Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Baby’s Dad is in Jail and I Can’t Support Us”

I got married to Dan at 18 and right after graduation, and one year and two months later I gave birth to our daughter, Katie. Six months after she was born, Dan and I separated and his contract with the military was up. I allowed Katie to live primarily with him because he lived with his parents once we moved off base and I didn’t feel like my living situation was stable enough for her. His parents are wealthy and he was a great dad.

I did the right thing for Katie, but I struggled with finances and keeping even a waitress job. My emotional state became more and more deteriorated and even now to this day my ex-husband barely lets me see Katie because he wants me to have supervised visits. He thought I was an emotional liability for our daughter. I was, at first, but he has been without that excuse for well over a year now. Many people who know the situation think he is keeping her from me still because he has massive control issues and wants to continue punishing me for the wrongs I committed while he and I were together.

John and I started dating about a year after Dan was discharged. It’s now been two years, and John and I got engaged last March. We knew a wedding wouldn’t be happening for at least five years. We weren’t perfect, but we tried and did the best with what we had. I still struggled with holding down a job, but John was kind about it and never complained. He worked and we had my car, and we were living rent-free with my best friend from high school, so we were ok.

Then I started getting severe stomach pain and was told I was carrying an ectopic pregnancy (the egg which carried my son David was partially inside one of my fallopian tubes. If allowed to grow, the egg can become too large in size and rupture your tubes, causing internal bleeding and a high likelihood of death in the mother). Somehow, the fetus had made it four months without me noticing pregnancy signs or miscarrying in the way most ectopic pregnancies end. Doctors kept telling me to abort for my own safety, but I couldn’t do it. I was put on strict bed rest, and somehow my son moved into my uterus and eventually was born two weeks late, a happy healthy little boy.

Right before David was born, though, disaster struck us and our car was completely totalled with the insurance company not paying out even though we weren’t at fault. John worked with my roommate so getting rides to work was ok, but it put a huge strain on us, not having the independence that a car brings. But even as bad as that was, it’s nowhere close to the end or as bad as things would get.

A month ago, two weeks after David was born, we found out my daughter has cancer. Relatively little is still known about it, and, while I was ok at first, being the strong parent and making sure she didn’t see me freak out, eventually stress broke me down. Without a car, I had to find rides to the hospital 1.5 hours away. And you can’t bring a two-week-old into a hospital like that where there are so many super germs. So barely being able to see her, worrying about her, and dealing with my ex-husband and his obnoxious and disrespectful girlfriend who was CONSTANTLY there, as well as John becoming more and more impatient with his job situation, finally led to a break down. I started being so cruel to everyone that I cared about, taking my anger out on people who didn’t deserve it.

John is now in jail for aggravated assault against me. I got so upset with him for “not spending time with his family ever” and not caring that the fireworks he was setting off on NYE were scaring our son that I broke up with him in a rage and said the meanest things. I wasn’t even actually mad at him; I was in so much pain because it was a tradition to set off fireworks with my daughter who couldn’t be there with me this year to do so. John started to drink and didn’t stop. After coming outside for the seventh time to tell him to stop setting off the large, loud fireworks (the ones that shoot 80 ft in the air) in our back yard, I told him that I guess he didn’t care about his son and how scared he was and that he was an awful dad. He yelled that he was done anyways and I made more mean comments about me being done with him in response. He then threw the fireworks launcher at the truck that I was next to in an attempt to get it into the bed of the truck. It bounced off the plastic coating that lines the bed of the truck and hit me so hard in the head that I blacked out and woke up with no memory of how I’d even gotten outside; I was also bleeding profusely.

I’ve never seen John that drunk and I honestly do believe, while he isn’t innocent of wrong doing, he didn’t mean to hurt me at all. I regained my memory the next day, but it was too late. My roommate had called 911 because of my injury and the cops took John. They then met me at the hospital. I suffered severe injuries including 15 stitches, my nose broken in two places, a concussion, and a swollen-shut eye that has a scratched cornea. I kept repeating to the cops that I didn’t know what had happened and, since I knew he didn’t intentionally hurt me, I demanded no charges be pressed, but they already had taken him. No one witnessed it but us; however, the roommate told the cops John had thrown it at my head and I had no memory. The cops kept telling me I’d have to come to terms with the fact that I was the victim of abuse. It was bullshit. I kept telling them over and over that he didn’t hurt me and that, if they took him, our son and I would soon be homeless. They didn’t care.

So now to the advice part . . .

I still love John so much and have realized how bad my actions had gotten and have since been working on that rage. I take responsibility for what I did. But people keep telling me to dump John for good for this. He didn’t mean to do what he did and has already sworn he will not drink again. He keeps his word always, so I know I can trust this. However, I’m now without a car, without a job, and without computer Internet access (the only access is on my phone), and my family can’t help or take us in. I can’t afford Jphn’s bail. And the roommate is telling me that my son and I need to move out as soon as we can because he can’t support us. Not that he would have to anyways — I just think he doesn’t like the stress that this has caused and he can’t deal with it, so he’s being selfish and not thinking.

