- 3 years ago
Bees, I need support in some form. I don’t know whether I need advice or someone to talk some sense into me. Honestly, right now, I’m majorly freaking out.
DH has a half brother who is 9 years old, and currently living with DH’s father. Let’s call the brother Daniel. He’s a sweet boy, and smart, but he’s had a rough life. DH and his father didn’t even know about Daniel until he was 5 years old, when it came to light that his mother couldn’t take care of him anymore. DH’s father then gained custody for the son he hadn’t realized he had. Of course, all this has affected Daniel. He has ADHD, problems with his conduct at school, and has developed quite a thing for lying.
DH’s father is… and interesting man. He’s selfish, a bit of a slob, and I have a hard time seeing how anyone can get emotionally close to him. He’s had a history of problems with drugs and alcohol, although he has (in theory) been doing better. He doesn’t take care of his health very well. And, well, I don’t think he’s a good father to DH’s brother. He seems a emotionally neglectful, and is quick to send Daniel to his room as punishment rather than try to address the problem. His attitude is pretty harsh when Daniel misbehaves. Which is a lot. He is a sweet boy, but he doesn’t get the structure and support he needs in life, which is all the more important because I am of the understanding that things were a bit rough before he ended up living with his father.
Today, DH called and told me that he can’t really handle his father’s treatment of Daniel anymore, and that he wants to ask his father for custody–that if he says ‘no,’ he is willing take it to court.
I love that this is where DH’s heart is. Daniel does needs better support in his life. But bees, I don’t feel like we are in a place to take on a 9 year old boy. I don’t feel like I’M in a place to suddenly bring on Daniel. The idea terrifies me. I feel like I’m stuck. I so want Daniel to have a better life, but at the same time I don’t feel like I’m ready to take on a child that age, and he is a bigger challenge than most boys I’ve known. But really, do I have a right to be upset at this possibility when we’re talking about a child’s life?
Here’s why I feel so unready. DH and I are currently in a semi-long distance relationship, and have been for over 4 years. We’ve been married for one of those years. The reason for the distance is that I am currently in graduate school, working on my doctorate, and his work is based near his hometown in another state. His work allows him to work from home some, so he spends about half of his time with me, and half of it where his work is. In theory, I’ll finish up school sometime in 2019, and then we’ll move back somewhere closer to where DH’s family lives. For now, however, life can get pretty hectic for me because of my program. I’m also on the salary of a graduate student, which isn’t a lot for where I live. DH earns more than I do, but I don’t know if we can handle the expenses of a child Daniel’s age. We’d have to rent a bigger apartment (we’re already paying a LOT for a pretty basic unit), all the clothes, toys, medical expenses, etc. And yes, Daniel is more of a handful than most children his age. He has ADHD and has had bad conduct reports from his school. Even though DH’s father isn’t a super supportive father, he has enough money to borderline spoil Daniel with gadgets and flashy gifts, and I anticipate that Daniel would be difficult about not getting what he wants given what he is now used to.
And bees, the money might not be as much of an issue if it weren’t for the fact that DH and I were hoping to start trying for a family of our own in about a year. We’re both currently 30 years old, and we’ve had to put off having a child for a while due to my program and us being apart for half of the year, but we were hoping that we could start trying to get pregnant together soon…. but if we’re dealing with the shock and (I anticipate) stress of taking on a 9 year old boy, I don’t see how we can easily try to have a family of our own. I worry about the financial strain, about being too stressed, about the exhaustion of balancing grad school and having a 9-year-old. I don’t feel comfortable stretching our money even further.
However, DH says that if we were to take on Daniel, he’d live with me where I’m going to graduate school so Daniel can go to school here. DH expects his mother would chip in on the money (though I have no idea if he’s even talked to her about it). And again there is the argument of us talking about a boy’s life–his half-brother’s life–and wanting to do what it takes to help him. How can any of my concerns compare to that?
I’m freaked out, and although I’ve told DH my concerns and he understands and is supportive of me feeling overwhelmed at the idea, I feel like I have no room to actually have a say in the matter here. I feel like I’m not ready to suddenly be Daniel’s guardian, but I feel like if I were to decide I can’t do this, DH will resent me for it. He seems to have the feeling, so far, that I will come to get used to it.
I don’t know what to do. I am freaked out, but as tired and emotional as I currently I am, I can’t figure out if I have a right to be upset. I don’t even know if we could actually gain custody of Daniel in the first place. I don’t know how likely DH’s father is to give us custody willingly. I also don’t know how likely a judge is to give DH custody over his father, given that it would mean giving custody to a half-sibling (I couldn’t find anything about that online), and that Daniel would have to, at least until sometime in 2019, move pretty far away from the life he knows. Like, a 12-hour drive away. I don’t know whether DH’s father’s current parenting and health are severe enough for a judge to choose DH over his father.
I should mention that Daniel also has an Aunt–his mother’s sister–who lives closer to the rest of Daniel’s family than I do. I know Daniel really likes her, but I don’t know much about her. I don’t yet know how that might factor into things, if at all.
I don’t know what I’m looking for. Advice? Support? Perspective? Information? But I could really use whatever you can offer me.