The time has come! My toddler is asking questions about being adopted.

Tammy - posted on 08/15/2015 ( 10 moms have responded )

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My situation is very unique. I'm sure everyone thinks that, right?! My daughter is 5 years old. She came into my life when she was 6 months old. A male friend of mine and his girlfriend, at the time, got pregnant. The girlfriend ended up leaving my friend and said that she terminated the pregnancy. Turns out she did not. The girlfriend's mother called my friend from the hospital and said that she just had the baby girl. The baby was a safe surrendered baby since the girlfriend left the hospital and did not want the baby. My friend asked me if I could adopt the baby. At the time, I said I could not because I knew the baby was born addicted to drugs and I wasn't sure I could handle complications she may have in the future. The court ordered my friend to attend parenting classes for 6 months before the baby could come home with him. During that time, I went with him for visitation and I fell in love with her. So she came to live with me. My friend was perfectly fine with this. We did not discuss adoption right away, which was a huge mistake on my part. I was just ecstatic that she was with me. My friend is still in her life (if you call visiting her at my house, in her life). The problem is he will not let me adopt her now. It has become a major issue between us. He will not tell me why. When we enrolled her in school I wanted to put my name on her birth certificate and he said "no". We had an argument right in front of the enrollment counselor. I am so frustrated. I know at any time he could decide he wants her to come live with him and there would be nothing I could do about it. I feel like I am holding my breath until she turns 18, which is quite a few years away.

I'm sorry this story is so long but I feel like you need to know the circumstances.

I knew the day would come when she would start asking questions and I would have to address them. The day has come! I am reaching out looking for advice or suggestions. I do tell her that I adopted her. I say that she didn't grow in my belly but she grew in my heart. I get so nervous when she starts asking me questions. I never want to lie to her. I have been reading all sorts of things about talking to your children about adoption but my situation is so different than anything I have read.

Any helpful advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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Raye - posted on 08/17/2015

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Tammy, wow, are you in a predicament.
Sorry to say, but you are not her mother, and she is not your daughter. You haven't adopted her, and shouldn't tell her you have. She will be confused about the situation, but you shouldn't lie to her. You can tell her you WANT to be her mommy, since her real mommy couldn't take care of her. But never tell a child they weren't wanted.

If the father will not communicate to you his reasons for not following through with the adoption, then maybe you need to force the issue. You should speak with an adoption attorney to see if there's anything you can do to get the parent's rights revoked. Since the child has been living with you for 5 years, there's a possibility a judge may rule in your favor, but it's not guaranteed by a long shot. An adoption attorney will know the laws in your area to give you proper counsel on if/how to initiate court proceedings.

Dove - posted on 08/17/2015

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You don't tell her you adopted her if you didn't... And if she doesn't know who her father is... she needs to. Your situation NEEDS to change. I don't exactly know how, but it is not stable the way things are and the child WILL be the one to suffer the most when everything gets turned upside down. I recommend you talk to a lawyer as soon as possible and see what can legally be done to give this child the stability she deserves.

Sarah - posted on 08/17/2015

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You did not adopt her so don't lie to her and say you did. Does she know the friend is he father? If not, it is time to fix that. I am confused as to how she came to live with you? If she was a ward of the state, and your friend was in parenting classes, did you apply to become a foster parent? Are you her actual legal guardian? The way your post sounds, is this child has been living with you for almost her whole life and seeing her dad as a visitor in your home?
Can you clarify your situation so better advice can be given. My concern is if you did not adopt her or get appointed as her foster mother; she is not your daughter and you have no legal tie or right to parent her. I think it is wonderful that you have and if I am mistaken, I apologize.

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Sarah - posted on 08/18/2015

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After reviewing this whole thread, I agree it is time to get your ducks in a row. Legally. Best of luck

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 08/18/2015

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It is time to insist that your friend make the arrangement formal. Visit with another attorney.

Tammy - posted on 08/18/2015

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Thanks for your post Raye.

