The drama of my deadbeat sis-in-law continues... (Long)

If you are at all interested in the history of how we got custody of our nephew, and the drama that my dead beat sister-in-law K continues to throw at us, you can read the following before continuing below:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

If you don’t want to read up on the back story, here is the cliff-notes version:
Eric is my nephew we have had legal custody of since November, 2007. We took custody of him because his dead beat mother, K, is a drug addict who went from running her own successful dog grooming business to having nothing because of her substance abuse problem. Eric has an older brother, M, who removed himself from the situation and permanently lives with his grandparents, my in-laws. K’s ex husband, is also homeless and a substance abuser.

Since my last post about this in February, 2008, K has come back from her trip to Florida. She spent about 4 weeks down there and during that time, there was essentially no drama here. K would call once in awhile to talk to Eric as well as her ex, but that was about it. As we predicted, she wasn’t able to do any better in Florida than she did there. The best we can surmise is that she was able to make a little money, but her ex kept taking it from her. As is usual between the two of them, they fought all the time. So K decided to come back to MI.

As soon as she was back in MI, Eric started really getting all irritable and angry around us again. He’s been seeing the counselor all this time and it has been helping, but Eric still gets very upset with his mother. With her it is one broken promise after another. She has found more loser friends to stay with and even was able to somehow get her hands on a car. She found a job cleaning cages at the animal shelter once per week, but I don’t even know if she is still with that job right now.

Eric is making slow, but steady progress. Even with his mother back and causing him mental anguish with her antics, he has pretty much accepted that he will be staying with us through the summer and that he will be going to the same school again next year. Also, Eric asked if he could start going to Karate class with my son and I. It has been helping immensely. Not only is it giving him some good physical exercise which he desperately needs, it also is helping him to develop a positive self image. Recently there have been times we have left for Karate class with Eric literally sobbing from having to deal with K, but then about 5 min into Karate class and he is feeling much better. The class is definitely helping him to focus and concentrate better as well as control his emotional state.

Eric’s brother, M, is still living with his grandparents (my in-laws). He is 16 and has a driver’s license. He has been given specific instructions not to give K rides to anywhere. K has also had this explained to her, yet she still asks M to give her rides to the store, or to a friend’s house. M just tells her, “Mom, you know I’m not allowed to drive you anywhere.” How M handles her when he’s moved out will be a different matter.

The very latest drama happened this weekend. K had been driving her car without plates and got a ticket for it last year. She never paid the ticket, so the police have been looking for her and finally caught up with her. They put her in jail last Friday. Her father, who has never been able to let K hit bottom, paid her bail. This is the first time we’ve heard of K being put in jail, but Eric told us this sort of thing has happened before when he was still in her custody.

We weren’t surprised.

Anyways, K walked from the jail to our house and, according to my wife, started making calls to a bunch of her friends, telling them where she had been and where she was going to go. K then convinced my wife to take her to a motel room that K was able to rent. Apparently her friends kicked her out of where she had been staying for the past 2 months.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. K’s ex is back from Florida. They are both staying in the motel room tonight figuring out what they are going to do next.

So I guess its back to the usual of K moving from place to place, her ex squatting out in people’s yards, and my wife and father-in-law not able to remove themselves from the situation and never fully letting K hit rock bottom.

This whole situation is really putting stress on my wife and I, mainly because I think its best to remove ourselves from most of K’s life while wife can’t seem to do that. I hope we are able to navigate through it. I understand that she is K’s sister and being such, it is hard to remove the emotion and see what needs to be done. I understand that K will never fully be out of our lives, but I think we have to use our authority as guardians to severely limit K’s exposure to Eric and to my family because her actions are starting to get way too dangerous. I don’t want K bringing her druggie loser friends to my house, nor do I want her using our phone to meet up with those people as well.

And so the drama continues. Eric is slowly coming around, but he still is dealing with the pain of the whole thing. I wish there was more we could do for him.

I’ve read your other threads about this. And now I come to offer a very cheesy and perhaps unrealistic suggestion.

Send Eric to summer camp. Maybe not this summer, as it’s kind of late in the game, but maybe next year. There are tons of awesome camps and it would serve a few purposes:
a) Removes him from unpredictable contact with K as effectively as her trip to FL did
b) Furthers his confidence and physical activity in the same way karate does
c) Gives him a wider pool of friends

If you can’t swing something like that or he just isn’t interested, look at shorter time-commitment activities that will still boost his own self-image and self-reliance. Ropes courses, rock climbing, canoeing, etc. Or, check out Outward Bound.

Specifically, this is the Outward Bound aspect I was thinking of. My brother did a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters and absolutely thrived.

Beadalin, thanks for the suggestions. We signed him and my other boys for summer camp back in April. We also have other other summer activities planned as well, for every one of our children. Camp will be in July and then we also have a family camping trip scheduled as well.

Some people get the message after one time round the track. Sometimes, especially with our family, we need to go around the track a few more times before we can see it. Your wife just needs to go around the track a few more times, try not to judge her for it. As you say, the drama and upset and emotion of it all, makes it hard for the players to see it sometimes.

I agree with you, paying her bail and not cutting contact aren’t going to help the situation. But express confidence that they’ll get there, accept that they can’t see it for a while, express that you hope one day soon they will. Be patient and calm. They may surprise you.

And good luck to you!