(Carpal \'Tunnel)
06/07/05 05:34 PM
Why don't SM have any rights????

There are a lot of new folks here and you probably don't know all that's happened. I'll give you a rundown. Hubby and I were in the process of pursuing custody, but he changed his mind after BM threw herself a pity party. I have a file cabinet full of things that could be used against her in court. Police reports, CPS reports, school reports, signed statements from HER parents about neglect, and the list goes on and on.

I have been trying to step back and accept my hubby's decision not to pursue custody, but it's not working so well. These girls are being neglected. Maybe not beaten, but definately neglected. Why in the hell can I not do something about it?????

Yes. I am attached to them. Yes. I do consider them my own. Maybe I am overstepping the line, but who cares? I love them and can provide a better home. At this point, I think foster care would be a better situation then the one they currently live in.

Okay, so I have issues. There are far more worse "issues" than loving children that I have been raising since they were both in diapers. Hubby wants me to back off. I wouldn't have to "back off" if BOTH of them hadn't placed me in the position to act like I was their mother.

I have a bond with the girls. I feel like I should be able to initiate custody without his signature on the dotted line.

Guess it's obvious that I'm a little stressed right now. Sorry you had to listen to it, but I feel so much better...

(Carpal \'Tunnel)
06/07/05 05:40 PM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

"Why in the hell can I not do something about it?????"

Because you have no legal standing to do anything. any rights that you do have, which are limited, run through your spouse. If he will not act in a legal sense, you certainly cannot.

(old hand)
06/07/05 05:57 PM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

You can do something. You just need to choose the value of protecting the kids versus your value of protecting your marriage.

You can call CPS if they are truly being neglected or abused. You additionally can, in your reports, point out the fact that the father is well aware of the abuse and does nothing which makes him just as abusive as the mother.

The question is: Is it truly abuse or neglect? Or do you just see it that way? If it truly IS, I'm sorry, but your husband is just as guilty as his ex.

There is a fine line sometimes between CPS level issues and differences in parenting styles.

I know you want to back off and disengage and my heart goes out to you for how difficult that can be because you love these children. But are they TRULY neglected and abused or just borderline? If it is TRUE neglect, I guess it comes down to who you love more, the little girls or your husband.

(Carpal \'Tunnel)
06/07/05 06:06 PM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

I agree with Moi. If the children are truly being neglected, your DH is just as wrong for allowing it to happen.

You said that there are CPS reports, what came of them?

(old hand)
06/07/05 06:12 PM
Don't apologize for feeling the way you do &

venting that.

I feel your frustration and hope that your husband decides to make the right decision for his kids, whatever it may be, and I hope you'll have the strength to stand beside him no matter what, but to also do the right thing for your stepkids because it sure sounds like they need SOMEONE looking out for their best interests.

(Carpal \'Tunnel)
06/07/05 07:06 PM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

I truly wish I was just being hysterical when I say they are neglected, but I'm not. And yes, I think he is every bit as guilty as she is for letting it continue. It's the source of our marital tension right now. He agrees that she is useless, but doesn't see his inaction makes him equally as useless. At this point, if I were to choose between him or his girls...they would win. Hands down!! I see a picture of them a few years down the road and it's not pretty. They will be just like mama. The girls (7,10) can barely count, but you can bet they know what charity has the best food on what day of the week. We talked about their futures over the weekend and what they wanted to be when they grew up. The youngest wants to be a nurse like me (how cute???). The oldest? She wants to have a babies so she doesn't have to work. I swear, true story. Asked what kind of a man she wanted to marry. She said, mommy's not married and she has four babies. She doesn't have to work!

I'm getting away from your point. Are you telling me that there is a chance that I CAN do something without my husband?

Another poster asked about what came of the CPS report. Findings=substantiated. BM had to attend anger management, parenting classes, and NA for a period of time. She got a slap on the wrist, completed the classes (alotta good those did), and retained full custody of the girls.

(Carpal \'Tunnel)
06/07/05 07:10 PM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

You should write a letter to DH with pretty much what you just stated here. I think that should get his attention. Sometimes people need to see it in black and white. Good Luck with the kids, you seem to be their best shot at life, don't give up.

(Carpal \'Tunnel)
06/07/05 07:37 PM
I feel your pain...

As a custodial SM I do feel your pain, and love my SS as my own. However, I am afraid that allowing steps legal rights would open a new can of worms. Family courts are screwed up enough as it is, I can't imagine throwing a new wrench into the mix.

(Carpal \'Tunnel)
06/07/05 08:54 PM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

I can totally relate to and understand your frustration...BTDT with younger SS and DH. I had to wait till DH felt it was right to broach the custody issue and in the meantime, SS was being left to his own devices and was very vulnerable to going down the wrong path.

