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Hi everyone. First let me apologize in advance because this will be long, but I'll try to break it down into paragraphs so it won't be hard to read.

I am married to a wonderful man and I have two grown sons from previous marriages who are, though totally different, very "normal". My husband's daughter is 17 and a mess.

My stepdaughter lived most of her life in the home of her mother and stepfather. Her stepdad is very laid back and easygoing. Her mother is a different story. She has to be totally in control of every situation. If she's not she goes ballistic. She has abused, verbally and physically, every member of her current family. She thinks everyone is out to get her, never realizing that they are just reacting to her instability. She lies constantly and does it very convincingly. When one is talking to her, she sounds very reasonable but later on they will find out that only about 25% of what she says is true. Most of her lies are self serving. My stepdaughter's grandmother died about 6 years ago from Huntington's Disease so there is a 50% chance that her mother has it and if mother does there's a 50% chance that daughter has it too.

Hubby and I have been married for almost 9 years and dated for 2 years prior to marriage. I have been in his daughter's life since she was six. She is very intellegent and gifted, is very pretty, and seems,at least on the surface, to have the sweetest personality. She has so many positive traits that it tears her dad and me up to see her ruining her life with the negative.

From the time we were married, my stepdaughter had signs of physical abuse, cuts, bruises, etc., that she stated were caused from "whippings". She's had belt bruises with buckle cuts from her shoulders to her knees. She's had cuts on her legs and back where she's been beaten with small tree limbs. Other times she had bruises where she'd been punched. Each time we saw this it was documented with the proper authorities and they followed up, but as we found out, when a child is initially placed with her mother, it's very hard for a father to convince a judge to reverse that decision.

When she was ten she made an allegation that her stepfather had been molesting her. My husband took her to the hospital where she was examined and the department of family and children's services as well as the local sheriff's department was notified. She was placed with us temporarily until an investigation was completed. During that time we learned of the extensive drug activity that was going on in the children's presence in her mother's home. Her mother was allowed supervised visitation for the first six months then was given unsupervised visitation. During this time the mother was able to convince the child that nothing serious happened to her, that the consequences for her sticking to her story would be so bad for mother, stepdad and stepbrother that she'd have to live with guilt the rest of her life, if stepdad went to prison, mother would kill herself, child was lying and nobody would believe her, etc., etc., etc. When we went to court for final judgement my stepdaughter recanted her story and physical custody was restored to her mother. Her social worker was totally flabbergasted because the signs of abuse were so apparent and so well documented.

After she went back to her mom's, my husband continued with regular weekend and holiday visitation, but the visits were very strained because she was so standoffish out of guilt or defiance or whatever, and he was devastated by what she had done. He told her that he really hoped that she wasn't being abused because she had essentially tied his hands by lying, whether it was to him or to the court, because if anything came up again it would be hard to convince anyone to take it seriously. However, he let her know that he still loved her and he'd do anything he could for her.

Her visits with her dad continued regularly at first, then more sporatic as she would find different reasons she couldn't visit. After 2 years of this, she called and left a message on our machine that she wasn't coming to visit and didn't know if she ever would again.

We found out that she was interested in and was trying to practice witchcraft. She had a good friend who had grown up Wiccan who was showing her the ropes. She was sneaking out at night, going to parties, drinking, smoking marijuana. At this time she and her mother developed a kind of love hate relationship. Mom tried to live through daughter, daughter wanted mom to butt out. Mom tried to act like teenager, let daughter do whatever she wanted, even assisting at times, then if daughter tried to leave mom out mom would blow up. They did drugs together, got caught shoplifting together, daughter covered for mom to runaround on stepdad, etc., but when mom tried to occasionally take on the mother role again all hell broke loose. She knew that her dad is a devout Christian and he wouldn't approve of what she was doing and this was the reason she later gave for cutting ties with him.

Last year, when my stepdaughter was 15, mom and stepdad got busted for manufacturing methamphetamine and daughter was arrested too when search disclosed marijuana and meth in her room. Daughter was released into the custody of stepdad's sister because mom didn't want her to go to her dad's.

Three months after the bust, DFACS informed us that whether daughter liked it or not, she would have to come live with us or be put in the foster care system because she would not be able to live with her mom.

Now, to the present. My stepdaughter, who I actually don't even consider as a stepchild because I love her as my own, has been with us now for 14 months. It's been like a rollercoaster ride since she's been here.To start off with, she was very angry that she didn't have a choice in where she lived. After a month or so, she finnally figured out that she had it better than she ever had living here with us.

She is very appreciative of the times when she and I have "girl time", going shopping, eating out, visiting, and doing other things together. She also spends a lot of quality time alone with her dad. All the tension that had been previously is gone. She has completely given up drugs, however there's been a time or two she's been caught with evidence that she's been drinking. She did attend church regularly until she got her new job that has her working split shifts all weekend and 4-10 during the week. She's signed up for early entrance to go into the Army where she wants to persue the medical field. She made a perfect score on the Armed Service Vocational Assessment and her recruiter assures us that the sky is the limit for her. Most of the time things seem perfect...but it's only superficial.

We've caught her in lie after lie. When she's caught she admits to it with what seems to her to be a perfectly logical explanation and no remorse whatsoever. After we got her a car (that she makes payments on) and helped her open a checking account, paid for her to go on a ski trip with church youth, among other things that parent's do for their kids in a normal family, we found out that she had stolen an ATM card that we "thought" was inactive and took nearly $600 out of our checking account $20-$30 at a time. She admitted it when we confronted her with pictures that were taken by the ATM security camera (what else could she have done?). She didn't realize she'd taken that much, like a little bit would have been ok in her way of thinking. The whole time you could tell that there were no feelings of guilt even though she admitted it was wrong.

We don't understand. If she needs anything all she has to do is ask. Her explanation is that she doesn't like to ask for anything (but she doesn't mind stealing it??). She won't get up to get to school on time. She skips classes, will park in the school parking lot and sleep in her car till she decides to go in.
Her dad took her car away for two weeks last year, took her to school each morning and picked her up each afternoon, but evidently she went in the front door and out the back because she wasn't in class. She explained this by saying that she was there but the school had a new system they didn't have the bugs worked out of and it showed incorrect info on it's internet site. Then we started going to the school and checking on her. She always had an explanation about a teacher sending her here or there and they just didnt ask the right person where she was.

She seems to have learned to be a good liar from her mother, and she seems to have no guilt or regret when she gets caught. She want's to always be in charge of every situation she's involved in. Her whole world revolves around herself. I believe she's been hurt so much in the past that she's built this tough facade around herself. How can we get her to realize she's going nowhere fast?

All the time she seems so sweet and polite. Ask her to do something and it's yes ma'am and yes sir. But underneath it all she's sneaky as she can be. She almost seems like she is two different people. We are almost to the end of our rope. We have tried to explain to her that she'll never live up to her dreams if she doesn't do an about face soon.

She was in such emotional upheaval and instability when with her mother that my husband and I do most of our disciplining by taking her driving rights for a couple of weeks, restricting her from the computer, or going anywhere, etc., and sitting her down and talking to her about what she has done and what the possible negative outcomes of her behavior can be. We don't use physical punishment because it just makes her mad. She almost seems like she doesn't have any real emotions.

Can anyone give us any insight to what makes her tick? We've mentioned therapy but she's not willing. We need HELP.

Thanks in advance. :confused:

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