Medical authorization has never been an issue for us. Since her very first doctor's appointment I have been listed as the parent on all medical records.

I do worry about his siblings trying to get custody if something was to happen to him. Three years ago, one of his sister's contacted me and said that they were taking her for a week during Christmas. I was devastated. I wouldn't mind if they wanted to take her for the day but a week was too long being that she had never spent any time with them. There was nothing I could do about it and had to let her go. Since that time they have not called or tried to see her again. Seems so strange to me.

No, the father does not ever think about what is best for Mia. Unfortunately, he lacks a little in the common sense department, which is why trying to talk to him about anything logical is like beating my head against a wall. Since I only see him a few times a week I just bite my tongue when he is around.

Raye - posted on 08/18/2015

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Hypothetical scenario, he goes into a diabetic coma, or is in surgery for something or another... something happens to the daughter where she needs immediate medical attention... You are not her guardian, and can't give medical authorization and he is incapacitated unable to give authorization... the girl could die!

What if he dies? IF he has a will that says his wishes are for you to have her, the court does not have to grant you guardianship. If one of his siblings did happen to step-up at that time to request custody, then the court might think the girl is better off with family.

Any number of terrible things could happen (we hope they don't), but the father is not taking any of it into consideration by denying your request for adoption or some kind of legal guardianship of the girl. Does he think you would cut him out of her life? Does he think you would get married and have another guy replace him as the father? I don't know what's going through his head, but it doesn't seem based in reason.

I would also advise speaking to another attorney. You don't have any legal rights NOW, true. But that doesn't mean that you couldn't get them. You have an "established custodial environment". Courts generally follow the principle that it is the best interests of the child, and not the parent’s desires, that should govern custody and visitation rights. While the needs of the parents are also important, family law courts place a greater priority on the child’s development and adjustment. You may not be granted adoption, but you could be granted split/partial custody. I it's what you want, then you have to go for it. Otherwise, I would work on a plan on how to slowly transition her back to the father permanently.

Dove - posted on 08/17/2015

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I agree w/ Sarah. You currently wouldn't have legal rights, but the fact that you've been providing for her for 5 years... you might be able to GET some sort of custody.

Sarah - posted on 08/17/2015

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I would talk to a different attorney. I believe he/she is correct in stating you have no legal rights, but to say the only option would be to marry him I believe is incorrect. I do believe you have a case for guardianship. You may not get adoption, but I would check it out.

Tammy - posted on 08/17/2015

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Thanks for your replies!

Yes, she does know that he is her father and she adores him. When she was a ward of the state, her father, asked each of his family members if they would raise her (he has 7 brothers and sisters) and they all said that they couldn't for one reason or another, which is just mind blowing to me. Let me tell you, if my brothers could not raise their child for any reason, that child would not be raised by any friend, the child would be with me.

Her father has a lot of health issues. He had diabetes so had to have a kidney and pancreas transplant, which was 11 years ago. Last year his pancreas failed again so he just had another pancreas transplant a couple months ago. I think he believes that he could not raise her due to these health issues. I personally think that was a cop out and he just didn't want his whole life interrupted.

She did not come to live with me until her father completed his parenting classes and the judge ruled that she was no longer a ward of the state. So I never applied to be a foster parent or legal guardian. Her father just allowed her to come live with me. Looking back, I realize how selfish it was of me not to make him define exactly what my role would be in her life. I am 45 and have never been married and have no biological children. My entire life all I ever wanted was a child. I let that cloud my logical thinking and selfishly became Mia's mommy.

I have spoken to an attorney. They said that I have no legal rights. The attorney told me that I should marry him and that would give me legal rights. That would be the last thing in the world I would want (eeww). However, I asked Mia's father and he started laughing.

At this point, I just try and tolerate him. It is so difficult to be around him sometimes because I have so much anger towards him. He comes by our house two or three times a week for about an hour to see Mia. He is like a "Disney Land Dad".

Hopefully I added a little more clarity. I feel like I just rambled on and on!

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