A Rock and a hard place

coolmamaJanuary 8, 2007

You all may already be sick of me and my problems,but WELCOME TO MY LIFE.

I find out from husband today,that his sister is probably going to jail in a month or two.She has her third DUI amongst other charges.

She wants my husband and I to take temporary custody of her 5 year old son for the duration of which she will be in jail.Could be anywhere from a couple of months to up to 2 years!

We cant be THAT bad of parents considering everyone we know always wants to leave their kids with us.

My sister left her 6 year old son with us for about the whole summer give or take a few days...so I feel like I cant say no.

I also feel sorry for the child.he has been moved around alot,doesnt know his dad at all,and his mom has been unstable to say the least.

I'm just not sure we can do this.Besides the obvious money issue of caring for another child,there are other things to consider.

1) The child barely knows us

2) Our place is small,he'd have to share a room with our (as of today) 9 year old daughter.(thankfully we do have bunk beds)

3) He would have to be enrolled in school and everything,which brings up a whole new list of how to's.

He seems like a very nice child,and I feel horrible for him.

I'm just not sure this is what we really need right now...

But sister-in-law says we are the only ones she can trust.

Her other brother is an alcoholic and in no way capable of even caring for himself,much less a kid.

Her mom is pretty crazy and has an abusive husband.Their dad she doesnt even talk to,and he probably wouldnt do it either.

So we are the only sane option for this child.

My sister-in-law can be manipulative,and we have had our battles...But I always manage to feel sorry for her.Like my husband,she hasnt had an easy life.

I also worry "what if she never comes back for him?"

Most of you have read my posts,you know how crazy my life already is.What would you do if you were put in this position?

My heart says help the poor child.My head says,how in the hell are we going to be able to do this?

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Wow! What a hard decision! Where is the boy's father? Have you talked to a social worker to find out what happens to the child if you don't take him? Can you be appointed foster parents? (I'm thinking of possible financial help).
Most importantly, what do your husband and daughter say?

If husband and daughter say do it, you could have a huge, positive impact on this child's future. I hope you will let us know what you decide and how it works out.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 9:09AM
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I don't see that you have much of a choice....you do what's right in this world. That means tolerating the behavior of a step child once every few months, buying her gifts and sending them in your husband's name....and taking in his nephew when the child's mother is in jail.
For sure it won't be a walk in the park....but it's the right thing to do.
But know that the child likely has fetal alcohol behavior disorder. If his mother is on her 3rd DUI, she likely was drinking heavily while she was carrying him, and he may well be a stubborn angry kid.
One thing to remember, all you sweet young things, is when you marry, you are also marrying the whole family....all the ex'es, the nasty mother, the uncle Harry who comes to visit every 5 years....even his or her old hound dog or the cat that bites. So my advise is to look beyond the deep blue eyes and the lovely dark curly hair....and see what else comes along too. And when you have a child with someone, you are forever tied to that person....no matter how many other marriages come after...you and that "other person" made a child, and unless that child is given for adoption, you will run into each other at that child's graduation, school functions, and if you live long enough even at the grand children's graduation. Reason enough to practise responsibility.

Good luck to you.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 12:42PM
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ZONE 8 Grandma

I wont know for a while if it's gonna happen,I think her courtdate is in two months.

I havent talked to a social worker or anything like that,she only sprung this idea on us last night.

Neither my husband or daughter have said much about it.I think we all want to do the right thing but are just scared.

The mother wasnt drinking when she was pregnant.I know this because she lived with us during her pregnancy.

The child is actually very soft spoken,sweet child.I used to watch him when he was a baby.

My sister-in-law has never even filed for child support because she doesnt want the father in his life (sound familiar?)
I dont know why,because I thought he was a nice guy.He has never even seen his son since he was born.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 5:25PM
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Hi there

I think I would be SO tempted to meddle, track down the father of the little boy, and find out what's going on. On the face of it, its aweful that the child doesn't know his father. But this may makes matters worse, do you think ? He might be a decent person and contribute some money to the child's upkeep.

In as far as taking in the little boy whilst his mother is in jail.

I would look at the legal aspect, how does this affect you ? Do you become temporary foster parents ? What are the legal implications of that ? It is a big responsibility for you and your family, mainly you because it sounds like you will be involved in his day to day life.

I think its well worth speaking to a family services counsellor to find out if you are able to get any monetary benefits from the state.

Would the court be duty bound to assess the mother as to her ability to care for the child, this might be brought up at the sentencing event.

Seeing you only found out about this in the past few days, I think time and talk will help you to sort out the right thing to do.

If this was happening to me, I would strongly consider it, I would feel that this child is part of my family and he has the same genes, so he must be cared for. Your stable family life might have a big impact on his life, its a difficult time for him and better for him to go into your family than a strange foster family.

But then again, the mum may not get jail time, and it will all be sorted out.

Let us know what you decide to do.


