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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's the background:

I was married for a long time to dx. He is a prince of a guy when he isn't drunk. We had one daughter, Maeve, age 11. I left dx in '98. Maeve was 5. She was beginning to figure out about the times when "Daddy didn't feel so well" and I couldn't raise her under those circs.

I had a lover, Joe, when I was separated. It was a long separation I was not in a hurry to finalize for lots of reasons...mostly financial, we owned a business together. Joe and I were together for four years. He died just about the time I discovered I was pregnant with Sophie.

There was a period of time when I flirted going back with my ex...that lasted a few weeks until I realized there was just no frigging way I could cope anymore. We remained good co-parents and reasonable friends. In fact, for a while, he lived in a room in my house. We were not "involved", though.

Sophie was born in the winter of 2001. Almost the first person who came to see her was a man I'd known and been friendly with for years. As time went on, the relationship got deeper and more loving and last October, I married him. She calls him Papa, and we've lived with him since she was one year old.

So my feelings are that I would like it if DH adopted Sophie. She's 3 years old now, and I have purposefully avoided teaching her her surname. At the play group we attend, people have assumed her surname is the same as mine and DH's, and I have not corrected them, which makes me feel lousy. (It's not. On her birth certificate, it's Sophie DX's last name.)

He obviously won't adopt Maeve because her Dad, my dx, is still in the picture. Not as much as I wish he would be, and more in the context of Maeve's best buddy, not her Dad, but still hanging in there. Still a drunk but not when the kids are around. Sophie calls him "Daddy Paul" because Maeve calls him Daddy and I call him Paul. He is very kind to her and includes her in most things he does with Maeve.

DH and I have discussed it and it galls me in ways I cannot even tell you that he has not leapt into the breach on this. I love him, he loves me, he's obviously committed to us...I mean, he MARRIED me....so WHY is he fucking around with this? I'm sorry for the language, but in a way, it makes me feel tenuous and uncertain and that makes me angry. He says things like, "Sure, when it's the right time." and "That's a big step, we'll do it when we're ready." But it never becomes the right time and he doesn't seem to be any nearer ready. He's doing so much for all of us...Maeve in a great school, me home with the baby full time, etc. that I HATE to keep bringing it up. I just sit here and stew.

DX said he would relinquish his parental rights to Sophie without a fight, provided I don't change anything about the way he sees her. Which is fine with me. (She was born in Virginia before my divorce was finalized, technically, according to Virginia's antiquated laws, she's his. I *could* have gotten the dovirce finalized, but it was in that period where frankly having lost Joe, my job, dx's and my business, and being sick, I was reluctant to finalize any more endings in my life.)

The adoption would cost about $3K. We can afford to do this.

Part of my worry is two fold...one...if anything happened to me, and dx took custody of both kids, he'd end up having to fight my mother over them. She'd go to court to prove he was unfit (he is) and he'd lose them both to her and I DO NOT WANT MY MOTHER RAISING MY KIDS. She had her chance to screw up two perfectly nice individuals, and trust me, she did just fine at it, she doesn't need any more practice. If dh had legal custody of Sophie, DX has already said he would leave both girls with DH...he knows he can't raise them and DH can and will....if there is a legal standing for this my mother would not fight, because she would know it would be horrible to separate the girls, and to take Sophie away from the only home she's known.

Two, I don't want Sophie confused. I just don't. I want her to know the man that is raising her is HER PAPA. I want the piece of paper.

I know this is as clear as mud.

I'm sorry. It's just that it came up in a conversation at my mother's house this weekend, and it rubbed me the wrong way, and I'm NOT going to talk to dh about it till I'm calm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Sophie is Joe's daughter, biologically. She's only known dh as a full time caretaker, though.

She *very* occasionally will spend the night at dx's house...like twice that I can remember. She does spend time with him during the day....like, one afternoon a month, for a couple of hours, max. She is VERY high energy and he is not set up for a wild little one, so most of their interaction actually takes place at my house or at parks.

He sees Maeve slightly more often. Not as often as I'd like but when it comes down to beer or your kid, you know, sometimes it's hard to chose.
:
 

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IMO, which doesn't mean much, I would strongly recommend counseling for this situation. It's a really huge step, and there may be reasons that your DH doesn't feel "ready" for it. There may also be other legal avenues for you to pursue other than your Dh adopting to temporarily give you the peace of mind that if something happened to you, your mom would not get your kids. I can understand you wanting the paper to show that your DH is your DD's father, but if he's not wanting that responsibility yet, I think that deserves some respect. Maybe it really scares him to think of something happening to you and him being left with two daughters to raise along with an alcoholic co-father.
 

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Sounds like the biggest problem is your dh doesn't sound ready to do the adoption. Once he is ready then yes I agree with you that it's a good idea.

