Information on Custody/Guardianship Issues?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by scent of cedar, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Hello, everyone :O)

    My question has to do with legal issues surrounding child custody/guardianship when one parent is in treatment so, though I usually post in PE, I thought I would go ahead and post, here.

    Here is the situation: Daughter was mandated into a dual diagnostic treatment facility last week. Prior to that, the lease on her apartment was terminated. Daughter had three children living at home. (4, 7, 13) The ex-husband agreed, prior to the lease being terminated, to take the children back to the state he is from so they would not be homeless. As daughter is now in treatment and the ex-husband unexpectedly has the kids, he needs to sue for guardianship / custody so that the kids will qualify for Medicaid and food stamps, as he cannot afford to care for them all without help. He has a house, he has the kids in school, he attended the parent/teacher conference last night ~ he just can't afford the other unexpected expenses.

    I'm not sure which questions I want to ask. The ex-husband is doing well with the kids, is happy to talk with family and to allow the kids to talk to us. I am sure they are in a healthier place than what they have been exposed to while living with our daughter. But daughter called today. You know how that is when they cry and you feel so badly for them. She expected the kids to be returned to her once she was back on her feet, again.

    I think the question I would like to ask is whether anyone knows of internet sites where I can learn about the laws regarding our daughter's rights in this situation. Prior to this episode, daughter was an excellent mother. Now? The thirteen year old no longer trusts her and wants nothing to do with her. The little ones are happier where they are too, I think.

    So, that's my question. Also? I would like to hear what others of us have done when an adult child (daughter is 38) is released from treatment or half way houses? husband is determined that our lives are not going to devolve into a drama over a 38 year old woman who willingly threw her life, responsibilities, and children away. (And trust me, we have already spent more money than we could ever afford, just trying to prevent her from losing everything ~ credit rating and so on.)

    Which we probably shouldn't have done.

    But boy, we never saw this one coming!

    Well, anyway. We are still shell-shocked at how really bad things got, so quickly.

    I need to gird my loins and get tough again. Hard to do that.

  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sorry, Barbara, that you are in such a difficult position. on the other hand I have to say that you guys are fortunate that bioDad is evidently stepping up to the plate in fine fashion. We were able to avoid court fights etc. but we did not have a caring Dad ready to participate in a significant way. Our experiences just follow a whole different path.

    As a complete outsider I "think" (heck, who knows??) that I would tell Mom "now is the time for you to concentrate fully on getting healthy...physically and emotionally". It does not appear she has to worry about the children's safety nor does she have to worry about him isolating you all from the grandchildren. She does have alot to be grateful for as she faces this test of her honest deterination to "get well".

    She may rightfully be scared of what the future could bring. That makes sense. on the other hand, there is a self centeredness that comes with addiction that may make it difficult to appreciate that her children are safe and loved. I really think that "if I were you" I would be totally supportive of bioDad in his efforts to properly parent and I know I would be totally supportive of your daughter's efforts to overcome her problems. Most importantly to me is how many family members can the children keep as constants in their lives. As a GM I hope you remain a constant. Hugs DDD
  3. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Barbara, Could you maybe see a family lawyer for a free consultation to have some of your questions answered? -RM
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Barbara, I am so sorry you find yourself embroiled in all of this. First of all, many gentle and comforting hugs for you. Your daughter appears to be getting the help she needs, the rest of you are scrambling to find a new normal. It's a tough transition, but the outcome may be positive if she allows the help and gets healthy.

    I've been in a similar place with my daughter and I have to agree with your husband, do not allow yourself to go down the rabbit hole with her. Keep yourself surrounded by nurturing support and use the tools of detachment.

    I acquired guardianship for my granddaughter. I did it without an attorney, but certainly an attorney would be of great help to you to understand all the rules. I did a lot of research and found answers on the internet. Does your daughter's husband have any custody rights to the children? I believe custody is different then guardianship, he is their bio father, so it may be quite different and perhaps easier. It all can be done without an attorney if there is a financial issue, you can go on the website of the court in the state he is applying for custody, they have all the forms. There is likely some tutorial that will walk him through it all. I did all the paperwork and filed all the papers myself and accomplished it quickly. Is CPS involved in any of this? If so , a SW from CPS may be able to help him as well, they know the system and the courts. Once you all get on the new road, you will begin to get all the facts and the next step will show up.

