Family Matters
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Child alienation from family

My sister died 4 years ago from breast cancer at the age of 39.  She had a 4 year old daughter.  She had a lot of support from the Father's side of the family along with myself.  My niece and I formed a strong bond as she stayed with me every other weekend for the last 4 years up until 8 months ago.  The father began immediately dating online (even asked me to go stay overnight with him - I am happily married, 33 years. I was shocked and appalled).  The first one he dated a month or so after my sister died was supposedly "the one" and three months later she was gone only to be replaced by another.  This one he married within a few months.  Once married she began to totally control him and his daughter.  Within a year, she had succeeded in destroying his relationship with his family....all of them.  They stopped allowing my niece to see any of them.  It has been two years now.  They went to court 8 months ago trying to get visitation with their granddaughter and I wrote an affidavit letter on their behalf stating what I experienced with my niece since their separation and how heartbroken she was.  Immediately I was taken out of her life also. 

Her birthday is coming up and they won't take my calls, texts, emails, nothing.  I have asked that they let me give her a birthday gift but cannot get a response from them.  His family wants to go to their house on her birthday, stand in the street and sing happy birthday to her.  Let go balloons and just tell her we love and miss her.  I guess I just need advice....would this be a good or bad thing to do?  I know my niece longs to see us and is totally confused about it all.  She will be 8 years old.  We are not trying to start trouble, just want her to know we haven't forgotten her and love and miss her.  Any advice? 

Re: Child alienation from family

  • I personally don't see how standing in the street and in effect, causing a scene, would be a good idea. I would mail gifts to her with cards enclosed stating that you love her no matter what and get the delivery confirmation from the PO. Make sure return addresses are clear on the package, and go from there.

    Her dad is sadly letting this happen, and is her legal and biological parent. If his family doesn't win any court appointed visitation, there won't be much you can do besides trying to stay in touch with her through letters or perhaps social media when she's old enough.

    I hope her dad sees the light soon, but it doesn't sound hopeful.

  • Thank you for the response.  I agree with you, really no hope in seeing her anytime soon.  I was afraid it might upset her if we go there and they cause a scene. When you love a child, it makes you almost desperate.  I have been grieving like I lost a child myself.  Maybe one day she will come see me when older.  I have kept a journal, have videos of her and her Mom, so at least she will know the truth one day.
  • Did anyone research grandparent rights before starting this mess?

    They won't win. It's they way the court sees it, a parent is with the child and that parent will protect the child.

    You messed up by writing that letter for them. You won't come back from that.

    No, standing in the street won't help. Your niece may not ever know you where even there.

    If I were you, I'd write down every dang memory I had of her mother. Every memory I had of our side of the family.

    Buy your niece a gift on every gift giving occasion. A charm bracelet, something her mother collected or whatever. Keep until she is out of that house. Then give it to her.

    The one thing I know, the harder people try and keep someone from the life they should have, the harder it finds them.

    You'll have to wait. It'll find her.
  • Actually, the lawyer that represented them said we had a sure case.  Being the Mother died and that the Grandparents cared for her constantly - she practically lived with them.  Of course, he was wrong...just wanted the $$.  He told me to my face that my letter wouldn't be used unless it actually made it to court.  He evidently lied about that too because it was included. I wouldn't have risked it if I didn't believe him.  And yes, I should have researched it myself evidently.  I at the time, had found out my niece was being put on a timer at the dinner table, because she wasn't finishing her meal until after they did.  She was having a hard time dealing with the loss of her Mother.  The Stepmother felt she should finish at the same time, so put the timer on the table with five minutes and if she didn't finish all of her food, she was spanked with a wooden paddle.  They didn't stop it until I told them I talked with a child psychologist who told me to call CPS because that was a form of child abuse.  Once I told them this, it did stop.  However, she would eat so fast she would choke herself when we would go to dinner.  The more I talked to them and expressed my concerns, the more they began to push me out of her life.  It was coming anyway, I saw it.  The timer was only one of many things going on.  I think she has now quit her job and is homeschooling her.  Just scares me because now I don't know what is going on with her and I can't help her.  Trying to help her only hurt her in the long run.  Makes me angry at myself for being so naive.
  • Spin313Spin313 member
    Tenth Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited August 2013
    So, did you contact CPS...? If you didn't, and you just told BIL and his wife instead, then you F-ed up. I'd still contact CPS. Are you sure about the homeschooling...? Could you write a letter to her school counselor, if she is in school? This whole situation is weird and makes me think something is happening to this child behind closed doors.
    <a href=""><img src="" width="400" height="80" border="0" alt="Lilypie Second Birthday tickers" /></a>

    <a href=""><img src="" width="400" height="80" border="0" alt="Lilypie Fifth Birthday tickers" /></a>
  • Spin313 said:
    So, did you contact CPS...? If you didn't, and you just told BIL and his wife instead, then you F-ed up. I'd still contact CPS. Are you sure about the homeschooling...? Could you write a letter to her school counselor, if she is in school? This whole situation is weird and makes me think something is happening to this child behind closed doors.
    Excellent suggestion.

    You could have the gifts mailed but there is no guarantee the kiddo will get them. That's my guess.

