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Support needed! Need some good advice (long post)(19 Posts)
First off I need to state i'm a Dad but i'm in dire straights and need some help so not even sure if this thread is in the right place.
I am a dad to my 12 year old son but I'm not his biological father. I was there from the second he was born and he doesn't know that i'm not his bio father. Me and his mum were together for 12 years but in January this year she wanted to break up. In February this year she met a new guy and they started seeing each other. In May this year they got married and were all living together. In June this year she tried to take her life but was unsuccessful. I have been a part of my sons life during the last 8 months and I have tried to support my ex (we are good friends still)during these last 8 months due to her relationship and her mental health being rocky...
Now my situation:
On Monday I got a txt asking if I could watch our son overnight but I couldnt as I was working until midnight. I found out during the course of the night that her marriage was over and she would be moving out. On the Tuesday she was packing her stuff up and my son came to stay with me after school. She was in contact various times over the course of the day. I last spoke to her on that day at 11pm and she told me she would come and explain everything to me on the Wednesday. So Wednesday came and it got to the afternoon with nothing from her. I was concerned so I went to some local hangouts to see if she was there. On my way back I got an email from her stating:
I don't expect you to understand any of this but I wanted you to know I was alive and well....ish. I've left Edinburgh for good and won't be coming back. I can't even begin to try and explain any of this but I need to start over. As I've had pointed out to me in the last couple of days, I am a selfish person and a shit mother and I agree. I don't want to be a mother, I CANT be a mother when I can't get my own life right.
I am writing this so you know I am not coming back and there is no point in looking - I need to find my purpose and can't do that with all the bullshit at home. After this email, I will not be using this account or my phone again but I will write when I get sorted.
Please make our son understand that none of this was his fault and that I really do love him and that the decision to leave was the hardest one I have EVER had to make. but if I had stayed it would only have ended one way - with me dead. And I don't want that.
Thank you so much for everything and for trying to be a fantastic friend even when I didn't deserve it. I will always love you and hope you can find happiness too.
There is more in the email but its quite personal but you get the idea!
We contacted the police and they managed to track her down and told us she is safe and well but doesn't want her location to be found...
So I am left with a heartbroken 12yr old boy and as much as i'm not in love with her any more I still love her and i'm heartbroken too. Our son is currently staying with her parents as I don't have any legal leg to stand on (police say there is no issue with him staying with me just the issue of legal decisions)! Her parents are keen for our son not to lose his dad too and neither do I. This Sunday I've decided to tell him that i'm not his biological dad and as much as he is hurting if she is not coming back I feel getting him a clean slate is the way forward so he can start over with no hidden secrets.
I can't stay in my current job if I was to look after him on a permanent basis (his grandparents will be acting as legal parents as far as we can understand) so I need to get a new job and then claim tax credits that I hope she has cancelled!
I really want to find her but she is off grid and nobody knows where she is and don't have a clue how to trace her!
I just don't know what to do! I don't know if I can be a single parent looking after him with no legal decision making powers even tho her parents are keen for me to share looking after him and for me to claim so the family home can be kept if she comes back as I can't afford to take her flat on myself (she kept her flat and was living here for work days). I don't know if my son will even want to see me again once he finds out i'm not his bio dad! I don't know if I need to be a biological/official guardian to claim child tax credits and child benefit. I just dont know if I can cope with it all as this year has been really hard on me and i was close to doing the exact same thing a few months back but I wasn't involved on a daily basis so the impact would have only been our sons feelings etc
I have probably missed out loads of information but I just need some people to give me some advice as I am lost and I just don't know how I can take this all on!
Thanks for reading!
So you've basically been his dad since he was born... I imagine you love him a lot, like he was actually yours? Why does it matter if you're not his bio dad, surely all that matters is that he has the main people in his life to get him through this horrible time.
The grandparents' suggestion of sharing care with you sounds like a good one. What do you want to do OP?
Wow OP that's a lot to handle. Good news you've got your son's grandparents on board (I assume maternal grandparents). Are your parents around to help out too?
Obviously your decision - but do you think your son needs the added emotional confusion of finding out your not his biological dad at this stage? An awful lot for him to handle with his mum leaving without that on top.
