What if she chooses them?

(28 Posts)
LastingLight Sat 17-May-14 16:16:46

As I've posted before, our adoption story is unusual. I won't bore you with all of it, but must just say that the adoption was contested by bio grandparents and there was a court case. We obviously won and they got court ordered access. Dd is not as yet aware of the fact that the grandparents wanted to adopt her. Relations are civil but we don't like each other and dd knows this. Dd thinks granny is the best because granny spoils her non-stop with material things and tells her all kinds of inappropriate things about family members and other adults - all from granny's perspective as the victim.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about the latest chapter in our interaction with granny when she asked me what we would do if dd aged 16 (currently almost 12) decided she wants to live with granny. And there dear fellow posters you have one of my biggest fears as a parent - what if she chooses them over us? What if we haven't managed to build a bond strong enough to prevent this from happening? What if the mental health issues that has plagued me on and off for years damaged my relationship with dd to the point where she will want to get away from me when she can? Currently we have some challenges but in general our relationship is strong.

Any thoughts and perspectives welcome.

Lilka Sat 17-May-14 17:26:27


I understand your fears, because they have been mine. Sometimes my insecurities don't want to just leave me alone

If I look back at the last year and a bit, I must have posted on MN multiple times saying basically 'I'm scared I'm going to lose DD2', 'I worry she'll go and live with her birth mum'.

But she hasn't left me. And no matter how badly I get treated sometimes, I know she does see me as mum. No matter how much contact DD2 and birth mum have, it's never changed into a desire to leave me and live with her. The last year and a quarter has not been easy at all, but some of my deepest fears have not materialised. I underestimated the strength of our relationship I guess.

I do know of adopted teens who spent some time living with their birth families - and unsurprisingly, this period showed them what their birth family were really like. A lot of these teens left and either moved back to their adoptive parents, or were of an age to move to independent living. Either way, it wasn't 'happy ever after'

Your DD is very unlikely to want to go and live with granny for good, IMHO. But whatever were to happen in the future - you are mum. Your DD will not stop viewing you as her mum. And the older she gets, the more likely she is to start picking up on her grandmothers flaws and stop seeing her as purely 'fun person'.

I don't have any way to get rid of your fears, because they were and to an extent still, are mine. But I understand x

And I know now more than ever that our relationships as parent and child are lifelong. They may go through troughs and difficult points, but when your child becomes an adult, you don't stop building your relationship. Plenty of troubled teens and parents, both birth and adoptive, find that adulthood does a lot for their relationships in the end. And my DD1 and I, well, our relationship is closer and more secure now than it ever was when she was living with me - we never stop getting closer to each other i think! There's plenty of hope too

LastingLight Sun 18-May-14 08:56:31

Thanks for the hugs and the understanding Lilka, it helps.

prumarth Sun 18-May-14 14:03:39

Hi lasting, I haven't yet adopted (nearly!), So I can't know exactly how you feel, but I do think your anxiety would be something most adopters fear to a greater or lesser degree. It's a fear of mine too - that having a birth family option as a "go to" could give a whole new dynamic to adolescent rebellions. But as lilka says, YOU are her mum and that's a unique relationship. Her love and affection for you isn't bound in anyway to her love for others - whatever happens, you are a constant in her world. Don't second guess the future or fear the past - you are a perfectly imperfect mum and you have a good relationship with your daughter - that's all you can do.
My only advice would be to try and ensure its not you versus granny on matters around the adoption. Yes, they tried to gain custody but they didn't succeed - that was a decision that was made presumably by social services and judge for good reasons, not you. The more you can keep this black and white, the less it can be "used" either by a rebelling adolescent or gran against you!
Don't forget, if you need to sound off about vile granny but aren't able to in real life, we are here!
Hugs to you.

Lilka Sun 18-May-14 15:55:57

I agree with everything prumarth said, especially that when the fact of the adoption contestion does come up, to tell your daughter that the decision of where she was going to live was never up to you, but made by the courts

LastingLight Sun 18-May-14 17:13:59

Thanks prumarth, appreciate it.

LastingLight Tue 08-Jul-14 08:39:12

DD came home from granny yesterday and told me a whole lot of stuff which we haven't told her because we didn't think she was ready. Thank you evil bitch. Among it was the little nugget that adopted children can from the age of 10 choose to go and live with their bio family if they want to. Uhm... no. How dare she give the child inaccurate information about something that important! I was livid but had to hide it from DD. She begged me not to let granny know she told me all of this because then granny will be upset with her. Maybe the penny is starting to drop...

Moomoomie Tue 08-Jul-14 12:41:44

Oh lastinglight, I understand your fears, Lilka, as usual, talks a lot of sense.
Your dd is still young enough to soon realise what granny is like. It sounds that she already has an understanding of her.
Don't beat yourself up about the past, that can't be changed, look at the great relationship you have now and continue to work on that.
Dd1 who is 15 blames the government that she wasn't able to see birth mum, but she doesn't blame me, she understands that it was out of our control.

Lilka Tue 08-Jul-14 14:05:29

Oh I'm sorry to hear this lasting x

There is a big positive in this - your DD told you all this. That speaks volumes about your relationship. She doesn't want to keep these things from you.