    Get CPS in on this immediately.
  • Agree with pp something doesn't seem right with the stepmom, just gives me a bad feeling. She also isn't giving your niece the proper grieving process.
  • Thank you for your replies.  Yes, I am afraid you are right about the Stepmom.  To push every blood relative out of her life for no good reason is just strange.  However, I have heard horror stories about CPS too!  What if I am wrong?  I would never want to put my niece through more trauma.  However, spanking a child for not eating fast enough is just sick.  I don't know, I am so confused and frustrated about this.  Lots of sleepless nights.  I will be finding out about the homeschooling and if so, I am going to call them because there is no reason for that.  She is an RN and he makes very little money so it makes no sense for her to quit her job to homeschool her.  She needs therapy, not discipline.  For years she stayed with me and never did I have to scold her.  She would always mind and never gave me one bit of trouble.  I know her well and things just don't add up. 
  • You have a moral obligation to call CPS. Let them investigate and figure out if it's real abuse or not. That's their job, not yours, and they know how to do it in a way that won't traumatize the child. They will also know the law on homeschooling in your state and be able to intervene if stepmom isn't doing it correctly.
  • Ok, thank you for all the advice.  Nice to get an outsiders point of view.  I will call and talk to CPS.
  • Oh my gosh! I am so very sorry for you and your family. I have 3 nephews and 1 niece and could not imagine if my sister passed away. What an ordeal! It sounds like your BIL chose a real peach. Unfortunately, I don't think there is much you can do. I don't necessarily disagree about calling CPS, but that will certainly push you further away. The timer thing is wrong, but remember all the crazy things CPS is dealing with. Unfortunately, bad parenting isn't necessarily seen as abuse. If you all show up and cause a scene you will negate your position and look like crazy people. Keep tabs on where your neice is and continue to send her gifts and cards with your contact information. She may or may not get them, but you need to make peace with the fact that you are doing all you can to keep in contact. I would also suggest councilling for you to deal with your loss and accept the situation you are in. I am so sorry for your loss of your sister and for the loss of your relationship with your niece. The best that can happen is for you to back off and new step mom will stop seeing you as a threat. With that you may be able to reconnect. If you continue to be adversarial toward them, they will continue to seperate and shut you out. You, unfortunately, do not have any legal rights to this child and need to understand your best bet is to get in as good of terms as you can with BIL. Just an FYI, I have a feeling the attourney wasn't wrong about grandparents rights, I have a feeling he saw a desperate family and a paycheck. You can fight these things to the financial detriment of everyone involved, and the biological custodial parent will still win. Again, I am so sorry for you Andy your family and hope for all the best.
  • If you believe that abuse is happening, call CPS. Otherwise realize that you may not have the whole story. Cases like this get ugly and unless you are being told directly from your niece I would be careful what you believe. 

    As for her birthday, mail her a simple card letting her know you love her and are thinking about her. Signing in the street is asking for trouble and a horrible thing to make your niece go through. 
    image Nicholas loved for 28 weeks, 4/11/10
    Baby Boy loved for 15 weeks, 5/31/11
    Baby Girl loved for 16.5 weeks. 3/1/12
  • I would call CPS and ask them for their advice. A call to CPS is anonymous, so it wouldn't push YOU farther away. It would, however, potentially allow you or her grandparents to take custody of her.
  • Also, honestly, her stepmom seems like she is escalating and the homeschooling sounds horrifying. Please call.
    If she's alone...I just hope that it isn't what it seems.
  • asewellasewell member
    Sixth Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited August 2013
    A CPS worker told me that its good to call even if you aren't sure or have no "proof," because when they get enough of those calls from different people in a kid's life that is enough reason to investigate. And often abusers are excellent at making sure there is not "proof," so getting lots of weak calls is the kids' best shot at getting an investigation. Also, sometimes the details of different calls can combine to paint a clear picture of abuse, when one call alone isn't conclusive. for instance, maybe a nurse has called about a suspicious injury, but mom swears it was an accident and she never hits the kid so theres not enough evidence to investigate, and then the neighbor calls and says she's seen mom hit the kid but she's not sure if its legal corporal punishment or over the line into abuse... neither call alone is conclusive, but put together they paint a different picture. Consider this: CPS may already have calls on this kid from neighbors, teachers, doctors, and your call might be the one that allows them to finally investigate. And it takes A LOT for CPS to take a kid. The horror stories you hear usually involve someone making up an outrageous lie. You telling the truth about what you have seen will by no means trigger anything drastic by itself, in this particular situation. But if its combined with other calls from other people it might save this kid someday.
  • Wow, I never thought by joining this site I would get so much advice! Thank you, thank you! I have not called CPS yet, but it is good to know that I can call anonomously.  I would prefer to do that and just get their advice. I just don't want to cause my niece more harm.  And I have decided not to participate in the birthday thing.  If the Stepmom is there, I am pretty sure she will call the police and make it a big issue.  That would only upset my niece.  And yes, I have considered counseling and I am sure I need it.  Has take quite a toll on me mentally.  Thank you again for all your suggestions/comments, it is greatly appreciated.
  •  I lost my sister and sadly her husband has also kept the kids from us.  sometimes you just have to wait until they are adults and approach them.  I don't believe they are being harmed at all or I would do more.

    good luck to you
  • I am sorry you are enduring somewhat the same thing.  It is hard to lose a sister but to lose her children too just adds to the heartache.  I can only hope my niece will remember all of our times together and come back to me when she is older. Wish you all the best also.
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