A Haunting Decision

Blogging openly means sometimes sharing things you’re not really comfortable sharing, but you share them anyhow because 1) it’s free therapy and 2) sharing your story lets someone out there having the same problem know they aren’t alone. It’s a chance to make a difference.

Recently a good bloggy friend of mine posted a difficult piece on her stepdaughter and why she had to leave. While there were some very supportive comments left there were also some very nasty comments left judging her way too harshly. Please take a moment to click over and read the piece. Also, if you’re the sort of person who enjoys Springer read some of the comments, too. 

This unreasonable, uninformed, and caustic judgment enraged me enough to put a hiatus on my hiatus…for two reasons. One, I know the full story and completely agree with and support my bloggy friend. Two, I have been in a similar situation and have been in the unenviable position of having to choose between a stepchild and his siblings. Having to make a decision like this is not easy and there is no comfort in knowing you did the right thing because you still feel one-inch tall for having chosen to tell a child to leave your home.


In my first marriage I was a stepfather to a young boy and an even younger little girl. When their mother and I met, that little boy was 6 and the little girl was 2. Two years later I officially became Twindaddy.

My stepson (we’ll call him Doug) had behavioral issues before I ever knew him. He was hyper, rowdy, inattentive, and prone to chaotic outbursts when he was held to account for his behavior. He spent a lot of time in the corner and/or grounded because of his transgressions.

As he grew older he grew more violent and defiant. He was first diagnosed with ADD. Then ADHD. Then ODD. The last possible diagnosis they gave us (when he was 12) was psychotic, but they don’t officially diagnose someone as psychotic until age 18.

Doug became a habitual runaway. When he was punished for his misbehavior he had to be physically taken to his room, literally kicking and screaming obscenities. We had to turn the knob around on his door (at the insistence of the police) so we could lock him in his room to prevent him from running away. The police were tired of tracking him down. That failed when he leaped from his second-story window to run away once again.

I was at the end of my rope. I was worried about what the perpetual police presence and how the frequent violent outbursts were affecting the twins. They often broke into tears whenever there was a confrontation, be it verbal or physical.

At my insistence, we filed ‘beyond control’ charges against Doug. After many of the state programs failed he was taken into state custody and placed in a boys home. We visited him every weekend, but the reports were unpleasant. He was assaulting the staff on a regular basis. He was assaulting and injuring other boys in the home.

After two years, they told us he had completed the program and it was time for him to come home. Not even two days later is when our world came crashing down.

After work, all four of the kids were playing in the basement when I heard my stepdaughter begin to yell at Doug. I immediately called Doug up and asked him what was going on. Unsurprisingly, he was unsure why his sister was yelling at him. Of course, no sibling is ever sure why he or she is being yelled at. We’re all innocent, right?

Then I called my stepdaughter up and what she told me froze my blood. 11-year-old Doug had been trying to force his 7-year-old sister to sit on his lap.

I immediately separated Doug from the rest of the children. After some questioning later that night my stepdaughter revealed that Doug had been molesting her for years. Even before he had gone to live in the boys home.

The next day his mother reported the crimes to the police department and Doug was immediately taken back into state custody. When questioned by the detective handling the case, Doug freely admitted to everything he had done.

This was devastating in a variety of ways. The most crushing blow was finding out that this had happened under my roof without me having a clue what was going on. Then there were other disturbing ponderings, such as “where does a young boy learn how to molest his younger sister?” I still don’t have the answer to that question. The best answer we ever came up with was that something had happened to him when he was a toddler, but he denied anything happened and he shed no further light on where he learned this disgusting behavior.

About a week later we had a meeting with Doug’s social worker in which he unveiled a treatment plan which culminated with Doug coming home and living with us again.

I will spare you the profane details of my objection, but suffice to say I vehemently disagreed with this…plan. The social worker was undeterred, however, and insisted that once treatment was complete there was no reason he couldn’t return to our home. My argument about making a victim live with her rapist had fallen on deaf, and idiotic, ears.

That night I gave my wife an ultimatum. I told her if Doug ever stepped foot into our home again I would take the twins and leave. I didn’t care how she did it, but I was not going to have my children living in a home with a sex offender.

To be completely forthcoming, she didn’t want him to come home either. She had been abused as a child and knew exactly what her daughter was going through. However, the only way to keep him from being put back in our care was for her to give up her parental rights to Doug.

She struggled mightily with that. I can’t imagine having to have made that choice, but she ultimately decided to give up her rights to him. It’s a choice that is really no choice at all, but a choice that rips your heart to shreds nevertheless. Her obligation at that point was to protect her daughter and our children. From her son. It’s a decision that haunted her then, and probably still haunts her to this very day.