I’m already receiving food stamps but nothing else. My friends all live super far away from me. If I have to see another credit card or car loan link or school financial aid link or website that doesn’t actually allow you to ask to have items donated to you or to ask for emergency assistance, I may just cry. Everywhere I turn to try to find at-home work and financial assistance has let me down. My questions: Do I allow John the second chance once he is released from jail? How on earth do I get help to get a car to go to find a job and how can I do that when I’m the sole provider now for our baby? I’m at such a loss as to how to take care of myself and our son. My credit score is poor due to my ex-husband screwing it up with credit cards he took out in my name when we were married. So I can’t get personal loans or car loans. Heck, I can’t even get to the benefits location we have five miles away because I have no ride. How on earth am I supposed to get my baby boy and me out of this mess? — In The Middle of a Mess

You need a lot of help — more help than I can give you in an advice column. And given your pattern of bad decision-making, avoiding responsibility, and shifting blame, I’m not sure any advice I give you will even be taken to heart. But I’ll try anyway, and I hope you’ll receive it with an open heart and an open mind.

First of all, you aren’t in a position to care for a child. Obviously, you know that. You knew that when you were still pregnant and your life was endangered and the doctors were telling you to terminate. You knew that you and your boyfriend were not in a position to care for a baby, unable to even afford a place to live, and, yet, you decided to carry your baby to term anyway, despite the physical danger in doing so, and to keep him instead of placing him with a family who would be better able to care for him and meet his needs. So, I doubt my saying the obvious now will make a difference, but I’ll try anyway: You are not in a position to mother this child. He’s still a little baby. There’s a good chance he could be placed in a loving home that could give him the kind of security and stability and comfort you aren’t able to. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to give up a child, but, if you can find the strength to give him an opportunity for a better life, doing so would be the ultimate expression of love.

As for John, let him go. Honey, you have enough going on in your life without the drama of a boyfriend in jail for busting your head open in a drunken rage. (Whether it was on purpose or not, that’s what happened).

As for your friend who has graciously allowed you and your boyfriend and your infant son to stay in his home rent-free, you owe him a huge debt of gratitude. His asking you to leave as soon as you can is not being “selfish” and it isn’t a reflection of his “not thinking.” It’s him setting some boundaries in a situation where he has offered a lot — a home to a family who can’t afford one as well as daily rides to and from work — and has, in return, gotten a lot of drama (And it sounds like maybe not a lot of appreciation). Maybe it is not too late to work out a deal with him. Ask if you can stay for up to a month and, in that month, do everything you can to get things in order and find a place to live.

How do you do that? For starters, you call organizations that help battered women (your boyfriend busted your head open, so you count as a battered woman) and ask for help. Try: Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.621.HOPE (4673). You can also Google “women’s shelters + [name of your city]” for additional resources. These are places that can offer shelter, clothing, food, and assistance getting on your feet. Take advantage of these services.

You should call every church or religious organization and financial assistance office and homeless/family shelter in your area and ask what can be done to help you. Quit making excuses and get yourself to these offices. You walk if you have to. You take a bus. You borrow money for a taxi. You ask the family who can’t take you in if they can at least drive you to a benefits office so you can get some much-needed help. You ask if your roommate can drop you off on his way to work and then you sit in that office all day if you have to until he can pick you up on his way home. No, it’s not convenient or easy. But when you are seeking help, it’s not anyone else’s job to make it easy and convenient for you. YOU have to take some responsibility and put effort into seeking and receiving whatever help is offered to you.

You also need psychological help. You can’t hold down jobs, you have a history of anger issues, and now you are dealing with an overwhelming amount of stress which means you need someone to help you through this emotional crisis and begin piecing together a plan for establishing good mental health and a plan for abetter future. Depending on where you live, there may be services for battered women and/or homeless mothers that provide counseling as well as employment help. Please, open your heart and your mind to these opportunities if you are fortunate to find them in your area, even if it means living in a shelter temporarily. When you have nowhere to live and don’t have a job or money or friends or family who will take you in and you don’t have a job, you have to live in any safe place that is offered to you.

Finally, in terms of your daughter, be grateful she has a father and extended family on her paternal side who are in a position to not only financially care for her, but physically and emotionally be there for her as well. I can’t imagine the pain you must be in as a mother knowing your daughter is sick and you can’t be by her side as much as possible. But how lucky she has family who CAN be there and who can afford good care for her. I’m sorry you don’t appreciate the presence of her father’s girlfriend, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel good that another woman is there when you can’t be, but on behalf of your daughter, be grateful that she IS surrounded by people who care about her and can be by her side when life has made it impossible for you to be there.

The world isn’t against you. Much of where you are in life is your own doing and not the fault of anyone else. But there are people who can and will help you if you seek them out and put a little effort into receiving their care. I hope for your benefit and the benefit of your children you will do that. Good luck.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

32 comments… add one
  • avatar

    RedroverRedrover January 19, 2015, 9:24 am

    I don’t even know what to say. That poor little baby. Wendy’s right, you have to go to a shelter or something, and you have to do whatever it takes to get the help you need. And if you can’t do that with a baby, then you might have to give him up. I can’t even imagine having to give up a baby, but if I couldn’t afford anywhere to live, it would certainly be a consideration. For me to be on the street is one thing, for my baby to be there when I could give him a better life, is not an option.

