Monday, February 14, 2011

$2,500 on Happy Meals!

Every Sunday for six months it was McDonald's. My wife, my step-kids and I would load up in the car and drive for an hour and a half to Del City every weekend to have lunch at McDonald's for two hours from noon to 2pm. I got sick of McDonald's. But it was worth the $2,500.00.
Victims 1 & 2...aka "pawns"

To paraphrase, "He's dangerous. He's bipolar. One day he'll snap. He beats our kids. They are not safe. He gave them alcohol and exposed them to lewd acts. He has Parkinson's and is unable to care for our kids. They should be taken from him and given to me as if they are property to be decided in the divorce."

For months I stood there in disbelief in front the judge who is known for his intolerance. I stood there being watched by strangers while being accused of violent and vile crimes against my own children. While my loved ones waited in the lobby I stood in silence with only the support of a stranger who relied on monetary gain from me. While my accuser was allowed to freely paint a vivid portrait, no matter how fictitious it was, I was limited to answering the questions I was handed. At some point I learned the realization that in some situations the best way to fight is to defend.

I was in disbelief in how long this custody dispute was taking. I kept thinking, "How much longer is this going to go on?" I was in disbelief in how much more outrageous the abuse allegations would get with each failed attempt. I was in disbelief at how easy it was for my accuser to set in motion the consequences of the report of child abuse. It takes no evidence. No collaboration. No proof. No benefit of doubt. No report of past behavior. Not even the word of another. Just one word. That's all it takes. One time and the process begins. The doors of opportunity are opened to your accuser. That is the female divorcee, the mother. In my case, my accuser was my ex-wife, the mother of our children. The very woman who was supposed to help protect them and care for them. She was to help ensure no harm was to come to them to the best of her ability. Now she was deliberately putting them in harm's way, using them for her own motives. I would look over at her in disbelief.
Pawn # 1....victim 

The following is section of proposed Joint Resolution 182 of the United States Congress:

October 30, 1997

Expressing the sense of Congress with the respect to child custody, child abuse, and victims of domestic and family violence.

Whereas courts still hold women to higher standards of conduct than they do men;

Whereas gender bias still exists within the courts, particularly those making and affecting child custody determinations;

Whereas, as a result of this gender bias, many myths are that women make false allegations of domestic violence or child abuse, and most particularly of child sexual abuse, during divorce and custody proceeding;

Whereas false accusations by women are in fact rare, occurring no more often than do other false reports of crimes, such as bank robbery;

Whereas the myth that women make false accusations is so widely believed that many child protective service agents have policies of not bothering to investigate such allegations when made during the pendency of divorce or custody proceedings or only superficially investigate such allegations;

Let me see if I understand this completely. The courts recognize they show preferential treatment towards mothers. They recognize their negative biases towards fathers. They are also recognizing their biases towards males who make decisions for children. But they are denying the disgraceful amount of statistics regarding false allegations of child abuse reported by divorcing mothers in custody proceedings. Not only does this proposal minimize them but it also makes the amount vague by not providing a statistical number. Cowardly!

And how is this evident? All the way back in 1991 the divorce lawyers had the guts to admitting of their profiteering from the false child abuse industry:

            " ...eighty percent of those polled said they had actually handled a case where they believed there was false accusation of abuse, as in disputes over custody of children, for instance."[News Release, from The Dilenschneider Group Inc., (representing the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers)

If the reporting of false child abuse is equivalent to the report of false bank robbery then according to the mouths actual attorneys who represent cases of lying mothers then there must be more cases of bank robberies than we as the general public are aware of. That's stupid! 

In the end, when my ex-wife had decided "she" had enough, after two and a half years of being accused of unimaginable child abuse allegations, one that if found guilty would've required me to register as a sex offender resulting in kissing my career goals goodbye, being dragged in and out of court, being investigated by Department of Human Services, Child Protective Services, not once, but 5 times, all of which found no findings, the damage it costs from being alienated from my children, the division it created in my home and problems between my wife and I and almost $10,000.00, my attorney confronted her attorney asking her if she honestly believed I had ever abused our children. Not to either of our surprises her infallible answer was "no." My ex-wife's attorney actually tried to take my children away from me for the sake of money!
Pawns 2 & 3

Unfortunately the one's to pay the biggest price were both my sets of kids and my wife's kids. As my ex-wife began to realize she was failing to make head way in her goals to remove our kids from my life she began to become desperate. Before long she convinced my wife's ex-husband and his wife of her allegations and they themselves joined forces. He himself filed for custody while his wife started her own relentless quest of branding me as a child abuser. I had two custody cases on my hands using me as their ammunition.

