I just found out my boyfriend has a daughter...

mnjayhawkOctober 7, 2009

So I have been dating my boyfriend for a year now, and recently I found out he has a one year old daughter from a FLING he had two years ago. He found out 2 months ago as well from a paternity test. There is no ex wife or girlfriend, she is an ex fling with a very sketchy past. For a year she had this baby then gave her up to the father of her OTHER child because that man cut her off financially and she had no other choice. Now she is in the care of the state. Originally my boyfriend wanted her to be adopted. But then once he met her he started to have a change of heart. He is 23 and just out of college. The big change happened when the birth mother came around and said she wants her back. My boyfriend DOES NOT want his child in the care of an un-fit and irresponsible 28 year old! Therefore the two parents are being ordered by the courts to follow a re-integration plan of 6 months where they each have to meet certain criteria in order to be allowed to parent the little girl.

My boyfriend has met most of the criteria and just has to maintain it such as a safe car, stable living situation, good job (he's an accountant and has his masters of accounting), go to parenting classes, etc. Things he does naturally and responsibly (will do the parenting class in the future). The birth mom on the other hand.....has no car, no home, no job, has a history of stripping, has abused prescription drugs, left her child in the care of another man, and seems all around UN-FIT. I am just worried the courts won't see all this. (The state I live in DOES NOT favor the mother any more by the way)

To get to the meat of my question.....

There are two scenerios that I believe can happen:

1. She fails, he gets the kid full custody and can move around where ever he wants.

2. She succeeds, they get joint custody and he is tied to the mother and I don't know if he can leave the state with the child ever unless the mother gives consent.

MY issue: I am finishing college and just found out about this. I am from another state 7 hours away with all my family members there who support me in my decision to stay with him or not. I want to move back someday in the next 5 years. I am a VERY strong willed person with a huge compassionate heart, but I do NOT ignore my own needs and goals. I have the potential, if I stay with this man and get married, and be this little girls step mom. I have seen what kind of man he is through this whole thing, and I am falling in love with him all over again. He is much stronger than I ever knew, and much more loving to children than I ever knew. I can see how he would be with our own children and its exactly what I want out of a father of my children. Our relationship is stronger, now very transparent. He regrets this fling he had and wishes he could take it back, but cant. He has mentioned he wishes I were the mother because he knows I would do a much better job.

....But if I stay with him, there won't be that few years before engagement of just "us" time...then when we get married we will have a little girl, I will be a mom (Sort of) right away. I don't know what to do here. I can see myself handling it all very well and being very strong through this and our marraige could be one of the strongest because what we have been through at such a young age and the love and support we have for each other.

....But also, what about the ease of a different relationship that doesn't have this kind of baggage? And what about this biological mother? My boyfriend never wants to deal with her, he wants full custody and thats very possible it could work out that way. But she could also make his life a living hell. It's still very early to tell.

Also, the step mom shoes are very hard to fill (I have one and my mother is one herself). However, I have already met the little girl, so she would know me practically her whole life if we stayed together. I have to admit, I am already in love with his little girl...and seeing her with her daddy is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

SO! Any advice on what I'm getting myself into? I hope you could follow my story...it's even more complicated than I just stated. Believe me.

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Wow, this is a lot to think about for someone so young with so many possibilities in her future. All of your concerns are well thought out and very valid.

Let me start by saying that if this is a relationship that is serious, and your boyfriend is as together as he sounds, he could turn out out to be a very loving, and devoted husband and father someday. Which could make for a wonderful relationship.

HOWEVER, I don't mean to crush your fantasy, but BM (bio-mom) will NEVER go away. If she is not awarded custody (which is unlikely it seems even the most irresponsible of BM's do get some level of custody)she will continue to fight for it. She will pop in and out of your life and you will have to deal with that uncertainty forever. And as your potential SD gets older she will want a relationship with BM - no matter how miserable of a person BM is. There will be conflict.

"My boyfriend never wants to deal with her, he wants full custody and that's very possible it could work out that way. But she could also make his life a living hell." - He will have to deal with her - FOREVER - in one way or another. And she will at least try to make his life a living hell, but she'll try even harder make yours hell.

I don't think anyone can tell you whether to continue in the relationship or run the other direction. But if you do stay make sure it is because you truely do have a strong foundation built on love, not on the fantasy of becoming a "mommy" - because being a step-mom is not glamorous, but can be wonderful if your expecations are realistic.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 9:05PM
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I would be surprised if there wasnt a third possiblity, that dad gets custody but mom gets some form of visitation, even if only supervised. Even if Dad were allowed to move, it seems like he has a lot keeping him where he is right now. So the years will go and Dad and Mom will be sharing or fighting over this child. Maybe mom gets her act togethor, maybe she doesnt. IMO, contested custody disputes are not ended by one battle, but are a long series. And even if he does move, you have no guarantee she wont just pick up and follow.

