First and foremost, I am a father. I have two beautiful children who are my purpose in life. I cannot tell you about myself without telling you about my children. They are the reason for this blog after all.
I would like to note at this point that I never knew my own father. It did not occur to me until after his death, that there is a real possibility that he was alienated from my sisters and I as well. Certain events from our childhood, and stories I have heard from distant family members support this alienation theory. I do know that my father was no saint by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be difficult for me to believe that he deserved to be completely alienated from three children. I do know that he went on to have other children, none of whom I have ever met. I do not wish to expand on this situation any further at this point, but I may come back to it at a later time.
My daughter is eight and a half years old. She is the most unique child that I have ever met. From the time that she was but only one year old I knew that she would be both my greatest passion, and toughest challenge in life. I have long since referred to her as a spirited child. She is incredibly free spirited, and in charge of herself. She is a bit of a “know it all” and is just articulate enough to convince people that she may be right. Although she is wrong most of the time, you could never convince her of it. She will tell you about any topic you wish to discuss. Her imagination is my greatest envy. She has an attitude to match. She does not, nor do I think she ever will, fit into a standardized mold such as the public-school system. She struggles greatly in confined environments. I want to support her wherever her heart takes her, but it also scares the crap out of me.
My son is six years old. Sometimes I wish that my children’s personalities were switched. Whereas my daughter is fearless, my son is a little more timid. He loves rules and organization and impressing others with his focus and understanding. He is a quick learner and he loves to be taught. I would not be surprised if he graduates valedictorian of his class. He is also a phenomenal athlete, and is highly competitive. As young as three years old, he has hated to lose anything, and everything is a competition. We could be driving to the store, and if a car passed us he would start yelling at me to speed up, and not to let the blue car win. In October 2016 I was able to visit him in Oregon, and attend one of his soccer games. He scored more goals than the rest of the two teams combined. Currently his favorite sport is baseball. He has never played on a team, but during our time together we go to a ball field a few times per week and hit. My only real concern with his competitiveness is that he has found a digital outlet for it. He loves video games because it gives him many chances to win. My hope is that he does not become addicted to video games, and learns to leverage his spirit in the real world.
I am a veteran. At the beginning of this entry I described my children as my purpose in life; please allow me to elaborate. I served a short time in the military as an airborne ranger. In 2004 I was severely wounded in action. By all accounts, I should be dead. In the years following my incident, I was told repeatedly “God spared you for a reason, you have a purpose on this earth.” I struggled with that concept for four years. I went hard, trying to make event minute count, trying to find my purpose. Until July 18th, 2008, the day before my 26th birthday. The day my daughter was born. The moment I saw her, held her, kissed her, I knew what my purpose was. It was to be the father that I never had. To do everything within my power to protect and nurture my little humans. I fought to protect the very system which now seeks to destroy me, and capitalize on my misery. I sacrificed for freedom only to find that I do not even have the freedom to raise my own children. This disappointing realization has ruined my view of this country that I once was willing to die for; primarily it’s government.
I am educated. My mentor used to say “God gave us the gift of life, and we owe Him our best effort.” I have embraced this philosophy whole heartedly. I did with my family as well. While my children were very young I worked full time as I was building our family’s foundation, but I also went to school full time in order to develop our future. I provided my family with their every desire. My children’s mother never worked a day during the time that we were married. It’s always easy to see flaws in hindsight, but if I had it to do again, I would do it the same way. I believe that I did everything that I possibly could have done to ensure a bright future for my family. When I told my academic advisor of my pending divorce, and my concern that my education may have played a role, he said something that stuck with me, and turned out to me quite true. “Finish this degree, it will be the only thing that she cannot take from you.” By then it was far too late, but at the time I wondered if things might have gone differently had I not focused on a doctorate.
So, I walked into my divorce hearing with a purple heart, a PhD, a promising career, and absolute financial security. By most accounts, the respondent (ex-wife) and the Child Custody Investigator, I was a loving and caring father deserving of joint custody of my children. Only my in laws spoke poorly of me in court. They made false accusations, and designed fears that I might one day hurt my children. Essentially, they used my service against me. My ex father in law, Scott Shankland even had the audacity to testify that I did not deserve my children because I “should have been a father when I had the chance.” That lie echoes in my head every day and haunts my dreams each night. I will never forget it. I hope that it haunts him as well.
All of the strengths, which I mentioned in the first line of the previous paragraph, were profound weaknesses of my ex-wife. She had never sacrificed for anything. Never served anyone other than herself. She was a college drop out. She drank and did drugs all through college, and cost her parents tens of thousands in student loans and rehab. She had no motivation to work, or provide an example, or stability for her children. She certainly was far from financially stable.
All of this has been laid out for so that I can ask you this question: How is it in the best interest of my children to give their mother full custody, and allow her to move 2000 miles away from their father? Even my young children know it is wrong already. On the way to the airport, when my children were leaving for Oregon, my daughter said “Daddy, when can I talk to the judge, because it isn’t fair that I have to miss my mommy or daddy all of the time.” How is it that an eight year old is far wiser than a man with advanced law degrees, and a position of such authority?
The answer which we will explore together lies in extreme corruption of a fabricated industry designed to generate profit by destroying families. Even if I am responsible for destroying my marriage, the court is responsible for destroying my family.
I am a father. Despite a rigged and seriously flawed system I will always be a father. I am only one father. There are millions more going through identical horrors. Help me raise awareness and lead change to the family court system.