What if you have no one to leave your children to in a will? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 42 Old 01-07-2010, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband and I have 3 children and we do not have a will, mainly because we do not have anyone we would feel comfortable leaving them too. This is complicated by the fact that our son has special needs which require extensive monitoring and many daily meds. My parents are too old and not healthy at all. My sister and her husband have 2 autistic children and live in a very teeny house. They would not be in a position to handle 3 more children plus...and this sounds bad...I really do not like how my sister parents. I love her dearly but we are complete opposites in parenting. So they are out. On my DH's side there is his sister and her husband. Her husband does not believe in mental illness (which my son has) so that is a no go plus my SIL is very young and she is not equipped to deal with 3 children. My husband's parents.... what can I say. I cannot stand the way they parent and also they totally favour my son and ignore my daughters. They also aren't big believers in mental illness and that is a big problem as well. There are many reasons all of those people would be good. So what in the world do they do other than hoping that we never die???

Shawna, married to Michael, mommy to Elijah 1/18/01, Olivia 11/9/02, and Eliana 1/22/06
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#2 of 42 Old 01-07-2010, 09:53 PM
 
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subbing cuz I'm in a similar situation and have been trying to figure out what to do.
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#3 of 42 Old 01-07-2010, 09:54 PM
 
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you can state wishes, but cannot actually will your kids to someone. the state will get involved and decide "best interests of the child."

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#4 of 42 Old 01-07-2010, 10:20 PM
 
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Do you have any friends who would be acceptable to you? Any more distant relatives? Neighbors? Of the choices you do have, which would be least unacceptable to you?

Basically, if you were to die without having named a guardian, where your children would end up would be decided by a judge without your desires being considered. You may not want your children to go to your DH's sister, but they could easily end up there if you were to die and she was willing to take them. If you want to protect your children and want your wishes considered, you have to do the responsible thing and choose a guardian. Even if you don't like any of your options, you owe it to your kids to at least choose the one that would be the least bad for them. Court battles and upheaval after parents' death is definitely not in your children's best interest.
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#5 of 42 Old 01-07-2010, 10:24 PM
 
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I would try very hard to think of somebody. It doesn't need to be a family member--a friend would be fine, so long as they are amenable to the idea. Otherwise, it's a total crap shoot as to what would happen and it could well be the worst possible scenario.

I wouldn't get too hung up on the smaller specifics of how people parent. I'd rather my kids were loved and in a stable home whether or not the people parent exactly the way I would.
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#6 of 42 Old 01-07-2010, 10:24 PM
 
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Get a lot of life insurance, appoint a trustee who is responsible, and allow the court to find someone suitable.

Liz

Wife, and mother to a small fairy, a demolition expert, a special new someone this fall and a small dachshund.
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#7 of 42 Old 01-07-2010, 10:30 PM
 
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Get term life insurance, lots, and choose the person that will love and treat your kids the best. The life insurance money removes issues with small house, low income, etc.

Also, it does not have to be a family member! Ours is my college roommate! Also, our life insurance doubles if we both die within 10 years of each other.
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#8 of 42 Old 01-07-2010, 10:31 PM
 
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We have a a trustee for the children to manage their financial affairs, but our attourney created the ability for us to amend guardianship of the children with a written amendment signed by both of us and notarized. We had this done due to my daughter's special needs. As her needs change, we might need to change guardians. We have also had to deal with the reality of possibly needing to separate our children if our current guardian of choice can not manage both children.

The guardian and trustee are not the same person.

Wife to M , Mommy to DS aka Captain Obvious  (06/06) and DD aka Lissalot  (03/09, anoxic brain injury)
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#9 of 42 Old 01-07-2010, 11:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by anj_rn View Post
We have a a trustee for the children to manage their financial affairs, but our attourney created the ability for us to amend guardianship of the children with a written amendment signed by both of us and notarized. We had this done due to my daughter's special needs. As her needs change, we might need to change guardians. We have also had to deal with the reality of possibly needing to separate our children if our current guardian of choice can not manage both children.

