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Half-brother being kept away by deadbeat dad - any advice?

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Half-brother being kept away by deadbeat dad - any advice?

Postby raininmybrain » Tue Nov 26, 2019 8:02 am

I have a weird family situation I would love to get people's validation or ideas on. Please be respectful and kind as this is a very traumatic and personal story for me.

Basically, my father abandoned my mother and me when she was pregnant, and since my mother was schizophrenic, I didn't have anyone to really take care of me. Since I searched to see if I may have siblings, I found that I have a half-brother who is still a child while I am in my mid-30s. I've been spending the last year-and-a-half trying to get through to his mother, technically my stepmother, who lives in another area. I reached out to her on Facebook messenger, and I will get a reply back once in awhile but I've sent much more than I received, and since I need to take it slow for my own mental health and avoid my neglectful and emotionally abusive father or related stuff, I've been a little slow to reply at times myself. I've also been living abroad in different countries and was in grad school, and anytime there's a holiday around I tend to wait to avoid extra triggers and stress. But I recently waited a month for a reply on a question of whether I could start out by sending my brother gifts so he would get a sense of who I am. I still haven't heard back, and after waiting so long overall, I was feeling a bit like nothing was going to happen with this and I would have to wait till he was an adult to ever meet him. Then I sent an article that talked about a woman asking if she needed to mention to her stepson about him having a secret sibling.... one of those Dear Abby type of situations, and just sent it and told her I thought she might find it of interest, basically the article was about how it's better not to keep those things secret because they can end up making you feel worse than if you share them and that the child might pick up on things somehow.

Then all of a sudden she replies, and I haven't even been able to read the whole thing because I was feeling that horrible dread feeling you get when someone is super mean or something is off, and was crying the moment that I saw the first part of the message, randomly cuz I was trying to look at other Facebook messages. I always try to protect myself from seeing messages that might upset me but this time I was a little blindsided, and all I saw was her saying something like I'm not hiding you from him and then she mentioned my biological father's name, which still even hurts me to hear. Not even a hello, just immediately defensively launching into whatever she felt she had to say in the moment, when she couldn’t be bothered to reply all that time. The only thing I had heard on that issue is that she said she didn't know how to explain to him my existence, since at the time he was only 10 years old. She never said anything of substance since, so naturally I did assume that she was still hiding things.

I really don't understand how a woman could become involved with a man who had abandoned his child and then have a child with him, earlier on we were talking about speaking on the phone, me and her, and I imagine I would have to tell her pretty much my life story. I don't know if she would even believe it, I don't know how she could know it and still be with someone like that, or trust him to be even around her child.

It's a tough situation because there's no way I can expose myself to my father, but I was hoping that there could be some way that I would be able to meet, talk to, interact through letters or at least something with my brother before he becomes an adult, while at the same time not having to meet and interact with my biological father. It's just too toxic for me to take that risk of having to deal with him. At the same time it's weird because I don't want to do to my brother what my father did to me, to just make excuses that I don't want to deal with a family member, perhaps he made excuses he didn't want to deal with my mom but I never really heard any of it. I feel like I've already shown more responsibility to my brother than my father ever showed to me, even though I know ultimately I don't have that parental responsibility.

I met my father several times when I was a child, I could count them on my hands, then I invited him for Christmas when I was 13 and he said he didn't think it was a good idea, I sent presents but never got a response or any presents back, I left voicemails and I never heard anything again. Ghosted by my own “dad.” As the holidays are coming up I know there's no way I can put myself in such a toxic situation now, but it's frustrating, I don't want to have to wait several years and lose the chance of knowing my brother as a child, especially since I have no family myself as it is. Other than my cousins. I'm hoping to continue to build the relationship I have with them and to start volunteering in an orphanage where I live, helping kids who are going through what I went through. I'd really like to have a connection to children at this time in my life, especially as I don't plan on having them myself but do want to have those experiences. But visiting there just reminded me of my brother, the same age as some of the kids there.

It's an overall very frustrating situation. I also worry that I don't know whether my brother is being taken care of well or not. I don't trust my father to be a father to anyone, and he actually got divorced from his previous wife because he didn't want children. Then all of a sudden he sh*ts out a kid when he's waaay older, with a woman who's probably not that far from my own age. As far as I know I have no legal rights in the state of Massachusetts as a sibling, although I did email a lawyer who hasn't gotten back to me. I also know you can do security checks on children, though I don't even have their address and would have to figure all of that out and what kind of effect it would have on the situation. Really not sure how the hell to proceed while also protecting myself in the process. But I don't want to give up on the chance that I could have a relationship with a brother, what I've always wanted as an only child, in the same way that I've become close with my younger male cousin. Or at the very least to look out for him and make sure that he, unlike me, doesn't grow up wondering why no one ever stepped in to help.