But what of the section regarding the protective service agents "not bothering" with the false accusation cases? All five of my cases followed through on their investigations leaving our lives open books. Everything we did was scrutinized. We walked on egg shells knowing we lived "normal" lives. As a matter of fact we just wanted to get on with our lives. Every little thing becomes a concern. You worry about being questioned and interrogated when your child comes home with a bruise from the playground. You tense up if something is said or taken the wrong the way or out of context for fear it will be repeated to the wrong person. They tell you they will talk to this person and that person that knows you. The mixed emotions are enumerable; anger, embarrassment, frustration, and you're fed up. You wait in silence. They tell you they have 45 days to make a decision and there are a number of people involved who never speak to you. They are the longest 45 days you know of. You know you are innocent but all it takes is the wrong decision of just one person.

Unfortunately, a divorcing woman can think she has a lot to gain by making a false abuse report. We know that there are incentives to exaggerate the amount of abuse. Suddenly we have a great demand for "victims" to elaborate endlessly on what horrible beasts we men are. Sadly, their children not only become the victims, but many times find themselves forced into participating.

I stood there numb as the order was given, "supervised visitation," that I would have to pay for out my pocket to see my own children as if I was renting them. It was to be until the next court date and that was six months away. My ex-wife lives 80 something miles away from me which is where court was being held and that meant I had to find a supervisor in that county. My relationship with my children that I had been fighting for had become no more than mere 2 hour play dates while I was closely guarded and watched by two pair of eyes that reported to the court. For six months the drive to McDonald's was never fast enough. The drive home took twice as long and next weekend seemed to never come. I ate Happy Meals and played on play sets every Sunday. I cherished combing daughter's hair that of which I was not allowed to change her diaper. Two hours never seemed so fast in a McDonald's play area. By the end of the supervised visitations with the totals of the costs of paying the supervisors, gas, and feeding the kids, it costs $2,500.00 to play with my kids for six months for two hours each Sunday.

Twenty-five hundred dollars is nothing. It's chump change in comparison to the costs a father pays, the family pays, and the children themselves pay. A child's impression can be that the authority figures see "daddy" as a serious and dangerous threat therefore enforcing all along what mom has been saying. The only time a child sees this type of security is on TV showing prisons filled with bad people. It leaves a child with an impression that their love for daddy is dangerous and bad, and so is daddy. And to take it a step further into reality, the natural progression of a child's self worth is that if "daddy is bad and I love daddy, then I am bad."

Ever hear of the "safe drunk driver argument?" That is most drunk drivers don't get into accidents or caught. The drive home safely to sleep it off. Therefore drunk driving must be ok, right? The logistics behind our judge's decision to order supervised visitation was, "for the sake of the kids," or "to be on the safe side" even though he already had more than one report indicating no evidence of child abuse. The next court date wasn't going to be for a half a year and to be on "his" safe side he separated my kids and me. Ignorantly he only advanced my ex-wife's quest for the parental alienation between our kids and me.

Parental alienation (PA) is a set of actions and attitudes exhibited by one parent (the alienating parent) with the purpose of undermining and interfering with a child’s relationship with his or her other parent (the targeted parent). There are countless ways in which one parent can try to poison a child against the other parent and many parents exhibit some of these behaviors at some point because there is so much hurt and anger experienced during this transition time However, only a subset of parents use parental alienation strategies in a concerted intentional effort to destroy the child’s relationship with the other parent. These parents employ a full range of strategies on an ongoing basis. Examples include the following:

Badmouthing the targeted parent by constantly highlighting for the child flaws or mistakes he or she has made and sometimes even making up stories and lies to put the targeted parent in the most unfavorable light.
Interfering with contact between the child and the targeted parent by refusing to produce the child for scheduled parenting time and cutting short parenting time with early pick-ups or late drop-offs.

Interfering with communication between the child and the targeted parent by throwing out letters and cards, hanging up on the targeted parent when s/he tries to contact the child, not letting the child come to the phone, and not passing on messages.

Interfering with symbolic communication between the child and the targeted parent by throwing out all photographs of that parent and not allowing the child to talk about that parent.

These are just some of the numerous strategies that alienating parents can use. Unfortunately, some children exposed to parental alienation behaviors eventually succumb to the pressure placed on them through these emotional manipulations and ally themselves with the alienating parent against the targeted parent. When this happens – in the absence of abuse or neglect on the part of the targeted parent -- parental alienation syndrome (PAS) has occurred in the child.

There's a toll the separation from your children takes on a father. It contributes to that development of the pseudo-role. You scream inside yourself, "I'm still a father." But I made it through the six months. At some point I had to realize to leave my real emotions outside the door of McDonald's. I realized, this is the most important fight of all. And it's the only one I can count on winning, but only if I was open to giving up everything I thought I would have forever. I had to keep reminding myself who I was fighting for and not who I was fighting.

1 comment:

  1. My brother is going through almost the same thing and would love any pointers you may have would love to tell you whats going on and your take. I have a video i made and would like to know what you think, I wll send it to you. Thanks for what your doing, getting your story out will help other people.



Where my inspiration comes from

A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

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Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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