Well, it has been a long while since I have posted partially because my laptop up and died on me and partially because things have been on the extra crazy side around my already busy household. BUT I am back!
Now, where did I leave off. I wrote about my baby girl and then my oldest and the 2 that followed but I got stuck trying to decide if I should go in order or skip to my littlest man. You see next in the birth right line would be my step-daughter but things are touchy in that arena so I thought I might steer clear but over the holidays there have been some things in the news that changed my mind so lets go ahead and meet Ms. Savannah.
When I met her she was barely 3 years old, still getting the hang of potty training. She was tiny but with a head of hair on her any woman would envy. She was on the shy side but warmed up quickly to anyone willing to show interest. She loved twirly dresses and kitty cats and Disney Princesses and took immediately to her duty as a little sister, torture the older boy at all costs. I could instantly see that this man was in love with his baby. He danced with her, sang with her, and played endlessly with her. It was wonderful to see a man so ready to paint her nails and do her hair. He was passionate about making sure his daughter knew what she meant to him and that she was loved. He had always wanted to be a husband and Daddy so I also saw the raw pain and heartache when his allotted time to parent his child was ended (by court order) on Sundays at 5pm.
When his ex-wife decided one day that she didn't want to be married anymore she gave him the "its not you its me" speech and took not just his baby with her when she went but his dreams for their life together as a family, everything he thought would be was no longer. He fought long and hard but in the end was awarded only the standard every other weekend deal which in reality amounts to 4 days a month to be a Dad to the girl he adored, she was just a baby. He was no longer able to play with her at the end of a long day, to kiss her boo boos, or watch her grow, no longer allowed to sing and rock her to sleep, no longer permitted to be her Daddy, except for 4 days a month. He was heartbroken and I do not think even today over a decade later he has truly healed. I watched while we dated how his ex-wife dictated when he would be "allowed" time with his child, where he would have to drive to pick her up, where he would be required to drop her off, and how many of her decisions depended on who she was dating or married to at the time. All this while paying the highest child support allowed by the law at the time.
When he and I married and the construction industry took a hit we embarked on this nightmare called child support reduction. It was her mission to get every dime she could and his task to prove he needed enough left over to live on. The system is a mess, the courts don't want to hear about it. They simply want the father to pay out and shut up. His life after HER decision to take everything away from him is not their concern. Whether or not she abides by the visitation schedule or not is also not their concern. We have been told "If you wanted a say in your kids life you should have stayed married" (she left him?), "You have other kids just concentrate on raising them" (so this one matters less?), "It will cost too much to change the situation just try to see her when you can". (while another child grows up without a father). Recently, we stopped by the child support enforcement office and overheard a young man saying he has been paying support for a child he has never met. The baby was DNA tested and found to be his and he was ordered to pay support which he has been doing The baby's mother never contacted him, moved, and no one will tell him where they live. He said he wants to see his baby. The woman behind the glass partisan tells him she can only collect his payment, she cannot help him see the child. She instructs him to get a lawyer ($$$) go to court ($$) and file for visitation. He said he tried but the state requires an address to serve her papers which CPS has on file because they send his money to her. He was not asking for the address for himself but that it be forwarded onto the courts. They say they cannot help maybe he should hire a P.I. ($$$$-what?). She informs him that he must make his latest payment even if his hours have been cut or there will be a warrant for his arrest issued. He left deflated and resigned that he will not meet his child but that his payment will be on time every month or else. I wonder if that child will ever know its father tried.
Now the irony is that this exchange takes place under one of their PC posters of a young man holding a baby. It says "Be a Father Be Involved". I guess the pictured baby has a mother who decided to let the father be one. This brings me to the numerous parental abductions I noticed over the holidays. I used to think these men must be monsters but now I wonder what their story is, what the mothers of these children may have put them through, what the court system has been a party to that caused them to break. Dads face the outdated idea that the child belongs with the mother, that any man struggling to pay support is a dead beat dad, that her sob story must be true. After 8 years of fighting the system, fighting for time, fighting for a childhood before its too late, and being told outright by her mother that she does not want to co-parent we have filed for custody of my step-daughter. There are so many things she wants to see and to do and to experience but no one but us is listening. It has already been a ridiculous and one sided journey stacked by the court system and by society against him. Child Support Enforcement can easily be manipulated and used to punish fathers who attempt to assert their rights. Too many mothers use it like a weapon. We had to have our state representative step in and stop them from terrorizing us over a lie and a typo after he has paid every month in full for 10 years. Mothers are not punished for their misdeeds instead the fathers are seen as a bother by the courts when they try to find justice. It is overwhelming and mind boggling but my husband refuses to give up his right to sit front and center at every guitar recital, every school play, be apart of every moment and raise his child. She is his and he is hers and he will fight to be her Daddy always. She is a very lucky girl so many other fathers do not have the stamina or the resources to continue the fight to stay in their children's lives.