The guardian and trustee are not the same person.
This is called a Codicil.

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#10 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 04:18 AM
 
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OP, I just wanted to tell you that we have really struggled with this too. We have had many, many discussions since the time I was pregnant with DS and there just are not really any options that we feel are great, good, or even acceptable. So I really feel your pain. I'm not talking here about small parenting issues either. I'm talking, we can't leave our child with pretty much any of our relatives because they are truly toxic or abusive, or too old and sickly, or already have too many responsibilites..or would not be willing even to do it. We ultimately did talk to my brother about it last year, but there are so many issues with him, even though he is wonderful as a person, but just so not ready to be a parent, and his live in girlfriend smokes and that is a huge big no for me...so there are so many issues that we had the will drawn up and then couldn't even bring ourselves to go have it notorized and filed. I keep thinking we need to do this, one way or another..but it just pains me to think that no matter what, our child (ren) will not be raised in a way or in a home that is even close to what we would want for them.
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#11 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 06:23 AM
 
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So maybe all of us with toxic relatives should sign up for some sort of co-op child-placement in the event of death.

I wish I was less serious about that...

I would actually much prefer to will my children to a mama I've 'met' here at mdc than any of my relatives. I'm not exaggerating. We have no will either.

A friend of mine said that if she and her dh die early, nobody will come to their funerals. Under their lawyer's counsel, they have willed their dc to a friend and also added pages of who their children can NOT go to and WHY! She said those pages are dirty, filthy things that nobody would ever say out loud if they were alive, but had to be written to protect their dc.

They are in Canada; does the US not have similar practices?

Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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#12 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 06:49 AM
 
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We are in the same boat as the orginal poster and some of the other families here. Sometimes, choosing the lesser of two evils is just not an option, no matter how much someone loves your children. My parents adore my children, but I would never want them to raise my babies. They are verbally abusive and belittle my children. My mother is manipulative and emotionally insecure and tries to get my children to cater to her emotional needs. She was physically abusive towards me and my sister as children and will do the same with my children. They are not an option.

My MIL is older and have a couple of health problems, but the biggest issue with her is that she's so negligent. The one and only time I trusted her to take care of my son, she left a 16 month old in the care of his 4 year old cousin and took a nap, resulting in him falling over the back of the couch and hitting his head. She is completely self absorbed and has never put anyone ahead of herself. Even asking for something to drink when it's inconvenient for her has resulted in her snapping at them. She hasn't put in any effort to spend any time with them or getting to know them. She also has a small pharmacy going in her bedroom with all the different pills and medication standing around and the kids have gotten into her pills more than once because she refuses to close her bedroom door. Not to mention the rat poison she leaves lying around when we visit with the children. Not an option.

My SIL is completely wrapped up in her dd and will never treat my children as her own, plus she just shacked up with the biggest looser she could find. She's even neglecting her own dd, who has huge emotional problems and has been sexually inappropriate with my children. Not an option.

My sister is a complete nutcase who can't stand children. I don't even want to get into it, but imagine someone who thinks it's appropriate to shout at her nephews and nieces, verbally abuse them and do all of that within 10 minutes of walking in the door. Then imagine this person thinking it's appropriate to intimidate and down-stare an 18 month old when the 18 month old walks up to her and smiles at her. Oh! And she does all of that while claiming to love these children like her own. Yeah right. We've cut off all contact with her anyway, so not an option.

We have zero contact with my dh's extended family or mine. My dh's best friend is a bachelor with zero child care experience. While he would be a good trustee, he would not do good as a guardian. My first choice lives overseas and she's expecting her second baby. Her dh would not be willing to take on my four as well. My other friend and second choice, is single and just starting on her career. She can barely afford to take care of herself most months, nevermind taking care of 4 kids. She also has very little experience with children. So, sometimes it's just not as simple as picking someone, anyone, when there are not that many options.
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#13 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 08:59 AM
 
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Think of some one who is very trustworthy, maybe a friend or neighbor...
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#14 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 11:07 AM
 
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I have ignored making a will for the very reason that i cannot bear to think what would happen to the children if DH & I died.

