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Help with my niece/mother-in-law, and uncertainty.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I have an issue that is an adoptive-type circumstance, but perhaps more, because it is an in-family adoption and I am uncertain about the likelihood that it will be permanent.

 

My great-niece is 4 and came to live with us and her great-grandmother who stepped in to be her guardian because my dgn mother had broken my dn's arm and refused to get her treated, as well as they were squatting in a house with no windows and doors in December.  It's a long story, but basically my mother-in-law (her great grandmother) had been the only constant caregiver in her life, albiet allowed abuse to occur under her watch as well as drug abuse by my niece in front of my grand niece.  She is an enabler and doesn't seem to be able to draw good boundaries for the people around her.  There is a lot of family history here, and we suspect that my dgn is actually the product of incest that my niece accused her father of, but my mil refused to believe and actually funded the legal defense of her son (my niece's father).

 

Now she is living next door to me most of the time, and when she first came out to live with us, it was understood that my DGN would be eventually living with us, and for the first month or so, that is the direction we were going.  Then my MIL started to express her desire to have my DGN stay with her, and would do things to make my DGN want to stay with her, like allow her to have a bottle with chocolate milk during bedtime, and put her in diapers and not help her use the potty (at 4 years old).  Basically babying her and letting her do whatever she wanted.  Distructive behaviors, very regressive behaviors.  Watch tv whenever she wanted, etc.  Things we don't do in our house.

 

We got her potty learning done and had her on water at night, but my MIL would come back and have her again exhibiting all these regressive behaviors.  Crying, instead of using words when she didn't get what she wanted...all sorts of things.

 

Now things are occuring like my DGN is taking things from our house and putting it at my MIL's, sneaking it, and when I find out later, it causes a big mess when I insist that she can't do that.  Especially because my MIL doesn't seem to see what is wrong with it.  The nature of what she is doing seems really subversive and it bothers me a lot.  I really value honesty and respect for things.  She asks all the time, or insists, that somethings is hers. She is very into defining what is hers.  I will get toys that are for all the kids (I have a 4 yr old DS and a 2 yr old DS), like horses and she will take them over to my MIL's to keep.  She will find something she likes and ask me to put them up so other's can't play with them.

 

The major issues are I don't know where this is leading.  I see the path that would occur if she stays with my MIL.  She is 70 years old.  She has been a horrible parent and grandparent to all of her family, ultra-enabling of the girls and abusive of the boys.  She has values and standards that are so different than what I am doing with my own children, and the clashes make it very difficult to parent all of them.  She has begun to lie to me and to challenge me because my MIL does not back me up with discipline, so she has no respect for my standards of behavior.  I have her with my kids every day for 10-12 hours a day, because she loves my boys and our toys and we go places, as my MIL  doesn't drive or do anything but sit in her house.

 

I have to go my son is waking up. Any advice is great.

 

 

post #2 of 7

First, is the child a ward of the state? If so, I would be contacting the CW with your documentation of all that has been happening. If you are caring for this child 10-12hrs a day, I would have the child officially placed with you. If the child IS officially placed with you, I wouldn't allow her to visit the grandmother if you are not there to supervise. My MIL lives "across the hall" from me (in-law suite) and our children (majority are teens) are NOT allowed to even KNOCK on her door without asking us first.

You have to set boundries. Without them you have a total mess like what you have right now. Your DH should be backing you up on this one too!

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

She is not a ward of the state, my MIL has permanent custody of her. My DGN's mother has supervised visitation every other week for three hours, and she has three times to miss it before that is taken away as well. As of Thursday she will have missed it twice.  I have been pressing her to  sever her parental rights. However my MIL wavers on if she thinks that is a good thing. think she feels guilty for what happened to my niece and thinks shes responsible for her addictions and prostitution. She must have a drug test before the visitation, which she is incapable of passing.

 

The inconsistency on what is occuring is driving me nuts.  I know my DGN needs help, just today my ds bit her in a game of shark, not hard and in response to her biting him and she started throwing up.  She has deep issues and I know my MIL is oblivious to them.

 

We would of stepped in to take custody of her last year but we were going through our own court stuff with my ex about my eldest ds and we just couldn't take it on.  I really don't feel the capacity for ANOTHER fight.

 

I am not sure how to protect my children and my home and keep open to my DGN.  I am struggling with creating clear standards.

 

NAK

post #4 of 7

Even though you don't want another fight it sounds like you want what is best for you DGN and that that is probably to be with you in a permanent arrangement since you have her much of the time already.

I'd talk to an attorney about the legalities of it. If you don't want to pay the one you may already have there is always community legal aid-which is usually free of charge. I wonder too about contacting social services and see what kind of advice they can offer. Not all caseworkers for CPS/Social Services are evil...

Good Luck!!

post #5 of 7

Is anything your MIL is doing abusive or neglectful? Honest and serious question. If it is, call CPS and report the abuse or neglect and make it clear that you have significant interest and interactions with the child and want her placed with you if she's taken into custody. Be prepared that they might want to provide in-home services to your MIL and not remove her.

 

If it isn't neglect or abuse, but you think it is clearly not in the best interests of the child, then the way I see it is that you have two choices: either prepare for and put up a fight, advocating for the child, or wash your hands of it all and severely limit contact. Either you're going to do something or you aren't. There's no middle ground.

