Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pt. 3 Hated Father

Your involvement in your own children's lives has been reduced to "visitation." At least that's what the orders on the court papers state. It's on paper. On one sheet that is. You get your kids on "these" days and "those" days of the month. If you want them more, well, you have to pretty much "ask permission" from their mother; because no matter how you word it "visitation" is the same as "loan."  Can it get any more demeaning than that? I assure you that it can.

I suppose no one looks in a mirror and sees a demon looking back? When a person demonizes another, it evidently frees up their own conscience to justify almost anything. Imagine that the person who hates you the most controls the people you love the most. Think of control in a broad sense. It's affects spread like a plague and everyone in your life responds in one way or another. That's the side effects of false child abuse allegations.

My ex and my wife's ex would bash my character, using our children as their sounding board. I understand the intensity of emotions, even the darkest feelings, but that behavior never made sense to me. For every derogatory word directed at me, their child's father, isn't half of whom that child is also insulted? On the flip side, there could be no comparable reply without compromising the invaluable lessons of honor.

            Matthew 10:21-24 21 "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 24 "A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.

You know what "custody battles" are, but you may not know that most start out as unilateral child abductions. You have heard about the witch hunt for "deadbeat dads," though you may not know how many of those are actually ejected fathers like me who are vilified by a government that has taken their children without cause. It's tend to be known as "legal kidnapping." You have heard the hysteria over "child abuse," but did you know that most accusations are shown to be false and used to remove children from their parents. You have heard about "overloaded courts," though you may not know how far courts create business for themselves by encouraging child stealing and other forms of belligerence. Had either the judge, at least one of the at least twenty child protective services investigators involved in the multiple cases, even if at least one of five attorney's had put their foot down and said enough is enough maybe mine and my wife's cases wouldn't have been dragged out for almost three years. It the relentless stubbornness of these two parents to fight for our children to get the message across.

 And through all the above, my ex convincingly swore, "I need to protect my children. I need to put them first." PROTECT HER CHILDREN FROM THIER OWN LOVING FATHER?!! Even if that meant prepping them to lie in front of a judge. Perhaps it's human, but she could never understand that being a father was a whole separate business than from being a husband. I was their father that wouldn't give up and she hated me for that. Let alone was she, nor is any other mother who uses their child to aid in their selfish gains, "putting them first."

In January of 2008 I was in court for yet again another attempt to remove me from our children's lives. While the full custody dispute was underway, we both seeking full custody, in the mean time she was relentless with at least seeking temporary removals. This was the fourth attempt, one restraining order and two Temporary Emergency Custody motions, all of which were denied due to no findings and no evidence. Desperation, she may have felt. So she resorts to exploiting the innocence of our own children. The one's she cried out that needed protection so desperately were no longer causalities of war. They had become the pawns. Expendable. Seeds of lies were planted in all of them, but the oldest was prepared for a special mission in her war.

I watched him walk into the court room that day not knowing what to expect. This was the third motion for a temporary emergency custody for outrageous allegations. Remember I said the severity of the allegations increased at each failed attempt? This time she was packing and she was hitting hard with accusations such as: accusing me returning my 4yr old with a black eye, bruises on my 2yr old, and I had purposely shoved my 4yr olds head into a table. They go on to say things such as my kids displaying inappropriate behaviors, and that I returned them unclean and sick. And at some point being accused of accusations that would have required me to register as a sex offender losing everything had been found guilty. These are only a tiny fraction of the list. And what is really gut wrenching is last one on the list:

            "While it is not the desire of the Petitioner/Mother to prevent the minor children from having a relationship with the Respondent/Father, it is her fervent desire to protect the minor children from imminent harm, both physical and mental."

