Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dying every day, the lost daughter and a brother in arms.

I apologize for the break after my last post. I found my inspiration a little lacking, and, well, the nights have been a little dark.

I was pleased to get several comments, including one from a man much further down this horrible road than am I. "When did I last see my kids? Eight and a half years ago, and I die a little every day." That is an excellent way of putting it, to die a little every day; not because it is a pleasing analogy, but because that is exactly what it feels like. Death seems that much closer when you can't see your children.

Also, I got a comment from the child of a disenfranchised dad and by her own account, although she doesn't call it that, an alienated child. She encourages us to keep fighting, to "take the emotional punches and never back down". If only she knew how exhausting it is to keep up that fight, to look for the next possible battle front after losing yet another legal round, how few weapons dad might wield and how many from which mom may pick and choose. Just recently, a friend of mine mused how poorly suited a man is to such a battle - evolved for solving one problem and moving on to the next, he is tormented by a problem he is not permitted to solve, nor to walk away from.

She says "Your children - at least the grown female ones - want huge, magnanimous gestures." clearly not realizing how expensive and dangerous such gestures can be. In fact, I might hazard a guess that she's taken mom's lesson to heart, that dad was never good enough, dad never did enough, even as she bewails not having done something herself. "But he was careful, and respected and space and waited some more. He was wrong to do that."

What sort of "magnanimous gesture" might he have made? You wanted him to "have made me see how much he loved me - even if he had to embarrass himself (and me!)". You do know what stalking is, don't you? Did you want to see your sad old dad dragged away by the cops? You do realize that many of the things he might have done without the court's approval would have landed him in jail, or his rights further curtailed?

It is not your fault, lost daughter, but it is not his either. Respect his memory, such as it is, and help us fight, don't just goad from the sidelines.

My post was also reposted, without asking my permission, claims to the contrary notwithstanding (but it's OK demonspawn, you were right, I don't have a problem with it) on an MSN message board. One comment in response (from fusebox) read:
While reading the Blog I found myself in a state that I have never been in. It was like I was reading what I have been feeling and saying for a long time. I have the anger problems and am truly fed up with the system and I had the exact argument with GAl in my case and she had the satisfied look that he is referring to. I see that look in my sleep. I have never been under this kind of scrutiny let alone interrogated from different angles and then of course there are the loaded questions that I would have had to have been leader of the political debate team at Harvard to answer without putting myself into some corner.
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, cried the blood, written the blog post. The writer goes on to reflect on the effect his own trials, literal and figurative, have on the new woman in his life. I am pleased that I have been able to write something to touch him, and others. But I am also distressed. No-one should have to go through this sort of thing to remain, and even fail to remain, a parent.

I leave you with an item I found on poking around this message board. Of all the malignant visitation rulings, consider the gut-wrenching humiliation of having to travel across country to have visitation with your daughter under the supervision of your deserting wife's new boyfriend. That's a judge who just loves to torment. Don't anyone dare comment that it's better than nothing.

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7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is not your fault, lost daughter, but it is not his either. Respect his memory, such as it is, and help us fight, don't just goad from the sidelines.

---

I'm the "lost daughter" from that last comment and believe me, my comments were meant to HELP you.

You see, I'm trying to give the (bad) news now, so you can be prepared not because I think I'm "right" but because I know I was wrong but learned it too late.

Think of it as "know thy enemy" (even as we are loathe to characterize your own children as the enemy of course).

The gestures I spoke of that I wanted were hardly the stuff of stalking charges. What I hungered for was "I love you kid."

When he came to see me for the first time in my memory, I wanted him to want to TALK, not just "let's have dinner (with his entire family, mind you) because I'll be passing through."

Do you get it now?

It was never about the money, it was always about him spending some time and pride.

As a newly grown woman, yes, I wanted my pound of flesh. I wasn't going to just fall into "daddy's arms" after not hearing from him my whole life.

Am I proud of that now? Of course not. Does that same theme run through the minds of many of my friends of similar backgrounds? You better believe it does.

More importantly, you better be prepared.