If you were my daughter, I would tell you to run. You can have the best intentions in the world, and it can still be a nightmare. Of course I would love my Daugher no matter what, as I am certain you mom would, but I use everything in my power to get her to give this guy up.

Read a bunch of threads here. Being involved from day 1 is no guarantee it will be a bed of roses.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 9:10PM
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Your BF sounds like a really great guy, and potentially a great father. I can see why you're committed to him. But...

I'm with KKNY -- If you were my daughter, I'd do everything in my power to convince you to run away screaming. Of course, that's not what you want to hear right now...

What I am going to recommend is that you decide NOT to decide. You make up your mind NOT to make any decisions about him or the baby until you know what the judge orders.

Because that judge -- by ordering some level of joint custody or even doing anything short of permanently severing Mom's legal rights --
That judge can make your fairy tale dream of a charmed life with a great husband and father turn into the worst nightmare you could imagine, having to share custody of a confused and angry little girl with the kind of woman you'd never in a million years associate with if you had a choice.
That nasty woman could be chained to your ankles for the next 20 years...

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 10:03PM
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I was once in your shoes about 9 years ago, except my hubby already had full custody of our daughter, and BM saw her for 6 hours every two weeks. My husband was 19 when he got full custody. I will tell you my thoughts/advice:
1) The way I knew that this situation would work for me was that I knew I loved his daughter just as much as I loved him, and when I chose to marry him, I also made a commitment to raise and care for this little girl FOREVER, and the thought of it made me happy. In essence, I fell in love with not only him, but also our daughter.
2) Even if your BM doesn't get herself together, (and it doesn't sound like she is) There will ALWAYS be potential for her to be a part of her/yours/bf's life.It is very rare that a BM doesn't recieve some type of visitation, Know that going in and be able to make peace with it. In my situation, BM did the 6 hrs every two weeks, then went back to court and got EOW, that didn't last too long, she began skipping visits etc..., current day, she has not seen/spoken to SD in about 2 1/2 YEARS. however, we will ALWAYS anticipate BM reappearing whenever she feels like it.
3)We moved across state lines, and all we had to do was notify BM, she did not contest it,but then again she had already moved away, so I guess it just depends on the situation as to whether going out of state is an option for you.
4) Being a mom is hard, being a step mom is harder! BUT...I wouldn't change any of it for the whole wide world!

it is a HUGE decision, take your time and make sure this is right for you.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 10:29PM
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I will second the advice of Sweeby - don't sit down with a list and make a choice now. I guarantee you that next week your list will change, and then again the following week . .

You have to take the worst case scenario and determine if you could live a happy life in it. I stress the happy part, because your BF and his daughter will suffer in your unhappiness right along with you if you aren't.

Truly, until you can honestly say you could live with this woman in your life EVERY day, not resent the child for the stress her mom causes you or the fact she 'ruins' the honeymoon and first child together experience, and treat the child with the love and care you would give any you birth, you are not ready to commit to this relationship.

*That does not make you a bad person.*

Take some time. Discover your limits. There is no need to rush into anything. You can learn a lot here - please stick around.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 1:39AM
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I second what everyone said here.

JNM, well said:
"Truly, until you can honestly say you could live with this woman in your life EVERY day, not resent the child for the stress her mom causes you or the fact she 'ruins' the honeymoon and first child together experience, and treat the child with the love and care you would give any you birth, you are not ready to commit to this relationship.

*That does not make you a bad person.* "

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 10:00AM
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Welcome to this board! It is really such a great tool in keeping my sanity as a stepmom! The advice I give you is to really take things slowly and think about the worst case scenerio and decide if it is something you can live with.

My hubby has sole custody of my 3 stepkids. But we can not erase her from our existance. She has moved out of state 3 times and come back only to leave again. Each time taking a piece of the kids happiness with her. She has made plans with them and stood them up without so much as a phone call. She has been gone 8 months now without as much as a phone call. We have no idea where she is living or how to get a hold of her. Her family knows which state she is in---which is no longer the same state as us, but that is about it. They can't even contact her! Each time she reappears with promises to the kids, which she does not fill. Then we are left picking up the pieces. At times the kids lash out at us because they are upset with her. But then they will talk to her on the phone and be nice as pie because they fear that she will disappear again if they don't. Its horrible to watch. So sole custody isn't a fairy tale ending.

OR you could have a situation like justnotmartha or imamommy where the ex makes everything a fight. Imamommy has been in and out of court with her hubby and his ex. That can get costly.