Those tempestuous days are merely a speck in my rear view mirror now. Still, if I had it all to do over again I’d make the same decision. It’s not that I didn’t care about Doug. It’s not that I didn’t want to help him (if he even can be helped). But ultimately Doug had to go to ensure the safety of the other three children in our home. We obviously couldn’t protect them from him. We had to sleep sometime and it was evidently those times that Doug turned dreams into nightmares. We made the best decision we could from a plethora of shitty choices.


Kristi, I get what you’re going through. I really do. And I support you wholeheartedly. It sucks to not want your stepchild around. It sucks when your stepchild makes your life a living nightmare. It sucks to feel like a shitty person when you have to do shitty things for the sake of protecting your child, but that’s your job as a parent. If you don’t protect your child who will? Obviously those folks piling up on you have never faced such a clusterfuck, and they should all count themselves lucky for that.

Keep your chin up, Kristi. You are an amazing mom, and sometimes being an amazing mom means making horrible decisions. Don’t let these uninformed assclowns make you feel inadequate for doing what you had to do. 

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About Twindaddy (328 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

61 Comments on A Haunting Decision

  1. You are right and a good pal. I will go over and offer my support too. Because there really are people out there who must be kept away. It just sucks when they happen to be in your own family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know, I wish people would stomping judgments on other people… ! If you have not been in that persons shoes how can you know? It really does not matter what someone is facing, being it Mental Health or Parental concerns there are always those that think they know better.

    I will now hop on over to the post you mentioned and give her a hug.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Wow…what a tough thing for both of you to have to go through. You are a true friend for writing this for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Heartbreak all around.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I read some of the original post and then the comments yesterday. I didn’t feel equipped to respond – even in a kind manner – because I haven’t had to wear her/your shoes. I sent silent prayers instead.
    To read what you wrote today after seeing the judgments in the comments made my heart happy and sad all at once. Sad because I can’t imagine the pain and struggle that you (Kristy) went through, but happy that you shared this with the honesty, courage, insight, and compassion that always rings through in your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a harrowing story. I’ve never had to face anything like that. What do you do with all that anger? I wouldn’t know where to spend its capital.

    The internet is a very shitty place sometimes. If you put it all out there, then you have to expect some blow-back once in a while. I’m not saying that’s such a good thing. It isn’t. But it exists and it pays to keep it in mind before hitting ‘publish.’ And PLEASE don’t misinterpret this as blaming the victim. Far from it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True. It is part of putting yourself out there. Still, the criticism she received was harsh and uncalled for.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kristi Campbell - findingninee // January 31, 2015 at 5:48 pm // Reply

      I truly wish I’d never have put it out there. The original piece had more details about the past – I’m not sure if that would have helped or made it worse. And yeah, people’s anger is shocking and scary. It’s sad…

      Like

      • Did you pull the post down? It’s probably not a bad idea.

        Like

      • Kristi I just went over to read it. I was amazed at how hateful people were and was baffled about how they couldn’t see the love that was present in your post. It seemed pretty obvious to me. But I have learned that people bring to things only what they know, so those comments were probably more a reflection on them and their own lives than anything you wrote. Still as a fellow blogger, I can totally understand the regret you are feeling now. What we do it highly personal…we put so much of ourselves in our writing. So it’s hard not to take these things personally. Just remember that there are thousands of others who only empathized with you after reading, but just aren’t the kind of people who leave comments. There are likely many more of them than those who want to tear you down.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kristi Campbell - findingninee // February 1, 2015 at 2:42 pm // Reply

          Thank you Kelly. I know that people are bringing only what they know. I think the word “teenage” in the title made it worse. Sigh. Thank you though. By the way, Tucker LOVES your book. When the mayhem starts peeking in on the pages, he’s like “YAY here comes the COLOR!!!” It’s awesome.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t take it down…did you see how many people you brought peace to? Or how many former addicts said their parents had to make the same AND CORRECT choice for them to become safe and sane and productive? Yes, the spewing of hate sucks so maybe don’t go and read any more comments. Love you

        Liked by 2 people

  7. There are a lot of trigger words on this post so I am not going to comment much except to say that you are a great person, Scott.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kristi Campbell - findingninee // January 31, 2015 at 3:37 pm // Reply

    You are such a good friend and I don’t have the words to express how much it means to me that you shared your painful story to help others understand that maybe I’m not horrible, and that you put a hiatus on your hiatus to offer me compassion and understanding. That you don’t think I’m terrible for writing it. For living it. That you’re also rallying your lovely community to express kindness… well, I’m crying. Today, right now, it’s the good tears. Thank you Scott. So much love to you. Thank you. xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome, Kristi. People need to learn to dig deaper and not assume they know something without having all the facts. I’m kinda tired of people judging others, especially when those judgments are based on assumptions.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Scott. I don’t know what to say. What a horrific situation your family was in. Thank god you stood up to that social worker. And you are a truly good friend. The response to Kristi’s brave piece was really ridiculous. I was absolutely shocked at the ignorance being spouted in the comments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was disgusted by many of the comments. So much so that I had to stop reading them.

