Long introduction and background. Nice to meet you!
Well, BM eventually earned overnight visits back, and we are currently at two 3 week visits over the summer, which we decided to let her take all 6 weeks together due to travel. It is what is best for SD. The courts still don't trust her to have her for more than three weeks at a time. A few summers ago, she refused to return her to our home. She claimed she had unexpected roof troubles and could no longer afford to drive her across the country. We took her to court over it and the judge didn't do much about it except tell her if she ever did something like that again, she would be held in contempt and would probably lose what little visitation she has.
Right after SD came home last summer, BM served us papers requesting full custody. Her claims against us were that SD had chores. At 8yo, her chores were to dry the bathroom floor after baths and to bring the clothes to the laundry. And to clear the table after dinner. Very simple, easy beginner chores to start teaching responsibility. She also love 'sweeping the floors' (using the dustpan and hand room to sweep up what I swept up) and 'dishes' (letting her add the soap to the dishwasher after I loaded it) and unloading the dishwasher where we would hand her the silverware basket and she would put the silverware in the drawer. Her BM claimed we had her doing 'motherly duties' (her words, not mine) because every now and then SD would ask to change the babies wet diaper and we would let her as we supervised. She was 8! New baby was like a real doll for her and she wanted to do so much! Change her, dress her, pick out her clothes, bathe her. So, we let her do as much as possible, all while being closely supervised. Well, BM had a new baby last summer and she wanted to do those things to her other new sister, too. BM freaked out! I'm sorry, but wouldn't telling her no and refusing to let her help with her little sister further alienate her rather than make her feel like she is still so important to us and a useful member of our family. SD and youngest DD are so bonded. They do everything together and youngest DD gets so depressed when her big sister leaves for the summer.
Obviously, BM did not win the case. Judge basically laughed at her for even trying. Said that even though we move every few years due to military, we provide a much more stable environment for SD and they were not going to disrupt that because we were teaching her responsibility or because we spank. Yes, she brought that up in court as well. She doesn't believe in it and her son is so mean to SD and hits her but all she does is put him in a time out. Let's keep in mind of the reason she lost SD and the son in question here. Oh, yeah, didn't tell you that part. She was 8 months pregnant when DH divorced her. He was deployed, not his child. She lost him as soon as he was born because SD was still in foster care and BM was still under investigation. She didn't even get to bring him home from the hospital. That part actually makes me a little sad, but then I remember the pics the doctors took of SD and then I get over it.
Up until last summer, I made every effort to keep her included in SD's life. I would send emails with pics of events or just her playing at a park. Tell her about what teacher was saying at p/t conferences. Basically anything I thought she might like to know. And sent pics immediately after she lost her first tooth. She never thanked me for the pics or info. She gave up on trying to communicate with DH because he harbors so much hatred for her, still. Do you really blame him? She always would talk to me on the phone with a very snotty attitude. She specifically targeted me at court while I had always tried to be nice to her no matter what my personal feelings were to her. I took great offense to that and promptly changed my number. I no longer share personal info about SD's life. I send copies of report cards and a pic at Christmas. That's it, now. She burned that bridge I was trying so hard to build for the better good of her child. There is just so much more drama. I love my daughter as if she were my own. But I must leave the story at that for now. I need to get older DD from preschool.