Tag Archives: child custody

At Long Last …

a breakthrough with my kids

This past weekend was amazing. My children came to visit and the most incredible turn of events unfolded.

When we met our kids in the parking lot my oldest son was visibly upset. It looked like he had been crying. I immediately asked him what was wrong. He fought back tears while saying that he would tell me later. We all got into the van with him in the front passenger seat and he immediately burst into tears. I could only imagine that this must have something to do with his father harassing him about his conversion to Judaism. He didn’t tell me right away, but that was part of it.

This is not the good part of my story. It turned out that their father had raged at them during their 30 minute drive to our exchange point. He did his usual song and dance: my wife does nothing, my kids do nothing, I didn’t watch tv as a kid, I rode my bike everywhere, blah, blah, blah. He growled and yelled, accused and ridiculed. This was the very reason why I left with the kids 5 years ago. My son was on the verge of tears, my daughter did cry. Remarkably, my youngest son said it didn’t bother him. My two oldest have those memories of being emotionally and verbally abused. Their father’s unleashed anger triggered their emotional memories. My youngest son was only 2.5 years old when we left. He didn’t retain the emotional memory.

After arriving home, when my son spilled all of this ugliness he confessed as well. He told me that his sister had mentioned something about my husband and a belt, that he had countered with, “that didn’t happen!” only to have his father turn on him. My son cried. I told him that I forgive him and that I understand. It was an incredible, tearful moment.

I soon went to check on my 10 year old daughter. She was moody and angry about not being allowed to play video games. I turned her towards me and hugged her. I told her I love her and I miss her. I apologized for anything I had done to hurt her, told her that it hurt me to see her so sad. It took awhile for her to raise her arms to embrace me, but when she did she collapsed into me, sobbing. She told me that everything was a mess, that there was too much fighting and she just wanted it to stop. We stood for a good 10 minutes in the kitchen, holding each other and talking.

She finally dropped her facade. We finally connected on a deep level.

The sad thing in all of this is that the events we had predicted would occur happened faster than we had thought. My ex is emotionally and verbally abusing my children again. They are living in fear, walking on eggshells. Their stepmom has distanced herself from them. She is not involved in their lives. They are not happy. They are barely getting through each day.

I am sending an email to the guardian ad litem in our case. She needs to know what her lack of concern has done to my children. For her they were a paycheck. For me, they are my heart and my life.

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Putting it Back Together Again

My relationship with two of my children was fractured. After they refused to return from their visit with their father we didn’t see each other at all for more than three months. When visitation was enforced and I did finally see them, things did not go well. I felt like I barely knew them. They were sullen, argumentative, and withdrawn. I understood why they were behaving differently, but I still reacted poorly to it. I was hurt by their betrayal. I could have kept that to myself, but I didn’t.

It was so unbelievable to me that these children whom I was with every day of their lives – caring for them, nurturing them – could turn on me. I cried every day because I missed them. I was furious with them for lying about our lives, for accusing us of abuse, for leaving me. They were rebelling like crazy … they even rebelled against our faith.

Of course, our initial reunion was wonderful. They ran to me across the parking lot, hugged me and told me they missed me. I was so happy to see them that I cried. The remainder of the first day went well, but by the following afternoon things deteriorated and we all looked forward to them going home.

We alternated weekends with all three kids. This was my proposal. I thought that since the children weren’t all living together they should all be together every weekend. As a result, every weekend I drove 45 minutes each way to our exchange point. Twice. First and third weekends my youngest son left to see his dad. Second and fourth weekends all the kids were with me. I missed my youngest when he was gone. I dreaded the weekends when we brought my older two children home.

It has been a year and a half since these events shook up our lives. Our relationships have, for the most part, been healed. Someone told me that when children have a strong bond with one parent, but not with the other, they often run to the other parent out of desperation to feel loved.

My children didn’t have much of a relationship with their father. He was busy hanging out in bars or at the baseball field while we were all living together. After we split he often cancelled his visitation or had his mother look after them. It does seem logical to me that my kids craved a relationship with their dad. The idea that my loving care and the stability I created in their lives made them feel safe enough to leave my home does give me comfort.

They know that I will always be available for them. They are confident that I love them. I truly believe that they do love me, in spite of everything. We have had many enjoyable visits this past year. Sure, there are rough spots, just as there would be if we lived together full time. We are light years from where we were. The days of me worrying that my children would fabricate more allegations are behind me. I can finally relax and enjoy being a mom again.


Letting Go of my Kids

At one point in our premarital relationship, my current husband and I were both searching for employment. We extended our search to a neighboring state. My kids told their father that we were looking for jobs in an area about a two hour drive from where we currently lived. I received an angry phone call from him. He ranted for awhile and then finished with, “Over my dead body!” His rancor was wasted, we didn’t find employment out of state. I stuck with working as a substitute. My husband found another local maintenance job.

Fast forward … my ex remarried in June of ’09, shortly after my MIT graduation. In order to expediate bonding with their new stepmom I agreed to lengthier visits. They spent full weeks with she and their dad. I knew that she owned a house that was in a rural community — a two hour drive away. My ex also still owned the house we had lived in. Since I had custody of the kids I wasn’t concerned about the distance between our homes.

Unbeknownst to me, my ex had already put his plans into motion.

2009 was the worst summer of my life. I was without employment, having just graduated with my teaching certification. My current husband was looking for work. My ex had stopped paying child support several months earlier. We were renting a large, beautiful house in a quiet neighborhood and we had to leave it. Fast. Our only decent option was to go live at my mother’s house. Not what I wanted to do. I knew how difficult it would be. I cried and cried about it. Not only is my mother a very challenging person, but she lives 6 blocks from my ex. I did not want to return to the neighborhood where I had lived with chaos and abuse. But go, we did.