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  • kare

    kare January 19, 2015, 9:36 am

    Can an ectopic pregnancy really correct itself and become a normal pregnancy? Obviously I know very little about pregnancy and women’s health, but I find it a bit odd that an ectopic pregnancy would last 4 months then correct itself.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy January 19, 2015, 9:39 am

      No, it can’t. From my understanding, there is literally no way an ectopic pregnancy can just turn into a normal and safe pregnancy. Clearly, the LW is either confused about what happened or is lying. I just figured there was enough other stuff in the letter to focus on that I didn’t address that issue.

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      • avatar

        Sunshine Brite January 19, 2015, 9:44 am

        That’s what I thought. I saw someone else claiming an etopic pregnancy corrected itself on an article’s comments I was browsing earlier this week and then I was confused then I saw this. There must be something similar out there that both these women are describing.

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      • avatar

        Kate January 19, 2015, 11:50 am

        There are a number of inconsistencies and holes in the story. For example, she woke up bleeding with her head busted open and didn’t remember coming outside… Yet she remembers every detail of what happened including that John threw the thing in the truck and not at her… Um ok. And if it was an accident then why did he leave the scene and leave her lying there bleeding?

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      • avatar

        Kate January 19, 2015, 11:54 am

        Oh and the roommate saw john throw the thing at her head, but HE also left her there bleeding. Right. Anyway, everyone’s advice is good.

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      • kare

        kare January 20, 2015, 12:48 pm

        From the updated response, it doesn’t sound as if it was ectopic, but like people mentioned partly in the fallopian tube, partly uterus. Maybe that I ectopic? I wasn’t trying to ask the LW to freak out and prove this. I just was curious because you know, science.

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    • mylaray

      mylaray January 19, 2015, 9:44 am

      They can rarely be misdiagnosed. I believe that’s the only way. I recently had one and it’s very scary. There was no way I was going to take a chance and not end it.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom January 19, 2015, 11:01 am

      The only thing I can think of would be if the embryo implanted where the fallopian tube meets the uterus.

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      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover January 19, 2015, 11:55 am

        It sounds like that’s what she’s describing. She said it was partly in the fallopian tube, which means it was also partly in the uterus.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite January 19, 2015, 9:40 am

    Get in touch with your county’s office for resources like WIC, medical assistance, financial assistance, rental assistance, lists of shelters, and other local resources. Go in and get help completing the paperwork because there’s tons of it and the process takes months if not longer so the sooner you do it, the sooner you come to the top of the list. The benefits location is 5 miles away, but they have telephones and mail.
    .
    If you get medical assistance, get a full evaluation for mental health. It’s clear you can’t hold down a job or maintain relationships due to emotional health problems. This is affecting your functioning and the sooner any problems with your dynamics or cognitive health are caught the better so you can work towards changing your reactions and find a course of treatment.
    .
    Consider giving up your child for adoption for his sake. You don’t have the problem-solving abilities to get yourself out of this mess that your choices created. You know that you had difficulty holding a job and admit that your emotional health has been a problem for at least a few years now. That’s not something that turns around easily.

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    • avatar

      HollyMarie January 21, 2015, 4:38 pm

      Coming out of long time lurking to add to and agree with SB’s response. The hospital where you were treated must have social workers. When I was getting my MSW, I interned at a huge hospital in NYC that primarily served low income patients. One of the things I did nearly every day with patients was help them sign up for services such as WIC, SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, and help with paying for their utilities, paying their medical bills, getting their medications for free or at very low cost in our own hospital’s pharmacy (as others on here have said, if one medication did not work for you, that doesn’t mean others won’t. There are new medications coming on the market frequently and I personally think it would be very helpful to you if you discussed those with your therapist). Your therapist may also be able to help you with these concrete services but the point is, these services exist to help you get back on your feet and there are people out there who are ready, willing, and able to help you navigate through the websites and paperwork so you can receive the benefits for which you qualify. Also, many cities and/or counties have low cost mental health clinics that will charge you on a sliding scale based on your income so I would advise looking into these as well. I do hope you will be able to take the advice the posters are giving you to heart and know that they are not here to tear you down, they truly do want to help you and your son.

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  • avatar

    Joresana January 19, 2015, 9:45 am

    My sister was living in a pay by the week motel when she got pregnant with her son. Her husband had lost his job, and they were rooting through trashcans to find cans to turn in for money to eat. She gave her son up for adoption because she knew she couldn’t give him what he needed to have a happy and healthy life at that point. I think you need to do this as well. Don’t make your son suffer for your bad decisions. He deserves better, and if you aren’t prepared to fight for yourself and for him, please let him have a chance with someone else. My sister has since gotten back on her feet. I’m sure you can too, but you have to take responsibility for yourself and your choices. From the sound of your letter, I’m not sure you’re ready to do that yet.

