This will be long.
Quick reminders: DH has full physical custody with all visitation left up to him. He is well within his legal rights to not allow any of DD's Bio family to see her. We don't necessarily want that to happen so we're trying to reach a firm resolution. BM has seen DD 5 times in the last 5 years (not once a year, she's gone 2-3 years without seeing or talking to her at all). We've tried encouraging a relationship before but she is not responsive. We need to reach a decision (DH and I) about this so it can be settled in our household. We both believe that BM is just looking for a good reason to stay out of DD's life because she seems to be more interested in my DH and our relationship. We could be wrong. We're not trying to make her walk away. But it needs to be one or the other at this point. Here or not here. Our goal is to make visitation work. So until we resolve things within a courtroom, which would probably be similar to what we've laid out here, this is all we have. I'd like your opinions and comments. If you have questions feel free to ask them! I'll be checking back frequently because this is right around the corner for us! Thanks! - E
My DH and I have reached a point of no return with BM. He and I sat down and came up with some thoughts, rules, and decisions. Before we talk to BM about them I wanted to share it here because very often the ladies here have had great suggestions and contributions. So here is what we wrote...
If BM wants to see DD then she needs to agree to sit down with both of us (DH and I) in a neutral place and discuss her level of commitment. We need to agree upon benchmarks that need to be met by her in order for her to have any part in DD's life. If she refuses then she is refusing DD. What we would be asking would be completely fair. No jumping through hoops.
BM needs to set up a schedule with us for her to see DD in our city with us present. Say, the first and third Saturday of the month for 3-6 months depending on how it goes. Then if all went well we could move on to her having unsupervised time with DD in our city on those same days.
If she misses a meeting without notice that kind of throws a wrench in things. If she does not miss meetings and everything goes smoothly then we could move on to her having DD for an overnight. After seeing how the over night goes we would move on to another. At some point she could have two over nights in a row as long as DD is comfortable with that. Something along the lines of having DD every 2nd weekend of the month.
Before unsupervised dates or overnights could happen BM would need to purchase a NEW weight appropriate car seat. DD would also need her own bed before overnights could happen. BM would also need to be aware that DH has final say in all of DD's school, medical, and religious choices and activities.
Taking into consideration that things are less than comfy between us, we would extend an olive branch of sorts. For DD to live as peacefully as possible she needs her parents, all three of us, to at least be civil. We are willing to put all personal issues between us in the past. We will be polite, thoughtful, and friendly. We will do what we can to help DD and BM's relationship.
A few things I'd like to add:
If BM would like to have someone (a friend, family member, lawyer) with her at this meeting she is welcome to and we encourage it. Our only request is that if she's bringing her lawyer, we'd like to know so ours can be available as well. We'd prefer to keep this between us but the route of lawyers and court is fine as well.
For no reason at any time is DD allowed to be around anyone who has a history, legal or otherwise, of violence, sexual abuse, or drug use. It is simply not okay. We also reserve the right to halt all visitation if the above rule is broken.
BM may not take DD out of the state of Virginia at any time for any reason.
BM must return DD at the appointed time. All transportation responsibility falls on BM at this point.
If BM puts DD's mental state in jeopardy we have the right to end the visitations.
BM is also welcome to pick the time and date of our initial discussion meeting as long as it is a neutral place. She is also welcome to pick dates/times/places for her visitation with DD. We will be reasonable We will also provide her with a "DD" calendar. We will have an identical calendar. Both will be used for recording dates, etc.
If BM does not agree to our proposal within reason then she may not talk to or see DD. This is not because we want to be mean or unfair. We're doing this because it is necessary. DD is not a toy that is played with only when BM wants to. She is a living, breathing girl who has feelings, needs, and desires that need to be met. We will not play games or tolerate them. We plan to do everything in our power to meet the needs that DD has. We will also do everything we can to protect her from being hurt by this situation any further. If BM says no and walks away then this will not be up for discussion again until a court room is involved. We will also let BM know that if she wants to walk away she may do so free and clear. We will never bad talk her or describe her in a negative way to DD. But we do need an answer to our biggest question: Will you (BM) be a part of DD's life? Walking away means no.
One last thing, we are up for discussion and flexibility with some of this. We will hear what BM has to say and we will consider it and make the necessary changes. I want to reiterate that we're not trying to be unfair or hurtful. We are not trying to use ultimatums or threats. We're doing this because it is well within the custody papers, our rights, and we need a resolution to the situation. We can no longer let it simmer between us. BM needs to be a consistent parent to DD or not involved at all. We cannot continue with her calling every 4-6 months and seeing DD only once or twice a year. It's hurtful to DD and it must stop. We've talked to two therapists who handle these type of situations and they both back us up. They both feel that BM is doing more damage by being occasionally, VERY occasionally, present than she would be doing if she was not present at all. Either we work something out or the doors close on this. We need to reach an agreement.