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Old 11-06-2019, 04:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How to go about changing access to the kids?


Hi All,

I am seeking the collective wisdom of this forum on the matter of children.

My XRAW, is 2 weeks out of detox now, attending AA and is going into inpatient treatment as of this month. She is already saying how she wants to have the DD back. DD (11years old) lives with me full time since last April.

So...how have other people here, dealt with the process of going to shared custody after addiction. Any thoughts on the best way forward with that, assuming recovery sticks?

Thanks
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Old 11-06-2019, 04:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This is a hard one for which I do not have a lot of advice but I had custody of a pair of siblings for 30 days (unrelated) because their parents got DUI's (they were divorced) within 3 days of each other and CPS took the kids away. The father ended up with custody and mother had only supervised visitation for one hour per week because she would not agree to using soberlink.
This would probably be something to take up with a social worker or a family advocate. The mom's shouldn't always get the kids back just because they are the "mom". What does your daughter want? She is old enough to have some input in her safety.
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Old 11-06-2019, 04:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My daughter loves her mom, and also wants to be with her...she is stoic about it all.
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Old 11-06-2019, 05:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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woodlandlost...I agree with oddsunflower's idea......talking to a social worker or a family advocate...a nd, a lawyer...…
Of course she loves her mother....
Don't be totally fooled- because a child appears "stoic"....you can never be sure what is going on inside them. There is always the danger that the child will think that they are, somehow, responsible for what is going on.....and, some-times. they try to take on the responsibility for -"caring" for the alcoholic parent....and slip into enabling and co-dependency at an early age....
It is important that the child live in a stable and predictable environment....predictability is very closely associated to a feeling of security for children.....
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Old 11-06-2019, 06:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I think you're in wait-and-see territory. Three weeks ago she wasn't even detoxed. I've got a carton of eggs in my fridge that have been around longer than that. She still hasn't completed inpatient treatment for alcoholism. It is way too soon to start talking seriously about changing the residence of the child. Alcoholics are notorious for talking big ("everything's going to be different now that I'm sober!") and then caving in. This really sucks when it involves raising and then dashing a child's hopes.

If it does turn out that she's serious about having her daughter live with her ...

If at all possible, find a lawyer or other professional to represent your daughter's wishes and interests, independent of you or your ex. Where I live, this is called a children's advocate or a voice-of-the-child. This is someone who can talk to your daughter confidentially and ascertain where her wishes and preferences lie. She's old enough that she could articulate this. This will help to prevent any legal processes from devolving into he-said/she-said.
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Old 11-06-2019, 06:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Great advice. In Canada we have the, "views of the child" and i have looked into this. Quite expensive but likely effective.

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Old 11-06-2019, 07:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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why are you so willing to jump just because this woman says so?
she shirked all responsibilities and went flitting off on her little lark, hooked up with someone else and ended up living in a tent trailer on your property. NOW she has about 21 whole days of not drinking and here come the demands.

don't think so. your daughter deserves a hell of a lot better than that, doesn't she?
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Old 11-07-2019, 12:12 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodlandlost View Post
My daughter loves her mom, and also wants to be with her...she is stoic about it all.
That doesn't surprise me at all.. Children who grow up in a household with an alcoholic develop defenses, it's inevitable.

Now, some of those come in really handy in life, some of them not so much.

Her Mother, at this point, can't be trusted for anything other than short visits with you or someone else present. Isn't thinking about changing the custody agreement really premature?

I'm just going to come out and ask this, you don't need to answer, of course, is this about your Daughter or is this about you wanting to put your family back together as one unit?
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Old 11-07-2019, 08:43 AM   #9 (permalink)
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How do I go about changing access? S-L-O-W-L-Y

No major changes for at least a year?

Definitely get her into therapy if she isn't already. Sooooo many of the kids I work with fall into an addiction as a way to connect with an estranged parent. They get into weird best-friend/caretaker roles.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I am also one who thinks your daughter should get some voice in VISITATION with her mother, once mom has displayed some responsible behavior. Trust is important and your AXW has so far proven she can't be trusted, she needs to earn that back not just have it handed to her "because".

While I think knowing what you and your daughter's options are is very important. I also think it is important you don't go future tripping, that's a perilous journey. At this point you don't even know if she will finish in-patient let alone have success when she comes out. Her alcoholic brain is nowhere near repaired at this point and just because she wants something doesn't mean you need to put a lot of weight on what she thinks she needs...especially since it isn't a decision that needs to be made right now. There are still far too many unknowns. It's possible your AXW wants to think her daughter is the prize at the end of the sobriety tunnel... but I don't think that's fair to put on the kid.

Breathe woodland... it doesn't need to be figured out right now. You don't have all the facts to be making those kinds of decisions, and you wont for quite a while.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:21 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies,

Very good points.

1. Yes I do and have "jumped", when asked...co-depend behaviour for sure. Feeling guilt;

2. Yes, my daughter deserves better and so do I have to re-build my self esteem, I have long ago stopped trusting myself. The good news is I have made some good decisions and have kept our lives afloat in spite of my brain being elsewhere most of the time...

3. Yes to going SLOW. I have so much to learn. My DD has been receiving counselling with an awesome therapist since last Feb and has been through the "bounce back" program for children who come from addicted families. It was a wonderful program, really intense but lots of big learning for her.

4. And the question from Trailmix...am I trying to orchestrate a family reunion....I can't deny this large part of me that wants that, is that what is motivating me....likely , no, mostly yes. Am I aware that this at the very least should be a LONG TERM GOAL...heck ya. Am I inching towards getting real with the situation.....SLOWLY, ya. Am I doing weekly therapy to try and look carefully at all my stuff, build myself up again and be content within my own head...ya. It is a slow journey. There is a mental model about this process that seems fit for me: Imagine recovery as a spiral and you are on this track, spinning towards some future end. As I approach the apex of a turn I lose all momentum and freefall back down. Still on the track but needing to re-build the speed needed to get through the turn.

