Jun 17, 2014

Impediment to Free Speech

The US Constitution’s first amendment was established in 1791 to, in part, protect the freedom to speak one’s opinions. The Supreme Court of the United States further declared that one could not be convicted based solely on the content of his speech (Cohen v. California, 1971) and has written that free speech is "the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom." More directly to the point I want to make obvious today is the decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969 that stated speech could be limited only if it is intended and likely to produce an imminent lawless action.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Last week I was required to appear in court; the technical charge was a violation of an order of protection. Sounds serious, huh? It’s because I mailed (yes, postal mail) my two youngest children Valentine’s Day cards with stickers inside as a gift. Yes...I’m serious. If there is more to this charge I was not informed by either the Judge or my attorney. The enacting of the order of protection was based on statements I believe to qualify as perjury...but that is another article in itself. Furthermore, I mailed the “offensive” gifts in February and charges were not brought to the local police until late April of this year. I guess that could be an indication of how seriously this violation was perceived by the opposing party.

What does this have to do with the First Amendment you ask? Well, at some point in the proceedings it was brought up that I had previously posted something on the social media site Facebook that was offensive to the opposing party ( I would repost here, but I fear further judicial repercussions at the moment). The post mentioned no names directly and there was no direct or implied threat. The opposing party in this suit, inferred that the Facebook posting was for them. It wasn’t, but since no names were directly stated...I'll let that one slide. The opposing party then went on to misrepresent the post as a threat to themselves. No threat was made, no names mentioned. No lawless act was intended. The Judge in my case (Judge Canas), in response to these unproven allegations, has ordered me to close all social media accounts. In my very strong, and researched opinion, he has impeded my freedom of speech.

I’m not a wealthy man with the means to fight this abuse of power so I will comply with the court’s ruling. My priorities in this suit are more personal that this grievance but I can't sit by and let this abuse go unnoticed. I will be closing all my personal social media accounts, as instructed, and posting this notice to as many public sites as I can. The Judge is an elected official; I would like the body of citizens he represents to be aware of his conduct. My preference is that he wouldn’t be re-elected, but even President Obama pulled that off.

You probably don’t care if my Facebook account gets closed. Honestly, I really don’t either. What I do care about is that a County Court Judge feels he has the power to limit free speech with the swipe of a pen and there wasn't a single gasp in the courtroom as he quickly undermined the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Everyone I've spoken with just shrugs their shoulders and says something similar to “that’s how things are”. Maybe so...but why? I believe it’s because ordinary people endure these injustices each day and never say a word. Well, here is my 0.02¢. Agree or disagree; just be appreciative that you still have the God given right to do so.

Jun 9, 2014

It's for the kids!

I'm going to hop on my soapbox a bit because lately there are quite a few people I know that are fighting with their children's other parent, either verbally or in the court rooms. I'm almost certain that there will be next to no one that agrees with me completely, a few will think I'm totally nuts, and many will like about half of what I say and discard the remainder...but I honestly do think it's the best approach.

First off, quit arguing with your former spouse/partner...it does nothing for you, them, and especially not for the kids. Most of the time this bickering back and forth falls along similar lines for the custodial parent (in Texas that's mostly the Moms) the argument is that the non custodial parent doesn't spend enough time with the children and isn't paying a fair share of the expenses. Whereas the non custodial parent's complaints are typically along the lines of not wanting to pay the custodial parent a penny more than absolutely necessary and that the custodial parent diminishes their standing with the children (emotionally, verbally, etc.).

Custodial parents, regardless of what you think of your former parenting partner this is no longer your relationship, primarily it's your children's relationship with the other parent. You should always respect that for the children's sake. I know that can be a great challenge. Your beautiful kid(s) come back telling you how mean someone was and how this person upset them all during the time they shared with the non custodial parent. Not your problem. I know what you're thinking "...um, yeah it is! That's my beautiful child and I have to protect them so it is most definitely my problem". If your talking physical or sexual harm...yes. Otherwise, no it isn't. If your little one comes back from the other's home saying "Dad is so mean to me, he wouldn't let me do things that my step siblings could do." You should definitely not get on the phone and tell "Dad" what an idiot he is. You may say, "but my little angel is only 4 or 6 or whatever age..." the sooner the better. It's a parent child relationship and as you are no longer parenting within the same time frame, you are only responsible for the parenting within your timeframe.