I suspect my poor father never really got it - or could admit - that his "baby" had grown up. He wasn't coming back to a six year old, I was 18, 19, 20 years old.

Such a fun age isn't it?

You see, I'm talking about coming back to your child when she is GROWN.

You see, my father wanted me to "understand" and he wanted to go slowly and "get to know each other" and "be friends."

I *wanted* a father - not a penpal. Page after page of his awesome new life with his awesome new wife and his particularly adorable new family didn't impress me much.

In fact, it just about killed me.

My practical advice for those still in the trenches (and I do feel for you so deeply) is that if all you can do is send a card every birthday from now until infinity - do that. Let's say, even if you *know* you are going to get it back "return to sender" or suspect your ex will never give it to the child - do it anyway.

As anal-retentive as it sounds, keep records. It's probably crazy making but honestly, every time you send a card or letter, send it verified. It'll cost you less than $2. Keep every receipt. Maybe (God forbid) it'll take 18 years but someday you can, at the very least, show your child that file and say "look, I tried." Be it a file full of returned mail or simply a list of receipts to say "I tried kid, I tried."

Because you see I don't, didn't and never will give a rat's patoot whether my father paid his court ordered child support. I really don't. That's business between my parents. What always stuck in my mind that my father hadn't tried. There is no drawerful of letters, birthday cards, or the like.

The "huge magnanimous" gesture I spoke of - how about "I am your father, I loved you when you were born and I always, always WILL."

That's how little I wanted that would have been so "huge" to me.

Instead, in my case, my father let 17 "adult" birthday's go by without word.

He knew of the birth of his first grandchild and still ... nothing.

His family tells me he was scared.

He had his pride.

What I'm telling you - as a child of this situation is get over it.

Screw the pride pal.

THAT'S the take-home lesson.

Sure it's probably embarrassing to send cards and letters you are probably going to get back (or suspect never arrive). Sure it costs money to send birthday gifts you think might get trashed. Sure it costs your heart to tell everyone you know that you want this kid - badly. Heaven forbid your own private hell goes on that long, I bet it will suck royal to pick out and send a baby gift to your GRANDCHILD wondering if you are going to get the damn thing back.

Do. It. Anyway.

The fact that you have this site tells me you are fighting the good fight.

I didn't post my comments to drag you down but really to buoy you up.

I hope my words are never needed. That none of the fathers reading this go decades without seeing their children.

I'll be honest it's not because I know *you* but because I don't want any child - of any age - be they thirteen or thirty-eight to go through the absolute horror of realizing that people you loved and trusted implicitly lied - whether outright or by omission. That the person who would have laid down and died FOR you, went ahead and died without you because he just couldn't wait anymore.

I wish you - or more importantly - your children only the best. I don't want anyone to feel like this. I know this is not what my father wanted for me. For us.

Anonymous said...

It makes one wonder why the system doesn't listen more often to the real life experiences of "lost daughter?"

Do these adult children of disenfranchisement ever gorw up to be asked to testify?

Does anyone care that the children THEMSELVES say this is harming them?

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone care that the children THEMSELVES say this is harming them? "

Its not ABOUT the children!!!
Its about the Mom and all the incentives in place to make her comfortable to have a bastard child against a man's wishes.
Or throw a husband out that she disagrees with.

It sounds like this child is suffering, or has suffered. Has she the guts to confront her mother about her pain??!!!

After all, men don't have choices. They have the responsibility to SUPPORT any decision a woman makes.

John Doe said...

"Lost daughter",

I understand where you are coming from and I sympathize. One of many reasons that many fathers now find themselves shut out of their children's lives is that many more fathers who went before them allowed it to happen. It is something of a chicken-and-egg argument, but I have to wonder that if 40% of divorced fathers lose contact with their children within two years, then where on God's good earth are they all and what the hell are they doing? Believe me, if they stood up and said something about it, I'm sure that the pains faced by men up against the malignantly malicious would be much reduced.

