If you follow me on Twitter, you know that our family has faced some challenges in the past month. Towards the end of September I tweeted about a conflict that we were experiencing with Mickey’s oldest daughter, Belle. Before I get into the thick of it, though, let me back track a little.
Mickey and I met in August of 1993. His daughter, Belle, was not quite four years old at that time. Belle and I have had an interesting step-parent/step-child relationship over the years. Initially, we were very close. Mickey and I even considered fighting for custody at one point when Belle was about 6 years old… when we went to court, his ex-wife made up crazy allegations of abuse against me which spawned an investigation of appropriateness and safety. A GAL was assigned to our case and was supposed to complete this review within 6 months. Two years later, the GAL finally wrapped up her report with glowing statements about the model parent that I was and how I should absolutely be a part of Belle’s life. The damage was done, though. Being kept apart from Belle in such formative years put a huge strain on my relationship with her. Though I wanted to parent her equally with my biological children, I never did. I was afraid to upset her in any way for fear her mother would again make up lies preventing our relationship at all. We saw Belle weekly over the years and always included her in all aspects of our lives. In fact, there were many things we missed out on as a family because we wouldn’t do “family things” unless she was included. The teen years were fairly typical. Belle struggled with friendships and her mother was extremely over protective. Belle would often complain to me, more as if I were her friend than a parent figure, though. During her junior year, Belle invited me to see her off to a formal school dance. I was extremely apprehensive to attend as I hadn’t seen or spoken to her mother in YEARS. Despite my desire to ignore the whole thing, I decided to go in support of Belle.
Surprising, things went very well that night. Despite the fact that Belle’s mom was taking us to court just 2 days later (to increase child support), we got along very well. It was the beginning of a friendship that lasted nearly a half decade. As Belle prepared to go into the armed forces, her mom & I got closer and closer. While Belle was at boot camp, her Mom & I spoke every single day. It’s been four years since the summer Belle went away. I thought we had beat the odds… that we were the model for how ex wives and new wives should interact.
All of that ended last month. Mickey & I learned that Belle is not his biological daughter. Belle’s mom knew that from the time she conceived. She never gave Mickey’s medical history at the doctor’s when she took Belle because she knew it had no bearing. When Belle was 15, her mom tricked Mickey into giving a hair sample saying that it would help match Belle should something happen while in the military. In fact, she was using it to confirm (or rather, deny) paternity with a DNA test. She never said a word when she received the test results confirming that Mickey was not Belle’s biological father. In fact, she continued to accept child suport payments and even took us to court for an increase. She allowed me into her life and built a friendship with me, all based on lies.
As much as learning that biologically Mickey and Belle are not related was a punch in the gut, it really wouldn’t have changed anything for Mickey or I. Mickey has always considered Belle his daughter. I have considered her my family for 19 years. Biology could never change that….. but Belle could.
Belle called Mickey from oversees and confirmed the entire story. She then called me and left a nasty voicemail making threats and telling me that come January she will no longer share our last name. She had decided to end her relationship with our family.
There we were just a few weeks away from adopting Daffy, telling Daffy how we would be her FOREVER family, yet facing the very idea that families are NOT always forever. I met with our sw and discussed how I could share this with Daffy. I am a very honest person and knew that Daffy was feeling the stress in our family. I like to deal with things head on. Our sw suggested that we explain that OUR love for Belle will never change and that she will always be welcome in our family, but that Belle is old enough to make different choices. As I explained to Daffy about Belle’s choices she innocently asked “So, is she like breaking up with our family?” *sigh* I suppose she is, Daffy, I suppose she is.