Now you non custodial parents, say it repeatedly to yourself, "it's for my kids". You are not paying child support so that your coparent can have a shopping spree. You are paying child support to support your child, and that amount the court ordered you to pay, no matter how astronomical, should be the minimum you feel obligated to pay. I can hear it now, your saying "but if I was the custodial parent it wouldn't cost me $20k a month for daycare and I wouldn't be driving a new BMW!!" Or your thinking but they tell my kids all these horrible things about me that aren't true (or are true but aren't for children's ears). Maybe so, but as I told your former child rearing buddy...not your problem. Worse case scenario, your kid(s) will see that they can't get new shoes for school because someone else needed a new Louis Vuitton purse or that awesome new smart phone, but you did your minimal part. You made sure they were financially sound and if you want to be the hero, get them the shoes too! They may ask why you did this awful thing that you didn't do, simply tell them you didn't do that and your glad they asked you about it directly. You want to make sure your children know that they are as important to you as ever, see them every chance you get. Remind them that no matter what happens between Mom and Dad...you will always be there for them. The theme of the day...you are can only control the parenting that you are privileged enough to bestow upon your children. You cannot control the parenting of the other household.

You may honestly hate your coparent to the core for what has transpired that divided your relationship and would love nothing more than for them to vanish from the face of the Earth, but your child(ren) will be better off for having that relationship. You need to support your child in that relationship for your childs sake regardless of your personal feelings toward that monster with whom you were involved. Custodial or Non custodial...it all boils down to the same efforts. Support your child being with the other parent. Even when you, and possibly your child as well, don't want to support that relationship remember that in the long run your child will be a better human being for having it. If the relationship is good, they will grow because of it. If the relationship is bad, they will grow in spite of it. If the relationship is absent the growth will be hindered or non existent. Children deserve equal uninterrupted time with both parents. If one parent doesn't exercise that privilege, the child will notice. If one parent attempts to restrict that privilege the child will notice. In either case, the only parent child relationship you are responsible for is between you and your child, not your child and the other parent.

Obviously I say all this to most of the parents out there. If your child is being subjected to extremes (physical, sexual, emotional distress, etc.) you do have to step in and protect them. In my (ever so limited) experience this is not the normal occurrence, but the parents involved FEAR that this is what is going on at the other's home because we all hate to give up control. Your child can grown tremendously from being exposed to perspectives of both parents, and shouldn't be deprived of that. Learn to set the boundaries of these new coparenting relationships and leave the blame out of it for the kids sake. Miranda Lambert says "At the baggage claim, you got a lot of luggage in your name" let them deal with their own baggage you don't have to carry that around anymore, your child doesn't either.

Thank you for letting me drop my baggage here.

Mar 14, 2014

When life is passing you by

Yesterday I felt the weight of the world bearing down on my shoulders. I was so tense all day that my neck and shoulders are still sore today and as I drove home from an all day mediation I realized my stress was from my mind being on my youngest babies.My Little Angel, and My Little Man have been secluded from me for nearly a year now. I've jumped through every hoop the opposing side offers and they just keep denying me time with my children. So today I'm reaching out to them, in the hopes they'll read this someday (when they learn to read).

My Little Angel, I thought about how much of a handful you must be for your Mother right now; it's just your age. I saw your cousin this past weekend; she's a handful too. She reminded me of you. I sent you a Valentine's Day present and I'm getting ready to send out your St. Patrick's Day package. I hope you enjoy it. I saw pictures today of me holding you and Cole at his Christening. You gave your Mom such a fit that day. You didn't want your bow in your hair, you wanted to take your shoes off, etc. It was frustrating then, but it's kind of funny and a little endearing to think of it now. I want to give you some words that I hope will help you retain more endearing moments and help you grow until I can see you again. Siblings can be the most wonderful friends in the world, and your worst enemy too. I want you to be a good example to your little brother, be nice to him and help him when you can. I want you to be an example to your older brother's and sister's too. Show them that it doesn't matter what they say or do to you; it only matters how you react to it. Let them know you are only accountable for your actions, the rest is their problem. Above all love them all the time. Love them whether they're mean or nice, because no matter what happens; they love you too.

