I will write this post only once. It is not a subject that I need to revisit consciously, although I frequently revisit it subconsciously.
I have posted before that my husband is not Sunshine’s biological father. We split when she was 2, mainly because he “fell out of love with” me when I got sick the first time. See my post about the issue of chronic illness and marriage here. As our marriage continued to crumble, I began finding out more and more information that screamed to me “you have to leave, this is not a good situation for you or your child”.
I got on a plane to Texas with my toddler and never looked back.
Its years later, and to this day, I have no regrets.
It is now starting to affect my daughter, however.
After informing Sunshine’s Dad that I was not returning to the area, things got nasty. Mainly over Sunshine. He never once attempted to talk me into returning. He wanted physical custody just to spite me.
After a few months, we did work out a custody agreement. I began trying to be what I term “a good co-parent”. I set up a Flickr account so he could see the copious amount of pictures that I take of Sunshine. I set up a Skype account so he could talk to her “face to face”. I would call or text any time she did something funny or adorable. I tried to keep him in her life as much as possible.
So far, she has visited her biological father a total of three times since we left. For a few days. His choice.
My second husband has been in my daughter’s life since she was 3. I have been friends with him since we were teenagers. I was so concerned about letting another man in her life, but he has been amazing. He is her dad. He loves her like she is his own. There is no difference in the way he treats her in comparison to his son. And I reciprocate in kind with my bonus son.
Things were going pretty well this year with Sunshine and her “real” dad. She visited him in the spring (I am tremendously lucky that my mother volunteers to take Sunshine back to Pittsburgh any time she returns to visit her parents). She met all of her stepsisters (she has three stepsisters and one half sister). She had a great visit. We were planning out a second visit in August when he fell off the map. Completely fell off the map.
It is now six months since I have had any contact with the man. No texts, no email, no phone calls, no snail mail. My daughter was physically in his area as planned, and he refused to answer my calls, emails or texts. And I had to deal with her questions when she returned. Trying to answer the question “why didn’t Daddy want to see me Mommy?” is something I have been dealing with ever since.
And as the months have rolled on, he has missed her first day of kindergarten, her birthday, and Christmas. The questions are harder to answer. She is growing and learning and figuring out the world and her relationship to it. This situation is getting worse. It is now affecting her school performance, as I received an email from her teacher this week. Apparently Sunshine got into an argument at school with a girl in our apartment complex.
It arose from the other girl (who’s parents aren’t together as well) telling Sunshine that HER daddy was keeping her for the weekend. When talking to Sunshine about this, my heart broke. Sunshine is never one to make fun of people or to get into arguments, but this really hit home for her. When this other girl was discussing her plans for the weekend with HER “real” Dad, Sunshine got upset and started yelling at her, saying “I don’t like you anymore, I don’t want to be your friend”. Her teacher was shocked and wrote “I have never heard her say she doesn’t like someone, she is always so friendly”. Grrr.
My entire family tells her that its not her fault. That her bio dad has made this decision and it has nothing to do with her.
His cell phone number has been disconnected, as is the one for his wife. I have sent two snail mail letters via certified mail. I know the man is alive. His Facebook has also been updated recently. I continue to get child support, but I think that is because he is on unemployment and it comes out automatically.
I’m angry. It was bad enough what he did to me, but to do this to Sunshine? She doesn’t understand. She doesn’t know about the ways of adults. All she knows is that she went up to visit him, and he didn’t want to see her. And that he hasn’t wanted to talk to her in six months.
It is difficult to talk about anything pertaining to “Pittsburgh” or her being a little baby, because it makes her think of him. We still have tons of family there, including her great grandparents and her uncle with which she has close relationships.
As much as her bonus daddy bends over backwards to make it clear to her that she is loved, and that she has a Daddy, he just didn’t contribute genetically, she is too young for such sentiments. I suppose in time she will understand, but the six year old Sunshine repeatedly asks me and her bonus Dad about her bio Dad. She truly feels that she did something wrong to make him mad and not want to talk to her.
Resolution? I just want an answer to this behavior. If he wants to officially sever ties, then I’ll get the paperwork up to him ASAP. It would be extremely difficult for him to decide now to start their relationship again. My only hope is that this doesn’t have a lasting effect on Sunshine. That she learns that blood bonds and behavior bonds are different. That her bonus Dad loves her and always will. That words are backed by actions, and the fact that her bonus Dad is there everyday for her means a hell of a lot more than what her bio Dad is currently doing.
My husband sat down with her today and said “I’m sorry that your Dad is being like this. It is not your fault. Me and your Mommy love you very much no matter what. I’m not leaving, I’m not going anywhere”.
Hopefully that sinks in. I just hate knowing that his (bio Dad) lack of interest is upsetting her. That she probably thinks about it more than I will ever know.
I know I made the right decision. I will never regret removing her from a toxic situation. I have moved her down to a more healthy area of the country. She is active, smart, thriving. The schools are better, there is virtually no crime here, and we enjoy a higher standard of living in comparison to where we were living before. Between her bonus Dad and my Dad, she has significant love and attention from the opposite gender.
However, when these issues arise, I will always feel a blast of anger. I will always feel helpless to comfort my child.
I have tried to let her know that any feeling she has is ok. And that it is ok for her to be angry with him. But it is not ok to get into arguments with other children because their situation is different.
With 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, I know there are resources out there. I might have to start looking into them if this continues.
Sorry for this rambling post. I am just so angry right now and writing it down may help. I just love this child so much and it kills me…literally kills me…to know that he is hurting her like he hurt me.
End of post pertaining to my ex. He isn’t worth all this time and energy. I will not post on this subject again except to update it, if that ever happens.