So a mother betrays her children; a wife betrays her husband; children will rebel against their parents. And oh they did. It was out her desperation that she prepared our son for his testimony before the judge. It was his testimony for which I was ordered supervised visitation that lasted 6 months. ($2,500 on Happy Meals) I still don't know what my son said. I will never ask him and I never will. He's spent months in counseling as a result of all of the anguish from the psychological abuse. Though I do sometimes question the effectiveness of that counseling. My children didn't rebel against me or my wife for whom the lies were targeted towards. Instead, my ex and her husband felt the anxiety and stress from the kids themselves. Unfortunately, they were reaping what they sowed, but it was our kids that was paying the price.

The Heritage Foundation estimates that welfare costs US taxpayers $360 billion per year, this endorses a large portion of the high US divorce rate. The Coalition of Parents estimates that it costs US taxpayers $285 billion per year. "Child support" may be only $14 billion per year, but the psychological effects on family dynamics contribute are far more likely to aid family breakup than just the dollar incentives would imply.

Thus about 41% of the $1.6 Trillion national budget is wasted on programs which do little other than to support family unity, with terrible consequences. The impact of unsubstantiated charges alone on families' finances and morale may cost more than the $285 billion direct federal expenditure. The child abuse industry it funded through more than 300 federal programs, and costs the taxpayers more each year than national defense. The Mondale Act of 1973 made this business a growth industry, increasing child abuse reports more than 4 fold to 2.9 million per year, and increasing unfounded sexual abuse reports more than 28 fold to 210,460. It is counterintuitive to charge 3 times as many parents of an unsubstantiated, financially and emotionally devastating crime, as those accused of "substantiated" charges. The population increased by 19% and the rate of fatherlessness increased considerably during this time, but could this alone account for an overall 166% increase in substantiated charges?

If numbers don't do it for you let me put it into perspective for you in my case. Try to imagine how much man power, resources, clock hours, funds, finances, tax payers money, and most importantly don't forget those children out there that are actually being abused that seriously need those resources being abused but instead are being robbed of them because they were wasted on cases against me.

I was investigated 5 times. Cross county. That is since my ex lived 80 miles away each time the different agencies had to collaborate therefore doubling the manpower and financial resources. All of which we as citizens so generously paid for.  That takes a group of investigators and they get have to get paid. At least one is the field investigator. That person has clock hours out questioning and tracking down people. Here in Oklahoma the state has up to 45 days to close a case. Think of all the resources that were wasted on me and my false allegations for those 5 investigations when they could have been spent on actual children that seriously need intervention. Thats the equivalent of 225 days out of the year.  

We have all heard that at least 50% of marriages end in divorce, though you probably do not know that some 80% of these are over the objection of one spouse. Probably more to your surprise it's the objection of the father. Have you ever looked at this way: of those over 50% of marriage that end in divorce, 100% involve children?

There are not enough words to use to paint an adequate portrait of the emotional tolls, the psychological tolls, the relational tolls, even the physical tolls that were taken as a result of false child abuse attacks. Your whole lives become vulnerable and wide open.

Emotions bleed into relationships. Relationships bleed dry. Dry relationships create depression. Depression thirsts for alcohol. Helplessness comes from being controlled. Helplessness craves to be in control. Eating disorders are masks for control. And so I put on that mask. The allegations alone took their toll on my wife, but when it hit  home to her personally, when her ex-husband got involved the intensity was like a storm. Sometimes like a storm cloud that had been building only waiting to release its energy. Then again so are yours, but for different reasons.  She feels intruded and wants to be left alone. To be able to live this life with her husband while at the same time hating to see me suffer.

You  walk a tight rope, while carrying balances in each hand. You have to balance some things in one hand while balancing other things in the other hand. If either balance gets out of balance then your whole existence becomes a matter of struggling to survive. Everything is important. Some are more than others. Some are expendable, while others are not. They would be a loss, but in time with some work would be replaceable. However, if your feet fallout from under you, if your legs buckle, and you fail the tight rope you fail at everything. You collapse and everything goes. What you balanced in your hands no longer matters.