    I found a program which I put myself in once I realized I was going to be put back in the fray of my daughter's drama. It was a Codependency program at a huge Substance Abuse facility run by the largest HMO in the state of CA. It was a terrific decision and kept me sane in an insane environment. I knew I had to stop enabling her and I knew I would need help to stop doing it, like you said, gird your loins and get tough again. I needed LOTS of support, tools, a different way to perceive it, someone to get it and to understand how hard it was, I needed a lot. I had to shift that focus off of my daughter and onto myself. I would advise you to address all of it from that point of view. Focus on you and your husband. Don't allow your serenity and peace to be taken from you during this life transition your daughter and your grandchildren are going through. Your grandchildren's Dad is stepping up to the plate, your daughter is in a safe place, stay centered in your own life. Believe me, I completely understand how difficult that is, but otherwise, you follow them into their chaos. It's their destiny right now, you are on the sidelines and can do just so much and then I believe, you need to let go and trust that the pieces will fall where they are supposed to. Sigh. Now it's about YOU, not your daughter, not the kids, YOU and your husband.

    Hang on, stay strong, keep posting, we're all here for you..................hugs..............
  5. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    DDD, you are right. Through so much of this, I have forgotten to be grateful for the good and true things that have happened. Gratitude changes everything. I badly needed that reminder. You post is also a gentle invitation for me to switch perspectives. Again, you are right. Daughter is safe or will continue making choices which endanger her and there is nothing more we can do about that. We have the great good fortune ~ the luxury, even ~ of knowing the kids are well taken care of. And that is where the emphasis needs to be, right now.

    Thanks, DDD. I needed to hear this, today.

  6. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    RM, that's a great idea, and probably the only way to determine what the legal situation is. The good news though, is that daughter okayed custody (or guardianship?) for the ex-husband late yesterday afternoon. I know that is the best thing that could have happened? I still get all bent out of shape when daughter cries, though. Can't believe I spent like, three hours on the internet yesterday looking things up (and then, posted here).

    That's why I'm so glad you all are here. You help me understand where my emotions are taking me.

    Thanks, RM.

  7. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Thank you so much, Recovering. I love this site. You are right. I will explore a co-dependency support group. That is a good idea. I had been looking into NAMI support groups in my area, too. (Again, a suggestion I read on this site.)

    It's amazing to me that I can ask an uncertain question, and receive exactly the answers I needed.

    Thank you all, so much. I feel stronger.

  8. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Barbara, I am glad that she signed over guardianship to the bio dad. I hope he isn't overwhelmed with the expenses and strain of all this. You say he is a good dad and the kids are happier there and that is wonderful. Our difficult child's have a way of putting us into a panic and your reaction of doing research to prepare for legal difficulties and posting here are actually healthy ways to deal with it. Sorry you lost 3 hours of your day to it though, I can totally relate to that. -RM
  9. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Oh, how true that is, RM!

  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good morning Barbara, I hope your days are getting calmer now. I thought of you this morning as I recalled something the therapist at my codependency group said to a member during our group............the member was recounting a very strong response she had to a situation that was new and involved change. She immediately jammed into control mode, future tripping on all she would have to do. The therapist pointed out how codependent behavior is a fear response and we are afraid of we don't do something and control the situation, something terrible will happen. It was helpful to me, recalling all the times I stepped in to 'save' my daughter, or others, completely overrun with fear and control. We've all learned tools to stop that run-away train, take a breath, recognize that perhaps it is not ours to control, perhaps there is a different way to respond, allowing the other to either ask for help from us at which point we can determine if in fact, we can help. Or to simply let the situation develop on it's own, without our interference. That immediate fearful response is what I've learned to curtail. That's my fear, I have control over that. Once I can change my response, not jump in to control or fix it, often, as in your case, the situation resolves itself, but even if it doesn't, mostly, it is not mine to fix. That response seems to be the very first step in our codependent behavior, after that, if we step in, we are now enabling which of course is a whole movie involving resentments, angers, overwhelm, control, fear, depletion, judgment............all of it. Not to say there aren't times it is appropriate to step in, I'm talking about the times it's not.

    This situation you're involved in is still developing, it seems the parents are doing the right thing for the children. Your role is minimal, you can simply be grandma and allow them to all learn and grow on their own while you provide the love and care from the sidelines. They are on the front lines, not you. Take very good care of yourself. My heart is right there with you............
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Im glad she signed over custody, that is the best thing she could have done. He is their father and when one parent cant take care of them then the other parent is the one that should be the first one to be looked at to step in. Obviously. Like Recovery said, the paperwork is online and then you just have to file it with the court. In NC, the major problems are when grandparents go in because you have to prove both parents are not able to take care of the kids.
  12. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    So well and compassionately stated, Recovering. I recognize that fear response, that assumption of chaotic life change coming. I see myself running in damage-control mode to the point of exhaustion and remember that feeling of "after all we have done...."

    You have given me much to think about.

    Co-dependency, huh? Of course I have heard that phrase before. I have never seen it described as you have described it.


