Input requested: DS's half-sibs - Mothering Forums
Blended and Step Family Parenting > Input requested: DS's half-sibs
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 07:13 PM 10-12-2009
The short-ish version (I swear, it really could be longer!!):

9 years ago, I met STBX. I knew he had 2 boys from a previous marriage and that he didn't see them much because they were out of state. (And at 24 with no kids of my own, I accepted that and figured we'd sort it out.) He ended up signing away rights so their step-father could adopt them. Almost 3 years ago we had DS. I have kept the idea of his brothers as something that I bring up casually every so often. Their baby pictures are in his baby album. I wish we had more current pics, but we don't. So now DS is aware of his brothers and talks about them semi-regularly. I never ever wanted there to be a big reveal some day.

I can't even call the boys my step kids because he signed rights away right before we got married and this whole past 9 years he hasn't had any communication.

The oldest brother will be 18 this winter. The younger one will be 16 in the spring. They don't know about DS.

While we have been married, I've respected STBX's privacy. I've always said I would until it affected DS---I firmly believe in the kids' rights to know each other if they want. I know they don't have any other siblings via mom (she couldn't have more) and I won't be having any more. They are family!

So...the 17 year old showed up on Facebook! I will absolutely NOT be contacting him (I'd be livid if a stranger contacted my minor child and said "Hey! Here's your baby brother!"). But because he showed up, I found his mother. I asked STBX for permission to contact her. He said he was leaning towards yes, but I said he should be sure because once he said yes, I'd do it almost immediately. That was a few weeks ago.

I've always kind of kept tabs on where they are so I could reach them if something ever happened to STBX or if he ever agreed to initiate contact with them. (I tried to stay out of it otherwise.) But having an address and putting yourself on facebook are two different things. Putting yourself on facebook is pretty much giving permission for blasts from the past. (Again, I'm talking about STBX's first wife, NOT the child.)

If STBX never says "yes", I still intend to contact her at some point. He knows that. With the promise to go away if she wants me to and to let her tell or not tell her kids in her own time. I suspect the fact that I'm a future X will probably make her more willing to talk to me. I do NOT want to get into a drag-him-through-the-dirt fest and would actively avoid it.

So...........that's the long set-up for: what would you do? how would you feel on either side of the equation? These teenagers are several states away, and I don't know that they'll be interested in my DS, but as they all grow up, I'd like them to have the option of knowing each other. They're going to have a whole pile of hurt about STBX. But that's a separate issue.

If he never says "yes", how long would you wait?

Oriole's Avatar Oriole 07:35 PM 10-12-2009
From different perspectives:

* If I was 17, or 18, or 5, or 45 y.o., and had a half sibling, I'd want to know yesterday.

* If I was an ex wife, who raised two kids with another man, because their dad wanted nothing to do with them, I'd have no problems for the kids to get to know a sibling.

* If I were in your shoes, I'd have another talk with soon-to-be-ex, and nudge his understanding that you don't think it's fair for the children not to have the option to get to know each other.

good luck!
lvngmm's Avatar lvngmm 07:42 PM 10-12-2009
I really don't think you need your STBX's permission at this point.

If you just contact the mother (she will have a better understanding of how the two older children feel toward their father and what they know) then I don't think your STBX's opinion really matters.

I'm not saying this to punish him. I just don't see how this will affect him.
caro113's Avatar caro113 08:17 PM 10-12-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by lvngmm View Post
I really don't think you need your STBX's permission at this point.

If you just contact the mother (she will have a better understanding of how the two older children feel toward their father and what they know) then I don't think your STBX's opinion really matters.

I'm not saying this to punish him. I just don't see how this will affect him.


My MIL has two half siblings with her dad but every time she tried to contact them, he wouldn't let her. (They were given up for adoption .. or taken away .. we're not quite sure.) He died like 13 years ago and she's been searching ever since. The problem is she can't find them because most - if not all - of the information died with him. She didn't even find out about them until something like 20 years ago.

