Trigger Warning: All the triggers. Seriously, all of them.
Stepkid is 9, and is the oldest of four children, all of whom have different fathers. Husband had Stepkid at 17 and BirthMom was 16, and Husband and joined the Army to provide child support and health insurance to Stepkid. Husband and I met and we got married when Stepkid was 3.5. Stepkid lives with us now (the three other children are with various relatives), but spent the first 5.5 years of her life with BirthMom. While this was happening, we knew BirthMom was poor and struggling without much support from her own family, and that she drifted from boyfriend to boyfriend who seemed to be her main financial supports, but we thought she generally tried to do her best, and there wasn't much we could do since we were stationed far away. The state BirthMom lived in at the time gave custodial rights automatically to the mother in cases of births out of wedlock, BirthMom was unwilling to give up custody, and we had nothing to fight the custodial case with. Later, BirthMom lost custody of her kids four years ago due to neglect and drug use while Husband and I were deployed to Afghanistan, but she never faced criminal charges because the kids were too young to put on the stand. We also found out a while back from Stepkid that BirthMom and boyfriends physically abused her as well, and also observed her mother performing sexual acts on a boyfriend. Neglect included things like putting then 5 year-old StepKid in charge of the younger children and making her cook dinner for the family. Since losing custody, BirthMom has never once attempted to pay child support for any of her four children. She now owes us over four years of child support. She does not call on Christmas or their birthdays. She does not send cards or presents. She changes her phone number constantly and does not keep us updated on how to reach her. We assume she is still on drugs, because the few times we have reached her on the phone (usually when she wants money from us) she has sounded stoned out of her mind. When BirthMom does get Stepkid on the phone, the conversation is full of lies like, "Maybe I'll come and see you this weekend and bring a bike!" despite the fact that BirthMom lives halfway across the U.S. and has no money that we know of and no means to get to us.
Prior to about 10 months ago, we did have one way to reliably reach BirthMom: Facebook. She had a Facebook account, and we would allow supervised messages to go back and forth from Stepkid to her through my Facebook account. This was a great comfort to Stepkid at the time. Then, about ten months ago, BirthMom made some suicidal threats on Facebook. Shortly after this occurred, she fell off the grid all together. The Facebook account was deleted, for "use of threatening language". I'm not sure if this was the suicide threat or a threat BirthMom made towards someone else. Stepkid was devastated that she no longer had a way to contact her mom. None of BirthMom's relatives had a working phone number, and BirthMom did not contact us.
Stepkid usually visits her grandparents in the summer, where she is usually allowed a supervised visit with BirthMom. This year BirthMom decided to not show up to see Stepkid. Stepkid was devastated. She hasn't heard from her mother in almost a year now.
So here's the thing. I saw tonight that BirthMom is back on Facebook. BirthMom has been back online since at least September. BirthMom has made no effort to contact either me or Husband on Facebook, and has not reached out to us in any way to contact Stepkid (something we always let her do in the past, despite our better judgment).
Stepkid really wants a way to contact BirthMom.
Is this something Husband and I should pursue? Neither of us really think that continued exposure to BirthMom is really healthy for Stepkid. After talking to BirthMom, Stepkid is usually upset for several days and sometimes acts out violently - something really out of the ordinary for her. Stepkid has some really unhealthy, unresolved feelings towards her mother. She has told us several times that it is her job to make sure BirthMom is okay - that Stepkid is more like the mom and BirthMom is more like the kid. Stepkid feels obligated to try and lecture her over the phone that BirthMom needs to get a job and straighten out her life in order to take care of her children. Stepkid has also admitted she has fantasies about Husband and BirthMom getting back together with Stepkid's three other siblings - something that Husband has gently tried to explain will never happen for many reasons.
So I'm torn. On the one hand, I think it's a totally toxic relationship that does Stepkid no good, and one that BirthMom seems to have no interest in actually pursuing.
On the other hand, I know Stepkid would not forgive us if she knew we were keeping a way to contact BirthMom from her.
Seriously, what is the right thing to do? Because I don't know, and it's damn hard.