Will taking in my nieces ruin my daughter's life? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 05-21-2012, 05:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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     My sister can't stop drinking and DHS placed her children with her ex about 6 months ago. Two months ago she was downgraded to 'supervised visits only' and now, as of last week, her ex cannot stop drinking either and the children are going into foster care. DHS called my mother to see if there could be a chance for kinship placement.

    The girls I am thinking about taking are 10 an 7 and have had some trauma (the oldest has become 'mama' and has to monitor and report her parents drinking and actions to the ad lideum and eventually the police.)

   My husband is 100 percent on board and I feel like we could do this but I'm worried about my 3-year old. She has had a full-time mom for her whole life and my attention will all-of-a-sudden need to be divided. Also, the older girls will need me to go to all sorts of meetings with counselors and DHS people, so I will have to leave my daughter with caregivers more, which she has been OK with so far but it's been rare. My mother, best friend and husband are all wonderful with her and she loves to spend time with them, but will she love it if it becomes a few times a week?

    I know that conventional wisdom says not to foster kids older than your own, but this just kind of fell into my lap. DH and I have talked before (when DHS started to get involved with my sister) about what we could do if it ever came to this but we hadn't talked about the effect on our own daughter. For safety, I won't leave the girls alone with my DD, they won't be able to babysit or anything but I'm worried that they could somehow hurt her while I am right there. They aren't violent or anything but what if their language or attitude somehow hurts DD?

 Any info or experience would be helpful. Thanks.


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#2 of 15 Old 05-21-2012, 06:38 AM
 
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if there is no history of violent behavior in your neices,  i'd definately take them in. The System can be horrible. 3 year olds all over the world suddenly get new siblings, whether by birth, or accidents, and they make it just fine. if anything, it would give your daughter more attention and more fun, imo.

 

i am all about family, though, and my kids have learned if our family needs us, we are *there*. they learned this from early ages (3 and 4, when their aunt had cancer and i was gone alot to help). it did not hurt them...we missed each other when i was not home but it taught them to care.

 

that said, my cousin came to live with us when i was 15 and his mom died. he was 11. i was devastated when my parents decided to put him in a children's home a few months later. i loved him like my brother but there were problems i wasn't told about til years later which is why he was sent away. so there is that issue to think about, but i don't think it's enough to not do it.


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#3 of 15 Old 05-21-2012, 10:17 AM
 
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does your daughter know these cousins?  It would be a big adjustment, but it could be wonderful for everyone, once everyone settles in... If it were me, I would do it in a heartbeat.  I know how it is when you have only one child, you feel so protective and precious with everything, but you can't shield kids from life, and this is your daughter's life, she has cousins who need a family.  I agree that you will want to be vigilant about making sure the kids are not abusive toward each other, but if they don't have a history of abuse in their family, they will likely be fine.  I would go for it, for sure...  


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#4 of 15 Old 05-21-2012, 10:39 AM
 
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I would do it, because they are family. I know that if i had a family member going into foster care, unless there were clear safety reasons not to, i'd take them in.

 

That being said, it sounds like both parents are alcoholic, and its possible the mom drank while she was pregnant with one or both. Was her drinking as bad years ago as it is now? If so, its possible the children are affected by prenatal alcohol damage which can affect not only learning ability but also behavior. You probably wont know how they really act until they are living with you. They may be totally fine, or they may not be.

 

You dont have to look at it as a totally permanent solution...if they move in and there are issues, and you try to get help for those issues and its still not working, you can always look for an alternative placement. My daughter was placed with maternal relatives on two occasions and both times they had her removed due to behavior. (Her behavior also sucks here, but i didnt know it would when she moved in. ;) ) While its sad for her that she is not with family, i can't fault the relatives for putting the sanity of their own immediate family first.
 


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#5 of 15 Old 05-21-2012, 10:42 AM
 
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My parents did foster care at a church run home when I was younger...I have two siblings that are younger and got a houesful of extra brothers and sisters that were older than me while we were there. Mostly it was all good. I thought it was fun to have a big family.

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#6 of 15 Old 05-21-2012, 11:00 AM
 
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I think I would do it. Sounds like those kids really need you. And since they're school-age you'll still have lots of time with your young daughter.

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#7 of 15 Old 05-21-2012, 11:04 AM
 
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I would do it because they are family too.  You won't be happy unless you do it.  

 

Just maybe put the sisters in the same room sharing a bed so they have each other.  Poor kids.  Nobody should grow up without an adult that puts them first.  Like you are doing with your daughter.  They deserved that from their own parents.

 

It might not work, but at least you can say you tried.

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#8 of 15 Old 05-21-2012, 11:37 AM
 
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Well, if you do it you will be in for a lot of hard work and some big life changes, but I think you should do it. Those girls only get their one life, you could be the difference between a good life and a bad one.

