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Old 01-19-2014, 10:36 PM
 
Location: Indiana
51 posts, read 99,009 times
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Me and my wife are now legal guardians of my wife's daughter's daughter who is now 5 1/2 years old. We have had her basically since 1 year old and she knows no other "mom and dad". She refers to her birth mom as her "sister". Where could we find some good information to explain to her when the questions come.
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Old 01-20-2014, 05:15 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,485 posts, read 43,795,280 times
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Yesterday was the best time. Since you missed that deadline how about today. Don't wait for questions. Believe me somebody will let it out and the older she is the worse it will be. Trust issues are very big with children and when she finds out you have been keeping the truth from her her whole life it will take a toll on your relationship.
There are many stories about kids (Jack Nicholson is one) who found out their "sister" was really their mother and it rocks their world.

Sit her down and tell her how much you love her. Show her pictures of her babyhood. Tell her that she was born to a young woman who could not properly care for her because she was too young and not married. That the whole family got together to try to figure out how to make the best decisions for the young mother and also for the new baby. It was decided the baby would stay in the family so she could always be with family even if her birth mother could not really be her caretaker mother.

Let that sink in awhile. Explain that the woman she thinks of as her mother and who will ALWAYS act as her mother is really her grandmother and that her sister is the young woman who actually gave birth to her.

It might be best if it's just the "sister" and "mother" and the child in the room. Too many people can be overwhelming to this young child and since you are not her father (Do you function as father or step father?) she might only be comfortable with women. But if she sees you as her father then be there to show solidarity.

Before this encounter the adults should get their act together to decide who will be the main story teller and who will answer questions. If there is strife between adults about who is raising her this will only be bad and this truth telling will be a nightmare.

Do not wait any longer. She is old enough to know. Somebody in the family or neighborhood will let it slip eventually or take it upon themselves to clue the kid in.

Now I want to know why she has not been adopted? She will ask if she is adopted if she has heard anybody speak of adoption. Maybe not but the most important thing is to assure her her life will not change with this info. That she will not be uprooted because the "sister" might move away.
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Old 01-23-2014, 05:17 PM
 
1,097 posts, read 1,734,380 times
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As soon as possible. I have witnessed this played out several times and no way is ideal. But she is young enough to take it in without the resentment that an older child might have [though there is no guarantee that it won't come into play later]. Unfortunately you let it go, and I understand it might have been easier then - but each day it becomes less a convenience and more a lie. If done as naturally as possible [Grandma could at some point say something like "we were so happy when you came into our lives" which could lead to questions from the child about how that happened], as opposed to some dramatic revelation, I think she would feel less pressured to place undo importance on it. Yes, it's important, but her reality that she is loved and wanted has not changed. I would want the child to see this as something which occurred as a loving and natural outcome of how families take care of each other when problems arise rather than something which would make her feel weird or different. That because families love each other they try to find ways to take care of each other. Someday she may want to know more - where's my father? who was he? what was wrong with sissie/mom? etc. These are all hard questions, but if you have established the truth of her family relationships now, then she will have more faith in your love and honesty, more freedom to ask you questions in the future, and more trust that you not are hiding things from her.
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Old 01-29-2014, 12:22 AM
 
Location: Indiana
51 posts, read 99,009 times
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Thanks for the info guys. It's hard to figure out the how's, what's and when's.

Sister lives in Texas 1500 miles away and has drug and mental issues. She is "out of the scene" the last year with the exception of 2 visits she has made with her father, who is not all there as well. Birth father signed off 2 days after she was born and out of the picture. He did drugs as well. CPS was called on the birth mother and at the CPS family meeting, she (sister) thought it would be best for the baby to be with us, letting us adopt her..... Her father suddenly got concerned that he would loose his "Grandparent's rights" as we were not planning on staying in Texas. Her (sister's) father helped change her mind being the selfish person he is. (We just came out for the birth). We had to sue for custody as her drug taking and mental situation was getting worse. She has never worked in her life...daddy took care of her and supplied her with $$ and a place to live. She would rarely visit when we had the child and when she did would be hours late. We cared for the child full time after she was a little over 1 year old. Finally 3 years later we ended up settling during a court break, which let us move to Florida and away from the madness that we were protecting this child from. She gets visitation a few times a year, has to pay all costs getting here...well her dad does. and she gets a few phone calls a week. She never calls, 'cause she doesn't wake up until it is past the call time of 7pm. I have been the only father she has known. This is the Cliff Notes version I just don't know how much a 5 year old can grasp the concept of the how, why, what, when's...
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Old 01-29-2014, 05:41 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,485 posts, read 43,795,280 times
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what a (sad) story. I commend you and your wife for raising this child. She obviously would never thrive in the environment in which she was born.
The how ans when is like anything else we have to instruct our children in. A little at a time and age appropriate.As with sex education you don't spill the beans all at once...just like warning our kids about bad people- you don't tell them about rape and murder when they are 3. you tell them not to talk to strangers and to report anybody who makes them uncomfortable.