My ex and I had a telephoned child support hearing during this transitional period. He was livid and put down the phone more than once to walk around and rant to his wife. He specifically told the attorney that if I got the support order he would make my life “shit” and would take the kids from me. Well, guess what?

I bawled my eyes out after that phone call. I knew what he was capable of. I knew how he was about money. Within a month he had brainwashed the kids by telling them that they would have more money and more things if they lived with him. He fabricated abuse and sent CPS to my home. But the worst of it was that he took my kids. I got my youngest son from him. He tried to take him back, but I was vigilant about not letting that happen.

I soon found out that I was powerless to get my children home. We didn’t have a parenting plan. Under our state’s laws there is nothing to protect one parent from taking the children from the other. You simply cannot “kidnap” your own children. There is nothing in the law that requires one parent to allow the children to see the other — in the absence of a parenting plan, that is.

Sigh …

I think it is time to make a long story a bit shorter.

At the time when my ex took my kids we were living only 6 blocks away from each other. It seemed like it could be ok. The kids would be nearby, I could see them after school. I had already enrolled them in school before their dad announced that they would not be returning to me. But he took them to live at his wife’s house. Two hours away. And I was powerless to stop him.

I had to let go of my children. Physically and emotionally. Far earlier than a mother should have to. My son was 13 and my daughter was 9. I didn’t see them or speak to them for more than 3 months. I was utterly heartbroken. I spent many of my days lying in bed, reading and watching tv. And sleeping. I did a lot of sleeping.

I found that the only way to get through it and go on living was to let them go. I had to stop worrying about them. I had to let go of my attachment to them. Part of me had to stop loving them.

I know that all of this seems farfetched and unreal. The sad fact is that it happens. It happens to good parents. It happens to loving moms. It is all too common.


The more you love them, the harder it is

… navigating the challenges of loving your bonus kids, but having no power to do what you feel is best …

As a mother who has given birth to four children, then lost custody of three of them, I understand on a deep level what it is like to not be involved in the daily life of my children. I feel intense grief over my distance from them. I feel anger towards their father over his neglectful parenting. I believe that my children are not receiving the loving attention that they deserve. I don’t think he makes the best choices for them. But I am powerless to do anything about it. That power was taken away by our broken family courts.

These feelings of dismay and frustration that I experience are the same as those I feel for my bonus daughters. They are currently both with their mother, several states away. One is an adult with a baby on the way. The other is a “tween” who is very sensitive. I love both of them. I’m sure that at times it is a burden they don’t want to carry. After all, what kid wants a second mom who is concerned about their safety, schooling, friends, etc? I know I can be a bit overbearing in my concern. I try to quell it.

What I struggle with most is akin to my current situation with my own bio kids. I love and care for them deeply, but have no influence in major decision making or even daily decision making. I watch from a distance as they are pushed aside by their mother, in favor of her social relationships. They are appeased by treats, but a genuine concern and investment in their well being seems absent. I know that my younger bonus daughter feels unloved and unwanted. I know from witness accounts that her mother yells, swears, and hits her when she seeks attention. This breaks my heart.

As an educator, I have felt so very frustrated watching the neglect of education in their household. Their school absences were shockingly high. Homework wasn’t completed. Regular reading and trips to the library were nonexistent. This is the polar opposite of how I raised my children. It is the opposite of what I know is best for assisting children in becoming successful. This breaks my heart.

As a mom, I hear reports of birthday parties and baby showers that revolve around the mother and her friends. I hear that the adults all get drunk, the parties last late into the night, and the center of attention is not the girls — it is their mother and how she can impress people. What is wrong with people? How can they use children as an excuse to further their personal interests? My heart aches for them. I nearly cried the other day when I heard about my bonus daughter not being the center of attention at her baby shower. I am starting to cry now.

The more you love them, the harder it is.


My custody battle

When my three children and I left our home in 2006 we moved to an apartment in an adjacent town. It is unusual for a mom and kids to leave a home that the family owns. My ex refused to leave. He threatened my life and scared the kids, but he wanted us to stay in one part of the house with him in the other. The house is only 1100 square feet, with one bathroom. He threatened to kill me. How could I possibly live in the same house as him?

For 3 years I took care of our kids. I went to school full time to earn a Master in Teaching degree. I didn’t date until 18 months after our split. The only man I dated is now my husband. I was a good mom and did the best I could for my children.

During that time, their father was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. He remarried — twice. He obtained a permit for medicinal marijuana use, as did his 3rd wife. Then he took my children. He invented abuse allegations. He successfully took all three children from us, even though CPS determined that there was no abuse. He ripped our family apart.

I write about this now because my attorney was in court yesterday finalizing our parenting plan. I see my three older kids every other weekend. I get two weeks of vacation with them per year. I have alternating year visitation for spring break. I get half of Christmas break.

The miscarriage of justice is reprehensible. My ex has a history of alcoholism, suicidal tendencies, bipolar disease, and recreational drug use. Who in their right mind would give him custody of three children? He and his wife get high every day.

I miss my kids. I don’t get enough time with them. I am burdened with the stigma of being a mom without custody of her kids. I know what runs through people’s minds when they learn that my children live with their father. I want to cry out, “He manipulated the court system and the guardian ad litem! I am a GOOD mother! I am a Masters Degree holding, state certificated elementary school teacher! Please don’t look at me like I must be an alcholoic, druggie, or abusive mom. I am not any of those things!”

What do you think when you hear from a man, or woman, or kids that dad has full custody? Do you assume negative things about the mom?