The best thing would probably be that they went to live with my SIL & BIL in country Victoria, but they are city kids so I don't know..... that would be a tough adjustment.

Boarding school is also an option....

And living in the city with their grandparents is also an option....


Sending them back to the US is, of course, not possible or desirable.....

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#15 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 11:46 AM
 
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No one in the world will love your children as much as you do or be as good of parents as you and your husband are to your children. But if you do not have someone appointed as guardian to your children, you have no say whatsoever. Your kids could be in foster care while your families fight it out. Your kids could go to whoever you least want to have them. Assuming you and your husband are healthy, it is pretty unlikely that both of you will die, and choosing someone to care for your children if you both died is not like handing them over to whoever you choose right now. You need to pick the best case scenario for your children in the worst case scenario where both you and your husband die.

It doesn't have to be family. Do you have any really good friends?

We would all like to pick someone just like ourselves to care for our children if we die, but often that is just not possible. I love my MIL, my FIL is great but I wouldn't want him raising my children. They did not parent my DH and BILs in a way that I approve of at all. They have different values than my DH and I do. BUT. They love my kids like nobody else. They have respect for us. My kids love them. So if my husband and I both die, the kids will live with them.
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#16 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 12:22 PM
 
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I'll jump on the non family bandwagon. Our kids would go to dh's best friend. He has no parenting experience, is single and lives a very different life than we do. But he loves our kids and would make decisions based on whatever he felt was best for them. That's all we can hope for if we are gone.
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#17 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 12:35 PM
 
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This is not a short term solution, but assuming you have no suitable friends now either - make some. Go to FYT and get together with some MDC mamas. Or join local playgroups or whatever. Cultivate a friendship for this.

This said by a mama who is having a really hard time making friends (and nobody else from MDC in my county), but if you're really alone, you need to make a support network.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#18 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 12:38 PM
 
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I'm glad you started this thread but sad that it had to be started. DH and I are going through this as well. We need to update our wills which were created before DH. So far, we only have a list of people we DON'T want our children left with. Can we put that in a will as well? I want it crystal clear in a legal documents the people I would never want raising my child. I also don't want it left to the courts if god forbid something happened to us.

The thought of me not being around to raise DD makes me ill. We want to have a legal document but we also pray and hope both of us, or at least one of us will be around for a very long time.
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#19 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 12:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by HappyMommy2 View Post
Get term life insurance, lots, and choose the person that will love and treat your kids the best. The life insurance money removes issues with small house, low income, etc.

Also, it does not have to be a family member! Ours is my college roommate! Also, our life insurance doubles if we both die within 10 years of each other.
I'm going to second this. Get good life insurance, that way you don't have to worry about the financial burden your child would place on a guardian and you can instead concentrate on who would be an acceptable choice.

Also remember you and your spouse are really unlikely to die tomorrow. Siblings and friends are likely to grow up before the worst were to happen. And if you did die tomorrow you sibling or friends would likely step up to the responsibilities and grow up fast with a new family to care for. Not something I'd want to do to my brother but something I can accept. Plus our kids grow up and need us less. My hope would be that were anything to happen to my husband and I my kids would be beyond the needy infant, toddler, and preschool ages.

Like many previous posters have mentioned if there is no good choice you really need to find an acceptable choice.

Mom to DS 4/24/03 and DD 4/17/06
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#20 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 12:53 PM
 
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While it sounds like you have some less desirable options, which would be worse... going to a loving sister with a small house and being raised a little differently (but well loved) or your children divided up and shipped around to different foster homes where they may end up being one of several foster kids crowded into an even smaller house and not loved?