I had to focus on my marriage and getting on the same page as DH. I would suggest counseling for you need to be able to talk with him and get this issue decided between the two of you. Maybe a counselor could give some weight to your concerns and open DH's eyes!

(Carpal \'Tunnel)
06/08/05 06:56 AM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

Why did your husband stop pursuing custody? What did the BM actually do?

I feel for you. I was in your position. Even with a clear cut case of neglect, it will not be easy to get custody.

My quick story, my husband was the NCP of 2 boys for about 10 years. He had many concerns over the years but when he talked to different lawyers they said there was nothing he could do. He was also being pushed out of his boys lives. He was involved as much as he could. No one would help him even when visitation was refused because his CO read "reasionable visitation" but had a min but he didn't even get the min.

When the oldeer one turned 16 yo, he said he was dropping out of school. My husband was very upset. He made some phone calls and found out that the child wasn't in school for a year. He called more lawyers but each one said there wasn;t anything he could do. he felt defeated.

I talked to a different lawyer about a problem that I had. After the meeting I mentioned my husband's problem. That lawyer was shocked but couldn't help but gave me a name of someone who could. I gave the name to my husband but he felt defeated and didn't call. Imagine our surprise when that lawyer called him.

Trying to shorten this up, my husband hired that lawyer. The emergency change of custody was filed for educational neglect. A year of hell followed. My husband had to change the motion to include only the younger child who was 11. he was told by the court psych evulator to drop the now 17 yo from the case otherwise he would lose. It was a difficult decision. The trial was lasted about 4 days. Than the wait for the decision.

I am now the CSM of my now 12 yo SS. The now 18 yo is estranged from his Dad. We are coming up on the 1 year anniv of SS moving in with us.

Even with a clear cut case of neglect, it was difficult and long. Try to find out WHY he won't pursue custody. It may be too emotional and he may not want to put the kids in the middle. At least that is what I'm assuming the BM pity party was about.

In saving the future of one of his children my husband no longer has contact with his oldest son. The cost of a custody case was not only finacial but emotional also. My husband received calls from his sons saying how much they hated him.

(old hand)
06/08/05 08:26 AM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

>>>>>>>Why in the hell can I not do something about it?????

If your husband won't help his children then seek help from public agencies that are there to protect children. Call Child Protective Services!

06/08/05 09:52 AM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

You have a moral obligation, if they are being neglected, to report it to CPS.

As for your husband, you can't make him be a father. And if he was so easily swayed by BM here, he must have been looking for an 'out' on filing for custody, sad to say.

No offense to you, but it sounds like both bio parents are letting them down.

(old hand)
06/08/05 11:16 AM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

Many states have laws concerning NOT reporting abuse or neglect. This is from the US Department of Health and Human Services:

"In addition to defining the acts or omissions that constitute child abuse or neglect,
several statutes provide specific definitions of the persons who are reportable under the civil child abuse reporting laws to child protective services as perpetrators of abuse and neglect. These are persons who have some relationship or regular responsibility for the child. This generally includes parents, guardians, foster parents, relatives, or other caretakers responsible for the child’s welfare."

Depending on Indiana's law (which I can not find beyond - IC 31-33-5-1
Duty to make report. Sec. 1. In addition to any other duty to report arising under this article, an individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect shall make a report as required by this article.) your husband as well as you would be guilty themselves of a misdemeanor offense for failure to report. (IC 31-33-22-1 Failure to make report. Sec. 1. (a) A person who knowingly fails to make a report required by IC 31-33-5-1 commits a Class B misdemeanor.)

Perhaps if you google those statutes and show THAT to your husband, he might change his tune if he sees in black and white he is guilty of a crime by doing nothing.

(Carpal \'Tunnel)
06/08/05 04:31 PM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

As a nurse, I have a duty to report suspected abuse/neglect. When the neglect is reported by an RN, CPS does take notice and immediately investigates. My problem is that I am Stepmom, RN. They look at the fact that I am the SM and immediately think I am out to get the mom. The substantiated neglect case was reported by someone else (don't know who). If I am no longer stepmom, do you think they will take my complaints more seriously?

(Carpal \'Tunnel)
06/08/05 06:56 PM
Re: Why don't SM have any rights????

What are you saying? Are you contemplating leaving your marriage over this? If it's that serious honey, then I'd report it no matter what...

(old hand)
06/08/05 07:02 PM
I'd report it anyway... you have RN friends, right

? I'd have a friend over for dinner or something... friends that know your situation - don't drag someone into it, but if you have a close friend I'd ask if they'd mind taking a look, for the kids, and if it's all good, so be it, but if not... would they help?

I would call regardless. The ONLY thing they can say is "no, we won't investigate" but... BUT, they do have to keep records of your calls to them. So call with complaints, and who knows, maybe after a bunch of new and different complaints they might take an interest. If not, and something goes wrong? You can say you've been trying to get their attention but they wouldn't listen...

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