Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Step-Kids

By the time I put Liliana down to sleep last night, the words for this post just wouldn't come together in my mind, so it's given me more time to think about everything.  This post is all about step-children and being a step-mother.  I know it's always a different situation for each family, but this is my experience so far.  
Maynor, Liliana, Daniela and Diana (our niece)
  To sum it up, being a step-mother has been frustrating to say the least.  I will give you a background to the children to understand where they are coming from.  Eduardo and his girlfriend got pregnant with Maynor when he was 18 just out of school.  She was still in school.  They got married and little over a year later had another baby, Daniela.  When Maynor was 2 years old and Daniela about 6 months, Eduardo went to the States to be able to provide a future for his family.  At the time he left, he and his wife had already split up.  He left the kids with her feeling that it was okay to leave because they atleast had their mother.  Then a year or two (not sure) later, Eduardo found out that his now ex-wife had left El Salvador and headed to the States as well, leaving the children behind.  This news was devastating because he had trusted her with them.

So where did that leave the kids?  She had left the kids in the care of her parents and had papers even written up.  The kids would then travel back and forth on the weekends, but not all, to Eduardo's mothers house.  I'm not sure if it was always like this, but it has been as long as I have known Eduardo.  So the poor children basically have grown up with their grandparents, only knowing their mother and father via telephone and webcams for the past 8 years. 
Liliana and Daniela
When Eduardo and I first got together, the knowledge of him having children didn't bother me too much.  Because our life was in the States it didn't really affect me.  He would send money every couple weeks and I knew he talked to them on a regular basis, but they were here I was there.  It was kinda "out of sight, out of mind."  Then when we decided to move to El Salvador, I knew things were going to change A LOT.  I was nervous as to how it was all going to work out, especially with Eduardo and I having our own child now, which upset the kids at first.  

Since being here for the past 9 months, we have had our share of ups and downs with the children.  It took them a while to warm up and there is still a long way to go with both Eduardo and myself.  They still live with their other grandparents and come here on the weekends.  Sometimes when they come, they are really happy to be here with their hearts wide open, but more than not they come somewhat reserved and stand-offish.  It has always been extremely frustrating for me.  Probably the hardest and most frustrating thing about being here are the kids.  It's hard because I cannot communicate with them and I desperately wish I could.  We try the best we can, but it's all surfacey stuff.  What makes it worse is that Eduardo's communication with them is not good and I wish sometimes that he would try harder to heal those relationships.  I don't always approve of the things that go on here, especially when the kids are involved, but I am often told "it's not my problem or business."  This is really hurtful because I want to open my heart fully to these kids and do all I can for them, but it's hard to feel to the desire when that's the response I get.  The kids are very close with Eduardo's mom which is natural.  She is basically their mother, but that relationship I feel hinders Eduardo's relationship with them.  
Fernando (a cousin), Eduardo and Maynor
I also feel that people in El Salvador just accept the way things are, they aren't into self-improvement or therapy or trying to heal relationships.  Atleast that's what I see.  Things are the way they are and that's it.  But that's such a frustrating attitude to me.  I have not been myself or the person I want and aspire to be since moving to El Salvador, but I do have the desire to be better and to improve my relationships, particularly with Eduardo.  I feel we need to model the behavior we want them and Liliana to see, but we don't.  Our communication has been terrible since moving here and we've grown distant.  I know that does not help in growing closer with the other kids.  But Liliana adores them and is so happy when they come.  She acts as the bridge between them and me and I think it helps to keep things light.  I am hoping our relationships can all change, only time will tell.

I had filed for residency for both Maynor and Daniela to be able to go to the States.  We paid the fees and were moving right along, but have come to a halt.  Their mother is refusing to sign the papers for them to get their passports and without passports they cannot get visas.  Everything has been put on hold.  It's very sad for them because they thought they were going and were so excited about it.  Now they know it probably won't happen for a long time.  I hope someday to be able to fly them back with us and take them to the zoo and to amusement parks and all the experiences of living in the States can bring.  They deserve that!

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