My Little Man, I am so very, very sorry that I wasn't there again for your surgery. Someone called and said they thought of reporting your issues as a case of Munchausen by Proxy and wanted my opinion. I said I have no idea. I always thought your Mother did all the good she could for you so I couldn't say it was likely. But I have explicitly been banned from your hospital records and that doesn't make sense to me. I hope you understand this is not a terse word against your Mother, only my frustration at not knowing how to help you. You and your sister should never allow anyone to say mean words against your parents, not even the other parent. I looked all over to find your St. Patrick's Day present; I hope you like it. I'm sure you have a ton of toys and clothes but I wanted to send this to you so you'd know I'm here and thinking of you every spare moment of everyday. I miss you so very much. I want you to be nice to your sister and watch out for her, you have to watch out for all your siblings and they should watch out for you. Maybe someday very soon I'll get to hold you and your sister again. Until then, be every bit the wonder little boy you've always been and now that I love you.

For you both; remember that no matter what happens I am always here for you!

I love you yesterday, today, and forever!

Feb 20, 2014

The world sees a young woman...I still see my eldest little girl

To my oldest, you're no longer a teenager. For a month now you've been a young woman facing a new part of your life. Now that the court sees you as an adult, and out of the scope of all this nonsense I'll be sending you more packages like the one last week. I want you to feel comfortable when/if you decide to reach out and know that I'll be here. My first instinct is to come to see you, but people wiser than me have said that isn't a great idea considering all that's happened. That its better to let you come to me in your own time. I'll admit, that is really hard for me; but with some convincing it seems that it really is the best way to help you feel safe reaching out.

I know you have felt abandoned by your bio dad, and your mother left us all way too soon. Some people would like you to believe I have left you too, but I haven't. I won't. Since the day you hopped across the floor in front of me at two years old belting out "ribbit, ribbit"...I've been there. I'm still here, I never left. I want you to know I've seen your work on the art site you post to. Specifically the one about 'Daddy daughter time'. I can see the pain you express in your work and as brilliant of an artist as you are it hurts to see it. I do love you; I've always loved you. I have no idea what you are feeling, what you are thinking, what you have been told. Considering all that I think it would be best for me to focus on us seeing each other some day, and we can talk about the past then. For now just know I'm here. If you want to throw rocks at me, scream at me, punch me, hug me, talk to me...whatever. I'm here. If you just want to get my attention so I'll know that you're ignoring me...I'm here.

I hope you've picked out a good college; you only have a few months of high school left and I know you procrastinate. Your mother and I always hoped you would go away to college. Mostly because we both tried to stay close to home and it didn't work out for us. It may just be a "grass is greener" type situation but we felt you would learn more about yourself getting away from these familiar surroundings, especially at this time in your life. When I was sitting across the table from you as you ate vienna sausages and goldfish crackers, your feet no where close to reaching the floor, I never imagined I would be having a one way conversation with you over the 'net about college. When you went to preschool and could already write your name in print and cursive, and read short children's books all by yourself I thought we'd be traveling to campuses all over, together, all of us as a family. You and mom touring the campus while your brothers and sisters and I found all the attractions in a nearby town. Watching your face light up as you see new opportunities at each campus, the wonder and amusement you'd feel starting this next phase of your life. But those where dreams of a different future, from what seems like a different life.

Back then you and I would play board games (Candyland, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, etc.) while your mom would cook dinner in that tiny kitchen we had in our first apartment. Your artwork would cover the fridge, and the floor in your room. Your mom saw the artist in you even then. I hope that is a passion that you pursue, if for no other reason than for sake of the passion. I wonder if you remember that apartment? The first night we were there as Mom and I crawled into bed, you had been asleep for hours. Mom got up and turned on a light and said "She's going to wake up and get scared, she won't know where she's at." I thought she was being overly mothering...until about 3:00 a.m. We woke to find you crying in the Den, scared because you didn't know where you were or where to find us. I feel that way now. I don't know where we are in our relationship or how to get back to you...it's been so long since we've spoken a word to each other. Since July 25, 2011 the evening before you were taken from me. So here I am in a strange place, in the dark, crying out to you. Crying out that I love you and no matter how old you are, how "grown" you get, you will always be my little girl and I'll always be here for you.

I love you; yesterday, today, and forever!

Starting a new conversation

As I prepare yet again to go back into the court room and plead my case to have my stolen children returned to me; I'm dumbfounded at the control a Judge has over your life after giving you 30 minutes in a hearing to cram in as many details as possible. Before all this happened to me I was of the mindset that if you didn't do anything wrong...you have nothing to fear. Well, that is a complete misrepresentation.