I am personally of the opinion that the KNOWN UNDESIRABLES are better than the UNKNOWN UNDESIRABLES. What I mean is that you can make some provisions in your will that will combat against what you already know. As a pp mentioned, you can get life insurance policies that are put in a living revocable trust for your children. You want to make sure you designate a trustee of the estate and NOT leave anything directly to minor children. By establishing something like this, your sister, although she may not raise your child as you would exactly, would have a greater bond with your kids than any stranger juggling multiple foster children. As long as you are not sending them into an abusive family, not designating a guardian would add so much more pain to your children than any damage familiar family could cause.

We have a will and while our designated trustee and guardian will not raise dd as *I* would, she'd love and protect her. Nothing would ease the pain of losing both parents if sent into the system. The best you can hope for is a loving, safe environment. Anything beyond that is pure luck.
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#21 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 01:11 PM
 
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While it sounds like you have some less desirable options, which would be worse... going to a loving sister with a small house and being raised a little differently (but well loved) or your children divided up and shipped around to different foster homes where they may end up being one of several foster kids crowded into an even smaller house and not loved?

I am personally of the opinion that the KNOWN UNDESIRABLES are better than the UNKNOWN UNDESIRABLES. What I mean is that you can make some provisions in your will that will combat against what you already know. As a pp mentioned, you can get life insurance policies that are put in a living revocable trust for your children. You want to make sure you designate a trustee of the estate and NOT leave anything directly to minor children. By establishing something like this, your sister, although she may not raise your child as you would exactly, would have a greater bond with your kids than any stranger juggling multiple foster children. As long as you are not sending them into an abusive family, not designating a guardian would add so much more pain to your children than any damage familiar family could cause.

We have a will and while our designated trustee and guardian will not raise dd as *I* would, she'd love and protect her. Nothing would ease the pain of losing both parents if sent into the system. The best you can hope for is a loving, safe environment. Anything beyond that is pure luck.
Thanks for such a great different perspective.
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#22 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 01:24 PM
 
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I worry about this too, and have put off making the will bc I can't stand choosing from my choices. Abuse, toxicity, wildly different parenting, inexperience, or someone who would be ok but lives so far away the kids would be completely uprooted from everything they know. UGH. It makes me want to puke to think of it all.
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#23 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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gosh, ive been avoiding this issue. it seems our best choice is my brother and sister in law. even though his parenting choices are very different than mine and they play favorites among their kids as it is. i so hope nothing happens to us

Married to David since 2/16/08. Baby wearing, breastfeeding, bed sharing, delayed vaxing, cloth diapering, SAHM to Bella, my punctual little girl, born on her due date, 9/3/09
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#24 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 03:36 PM
 
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We ended up naming my (wonderful) parents, but before we asked them we also asked a couple we are friends with if they would be willing. (We thought my parents might not want to, as they are getting older.) I encourage you to consider friends as well. One of the previous posters said something about it not mattering who you name--I don't think that's correct, at least not in my state. We had a lawyer do our will (which I reccommend, even though it's pretty pricey) and the guardians we name are the ones who would get our child.

I'd suggest you pick the best of your options and do it--you can always change it later. And, lord willing, it won't ever matter anyway.
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#25 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 03:46 PM
 
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We named close friends who shared our parenting philosophy and general ideology. We have enough life insurance to ensure that raising our kids will not be financial hardship to them (although they are in a solid financial position). We had no family members that we were comfortable with.

Diane, SAHM to DD (June 05) and DS (April 07).
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#26 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 04:38 PM
 
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A friend of mine said that if she and her dh die early, nobody will come to their funerals. Under their lawyer's counsel, they have willed their dc to a friend and also added pages of who their children can NOT go to and WHY! She said those pages are dirty, filthy things that nobody would ever say out loud if they were alive, but had to be written to protect their dc.

They are in Canada; does the US not have similar practices?
Yes, they do.

But like a pp mentioned, you can only state these things, and ultimately it's up to a judge.