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  • coconot

    coconot January 19, 2015, 9:52 am

    As usual, Wendy is very gracious and gives great advice. There are a lot of things going on in this letter.
    .
    First, I suppose it’s good that you are taking credit for your anger issues, but just taking credit doesn’t mean they are solved. Between those issues and your current poverty and joblessness and imminent homelessness, you are not providing a safe life for your son. If Wendy’s adoption idea seems too crazy to you, look into temporary foster care (e.g. .
    .
    A couple more suggestions: when you move out of the roommate’s place, try to move somewhere close to a bus station and close to the “downtown” in your area with libraries and grocery stores, so you can walk and don’t need a car. IF you don’t have a job, you can’t afford gas and insurance and shouldn’t have a car anyways. Even before you move, get yourself to the library. Public libraries are a great way to get free internet and sometimes the staff can even help you with a job search. Next, please look into long term birth control options — you cannot afford to have another child. IUD may be a good option for you since it lasts 5-10 years and can be completely covered by health insurance, but obviously talk to a doctor and find out what’s best for you. Also, please stop looking on the internet for “work at home” options, they are usually scams. You’re more likely to find work in your community, for example babysitting or pet care, working at a childcare center, etc.
    .
    Finally, I’m sorry if this is too rude, but you need to admit that you got yourself into this mess. You got pregnant at 19, you couldn’t maintain a good co-parenting relationship with your ex, you got pregnant again without ever “holding down” a job, and it seems like you have never in your life been able to support yourself let alone a child. The government, your roommate, your friends, and your family DO NOT OWE YOU support. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get help and that you don’t need a little at this point, but you are never going to get enough support relying on outside sources alone, and anyways it is a temporary solution. Even if you find outside help, you need to work towards supporting yourself completely like most functioning adults have to.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray January 19, 2015, 9:56 am

    You can turn your life around but you have to stop blaming others and actually want to try. I dropped out of high school and took off with an older boyfriend out of state, and when I realized quickly I had to leave, I had nothing. No job, no education, no driver’s license, no place to live, no one to help me. Now looking back after getting myself out of that mess, I’m really proud of what I did for myself. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible. You have a child, it should be your first instinct to do whatever you have to do to get your life together and to make sure your son has his needs taken care of. I really think you should consider giving your son up so you can get yourself together. Use whatever services you have to use to get yourself into a stable situation.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 19, 2015, 10:29 am

    You loved your daughter enough to do what was best for her by giving her a stable home with her dad. Your son deserves as much. If you love him you will make sure that he has a stable, loving home. You know that he needs it. At this point in time you can’t provide him with shelter, or food, or clothing. You can’t provide the minimum basics that a baby needs. You should look into adoption. You can place him in an open adoption so that you can see that he is happy and healthy and have the comfort of knowing that he is loved and okay. To do this you will need the father’s signature but the adoption agency would know how to get it. If you try working with a agency that thinks they can skip that step you are working with the wrong people and should find a better agency. Ask yourself if you can care for a baby at this time. If you are honest your answer will be no. Within a month he’ll need new clothes because he’ll have grown. How will you get them. When your current pack of diapers is empty what will you do? You have no way to buy formula and if you are breastfeeding, no way to feed yourself so that you can continue to feed him.

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth January 19, 2015, 10:51 am

    As the victim of a crime, most states have grants and funds for victim funding. If the case is still going on against John, contact the prosecutor and ask them about it. Since you were a victim of a domestic violence, there should have been an offer to refer you to counselor. Call the prosecutor and ask for this now. Contact a domestic violence advocate in your area, usually they are a part of a larger chain of networks, such as WIC, TANF, SNAP, and all of which you need.

    Call CPS or the Department of Public Health and Human Services in your area. Tell them what you are going through, ask for help. They will be able to help you.

    Call Medicaid. They can give you rides to appointments. So will WIC and DPHHS.

    In order to give the baby up, you will need the father to sign off on the adoption paperwork. You may need a lawyer for this. An adoptive family or an adoption agency should be able to help you with this.

    There are tons of agencies and groups available. Many churches have programs and will often help with transportation.

    I really second a mental evaluation, not only because of your history, but also because of suffering a head injury. There will probably be long term side effects. If you were seen and treated at a hospital, there should be a caseworker there. They should be able to help you too.

    CALL EVERYONE YOU KNOW. EVERYONE. Ask for help. Get your baby into a better situation, whether that’s with you or not.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra January 19, 2015, 9:14 pm

    I’m really late to this party, but how do you expect to take care of your son while not being able to hold down a job or even take care of yourself? Sorry but you can’t. I’m sure it’s really really hard, but you did the right thing for your daughter, now it’s time to do the right thing for your son. As others have said, give him up for adoption…an open adoption if you wish so you can be part of his life. That’s the best thing you can do for him right now.
    .
    As for taking care of you, it’s high time you took responsibility for yourself. Do whatever it is that you need to get a job, or if you have to, get 3-4 part time jobs to make ends meet. That means get out there and FIND the work. Take public transportation and go to each business door to door if you have to. Ask everyone you know if they know someone who is hiring, and follow through by sending applications in. I think you will have more luck with word of mouth than anything.
    .
    I know your life has been hard so far, but people don’t owe you anything just because life has been difficult. It’s high time that you take responsibility for yourself. If you have to rent a room from a relative or friend great, but offer to pay a couple hundred dollars of rent for it so they know you are serious. Some may say no to that, but if they do that, help out around the house. Pitch in with chores, or make dinner a few times per week. Do WHATEVER it is that YOU need to do to take care of YOU.