DD's mum sometimes pressures her to do things or tells her inaccurate things. It's not quite the same here -but I have reassured her that there is no need for secrets in this family and if someone is telling you 'don't tell mum' then to ignore it, it's probably something mum can actually help you with. I would probably say the same things to your DD. And also point out that because Granny is saying some things which aren't true, it's better to check with you.

I'm sure you corrected that nugget of untruth! And of course you're livid with Granny, I would be too. I'm annoyed on your behalf just sitting here! She is going to blithely carry on being stupid, but these things provide opportunities for you and your daughter to cement your relationship (yeah, Ms Bright Side is over here, but honestly I've found this with DD2). If she knows she can trust you and tell you what Granny is saying, and knows you will help her, then that to me is a real positive.

LastingLight Wed 09-Jul-14 07:59:05

Thank you, it helps to talk to people who understand. I do indeed see that it's positive that dd talks to me, and I made it loud and clear that granny is wrong about the choice of where to live. Dd also told me she loves me more than granny. I calmly responded that love is not a competition, we love different people in different ways blah blah blah... but inside I was cheering. smile

Fairy13 Wed 09-Jul-14 09:26:32

Not an adopter here lastinglight but I did bring up my step daughter for 4 years whilst her mum flitted about.

I used to constantly panic that she would one day decide to go and live with wonderful mummy - mummy could do no wrong even in the face of neglect and general uselessness - and that we would lose her forever.

I used to really struggle when mummy would promise that she would this time, get a decent place to live and DSD would be able to come and live with her... and DSD believed her, of course.

Sadly, DH and I have now split up. But DSD still comes to me. She still confides in me and we are still very close - because we have always had a relationship where she is able to be open, honest, and share her fears with me.
that is the relationship of a mother and whilst god knows we had our moments, the relationship was a positive one and not one that is easily broken.

She may decide one day to go to Granny - but she will always come back to you - her mum. I think sometimes the novelty factor is a pull for children when they hit teenage years as long as you keep the door open she will be back.

And I think it is great news that she shared what granny said with you.

Sorry to have posted but I so recognise that fear and couldn't not post.

LastingLight Wed 09-Jul-14 09:58:32

Thank you Fairy13 and please don't apologise, I really appreciate the input.

Kewcumber Wed 09-Jul-14 10:30:59

Lastinglight I think you are handling the whole thing perfectly (or at least as perfectly as possible in the circumstances!). You are a star.

LastingLight Wed 09-Jul-14 10:37:00

Thanks Kewcumber. blush Some days I'm a shit parent but sometimes I get it right. We can only keep on trying!

LastingLight Wed 09-Jul-14 11:12:33

We would like to pull granny up on some of the things she told dd, especially "you can choose to live with me" but since dd is adamant we mustn't tell granny, we're not sure what to do. Maybe we should just tell granny that this issue came up in conversation with dd and since she clearly misunderstands the situation we would appreciate it if granny can give her correct info should the topic come up. We don't need to say that we believe granny gave her this inaccurate information in the first place. What do you guys think?

Moomoomie Wed 09-Jul-14 13:36:44

Do you think granny would listen to you? I'm not sure if she would and it may only make matters worse.

LastingLight Wed 09-Jul-14 20:46:39

I know, I just get so frustrated that we have to put up with her nonsense and we can do nothing but pick up the pieces.

Lilka Wed 09-Jul-14 22:55:48

I just get so frustrated that we have to put up with her nonsense and we can do nothing but pick up the pieces

Just that

I could write that myself, a million times over.

It's hard. I can't count how many times I've firefought, picked up pieces, reassured, discussed and whatever else, over the last near year and a half. It never gets easier or less frustrating, whether it's about birth mum wanting updates on DS from DD, or wanting DD to change her surname, smoke, go on holiday with her, accusing me of being abusive, or just the general fortnightly arguments and upsets which DD wants me to help her sort out. That's ignoring everything DD herself does. Navigating contact is HARD as an adoptive parent.

Have a <hug> thanks xx

My own take on it, would be that I think I wouldn't say anything to Granny right now, but encourage DD to keep coming to you and reassure her about that. I can't imagine that you can stop Granny saying things, and Granny probably won't have any compunction about letting your DD know she is upset with her, which is so sad and unfair on DD but there you go. I wouldn't rule out saying anything in the future, but "pick your battles" (as it were) carefully

Going back to your thread title - this whole episode shows more clearly than ever that your DD is not interested in 'choosing Granny'. And yes, frankly whatever anyone thinks of it, I find that something to be very pleased about!!

Lastinglight please take whatever I say with a pinch of salt as I have really not walked in your shoes.

Were I in your shoes I would be very tempted not to tell Granny about the conversation because...

Your dd asked you not to, and the most precious and important relationship you need to preserve is you and your dd

There is no guarantee that granny will do what you ask or refrain from doing what you ask her not to do

At the moment you have the upper hand, your dd is telling you what granny says and granny does not know this. If you tell granny the danger is that your dd will find out you have 'broken her confidence' as she would see it and that in future granny will say (possibly quite rightly) don't tell your mum I said that because she will X Y and Z... and your dd will think, last time I told her something she did tell granny, which I had asked her not to do.

