Tonight I've really questioned myself, I'm in a complex situation and I'll try to sum it up as best as I can.

A few years back a friend of mine moved from the US to Germany- we had a summer fling a few years earlier but didn't get too serious. She ended up getting married in Germany and having a daughter who is 2 years old now. I started talking more with her because her husband became extremely neglectful and abusive, and I sort of became an outlet. I couldn't handle her being treated that way and seeing her spirits drain. We both were dealing with a lot of things and gradually grew to be close, but only from a distance. Over the past couple years things have gotten worse with her. Just as one example- on her last birthday he told her she could go rot in a ditch for all he cared. He hasnt worked in over a year and spends all the unemployment on records he doesnt even use. She has held back so long for the sake of her daugter. She decided she wanted to come back to the US but I'm her only real connection. Her family isn't very close or reliable and being stuck in Germany with her deadbeat husband has drained and isolated her. I told her that she can stay with me if she needs a place to leave to. I've never cared about another person so much and never had so much in common with a woman- I've sort of assumed the responsibility of taking this guy's place in her life. She's mentioned adoption and I was against the idea because I didn't want her to feel like she had become her own mother, abandoning her. It's been a long messy exhausting process.

Today at work I let slip to two of my friends that she had a child- they both got very vocal on the subject, since they both have multiple kids and know how huge of a responsibility and money sink it is. They basically told me 'run for the hills!' 'Get out of that!'

I know I'm not ready for the responsibility of a child, and I have no idea how it would be raising someone else's kid. But it goes against everything inside of me to abandon my friend, or to suggest she adopt her daughter to someone. As a 27 year old guy who hasn't been in any real meaningful relationships I have gotten so good at being selfish and taking my life for granted. I also feel like I've had so many years to mess around and live without consequences and thinking of making things right for her fills me with a sense of purpose and meaning I didn't really have before. But I can't fully understand the weight because I'm on the other side of the world. I still have my freedom. I love this girl, I have never really been able to imagine being a family with someone else, and when her daughter waves at me on Skype it makes me tear up. I want nothing more than to be a happy family with her, but there's so many things I don't know. I'm still piecing together my own life and finding my way. I feel like if I abandoned her she would kill herself. She has no car, phone, local friends, family to help, it's all just me. I'm scared she would drink herself to death without the light at the end of the tunnel I've been to her so far.

I've thought about being a father a lot, I know it's harder than anyone thinks going j to it- I also know a lot of the men I look up to have children. I have a need to be a good father because of my own family issues, and I want to be the opposite of my dad. I want to have a close family like I noticed when I visited friend's houses growing up. I feel like I could have that but the fact that my friends are so desperate to warn me really makes me anxious. I don't really know who to ask for advice, I don't really have any older male role models I'm close with and I don't feel as bad blurting out my insecurities to strangers online. I forgot about this site but it seemed like a good place to ask for guidance.

Thanks

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I think your friends' advice holds some water here. 

Don't go heading into a rescue mission relationship, especially when you've already decided against it once before. 

I suppose I may have put more emphasis on her problem than what I'm getting out of it.

When we met 4 years ago she lived in another city- we were both just looking for something fun, short and interesting. We just scraped the surface of each other and it wasn't until her move that we really got to know each other. We've both gotten a lot older in the course of four years and things have changed. I was very hesitant at first, I've been told time and time again 'don't let her use you', but after sharing your innermost thoughts with someone every day for nearly two years you know when someone is genuine. I've never been so honest with someone before.

As for this being a rescue mission- it's only partly that.

This girl is one of the only people I've met that shared all of my quirks and eccentric traits. She cooks, she's lovely, good in bed, she tries so hard to bear things in her own and be strong. She has the same sense of humor and is very smart and talented. We share almost all of the same tastes. She isn't trying to force parenthood on me and doesn't understand my willingness either. We both just want to have a family better than we have been used to. Aside from the unknown aspect of raising another person's child, she's everything I've been looking for- all my unrealistic expectations in a woman rolled into one. We both have our weaknesses, her drinking for example, but I understand she's at rock bottom right now with this man and things won't get better until she's cut him out of her life.

I can personally tell you that 'raising' step children is one of the most difficult things a man can do.  On the 'good' side your friend's daughter is young on the bad side she is your friend's daughter, not yours.  Even if things get to the point where you marry her she will still not be your daughter.  You have no standing legally or otherwise with that child, discipline is her mother's baliwick, and you can expect that if it come to supporting you or backing you with that child you may be left out in the cold.

Are there any legal arrangements that could be made so that I'm not in that position? I really trust my friend wouldn't take off with the child one day considering I've stuck with her through the rough times and really want to try my hardest, something her actual father hasn't done- but I wouldn't want the possibility of having no contact with a girl that knows me as her dad.

Not unless the father gives up his parental rights and you then adopt the child.  In your situation I would seriously advise against this unless or until you and the mother are married.  If you do this before and you don't get married then your, and her, ability to relocate is seriously compromised and with your job situation that ain't a good thing.

The thing is, he literally came to me on webcam when we were talking and said 'you want THIS?' Referring to his 2 year old daughter. He has hardly any involvement with her dispite living at home the past year on unemployment. He just plays Ps3 and ignores her. He would easily give her up if he was left to care for her a few days.

Try to put any emotional response out of your decision-making process for a moment. Don't get caught up in fantasies of "what could be" with this woman you haven't had a functional, healthy relationship with and who has a child you don't know whether you would truly have a bond with. Being in your late 20s isn't that old. You have plenty of time to find the right person to settle down and start a family with. She may or may not be The One.

It sounds like she's clinging to you to get out of a bad situation; she may not realize it on a conscious level, but she is looking for help not love right now. If the woman can make her way back to the US and get established on her own, great; don't be her lifeline/rescuer.

Is either the biological father or the child a German citizen? If so, you may fight yourself in the middle of a nasty international custody fight.

I'd also be wary of someone who would leave one relationship (even a crappy one) for another.

There are lots of things about this situation that are sketchy (cue the robot from "Lost in Space" screaming, "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!")

+1

That should say, "If so, you may *find* yourself in the middle of a nasty international custody fight."

 I was about to call you pedantic. But then I saw you were correcting yourself.

Yeah, I wouldn't be that much of a jerk to someone else.

I work at amazon and every night I have all this empty time to consider the situation. Over 2 years I've looked at it from all kinds of angles. The main thing is getting her somewhere on her feet. After that I say we try things for a few months to see what would be best for everyone. But I've been with so many women and they all lacked the feeling that I get from her company. I would do anything for us to have the kind of life we want.

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