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  • avatar

    booknerd January 20, 2015, 1:17 am

    Please listen to the advice all have given you. You need to place your baby up for adoption. A baby needs a loving and secure living situation, and you cannot provide that. Please think of him, and not yourself.

    What your fiancé did was assault. Recognizing that is also very important. A good partner doesn’t get drunk with a two week old baby in the house. A good partner doesn’t keep a baby awake all night with fireworks. A good partner doesn’t buy a ton of fireworks when his family can barely eat.

    You need to take responsibility in your life and get yourself out of this mess. You need help now, but you need to start working and controlling your anger or other issues so that you can hold down a job and take care of yourself. The world owes you nothing. Please listen to all the advice above and reach out to the services you can. Please give your baby up. Call CPS.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy January 20, 2015, 8:19 am

    From the LW:

    “My first reaction to your advice was one unfit for discussion in civilized company. I raged about how I could be so judged, how anyone could be so mean about everything I had been through, and how no way IN HELL would i give up my son, when I have barely any relationship with my daughter already and can’t even do anything about that to try to be more apart of her life than her father allows. I asked myself as well, how on earth can they think I’m lying about my circumstances and how things happened, and to what purpose would that even serve??? I came to get advice not to have a pity party. If i want a pity party i can do that just fine on my own.
    HOWEVER
    After a few deep breaths, and telling myself, “Stop being angry. They aren’t attacking you. They don’t even know you. They only know what info they have been given, and are taking time out of their lives to HELP YOU. Be grateful and pay attention.”
    So first things first: fixing what seems like inconsistencies. When I wrote my original letter I look back now on it and realize how confusing and unlikely alot of stuff was either through typo or because I didn’t explain well enough.
    It was not only 6 months after my daughter was born that my exhusband and I separated. It was a year and six months. I don’t know why or how “a year and” got left out but I assure you it wasn’t intentional. I admit to being very upset at the time of writing my plea for advice, frustrated by my lack of knowledge and life experience to get me through this.
    My son WAS ectopic. It didn’t “correct” itself. I misspoke when I said he moved into my uterus somehow because honestly I don’t understand the mechanics of how an egg can be like right on the edge of the “tunnel” of your fallopian tube. When I had the ultrasound he was developed enough to show he was both in my uterus and also that some of him was stretching my felopian tube from being partially in there. As time passed, his body seemed to grow out of there and more in my uterus. If i could upload the ultrasound video as well as have the Dr reexplain everything during it I would, but honestly, it’s not top in my priority list at the moment. I don’t want anyone to think I’m lying about it but really, what others think is not going to make my world spin or make me any better or worse off somehow. I explain out of courtesy to those who took time out of their busy day to help me think about what’s best for not myself but my son even more so than me. To those who have and who will, thank you.
    In regards to how when I was knocked out, I lost memory, it was temporary. My Dr told me I’d start to remember or I wouldn’t, and it was fuzzy at first but within a week, making sure to not ask other people who were at the house but not witness what happened. I didn’t want anything influencing or confusing me because this was a big deal. I nearly died. I needed to be able to make a clear and informed judgement call when I was ready to actually think about my situation and status with John. I do not feel still as if I’m competent enough to make sure that whatever I chose, im not doing it Irrationally or for the wrong reasons. To answer a question someone had: according to him and my room mate when I asked him, he ran inside to get our room mate to call 911 because he lost his phone earlier that night. The room mate wasn’t outside for it. He told the cops he saw it but he even admitted to me when I got home that he hadn’t seen it at all and had assumed. He didn’t tell the cops he hadn’t seen it because in his own words, “saw you on the ground and jumped to conclusions and who on earth would actually admit he had thrown it at you? I had assumed he was lying to me to not go to jail”. Baffled at how much damage he had just caused, even if he HAD been trying to help me in his own odd way. If it had turned out it was on purpose and an act of violence, he knows I would have pressed charges when my memory came back. He wouldn’t have been the first I’d pressed charges on for acts of violence made upon me. The roommate knew I pressed charges on two other guys who laid hands on me, and they didn’t even cause near the amount of damage John had. There’s not only that but yes while we may have lived here rent free, so does he as it’s his deceased family members house, and when he started living here, he had no car no job no other friends in the area that could help him. He had us live here rent free because we supported him for almost a year by taking him places, helping him find 7 jobs within that year of which he lost (honestly, it sounds horrid. But when your dad and grandmother and dog all die within three weeks of one another, yes I know you are still supposed to live and take care of yourself but I watched what it did to him and can barely believe, how untill he got better he was even able to GET the jobs in the first place. Total break down emotionally. Not everyone is as strong as others.) so honestly we paid more on his upkeep than we would have for rent, and when he finally did stabilize he never charged us rent out of gratitude for our support and for never leaving him alone when he needed us. Even the last few months, he and John were working at the same place and we were doing really well financially but he was still struggling because of debt. So we resumed helping fincially. So, to those who thought I was ungrateful for living here rent free, I really hope you don’t believe that any more. I was forever grateful even just to have a roof I wouldn’t have cared if it had been free or not, but even while I’m grateful it was not purely a act of selflessness for him. Lol. With John not bringing in his check anymore, he has finally realized just how much he had been leaning on us. He did tell me I can stay as long as I am not suffering by being here. He said a few days ago originally he told me we had to move out because he knew me and my son would have no chance out here. Miles from family and friends and stores and reliant on others.he wanted us to be where we could progress not stay stagnant or worse become destitute. I do have about a grand saved still, with more on the way from doing jobs for friends such as cleaning apartments that they hadn’t wanted to clean for MONTHS and making a Web page for one as well as posting items on eBay for one friend who has a good 300 items they want to sell, being in charge of shipping them and getting receipts and book keeping it so that by then time I’m done I can give him accurate records and show what he owes me, which was an agreed upon 15% plus expenses for shipping covered. It isn’t a bad way to earn but its not going to last and it is still reliant on others to help me