I would suggest you find a counsellor, a local group your son could go to/speak to as his mum leaving out of the blue will be extremely confusing for him. I'm afraid I can't recommend anything but sure there is some organisation who can help.
Best of luck.
I would second the question of whether now is the time to tell him you are not his biological dad. I appreciate your desire for openness, but you are his dad, and at a time when he's going to be struggling emotionally with his mum's departure it may be really, really hard for him to process that information as well.
My suggestion would be, get some advice on your legal and financial position. Citizens Advice might be a good place to start? That, at least, would give you a handle on some of the practicalities. Hang in there - it sounds incredibly hard but you'll get through it.
I am another one seems like wrong time to tell him you are not bio Dad...Poor boy has far too much to deal with.
I also think you need legal advise on your rights and way forward.
I also would be furious with her. Leaving her son with no explanation or ability to contact his own mother. I do wonder if she is mentally unwell however this is not something you can deal with right now ( you have done all you can) it is your son.
Also not sure when he is back at school but do inform the school. He may be able to get support through the school.
It might also be worth posting your legal questions in legal their may be someone there who may be able to give advise
I've spoken to the Social work, school etc and they are all aware of the situation. I've thought about the whole scenario so many time if I should tell him or not due to whats going on. I've discussed it with the grandparents as my son's mother is adopted and they adopted her when she was a baby so they went through the process of explaining the situation. I don't want to get him all settled into his new life is she doesnt come back and then pull the rug from under his feet again and back to square one again. As I don't think he will be permanently based on me not able to make legal decisions I feel its better to tell him now than get suspicious and find out.
Part of me is angry that i'm having to go through this and disrupt my sons life and potentially lose him but Its just one more thing for me to blame myself over. I feel when we were together for 12 years I should have done more and maybe this would be happening. I was a stay at home dad for 7 of those years and she had a few issues here and there but she always managed to get on with things. Its ever since this new relationship things have went down hill and now i'm left dealing with this with no clue what to do or even if I can get through this myself.
Losing her from my son's and my life is bad enough but with me potentially losing both I just dont know how I get through that and where I go! I still have to juggle a job that I hate but do it cos the money is fine and it lets me do stuff with the boy but if thats gone then I just dont see what is left for me here either!
I know it will get better in time as i've been through a lot this year but it seems the longer I stay here my situation get worse and if he doesnt want to see me then its maybe a sign to move on and start over.
Thanks for the help!
put the child first.
your last post implies you more concerned about your loss/your feelings...
you seem ready to forget him and move on....that is how it comes across.
I am sure this isnt the case.
for whatever reason you and his mum did not tell him the truth before about his bio dad (where is he in the picture anyway?) but the reality is that you have been part of his life as a dad...
let him lead and tell you how he wants to proceed now eg live with grandma and visit you or does he want to live with you? you could make that happen...the legal side should not be his concern.
seek some help f from a family therapist before you blinder in and tell him stuff now which should have been said a long time ago..now is not the time.
I know nothing of the legalities of this complicated situation but is there no way you could become his father legally? Or his legal guardian.
You definitely need legal advice.
This sounds like such a mess and I would be furious to be left in the same position.
Your son, is lucky in that he has you and grandparents who love him. Hopefully between you, you can pull him through.
I actually think you are right to tell him sooner rather than later but only if staying at the grandparents is a workable long term solution. If it looks as if he might not ( are they in good health etc) and you can't provide regular support perhaps it is best put off.
I think this truth is his truth and he should have it so he can trust what the people closest to him say. I expect he has lost a lot of trust already with his mum leaving.
Do you have a good reason for not being honest in the beginning? Where is his bio father?
Can you answer his questions about his Dad if you do tell him?
I met his mum not long after she got pregnant and we just hit it off. We were both young and we were just Friends. I was at the birth of my son and it wasn't until her was about 2 when we decided to get serious and I was going to become dad to him as that's all he ever knew really. His biological dad, I met once and he has never made an effort to get in contact or see him. So the reason he was never told was because our son has medical issues and he had enough on his plate until the last few years and as his biological father hadn't tried up to that point she didn't want to tell him.