That said, your father may have been up against pressures of which you are not aware. (One way to circumvent this is to keep a diary for the child to read when old enough.) Your father also may not have understood what was lacking. After all, in your absence, he got no feedback. In your daily company, he would have been able to see what you needed. Without you, how should he know what to write in his letters? Perhaps all he was left with were the minutiae of his daily life, unaware that this might have been a torment to you.

Anonymous said...

One way to circumvent this is to keep a diary for the child to read when old enough.)
---

What a great idea! Seriously.

Or a website :) I think you've got that covered.

I think it says so much about fathers who keep fighting like this.

I know my own husband would probably move Heaven and Earth to see our children - his children - God forbid we ever broke up.

But ... if there is any saving grace (knock wood) I can tell you that as the child of such alienation I cannot imagine a scenario where I would think it acceptable to visit my marital/relationship struggles on my children.

Ever.

I have a half-sibling, raised with my father but always aware of that other child (me!) out there somewhere(her big sister after all - and let's not forget that these scenarios don't "just" cheat the fathers but entire families, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and yes, half-siblings are robbed).

Try coming back 35 years later "It's a girl!" to people who last knew you when you were TWO.

My sister has bent over backwards to work alongside her ex-husband in shared parenting even as those around her have counseled her not to.

I'm sure it's cold comfort to your own situations but I can say from firsthand experience that the children of these situations do grow up and even in their darkest moments say "I can do better."

My sister will do better with fully shared parenting because our father wouldn't have it any other way.

Don't give up guys.

AppleShot said...

As a lost daughter myself, I understand your pain, but really, did you ever tell your dad what you needed? He wasn't there to see it and know it for himself, whether through his own fault or despite his efforts. Your relationship with your mother notwithstanding, as an adult, the responsibility is also on your shoulders. I'm not claiming it's easy; in fact, far from it; but it's a necessary evil to take the responsibility for your relationships with your parents, now that you are grown.

I felt the way you did when I turned 18 and my father was nowhere to be found, and I wanted some grand gesture, some great deed to 'win back' my affections. Then I realized that it was just as important that I put forth the effort to contact and spend time with my dad. You can hardly blame him for not knowing what to say after 17+ years of not knowing you as a person. There really does need to be that time of getting to know one another, and there will be a period where you are more friends than child/father, but that's part of the process, growing back into a family.

What bothers me most about your apparent attitude is that you seem to feel that it is his responsibility to fight for you, to fight to spend time with you, when he has more likely than not spent your whole life doing just that.

After 30 years of fighting and uphill battle and losing, wouldn't you lose at least some of your will to fight? For all he knows, your mother has been brainwashing you to think that he is a horrible person, that he never even wanted you, that you never meant anything to him, or countless other things. That's the power a custodial parent has; the power of raising the children to believe whatever s/he wants. In all the time that a disenfranchised parent doesn't see their child(ren), they have no clue what the custodial parent is telling them. At a young age, children unconditionally believe what their dominant parent tells them, and as they grow, their minds can and do create false memories to supplement these lies. It's a terrible thing, but it happens every day, and there need to be more of us willing to speak up and fight against it. In this day and age, there is a VERY small percentage of cases where a 50/50 custody plan isn't feasible and in the best interests of the child.

I guess that's all I have to say for now, but I suspect that continuing to read this blog will cause me to slowly but surely share my own story somewhere. Maybe.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I will comment. I am at this site from doing searching of what to do when falsely accused of abuse by child protection social services. i have not been arrested for any of these accusations. my Husband and i have permanently lost unsupervised visitation rights of my 9 yr old step-daughter. We have a 4 yr old daughter who is being hurt more by this than anyone else. My mother-in-law will get the 9 yr old when she can but its not easy for her to do. She works full-time and is caring for our nephew until June. That is another issue. Is there anything you can do once this has happen. I am wondering if we could go to court asking for visitation rights again or will the Judge deny us rights to reinstated? What rights does the CPS have over the court system? I really don't the rights they have. I sure know I don't have much for rights when I am not the biological parent. That is sad. I do my share of crying over this. In next blog I will write what happened.