    I’m trying really hard to go to get a certification for computer support at the moment. I have to do so online. When I asked before about resources to find financial aid, it was not for handouts. It was to go to school. I should have done it last year when on bed rest but I just didn’t. No excuse to give y’all for why. It won’t matter. I screwed up by not doing it and that’s all that matters long run.
    Now to get to the hard part…
    My son.
    I hate all of you for being right. I feel as if all who told me to give him up for adoption were telling me to give up the sun in my sky, the only thing I have here to motivate me so hard to succeed. I learned from losing sight of that with my daughter. I sure as hell don’t want to give up my happy sweet amazing boy now… And I can justify not doing it by saying he is what’s pushing me so hard to succeed everytime I look next to my work desk and seeing him so peaceful or smiling and gurgling because he’s happy…. I can tell you if I gave him up, I’d never succeed at all. I would give up.I know what I did when I was younger and gave in to my despair and I was eased into not seeing her as much. But adoption would be never being his mom again. Maybe some of you can do that and and are strong enough to not just give up… But I know myself. If i do that when I still had a CHANCE of success and of making my life what it used to be before I got married (emancipated at 16 legally and working 3 jobs simultaneously and consistently WHILE getting B’s in school) then I’d fall into despair worse than ever and no matter what even if I was hospitalized I would never have a chance after. The misery from missing my daughter broke me. The misery from losing him would leave me a shell. Yes. I realize I’m unstable mentally. I have been diagnosed with bipolar and depression. That doesn’t make me a bad mother it means I feel things differently than most. 98% of my life however I have had it under control. I’m sorry but if having a genetic and developmental disorder made people bad parents and we took that advice, half of America’s kids would be adopted. Manic attacks are not often and I have the will power and self control to know when they are going to happen and remove myself from a room if i need to aka my kids are around or I don’t have the luxury at the moment to be weak. I have been seeing a therapist since I was 16 Consistently and even when I didn’t feel I needed it. I’m not on medication because it made it worse for me. Instead I do other treatments that are homeopathy and Meditative. Many of you can say well what happens when you lose it on your kid? Sorry but it won’t happen. Won’t try to explain because it will sound like justification. But I just won’t.
    So what to do if I “won’t listen” about adoption…. Sorry but giving him up if I’m still able to support him and am not desperate just yet and can’t feed us just isn’t going to happen. I’d be destroying myself without necessity and I’d rather be honest and tell u Straight up that will not happen…. Yet.
    I am going to give myself 45 days in this matter. If in 45 days, I am not in school for my certificate or steadily employed, my therapist is going to help me get in touch with temporary foster care services. She says she has all the resources handy already from other clients, and agrees that while it would be best for him to be where he is not in jeopardy of being hungry, that my time limit for myself is reasonable and that she Thinks him being here to be constantly pushing me to succeed by looking at him and loving him too much to accept failure will do more good than otherwise. If however I do not show proof of being in school or employed, she will be helping me through every step of foster care, including making the calls if I cannot. Now she’s not threatening she was offering like if I’m too emotional to talk. She wouldn’t call without my say so. I don’t think she even can.
    The point: if in 45 days I’m not pushing through and succeeding, I actually give you my word on him and my daughter that I will place him in a home who can care for him and I can still have hope of one day him being returned to me. I believe I can do it I just need the resources to get started. That’s what this was all about in the first place you know… Asking how to get a hand up not a hand out.. I don’t actually think anyone owes me anything or is going to do this for me… Nor am I ungrateful for what help I have already received.
    I have the will, I have enough to get by for now, and im not giving up. I wish I could have received the information I originally asked for about financial aid and stuff for school and how to really get that going, although some people did touch on it a bit. But seeing the replies did something better… Made me realize that i wont think about me anymore. But I also won’t give up and will continue fighting. “

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy January 20, 2015, 10:33 am

      This is one of the more selfish and delusional responses I’ve seen to requested advice. You want to keep your son because YOU need him, not because you think he needs you. What can you provide him? You CAN’T support yourself. You said that throughout your original letter. And now you say you have bipolar disorder for which you aren’t taking medication, but it’s ok, because you have “will power and self control to know when [manic actions] are going to happen” so you can and remove yourself from a room if necessary. Nothing about your original letter or your response suggests that you DO actually have much will-power. And, in fact, you keep saying over and over that you need your newborn son to motivate you to accomplish the things that someone who truly had willpower would just do on her own. You can’t seem to act like a functioning adult and now you want your baby son to be the tool to help you get there. That’s not fair to him. That’s not his job. But, sure, give yourself 45 days to “find success.” I hope you do manage to pull yourself up to a better place and give your son something of the life he deserves.

