15. What’s Mine Isn’t Yours
My younger sister went through a pretty rough time as a young adult, drinking and doing other stuff and generally being wild, she ended up getting pregnant and giving birth at age 18 when I was just a few weeks away from turning 21.
She did not want the child after giving birth, she refused to even pick up the child and would leave her sitting in dirty nappies. Despite never wanting children myself either, I stepped in and adopted my newborn niece as my daughter. My then-boyfriend who I’d been with for three years gave me a disturbing ultimatum.
He said it was him or her, as he didn’t want children either. I picked her and he left me, which resulted in me suddenly being a single mother. The first few years were rough as a single parent, barely making ends meet, but I managed and my sister had nothing to do with us.
I never once hid the truth from my daughter that she was adopted, but always assured her I loved her so much and was her Mummy. When my daughter was six, my sister was finally clean and wanted to have access to her.
I allowed it but stressed she would just be an aunt to her and she accepted this, though it’s clear she struggled with the concept and sometimes acted more like a mother which I always squashed quickly.
Now, my daughter is eight and I’ve been offered a job in a different country, the pay is almost double my current salary and the company is helping us find a home. They’re even putting my daughter in an international school and after-school care, so of course I’m going to take it.
This resulted in my family having a meltdown about how I can’t do this and how it’s cruel to take my daughter away from her family and how it’s not fair to my sister. My sister has told me she won’t allow me to move away with her and that she’ll fight in court to get my daughter back.
I’ve talked to lawyers and it seems she doesn’t have a leg to stand on, as my daughter is legally my daughter, but the rest of my family is telling me I’m being extremely cruel and if I cared about my sister I’d turn this job down.
I left home at 16 and finished my education. My sister meanwhile is the golden child who gets away with everything, she even now lives with our parents and doesn’t work. My daughter, while sad to be leaving her school and friends, is excited for the move.
I’ve been teaching her about the country every night before bed and we’ve gone to some authentic restaurants to try food from there. I’ve also promised her we’ll fly back at least once a year to visit and she can facetime/call her friends.
I feel like my family is angling for me to eventually just hand my daughter back over as if I was just a temporary filler for my sister—which will obviously never happen.