Has anyone had any kind of similar experiences or any advice?
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Re: Half-brother being kept away by deadbeat dad - any advice?

Postby Remember Ronni » Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:48 pm

This is obviously a really tricky situation. But for what it's worth these are my thoughts reading your post.

Firstly I should say I am now completely estranged from my whole family. My Mum is the problem for me. My brother lives with her. My brother and I had a relationship for 15 years in spite of the fact I wanted no contact with my mother. They live about 5 miles down the road from me. I have another brother with whom I have had no contact for about 30 years. He lives near to them. My brother recently started turning on me - long story which I won't go into here. I knew it was coming from her but having had several years of this I cut ties with him too. So I may not be the best person to offer any advice here.

Your Dad - I totally get why you feel the way you do. It is completely understandable. He let you and your Mum down big time. It is possible however that your Dad, now much older and hopefully wiser, has changed. He may even regret what he did. You have not heard his side and beleive me when I say there are always 2 sides (I used to be a divorce lawyer). I am not defending him by any means nor am I saying you should hear his side, I am just saying it may have been more complicated, relationships always are. And like it or not people can and do change. Perhaps he learned his lesson. Or maybe he did not. But that is for your step-mother to figure out.

Your step-mother - As above. Don't try to involve yourself in their relationship issues. She will not thank you for it and you don't want her to cut you off. She doesn't want to hear your life story. And chances are if she does she will simply blame someone else for what happened so doing that is not the best idea. If you want to build a relationship with her then read her FB, what does she like, like her posts, make friends with her (not real friends necessarily). FB makes it easy, and keep sending the messages even if you don't get a reply. Try not to lecture (you don't know why she hasn't told her son, not really) When I read your post what struck me is that you are investing too much emotionally in her. Take a step back.

Your brother - I understand why you want to contact him. But, he is 10 years old. Let him be a kid, don't hand him your baggage. He isn't old enough to understand it properly yet, not should he have to. Don't try and turn him against your Dad. That is never going to work and might end up with you losing contact with all of them. When he is old enough he will see his parents as they are and for what they are. If you try to alienate him now from them you are the one he will end up hating. Let him discover his life for what it is at his own pace. His welfare - you have no idea about this so don't even think of going to child services or you will lose all of them instantly. Let those around him watch out for him. Unless you know and I mean with actual evidence that there is anything wrong there then stay out of it. You will only make trouble for yourself.

So advice. I suspect you are not going to be able to have much of a relationship with your brother right now, aged 10. His Mum needs to know she can trust you. So stop attacking her with interesting Dear Abby articles. You don't know that's what is going on. Plus she needs to see you can keep your baggage to yourself and that you're not likely to blurt out the whole truth to your brother aged 10. Take a step back, make it lighter, funnier even, build trust first. And when the time is right ask if it would be ok to send him a card - or send him a Xmas card care of her (don't send it direct - you will only be shooting yourself in the foot if you force the issue). And keep it age appropriate, does he like baseball or football or games maybe. He's 10. Leave the relationship stuff for another 10 years maybe.

I hope that wasn't disrespectful. That isn't my intention at all. Try not to be so emotionally invested - I have BPD too, I know that's a big ask sometimes. This a process you need to take slowly and gently. Think of the long term, not the short. A marathon not a sprint kind of thing. The thing to remember is she replied. She didn't block you. That's huge. So don't mess it up by sending what would be seen as a critical Dear Abby article. Anyone receiving that is going to be a bit defensive. Keep it light. In time you will look back and see why I've said what I have. As one BPD to another, you are being a bit emotionally intense. Which is absolutely fine on here but won't win you any points with your step-mother.

The most important thing, what does your brother need right now? Because his needs are what's important. You need to wind it back a bit. A big brother/sister who knows everything about Dinosaurs. Ask about him. Talk about him. Don't give her unsolicited parenting advice or diss her relationships. It won't go well if you do. You don't know what she knows about your history. She might have googled BPD and you know how that goes. You need to build some trust. Right now it sounds like you're making it all about you. Sorry. She might be a great mum but really bad at checking her FB. Plus she has a whole life going on too. Tell us how you feel, not her.

One last word of advice, you need to work on your anger towards your Dad a bit. Believe me whan I say I totally get it. But if you're not careful this could end up ruining any chance of contact with your brother. I'm not sure if I will ever be able to forgive my Mum, but being so angry at her has spoilt relationships I might have had. I would hate to see that happen to you. It's his Dad too and their relationship may be very diferent to yours. His life may be very different to yours. I'm not proposing you see your Dad or anything like that, just keep all that past stuff out of this relationship, unless asked. Find another outlet for all of that.
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