We're also in the group of not being willing to hand our child over to blood family. So we have a buttload of life insurance, which would be enough to pay off the house, and provide for the baby. And we've made our wishes clear to both our lawyer (who is drawing up the paperwork) and baby's godmother (who will take him). She made it clear to us that in order to avoid the baby going to family, we'd have to do the above - write out explicit reasons why. In our case, none of those reasons are "dirty", since we were both abused, it makes a fairly clear-cut case. But I made it clear to my BFF that she may have a fight on her hands with my family, and she vowed to me that she would fight if she had to. Since she'll have full access to our estate and our lawyers, and my family won't, we're hoping that'll be enough.

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#27 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 04:46 PM
 
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I think it is important to leave money (life insurance) to the people caring for the children, but also if you manage to have that much life insurance, put some in trusts for the kids when they come of age to help with college or what not. Oh, and I would try to keep the life insurance knowledge away from the toxic family members who would most likely fight for the kids for the money.
We are lucky that out of our combined 17 siblings my DH and I have at least 2 good options. 1 ideal and one good.
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#28 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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We chose a friend of the family. She's 10 years younger than our parents and in better health. She was an accountant at one point so she knows her way around a dollar bill and her kids turned out great. My teens have less than 5 years at home now and she'd be perfect at helping them choose colleges and budget.



To the Op, glad you brought this up. This is so important for parents to "be the grownups" and get this done.
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#29 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 05:41 PM
 
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We too chose friends rather than family, and we have a well documented reasons why all of the family choices weren't acceptible for us. Since my parents have already vowed to fight this, we've tried to be as buttoned up as possible.

I think sometimes people get too tied into "it has to be family" and fail to see the other options around them. Surely, OP, you have friends? Or maybe older friends of the family that might work?

Also, remember that you aren't tied to this forever. Maybe right now one set of friends makes sense, but in 10 years another option might be even better. Its easy to change your will, and far better to do that then to not have one at all.

For us, love and respect for the children was more important than dietary choices, medical ideology, or even religious belief. Even many parenting practices -- not the very basic ones of no physical discipline, but our friends certainly don't do the exact same things we would in many cases. That's OK, our kids will be loved and that's what really mattered.

Our checklist went something like this (in vague priority order)
1. Love & respect children and physically capable of caring for them (eliminates many older relatives)

2. Physically near enough that children won't have to leave all of their other support network. Open, willing and able to assist our children to maintain relationships with all relatives (both sides of the family) and friends.

3. Young enough that child isn't likely to have to deal with two sets of deaths before reaching adulthood (eliminates our parents for us)

4. Committed to gentle discipline (broadly applied)/no history of abuse (eliminates my parents, DH's brothers & sisters)

5. Supportive of our basic liberal christian values, but exact beliefs not important

6. Commited to basically healthy lifestyle / no obvious risks to children's health (eliminates several smokers, IMHO)
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#30 of 42 Old 01-08-2010, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Seriously we truly have no one.

My father was verbally and emotionally abusive. Plus they are both ill. I love them and they see the kids but only supervised.

I wasn't clear enough about my sister but I consider her parenting practices abusive. She is pretty much like my father. Again, I love her, but I would not want my children raised by her.

My SIL is basically an adult child. She never grew up. When she visits her mother without her DH she still sleeps in her mother's bed because she cannot be alone. She has a baby and basically everyone else has to take care of him. Plus her husband drinks and we are against that.

My IL's have major issues and are emotionally abusive to my girls. They also would like my son off his meds that save his life.

I have two good friends. One has a lifestyle I would not want my kids exposed to. The other can barely handle the kids she has and would not be willing to take 3 more.

My DH has two good friends, they barely know our kids.

So there you have it. We figure we would have to name my IL's because the kids know them the best and they would be the least abusive. We would then have to name a medical guardian to make sure my son still gets his medical treatment. This all sucks to think about it.

Shawna, married to Michael, mommy to Elijah 1/18/01, Olivia 11/9/02, and Eliana 1/22/06
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