      That social worker was an idiot. He also always seemed like his job was a huge inconvenience to him.

      Like

  10. Scott, every time I read something like this about your bravery, your courage, and your determination to be a good man, who protects the innocent and helps to heal the hurting, my respect and regard for you grows and grows. You are such a wonderful human being. You are a hero. And it cuts at me that you don’t feel it, the same way that the reverse is true for you.

    But life is shitty and we deal with the crap the way we see fit at the time, and in this situation I think you did absolutely the right thing. As did your other half, in spite of the heartbreak. I genuinely think that some people are just wired wrong. I have an ex-one in my family and the courts refuse to protect his children from him in spite of the fact that if only, if only the evidence had been organised at the time, he would be in jail. But people can behave wickedly, and when others are afraid, terrible things continue to happen, like for the little girl who was afraid to speak up.

    We continue to be here, to pick up the pieces. Because there WILL be pieces.

    Your support of Kristi is wonderful. Thank you for that. People on the internet SUCK sometimes – that fucking rent-a-mob set who troll and spread bile and hatred…how I wish they’d choose to just keep their opinions to themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, I’m no hero. Not for simply doing the right thing. And I really did let that social worker have it. We both did. I was beyond shocked that he believed bringing Doug back to our home was a good idea. And angry. Boy was I enraged.

      Doug was definitely wired wrong. To make matters worse he often refused to take any medication. He was sick.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hate that for him, and for you all.

        Sometimes social workers (or courts, or whoever it is that’s put in charge of the protection of children from harm) can be absolute DICKHEADS and it baffles me how they ever managed to get or retain the job. RiDICulous decisions they try to enforce.

        And yes you are. One of those everyday ones who stands up for what’s right. The type who people don’t realise are making a difference behind the scenes, unlauded, quietly getting on with making the world a tiny bit better, one thing at a time.

        To your little stepdaughter, that must have meant the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Your story…utterly heartbreaking. You have certainly come through a lot, but I love that you have maintained such compassion for people, like Kristi. TD is a good guy to have on your team 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So because she decided not to share all of the horrid details of her story its okay for you to assume she’s just a horrible person who has no use for her stepdaughter?

    As you so aptly pointed out, she posted that under her real name, so it would have been foolish to reveal those details.

    Instead of assuming that Kristi is heartless, why not consider that perhaps there are legitimate reasons she fears for her son’s safety when her stepdaughter is around? Why assume the worst?

    I doubt there’s much I can say to change your mind, but I know Kristi and I stand by her. I know your judgment is wrong.

    Perhaps you could hop on over to Kristi’s blog so you can actually get to know her as I have?

    Like

  13. Scott… and Kristi I guess,
    This kind of thing takes a lot of courage in order to do the right thing, and I think you both did. There’s nothing that can fix how you feel. Forget any Springer-esque comments and believe in yourself(-ves). You did the right thing. I cannot say I’ve ever faced this kind of situation, but I will say I’ve come close and I have asked a child to leave and live with another parent. For what it’s worth, that young lady eventually turned out okay. That said, it doesn’t make the memory any less sharp-edgy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be honest, I’ve never really doubted I did the right thing. Still, knowing that doesn’t always make me feel any better. There was no good way out of that situation.

      Like

  14. Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention Scott. It is heart rending and I certainly empathize with the author and would act as she did given the circumatances.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Kristi Campbell - findingninee // February 1, 2015 at 1:04 am // Reply

    Have you ever considered that I DID give more details but that the website that ran it is not in my control? That the details were eliminated? And really, what do they matter anyway??? I mean the details are going to be why you decide to crucify me or support me???? ? You’re a friend of Scott’s and he’s telling you that he knows the story and I’m not an asshole and you still choose to see me as a fucking asshole????

    Trust me that there is 8 years of history of abuse and addictions when it comes to this girl. we’ve had counseling, rehab and one super expensive “expert” who almost bankrupted us tell us that she can’t be helped because she doesn’t want help and is a sociopath….