Point of the story: She has always wanted contact, or at least to know they are alright and had a good life and give them her information so they can contact when they're ready.

And MIL grew up with six other siblings.

I would contact the mom. You don't need permission from the STBX to do that. You can simply say that you've never kept the boys a secret from your son and he has been asking about them. If nothing else, can she give you some updated photos? I'm sure if you ask her the way you explained everything here, she'll be okay with that. At least for now. Maybe she'll be more open to allowing more contact as she gets to know you.

Good Luck!!
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 08:51 PM 10-12-2009
Thank you ladies. I want to play nice while we sort out the divorce. But I will ask him again since he's had a month to think about it. Once the divorce is final, all bets are off.

FTR, it's not that he wanted nothing to do with them, but it was still a choice he made that plays out the same way to all parties involved.

I appreciate the opinions!!!
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 09:59 PM 10-12-2009
Ah ha. I asked again. It comes down to:
1. "What if they don't want anything to do with me?"
Answer: That's a possibility, but this isn't about your relationship with them. It's about DS's relationship with them and vice versa.

2. "She's going to say I screwed up again."
Answer: Probably and it's a valid point, but I'm not going to let conversations become a blame-game.

And I reiterated that at some point I'm going to do it no matter what.

(We're also not talking about the fact that reopening contact with his kids also opens up contact with his real dad who was abusive to his mom, then remarried and had the New Family, ignoring the original one. Even though the circumstances are very different, they sure look the same on the surface.)

Lotsa baggage here, but it's not about the rights and feelings of the adults.
Phoenix~Mama's Avatar Phoenix~Mama 09:20 AM 10-13-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by RollerCoasterMama View Post
Ah ha. I asked again. It comes down to:
1. "What if they don't want anything to do with me?"
Answer: That's a possibility, but this isn't about your relationship with them. It's about DS's relationship with them and vice versa.

2. "She's going to say I screwed up again."
Answer: Probably and it's a valid point, but I'm not going to let conversations become a blame-game.

And I reiterated that at some point I'm going to do it no matter what.

(We're also not talking about the fact that reopening contact with his kids also opens up contact with his real dad who was abusive to his mom, then remarried and had the New Family, ignoring the original one. Even though the circumstances are very different, they sure look the same on the surface.)

Lotsa baggage here, but it's not about the rights and feelings of the adults.

Your STBX sounds selfish with his two anwsers... this isn't about him at all! It's about siblings knowing each other.

I agree with the PP's that said I wouldn't even ask STBX. It has nothing to do with him really.

I'd definitely talk to the Mom.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 09:47 AM 10-13-2009
He is childish in his responses to the idea . 90% of the reasons behind the no-contact is because I think he was trying to wait until he was a "success". His first divorce was pretty much for the same inability to keep a job longer than 3 months. I've since pretty much tracked down the root cause (untreated ADHD) but after so many years, the resulting depression I got from being in crisis mode and having no hope of the pattern changing means that I need out too.

So, he's not going back a "success". But, there's a strong chance that they don't want to talk to him. Maybe some day, but it might be years. I don't think he sees that in their eyes, he abandoned them the same way his father left him and his brother. It was a choice he made every day.

While our son was a baby, I let him keep making that choice rather than nag him all the time. But I always told him that I would take things into my own hands once DS got older. A couple times a year I would mention sending our address and a calling card or sending a birthday/Christmas card. I'd remind him that every year that passed would make it harder to start again. And that they would think he was just lilke his dad. Nothing would come of it, and here we are. He's hoping for his CHILDREN to be the adults and come find him.

So yes, he is selfish in his emotional reactions. Very child-like. He is an emotional guy that feels things deeply, but he has trouble facing the hard stuff and tends to bury his head in the sand and let things happen TO him. I don't know if that's personality or from his history with his own dad or the ADHD...it doesn't matter. He has control and he let it happen. And now it's time to man up and do what's best for our son.