 

If you are going to do something about it, then you need to decide what you're going to do and what your boundaries will be. Set play time and no ability for the child to call the shots? Specific rules? Legal action for visitation? For court-ordered interventions for the MIL? For custody? Support to the MIL to get resources but no long-term social interactions? Decide what you think this child really needs and what you're able and willing to do about it, then do it.

 

And in the process, I recommend you start reading about the types of issues the child might be facing. If I understood correctly, you suspect she's the child of incest (possibly rape as well?), developed in utero while her mother was taking drugs, and has been living a vagrant and homeless life with her mother for 4 years while her mother was a drug-abusing prostitute. The chances that this child has been physically and sexually abused, that her mother has been physically or sexually abused in front of her, that she's seen numerous sex acts, that she was physically and emotionally neglected, left to fend for herself, left in the care of strangers, and has suffered neurological damage from her in utero and every day life are all very high. You report hoarding behavior, poor boundaries, poor modeling in the extended family, and enabling behaviors in her subsequent caregivers which will have served to only ingrain any distrust and detachment from others. If you decide to parent this child, it is very likely that she'll need intensive therapeutic parenting for many, many years to come to help her unlearn what she's come to know as normal and to protect your boys from her potential acting-out behavior. Not all children who have been sexually abused become perpetrators (most do not--but most sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone trusted and close to the family and this child's potential experiences are far outside that "norm" for sexual abuse), but her particular profile makes her particularly susceptible to acting out and possibly to rages, especially if you appropriately take away her control through effective therapeutic parenting. Read up on reactive attachment disorder and how to parent for it and see if you see any of the behaviors in your grand-niece.

Then decide what you're going to do about it and do it. That's my two cents.

post #6 of 7


Quote:

Originally Posted by Momma Molly View Post

Is anything your MIL is doing abusive or neglectful? Honest and serious question. If it is, call CPS and report the abuse or neglect and make it clear that you have significant interest and interactions with the child and want her placed with you if she's taken into custody. Be prepared that they might want to provide in-home services to your MIL and not remove her.

 

If it isn't neglect or abuse, but you think it is clearly not in the best interests of the child, then the way I see it is that you have two choices: either prepare for and put up a fight, advocating for the child, or wash your hands of it all and severely limit contact. Either you're going to do something or you aren't. There's no middle ground.

 

If you are going to do something about it, then you need to decide what you're going to do and what your boundaries will be. Set play time and no ability for the child to call the shots? Specific rules? Legal action for visitation? For court-ordered interventions for the MIL? For custody? Support to the MIL to get resources but no long-term social interactions? Decide what you think this child really needs and what you're able and willing to do about it, then do it.

 

And in the process, I recommend you start reading about the types of issues the child might be facing. If I understood correctly, you suspect she's the child of incest (possibly rape as well?), developed in utero while her mother was taking drugs, and has been living a vagrant and homeless life with her mother for 4 years while her mother was a drug-abusing prostitute. The chances that this child has been physically and sexually abused, that her mother has been physically or sexually abused in front of her, that she's seen numerous sex acts, that she was physically and emotionally neglected, left to fend for herself, left in the care of strangers, and has suffered neurological damage from her in utero and every day life are all very high. You report hoarding behavior, poor boundaries, poor modeling in the extended family, and enabling behaviors in her subsequent caregivers which will have served to only ingrain any distrust and detachment from others. If you decide to parent this child, it is very likely that she'll need intensive therapeutic parenting for many, many years to come to help her unlearn what she's come to know as normal and to protect your boys from her potential acting-out behavior. Not all children who have been sexually abused become perpetrators (most do not--but most sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone trusted and close to the family and this child's potential experiences are far outside that "norm" for sexual abuse), but her particular profile makes her particularly susceptible to acting out and possibly to rages, especially if you appropriately take away her control through effective therapeutic parenting. Read up on reactive attachment disorder and how to parent for it and see if you see any of the behaviors in your grand-niece.

Then decide what you're going to do about it and do it. That's my two cents.


This. Everything she said is totally right on.  This is a really sad case, good luck. 

 

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your reasoned and to the point responses. 

 

In the interviening time, my MIL has stepped back, my DGN's mother missed her final visit, and my MIL has agreed to transfer custody to us.  We have had my DGN consistently for two weeks and so much of the behavior all but disappeared.  No more hording, no more saying she's not hungry, she has been eating meals with us as a family, having healthy snacks, etc.  I found that my MIL lied to me regarding my DGN dental problems, as she has three cavities after she swore she had none.  I also found that she was hiding chocolate milk from me. 

 

I have let go of this dishonesty because I don't really care if she lies to me.  If she is limited in contact, then it doesn't really matter.  I am meeting with an attorney next week to finalize the custody agreement and then we will get it ordered in front of a judge.  But at this point, I am very positive about the direction we are going. My MIL realizes I think that we are the only real chance for my DGN to have a real family.

 

I have been reading about RAD and I am not sure about the signs, as she does not do any raging behavior with me, or any violent actions really, but she does things that are very sly, hidden and I have to be quick to catch them. It may be true that once she feels like we are somewhat stable and she is HOME with us that she may start pushing us away.  Unfortunately we are in a very rural area and I don't know about the availability of therapy.  Ifl you have any books to recommend I would really appreciate it.

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