This evening I am absolutely overwhelmed with gratefulness.
I was fortunate enough this morning to spend Christmas morning with my children once again after 4 years.
It was wonderful, beyond words. We all had a great time and made some memories that I am sure they will carry with them the rest of their lives as I carry memories of times withy parents as a young adult with me.
There was a time not to long ago. Where I was being denied access to my children. No contact during the holidays, not even a phone call.
I was an emotion wreck for several years. Thoughts of suicide danced in my head on a continual basis. I just wanted it to end.
There were allegations of domestic violence against my ex-wife and statements that she fear for her and her children’s lives.
The courts believed them without evidence. Didn’t question the allegations. Took the allegations as the evidence that I was a danger to my children.
I was jailed, I lost my employment, I became homeless.
I was ordered by the courts for my children and I to only have infrequent contact and then only under the watchful eye of a third party. Every move and word watched, documented, reviewed, analyzed, and critiqued and criticized.
I jumped through hoop after hoop put forth by the court.
Psychological evaluations, batters intervention classes, drug tests.
It seemed it would never end. It went on for years.
The stress more them words can explain. You cannot even imagine what I endured unless you yourself have had similar experiences.
Missing supervised visits because there was no money available for the court ordered drug test. Missing other visits because the ex “forgot”. Enduring the slow acclimation of your children to their new life without you as a father. Watching another man you know nothing about have full unrestricted access to them and to live under the same roof as them. So many injustices, and know one cared. Least if all the courts I grew up believing were there to protect us from injustice.
I won an appeal I took to the Supreme Court and thought that would finally reunite my children and I.
Instead I was told that while my children and a I should have never endured what we did and that it was unfortunate.
That they had now become accustomed to their new routine and custody arrangement.
I was basically told that while the court had no problem stripping them of a father in the blink of an eye over mere allegations, that it would just be to “disruptive” to my children to now reintroduce their loving father back into their lives and to change their current custody.
I was told I would never again be the father I once was to them. That I would now only be a visitor to them 4 days a month. That my days of being an actively involved father were over.
That’s how my story would have ended if not for the children’s age.
Earlier this year, at near 14 years old the children who never understood why their father had suddenly been ripped from their lives became confident in themselves. They became vocal towards their mother and they began to question why they could not spend more time with him. She could not tell them the same lies that the court so easily believed and took as fact. We had not separated until they were 11, they knew who their father was and they knew they did not fear for their lives in his presence. They knew there was no domestic violence growing up in our household as children. Telling them that it wasn’t her choice, that it was what the court ordered was no longer an excuse they were willing to accept.
She faced recently and agreeing to 50/50 custody or face their lifetime resentments
We agreed to a 50/50 custody arrangement and the children are happy and thriving.
The conflict between I ex-wife and I has subsided greatly with the removal of her absolute power over me and this morning.
This Christmas morning…
All was right with the world as we spent our first Christmas together since they were 10 years old.
The return of my children to my life have been a gift I cannot even describe with mere words.
After these 3+ years of having my children mostly absent. Three long years of being reduced to an every other weekend visitor, they have brought meaning back to my life.
Arguments about bedtime, being taken for granted, playing taxi cab and having my wallet sucked dry. Forcing them to do homework, teaching them responsibility, creating structure at our home, talking about their day at school, getting them up in the mornings, watching TV with them, playing games, discussing their joys and daily issues has given my life meaning again.
I want to cry, I am so grateful this Christmas evening.
I finally feel like a Father again. I feel like I have an impact again in who our children will become.
As grateful as I am today, I am also filled today with righteous anger at how our society sees and treats fathers.
How easily we are removed from the lives of our children at the time of divorce or separation.
Discarded like trash and treated like second class citizens.
Discriminated against because of the gender to which we were born.
Thought of by the vast majority of society as “less than”.
We are not “less than”.
We are not second class citizens to be discarded from the lives of our children like trash.
We are important in the development of our children.
Our children require our love, our guidance and our direction.
We as men and Fathers are no less capable of providing for, nurturing and loving our children simply because we are not mothers.
President Obama enjoys calling upon us to “step up to the plate”.
We are already at the plate Mr. President.
I never left the damn plate. You and your court system forced me from my children’s lives and labeled me a “visitor”. Society calls me a “deadbeat”.
I’m not alone.
I stand with other fathers (and mothers) across this nation and from all over the world.
There are millions of us who you have beaten down, destroyed, taken from them their very reason for being.
You and your courts break the will of Fathers to the point that as many as 50 divorced Fathers a day take their own lives to escape the pain and the injustice, the feelings of despair and hopelessness you and your courts create through the systematic removal of our children from our lives.
This is going to stop.
Our children both need and deserve Fathers in their lives.
Today, I am grateful I survived the last 3 years.
Today, I am grateful I did not allow society and the court system to take my life as it has 10’s of thousands of other Fathers.
Today, I am grateful that I can work with other leaders in this movement and to help bring change for our children’s futures.
Today, I am grateful fir the opportunity to spread awareness of our plight to those who do not know this is happening. As I had no idea it was happening before it happened to my children and myself.
Today, I am grateful to be a Father again and that I can play a part in helping other Fathers have hope that they too can be a Father again.
Because you can. As I have. It is possible. Even if the court doesn’t allow it, your children can come back to you.
Today I am grateful that I can tell a success story to fathers feeling hopeless. Hopeless like I once felt.
Today I am indeed Grateful.
Merry Christmas to you all.
The Fathers’ Rights Movement