Before Bad Things Get Worse Redux

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Etude, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. Etude

    Etude New Member

    Hello. Two years ago I wrote on this forum for some advice from parents more experienced than me and what I got was excellent advice from all of you. So, I would ask your indulgence again. Sorry if the story is long. The last time it was a long story too.

    BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT: husband and I took in five homeless grandchildren, ages 5 to 14. This isn’t a sad recession story. It’s about two feckless parents. These children are actually “good kids” considering what they have been through in their life. This is what I need advice on: they are completely without manners, they are violent to each other (the parents encouraged that), they are LOUD, they are a pack and are disrespectful of the house and to each other. They ran their parents’ house, not the parents. They don’t even know they are being disrespectful to us (ex: having to have the last word when they are told to do something) because they never learned respect from the parents. We are loving but firm and sometimes you can see in their eyes that they just don‘t know what do to because they weren‘t taught to be respectful or grateful for ANYTHING. How do I start to fix this?

    BACKGROUND: All of husband’s children are close to/over 30 years old and all of them still live in the same town as his ex-wife. (We live in a different state about 150 miles away.) He has a biological daughter (from his short first marriage at 19) that he raised and she is a lovely person (married with one child). He also has three step-children from his second marriage of 25 years: a very nice step-daughter (married, two small children) and two step-sons. One step-son (32 years old) has four children with four different women, no job, no motivation, no place to live, he’s a total mess. The other (30) has four children with his girlfriend as well as two more children from her prior marriage for a total of six children (ages 2 to 14). Neither one has a job (or really wants one), they live off welfare (long term), can’t make it on their own, and were one of the reasons for the break up of my husband’s previous marriage. (His ex would draw the line and say “no more” but my husband leads with his heart and took care of the children’s needs which also meant it benefited the lazy parents and that sent the ex over the edge). husband comes from a good family and treated his step-children no differently than his daughter. They had a nice house and never were poor. The 30 year old’s girlfriend (with the 6 kids) is a real scammer: sells her food stamps for $.50 on the $1; sells merchandise she doesn’t own via Amazon or eBay and keeps the money; shoplifts and sells the merchandise herself or through a fence. She’s very pretty and great at turning on the tears for the courts, child welfare, the landlord to whom they owed $8,000 in back rent. Yep, she’s a winner. Forget about child protective services, they are useless. So many, many people have called about these children but the girlfriend knows all the right moves: empty food boxes on the kitchen shelves look the same as full ones; no dirt bags laying around the living room drinking beer and watching TV when the inspector shows up; house cleaned up; school age children in school; the children don‘t look beaten or starved. Nothing ever was done. I could go on and on for many pages but you get the idea.

    So, a couple of months ago, husband told them that there is no more money for them from our pockets. (I used to be the “Rich Girlfriend” and now I am the “Rich Wife.” I‘m not rich. I just have a job and get paid regularly and pay my bills. Duh.) He told them that they need to find jobs and they need to take care of the children. (And let me tell you that the state/federal benefits they received were very generous: $1200 in food stamps, 75% monthly rent assistance, utility assistance. All they had to do was go to social services and take the required classes to receive all of it continuously . . . and they didn’t go so it all stopped, except food stamps.) When husband would call the grandkids, the parents would tell him that everything is fine. Well it wasn’t. The girlfriend said she had a job as a waitress in a restaurant at night when actually what she had was a new boyfriend. She spent what money she made on him and eventually she tried to bring him into the house and kick out husband’s step-son. I’m not sure what happened next but child protective services and the police were involved in some type of drama with them and then . . . both of them and the six children moved out of their house in the middle of the night and left the state (and left everything behind in the house). This was sometime in late October, early November. husband was frantic not knowing where the grandkids were and if they were safe. Finally, two days before Thanksgiving, the step-son called his mother and asked if they could come to her house. They were living in a transient motel (all 8 in one room, the kids told us they only had potato chips and water to eat) and the motel kicked them out when they had no more money. The ex said her son and grandchildren could come to her house but NOT the girlfriend (did I forget to mention the girlfriend is violent when drunk and threatened to slit husband’s ex’s throat? She is also the physical abuser in the relationship but when the step-son would call the police because she was out of control and he had physical injuries, the police removed HIM from the house and left the CHILDREN there because the pretty blue-eyed girl told the nice policemen that her mean boyfriend hit her. He eventually stopped calling the police.) husband’s ex drove 50 miles to pick up the grandchildren and the step-son stayed with the girlfriend because she needed him. (What?)

    So, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, husband drove 150 miles to pick up five kids (not the 2 yr old because he had no room in the car). He brought them to our house and on the following Monday we filed a petition for custody so that we could get them enrolled in school. Before he left that state to drive to our state, he had both parents sign/notarize a Power of Attorney for Care and Custody so that we could get medical care if the children needed it and, also, because I don’t trust the girlfriend. I was worried she would call the police and tell them we kidnapped the children (which is what she did to husband’s step-daughter who was taking care of the 2 year old. Step-daughter is physically afraid of the girlfriend so she took the child back to husband’s ex’s house).

    So, now, we have the grandchildren in school again (and they are far behind according to several of the teachers), neither of the parents have gone to find a job or a place to live, and they call husband to fight with each other through him. husband’s ex kicked her son out of her house because he gave the 2 yr old to the girlfriend and told his mother that he and the girlfriend were better parents than she and husband ever were (and because he will not look for work).

