showed up. This went on until 2011 when he physically could not attend court. He did the proper notifying of parties, such as child support case worker, that he would not physically be able to attend and he requested a reschedule which they denied. Because he did not attend, they set support and listed him as the bio dad. We went through a long period of appeals and a nice man that worked at the child support review office managed to get my husband another request to petition the mom to do her part of the dna test. She finally showed up to do the dna test in December of 2011. We were notified in February of 2012 that in fact my husband is the father with mote than 99% probability. We first met the child in March when she was 11 years old. We have since been doing visitations over the school holidays so that a relationship can be established. Our visitations have to br spaced out to mainly school holidays because we live 3 hours away and it would be extremely challenging to do an every other weekend type of thing.
My husband has been very hurt by the whole situation. He doesn't think it is fair that he was denied knowing her. He fell into depression for a long time and is just now starting to come out of it a little at a time.
The child is different. I know she has feelings about the whole situation as well. She knew another man as her dad this whole time. The other man was an absent dad and, from what we were told, he hadn't seen her since she was 6 years old. The child lies all of the time. One of the things she does to try and turn myself and my husband against each other is that she will lie to him. I will try to clarify with her and let her know that we know she is lying. Then she will go to my husband and lie about what me and her had just talked about, thus making me look like the liar. Its very manipulative behavior. My husband works majority of the time she is here so it is mainly me having to be the "parent" which I don't like. She does the opposite of what I tell her to do every time. It is so frustrating. On top of all of this I feel like my husband is seeking revenge on her mother by keeping the child here during the whole holiday break and not letting her mom spend time with her. His reasoning is that her mom has had all of these years with her for birthdays and Christmas so now it is his turn.
My husband is a really good father to the four children that we have together and he definitely goes above and beyond his fatherly duties. He loves each and every one of his children and I see him hurting so much inside from missing out on his first child's life. I would expect any other man to just pay the child support and not even care about establishing a relationship. He does care and it seems like his daughter does not care. Its like she doesn't want to be here or get to know him and it hurts him so deeply inside.
The bio mom is a mess. We have caught her in so many lies. She tells lies about things that are meaningless. Essentially, there is no reason for her to lie. She just does it anyways. The child is the same way. We cant break down these walls and barriers because we are tangled in their lies. Its so confusing and hard to distinguish reality from their lies. The bio mom is what I would refer to as a toxic woman. She tries to control my husband every time they discuss the child. Also, she talks to my husband as if they have always known each other but, before we met the child for the first time, he hasn't seen the mom in 11 years. She tries to play on my emotions as well by getting physically close to my husband when I am around. She likes to reach out for his hand or "play" touch him. She also like to say things to him like she's his best friend. Its was very uncomfortable for me during drop offs and pick ups so we changed the location to a very public place. I cannot go with my husband to the drop offs and pick ups anymore because I have to stay home with my twin newborns and other children. I get anxiety when I know that his daughter will be coming because I cant be present to see if the bio mom touches my husband. I also get anxiety because I know that I will be the sole caretaker for this child while my husband works most of the time she is here.
When she is here, I have to tell her to eat and drink or she will go all day without anything until my husband gets home. She has gone 12 hours before without food or drink and she doesn't pee. She will just sit in the same spot on the couch watching tv. We bought her toys for Christmas. We thought that she was a couch potato because she didnt have toys here but now that she has toys she us still a couch potato and doesn't play with the toys much at all. We explained to her that she had to leave most of her toys here that she got for Christmas because she needs things here to play with. My husband and I helped her pack her bags last night and helped her decide what to leave and what to take. My husband took her back this morning and I discovered that she had taken everything but 3 things that she didnt like anyways. She must have snuck them in her bag while we were sleeping. Im really upset and it feels like she stole from us or took advantage of our kindness. Her mom doesn't let her bring toys with her when she visits so were are now back at square one with not toys here.
I don't look forward to holidays anymore because I know she will make us miserable. We try so hard to go out of our way for her and make her happy and it is just not working. I have searched out counselors in our area that can help my husband and I but it seems like none of them understand our situation. We don't know anyone who has been through something like this. Are we doing it right or are we doing it wrong? We need advice and guidance.
Thanks so much for reaching out to help. I can empathize with what you are feeling. This situation is going to take a lot for everyone to sort through. In essence the life people have come to know is not the life that they have anymore. It takes years for a blended family to get some sense of stabilization. Research has shown it takes from 3-5 jut to begin to get a sense of normalcy.
In this situation, the only thing you can control are your own feelings and actions. With regard to how you interact with your stepdaughter, her moher and your spouse. Primarily, you and your spouse need to be on the same page with everything in order not to let the stepfamily situation destroy your marraige. That means openly communicating, even when you think it may not be favorable.
When you are in charge with your stepdaughter (as in the instance when you referred to having her drink and eat) give her the same kind of care that you would any child that is in your care. You would be concerned for a child that is not eatingand drinking for several hours, and try to care for them. It sh=ounds like you are doing the same for your stepdaughter and I applaud you. COntinue showing care for her. Modeling what a caring adult can do for her in her life.
With regard to the toys. There is clearly some understandable frustration on your part. The toys are gone now, and all you can do is dicuss the situation withyour spouse and then together with your stepdaughter when she returns. There are no rules about how many toys she has to play with in your home. Try to change your thinking. She left three toys, so she will be able to enjoy (as much as she can) the three toys that are there until she earns or receives others. When she does return, let her know that you are aware that the toys are taken, and that you can understand her desire to want to have them, but also explain that because of her choices she has limited toys now at your home. The goal is not to be punitive to her, but to help her to understand something that she may not have thought about when she took the toys to her mother's home (the consequences of having few toys at your home and minimal entertainment for the future). She obvously loved the toys, so she took them. Try to view that part of the action as a positive. You gave her some toys that she likes. Not always easy when it comes to blended families!
Always remember you do not have control over anyone else's happiness. You can provide opportunities for fun, for family memory making, but it is only when they are ready that a person can recive what you are giving. It is not your responsibility to make everyone happy, including your spouse or stepdaughter. Try doing some self care in this situation, and see how much better everyone else around you will feel.
I would suggest you get some professional help with this situation, and soon. Finding a professional counselor that is knowledgable about stepfamilies would be best to assist you in this situation. You can visit http://www.strongstepfamilies.com
to receive some free information that can help you. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or needs.