Thanks for the input mamas. I really was interested in how you'd feel if someone contacted you out of nowhere with a little brother for your kids. It sounds like you'd personally be ok with that?
flapjack's Avatar flapjack 10:45 AM 10-13-2009
Younger brother, yes, fine. My ex has the right to move on. It irks me that he's making an effort to get it right with his third son where he didn't with his elder sons, but at the same time I'm very glad that he's getting something right.

Older brother, I'd go ballistic, because there was stuff prior to our life together that hadn't been mentioned.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 11:33 AM 10-13-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by flapjack View Post
Younger brother, yes, fine. My ex has the right to move on. It irks me that he's making an effort to get it right with his third son where he didn't with his elder sons, but at the same time I'm very glad that he's getting something right.

Older brother, I'd go ballistic, because there was stuff prior to our life together that hadn't been mentioned.
Older would be a whole different ball of wax!!!

I'd have contacted her eventually anyway no matter how things worked out, but I have a sneaking suspician that she will be more willing to talk to me as the ex (or future ex). If I were in her shoes, it would take the sting out of it some. He didn't go off and suddenly become madly successful and the perfect husband and father, and will probably validate her decisions 15 years ago. My inlaws said she struggled with her decision a lot...only she was 10 years younger than I am now, SAHM without much education and two babies. I've had more resources and I floated us for a long time. I've lasted longer, but with the same result. So we may not have a lot in common, but we have that and the kids.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 12:59 AM 10-20-2009
Well, he asked me today if I'd emailed her yet. I said no I was waiting for his decision. "I said go ahead since you were going to do it anyway." Translation...he's feeling a little bullied by it, but finally got to the right decision and realized that it's not about him. That they may very well want nothing to do with him for a few more years.

So I emailed the ex! He thinks she'll ignore me. I'm hoping she's more of a mother than that. I'm excited and terrified. I suppose the worst case scenario, is that she doesn't want to tell her kids about DS. There's a whole extra grandparent, aunt and uncle, cousins out there in addition to the brothers.

Fingers crossed.
Eeyore35's Avatar Eeyore35 01:32 AM 10-20-2009
Just...be really cautious with regard to your son's feelings. It's never going to be like they grew up together,(especailly with the age difference) and her sons are not going to suddenly gain a grandparent/cousins etc. I have older half siblings,from my father,that I did not grow up with,altho we all knew about each other. I met them when I was 2,but I don't remember it,then no direct contact til I was 13,and didn't see them til 15.

For awhile,we kept in touch,but then that stopped,on their part,and...it really hurt. I wish we hadn't had the contact we did,sometimes. They are fb friends now,and I'm ok with that,but don't trust htem to maintain contact. i won't let my guard down and feel close to them ever again.

I do think it's good you contacted the mom,I truly do. I think secrets are bad. I'm glad I know I have half siblings. But,they are not family,and I wish I'd never thought they would be. They have kids,but I don't tell my daughter they are her cousins.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 02:26 AM 10-20-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eeyore35 View Post
Just...be really cautious with regard to your son's feelings. It's never going to be like they grew up together,(especailly with the age difference) and her sons are not going to suddenly gain a grandparent/cousins etc. I have older half siblings,from my father,that I did not grow up with,altho we all knew about each other. I met them when I was 2,but I don't remember it,then no direct contact til I was 13,and didn't see them til 15.

For awhile,we kept in touch,but then that stopped,on their part,and...it really hurt. I wish we hadn't had the contact we did,sometimes. They are fb friends now,and I'm ok with that,but don't trust htem to maintain contact. i won't let my guard down and feel close to them ever again.