I'm sorry if it seems like I'm not putting my son first but my emotions are all over the place. I know that the worst case is he stays with his grandparents and they will look after him and get him through life so for me I know that's in place. Her dad has spoken in detail with me as he told me not to try and be "superman" as he knows what i'm trying to do. Since Leaving I've had the break up in January, Finding out she had moved on in February (even tho her reason for breaking up was she wanted to be on her own), then them getting married in May, Trying to take her life in June and now running away in August! To say my head has been all over the place is an understatement as I just started a new job In January and I was back at my parents as I had nothing to my name!
I just got back into our "family flat" as she wanted to give it up but I find out from the housing association its still in her name and I don't know if I can even live here with my son. I can't really afford it on my own (my mate was originally moving in and my son was going to be staying over a few night per week) or less I can claim tax credits and child benefit. I don't know where I stand with those as i'm not the biological father and my current job will only lend me to definitely take him on average 2/3 nights per week (going to be looking for a job that works better for school hours). She still pays for the electric and council tax so not sure whats going on with that either. So i'm waiting on the housing association getting back to me as they were checking up with the police that I was in fact telling the truth and she has runaway so i'm guessing that's maybe to confirm I can take it on with my son? If not I'm back at my mums which is far from ideal as its a 3hr bus ride to work and back and limits my time with my son as his school is 10 mins away from the flat i'm currently in and will take him about and hour or so to get to school from my parents.
I'm still not angry at her as I just feel that I could have done more! I have spoken to her about telling out son and she thinks its a bad idea as our Son has lost his mum, step dad and step siblings and she said the one person who has always done best by him (me) doesn't need to tell him about his biological roots just now and just do what I always do and help him get through his stuff and find positives rather than giving him another negative that might just push him over the edge. She said that if anything her doing this gives a reason for not telling him as giving him a stable home was more important that telling something that wont change the situation as the dad hasn't been around in 12 years. So I've decided to hold off cos she said she is calling the social worker I called to see if there is anything simple to give me parenting permission rights.
I love her still but not in a I want to be with her way more as a good friend. I wanted to help her so badly as she is a good person and I still got on with her despite how much she was putting me though. Maybe i'm just too nice and considerate of others but I hate the fact that she is all alone and if things get worse might even try something stupid and be all alone with nobody there and I feel I should and could have done more for her. I would love to hunt her down but I've exhausted all avenues and now I just have to hope she will come back or tell us where she is in the coming weeks!
That's a dreadful situation to be in. It will all depend on what other organisations decide to do for you and you can get they will complicate the issue before they sort it.
I would say that if you have some proper rights regarding your son you will probably be better off. Much more right to a HA property and tax credits etc really help out. Would you be able to do your job on a more part time basis? The concern is that if his ex has nothing she might want these advantages as well if she comes back. The last thing he needs is a custody battle a few years down the line.
I still fail to see why telling your son about his bio dad is a such a negative thing. It's only such a big deal now because it was a "secrect". Had you always told the truth it wouldn't be an issue as you sound as if you have done the father role to a tee. There will never be a good time to tell him now as it will be Chiristmas ,his birthday, mums birthday, GCSE's. You have important issues to sort out regarding legal guardianship. I would have said this was the perfect opportunity to be honest.
Well I didn't end up telling him in the end! The general feeling of concentrating on his life needs should be higher than the biological information. Its thought that when he does indeed get told that hopefully he sees how much I cared when it all hit the fan and I focused on his well being rather than telling him something that is only going to hurt him more.
Regarding Child benefit I found out this for the CAB website:
This means that most parents can get Child Benefit, but you can also get it if you are bringing up a child and you are not the biological parent.
and on kidstart.co.uk for tax credits:
How do I get Child Tax Credit?
It’s not about being the biological parent of a child, it’s about being responsible for a child to the extent that they live with you and you pay for their meals. It’s not about who contributes the most financially; paying child maintenance won’t make you eligible to receive Child Tax Credit if the child lives elsewhere. If the child lives with you and somewhere else in reasonably equal shares you might find it difficult to decide who should receive the Child Tax Credit. In these cases, the Tax Credit Office can make the final decision for you.