so with this little girl i suggest starting with simple things like "We are so glad you came to live with us" or "It was a happy day we decided to adopt you". let her get used to the words a little at a time. work up to "birth mother" and "custody" and "not healthy home life" etc. Again the most important thing is to assure her, even with this new knowledge, she will always be safe in your home, you will always be her father even if she is not blood related.
Your love and concern will guide you but the longer you avoid any of this, the harder it will be on everybody. Perhaps an adoption professional in your area could guide you. Good luck.
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Old 02-02-2014, 11:20 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
22,712 posts, read 28,757,635 times
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If she were with me, she would have known the facts from even before she had a memory.

Children are very accepting of their situation and she should not be having any problem with calling her grandparents mom and pop, even when she knows they are her grandparents.

She should be able to handle it that her birth mother is ill and can't be around most of the time. I'd give her some reassurance that it not because her mother doesn't love her.
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:01 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
17,056 posts, read 17,376,569 times
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I had a co-worker who everyone knew was raised as a daughter by her biological father's parents. When I said everyone, I truly mean everyone. All of her relatives, all her neighbors, all the people in her small town. Heck, I was told, by other co-workers, only a few days after I started working with her.

However, the woman herself had never been told the truth. I attended her wedding later that year. It was really strange. Her "older brother" (actually her biological father) was crying at her wedding, taking dozens of photographs and shaking hands with everyone. It was so obvious that even the bride commented to others about her brother's odd behavior, it was clear from her comments that she didn't know the truth and she was about 21 years old.

Please tell your grandchild the truth right away.
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:26 AM
 
18,852 posts, read 31,732,472 times
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I suggest you adopt her and make it permanent.

I grew up in a situation like this, raised by Grandparents, but my Mom would come around and take me every so often, it was drama for everyone. And I guess my grandparents never really wanted me, they should have put me up for adoption rather than the ping pong ball life I ended up with.

Being her guardians is pretty meaningless, if you ask me. Either adopt her or not, and give her back. Because she has no real security that you are her parents, and you want her.Adoption is a commitment. GGuardians are temporary. Like, you are waiting for the daughter to get her life together, and will give her back the child. Children are not play things.

Even if that is not your intent, as I see it, you have no legal standing if the daughter wants her child back
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:30 AM
 
35,108 posts, read 40,267,404 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnomepark View Post
Me and my wife are now legal guardians of my wife's daughter's daughter who is now 5 1/2 years old. We have had her basically since 1 year old and she knows no other "mom and dad". She refers to her birth mom as her "sister". Where could we find some good information to explain to her when the questions come.

As she asks questions tell her the truth in a way she can understand it.
At her curent age I doubt she could understand much if you tried to explain it to her.
Some children ask young others ask when they are older and others really don't care who birthed whom and who they know as Mom & Dad.

The best information is in your hearts when she asks and you tell her the truth.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:07 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,485 posts, read 43,795,280 times
Reputation: 47259
Quote:
Originally Posted by CSD610 View Post
As she asks questions tell her the truth in a way she can understand it.
At her curent age I doubt she could understand much if you tried to explain it to her.
Some children ask young others ask when they are older and others really don't care who birthed whom and who they know as Mom & Dad.

The best information is in your hearts when she asks and you tell her the truth.
At 5 most kids understand more than we are willing to give them credit for.
waiting till she decides to ask is not good. some kids never think to ask. they just accept things as they appear. after all, who would think at 5 their parents are not telling the truth.
Screw up your courage and deal with it TODAY. Tell her you are realy her grandparents, that she knows who her mother is but that she will always live with you and be cared for. Then contact an attorney and make plans to legally adopt her. DO IT TODAY, What are you waiting for? For her world to be turned upside down when she finds out the truth- that you lied to her her whole life? That she can't trust you anymore?
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