Monday, February 26, 2007

Oh, alright, you can have what's left of the kid while mom's in rehab...

"A former client fought a custody battle after his infant child became permanently brain-damaged when his mother crashed their car while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Though Leving successfully won his client temporary custody, the judge ruled the wife would regain full custody after completing rehabilitation."
Sometimes I just have to ask, what planet are these people on? This one paragraph speaks volumes. I take it from an article about trying to preserve fatherhood in the face of a world gone completely stark, raving mad.

Consider: we have a mom, who, drunk and stoned, goes out driving with her child in the car. Inevitably, she has an accident and permanently damages the child. Permanently BRAIN damages the child. She takes her own child and through idiocy and irresponsibility turns him or her into something else, something less, something to be pitied, cared for, probably, for the rest of his or her life.

What does the judge do? Tells her she's a naughty girl and to go and stand in the corner for a while, then she can come back and have the kid. The corner, of course, is rehab. What is dad's role? Oh, he can look after the brat while mom's in rehab, that is, after all, pretty much all he's good for. Then, having spent a fortune and God knows how much stress in court getting that right, he has to hand his kid back to the woman who all but killed it and go back to "visiting" when and if the court and mom will let him.

Is there more to this story? I damned well hope so. But the one paragraph is all we've got and it speaks volumes for the respect we have for fathers. Think of his state of mind as he cares for the child, dreading the day that mom gets out of rehab. Imagine how he must feel as he hands his damaged child over to the woman who did the harm. Think about those Friday and Saturday nights when he doesn't have visitation (that loathsome word!), is she out partying? Where's the kid? Will there be a late night phone call from an emergency room?

Will there be more to this story? Undoubtedly. Think of the kid, growing up with unknown handicaps, sooner or later perhaps to realize that mom's the reason for those handicaps. Dad wanted him or her, but the court said no, you have to go back to your mom, who did this to you, and might do it again. She was already a drunk and a drug addict, now she has a special needs kid to deal with, how likely is she to stay on any wagon? How helpless is the child, how helpless will he or she be as an adult?

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Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the situation of an old F4J buddy of mine. The Mother of his three young sons is a chronic alchoholic with a string of drink-driving and other convictions (including assaulting a police officer). On one occasion, she was actually pulled outside the school, with the kids in the car.

The school has also raised concerns with the local social services about the welfare of the children.

Does any of this make a blind bit of difference in the family courts? Of course not: dad gets to see his kids alternate weekends (standard quota), and never knows from one time to the next whether he will see them alive again. He's been trying to get some sense out of the system for years...

Anonymous said...

The courts said:
"you're not a father, you're a babysitter for when mommy isn't around"

I know the feeling. That's when I get to see my kids, when mommy is in town for something and she needs me to watch the kids for that night or two.

Anonymous said...

HeyI just wanted to send you a small message of support for what you're doing. I myself am the result of a single-parent upbringing (aged 20, female) and though I feel the decision to give custody to my mother was right in my families case I know of many others where this has not been the case, namely my step-dad and my uncle. In each of these cases the father was a loving, supportive and excellent caregiver but the children were left with druggie (my step-dad's ex) and generally neglectful and screwed up (my uncle's ex) mothers. My step-dad persevered and eventually - following several drug-related criminal charges being brought against his ex-wife - he succeeded in gaining custody not only of his own son but of his ex's two older children, before meeting my mum and accepting and raising myself and sisters as his own. On the other hand my uncle was never able to gain custody of his kids and was forced to see them living in a small 2-bed flat with a physically aggressive step-dad and four half-siblings (totalling seven kids living at home until my eldest cousin left home at 16 a year after the youngest was born). He was only given access to his kids one weekend a month (supposed to be 2 plus holidays but she just ignored his complaints and made excuses) until they were around 14 and were able to demand more time for themselves. These men live only 60 miles apart but have been treated so differently by the courts it disgusts me. I honestly feel the work you are doing just by enabling this website to exist and raise awareness of such an issue deserves all sorts of applauds. God, recently there's been more in the news about grandparents demanding access to kids. Thankyou.