As it's happened to me, if you haven't done anything wrong the opposing party will make up the wrongs for you. They will be caught in their own lies yet still be found credible, and you can forget having them charged with perjury. It's a laughable notion; more than one attorney has chuckled while telling me that no one in this county gets tried for perjury. Really...then why take an oath at all? I'm seriously debating the idea of posting all my legal documentation someplace on the web. I don't know what good it would do, I doubt it's even a good idea, but part of me just wants some acknowledgment that this process is completely insane! The Amicus attorney in my case told me as we headed into court one afternoon, "If justice happens at the courthouse it's completely by mistake"; or something very similar.

I am part of a pretty amazing group that gets together to learn how to deal with their co-parents; my case is a little different but the asinine details are pretty much the same. One thing became very clear to me tonight during our group; the system isn't designed for justice or even for the best interest of the children involved. Instead it just wears on you...and no one wins. The court awards more concessions to the one who refuses to quit, but both parties lose. The kids lose. Society as a whole, in the long run, looses.

My Teen is no longer a teenager. She has recently celebrated her 18th birthday and is a young woman of her own now. I doubt she knows the plans I had in store for that milestone in her life. I doubt she realizes much of anything I wanted for her anymore. Until her birthday I was restricted from contacting her. I guess the opposing party was afraid she might want to come back home. In any event, I have missed out on her big day. I haven't been able to help her pick out her potential colleges. I wasn't there to take her to get her driver's license.

Sugarbear is almost a teenager now...just a few short months away. I wish there was some way I could whisper in his ear every night just to let him know that I love him and that I think of him constantly. I wonder what amazing things he's doing at school. What does he do for fun these days? What are his favorite sports; things I took for granted when he was with me each day. I want to be there for all his accomplishments, and to be a support in his shortcomings. I want him to learn from failure, and grow to be a great man of character much like he always was as a young child.

My princess looks more and more like her mother each time I catch a look at her. The latest picture of her she is smiling just like Mindy. I miss her bubbly personality and unexpectedly large vocabulary. She always used the biggest of words so accurately. I wonder how much like her mother is she becoming? Does she remember her mother's traits and behaviors? What questions does she have that I could answer?

My Little Angel, my youngest daughter is just three years old. I was with her each day even after my older three were stolen away, until her mother decided to betray me as well. Not that I'm perfect, our relationship was doomed. But it's one thing to have a failed relationship...it's something completely different to alienate a Father from his children and file for termination. My Little Angel has always been a little performer. She loved to dance and sing; just be the center of attention. I would love to watch her dance around right now, just to hear her call out to me again...

Then the baby of them all, my Little Man. He is an old soul in an infants body. I miss his deep guttural laugh and all knowing smile. He has had two serious surgeries in the past year; both of which I found out about after the fact. I'm not sure how he's doing, request for pictures have been ignored...it's as if they think I'll just go away at some point. I just want to hold and comfort my boy. I want him to know that my arms are still a safe place for him to fall asleep. I need to smell his baby skin as I rock him and soothe him.

I miss them all dearly and I'm so close to being reunited with them, but it hasn't happened yet. With the way things have been going I am reluctant to get my hopes up. But I hope the court accidentally does something for their good, such as follow the recommendation of the counselors involved. Review the outlandish allegations and the stark absence of any evidence. Moreover, the perjury that's been committed by the opposing side in both the remarkable and seemingly insignificant points made over the past several years.

For all my children...at some point if you find this, just know; I may loose in court. I may be ordered to do things I don't want to do just to appease some unknown man in a suit making rules for your life. But above it all I never gave up. I will fight for you until you are home with me, or I'm home with God; whichever comes first. They can take all my money (they're doing a good job of that), all my power (seems I have none left), but they can't stop me from fighting for you. They won't stop me from loving you, and they'll never take away what we are...family.

I commit to writing something for each of you here, sometimes all together. Sometimes to each of you specifically. But I want you to know I'm searching for ways to communicate with you, to let you know I'm still here for you when the court says we can't have any contact. I wish I had started this sooner, but make no mistake my thoughts for you are not new or reappearing...I'm just finding a new way to reach out what I've been thinking and dreaming about every minute of everyday since you were taken from me.

I love you yesterday, today, and forever.