Step-son & Ex problems - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 10-03-2011, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
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My husband and I have been married for almost 2 years. He has a 7 yr old son from a previous train wreck of a marriage where he and his son were physically and verbally abused by her. When we got together, we only had his son every other weekend per the court orders and the rest of the time we had a wonderfully amazing romantic life together. We were so happy and felt that we were meant for each other that we would cry talking about the life we were starting together. My love for him blinded me to the problems that could arise in this type of situation. I did have one reservation at one time that all I would be doing was continuing his life and now starting a new one together, but he quickly reassured me that wasn't the case. As time went on, his son would tell us how horrible and abusive his mother was, how she would force him to sleep in the bed with her saying that she needed him, would tell him that he needs to be sad when he is at our house. It was so bad that he would even give himself a panic attack causing nose bleeds at 4 yrs old when he knew we were bringing him back to her and lock himself in the car when we got there and we would literally have to pull him out kicking and screaming. We decided that we needed to fight for custody of him again as she is bi-polar and was not taking her medication or even under a doctor's care. The court quickly became an advocate of hers as she is seen as an innocent victim; however, they did eventually allow us to have him one week on one week off. At this point, my role in his life increased dramatically, but only at his direction. I never ever thought that I would assume the role of his mother, but he forced me into it. At this point, my husband's sister turned against him and jumped on his ex's side to the point where she called me every name in the book and even told him not to invite her to our wedding. She even called us during our honeymoon and told us that she would be going to court with the ex against him. The whole time he was married to her, his whole family hated her and wanted him to leave her. A few months before our wedding, she got with her 4th boyfriend in a few months (all of which she brought around the child). She started making excuses as to why he should stay with us during her weeks (like it's too cold outside, it's raining, I don't want to make y'all drive over here, just b.s.) Eventually, a whole month passed by without seeing him and only calling occasionally. We found out through her mother that she moved out of her house and into a rental house with her boyfriend 50 miles and 3 parishes(equivalent of counties in Louisiana) away and she wanted the child to go sleep over. At this point even her mother was concerned about this, because the boyfriend only had supervised visits of his own kid, had a violent past, was a drug addict, and both of their crazy personalities in 1 house was a recipe for disaster. Talking with her mother, we also discovered that both us and her have been lied to about everything under the Sunday in an effort to turn us against each other. Based on the boyfriend’s record and her mother's testimony of the ex's physical and emotional abuse of the child, she was given visits from friday to sunday night EVERY weekend "to err on the side of caution in light of abuse allegations." That is how much favor she has with the court. She exercised these visits only 5 times, on each one she hit him, and she never kept him the full time always calling us begging to get him early. On the very first visit which was exactly a week before our wedding, her first in an entire month, and 48hrs after a judge told her not to lay her hands on him, she hit him and pushed him in the chest. He called us and we went there with the police. Since he had no marks, the police didn't do anything. She made us take him home with us. As he left, she told him "I don't need you any more" and he wet himself. She went on to not exercise her visitation for a year, but would call occasionally and would sometimes call my husband wanting a visit but would not tell him where she would bring him since they had gotten evicted from the house only after 4 months and didn’t tell him where she moved. Annoyed that his father wanted to know where she would be taking his son, she would just give up and forget about the visit, because if it’s not her way, it’s no way. During the year she didn't see him, he exclusively started calling me, referring to me as, and thinking of me as his momma. He never asked about her, his behavior improved, he became healthier, and just was overall very happy. Every time he had free time to draw at school, all he would draw was pictures of his family, his dad, me, and his "sister" our bulldog. After watching "Despicable Me" when he was 6, he said happily "I'm adopted". We told him that he wasn't and he got sad and said "I thought [her first name] gave me up when WE got married and now you're my mom." We told him that she didn't give him up. He got really sad and basically asked for me to adopt him. We explained that it would mean he would never ever see her again. A smile came across his face like we told him we were moving to disney world to a house made of candy and getting him 8 new puppies. I called her mother and asked what she thought of his feelings. She told me that she wanted me to do it, because I am already his mom it would just give us a paper. We looked into it and based on the statute and case law, we had a good chance of getting it without her permission. After hours and hours of making sure he wanted me to adopt him, we filed the petition. He was never more excited or passionate about anything before or since. A