You could have a situation like doodleboo where the kids mom is a druggie and has bad boyfriends that you don't want the child around.

You could have a situation like lovehadley where the mom is violent and drunk and uses the child as a weapon and excuse for everything.

There is no easy part of stepparenting. Its twice the work of regular parenting and a very thankless job!

Would I go back and never have married my hubby? NO WAY! I love him and the children. But I will not lie to you and tell you this was an easy road. It has been a struggle at times. And we have argued over the children and his ex. But we are always able to talk things out. Great communication is the key to success in any relationship, but more so in a stepfamily situation.

I wish you a lot of luck and I encourage you to do a search on the posters I have mentioned and on my self on here to read some of our posts and what we have gone through. I also encourage you to come here often for advice or just to vent or share stories.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 10:11AM
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I second everything that's already been sad.

It is especially true that very rarely are custody issues won with one battle. It's usually a long, drawn out series of battles and you might never get it resolved the way you want it.

Like everyone else said, dad getting full custody does NOT mean BM will be out of your life. She will most likely, at the very least, get some sort of visitation.

Will she excercise it? That's tough to say. You might get *lucky* (and I use that word well-aware that it is a very subjective term) and she might disappear for good.

But she might not. She might stick around, and she might get her act together and take BF back to court to modify the custody arrangement.

The bottom line---you just don't know. So you do have to expect and prepare for the worst.

There is no need to rush at this point. I would just take it slow.

One thing you did say is that you hope to move back to your homestate in 5 years. Think about the fact that in 5 years, your SD will be 6. She will probably be in kindergarten or even 1st grade. Do you think your BF (DH if you're married) will want to uproot her from everything she knows and move? Have you talked about this at all? It's easy for him to say "sure, I would gladly move" now but in 5 years, it might be a different story.

It's all about commuication and taking it slow. See what happens in court. Wait to see what BM does. Don't rush.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 10:19AM
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Sorry, I didn't read the responses so far... I only read part of the OP, up to the point where it says

"There are two scenerios that I believe can happen:

1. She fails, he gets the kid full custody and can move around where ever he wants.

2. She succeeds, they get joint custody and he is tied to the mother and I don't know if he can leave the state with the child ever unless the mother gives consent."

and that is all I need to see to chime in my two cents...

The courts are NOT going to sever mom's relationship with this child UNLESS they sever dad's and the child is adopted out. If dad succeeds in getting ANY form of custody, mom will have 'rights', just as a dad would if mom got custody. There are equal obligations of course. But, until mom is PROVEN to be unfit to have contact with the child, there WILL be rights and she will have the right to be a part of her child's life and therefore she will be in YOUR life as well... regardless of what YOU or he thinks about her. He picked her, even if it was for a fling or one night stand... that doesn't matter. She is the mother and he is the father and the court will not deprive a child of a parent... unless there is an adoptive parent to take over the responsibility of the child. He can fight to terminate the mother's rights if he has YOU step up to adopt the child... but that could be an uphill battle and YOU would have to be willing to accept the legal/financial responsibility of this child. Otherwise, get used to the idea of this child coming with a mother that you obviously have a problem with her lifestyle.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 2:42PM
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Being that you have specific goals, a plan, a timeline, and highly keen sense of accomplishment, I suggest you not even think about marrying this guy or any guy with a kid(s), at least not until you reach a point in your life where you can comfortably relax your standards and not be so driven. But that's the question - do you/should you have to relax your standards? The first thing you might think is how much you love him, that he's no slacker himself, and he doesn't deserve you abandoning him simply because he has a kid. And you'd be right, but what I'm suggesting is you be true to yourself first, that you not lower your standards for the sake of another person. My reason is no one, not here or anywhere, can prepare you or give you an inkling of what you're getting yourself into. No one can see your future. They can only share their own past in ways that are only mildly depicting of what they truly endure. Read some of the posts on these pages. Read a lot of them, and ask yourself if you could put up with any of it because every single one of those stories is potentially your story soon-to-come. We, as people, have a tendency to always think ourselves immune and insulated from what happens to other people. Walk into their situations, and you walk in their shoes, inviting their sorrows, joys, frustrations, humiliations, degradations, arguments, laughs, love, failures, confusion, breakthroughs, and everything into your own life. Base your decision on your own self worth and she who is most important. Become a stepmother, and I fear you will sacrifice who you are, what you want, and what you wish to accomplish in life. The child should come first when you become a parent just as if she were naturally yours and should come first to dad. Can you live with that? You said the situation is more complicated than you conveyed to us. It will never be less complicated.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 12:08PM
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