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    • kare

      kare January 20, 2015, 1:05 pm

      I can’t believe the therapist agreed to this 45 day plan and isn’t pursuing action at the moment. This hurts my heart to read.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 20, 2015, 9:18 am

    Your original question was “How on earth am I supposed to get my baby boy and me out of this mess?”

    We answered by telling you that you get your baby boy out of it by placing him for adoption. You didn’t ask “How do I get student loans to go to school?” I have serious qualms when a baby has the “job” of motivating the mother and turning her life around. A baby shouldn’t have a job.

    Getting you out of the mess is much more difficult because it requires mental health services that we have no idea of availability where you are. It depends on shelters and job training and other resources. Again, we don’t know what is available where you are but your letter sounded like no resources were available.

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  • avatar

    booknerd January 20, 2015, 11:15 am

    Oh boy. In your original letter, there was a smidge of “I’m a mess and I need help.” Now you’re got it all figured out. I think you are too delusional to see things honestly. I agree with Wendy.
    You need to be able to care for a child all the time, with no breakdowns or manic episodes or free rent. Please give your baby up for an adoption. Adoption is a more stable life than foster care. Please give him to a family that’s emotionally and financially stable and ABLE to care for him in the way a baby needs to be.
    You go on and on how you raged when you read all of our responses. This is a great example of your emotional immaturity. You need to work on your anger issues, and bipolar issues without an infant nearby. Who cares for him while you are at school or working? What are you going to do about finding an apartment or house?
    You still seem to be unable to comprehend that what John did was so inappropriate and violent, he deserves to be in jail. With the anger and instability both of you have, you should not have a child under your care.
    Please actually think of your baby. Do the right thing.

    Reply Link
    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy January 20, 2015, 11:24 am

      All of this. My heart breaks for that baby, it really does.

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      • avatar

        booknerd January 20, 2015, 12:46 pm

        Mine too. That poor baby. And there are so many couples who are desperately trying to adopt.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 20, 2015, 11:32 am

    You gave up your daughter because it was the best thing for her, because you loved her enough to do what was best for her even if it was terribly painful for you. We understand that giving up a child is a horribly painful thing to do but we also know that when you love a child unconditionally, you do what they need even if it is painful for you. You need to look at your son and ask what is the absolute best thing you can do for him. How do you make sure he is secure and loved and sheltered and protected every day. He can’t be your motivator, you must be his protector. That’s what it means to be a parent. To act selflessly to protect and provide. Let your love guide you to provide what he needs.

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  • Amanda

    Amanda January 20, 2015, 11:39 am

    LW – stop with the dramatics (swearing on your children, wtf). Newsflash: by USING your son to motivate you, you are still very much thinking about yourself.
    .
    You want to get a hand up? Take some responsibility. Get medicated (see if your therapist can prescribe something else). Place your son in a stable home. Get a real job – one that doesn’t have you relying on an agreement between you and your friend (what if they flake?). Forget about student loans right now. You want financial assistance? Earn it. Keep a solid job for 6 months to a year and THEN think about taking out loans.
    .
    Do all that and you’ll be on the road to getting yourself on your own two feet.

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  • Stonegypsy

    Stonegypsy January 20, 2015, 12:00 pm

    I couldn’t even get through that whole response. The first couple paragraphs made it pretty obvious that the entire novel could be boiled down to “You’re all wrong about me and I’m totally a stable person because reasons!”
    LW… If you care about your child at all, you will give him to a stable family who can care for him. Because that’s what he needs. You are acting and thinking in a selfish, shortsighted manner. That doesn’t mean that that is who you are. Instead of going on the defensive, instead of writing novels about why that’s not true, really really look at yourself. Give your baby up, stop shifting the blame of how rough things are to everyone else, get into therapy, stop lying to yourself, and become a better person. It’s hard and painful, but that’s what life is. It’s acknowledging that there is room for improvement, always until the day you die, and working toward that.

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite January 20, 2015, 12:40 pm

    I’m glad you stepped back from your knee-jerk reaction. However you still don’t seem to believe that the advice is coming from a place of concern for your son and his role in your life right now.

    It’s hard to understand what your roommate means by you suffering by being there so he tried to help by making you homeless? You need to take this opportunity to move closer to where you can live around public transportation/stores/etc as soon as possible if you find work. You can find in person jobs online nowadays and pay a friend to drive you to the interview as an investment. While you have a small emergency fund, it won’t last long and everything else you’ve been doing is hustling which is good but very difficult to make cover your expenses. You don’t have the funds to explore school and certifications right now. You need an unskilled job to cover your bills you launch into certifications, school, etc. Lenders try not to give out student loans like candy anymore; which means you’re unlikely to get financial aid unless there is some sort of grant or scholarship that you qualify for. School is not all that matters. You need to explore that for your future but it’s not your end goal right now.

