My daughter is 4.5 years old. At two weeks of age I left her father, my ex husband, after well documented domestic violence. He has refused any opportunity to be a part of her life (refuses to pay child support, doesn't show up to visitation that hasn't even been attempted since she was 10 months old, doesn't call twice weekly as court ordered, etc.) We literally never hear from him. He makes no contact on birthday or holidays. He blames me in court for his absence.
When she was about 6 months old I met a man. He happened to have been abandoned by his own father at age 11. He is somewhat older, never married, no children. He embraced her. He loves her. Strange to me, but he loves me as well. Four years later with no knowledge of her legal and biological father she still has his last name because he refuses to consent to a name change or a step-parent adoption. He says he "loves her" but was diagnosed as a sociopath by a court psychologist. At his most recent sentencing he made open threats to "kill them all" referring to me and my supportive family and possibly even our daughter? I live with PTSD, and my father fears that one day after his release it will escalate to him being forced to protect his home as that is the address that I use (with the court's blessing, even though I don't live with him and I am successful and financially independent.) We all live in fear. Contact is NOT considered safe. He is to be in a supervised visitation center at all times with her, if he were to ever see her.
To make matters worse he violated probation that he was on as a result of the beatings on me and has been in prison for the last year and a half with an estimated release date of 2/14/2017.
She retains his last name because he refuses to consent to a step parent adoption or a name change. At preschool, however, she uses my last name. I felt it was important that she feel a connection by name to people she actually knows vs. those she doesn't. She has began asking questions about our openly gay neighbors and how their family is different. I am afraid that when she sees her legal name on a piece of paper that requires it at school she will start asking questions about our family. If at any point I can ensure our safety I would be happy to reconnect with her bio-grandfather...but I fear for both of us if he were to know where we are. Unfortunately, he was still seeing her in secret until about 2 years ago, but that is not a safe option at this point.
She loves my significant other and she calls him dad as the dad he has been since her early days. We have offered to get married so he can adopt her if her bio father will consent but he still refuses. Years of trauma therapy has taught me that this is his way of controlling me - because he can no longer control me directly.
This child, my flesh, is my priority. I want to be honest at an appropriate level. I tried to help him but he didn't want anyone's help and we were both in danger. How do I tell her in age appropriate tidbits that her "dad" and me love her more than anything in the world....but there is in fact someone else out there who.....??????
She is a very bright child who is frustrated that she is not allowed to be a practicing RN at age 4. She is kind, intuitive, and treats everyone and everything with a kind of tenderness of I have every desire to protect.
Looking for suggestions....
The rules vary from state to state, but it certainly sounds like you should be able to sue to terminal parental rights due to abandonment. Your best bet is to speak with a lawyer in your state who deals with family issues.
best of luck to you