Maybe it’s the fact I’m tired; maybe it’s the fact I’m a little on the manic side; or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve had one giant Cosmopolitan – whatever it is, I need to vent.
For those of you who are used to me as the mild-mannered English teacher and children’s writer, let me warn you now that this may not be suitable for you to read. Exit here and no one gets hurt. Stay at your own risk. Okay – now everyone’s been warned.
So here’s the thing: my oldest daughter’s dad has been checking in with her recently. A little background is in order here: my daughter chose to be adopted by her stepdad about two years ago for a variety of reasons. My ex and his wife decided it was because I brainwashed her, which they had no problem telling anyone who would listen. The fact is, she is a bright and observant young lady and I didn’t have to say anything to her. She had talked about it for over a year, and my only comments were that she needed to make the choice if and when she felt ready. If it never happened, it wouldn’t change anything about our family, and if she did decide it was what she wanted, it still wouldn’t change anything about our family. Ultimately it was a combination of her biological dad, her stepmom, and her stepsister that pushed her to the limit, not me.
At any rate, her biological dad didn’t talk to her for over a year, but now he’s calling her on a fairly consistent basis. Lest you think this upsets me, let me be clear – I’m all for it. She needs to resolve some of her anger toward him, and she needs an opportunity to see her little half-brother. But it’s how the whole thing is happening that has me worried. At first he offered her a membership to a gym where he was working part-time. Now he won’t be working there anymore, so he made a big deal to her about paying for the membership himself. Here’s what drives me crazy – I fought him for 12 years just to pay his child support. It was a constant battle, filled with excuse after excuse as to why he couldn’t pay on time, couldn’t pay the whole amount, or couldn’t pay at all. At the same time this was happening, he was taking his new family on trips, spending thousands of dollars to help his new wife change the custody arrangements for her daughters, and all the while telling me he couldn’t support his own daughter.
I went to the Office of Recovery Services to file a claim to collect on the past-due amount, and when he found out about that, he called me in a panic and begged me not to go through with it because it would cause him problems at work. Label me sucker, but I gave in. He promised to pay, promised to catch up (he was two years behind at this point), but of course, it never happened. After a year of disappointment, I went back to ORS and filed a claim again. Within just a few weeks of that, my daughter decided she had had enough of the dysfunction of that family and asked her stepdad to adopt her. We contacted our attorney and put the wheels in motion. I contacted ORS and told them what was happening, and they told me that they could collect the past due amount up to the date that my daughter was adopted, so I told them to go ahead. Did I mention that the total amount was $203 a month?
Apparantly my ex received the notice and decided that, since she had decided to be adopted he no longer needed to pay child support. ORS set him straight. Yes – you have to pay the past due amount. A few months later she called to wish him, his wife, and the rest of the family a Merry Christmas. She got no return call.
Now, it’s as if he can’t do enough for her. I’m pleased that she is resolving things with her biological dad, but I’m so frustrated that it took this long to achieve the results. We’ve been divorced for 15 years now, and suddenly he becomes the person that he should have been all along??? I’m stunned, to say the least. Interestingly, my daughter reads her former stepmom’s blog and tells me that there is much ranting and raving going on about money and support. Gee, I’d like to say I’m surprised. NOT.
In a way, I feel sorry for the man. I know that what he wanted was to have a family, particularly a son to carry on his name. Well, he finally got what he wanted, and he’s throwing it away for reasons that are beyond me. I guess that in some cases, the old fable of the scorpion being unable to change its nature is true.
Oh – and for those of you wondering – I was married to him for just under 5 years. I’ve been married to my current (and permanent) husband for 13 years. Did I mention that we are exceedingly happy?