    I love the part about the fear response. That is key, Recovering.

    So, which are the best books on Co-Dependency, please?
  13. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    You are right, Dammit. The best place for the kids is with their father. I didn't have the heart to say that to my daughter when she called, though. I still want to rush in there and protect her from having to acknowledge the seriousness of what has happened. It's a form of cowardice, really. (Mine.) Whatever I had been able to find to justify it, if daughter had made any other decision, it would have been the wrong one for the kids.

  14. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    SofC, I appreciate your kind words.

    I think codependency is often associated with the enabler of an alcoholic or substance abuser, however, over the years I think the definitions have broadened to include those of us who grew up as adult children of alcoholics or mentally ill parents or simply where, as young people OUR needs were not met in healthy ways. I believe that many women, especially our age, learned quite young that we were to be the caretakers of others needs, not taught that our needs are essential and valuable .........and once children arrive, those beliefs kick in full force. For me, I had to learn to distinguish between motherly loving kindness and enabling. It took support for me to understand the difference and to actually make significant changes within myself, mostly giving up control over others (mostly my difficult child) and the idea that I know better, can do it better and have the right and even the obligation to step in and fix it. I had to face that fear within me,....... that if I stop holding it all up, what happens to everyone?

    I believe, if you have any inkling that you would benefit from this, to follow it through and find support for yourself. Especially now that your daughter and grand kids are in this predicament, this is where all the opportunities to step in will arise, and at least for me, when that moment presented itself with my own daughter, I wanted to learn skills that would impact the situation and create a different outcome. And, Barbara, at my age now, to find a sense of liberation and peace, in spite of the choices my family members, most notably my only child, is making, is a remarkable gift which I am cherishing beyond anything I could have imagined had I not embarked upon this journey. I wholeheartedly support a decision to learn a different way to respond, to learn to let go, to learn to accept, surrender and trust, I think it's a difficult path, but one with enormous benefits for not only you, but ultimately, your daughter, son-in-law and grand kids. I think when we can let go of that control, let go of that fear, everyone wins.

    The books which the program I was in recommended are Codependent no more, by Melody Beattie and any other book written by Beattie on Codependence. Pia Melody also has a few books out, one called Facing Codependency, what it is, where it comes from, how it sabotages our lives. Both of those women have written extensively on the subject. I found the books to be very helpful. However, the weekly, continued and professional support is what guided me out of the chaos, I really wanted to move quickly, I felt as if I had been in the pain, chaos and drama of others choices for much of my life and I wanted out of it. One phrase that my therapist used which rocked my world and really boosted my own healing was this: "I absorbed the deficiencies of others." I had done that all my life, just as a matter of course, and when she said that, I really understood how much that had negatively impacted my life. From that point forward, the liberation from that pattern happened fairly rapidly.

    I truly and with all my heart, wish you success in your discovering just what your role in all of this is.............and to walk through it and find peace, freedom and a new sense of self love. Many hugs coming your way.........
  15. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Just thinking these things over, Recovering. Especially the last phrase ~ the one about walking through the difficult reassessment of who I am, and finding a new sense of self-love....

    Certainly, the things the kids have done over the years have left both husband and I feeling that we missed some essential something in raising our children. (And I was a mom at home, so that goes double for me.) We envy friends whose children seem to have so effortlessly flown. I cannot even imagine who I would be anymore, if those were not my core beliefs. Tantalizing, to imagine that....

  16. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good morning Barbara. I think you likely did a wonderful job of parenting, you have much insight and love in your heart, I'm certain your children got the very best of who you are. I think leaving behind our own parental guilt and 'what if's' is part of our own growing up and letting and I and most of us did the best job we could, most parents do, it's just time to let it all go.

    Now that your daughter is 38 and in her own life, your parenting of her is quite limited, even in crisis mode, and that is the distinction that became necessary for me to understand. For me, the mothering road does have a point at which the control of their lives shifts over to them and we regain our focus on ourselves. I had to recognize that for me, that focus on myself needed some work.

    I can't speak for others, I can only look at myself and try to find my own answers. I did what I did as a mother and I've had to shift gears many times because my daughter is a challenge to herself and to me. However, what I began to understand along this journey, was that I had to also shift my own sense of who I am and what it means to me to be a mother and really, a woman standing alone without children, just me I began looking at that, how can I change my response to my daughter that puts the focus on me and what I want and need, as opposed to her needs. I think for me anyway, and for many of us, our focus on our children is so absolute for so long, and rightly so, they need that care from us. But at some point that has got to change, and how do we negotiate that change when for so long our priorities have been about mothering?

