I've been reading a lot. I have a different situation, and I'm not sure if this is a parenting issue or a substance abuse issue, but it is a little of both. This will be long, bu way of background and I apologize in advance. I have a sister who is a year younger. She is an addict, her drug of choice is heroin, though she won't say no to crack, either. We have the same mother, different fathers. Mother is an addict/alcoholic. When I was in the 3rd grade and Sis in the 2nd we were removed from our mother's home for neglect. I went to live with my father/stepmother, my sister with our maternal aunt, who is mothers partying buddy. My sister's custody was in name only, she mostly was in the "care" of our mother. When we were initially removed my father offered to take us both, but since he wasn't a biological relative the CPS wouldn't allow it. My sister and I had VERY different childhoods. I have always felt guilty about this. My sister was neglected and abused sexually by a boyfriend of mother's. Fast forward to adulthood, my sister has, basically, spent her entire adult life in and out of jail. Mostly for shoplifting. She get clean in jail, has a month or 2 of clean time after she is out and then relapses. When not in jail, she has been, essentially, homeless for the last 3.5 years. So here is where the story really starts. 4 years ago she gave birth to a baby girl who was addicted to heroin. When the baby tested positive after birth CPS removed her and was going to place her in foster care. Sis also has 2 older boys who were in the custody of Baby Daddy's grandmother. Sis swears they all have the same father, but Little Girl looks nothing like her brothers, and I know that Sis prostitutes. Well, Granny decided that she could not handle a baby, and an addicted one at that, so I stepped in and took custody of all 3 kids to keep them together. The boys were 5 and 4 at the time. Stupidly, I let Sis stay here, too, to recover. Things were okay for a few months, then she relapsed and stole from us, so I threw her out, and told her she was never welcome here again. As a digression, I did a lot of enabling. Paid bail, for methadone, for rehabs, gave housing, money, phones, anytime I refused the fact that my childhood was "normal" and hers a hellhole was thrown in my face. My enabling nearly ruined my marriage. It took a long time to get to that point. Now, fast forward to today. I have had legal custody of the kids for 4 years. They are, pretty much, doing fine. Little Girl has some delays, probably due to drug exposure, nothing major and she has been in early intervention and speech therapy. Older brother has ADHD, but is bright and is doing well on Intuniv. Middle brother is typical. The only interaction the kids have with Sis is occasional cards when she is in jail. ....and she is in jail, again. Apparently, this time, the judge is sick of her. Instead of her usual 30, 60, 90 day sentence for shoplifting she is looking at 5 years in state prison. She was offered a drug program where she does an 18 month inpatient rehab and the remainder of the sentence intensive outpatient treatment and vocational rehab, or a 5 year prison sentence. She had the damn nerve to tell her public defender that she will take the 5 year sentence because she, "is not ready to stop getting high." I'm done. Completely done. I sent her a long letter explaining to her exactly how I felt. Telling her I loved her and I know the sweet sensitive person that she is under the drugs, but that I can no longer live my life in limbo, and I wished her the best. We filed to legally adopt the kids. I have given up hope that she will ever get her life together and be a mother to them. This where the storm (excuse my language begins) I got a very unpleasant letter from her about stealing her kids, again guilting me about the abuse she suffered as a kid, "while I lived like a princess with dance lessons and trips to Disney World she was being raped." Now she has no reason to ever get clean. All stops pulled out. I have very little contact with my maternal family. Christmas and birthday cards. The occasional text when they want something. Now, I have been bombarded with texts and phone calls about how horrible I am and how Sis will never get her act together (funny from 2 addicts) because she doesn't even have getting her kids back to look forward to. Oh, and the cherry on the sundae.... she is pregnant, again, and assumed I would take this baby, too, until she got out of prison. I told everyone that I am done. That, I'm sorry, but the baby will have to go into foster care, I cannot emotionally or financially support another child (I have 2 of my own in addition to her 3) and I changed my phone number. Well, finally, here is my real issue. Now that we are going through the adoption process Older Brother has so many questions about his mother. He is 9 and I am not sure of the level of explanation I should give him. When they were younger we explained that she was "sick" and couldn't take care of them, which they understood for a while. We have now broached the subject of drugs and addiction. We are trying to explain how drugs affect her and that she may never be able to stop using drugs. We tell them that we love them and that we want to make our family "forever and official." As an aside, all these kids have been raised as brothers and sisters and all are loved and treated equally. This has brought up a lot of questions in older brother about his mother and does she love him, and why does she think drugs are more important than him, and will she ever be his mom again. We've tried to explain that she does love him, but the drugs have affected her mind, and that we don't know if she will ever get better, etc. I don't want to give him false hope. The younger 2 don't seem to be as emotionally affected, mostly because I think Middle Son has few clear memories of Sis and Little Girl has none. We have appointments for some more counseling, but they are the 1st week of March. I'm hoping that someone here has some insight about how to discuss this subject. Daily he has so many questions. I don't want to demonize his mother. I love my sister, she is truly a sweet, sensitive, caring soul underneath the demon of addiction, but I also don't want to give them false hope that she will ever get better. I don't want him to spend his life wishing for something that will probably never come true.