I do think it's good you contacted the mom,I truly do. I think secrets are bad. I'm glad I know I have half siblings. But,they are not family,and I wish I'd never thought they would be. They have kids,but I don't tell my daughter they are her cousins.
Thank you for this viewpoint. I will be careful not to give him any expectations. These boys may want nothing to do with him either...they've been raised by the man that adopted them years ago. They're half a continent away and have a completely different lifestyle and interests. I just feel like it's important to establish the basic facts while he's young, then deal with questions when he's old enough to ask them. Rather than a big reveal later on. I will definitely keep your viewpoint in mind. And there's a strong possibility she won't want anything to do with this chapter in her past. But if I didn't try to open the channels, I'd always regret it.
tndixiemom's Avatar tndixiemom 12:19 PM 10-20-2009
I had something similar happen to me. I was adopted by my aunt, but always knew about my bio father. When I was 16, one of my bio dad's dd's contacted me. She was expecting this sisterly relationship. I was not. I would rather she not have contacted me at all. It was so awkward and it was something that I had put behind me. My bio dad had abandoned me and I was ok with that, but now this reminder kept popping up. I would take her calls because I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but it was just not what I wanted or needed. I felt obligated to talk to her. Thankfully, I don't talk to her anymore. She did keep contacting my other bio sister that I have had a relationship with since she was born through our bio mom. She feels the same way I do. So my advice is not to say anything at all to your ds. The ball needs to be squarely in their court. What your ex did to them is awful and takes a lot to get over. Seeing or even hearing from you could bring up a lot of past feelings that are better left buried.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 12:31 PM 10-20-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by tndixiemom View Post
I had something similar happen to me. I was adopted by my aunt, but always knew about my bio father. When I was 16, one of my bio dad's dd's contacted me. She was expecting this sisterly relationship. I was not. I would rather she not have contacted me at all. It was so awkward and it was something that I had put behind me. My bio dad had abandoned me and I was ok with that, but now this reminder kept popping up. I would take her calls because I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but it was just not what I wanted or needed. I felt obligated to talk to her. Thankfully, I don't talk to her anymore. She did keep contacting my other bio sister that I have had a relationship with since she was born through our bio mom. She feels the same way I do. So my advice is not to say anything at all to your ds. The ball needs to be squarely in their court. What your ex did to them is awful and takes a lot to get over. Seeing or even hearing from you could bring up a lot of past feelings that are better left buried.
I'm sorry you went through all that. And I'll definitely try to keep these viewpoints in mind. But not telling DS is not something I'm ok with. I don't do deep dark family secrets. And the fact that he's got two half brothers is not a secret and will never be. I'm not going to promise they grow up and be best friends, but they deserve to know that each other exist. What they do from there is up to the three of them once they're grown up. They're 17 and 15 already...chances of them being best buddies with a 2 year old is pretty slim. But in 15 years...maybe they'll feel like knowing each other better. And what we do now is the groundwork for that. I know there's a lot of healing to be done. But I've seen how being left by their father affected H and his brother. I can't think that letting it fester for 30 years is the answer--without it, I'm afraid the cycle could repeat for another generation. At least this way, they can open the door to slow healing.

But their mom knows them best. I've put the ball in her court. If she tells me to go away and never come back, I'll respect that.
tndixiemom's Avatar tndixiemom 12:41 PM 10-20-2009
I am not saying not to tell them they exist. I am saying not to tell him that you are contacting the mother. Also, they could already be healed and this would just reopen old wounds long closed. I think that is one thing to keep in mind.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 12:45 PM 10-20-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by tndixiemom View Post
I am not saying not to tell them they exist. I am saying not to tell him that you are contacting the mother.
Misunderstood! No, he's only 2 yrs old. That would just confuse him. And if she declares no contact...then we just go forward as things are.

Thanks for the point of view from the sibling though. It's good to have that reminder. I do think about the big pile of hurt this could open up for them. And that's why I'm leaving it to the mother. She'll know better than anyone how they feel and whether they would get more harm than good by all this.
moondiapers's Avatar moondiapers 01:39 PM 10-20-2009
My niece doesn't consider her bio father her father at all. She has no interest in meeting his more recent children becuase in her view he's not her father, so they aren't her siblings. It might be sad for you if that's how these kids think, but it's something to be prepared for.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 01:54 PM 10-20-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by moondiapers View Post
My niece doesn't consider her bio father her father at all. She has no interest in meeting his more recent children becuase in her view he's not her father, so they aren't her siblings. It might be sad for you if that's how these kids think, but it's something to be prepared for.
I guess that getting this out of the way when DS is so young will be good. If they want nothing to do with him, then we go on. He can know there are grown-up siblings out there that we don't see. And that's just the way things are. I'm really not picturing cozy family gatherings or anything!