Last night I let something she said affect me again...I remember the wisdom of the saying, "don't be blown by every wind", and at the very least I am aware of it...

Hoping for a few extra moments of peace.
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Old 11-07-2019, 10:13 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Alcoholics are notorious for talking big ("everything's going to be different now that I'm sober!") and then caving in.
Add in the cheating factor, which can be very similar ("I'm soooooooo sorry, I'll never do it again!"), inevitably followed with renewed cheating or never actually stopping cheating, and you have even more reason to tread very cautiously here.
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Old 11-07-2019, 12:41 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Perhaps letting go with her can stop that backward spiral and bring you loads of peace. Just a thought. Baby steps.

Anyway, I do think any talk of changing the parenting agreement is really way way premature. It might make your wife feel better to discuss it, or even your Daughter but it perhaps should not even be on the radar at this point, it's so very cart before the horse as to be magical thinking.

I think it's so great that you and your Daughter are both in therapy. Never forget why you and she are there. This didn't stop the day your wife took off, this is ongoing and in many ways as bad as it was (for both of you).
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Old 11-07-2019, 02:31 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Jumping on what Sasha already said:

1) The courts don't really care what your daughter thinks and she won't really have a say-so in where she lives - it's above the reasoning skills of an 11yo anyway, so don't defer to her about it. You're the one in charge here and need to act like it.
2) What does DD11's counselor say about it? If she doesn't have one, get one.
3) Get a free consult with a lawyer who can tell you what to do and what is likely to happen in your court system in your circumstances.
3a) When you initiate court intervention in this -- and you will eventually -- request a guardian ad litem to investigate you and her and make a recommendation.
4) When I requested a guardian ad litem, my XAH was in the pink cloud of new recovery but the GAL was skeptical. So was I -- because his parents would hide his issues for him, it was extremely difficult to tell what was going on. He said XAH needed to show that he had completed six weeks of regular counseling, was attending an outpatient program, and could complete six weeks of drug testing, and then he could go back to regular unsupervised visits with DD8. I was livid because that seemed like SUCH a low bar to jump. But you know, in seven years, he never met that bar.

YMMV, but agreed with everyone above that you should stop forcing fantasy reconciliations. It's way too soon. No major changes for a year is a great rule - you'll learn a lot during that time and save yourself a huge number of headaches if you can maintain that boundary.
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Old 11-08-2019, 09:13 AM   #15 (permalink)
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WL...

I have followed your posts and I feel for you...your anguish is palpable. I can hear how desperate you are to have this nightmare behind you and your family “back.” But this is scary thinking.

Your ex wife has been drinking alcoholically for a decade, with occasional “unverified” short breaks.

Over that length of time, your brain gets warped. You accepted the unacceptable so often that you don’t even realize how far down CrazyTown Road she’s taken you.

That you’re even considering her request after three weeks is, well, insane. I don’t want to be harsh, but please, this is an eleven-year-old child who is implicitly being used as a bandaid. This is so, so bad.

Your daughter is NOT...

a bargaining chip

a cookie for good behavior

the solution for your wife’s addiction

the magician who can make it all better.

You say she’s stoic. What choice did she have? Just because she developed ways to cope with this situation doesn’t mean her reward is to go deal with it more.

Honey, someone has got to be the adult here and that someone is you. If you knew someone else had an entrenched addiction problem, say the parent of a friend of your daughter’s, would you hand your child over to them and say, here you go, by all means, get in their car, sleep at their house? No.

Just because your ex gave birth to her doesn’t make her equipped to be her mother.

I am rarely this direct, but get a grip. Please.
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Old 11-08-2019, 08:55 PM   #16 (permalink)
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What would happen if you said "no" to your ex? No, our daughter is not going to live with you. No, she is not going to have overnight or unsupervised visits. No, we are not getting back together in any way. No, we are not going to discuss this any further. I have retained a lawyer and you may wish to do the same. Goodbye. Go away.

One piece of wisdom I found on this site is that the best way to see the true nature of an alcoholic is to watch what happens when you tell them no.
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Old 11-08-2019, 10:27 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Ok, here goes...

Ariesagain: thank you, I do need to get a grip.

I have told her, no way that there is alone time with our daughter...or driving and that this IS going to involve a process, one which will include my lawyer, my daughter's counsellor and us. And you know what...I am having a bit of a shake up inside of me...I don't know if it is temporary or if it will be sustained. But I have realized how messed up we were and how little I want that in my life...maybe this is a shift in me?

Thanks to all of you.
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Old 11-08-2019, 10:55 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Good for you! Hang onto your determination. That is exactly what your daughter needs in a parent.
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:08 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Maybe it is. There is talk here often of taking time away to clear the fog. Sometimes that just takes more time than a person thinks it will and in your case, you are still actively involved.

Maybe you are having more time alone and things are clearer?

I hope it feels like a positive thing for you.
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Old 11-09-2019, 05:31 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Assuming your daughter wants to see her mom ... and mom has a significant proven track record of sobriety (I like the person who suggested six weeks of proven sobriety, etc. etc.) ... I'd suggest something super, super, super small. Lunch, for an hour or so, at the mall. You drive there and home; and just go shopping for that time while they have lunch together.

I wouldn't even spend any money or think think about any legal changes until much further along and, perhaps, many, many, many successful lunches - and some significant counseling. If mom wants something else much faster ... well, then let her do all the work to make it happen. You do not have to do anything.
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