Unexpected full time step parent- having trouble coping
My husband and I have been married for just under two years (together for 5 years). His daughter is now 7- I have known her since she was two. Before we were dating, he found out that he had a daughter (then 18 months old), through a letter requesting child support. The woman had not contacted him following their one night tryst in college. Upon proof of paternity, my husband began paying support and requested visitation. The BM would often decide the day of, that he could not pick up his daughter, or make it difficult for him to contact her. This situation continued until the BM was arrested for assaulting her husband with a car seat in front of the children, and my husband was unable to figure out who had his daughter. He filed for partial custody and was given three days/week visitation.
Things seemed to stabilize for a while, though she was always a bit off. She would say she wanted a divorce from her husband, and the next thing we hear she's pregnant again (she has a total of other 4 children with her husband). We knew things weren't great at their home, but we didn't realize the extent of it. Six months ago, we were contacted by her husband. He said he had an audio tape that we needed to hear. On the tape, the BM supposedly is dragging my SD by the hair (there is a great deal of screaming and crying). The BM then goes on to say how she should have "gotten rid" of her daughter 7 years ago. She told her husband to "call her father and get her out of here, I'm going to hurt her". Upon hearing the tape, we called child protective services. We were told they could not do anything without physical evidence of abuse. We contacted a lawyer and filed for emergency custody. The motion was granted, and we have had full custody for the past 6 months. Pending the mother's pyschological evaluation, the arrangement may go to shared if she is deemed "fit".
Though this whole process, I have been very supportive. We have my SD in weekly therapy sessions to work through the abuse and self esteem issues (there seems to be more of the verbal/emotional abuse, with less physical). The bulk of the child care has fallen on me because my husband works evenings. I currently work full time, am in graduate school, and am very active in the community. Having my SD full this has been a really big adjustment, and I feel like I am having trouble maintaining my commitments with work, school and volunteering. I'm at a point where I'm not sure how to find balance. I feel guilty because my husband is under a lot of stress given the situation and with his own job. I feel like no one can really relate to my situation... and I'm looking for a little guidance. My husband and I had always thought that there may come a time for his daughter to live with us, but we never expected it to happen under these circumstances- this soon.