Lessons Learned
Three Suggestions from Veteran Stepmoms​
Mandilu84's List

Hi! I'm 27 and have been SMOM to SD6 (7 next week) for about 3.5 years. I have been with DH for 5, but the first 1.5 years of our relationship, SD was in Mexico with BM while BM was getting her papers. 

The things I would have done differently:
1. Encourage DH to bring SD back from Mexico as soon as possible rather than waiting for BM to be able to come legally. We now know that SD was subjected to a lot of neglect that left her emotionally scared and with untreated Urinary Tract Infections. DH was aware of what was going on to an extent, but was too afraid of BM to 'rock the boat' so to speak. We can both see now that if he had brought SD back right away, she would not have been subjected to a lot of the trauma she experienced. 

2. We would never have tried to work out an out of court custody agreement with BM, but rather would have gone to court immediately. Our efforts in trying to work together would work until SD was back with BM who would then turn angry and violent toward DH in front of SD in order to get her way. Poor SD was put in the middle and DH was put in the position of agreeing with whatever BM was asking for at the moment in order to make sure SD wasn't further emotionally scarred. If we would have had a court ordered agreement from the start, SD would have had a lot more security. As it happened, there was no real schedule until we did go to court. Instead SD would be with us whenever BM agreed to it and wouldn't allow SD to go to the preschool we had enrolled her in but instead, enrolled her in a head start program in a really bad part of town. A court order fixed all of that and if we would have understood that from the beginning, SD would have been better off. On those same lines, every time we filed for a change, DH would go to BM, explain what the papers filed actually meant and try to come to an agreement. Every time, she would refuse to work with him. 

3. I would have finished my education sooner and been better with money. There were many times that I dropped classes or put things off because of SD or DHs needs. If I had to do it over again, I would have put more priority on my education and career. Now I'm struggling to finish my last few classes and in a dead end position at work. Things are tight financially and that puts a lot of stress on me. If I would have finished school and gotten a better paying job sooner, things would have been easier on all of us.
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