    At one point, I was convinced that my step daughter WHO I FUCKING LOVE LIKE CRAZY AND JUST SPENT 2 HOURS ON THE PHONE WITH TONIGHT was trying to kill my son by leaving pills on the floor for him to find when he was crawling. One year old. Crawling. She wanted to see what might happen.

    the legal status??? That’s what matters to you??? We are supporting her. She’s 21.
    yay for you and your perfect life.

    Like

  16. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me // February 1, 2015 at 1:25 am // Reply

    I read Kristi’s post and chatted with her. My heart breaks for her – for the situation with the stepdaughter and for the situation with the trolls who think they have the right. Assholery. (Oops…can I say that here?)
    I don’t you very well yet, but this story of yours…floored me. My heart also goes out to you, your kids, and your first wife. I can’t even begin to pretend to imagine what that must have been like for all of you. You are going on my prayer list tonight, that’s for sure.
    Thanks for sharing your story. Thanks for sticking up for what’s right – clearly that’s a big part of who you are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, yes, you can sling all the profanity you’d like here. My only trigger as far as words go are racial slurs. Me no likey them.

      Thank you for taking the time to read this. And for taking the time to talk to Kristi. It’s kind of jarring how righteous misguided and uninformed people can be.

      Like

  17. Thank you for this. For defending your children, your step children and your friend. Unless you have the FULL story, the words of hate are unacceptable. Heck even with the full story. I’ve been friends with Kristi for years and am honored to be one. That she had the courage, that the piece was obviously edited leaving out some pertinent details is appalling of the site it was promoted on. That prostitute sentence had context that while not being privy to the full piece I could tell it was missing due to editing.

    Sadly people read “teen” and took it to mean a 13YO however even if the child is 13 once you have explored every freaking option you have to make your life safe. It doesn’t change the depth of your love. Hell, I think it demonstrates it.

    Now to your post…I commend you for putting kids before marriage. That you were not just thinking of your twins, but of her daughter as well. That her daughter spoke up and while unable to stop her own abuse stopped her sister from suffering. That is the true hero of the story. Many would have been paralyzed or worse relieved that they were being left alone while someone else’s innocence was being sacrificed.

    While you might feel guilt and blame yourself for not knowing what was happening in your home I beg you to find forgiveness. My parents still have no idea 30+ years later the torture that was suffered “under their nose”. And they were not as in tuned to their children as you obviously are.

    Crap I did way more than 2 cents. How much do I owe?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your very kind and supportive comment.

      It’s just so awful sometimes how human beings treat each other, especially on the internet where the deterrent of “saying it to my face” doesn’t exist. Obviously not everyone is going to agree with the choices that Kristi and I made and that’s okay, but any disagreements should be communicated respectfully and that just wasn’t the case here, and it made me irate.

      As far as my guilt for not knowing what was happening in my own home…ultimately I needed to know what was going on as the parent. That he waited until his mother and I were asleep is the sort of duplicity I would never expect from a child so young.

      This happened so long ago that the guilt no longer eats at me. I’ve made my peace with it and I know I could not have changed the outcome except by never sleeping, which is obviously not feasible.

      I’m sorry to hear about your torturous childhood. I hope it’s something that no longer haunts you.

      Like

  18. I had trouble linking to the specific post you were referring to at your friend’s blog. She is lucky to have the support of a good friend who understands and has walked through that difficult situation. Until someone walks in someone else’s shoes, they should reserve judgment. And – if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. (I love cliches.)

    Like

    • This post is not on her blog, but posted on Scary Mommy. There is a link to the post in the second paragraph.

      I agree that those people should have reserved judgement, especially considering that the details of WHY she needed to ask her stepdaughter to leave were edited out of the post by the site.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I read Kristi’s post and knowing most of the story I understood exactly where she was coming from. Unfortunately, any time you put a story that’s not about sunshine coming out of a unicorn’s butt it’s going to get hammered by haters. Judge not, people. Kristi is pretty tough, I think, and I hope took it for what it was…ignorance. Having been there, I know it still stings a little.

    I didn’t know this part of your story and it’s a hard one. While the details are different, I get this. I’ve had to cut my own biological daughter out of my life for the safety and well being of not only my younger children, but her own son who I have custody of.

    Parenting isn’t a black and white scenario for the majority of us and sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. To fools who feel lofty and perfect enough to pass judgement on those who have had to stand in the place of making very, very difficult decisions I say be careful. Karma is a complete bitch.

    Like

    • Oh, Sandy. I had no idea you had gone through all of this. I’m so sorry.

      As to the hate towards Kristi, it IS ignorance. The people criticizing her have NO idea what kind of situation she’s in and didn’t care to even ask. They just started firing their hate cannons and lobbing judgement grenades. Misplaced self-righteousness really pisses me off.

      Liked by 1 person

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