We are in the same boat as the orginal poster and some of the other families here. Sometimes, choosing the lesser of two evils is just not an option, no matter how much someone loves your children. My parents adore my children, but I would never want them to raise my babies. They are verbally abusive and belittle my children. My mother is manipulative and emotionally insecure and tries to get my children to cater to her emotional needs. She was physically abusive towards me and my sister as children and will do the same with my children. They are not an option.
My MIL is older and have a couple of health problems, but the biggest issue with her is that she's so negligent. The one and only time I trusted her to take care of my son, she left a 16 month old in the care of his 4 year old cousin and took a nap, resulting in him falling over the back of the couch and hitting his head. She is completely self absorbed and has never put anyone ahead of herself. Even asking for something to drink when it's inconvenient for her has resulted in her snapping at them. She hasn't put in any effort to spend any time with them or getting to know them. She also has a small pharmacy going in her bedroom with all the different pills and medication standing around and the kids have gotten into her pills more than once because she refuses to close her bedroom door. Not to mention the rat poison she leaves lying around when we visit with the children. Not an option.
My SIL is completely wrapped up in her dd and will never treat my children as her own, plus she just shacked up with the biggest looser she could find. She's even neglecting her own dd, who has huge emotional problems and has been sexually inappropriate with my children. Not an option.
My sister is a complete nutcase who can't stand children. I don't even want to get into it, but imagine someone who thinks it's appropriate to shout at her nephews and nieces, verbally abuse them and do all of that within 10 minutes of walking in the door. Then imagine this person thinking it's appropriate to intimidate and down-stare an 18 month old when the 18 month old walks up to her and smiles at her. Oh! And she does all of that while claiming to love these children like her own. Yeah right. We've cut off all contact with her anyway, so not an option.
We have zero contact with my dh's extended family or mine. My dh's best friend is a bachelor with zero child care experience. While he would be a good trustee, he would not do good as a guardian. My first choice lives overseas and she's expecting her second baby. Her dh would not be willing to take on my four as well. My other friend and second choice, is single and just starting on her career. She can barely afford to take care of herself most months, nevermind taking care of 4 kids. She also has very little experience with children. So, sometimes it's just not as simple as picking someone, anyone, when there are not that many options.