I've struggled with a similar issue. My dh has raised my dd (who has never met her bio dad) since she was 1 year old. And I also do not want my mom raising her if anything happened to me. Similar reasons to what you cited. She had her chance and for all intents and purposes dh is dd's father. I faced this when I unexpectedly got cancer. And I really panicked at what would happen to dd. If your dh is not ready to do the adoption then I suggest consulting an attorney and finding out what you can do to set up legal guardianship for your kids in the event something happens to you.
 

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Oh, I wanted to add that I think it would be a wonderful and beautiful thing for your DH to adopt your DD, but when he feels ready and it is something he is 100% sure that he wants to do at that time.
 

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Wow Moon--that is some story. Thanks for sharing.

I don't really have any advice, I just wanted to share my experience. My own parents separated when I was 6 months old. My BioDad apparently had no interest in being a father. My mom is a white picket fence kind of gal. (Not that it matters, but they were married for 5 years before she had me.) She moved away to be near her sister, met the man who became my DAD. They were married when I was almost 2, and he adopted me. I always knew he adopted me, I had very little relationship with biodad. He died of cancer when I was 10. But my Dad has always been the one who raised me. He always treated me like a daughter and I actually felt lucky. He always said he married my mom to get me.
My birth certificate says him (adoptive dad), which seems very odd to me when we all know it's untrue. I wanted you to know that it can be done and turn out perfectly.


Anyway, I think your reasons are sound, and maybe the time is right now? I hope you'll let us know.

*do you plan to tell Sophie about Joe eventually?*
 

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You can write on a piece of paper that you would like dh to have guardianship over Sophie in your absence and have both of you sign it and have it notarized. That is legal enough to take care of any worries you have about your mother fighting for custody if something should happen to you.
I understand about the strange laws some states have where if you are not divorced, your "husband" is automatically responsible for any offspring you may have. So, technically, your dx would have custody if something happened. But since you ARE divorced now, a notarized paper should suffice.
As for the adoption. I'm not sure exactly WHY you want to do it now. Is it because you don't want Sophie to know that dh isn't her bio dad? You could always explain to her that dh is her dad and Joe was her father but he passed away.
I don't know my father and I have a different last name than my siblings and it has never bothered me. My parents were only briefly married. They were great friends and musicians together and my mother knew he was gay but he also wanted a family and they thought they could make it work together. It didn't though. They separated when I was 6 months old and he moved to Thailand. I haven't heard from him since. I did talk to a good friend of his when I was a teenager and she said she thinks he might have died due to AIDS. Just a different perspective to share.
I'm sure Sophie knows that dh loves her. And she also understands about Maeve having her daddy. So I'm sure she can understand that dh is her daddy but Joe is the man who made her.
I can see why having dh adopt Sophie is a wonderful thing. I just don't understand the urgency unless you are not comfortable with discussing things with Sophie. I think she's old enough to understand a simple version of things and I don't think it would shatter her world. Are you feeling a bit fragile about Joe's death? I hope my questions aren't too rude, I'm just trying to explore a few different avenues to help you feel better about things. It probably would be a wonderful idea to talk to a therapist about this. Not because there's something wrong, but because having the two of you in front of a third party would probably help get things clear between you two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I consulted a lawyer. Upon my death, my ex assumes custody of both children no matter what other arrangements I make for them. He's their legal father. He is entitled to overrule any other arrangements I make, once I am dead.

Not to mention, the person I would want to assign guardianship to is dh. I could try going this route but it's really no different than adoption in terms of responsibility, so I don't know why or if he'd be inclined to do one over the other.

Part of my urgency is that I spent most of the fall with a central chest catheter in to feed me. I was sick as a dog. I WANTED to die, I felt so bad. I didn't have the energy then to cope with this. I feel a little better now and I WANT TO GET THIS DONE.

Also, Sophie is of the age where I'm signing her up for things and it chaps me to use her current legal name.

Yes, dh completely understands my mother is a parenting cess pit.

Yes, we should probably have a careful, thoughtful discussion about this, with or without a counselor. We saw a counselor before we decided to move in together. We use the format for discussion occasionally for discussions. That's what's frustrating, we don't usually have a topic we can't come to some understanding on. I just can't get him to move off his "uh huh, ok, sure, but not now" stance. And I'm so afraid I'll get sick again. I feel like crap some days. I know my blood protein levels have sunk and I know my cholesterol is so low that Kaiser flagged me for being at cardiac risk.

As for him not wanting to coparent with my drunk dx...he's already DOING THAT. He's assumed every other responsibility he possibly could, and I know he means it. That's part of my frustration.

I realized after I typed all that that I just really needed to vent about it.

Maybe he's just waiting for me to die so he can be shut of all of us. Maybe he realizes this marriage was a mistake. Maybe he really hates my noisy high needs high energy bouncing baby girl. Maybe what he wants back is the peace and serenity of his long years in this house by himself.

WTF. I don't know. I'm so sick and tired of being sick and tired and worrying.

All I know is that it feels like a huge rejection of everything I am. It's all well and good to say give him time but you know what? People die every day in unexpected ways. I want the girls protected.

