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by Abigail Van Buren

Aunt Determines To Keep Girl Safe From Abusive Relatives

DEAR ABBY: One of my husband's sisters has eight kids, ranging from 15 months to 20 years old. She hasn't taken care of any of them for more than three years. They never saw a doctor, they didn't have food in the house, and she was abusive.

When she lost custody, the ones without dads in the picture went to live with another one of my husband's sisters. Since then, three of the children she was caring for went into foster care. My husband and I visit them regularly, but no one else in the family has seen them at all.

Two of the kids are now in our care. They have been living with us for six months. The rest of his family hasn't visited them either. I also have a 15-month-old son, who wouldn't know any of them if they did come by, because they never do.

Last month, my husband's family invited us over. I didn't want to go and didn't want my son or 6-year-old niece to go either. My husband thinks they have a "right" to see their family. I don't think they should be around family who can't be bothered to see them regularly.

I also think my niece shouldn't have to be around an aunt who abused and neglected her. She's only now starting to realize that's not normal or OK. My nephew is 15, he knows what happened wasn't right and has chosen to stay away from his aunt since moving out.

Am I wrong to keep my niece from her family? She's not old enough to decide, but I think at this point it would do more harm than good. -- CONFLICTED IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR CONFLICTED: At this point, you are that child's responsible adult (parent). If you feel it would be detrimental for her to be forced into contact with her abuser, stand your ground.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Abuse