As a father, new husband, step-father, you combine work, and graduate school with the two custody disputes arming themselves with you as their arsenal and constant child abuse investigations that leaves your lives wide open for the public to see, and you find yourself walking your own tightrope with balances. Ironically many times it's in our greatest times of need that we find ourselves receiving the most criticism and backlashes.

Just look at Job. Is there anyone else on this earth since him who could ever claim they have came under greater attack only to be criticized for the choices he made on how to handle and respond to his dilemmas; and he was personally attacked by Satan himself? And yet it was his own best friends who attempted to convince him that his own righteousness was somehow fake with hidden sin and was responsible for God's anger (Job 32:3). Even his own wife tried to persuade him to rebel against and deny God and die (Job 2:9).

Surprisingly while fighting for my kids I caught a lot of grief from "supporters." Aggravation for decisions I made. Maybe they could have done better given the situation? My kids were my tight rope and I wasn't just fighting a case of custody. I was fighting for my kids freedom. It wasn't a matter of what I wanted. It was a matter of what was needed. To give up on my kids was to leave to them in the hands of a manipulator who has only her self-interest at heart that finds no problems with teaching our children to lie and manipulate. To give up on my children, I would be leaving them in the free hands of someone who will keep a tight leash on them controlling every bit of information about them. If the kids mother wasn't going to fight for them and protect them then I was going to. I doubt anyone other than I tried to put themselves in my kids shoes and look at things from their eyes.

My daughter taken at only 4 months, my youngest son had just turned 3, and my oldest was 6 when I was separated from my children. Sugar coat it how you will, legal kidnapping is still kidnapping. Before the first time child protective services showed their faces I had already had to deal with the poisonings of parental alienation. The broken looks of confusion on my children haunted me constantly. Eyes deep with blackness silently begging not to have to return to the home of their mother. Eyes that asked, "daddy, aren't you doing something?" "Daddy, why can't we go with you?" "Daddy, I am so unhappy." Their behavior was timid, reluctant and reserved in her presence. This was particularly evident during the period of my supervised visitation. With heads down the kids demeanor was quiet, orderly and silent while not venturing any further than two feet from their mother. Once she left the building they practically came to life...smiles, laughing, playing. My oldest reported they had been instructed by their mother and step-dad they were not to move away from them until they left.

Anyone finding themselves in these battles whether they are the target or the causalities must remember this: unless you are an attorney looking in from the outside you are not an expert on dealing with this. I had never been through this before. I didn't know what to do. I was dealing with it as it came and sometimes it was coming faster than I could deal with. Just as anyone else could do, I was doing my best. It took me a while to realize this when feeling the pressure from my wife. She felt the pressure because she had never dealt with it either.

I'm happy to report that it was the supervisor who testified on my behalf that help get the supervision overturned as well as report inconsistencies of my ex's behavior. In spite of how much more demeaning supervised visitation can get by being told when and where you are allowed see your own children for how long while being watched like a hawk and to make it worse having to pay to see your own children, it can be one of your best defenses and offenses. Not letting your supervisor get to know you is probably your biggest mistake you could make. They do testify on your behalf whether it is negative or positive. And you want that positivity. It was my supervisors, I had two, that made the defining turning point in my case.

Unfortunately, once again with yet another failed attempt at final judgment of terminating my rights, she failed to educate herself on Oklahoma's only three stipulations that allow for a father's rights to be terminated, so her husband could adopt my children, she formed her most evil plan. "What can get worse than coaching your your son to lie?" Like a wolf in sheep's clothing she contacted my wife's ex-husband and convinced him and his wife of her allegations. I obviously am not aware of the details of those workings but in any case as a result of her "concern" for his children from me, he filed for custody and a child abuse investigation soon followed. Finances had run dry and we couldn't afford another attorney. Let alone one for her kids. My attorney had my kids appointed one in my case. They are supposed to be un-biased.

