*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Having a family and looking after your home is something that happens for most married couples after they tie the knot, but sometimes it's the pregnancy that drives the partners apart.
How should you react when a partner who left a family suddenly comes back into your life only to ask for your child to live with them permanently? Would you have any doubts or simply refuse because they've been gone for several years?
My friend Amelia has been a single mom for the past seven years. She has a daughter, Sophia, and she's been working overtime to be able to cover all their bills and live in a small apartment close to her parents' home.
"Maybe it would've been easier to just move in with them, but I wanted Sohpia to feel we have our own home. She loves her grandparents, but she needs to see we're two different families," Amelia said.
She was married for one year to Elias right after finishing college. They meant to work for a few years until they could get a home on mortgage payments.
"We had a different plan, and we wanted to become parents six years after getting married, but I got pregnant unexpectedly, and that changed everything. I think I disappointed him because he didn't want to be a dad back then," Amelia said.
Her husband wasn't excited about the pregnancy, and he told her the responsibility was too much to handle.
"He didn't tell me clearly he wanted a divorce, but in a month or two, it became obvious. He argued with me almost every day, and I didn't want to be so stressed while I was pregnant. I asked him what he wanted and if ending our marriage was the solution he was looking for, and he said yes. I kept thinking he would try to be with me until that moment," Amelia said.
Elias lived with her throughout the pregnancy, and he helped her until their daughter, Ingrid, was born. Their divorce became final just before that, so he packed his things and was off as soon as Amelia was back home with their baby.
"That was so hard for me to have him go right when I brought our little girl home. He only looked at her for 5 minutes and told me that he had to go or he would be late. That was it. He didn't leave me any address or phone number in case I needed something," Amelia said.
The next two years were very difficult for her because she had to keep working and also make sure Ingrid was always well looked after.
"I couldn't afford to pay a babysitter, so I moved close to my parents. We were two streets away in a small apartment, and they often stayed there the whole day until I got back from work in the evening," Amelia said.
As time went by, Ingrid grew up and started school. Seven years after he left, her ex-husband gave Amelia a surprise.
Two weeks ago, someone knocked on her door, and she saw him on the porch.
"At first, I didn't think it was him. He had a beard and gray hair, but I recognized him despite all that. I wondered why he'd come. Could it be he missed us and wanted to be in his daughter's life after all?" the mom said.
Her doubts were clarified in the talk that followed. Her ex wasn't back to try and start their relationship again. And he wanted to keep in touch with his daughter, but not just that.
"I've been a single mom for 7 years; he wants our daughter to go and live with him, just like that. Like I could ever let her go with someone who didn't care about her for so many years," Amelia said.
She refused to agree to his demand, and the following day he came back with his mom and dad. Her former in-laws weren't nice to Amelia at all, and, more than that, they kept shouting to interrupt her talking.
"I told them to be respectful or leave. And that I'm willing to let him visit Ingrid, but that he can't take her away. They told me I don't earn enough and he's got such a good job and is better off than me. I don't care about that. I want my daughter to be loved. He can't do that if he had no problem being gone for seven years," Amelia said.
They all left after a three-hour-argument, but both her ex and his parents kept calling to try and convince her to allow her little girl to go and live with her dad.
How do you think this should be handled? Can Amelia's ex-husband just show up and ask to take his daughter to another state just because he has more money and a bigger house? Should Amelia be more flexible and take that option into consideration?
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