So for the extra financial help it looks like it would be ok but I know she claims them and she said she would cancel the claims so hopefully she does as if not then I'm not sure what to do to prove I'm looking after him.
Regarding the situation the plan that's been drawn up is as follows:
If the housing association lets us both live here still then Grandparents are taking him just now and my days off i'm having him over night and he will go to school from here as its a 5 minute or so bus journey.
Once I get housing confirmed, the next step is either to do a job share of 20hrs per week so 2.5 days (only need the grandparents to watch him at most 3 nights per week) or find a job that works better for school hours and both ways I will claim tax credits and child benefit to make up the earnings.
If she doesn't sort out parental rights then her parents are going to cover all the legal stuff on the the quiet.
I will just have to trust that she wont come and take him at any point if I don't get anywhere. I need and want to provide him with a stable home cos he is a good, bright boy and it would be a waste if I didn't do all I could. As much as this could bite me in the backside in the future, I've spend 12 years (so less than 4 years until he is an adult) caring for him and I see him as my own and I will risk it all even if she comes back in 3 months. I just hope she gets better and comes back and is reasonable as the person I know would not just come back and take him but that same person wouldn't do this either as she felt the exact same pain when her biological mother rejected her!
Once again thanks for all the words everyone and in some way this has helped me gain composure etc and try and work a way through it all.
i have been following this although not posted and just wanted to say good luck. That is such a lot to take on and you sound amazing and it is certainly clear that you love your son and are only interested in his best interests. Again good luck. Hope everything works out well for you and your son.
good luck - his views will count too. do seek some help via gp eg family therapist to talk thru things...
could you apply for special guardianship eventually as opposed to adoption? this grants you the pr status you would need for certain things... this you can hold as well a s the grandparents having pr. and his mums till having pr.
A court may
make a special guardianship order in respect of the child on the application of:
• anyone who holds a residence order with respect to the child, or who has the consent of all
those in whose favour a residence order is in force
• anyone with whom the child has lived for three out of the last five years
A special guardianship order is an order appointing one or more individuals to be a child's 'special guardian'. It is a private law order made under the Children Act 1989 and is intended for those children who cannot live with their birth parents and who would benefit from a legally secure placement.
would allow you to explain to child that it is some legal paperwork allowing you to care for him/for him to live with you etc ...strat ball rolling legeally then if he asks why you can then use that chance to explain you not legally his parent on paper but as you are in all other ways his dad then this will allow you to be so, effectively.
if he ahs to go to hospital or gp or something needs signing at school then you could face issues, unless school assume you are his parent and have done previously? you could ask a solicitor if mother could sign something allowing you and gps to eg take him for emrgency hospital treatment etc? or jsut to gp if needed .
also does he still have medical issues? have you been invovled with those already? are you able to sign for presctiptions take him to doctors etc? ie is it assumed you dad anyway ? so you just neeed to legalise a de facto situation?
special guardianship would probably be the way to go but go seek some proper advice from a family lawyer
I think you are doing really well.
I do think after he has come to terms with this he will need to be told as he is 12 it is already really late to tell him but now is not the time. We all can only cope with so much.
Fingers crossed on housing for you it will make one less upheaval for you both.
Is she in contact now if she has said she will get in touch with social worker?
by the way just want to add ..The bio father does not make a Dad you have been his Dad.
Definitely see a solicitor.
Not just to protect you, but to protect your son.
You will be granted some kind of order that gives you more rights, so that if she comes back you can try to prevent her taking him.
She most definitely isn't mentally stable enough to be his main care giver, so do not feel bad.
If you can't afford legal help go to citizens advice, they have solictors there.
You can self rep and with her email you have proof she's left your son in your care.
The grandparents on your side will help your case too.
Anyone(step parents, uncles etc) with a close relationship to a child can apply for contact orders /child arrangement orders I believe.
Just please get something set in stone, because if she comes back she could take him... And although she's his mother, it doesn't sound like that's best for him!
Don't tell him he isn't your bio kid until he is older, until he is old enough to respect all you have done for him, and until this has calmed down.
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