    I’ve spoken with people who no longer have their children living with them. Their children still give them motivation to succeed and work hard maybe even more than if they are present every day. It’s troubling that you could not harness that with your daughter.

    You recognize mental instability and have been formally diagnosed before. Having mental health problems does not necessarily equal being a bad mother. But you need support around that 2% of time. It doesn’t sound like you have the support for those times you do have mania right now. Leaving the room isn’t going to help. That’s a good thing that you see a therapist. I urge you to get an updated medication evaluation in addition to the alternative treatments. It can take a long time and trying various medications, especially with Bipolar to find the right medication mix. You will at some point not be there in the way you need to for your son with the depression and likely lash out due to the mania; that’s reality and why you need support from those around you.

    I’m surprised that your therapist gave you 45 days. I can see why now that you’re not immediately homeless because your roommate changed his mind. Get him to write that down because he can change his mind again at any time and you have no say in the matter.

    Temporary foster care now would give you the time and space to find steady employment and a more stable living situation. Not in 45 days when you’re in a worse situation without an emergency fund anymore. You can make that money stretch when you’re on your own but a baby needs things when they need things. Temporary is meant to be temporary.

    Keeping him right now without no stable living siutation, no financial resources, a lack of support from loved ones, and relying on him for emotional support as a baby is selfish and short-sighted. Look into temporary/emergency resources in your area immediately.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 20, 2015, 12:48 pm

    Sometimes life is tough and unfair. You have a mental illness. You didn’t ask for it and it isn’t fair that you have it but it is the reality you have to live with. It prevents you from reliably holding down a job and earning a stable income. At the same time you have a baby who needs a stable income. His needs at this time are incompatible with what you are able to provide. If you had a supportive family things might be very different. They could provide a stable home and backup income but they don’t. If you had a stable boyfriend things might be very different because he could provide the stability your baby needs but he can’t do that either. He is in jail and is going to be there for a while. There is a good probability that he will be found guilty of battery and spend more time in jail or go to prison. After that he will have a felony record that will make it much more difficult to get and hold a job. His drunken outburst will affect the course of the entire rest of his life. That is the reality you are living with. You can’t provide the stability your son needs and neither can any other person in your life. Your son doesn’t have years to wait for you to find stability. He needs it now. He needs it every day. He deserves it.
    .
    Even a mother who could consistently hold a minimum wage job would have trouble in your situation. Most minimum wage jobs are also only part time. Many require you to have flexible hours so you can’t hold two jobs at the same time. Where I live minimum wage is running at $7.95 per hour. Daycare costs $5 per hour. After you take into account taxes and transportation you end up with nothing if you have to pay for childcare meaning young, minimum wage mothers can only make it work if someone watches their child for free. Usually a mom or an aunt or a sister or a boyfriend. Even with WIC and food stamps they need support from their family in the form of free childcare and usually a place to live. Even if you could hold a job you would have trouble making this situation work.
    .
    Some women’s shelters do provide job training. Is there anything like that around you? Is there any subsidized childcare? Even if there is how are you going to hold down a job? Even if you went to school are you able to complete the course?
    .
    When they take your son to put him in foster care you will probably end up losing him permanently because you won’t be able to complete the requirements to get him back. After a certain amount of time your parental rights will be terminated and then the court will place him with an adoptive family. Why not, at the point where they will put him in foster care, choose an open adoption. You can choose who he lives with and you will be able to have some contact with him in the future and know how he is doing. You won’t be left wondering about him for the rest of your life. You can choose his next parents. You can choose whether he lives in a city of a town or on a farm. You can choose if he is the oldest child in the family or whether he has an older sibling. You could choose a family that already has a daughter so that he has an older sibling, just like he does now. Think about. If you are going to lose him why not have some control in the situation. When your social worker starts talking about foster care talk to her about open adoption.

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  • avatar

    bostonpupgal January 20, 2015, 2:58 pm

    This entire letter, and the update, are just so, so sad and concerning. This LW is in her early twenties, with a few month old baby, homeless and couch surfing at a friends, with severe mental health problems for which she takes NO medication, claiming she can keep her emotions in check…despite a long history of volatile behavior, being unable to hold down a job, having screaming matches with her boyfriend resulting in severe physical damage that put her in the hospital and claiming that her reaction to Wendy’s advice was to seeth with rage. Even the structure and tone of her letter and update were erratic, rambling, and conveyed a serious disconnect from reality, as well as an inability to take any responsibility. She doesn’t seem to want to admit her current partner is abusive, and alludes to a long history of abusive relationships. On top of all that, she is apparently seeing a therapist who is unconcerned with all of this.

    I mean, I would offer advice but I don’t think there’s much point, and everyone else has already offered really good suggestions. Honestly I think this LW might benefit greatly from an inpatient program or a stay on the psych floor of a local hospital…and I say that completely in earnest, not to be snarky or insulting. The problems here are so vast, not just her circumstances but her state of mind, her unaddressed mental illnesses, her abusive boyfriend and her past with other abusive men, the inability to function normally…It’s just really really sad, especially for that child.

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