    I work 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] shift and I am exhausted. I still have a 15 yo I don’t want to get lost in the drama. I get up at 6:30 to get her to the bus. Then it’s getting the two middle schoolers out the door. Then it’s the two elementary schoolers. And I am left with the youngest who should be in pre-school but her mother couldn’t have bothered. husband and I have appointments with the different schools, with the court, grocery shopping, clothes shopping, etc. We haven’t had the time yet to find a family counselor. We don’t have a custody order so I can’t get them on my health insurance. Their mother will not send us their state medical cards. She sold all the food stamps she received for December and we haven’t seen a cent from her or the father. (Not like I really expect it). I am the only paycheck coming in because husband is disabled. Even with ten people in the house we don’t qualify for any assistance because I make too much money. Did I mention that my 80 year old mother in law lives with us? And my 45 year old brother in law too? (he was seriously injured in a scooter accident two years ago [in a coma, saw the bright white light, coded and resuscitated twice] and has never been quite the same). He looks after Mom. Who, by the way, can’t stand little kids. She raised seven of her own and they all turned out to be great people. She just doesn’t want to be around someone else’s little kids.

    The two oldest grandchildren, 14 and 12, have a different biological father and he has always paid child support and tried to be in their lives. He always expected they would come to live with him because the mother is such a mess. The mother tried very hard to poison their minds against their father. (He too was physically abused by her but he was smart enough to hide a video camera in the living room and play back the video for the police) husband and I called the father when the children came to live with us (he lives about 8 hours away). He wants his children to come live with him but he doesn’t want to just rip them away from their siblings. He drove 8 hours through the night to get up here to see them when they first came to our house. husband and he agreed that he will call his children during the week, they will go to see him (husband will drive halfway), and eventually they will go to live with him.

    I know that there are a TON of legal problems here: husband isn’t a blood relative to these children and neither am I. There is the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act and we can’t just file for custody in our state and expect to receive it. I expect our state court to dismiss the custody petition and tell us we have to go back to the state where the children lived with there parents. The father of the two older ones can’t just put his children in his car and drive away because the mother has physical custody of them. We will actually have to go to court in the parents’ state and petition for custody. And that state could STILL take these children from us and put them in foster homes if they wanted to. That would just kill husband. That is what he has tried to prevent. We stopped the money and the parents fell on their face. Now, I’m afraid the children will end up in foster care in spite of having a safe, secure, loving home here.

    But, on the other hand, we are not dealing with rocket scientists here. The girlfriend is a “know it all” and is actually pretty stupid, except when it comes to scamming through life. The step-son . . .well . . . this keyboard can generate more brain power then him. They may not even show up in court much less hire an attorney.

    OK, it’s late and I really, really need to go to sleep. If you have read this far, thank you so much. I am open to any suggestions, advice, admonishments you have.

    Thank you for letting me vent. Good night.
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I think you are handling this very well. The oldest two's father is smart to give the kids a chance to adjust. Since you have only had the kids for a few weeks, it really is too soon to do anything. I would suggest contacting an attorney who specializes in family law. The Power of Attorney was a good idea to prove that the parents intended to let the children live with you (rather than just a long visit) but it doesn't legally transfer custody unless it is made into a court order.

    Once the older two have gone to their father, you may find it easier to get the younger ones to learn manners, etc. I suggest reading "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene and deciding (with your husband) which behaviors are in each basket. You won't be able to fix all of the problems at once, but hopefully, if you tackle the problems one at a time, you can make some progress.
  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Check with the attorney, it might be possible, after they have lived with you for 6 months to file in your county court. At that point, you could enter the PoA and ask that it be accepted as a voluntary change of custody. If neither parent shows up to dispute it, it may stand????

    I wouldn't try to do any of this without an experienced family law attorney. Many times you can get a free or very low cost ($25-50) consult just to make sure that you are on the right path.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Holy moly!

    I agree, get a family law atty. I'm glad that you at least got POA for now. That's a big step.
    Whenever you file more petitions, frame it to the parents and step parents that this piece of paper is going to bring in money. Sounds like they're not smart enough to figure out they won't get any of it.
    What a mess. I am so glad that your husband picked up the kids, but I can only imagine what kind of a mess things are.

    So, in regard to manners, etc. you explain House Rules. Whenever any kids come into our house (and some adults) we explain that all toilet seats must be lid down, with the outside door closed, because one of our dogs drinks out of the toilet. Besides that, it looks clean and nice.
    We never come to the table barechested (I've never had to tell any women that, lol!) but I did tell my daughter once when she was wearing a bikini top.
    Then you can get into the conversational aspects. Do you think they would go for rewards? Are they too wild for stickers?
    You're going to have to do a lot of repetition, and a lot of explaining that just because they were used to one situation, one size does not fit all.
    Do not give them one, long lecture. Save each "teachable moment" for the time something happens (better yet, just before it escalates, and you can cut it off).
  5. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi, I admit I have no clue in this. But I wanted to say I think you and husband have about the biggest hearts ever. Those kids need heroes.... you are doing that for them. So smart to get the PoA. Hope the rest goes well. Let us know how things progress. It for sure sounds like they are going to need to learn common household manners and how to be appropriate in society too. This happens to many foster kids. They need to not only learn these things, but you are having to have them stop doing the inappropriate behaviors. that is a much harder job. Though you are not foster parents, it is similar to them so those kinds of resources in terms of books and parenting could be helpful For sure try The Explosive Child as was suggested.