My stepson is a Leukemia survivor, and within a few months of being diagnosed, the Make-A-Wish Foundation awarded him a trip to see “real” castles in England. Naturally, we wanted his big sister to share this once in a lifetime experience, and my husband approached her mom (different mom than my stepson) about getting my stepdaughter a passport. She refused to give permission for the passport or the trip, and we sought the help of a lawyer.
Are you in the middle of a legal battle, stepmomma? Maybe you’re fighting for more time with your stepkids, or fighting to keep the time you have. The battle could be financial, or a modification of Custody Order (CO) that’s out of date or not working for your step or blended family situation. No matter whether the battle is just starting, or you’re in the thick of it, I hope the few nuggets of wisdom that I picked up along the way speak to your circumstances.
The legal system won’t solve all your problems.
Mix your optimism with a healthy dose of realism when it comes to imagining life after court. You may be dreaming of the day that your husband has an ironclad CO in place with his ex, and I genuinely hope that the court process results in a clear, enforceable document that makes space for better co-parenting between the two homes. Unfortunately, it simply can’t govern every interaction or circumstance. Don’t get so focused on the victory that you miss what God is teaching you in the battle.
The courtroom isn’t the only battleground.
It’s easy to feel helpless when you’re a stepmom on the sidelines while your husband battles in mediation or the courtroom. Many of us have little or no participation in the formal legal process to modify custody or change child support obligations – even when we are often the most affected by it! What if I told you that you have an equal part to play in the battle? God calls us to be still, and to pray. Pray for your husband, pray for your stepkids, and even pray for your stepkids’ mom. Prayer is a powerful reminder to align our will with God’s.
“But he did not doubt or waver in unbelief concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and empowered by faith, giving glory to God, being fully convinced that God had the power to do what He had promised.” – Romans 4:20-21 (AMP)
Don’t forget what you’re fighting for.
It can be so, so easy to get swept up in self-righteousness, or worse, vengefulness, while a court battle rages on. We can start counting the wrongs against us, and focus on being the victims rather than the victors. What are you fighting for, stepmomma? You may think it’s about time, or money, or rights – but I believe you are fighting for your stepkids’ hearts. You and I are called to bridge the gap between two parents and two homes; to help our stepkids see that they can be wholly known and wholly loved by their Creator.
Sometimes the answer is no.
Our legal battle didn’t end quite the way I expected. The hearing for my stepdaughter’s passport was only days away when Child Protective Services showed up on our doorstep. A false CPS report had been filed, and our lawyer explained that the judge wouldn’t hear our case until the investigation was concluded – conveniently, too late for my stepdaughter to go on the trip. Worse, we were forced to drop a modification for additional visitation time that had been in the works long before the trip. Righteous anger filled my heart: what could be more selfless than my stepdaughter wanting to go on a trip with her sick little brother? Years later, I don’t understand where God was moving in that circumstance – but I can see what He was doing in that season. Did your battle not turn out as expected, and like me, you’re asking God why? I can’t answer for Him, but I can tell you that He’s big enough for your misunderstanding. He can handle your hurt, and your questions. Just keep praying.