Monday, March 12, 2007

The story of Louisa

This is another one of those, Louisa-doesn't-know-I'm-listening, things. She was outside talking with the neighbor girl, who lives in the other half of our duplex, the other day and I was sitting here on the computer. Apparently the girl's dad, isn't her dad. The guy she lives with is her step-dad. I feel bad for her because her mom is deployed to Iraq and won't be home until September. The step-dad seems nice enough. He's always smiling and playing around with the kids. And I don't hear him yelling, but I know he hears me yell all the time.
I can hear the girls talking through the patio door. They were sitting on the big plastic castle we have out back and I heard Louisa ask her friend, "Do you know your real dad?" The girl said no she didn't.
Louisa then replied, "I don't know mine either." She went on to say that she thinks his name is Lou or something and she's only seen him once. That's kinda funny. Up until she was two I tried to force her "real" dad to be a part of her life. I fought with him constantly about how he needed to stand up and be her father. I heard things like, "I didn't choose to have this child, you did!" and "Just because your life is all about being a mom, doesn't mean I have to put my life on hold to be a dad". Oh, and I can never forget the time he told me that he left me because I was such a nag and that he found someone else who not only doesn't ever nag him, but she waits on him hand and foot and if I wanted to wait on him more, maybe he'd take me back. Keep in mind that she was 17 and he was 21.
Anyway, when husband came along Louisa had just turned two. Things progressed so quickly with husband and I that I no longer saw the need to fight with Louisa's bio-father every day to force him to be the dad he was never going to be. I didn't need to be put in those hurtful situations any longer.
On August 1, 2000, Louisa and I moved to Savannah, Georgia to be with husband. We were a real family and Louisa soon had him wrapped around her finger. He was young. Younger than her bio-father, but he was responsible. He married this chick with a kid and didn't think twice about it. He knew Louisa and I were a package deal and he was excited. He told me one day, after we'd been married several months, that he never knew how great it was to have someone waiting at home for him. He was excited every day to get off of work and come home to us.
We lived in Savannah for two and a half years. Not once did Louisa's bio-father write, call, send cards, or attempt any contact what so ever. But when we came home for breaks and vacations, we were expected to bring her by to see him. Mostly I brought her over to see his mom. She wrote, she sent packages and presents and money. She kept in contact with her granddaughter. Oh, he still payed child support, but that was court ordered.
When we moved back to Wisconsin in January 2003, I got the news that he was getting married. Good, marry him off, let him have some kids of his own so that I can get Louisa away from him. There was a big fuss made about Louisa being a flower girl in his wedding. A flower girl??!!! In some guys wedding that she didn't even know, who was marrying a woman who would become her step-mom that she never met??!! That's ludicrous!

I said she could go only because her grandma was moving back to Puerto Rico that week and it would be the only time they could see eachother before she left, but no flower girl. When she got to the wedding, the bride's mom and aunt kept insisting Louisa be the flower girl and Louisa kept telling them no. So they gave her a basket and asked her to just toss some flowers from her seat. I didn't even make her toss flowers for me at my wedding! I think that's weird!

Now that bio-daddy was married, he thought he'd try this father thing again. Husband was very patient and nice about it, although I know it was hard for him. She was his little girl, and now he had to share her with some guy who chooses to pop in and out of her life and send measly child support checks eventhough we know he's making more than he claims to the courts.

We agreed on one weekend a month, but he would have to call to let us know which weekend. The first month I completely hyperventilated all the way to his apartment. Husband drove us there and I cried and couldn't breathe and looked at my two sweet children in the backseat thinking about how much I screwed up everyone's lives all because I had once tried to force this guy to be a part of his daughter's life. How could this guy all of a sudden decide he wants to be a father now? She's 5 years old! Where was he before? Why does the father get to make this choice? Don't the courts know how volatile this can be to a child's life? They say a child needs a father and a mother and that it should be the bio- father and mother. This guy broke my little girl's heart time and time again. Over and over he disappointed her, made her cry, and made her wonder why there was someone out there who didn't love her. And a court tells me that she needs this guy in her life?