    If you add in our age group, you have a formula for putting our needs at the bottom of the list. For me that meant untangling not only my definition of mothering, but my definition of ME. The enabling part is an interesting issue, since it involves separating that parent love from rescuing our adult children from their own problems, at least for me, that was a very big challenge. Where is that cut off point anyway? From the standpoint of my self love and self care, that all became easier to see and understand. Once my own boundaries were secured, my own sense of self cleared up to a degree, that became a tad easier to work through. I also got to understand my daughters push and pull with me, wanting me to take care of her but angry that I did. Enabling robs them of their own power in very subtle and very obvious took time and support for me to be able to distinguish all those differences, as well as look truthfully at my own 'stuff' and be willing to face my own control issues. Control is fear based and robs everyone of the life force, the vitality, the joy of just living. We have no real control, simply how we respond to what flies in to our space.

    The interesting end result of all the challenges of this road is that I have this renewed sense of adventure and awe. I am looking at my own life from a standpoint of possibilities, without the drama and chaos of my difficult child's life gripping me in a never ending movie, I have detached from that enough to feel liberated. My own life feels as if it is blossoming as I discover who I am and what I want. We're not dead yet, our kids are in their own lives, for better or for worse, and we now can choose whether our lives are about containing our adult children's drama and chaos, or actually living our own lives in peaceful, joyful, fulfilling and passionate ways.

    I attended a class where the facilitator said that our serenity needn't be impacted by others choices. Honestly, that was a new thought, I thought a good person, a good mother, is ALWAYS impacted by others choices and of course, I was. At that class I watched another mother indignantly argue that point with the facilitator, actually arguing what I was myself thinking, she was appalled that anyone would even suggest that as mothers, we can accomplish that. However, over time, I came to understand that entirely differently. My serenity is an inside job, I can have that no matter what is going on around me, that is my choice. Like that line that flies around, "misery is optional." What good does all my suffering over my daughter's life do anyway? Did it change anything? Did it alter her thinking or make any difference? All it did was take away many, many moments out of my own life. Once I recognized that as the truth, I realized how much power I had in my response to ANY situation. Once perception changes, everything changes, even if everything is exactly the same.

    From my vantage point, you are at a very cool point of change, one that involves taking a candid look at who you are and where you find daughter's crisis pushed me into that point of change too. I got help to figure out a new way to address old issues and I gained a whole new way of looking at my own life, and the idea that I am starting an entirely new adventure now, free of the burden of others expectations, needs, deficiencies and my own sense of obligation. That life is over. I am still compassionate and sensitive and giving, but I give that to myself now first and then turn to the other, not the other way around. I looked at all of it as an opportunity to grow, learn and change.

    My girlfriend told me the other night that my daughter really gave me a gift, the opportunity to change my way of thinking. That's true, she did. Seems you are on that precipice, do you continue doing what you've always done, or do you take a leap of faith and do it differently. I appreciate the opportunity to express all of this, it helps me to clarify what I've done and what I'm doing. I wish you clarity and a renewed sense of joy. (((HUGS)))
  17. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Ooooh, Recovering! Listening to you is like listening to a really great therapist who is intimately familiar with all my issues. I need to look at this for a few days, now.

    You are right, though. I am stuck on working through my own guilt at whatever I did to create this. I get the piece that normal moms feel the success of their children is attributed to their parenting skills and so, parents like me would feel that we are responsible for our children's outcomes, too. Since this all
    started, I have been searching for that missing piece, that thing I did or did not do, that led to this outcome for those lives I brought into the world.

    But here is a key I did not have, before.

    This is my approach to all things.

    In the past, I have never seriously listened when it was suggested that there were other ways to see this. (That is the changed perspective piece you wrote about.) It's a strange thing, Recovering. I do feel that I can change things for the better if only I try harder, take a different approach, whatever. but you are right. That isn't exactly true....

    So now, I need to think about all these things for a day or two.

    Thank you, Recovering.


  18. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Barbara, here's my unsolicited advice, throw that guilt overboard, there is NO MISSING PIECE, nothing you did or didn't do would have changed anything, it is a futile attempt, it goes nowhere, it is a waste of your precious Erma Bombeck said, "guilt is the gift that keeps on giving." You must simply stop that line of did not,nor do you have the power to control any of your kids lives, they had free choice to do it, not you. You are free of that burden, let it go. I suffered under that fantasy for a long time and it did no good for anyone, especially me. You did your best,with what you knew at the time, if you had known better, you would have done better, end of story. You can't imagine all the energy that is released to you once you stop the deserve to have your life free of that guilt so you can birth yourself..............
  19. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    You are right, Recovering.

    I re-read this thread every so often and then, just sit with it awhile.

    Thank you. :O)