Thanks everyone for the input.
sunflowers's Avatar sunflowers 08:39 PM 10-20-2009
I wish you the best of luck in this I am sure that no matter what the outcome, you did the right thing in the right way.
heathermarie73's Avatar heathermarie73 09:17 PM 10-20-2009
I actually applaud the way you have dealt with this. I am basically in the 18/19 year olds shoes. All situations are different but my dad moved on and had another family with two other children and broke contact when I was 5 and my sister was 3. It took a long time to work through this situation, but when I was 23 or so I finally tried to make contact with my dad. I actually met him. It definately wasnt like all of those sobbing hugs and tears you see on tv. I lost touch but always knew that I had a 1/2 brother and 1/2 sister(youngest) they however were not raised knowing about us . I also was told that my younger 1/2 sister was very interested in knowing me but at the time she was only 16. Well flash forward to today, I am 29 and I found my 1/2 sister (now 22) on Myspace a year ago and had some minor conversation. I was very hesitant to get over exited. Then my family was all on Facebook so I joined but didnt log on much. Then 1/2 sister found me and my younger sister on facebook. Opening a huge pandoras box involving more of the family . My (full) sister, I believe still has some difficulties with the whole situation, but she is open to knowing her siblings. I have had alot of contact with 1/2 sister and my stepmother through facebook, but this had built up very slowly. I believe I will meet everyone soon (maybe within the month) and I am very excited yet somehow worried to get to excited. 1/2 sister and I seem to get along very well and she is very interested in getting to know my kids (around the same age as your son). My sister in law has married into a similar situation. I asked her if her daughter (4) has contact with her siblings (around 14 ish) and she says no. She really doesnt mention to her that she has siblings. I lost MANY years and MANY memories. I firmly believe that there is a time and place and maybe my time wasnt before, maybe I or my father or his wife or someone wasnt ready, but I am very happy to have this opportunity to get to know them now. What you are doing is a beautiful thing. It may not go well and I know you will protect your son from that, but if it doesnt work today, someday it might. Good luck
Sorry I just forgot to mention, that what the kids have been through is very hard to get over. Some people can move on, some can forgive, some hold a grudge, or hold onto pain whether they want to or not, there are so many reactions and they often change as time passes. It is a process and you dont know where they are on this path. It shouldnt reflect on your son because none of this was his doing, but as others have said sometimes it brings up bad memories. I think that you are doing all you can to open the lines of communication and it is good that you are not expecting any big response.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 12:06 AM 10-21-2009
HeatherMarie: thank you for taking time to post. That perspective gives me hope that I am doing the right thing to at least try. I'd regret it if I didn't at least try.
sostinkinhappy's Avatar sostinkinhappy 11:43 AM 10-21-2009
Though not an exact fit for your situation, many of the dynamics of what the future holds for your son are similar to an adoption triad situation. It might be helpful to look into some literature about adoption reunions and how to navigate through that bag of mixed blessings.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 12:14 PM 10-21-2009
You're right that it's similar to adoption...it is actually an adoption scenario since step-dad adopted them when they were really little. I've kept that in mind the whole time and I have examples of a variety of adoptions and blended family scenarios in my own extended family. Keeping the kids and parents in mind in those scenarios was very helpful in figuring out how to tread lightly.

The good news is that the mother responded to my email with a better than I'd hoped response! They understandably don't want contact from STBX--they have a father and STBX is no longer part of their lives. But she said that doesn't involve me or my son. The boys are interested in getting to know their little brother. The older one ok-ed facebook contact from me and DS (although DS is only 2). And the mother even friended me on facebook so that I could see the pics of the boys. That was more than I expected. If we're facebook friends, we'll be able to very gradually get used to each other over time without much interaction. I think that will be good. This is going to be a process over years. But so far, I'm really happy with her response.

