Have Parenting Questions? Ask a Parenting Counselor for Answers
This is a very difficult situation for you, the child, and her mother. I think a lot of how she would respond to you depends on the reason you are no longer in her life. Was there a breakup between you and her biological mother? If yes was the split hard on the child? At the age of 4 a child is going to attach to anyone who is paying attention to them at that very time. If all of the sudden you were gone she may feel you have abandoned her. Another factor in this situation is why you have not seen her in 2 years. Were you trying to see her during the two years and the biological mother would not allow this? Another question you need to think about is why is the biological father not around? If you could please give me a little more insight into this I can help you understand how the child will be effected if you begin visiting again. Also can you please share what legal advice you have been given and if it was from a reliable source.
I look forward to your answers and will respond quickly after your answers are sent.
Thank you for responding. My situation is kind of complex. I will try the best I can to summarize the timeline of events up to this point. I started dating the child's mother in the summer of 2004 and we broke up towards the end of 2004. I was 19 years old at the time and a full-time college student. In Jan. of 2005 I learned that the child's mother was pregnant so we got back together. During this time I also heard rumors that there was a chance that I was not the father. I knew the other possible father, however I did not believe the rumors at the time. The child was born in Sept. of 2005. At this point everyone told me that the child looked like me so I did not question paternity. In June of 2006 the child's mother and I got married. In the later part of 2008 I started to notice that the child was starting to resemble the other potential father. At this time I started contacting the other father's family and expressed my thoughts. Shortly after this time I decided that I could not be married to the child's mother. At that time I still did not know for certain but I felt about 90% sure that I was not the child's biological father. My relationship with the child did not change at all. I loved the child as my own and still do. In the middle of 2009 I decided to have a dna test to end the constant question of whether or not I was the bilological father or not. The dna test proved that I was not the biological father of the child. I was completely heartbroken and did not really know what to do. I had recently graduated college, started my first full-time job, and was in a stressful relationship. I felt guilty that I had taken someone else place as the child's father. The biological father really had no chance from the very beginning since the child's mother's family and the child's biological father's family hate each other. There seems to be some sort of long going feud between the two families that has been going on for many years. I reviewed conversations between the biological father and the child's mother and she told him that she did not want him in the child's life because she knows me as her father. The child's mother is now doing the exact same thing to me and saying that the child now knows another man as her father. I expressed my concerns to the child's mother and felt that it was not right for me to see the child on a 50/50 basis at the time because I felt that the biological father should be encouraged to have some involvement in the child's life. The mother was not receptive to my suggestions and told me that either I see the child all the time "50/50 basis" or I do not see her at all. I sadly said that I would not be able to see her. My hope was that the biological father would step in and get involved. However, that did not happen. He has been paying child support for almost two years now but has not seen her since the last time I brought her around him and his family. The divorce was not very hard on the child but my decision to stop seeing her was. I regretted my decision and asked the child's mother to start seeing her again shortly after the disruption in visitation. This is when she told me that her boyfriend and her have decided that I should not see her.
I have been very upset with my decision for a very long time and decided that I needed to do something to fix it. I contacted and hired a lawyer two weeks ago to seek visitation rights to the child. The lawyer says I have every legal right to do so since I am on the birth certificate, filled the father role for four years of the childs life, and that the mother signed an agreement as part of our divorce that I would have 50/50 visitation rights. I am currently waiting for a court date for custody. Since then I was contacted by a member of my ex's family and they and they harshly stated that they felt my becoming involved in the child's life would have a negative impact child psychologically. I do not believe this to be true but would rather seek advice from an experience third party. I also have an appointment to discuss this matter with a local child psychologist in two weeks. I would like to get some answers a little earlier so I have turned to just answers for some help.
WOW... You really are in a tough spot. First I would like to say that based on your question, planning to seek custody, and appointment set up with the child psychologist I would say that you are the most mature party is this childs life. I am glad you have started this endeavour and wish you the best of luck. As your lawyer has stated you are on the birth certificate and have legal rights. I hope your court date is set quickly and you get the resolution you desire.
As far as the effect on the child involved. I think your biggest worry would have to be what the mother and mother's family are telling the child about you. Unfortunately based on your past with the mother and her boyfriend and them telling you it would be better if you didn't see the child I would be concerned about some bad mouthing going on. As far as the child, if and when you are granted visitation and or shared custody it will be imperative that you follow through with whatever is set up by the court. The child needs as much consistency as possible. At her young age she is seeking approval and just wants to be loved. In my opinion a child should be given as much love as possible which will in the end help them feel safe and secure. I am sure that the child psychologist will be able to give you specifics about how to reintroduce your participation and interaction with the childs life. There will most likely be a short adjustment period but the child will quickly sense your love and maturity and cling to it.
I would like to commend you for your maturity in handleing the situation. There are a lot of young adults who would run from this situation when given the chance. It is quite impressive that you followed through with what is right and plan to do right by the child. She/He is very lucky to have you and will be a better adult because you are in her/his life.
I hope I have given you some reassurance in your situtation. I know it is hard to wait but your persistance will pay off in the long run.
If I can be of any more assistance please don't hesitate to contact me again. Kate B
Also please accept my answer as this is the only way I am compensated for my time and talents.