Originally Posted by Smithie
This is a terrible situation, and I sympathize.
If this were my toddler being hurt, I would be gone. Not "gone" as in divorced, but gone as in "DS and I are spending the holidays with my mom. When your daughter is resettled with her mother or with another relative or in a special school or in any other place that is not our son's home, we'll be back."
Your responsibility is to protect your very young children. Nothing else is even on the table until they are safe in their home. If you can't have a safe home with your DH, then the awful painful truth is that you must make a safe home elsewhere. The choices you make now are going to shape their entire childhoods, so choose their well-being over the well-being of your stepdaughter NOW. Look that choice in the eye and know it, and help her in whatever way you can over the years that doesn't result in a battered toddler.
You didn't break this kid, and you can't fix her without an unacceptable cost to your biokids. If you had no small children, I'd be giving you very different advice.
Ultimately, after months of trying, this is the advice I had to take. Thank you, Smithie. I think I knew in my heart that you were right all along, but I had to try.
We got DSD in therapy with a really good therapist, who was upfront with us that the healing DSD needs to do will be slow going and will likely take more time than we have with a young toddler and a baby coming so soon. Since mid-December we have not left DSD in a room alone with DS. I cannot express the anxiety and stress this has placed on me, but I willingly put myself in that position in the hopes of helping DSD and keeping her here with us, while keeping DS safe.
A couple weeks ago, DSD (who turns 12 in a couple weeks) began to try to hurt DS in our presence, so even being in the same room with them wouldn't keep him safe. She would wait for us to turn our backs for a second and act in that second. I witnessed her go to set him down and let him go inches from the floor with a little shove in the direction of the nearby stove so that he would smash his face on the corner of it. Later that night DH was in the kitchen with DSD and 14 month old DS. DSD was setting the table. DH turned around and DS was playing with a butter knife in his high chair. DH asked DSD where he got it. At first she said he must have reached and grabbed it form the table. DH told her there was no way DS could reach the table. At that point, she said she just wasn't thinking. We decided that we can't wait to see if she'll give him a steak knife next time. When it became clear to us that we couldn't keep DS safe in our home, even being in the same room with DSD and DS, we had to send her to live with her mom. This is the most difficult decision either of us has ever had to make. It's not for lack of trying on our part. Nor is it due to a lack of love for DSD. What it boils down to is that DS and future baby deserve to grow up in a home free from abuse.
DSD flew back to her mom's last Sunday. We explained things to her as lovingly as we could. She knows that after more therapy, when she is older and our children here are older, we can discuss trying again. DH took a day off work to spend with DSD. We threw her a Going Away party. Now we're attempting to advocate for her from a distance. DH is recommending DSD continue therapy. It's a sad, sad time for us and is especially devastating for DH, but we are on the same page and both feel that we cannot safely keep her here.
Thanks to all who gave advice, so that I could try to see it from all sides and try to do the right thing. Ultimately, I feel we've come to the right decision, the only decision we can come to with small children to protect in our home. This is such an emotional time for us. Thanks for the support.