May 2003 came and went and we never heard from him again. Halleluia, my prayers were answered!

August 2004 we went to see a lawyer. We asked what it would take to let husband adopt Louisa. We wanted this legal and we wanted it now. We hadn't heard from her bio-father in a year and three months. But, he was still sending child support. The lawyer said, Hey, no problem! Child support means nothing, as long as we can prove he's had no contact with her in over a year it's called abandonment and the family circuit court judge hates abandonment. He'll award husband full adoption rights and we'll be a legal family. We had to go to court once so that the bio-father could have his say in court or try to keep his rights or whatever. Just as predicted, he didn't show.

November 1, 2004, husband's sister Tabitha died. How could we celebrate the upcoming adoption now? The whole family was excited, we were going to have a party and everyone was invited.... now what?

November 12, 2004, Louisa was officially adopted by her daddy. Having children and getting married, all wonderful days in your life, but I cannot describe how wonderful it felt knowing that my husband had all 100% official legal rights to our little girl! If anything ever happens to me, I can die resting peacefully knowing that she will be taken care of by her real daddy. I lived in such fear for the 7 years before that. Fear that "that man" would some day take her away, fear that if I died he would get custody and take her away from her daddy and her brother.

After the recent tragedy, husband's parents told us what a blessing it was to have Louisa officially in the family and take their last name. The adoption helped them focus on other things, if at least for a little while.

Fast forward to today. Well, the other day. The girls were talking and the neighbor girl said no, she's never met her real dad and she doesn't know much about him. Lousia talked about her adoption and how she was so happy that her daddy chose her. I make that a point with her. We don't get to pick our children, they are born to us and we live with them. Louisa's daddy did get to pick her. As Montgomery Gentry would say, "That's something to be proud of!"

Louisa has no real memory of her bio-father. She thinks she was an immaculate conception of sorts. If I had married husband and made her with him, explaining the facts of life would be much easier to do with her. But I can't figure out how to tell her that I once had sex with some guy who didn't love me and we made a baby. Some guy who, two weeks before I found out I was pregnant decided that a 17 year old cheerleader in high school was more his style, then later claims he dumped me because he knew I was pregnant.

Louisa has since kept in contact with her grandma who is living happily in a mansion in Puerto Rico, and her aunt who is living happily with her "best friend". I love for Louisa to have a connection to them, as long as it's a positive connection.

I find it interesting, though, that she knows his name. I never say it. If I ever refer to him, which I don't, it's either "that guy" or "asshole". I also find it interesting that she only has one memory of him. I don't know what it is. I haven't asked her. I hope it's a good one, though. I don't want her to know what he was really like. Most people have no idea what he was really like. He was a cool, smooth talker who could get what he wanted from who he wanted. He made anyone believe any story he laid out.

He was the the snake who tempted Eve to taste the apple.


Amber said...

My older sister was in a similar situation... the guy left my mom because she wasn't a boy. Your husband is a great man, and I am so glad that you and Louisa found him!

Sandy said...

Peggie, you are a gifted story teller. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Some day, just before you talk to Louisa about sex, you will pray and you will know exactly what to say. Listen to your heart. You'll find that balance between the bad honesty and the good. Something like: Sex with a man that didn't love me but wanted to manipulate me left me alone and pregnant. While I wish for a better road for *you*, I'd not trade the one I walked because for the sorrow and struggle I was gifted with the miracle of you.

Just pray.

~jen said...

Every time I hear this story it reminds me again what a great guy you found, and how happy I am for the two of you~ and how even now, all this time later, it chokes me up when I remember the sense of relief and happiness when the adoption was finalized!! Loiusa is truly a wonder (as are the other two little monkeys!!) and so deserving of the loving family she has:) Amazing how when we think nothing will ever go our way the path shifts and we find that all the troubles we've faces have been so worth the stuggle!