    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 5:59PM
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Hmmm,I was just informed by my mom that in the county I live in it is actually illegal for a boy and girl to share a room together. This puts a whole different spin on the situation as there is certainly no way we can move.

I wonder if it matters that it will only be temporary.
I'm thinking of looking up the county laws regarding the subject on the computer.

Thanks for the advice,and I will keep you posted.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 8:32PM
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I feel concerned for your daughter, especially if this turns into an extended stay. Is there any way to convert a den or other corner of your home into a bedroom for the boy?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 9:12PM
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I know a few people who were faced with this situation. And all did the right thing and took in the children. They were good, solid families, each one with a single parent sibling who was messed up. In two situations, there were 3 children that they took in, in addition to their own children...one has 4 and the other had 3...so they ended up with 7 kids in one family, and 6 in the other. One is permanent (single parent died) and the other, also a single parent, disappeared on a drug binge, and no one knows where she is...but both have taken custody of the kids. I would do the same if something like this happened. Like Popi, I would feel like this child was apart of my family, and I would be there for them. I think the foster option for this little guy is too sad.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 11:00PM
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Have you looked into the sharing bedroom situation ?

I find it hard to believe that there is such a law .

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 2:43AM
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i think a law like that might depend on their ages and their family relationship.

i'd take the child in and work it out somehow, considering the options would not be good for the child. i would not feel like i was doing sil a favor, i'd feel like i was doing what was best for my nephew. feelings about the parent and child should be separate.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 1:14PM
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I agree Stephanie.

I also want to mention, as someone else did, that you find out more about this boys father. Also, the boys father may have young grandparents or aunts and uncles, etc. I would imagine though that you should have your DH talk to his sister about this FIRST, because she could end up permanently losing custody of her child, or if not that, she will still lose control to a great extent, and she may have very good reasons for not wanting to do something like this. I think you have to think about if you somehow were in her shoes, what would you want a sibling to do for you...or if not you, your beautiful child? That is how we understand what doing the right thing is. We would want to do for someone else, what we would hope they would do for us.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 1:23PM
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You do need to get some legal advice here. About 16 years ago one of my DH's nieces had a child as a teen. She abandoned the boy and left him with DH's sister (the niece's aunt, not the mother) SIL has raised him since that time, but she did get legal custody of him from the state and does get paid monthly for caring for him. To enroll him in school, provide medical care, etc. she had to have legal documentation proving she had the right to do this. Two months seems like a long time, but your SIL needs to prepare for this now. She may not want to face it, but she's messed up and this is the least she can do for her son.

I also find it hard to believe that a related boy and girl could not share a room. Maybe that's the rule for unrelated foster parents regarding biological children and foster children. These two children are cousins.

I understand your reluctance to take this on. It's hard for me to say what I would do in the situation. When the situation came up with DH's niece we lived 100's of miles away in another state and had our own new baby. At various times we have provided some financial assistance for him and paid for the lawyer to insure SIL could care for him. That's easy compared to taking a child in.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2007 at 3:01PM
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Actually I did find out that there is indeed a law where I live. Even for people under public housing,if the family has a boy and girl,they are rewarded more bedrooms for this fact.They will not give a two bedroom apartment persay to a couple who has both a boy and a girl.But will make them find a three bedroom apartment.
It is not like this in all counties,but in two in the state I live in.Unfortunately,I happen to be in one of those counties.It doesnt matter that they are cousins or if they were brother and sister.
(If you own a house,the law may not apply,but I live in an APARTMENT)

And...we havent heard anything more from the sister-in-law about it.I dont think she realizes how serious an issue it is,or that further legal help will be needed.

Thanks everyone for your advice.If anything happens or changes I'll keep you posted,but it looks as of right now nothing may end up happening.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2007 at 6:50PM
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I found out today she will not be going to jail! She got two years probation and no driver's liscense for a year.

Good news for me!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 3:35AM
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Coolmama, you dodged a bullet there, huh? Thank goodness for that! I hope she will learn something from this.

Rrah, I don't know about the legality of it (where you live or here) but when I moved (newly divorced) from CA to GA with my children (girl 4 and boy 6) the apartment complexes would not rent to me at all unless I rented a three bedroom place so that there would be separate bedrooms for me and each of the children. My kids were saying that they wanted to share a room - no surprise given all the changes in their little world. But it was not possible for me to rent a two bedroom apartment since my children were different sexes. That ultimately meant that rather than renting a really nice place in a decent neighborhood (that I could afford) I had to rent a three bedroom apartment (for the same price) in a complex where drug deals went down in the parking lot and ladies (ahem) worked nights at home. In what way was that beneficial for my children? BTW, they still shared a room. Their choice. I used the extra bedroom for an office and worked on starting a business there. Eventually I got it going and was able to work from home....a FAR better insurance against whatever the apartment people were afraid of than their stupid policy.

Needless to say, I got out of that apartment complex and into a house as soon as possible - and, yes, it had three bedrooms. (sheesh) But the arbitrary rules!! What are these idiot lawmakers thinking?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 7:54PM
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