social worker came to check the house and interview us about it. They asked him if he wanted to be adopted and he went on for an hour about all the reasons he wanted it. The ex was notified and allowed file an objection and go on the day to argue against it. She waited to the last day to file an objection. The judge we got was the one judge that did not interpret the statute the way the case law did, so the adoption did not go through. With her free attorney, she filed contempt charges claiming that she didn't see him for that year because my husband and I "thwarted" her visits when she simply never showed up to pick him up as ordered by the court. We had done a psychological evaluation and based on the disturbing results from her and her boyfriend, they gave her supervised visits every weekend for 5 hours with HER friend or my mother-in-law as supervisors. During her very first phone call to him, he told her "why won't you let the adoption go through?", "I don't love you", "I don't miss you." The very next day after the first visit, he received a behavior report and detention at school for violence against a little girl, he started having night terrors and even started sleep walking/talking. His behavior got so bad the pediatrician put him on medication to try to help him cope. The teachers said that 9 times out of 10, he offenses are towards girls. During a visit in June, he said she took him in the bathroom alone and touched him. He started acting very shy and ashamed of his body and even touched once of his friends similarly. We called the police and child protection. Child protection laughed in our faces and both them and his therapist said “that’s his mom, she can touch him there.” The police, in their words, “dropped the ball” and didn’t assign a detective until a few weeks ago. When they finally interviewed him, the lieutenant and the psychologist believe his story, but can’t prove her intent was to cause arousal so they probably won’t charge her with anything. When we went to court the hearing officer believes this is just another attempt like the adoption to remove her from his life and that he wants to put my husband in jail for contempt for parental alienation as he must have been coached to say this about her. They changed the visits to supervised at a professional location with social workers. Of 6 visits, she cancelled 2 of them for b.s. reasons, and already wants to reduce the time from 5 hrs to 3 hrs. Every time he goes for a visit, we have to fight him to get dressed and to get in the car. The 4 visits he had were immediately followed by behavior reports and attacks on girls and the 2 she cancelled he had good weeks. He even had to make a family tree using little figures with his therapist and he did not even want her on there, but the therapist made him. He picked up a devil figure then shook his head and said no I can’t do that. He told us that he did that because that was the right figure for her, but he did not want to even give her a figure as he is not a part of his family. His nightmares and sleep problems have returned, he gets sad when the phone rings if it’s her, for over a year he only calls her by her first name, makes me ride in the backseat and hold him to go to the visits, and during that last 2 visits he made them call us to pick him up early because his stomach hurt last week and his toe hurt yesterday. The new problem is that yesterday 2 of the social workers at the supervised visit location told us that they find it hard to believe we have trouble getting him there and has been having trouble in school, because he is all over her and super duper affectionate. He runs to her happily, is always on her hugging and kissing, and is so excited to see her he knocks her glasses off. The upsetting part is the lies. After dropping him off and hearing what the social workers said, my husband and I cried all the way home. We felt hurt, betrayed, and frankly very angry. I have worked tirelessly on this case court case, I have devoted and given up my entire life to take care of this child, coach all of his sports teams, volunteer at his school, is assistant den leader with the cub scouts, in order to pay for atty’s fees, evaluations, court costs I have borrowed $10k from my mom and even had to call my dad with whom I’ve had no relationship with in 12yrs because of his abuse of me, my mom, and brother to borrow $7k, the stress of this situation has caused me to gain weight, my face to break out, and when things are really bad my hands burn and itch. We never did anything in the court for our own reasons. We only went on what he said. We always tried to encourage and foster a relationship between him and her, but he wanted nothing of it and was the one saying negative things about her. I especially have gone above of beyond for her I even almost got a loan to get her an apartment when she was lying to us about her mother when she was living there, I bought her gifts to give him for Christmas so she can look like she cares, I bought gifts for him to give her, gave her money, drove all the way to her house and picked her up to drive her a block away to pick out cold medicine then paid for it, and I did all of this stuff even though she treated me terribly, called me names, told the child to hate me and that me and my mom were bad people, and even refused to try to meet my husband half way so he could get back to the hospital to see my grandmother pass away making me go through it by myself. I know I've rambled on a lot, but this is only a very brief summary leaving out a lot. I would appreciate any thoughts or advice.
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#2 of 4 Old 10-03-2011, 06:43 PM
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Try editing your post to add some more white space. (hit the enter key on your keyboard every 2-3 sentences) 


