How do I contact my long-lost niece?

This is something that my younger sister and I, to say nothing of my mother, have wanted to do for a long time. A little background to explain things is in order:

My older sister hooked up with the father while she was in Georgia with the Air Force. She became pregnant, they decided to get married. They were married, the baby came, typical story so far.

But my sister, to be blunt, is an unspeakable bitch. She turns every relationship into mortal combat. To be fair, some of that is probably my fault, we’re only 18 months apart and she naturally assumed that she would be treated like the “older” child, only to find out that she couldn’t dominate a particularly rambunctious brother (me) so she became a hyper-aggressive control freak with a temper even more explosive than mine. That pretty much set the stage for every relationship she’s ever had. She hooks up with someone, they like her, then she takes a great big shit on them sometime down the road.

Anyway, they went to Europe, she was assigned there and he was already out of the service. Apparently she treated him like trash, he had enough, and while she was at work he took the baby, got on a plane and went home to Iowa, where they remain.

My sister called home in hysterics, and all sorts of things were supposed to happen. None of them did. Apparently hysterics don’t actually mean that the person is going to do anything about it. My sister apparently shrugged her shoulders somewhere along the way and decided that it was a lost cause, making no effort to see her daughter at any time but having plenty of time and money to go see Mickey 3 times a year.

This is a long-standing open wound in my family. My mother still speaks of her granddaughter as if she was a baby, because she missed every part of her life growing up. She is not. She is now 20 years old. As a result, my older sister’s demand that we not contact her until she did (which never happened) is null and void.

So, how do I go about contacting her? It IS family, after all, and we didn’t have anything to do with any of the ill will certain to exist. I’m prepared for anything, including being ignored and/or being told to go pound sand, but I have no idea how to get to that point. I could delegate it to my younger sister who wants to do the same, but that still doesn’t change the essential question, it just puts it on someone else.

I am not clear:

  1. have you located the niece, but don’t know what to say to her or
  2. don’t know how to find her? If so what do you know about the niece’s and her father’s name, employment, age, relatives…

The first. I know where she’s at. But I don’t know that it’s appropriate to just come out and say “Hi, I’m your uncle!” when to her I’m a total stranger that she’s never met before (she did, but she wouldn’t remember, it was a long time ago).

Withdrawn due to above clarification.

Just bite the bullet. At 20, she’s (hopefully) mature enough to see a sincere wish to regain contact as being appropriate.

Or maybe contact her dad first to test the waters. Assure him that you are not acting as a proxy for your sister, and see where it goes from there.

Good luck!

Spend some time composing a letter that reflects how much she’s always been in your thoughts, your open disdain for your sisters actions and your expectations from any contact she might feel to initiate.

Include some photos of y’all, address, phone, email.

Then comes the hard part. You wait. Patiently. Until she’s comfortable enough to initiate contact. And when she does, even if it’s years from now, be sensitive to moving forward at a pace she finds comfortable. Go slowly.

Wishing you the greatest good luck with your adventure!

Have your parents (assuming they’re still living) ever made an attempt to be part of her life? The reason I ask is that I have a relative, who-for unknown reasons–relinquished parental rights when he and his wife split. His parents never, ever made any attempt to maintain any contact with the grandchild (which the mom and new husband probably wouldn’t have minded). Now the child is in her thirties, and isn’t the slightest bit interested in any kind of relationship with anyone in her bio-dad’s family.

No, but it wasn’t a question of lack of willingness. My mother raised the subject once with my sister and she went batshit crazy about it. It was one of those choices you have to make with no good alternative, she could attempt to contact the girl, and likely lose the daughter and contact with the other grandchildren (two more sons with her second husband). She kept the status quo because she didn’t really have any alternative. I have no such issues, she and I don’t really get along anyway and not speaking to her is something I’m used to.

Like I said, my older sister is truly a piece of work.

Elbows laid out the broad strokes.

Keep in mind that your niece may not (at least initially) be as eager to hear from you as your are to hear from her.

I don’t know that it’s a good idea to greet the niece with family conflict right from the get-go. Maybe something more along the lines of simply indicating that you’re not acting on your sister’s behalf.

This doesn’t really even seem like that tricky of a situation to me. Just write her an email or letter or whatever and tell her the situation. Tell her it’s nothing to do with her mother, but you personally are interested in getting to know her if she’s willing, because she’s your family. And then tell her a little bit about yourself and (if you’re not messaging her from FB or whatever) include a couple pictures. I wouldn’t be surprised if she would be upset to hear from her mother after all this time, but to hear from an uncle who just want to know his niece sounds like a pretty nice, non-upsetting surprise. You don’t want to make it sound like a big deal, just keep it casual.

Do not share a link to this thread with your niece. Do not explain that you never contacted her because her mother is a psycho bitch.

What you SHOULD do instead, I dunno. Tell her the truth to the greatest possible extent, and keep your mouth shut when the truth might alienate her.

My thoughts: Send her a nice holiday or birthday card and wait for a response. If she bites, slowly re-establish communication, until things are comfortable enough for a phone call or email. Don’t disparage her mother during those calls and simply let her know that you are glad to hear from her.

If she doesn’t respond, then consider that she may not want to renew the relationship and let it go. But leave the door open if she changes her mind later.

Huh? How can telling her the truth to the greatest possible extent leave out the fact that her mother is totally nutso, and has vetoed any family members contacting her (the niece) over all these years?

As I said upthread…just contact her. You are her uncle, and her grandma is also interested in reestablishing a relationship. Any issues with her mum are none of your business, and hopefully will not be an ‘issue’ between the rest of the extended family.

It is a terrible idea to restart a relationship with a family member by expressing your opinion that her mother is insane. Now, if the niece expresses that opinion first, then feel free to go ahead and respond in kind. But don’t be the first to start casting stones.

This sounds perfect to me. Good luck!

I never knew my paternal grandfather (long story short- my paternal grandmother was an evil bitch). Every now and then when we were in Philadelphia, we would look up his name in the phone book and contemplate calling. But my father forbid it.

Not dialing that number and saying ‘Hello, I think I’m your grandson.’ is one of the great regrets in my life.

DO IT. Write a letter. Send an e-mail. Just do it.

Out of curiosity, what has changed now? Is it just that the other kids are old enough now that their mother can’t forbid them to talk to all of you?

No, it’s that if I do it it’s a fait accompli. My younger sister and I test the waters, maybe set the stage, and once it’s done she can either accept it or tell us to go to hell. My mother won’t do that, but I’m OK with that possibility.

Best of luck. I hope it turns out well for you and your neice