I'm sorry. This is serious stuff for therapy and not for this board. I am going to go ring the shrink now and get myself booked in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm sorry, I forgot to say, that Maeve, of course, knew Joe. She occasionally mentions him. I mention him myself, sometimes. I haven't made a big deal out of it but I haven't exactly forbidden reference to him, either. I'm sure someday it'll sink in that there's someone else we refer to, and that he's gone, and that he was something important to her.

In the meantime the Daddy Paul / Papa conflict is enough for me to cope with.
 

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I don't have any advice better than what PPs have said, regarding your dh. I agree that perhaps councelling could help you both understand each other's positions.

More importantly, though, I think you need legal councelling. After all, even if your dh legally adopts Sophie, she could still contest his custody of her no less than she could contest your dx's custody of both girls under the current arrangement. More realistically, even if your dh adopted Sophie and she couldn't get her claws on her, she would have strong grounds to contest your dh's custody of Maeve. However, just as courts will always give real consideration to documented preferences for with whom you want the girls to live, they should give consideration to your documented preference that they *not* live with your mother. It's not foolproof, but I'd think it would be a very valuable thing to have on record.
 

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No fair, Moon, we x-posted, rendering my point moot before the fact. Here I'm all trying to sound smart and shit


Ok, is your dx on the boat as far as keeping the girls out of your mother's hands? You did say he's willing to let your dh care for the girls, but is he as adamant about it as you are? If so, documentation of your desire for their care combined with his wishes should together be strong enough if your mother were ever to raise a stink.
 

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The difference with giving your current dh guardianship is that it can be revoked at anytime by you. So it isn't permanant like adoption is. So he may be more comfortable with it for now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Aw, you did sound all smart and chit.

Yes, my ex is in agreement with me that he cannot raise the girls and that it would be to their benefit to stay with dh. This has been the topic of a lot of discussion, due to all the stuff that happened this fall. We all three of us agree.

My feeling is my mother would move to take both girls if they were with dx. She will NOT fight my DH, if he has legal standing as Sophie's father. The difference is dh is responsible and has resources, dx doesn't and isn't...and Mom has a long history of running over dx.

If dh had legal standing, and she had no hope of taking Sophie from him, then she would not, not, take Maeve from Sophie....and we already know both dh and dx are in agreement both girls should stay where they are...in this house, with dh.

I'm just banging my head against the wall at this point.

I'm sorry. I see lots of posts on here and think, "Wow. Can you say 't-h-e-r-a-p-y' boys and girls?"..and now I'm one of them.
 

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maybe I'm missing something, because I'm not sure what the problem is then? Legally both girls are your ex's and he has agreed that they should stay with your dh (if the situation arose) and your mom is fine with your dh caring for them. Sounds like it's ok.

But if it's just that you want things to be iron clad, I can totally understand that. And yes adoption would do that. I hope that you can work out something that you feel safe with and that works for all parties involved.
 

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No reason you can't vent to us AND a counselor. Given all your history, I think it very reasonable that you want some security and certainty. But until you can, in the way you want, others have mentioned guardianship or other legal statements as a temp option. Would DH & DX consider changing Sophie's last name, too? (Probably only DX need consent, but good to get DH on board!) That may alleviate SOME of your frustration.
 

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I understand why you feel a sense of urgency now. Can you get the paperwork and start the proceedings without your husband being quite on board? If it comes down to a check and a signature, he might just go ahead with it.
 

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Since everyone is already in agreement, I would write up a will for guardianship in the event of your death, and have it signed by you, dh, AND dx. Also include that you do NOT want your mom to get guardianship under any circumstances. That should take care of the guardian problem.

Quote:
Also, Sophie is of the age where I'm signing her up for things and it chaps me to use her current legal name.
You can get her name changed without an adoption, I believe.
 

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Yes, you can use a different name without any legal paperwork. I know, for the first 20 years of my life I used my stepdads name and he did not adopt me. My dd also does not use her "legal" name according to her BC.
 

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You can also get her name changed legally without an official adoption. Filing a name change for a minor is easy to do. Don't bother paying a lawyer.

I also wanted to add that you said your adoption would cost you $3k. Please consult with another lawyer. Ours is going to cost us $700.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Moon
My feeling is my mother would move to take both girls if they were with dx. She will NOT fight my DH, if he has legal standing as Sophie's father.
I don't want to throw any more concern your way, but I would not count on this. If you don't have a will, please have one written that outlines what you want to happen and why - to protect Maeve even if your dh adopts Sophie. People do all sorts of freaky things when their loved ones die. You can't predict your mother's behavior if something should happen to you. It could be that her need to have a part of you supercedes her ability to reason what's best for Maeve and she fights to get her, even though it means splitting the girls up.

About your predicament with dh - don't know. From the way you've written about him over the years, he seems like a stand-up guy who always rises to the occasion when you need help or just to make life easier/better for you. It sounds like the only way you can sort it out is to be absolutely frank with him... tell him that you need to know where he is on this - that you can handle whatever it is, you just need to know because "when it's the right time" just isn't doing it for you.
 
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