Blended families can be beautiful, but they also come with various challenges. A young boy spent many years living with his biological mom, but things changed when he spent more time with his dad's new wife.
Parenting is complex, and parenting a stepchild can be even more demanding as adults try to balance the tricky dynamics of a blended family. When one side of a custodial agreement fails to meet expectations, things spiral out of control quickly.
A mother noticed that her son was spending increased periods with his father's new partner, and her reaction to the turn of events was worrying—it also led to severe consequences.
[Left] |Kristin and Joe Marengo on their wedding day; [Right] Joe Marengo and his son. | Source: facebook.com/kristin.caforio
HE TOLD HER ABOUT HIS SON
Kristin Marengo met her now-husband, Joe Marengo, in 2009. She wasn't looking for a relationship, but she liked that he was authentic, and the pair quickly bonded about yoga and various other common interests.
When Kristin saw a photo of a young boy on Joe's phone, he didn't hide that he was a father. The DJ/construction worker asked her if a child was a deal-breaker, and she was happy to say that it wasn't.
THERE WAS SOMETHING DIFFERENT ABOUT HIM
Kristin loved that Joe was a dad because she never wanted kids of her own but enjoyed spending time with them. She also didn't expect to find love in a dingy New York bar, but she did.
The dance instructor added:
"I realized, this is why this guy is different. Joe wasn’t trying to impress me. He was simply being himself."
SHE MET HIS SON
After ten months, Joe introduced Kristin to his son, Josiah. She was the first romantic partner he allowed into his child's life, and by 2010, the trio was spending vacations together.
Josiah lived with his biological mother in North Carolina, and during his 3rd grade, something changed. His teachers noted a difference in his disposition, and they stated that his mom wasn't present as much as expected.
THE CHILD WAS BEING COACHED BY HIS MOM
Joe and Kristin's interference purportedly angered the mother, and she started changing visitation agreements last minute. Joe realized he needed to hire a lawyer and request a formal custody agreement.
Matters escalated when Kristin and Joe noticed that Josiah was being coached and encouraged to lie on phone calls. Kristin stated:
"To make the situation worse, the child was acting coached and strange on the phone. The biological mother was clearly playing games."
THEY WANTED FULL CUSTODY
With every missed appointment, the couple grew more concerned about Josiah and the state of his biological mom. Eventually, they taped their calls to prove that something was off.
They decided to seek full custody when they discovered Josiah's mom was not fulfilling her parental role due to prescription pills.
THINGS WENT FROM BAD TO WORSE
The situation had gone from bad to worse after the biological mom went to the police. She learned that the couple wanted full custody, so she purportedly fabricated incriminating stories about Joe.
When he flew to North Carolina to spend some time with his son, police arrested him on arrival because the biological mother said he threatened her life.
THE CHILD NEEDED HELP CATCHING UP
In 2012, a court ruled in the couple's favor and gave them full custody of Josiah. He was in 4th grade and needed extensive help catching up on his missed work.
"When I tell you we worked day and night catching him up, I mean it. Josiah also was not social or active. Walking five blocks in NYC would tire him out. He needed to learn fundamental skills."
HE WAS A NATURAL DANCER
The couple tried swimming lessons, the YMCA, Little League, baseball, and basketball, but nothing seemed to stick. However, things changed in 2013 during a trip to Massachusetts.
Kristin taught a dance group and encouraged Josiah to join—what she witnessed left her speechless. She expressed:
"That day was life-changing. Josiah had this raw, amazing talent. My mind was blown. At that very moment, I knew he was meant to dance. He loved the dance class, and I saw pure joy in him."
THE STRUGGLES MADE HIM STRONGER
By 2014 the family moved to Massachusetts, and Josiah continued dancing. He needed to learn quickly and catch up on years of missed training, but Joe and Kristin knew it only made him stronger.
There were many difficult days, and the couple watched Josiah struggle, but he was a fighter. Kristin revealed that he was finally starting to find himself and blossom.
SHE WAS PROUD OF HIM
Kristin and Josiah grew very close thanks to their shared love of dance. When she opened a yoga studio, Josiah helped her clean the rooms and enjoyed taking her classes which felt like therapy.
Despite all of the drama they endured, their bond was undeniable, and they loved each other. Kristin was proud of Josiah for all he had accomplished, and when he was asked to join the ASH Tour (Artists Simply Human Tour), her heart jumped with joy.
HE ASKED HER AN UNEXPECTED QUESTION
The youngster was later accepted into the AMDA (American Music and Drama Academy) and signed to the BLOC talent agency in New York.
Kristin believed that the universe brought them together, and she was thrilled to have helped cultivate his love for dance. Her heart nearly exploded when Josiah asked her an unexpected question while they were watching a movie about adoption.
SHE BECAME HIS ADOPTIVE MOM
He asked Kristen: "When are you going to adopt me?" She started to cry, immediately agreed, and started the paperwork and adoption proceedings.
The coronavirus pandemic postponed their court date, so they eagerly said yes when a woman asked them if they wanted to bypass the judge and in-person ceremony.
THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO HER
Their adoption was finalized online within a day, and Kristin was ecstatic to be Josiah's mom. Their story had many difficult moments, but they wouldn't have it any other way.
"I am honored he calls me Mom. Love you, Josiah. You are truly the best thing that ever happened to me."
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