When I was a kid there was a situation like that in my family and my parents decided it wouldn't work out to take my cousins in because it would be too much work. They did have some behavioral problems but I think in our home those could have been dealt with. I'll always be sad that they decided against taking them in, now one of my cousins is dead and the other is crazy from too many drugs. I know my parents feel guilty about their decision, too.
 

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#9 of 15 Old 05-21-2012, 11:48 AM
 
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Based on the information you've provided here, I'd be inclined to go ahead and take the placement. Nobody is asking you to make a permanent decision today. If it's wrecking your life, you have a way out. 

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#10 of 15 Old 05-22-2012, 05:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RStelle View Post

Well, if you do it you will be in for a lot of hard work and some big life changes, but I think you should do it. Those girls only get their one life, you could be the difference between a good life and a bad one.

When I was a kid there was a situation like that in my family and my parents decided it wouldn't work out to take my cousins in because it would be too much work. They did have some behavioral problems but I think in our home those could have been dealt with. I'll always be sad that they decided against taking them in, now one of my cousins is dead and the other is crazy from too many drugs. I know my parents feel guilty about their decision, too.
 

 Thanks everyone for your input but just FYI: The 'sister' who I am talking about was one of my cousins that my parents DID take in and the brother had some serious mental health issues and was in a hospital for a while. (He is doing better now) And the sister is an alcoholic and is losing her children. So, even if your parents had taken those kids in it's not a sure thing that the kids would be ok.


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#11 of 15 Old 05-22-2012, 07:56 AM
 
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My parents did take in my older cousin (their niece) when I was a teenager.  She didn't ruin us, and all was fine.  Family is important, and I would definitely take in any nieces/nephews, unless there were clear safety reasons against it.


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#12 of 15 Old 05-22-2012, 09:47 PM
 
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I agree with PP, I'd do it unless there was a clear reason not to. When I was 17, I left my alcoholic mother's house to stay with my uncle, his wife and their 10 year old daughter. It was wonderful to have a stable home that I could relax and feel comfortable in. I love that my uncle never (seemed) to think twice. Obviously I was older than your nieces, but that carried other concerns for them I'm sure. My dh's brother and his girlfriend both drink a lot and do drugs, police are always at their house and it breaks my heart for their 3 kids. The kids are 6, 4, and 3. They live clear across the country but my dh and I have said as long as we could afford all three, we'd certainly take them in if it ever came to that. 


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#13 of 15 Old 05-23-2012, 12:48 AM
 
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Unless they have a history of violent or sexually hyperactive behavior, I would do it.

 

I felt the same nervousness last year. We were approached through our adoption worker about providing what we were first told would be a month to a few months respite care for a girl who had a very toxic home situation after being adopted. She was 9 at the time and had been adopted with two older girls who relentlessly bullied her and even occasionally became violent to her. I was so nervous about it, being in the process for our second adoption (now complete), and having a 3 year old who'd been an only child.

 

"S" is still with us, a year in now. The older siblings aren't much better despite a ton of therapy, and because things were so tense and filled with fear for S, she never really bonded with her first family the way she's been able to with us. She's thrived with us and has made clear who she considers her family. I never expected to love her, let alone adopt a now 10 year old, but here we are. She's a wonderful child and has blended in very easily despite her earlier difficulties. I guess my point in sharing this is, a tough past doesn't determine their present or future. Just remember that about your nieces :)

 

My worries about disrupting DD4's life were pretty much unfounded. She accepted "S" without issue. I'd actually say you're at the best time to change the dynamic in the home with a 3 year old. They're old enough that they've gotten to be the baby, they've gotten mama's undivided attention for those crucial years, and 3 is really the age where the independent play and more desire for autonomy comes in. As she grows her independence a little more, you can devote more time to the new children in the home and not feel like you're spread too thinly.

 

Good luck in whatever you choose. There's no right or wrong answers here, mama. Just what you feel in your heart and what you feel your family is up to.

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#14 of 15 Old 05-23-2012, 10:06 AM
 
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Was your intent to have your dd always be an only child?  If not, then eventually mom's attention was going to have to be divided.  And honestly, I would much rather have my siblings than have had one-on-one attention my entire childhood. 
 


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#15 of 15 Old 05-23-2012, 09:07 PM
 
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I agree with the majority above that I would probably do it. My advice would be to insist that DHS continue to supervise parental contact. I made that mistake in the informal, unstructured foster placement of my grandchildren. Visits became a big mess; much of that was caused by daughter-in-law's drinking.

 

Certification for kinship placements are usually simpler and quicker than regular foster care. That doesn't mean it is painless. Check out the forums at www.fosterparents.com. Not a very crunchy group, but sweet women with a veritable treasure chest of extensive experiences in the world of foster care. Learn about the issues commonly seen in kids who have experienced neglect and abuse and placement. Not that your kids will have every possible symptom and behavior, but I would suggest knowing the worst case scenario. Then you can be pleasantly surprised when it isn't quite that bad!winky.gif


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