Lastinglight this is just a personal opinion... I would ensure there are no truths about your dd's history that she does not know in an age appropriate way, no secrets granny can reveal which your dd would find out from granny and resent the fact you did not tell her first. Not sure if there are it is just because you say...*...a whole lot of stuff which we haven't told her because we didn't think she was ready.* For example, if granny has the freedom to tell stuff she can put her own spin on it, if she wishes to, and she can choose when to reveal stuff.

I have no idea what the 'stuff' might be but I just think secrets are unhelpful and can be a real shock when they come out, if they come out when dd is a teenager then lots of hormones could come into play and make it much harder and if your dd is a teenage adult by that time then she would have the freedom (I presume) to live where she wants to.

Of course if there is stuff you do not want her to know like where she could live or whatever (no idea what the law is where you are) then of course do not tell her.

Lastly Lastinglight I assume your dd knows you are the safe person to tell, she knows mum needs to know what is going on as mum is the one person who always has dd's best interests in mind. Mum is the person to trust with all her thoughts, fears, hopes and desires, and finally - mum is a safe place. I am sure you have done this. It might just be helpful to do it just about you and not in relation to Granny. Not granny bad mum good but just mum good.

Then another time I would also make sure dd really is clear... Granny tells some things that are not true and Granny makes dd aware of stuff (true or untrue or both) and then says not to tell mum. But telling mum stuff is really important because of all the stuff I just mentioned!

The only time I would really want to break a child's confidence would be when their safety or another person's safety was at risk... eg they tell you they or someone else are in involved in something risky. Then I would tell them at the time why I could not keep that confidence.

My feeling is you have more to gain in relation to dd by always keeping dd on your side and more to lose by pursing your own need to talk to granny or set her straight. If granny is totally wrong that your dd would have freedom to live with her at a set age before adulthood then there is nothing she can do and in letting your dd know this is wrong you are showing that at best granny does not know the law and at worst granny is wilfully misleading her. If necessary, join the dots for her and make it clear that granny is being unhelpful because she is sad dd does not live with her, that is understandable (for her to be sad) but not your fault and it is wrong for granny to mislead dd.

All best wishes, and as I say, this is just my opinion! smile

roadwalker Thu 10-Jul-14 08:24:51

I haven't read all your replies in detail so I may just be repeating what others have said
First, I agree, this is a fear I think most adopters will have. It is my fear. The influence too is a worry causing mixed feelings and confusion in your DD
My advice would be to rise above in and 'keep your side of the street clean'
Not engaging with Granny or confronting her with anything she says and trying hard to not let your DD see any negative feelings you have towards Granny
If anyone needs to talk to Granny imo it should be SS and you keep removed from the situation
I would make it clear to DD that it was not a choice between you and Granny, if you hadn't adopted her then SS would have found other adopters. She needs to know it was not a competition between you
Its a tricky situation. Do you have any post adoption support in your area. Some life story work from a person removed from the situation would be useful
I find the hardest part of adopting is having to put our own emotions to one side. And coping with the crap of someone elses life

LastingLight Thu 10-Jul-14 09:28:48

Thank you so much for all your replies, I need cool heads thinking about this to stop me from doing the wrong thing.

Lilka, I think you have it worse than we do, at least granny now lives at the other end of the country and we only see her a couple of times a year. Dd goes to them twice a year.

Italian you are so right, I need to be the safe place and keep the trust between us and dd strong on this issue.

Roadwalker we are not in the UK and our adoption didn't follow the usual channels so no SS and no post adoption support. I agree with you, I must keep my cool when dd tells me things. It's hard... she is incredibly aware of the slightest change in expression on your face, tone of voice or emotional atmosphere. Her psychologist told us that she had never met a child of dd's age (11 at the time) who is so emotionally aware. Actually if we hadn't adopted her she would have gone to granny.

Yesterday when dd came home from granny she told me that granny had made a racist remark which she didn't agree with. So she is starting to measure granny's values against what we teach her at home - a very good sign.

LastingLight Thu 10-Jul-14 10:16:46

Sorry that I keep posting but you guys are the best resource about adopted children that I have...

Is the fact that dd is telling me stuff that granny wants to keep secret as sign of secure attachment? We also have other issues with dd at the moment, things like lying, stealing money from me and cheating on tests. I need to know if this is an adoption issue, acting out because of stress from the granny situation, the start of a personality disorder (based on bio family psychiatric history), or what? Will be getting professional help as well. She does have a psychologist, dd lies to her so fluently and believably that the psychologist thinks there are no current issues.

roadwalker Sat 12-Jul-14 08:36:54

Its a good sign that she trusts you to tell you what granny is saying but be careful not to get drawn into a battle
This may not be true of your DD but a lot of adopted children would enjoy playing you off against each other. My DD would
I think staying impartial and trying not to show emotion re granny is the way to go
Is there any outside agency or therapist you could access for life story work to help your DD make sense of it all?

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