She doesn't want to do more than pics until the divorce is final (which I get).

I told STBX this morning that she'd let me see the pics and he totally gets that they don't want to hear from him. I think he's just thrilled to get to know that they're ok and get a little bit of information about them through me and DS.

All in all, it was the first step and it went well. No regrets. Everyone is acting like grown-ups.
tndixiemom's Avatar tndixiemom 12:19 PM 10-21-2009
Another suggestion. Before you relay any information to your STBX, ask if it is ok to share. The daughter of my bio-dad kept him informed of my life events and it was not ok with me. IMO, he had forfeited that when he left me. I wanted to keep him as far away from me and my life as I could and I felt even by her telling him what was going on with me, he was intruding.


I am glad that you got a great response from her.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 12:22 PM 10-21-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by tndixiemom View Post
Another suggestion. Before you relay any information to your STBX, ask if it is ok to share. The daughter of my bio-dad kept him informed of my life events and it was not ok with me. IMO, he had forfeited that when he left me. I wanted to keep him as far away from me and my life as I could and I felt even by her telling him what was going on with me, he was intruding.


I am glad that you got a great response from her.
Oh thank you. I'll keep that in mind. Right now everything she told me is really generic--stuff anyone with google could find out. I don't want to step into their privacy at all. I appreciate the reminder!!!
ZTMOM's Avatar ZTMOM 02:52 PM 10-21-2009
glad you got a good response!
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 02:57 PM 10-21-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZTMOM View Post
Even if the mother tells you to back off, I believe you should tell her sons once they are 18. The relationship is between your son and his half brothers and it is up to them, not their mother, to decide if they want a relationship or not.
The mother gets a say until they're 18. But she took the high road and I'm glad. She talked to them openly. They don't want contact with STBX or his family, but they do want to know their brother and possibly meet at some point. I even got the ok to contact the oldest via facebook. So I sent him a message acknowledging how wierd this all is and leaving the ball in his court.

The mother actually was IM-ing me a bit this morning (I was surprised about that!). She's a little shook up, but she's taking it well. I think maybe they had a hint that DS existed because she mentioned that they're still in contact with STBX's cousin once in a while and he'd know all about us.

Now we'll see what happens.
sostinkinhappy's Avatar sostinkinhappy 11:08 AM 10-23-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by RollerCoasterMama View Post
All in all, it was the first step and it went well. No regrets. Everyone is acting like grown-ups.
So very glad to hear! It actually made me teary eyed reading that the older kids want to get to know their younger sibling. That is really sweet.
RollerCoasterMama's Avatar RollerCoasterMama 11:24 AM 10-23-2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by sostinkinhappy View Post
So very glad to hear! It actually made me teary eyed reading that the older kids want to get to know their younger sibling. That is really sweet.
I haven't had direct contact with the 15 year old, but I've emailed with the older one a little bit just to get started (mom reads the emails as I expected -- and as I would do in the same situation!!). We've got the boundaries clearly defined. It was a little rocky getting everyone on the same page but we're there now. And now we move forward. This has been hard on them bringing up old hurts. And they're going to probably need quite a bit of time to realize that ghosts of the past aren't going to storm in and disrupt their lives. I think after a few months of normal, they'll realize that.

I'm immensely grateful that the boys seem genuinely interested in my son though.

As hard as it was to do this, I have no regrets. I think it was the right thing to do, and they've all been very generous in being willing to even talk to me about my son. But I think my instinct was right that they wouldn't have been so accepting if I hadn't mentioned the divorce. Having the happy new family show up would have been much harder to deal with.

Thanks everyone for the different viewpoints. They have been helpful for me to keep in mind the rights and feelings and struggles of all the people involved. This isn't over, and I'm sure we'll have hard parts again in the future. But the first step is always the scariest.
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