Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We NEED Change!!

The beautiful girl you see above is our oldest daughter Sarah.  She is smart, beautiful, and preparing for college, she has her first serious boyfriend and we miss her.  But if things had gone as her mother planned, none of you would know this side to Sarah.   Odds are, she would have been a negative teen, possibly pregnant or sexually active, she may have even dropped out of school because what was the point if she wasn't leaving Davenport, IA, ever.  Her relationship with Chris probably would be lots of swearing at Chris on the phone and being angry.  I would have been the evil wicked stepmom who stole her dad from her mom (I didn't by the way, they had been divorced for over a year before I met Chris) and she would most likely not be in church or even know about God.

How do I know this?  Because the first four years of my marriage to Chris (we are going on 12 years in January), we spent praying, weeping and begging God to PLEASE BRING SARAH INTO OUR HOME!!!!  We got four to six weeks in the Summer (her mom tried to shorten it whenever possible) and then she would disappear.  Unanswered and unreturned phone calls, calls to the police to do a well check.  What was going on? 

Kate was married to an abusive mentally ill man.  For four years (I didn't get to see her at all the year Chris was deployed), I would pray and ask God to please help me not put this beautiful girl in a car with her mom.  We didn't know what was going on, but it was the little things that weren't said, little actions, reactions that tipped me off that all was not okay in Sarah's home.  Finally in 2005, I prayed and begged God, "Lord, I do not have it in me to put Sarah in a car knowing she is returning to a bad environment.  Lord, you know better than we do what is going on in her home.  Please don't make me put her in the car with her mom again."  Chris and I even formulated a plan so that Lizzie and I would go spend the day in Oklahoma visiting friends and family because he knew I couldn't watch her leave again.  I couldn't dance the vindictive dance with her mom, where she worked to claim Sarah as MINE! 

For four years, we heard how Kate threatened Chris' family that if they didn't do what she said, they would never see Sarah again.  We worried, she wasn't eating, being fed, and we didn't dare send extra money because if we did, then it meant that it went to beer and cigarettes, instead of milk, bread and eggs. 

As the time began to draw closer to Sarah's 2005 visit I realized Cessna was hiring and encouraged Chris to help Kate get a job there.  This accomplished two things.  First, it helped Kate get a better paying job with potential to move up.  Second, it meant Sarah was in Kansas and I knew from a lawyer visit we had had a few years before that once Sarah moved into the state that we had to keep her with us for six months to ask for a change of venue and change of custody.  Mainly, the plan to was to get Sarah closer so we could keep a closer eye on Kate and make sure Sarah was safe.    It worked, Kate moved to Kansas in September and she allowed Sarah to live with us because she could only afford a two bedroom apartment and Sarah was too old to share a room with her brother, which in Kansas is illegal. 

Something that wasn't a part of the plan for us, Kate's now ex husband kidnapping Summer, forcing Kate to move back to Iowa.  Our plan was to share joint custody with us having primary physical custody.  Carl Fetty Jr.  pulled a fast one and that went out the window.    March 2006 saw us sitting in a lawyer's office, using our tax return to file a change of venue.  We got it, but Iowa tried their best to hold onto Sarah, but they didn't have any legal standing.  We finally got the change of custody, but due to some unhappy events while we had temporary custody, we changed our minds and decided to go after sole custody.  We also stripped Kate of medical power, unless it was for emergency medical care, and we had it written in to the papers that when Chris would deploy that Sarah stayed with me.  This helped both girls because it was tough enough having Dad gone, but then for Sarah to have to leave too - it would have been too much for Elizabeth and for Sarah.   

The day the custody papers came making Sarah legally and finally in our home, well I think I am going to frame those papers.  Until then I had never ever seen such a beautiful piece of paper.  How did we get to the point we did?  How did we get stuck spending four years worrying and praying?
The courts.  In our country judges assume every mother is a fit mother, unless you can prove otherwise.  Many states are known as Mother States.  Iowa is one of them. 

There are thousands of children stuck in custody battles who are losing.  Divorce is tough period on children, but when they end up with parents who love them, but only as a pawn to hurt others with or who only want them for the money, it harms the child.  Sarah is still struggling. 

On a happy note.  Because of the change of custody Sarah and her mom have a better relationship.  It took a few years of us forcing her to talk to her mom, but once they broke through some of the barriers they are now on the road to mending their relationship.  Kate even attends church now and sadly, Sarah's siblings have both been diagnosed with some form of disability.   It may have started off with me being afraid for Sarah, but now that she is heading off to college, I am thrilled to see the amazing young woman she has become. 

We as a country need to begin to demand that our children stop paying the price for overloaded court systems.  Courts need to begin to look at both parents as viable options.  While not every father should have custody of his children, neither should every single woman who gives life to a child.   Not all women are good mothers.  We see evidence of this weekly, sometimes daily in the news.  It's time for a change, we need to speak up.  Court shouldn't cost parents tens of thousands of dollars to fight for custody.  If we had fought in Iowa, it would have cost us $30,000 easy and that is just to start with, the more drawn out it would have been, the more expensive it would have been.  This isn't right, of course, it isn't right marrying someone and decided, "Oops I made a mistake" either, but I can't change that. 

Justice 4 Jason Kendall on Facebook is a story that provides an excellent example of custody in need of being changes.  When a woman can cheat on a man repeatedly, lie about him, destroy his Army career and still hide his son?  Something has gone seriously wrong in this world. 

I ask that you join me in prayer for Jason and his son and pray that God speaks to his ex-wife's heart.  I also ask that you pray for God to open the doors so that Jason can gain visitiation and eventually custody of his son. 

In Christ,

1 comment:

lettersfromlaunna said...

I agree Maureen, I don't think any one parent is better then the other. Everyone should be looked at separately.:)