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Julia

How do we help him

We have a kind of a complicated family situation. My boyfriend's four year old son has been living with us full time since november. My boyfriend took protective custody of him at that time after he was witness to the domestic abuse of his mother by her partner. Shortly thereafter his child support payments were suspended and with in two weeks, his mother had all but disappeared. She went to one court hearing and was ordered to do several things in order to maintain joint custody, but not only did she not follow through on any of it, she did not show up to the next court date at which point my boyfriend was awarded full physical custody in January. She then dissappeared compleatly, no address or telephone number, and did not contact us again until the second week in april. Both my boyfriend and I, despite the negative emotions we have twords her, have never spoken badly of her in front of him. When she showed up again, my boyfriend put his foot down and told her that the only way he would allow her to speak with him would be if she called regularly and started making plans to see him at regular intervals. She agreed, and has been calling a couple of times a week, but so far has only seen him three times, all for less than an hour and under the guise of some other resposibility(she watched our bird when we went away for a few days). The third time she saw him was yesterday, we ran into her (very pregnant and with the abuser)at walmart. At first his son barely acknowleged her and was very gaurded. They then followed us to the check out line and stood an isle over while we did our thing. I took him out of the carrage and told him if he wanted to go stand with her he should, which he did, and even had her take him to the bathroom. When we got back to our car he asked repeatedly, where's mommy, I don't see mommy, where is she. we said we didn't  know, we though that mommy was going to her house and we were going back to ours. he fell asleep in the car and we put him down for his nap when we got home, but when he woke up two hours later, our usual ray of sunshine was shaking and sobbing that he missed his mother. We took turns sitting with him and comforting and eventually were able to bring him around(remind him of how many people love him, what a lucky boy he is, aknowledging that he must feel terrible, and that it was okay to feel like that, try to find ways to help him cope). I don't know how long I can watch this little boy go through this. I feel so helpless. He is incredibly smart and talented, and funny, but with each encounter like this, you can physically see his trust grow a little weaker, his outlook get a little darker, and his personality grow a little lonlier. What can we do to help him get through this okay? we desperatly want her to spend time with him, but not this kind, that leaves him emotionally wrecked and wondering when he will ever see her again. We have already gone through this once with him when she dissappeared the first time and its killing both of us to feel this helpless.Please offer some advice!!

Thank you so much

Julia