It is too hard to read.

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#3 of 4 Old 10-03-2011, 07:31 PM
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I wouldn't necessarily assume your DSS is lying about his mom. My DD has 3 older siblings with a history of really horrible abuse at their father's hands. I know it wasn't fabricated because I witnessed a lot of it first hand, and took beatings to spare them back when I was with him. CPS stepped in and took them several times, always giving them back eventually, because in the end, the kids always would go back on their stories, saying they made it all up, and start acting like a regular, happy little family during the supervised visits. Despite what he did to them, they loved him, and they wanted his love and approval. He made so many promises to them, and they were fragile and so desperate for those promises to be true, they ate it all up. He wasn't going to hit them anymore. He wasn't going to yell anymore. They weren't going to have chores anymore. They were all going to have their own rooms with a new Playstation in each. He was going to take them to Disney to celebrate as soon as they came home. He was going to spend more time with them and less time with his computer. Everything was going to be different. None of it ever ended up being true, but that didn't stop them from believing him, because they wanted it to be true. During the visits, he played the role of the doting father they'd always wanted and they couldn't help but to be sucked right in. It was frustrating. I put a lot on the line to help them out of that mess and they kept landing themselves right back in it. Couldn't really hold it against them, though. They were impressionable and hurting children desperate for their father's love, and he was incredibly manipulative, as most abusers are. 


I'd certainly talk to your DSS (with an open mind and without anger or judgement) if I were you and see what's really going on. Go easy on him, though. Despite what he says about her and what she may have done to him, he probably still wants his mother to love him, and I'm sure he wants you to love him as well, but in his mind, whatever he does in this situation someone is going to be disappointed in him or hurt. That's a really tough position for anyone to be in, especially a child. Is he seeing a therapist? If not, you might want to look into that. A good therapist could be really helpful for him right now. 


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#4 of 4 Old 10-05-2011, 08:02 PM
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The only clear thought that occurs to me, reading your sad and sympathetic post, is that if his mother - from a very young age - has told him he shouldn't love you guys, and shouldn't want to be around you, as a sign of love for her; then he may believe (on a level so deep you can't reason him out of it) that behaving as though he hates and doesn't want to be around her is the best way to show love to you guys.  I'm sure you do nothing to encourage that.  You would not sound so perplexed and heartsick, if you did.  But your natural responses to his displays of fear or rejection of her...comforting him, holding him, reassuring him...may reinforce in his mind that, by telling you he doesn't want to be around his mother, he makes you guys feel closer to him and more lovingly affectionate.  


An infinitely more trivial, but common, likeness is the way some preschoolers have genuine separation anxiety the first few times their moms drop them off; but then they get comfortable with the class and enjoy it.  They may still freak out when dropped off, but only 'til the moment Mom leaves the room.  It's partly because they have trained Mom to worry that they'll be upset and she gives subtle cues that she expects a meltdown; but it's also because the child has conditioned himself to cry when Mom's in the preschool room, even though he's not actually upset about being there anymore.  It's not a conscious, mean-spirited deception, on the child's part, it's simply a complex, conditioned emotional response that's no longer appropriate to what's really going on.


I'm not saying your step-son's mother isn't abusive.  If she has trained him to think rejecting one parent is how to show the other parent you love them, that alone is serious emotional abuse.  If she shows inconsistent overall interest in him, that's also a form of emotional abuse.  What you have invested, in parenting and trying to protect him, has not been in vain.  hug2.gif  And I'm not saying you should deny him comfort he says he needs, over "having to" visit her.  But he's certainly old enough for you to be direct with him and tell him what the supervisors have said, about how he interacts with his mother and how confused it has made you, because that behavior is so different from how he tells you he feels.  And it would be critical to tell him at the same time that, if he loves her or looks forward to seeing her and enjoys the visits, that it will not make you upset or hurt your feelings (even if - after all the water under the bridge - it would).  Emphasize that you would just like to know the truth of how he feels; that you want him to be able to tell you - and others - what is truly in his heart and not feel pressured to say one thing to one person and the opposite to someone else, to keep everyone happy.  HE and HIS feelings matter just as much as - or more than - the adults around him and THEIR feelings.  If he does not understand that, his understanding will not change, just by hearing this once.  You would have to repeat it frequently, for years.

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