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  • #4405

    shasdy
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    Moral Support? Guidance? My son and I really need a voice. Through a recent paternity test my son has been proven to be of direct American descent. I believe that he therefore deserves your consideration. He was born in Africa. At the time of his birth his father was about to become the Director of USAID in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Clearly, my son’s arrival was of great inconvenience. His father cut contact with us – his lawyer apparently advised him ‘not to talk to us’. Although USAID was informed they did nothing to intervene for the rights of my child and in fact, moved his father out of the area of jurisdiction of South Africa where I was then resident (his father was resident in Mozambique) – the month that Ralph was born. Such timing may simply be disregarded as ‘unfortunate’ but it showed a significant disregard for my son’s well being. I did not have the ‘thousands of dollars’ I was told it would cost to pursue a legal case. Ironically, since I have moved to England I have been working for a woman who has encountered similar difficulties in accessing child maintenance from an American father and, again, the spectre of a court case costing thousands of dollars has been raised.

    My son, Ralph, I am sure, would love to feel proud to be an American. However, my family home is in Zimbabwe and when I returned there with my young, abandoned child the country was in economic free fall and things were very difficult. The father, while enjoying his position of prominence in the American infrastructure in Africa, remained impervious to the needs of his child. With great difficulty I started a legal case from Zimbabwe against my son’s father who the federal parent locater eventually indicated was in Washington. In my bid to start this case I was referred by the Senior Family Advocate Maree (South Africa – as I am a South African citizen) to the American Consulate in Harare to discover the next steps I should take in suing for child maintenance. Peter Ganser, of the American Consulate in Harare, wanted to make it ‘quite clear’ that he could not help us. When I again approached USAID they wanted to make it clear that they were there to represent the interests of the American people. By omission, was this rather than to defend the rights of a deservedly American child? As I am sure all were aware it was impossible for me to start a case against the American father from Zimbabwe. However, initially the Washington Attorney General’s office (and I retain the email) claimed that they could not open the case for us. Forgive me if I incrementally reached the conclusion that my son meant nothing to these people. I feel it is also fair to ask, candidly, what kind of impression the US is intent on making on the rest of the world?

    The case with Washington was eventually started. It took over a year of litigation and one delayed case for the father to claim that he had been sued from the wrong state. The point here, I believe, is that morally it should not have mattered which state he was sued through but rather that his child required support. My son’s father is an extremely wealthy man and his continued failure to support his son can only be seen as sadistic. By then I had immigrated to England and the British very kindly processed the case. In January, this year, as requested by the father, a paternity test was performed and the results were positive. The test was mere folly as far as I was concerned if the father had not known the likely result why was he at such pains to avoid me, why did he refuse to take the test when his child was born? He knew. The test was a delaying tactic which he was allowed and the time it took further jeopardised his child’s welfare. It is of interest to note that the father failed to attend the paternity hearing.

    It is also of interest to note that in moving the case from Washington to South Carolina the case became a civil rather than a criminal case. It is now dealt with by the social services rather than the court. The amount that we can recover from the court has also been greatly curtailed as far as I understand and we were not advised of this by Washington when they directed us to South Carolina. I don’t know if the fact (which I have tried to document) that it was nearly impossible for me to start a case from Africa has been taken into account. I did expect more moral indignation from the Americans. I did expect more support. Instead it would appear that every measure is being taken to protect the father’s largesse. I have only been able to access information over the internet but it would appear that the laws of South Carolina are not congruent with those of the UK, South Africa or Zimbabwe and so it is difficult or me to see them as fair. If child maintenance were dealt with in the same vein in Africa I think a lot of children would be dead by the time they received support.

    As immigrants in the United Kingdom my son and I do not have access to public funds. Things have been very difficult for us and these difficulties have taken a toll on my health. Ironically, the point seems to be missed – if I were not around with my tiny salary to haggle over then the full responsibility for this child would fall to his father. It would be nice to be treated with a little more consideration and compassion. Something we certainly have not encountered in our dealings with America thus far.

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