We did the only thing we could do...self represent, "pro se." I studied and prepared legal forms. My wife presented and spoke. She faced our accusers face to face. His witnesses were my ex-wife and her husband. This was my wife's chance to face them...look them straight in the eye. More satisfying, they will be forced to look her straight in the eye. This is the chance to get answers. If at least for ourselves. This is the chance to get her caught in contradictions and lies. Like a gift from God, this is a chance to personally view every document from child protective services, because acting as our own attorney's all evidence was privileged to us. Needless to say we learned a lot from those documents. Every result of each investigation concluded the same: attempt at gaining leverage in a custody dispute. What is more astonishing is that to date there seems to be no consequences to her multiple false reports of child abuse here in the state of Oklahoma.

My wife won full custody in her case. The details of her dispute spread farther than allegations against me therefore are not available for discloser. I was just the main bulls eye using my bipolar. With one custody case of child abuse cleared under my belt my ex was out of options. That ruling would pretty much smash her allegations to crumbs. She had no other options but one. Everything attempted within the past two and a half years had failed. Some had worked against her. Less than two weeks later my attorney calls me..."your ex is ready to settle." "What!?" "Are you kidding me?" "What gives her the right to end this just because she's ready?"

"After almost three years of relentless attacking the one you hate the most, the father of your children, and all the problems you created and all the damage you have, now you just decide I'm not so bad." How could she could she just give up if I was so dangerous, a crazed lunatic? A part of me wanted to tell her, "Oh no, we are not stopping just because you aren't winning and you don't feel like playing anymore." If I had even the minute worry that my children were not safe there would be absolutely no way I would be returning them anyway where. No matter the consequences I would have to face.

She didn't get away empty handed. She couldn't look like it was all for nothing. In the end when the papers were signed and all was said and done she came out with me financially rewarding her for her bad behavior. That's not a typo.

If you've read my previous blogs you might remember I'm a stay-at-home-dad. I have Parkinson's with symptoms that tend to fluctuate between stages 2 & 3 that works a part-time job. I work the part-time to pay my ex.

Thanks to the family courts, it's rather "better to be safe than sorry" attitude and refusal to look at the at the hard facts I was ordered to pay a monthly payment on an arrears balance which initially had interest but I was still debating on continuing with court for custody. For those that don't know what an arrears is, it's just a term for a total sum of past due expenses. But I objected because I didn't know about the expenses. As a matter of fact I objected to paying the whole balance entirely which was over four-thousand dollars. From the time of the divorce I asked her on numerous occasions if there had been any expenses for which I could pay her back. Every time it was the same answer, "no."  Truthfully I had even purchased her a few appliances and the kids some things for her new home for the kids sake. But these expense were ridiculous unnecessary charges that were listed and I seriously doubted their validity. I guess there is always a "deadbeat dad" that must be put in his place.

I assured you it could get more demeaning than having to see your children on a visitation schedule. The other order I was given in court was to pay 50% of my kids health insurance. No problem right? As any father should right? I agree, totally. It's their step-dad that covers them. 100%  Therefore I repay him 50%. What's worse is that their mother has them covered under the state for free as secondary insurance that could be their primary if they would drop their current primary. Don't get me wrong. I'm not thinking cheap because I don't want to pay. I just don't understand paying for something when you can get it for free. Besides they are cheating the state. Plus they signed the kids up right after they got married in spring of 2007 without consulting me. This, my ex was supposed to do with me. Any insurance decisions regarding our children are to be between her and I and not them. I explained this to the judge. "Oh well." So every month my wife writes two checks, three actually, two of them are for the insurance and the other for the arrears, she does the bills, to pay back the woman and man that tried to remove me from my kids lives and replace me....

It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, [that] speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, [that] preach upon the housetops.              Matthew 10:25-27

Part 4 next of "Hated Father...."  Does God keep His promise even though I fall so short in my trust? Some truths were being revealed, but are they the promised truths to come?
What now after the papers are signed? Just because the courts over it doesn't mean the anger, bitterness, and resentment just falls away and things go to normal.

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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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