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  • #3929


    I am the mother of 3 beautiful bright young men who despite years of counseling are still trying to build lives and heal from the pain of the actions of their fathers. I was a single parent of 1 child with I met Howard, the father of my 2 younger sons. My eldest son William’s father chose to ignore him so when a man came into my life who acted as if he wanted to be a father to him I couldn’t believe our blessing unfortunately like a lot of blended families if the relationship doesn’t last, some step parents feel no responsibility to maintain contact with their step children after separation so for William when Howard and I spit he was again rejected by a man he had called dad.
    I don’t think it is talked about much but it causes a lot of harm for those kids that formed a bond with their step-parent.
    For the children we had together, Howard found he had a new tool with which to cause me pain, looking back it was very much his SOP. When our children were very young, 3 and 3 months he used them to torment me as often as he could for almost 2 years. And thanks to a family court judge he was able to do it for weeks at a time.

    Let me explain . Our youngest child Emmanuel was born 4 weeks premature in August 2001 he had a major heart defect and was going to require several open heart surgeries to survive. Two weeks before his first surgery in November that same year I learned that Howard had been having an affair with another woman I told him to leave the night I found out and he did. He packed all his clothing and assured me he wasn’t going to come back, but one day he showed up and became physically abusive with me. I called the police and I went to the court right away to ask for a protection order.Howard showed up and insisted he was homeless and needed to be able to stay at the house, of course I objected and advised the judge that he had been staying with his new girlfriend in a town 20 miles away where he had moved with his 16yr old son who was now attending school there. I stressed to the judge that our son was about to have surgery and was on 24hr oxygen. None of it mattered, the judge ordered nesting, 1 week one parent has the house and the next week the other parent has the house and the children remain in the home, during that time the absent parent was allowed to call our 3 year old son Zeke between 7pm and 8pm. I stressed to the judge that I had the experience dealing with Emmanuel’s health issues, his special diet and what to do when he turned blue and when he needed to go to the ER all of it, his father hadn’t wanted to know anything, I also objected to the judges decision due to the fact that I was the parent who had taken the time off to take care of him after his surgery. The judge didn’t seem to find any of it compelling and simply said no one was to remove any property from the house. The next day my son’s first life saving surgery was successful, I was the “parent in the house” that week and Eman and I spent it in the hospital recovering.
    On the day Eman was released from the hospital I had pack my son William and myself up into suitcases and leave our home. I let my mother manage the change over leaving my 2 younger son’s in the care of their father and his 21 year old girlfriend. It was hell, my baby was 3 months old with staples in his chest and,he was in a lot of pain on pain medicine and only 3 months old. When I tried to call my son Zeke at 7pm each night no one would answer the phone I tried calling at least 20 times between the hours specified in the order, It was a week of torment and when I went back to my home it was empty, every piece of furniture, bed, all of it 2800sq ft home was empty he even took the baby’s crib, the food and the fridge. Eman was a mess, his dressing hadn’t been changed for at least 12 hours and he had a cold. Zeke was upset with me for not calling him and of course when I said I tried he said I was telling lies. When I went back to court and informed the judge of the circumstance he said it was a civil matter and that the protection order stood until the 90 days expired. He refused to enforce his order that the children remain in the home and left me out to dry regarding all the belongings that had been taken.

    Eman spent most of the next 3 months sick, despite getting injections each of the winter months to prevent RSV he ended up in the hospital with pneumonia after a week at his dads girlfriends house, it was later disclosed to me that she ran a daycare from her home and despite our doctor making it clear to Howard from the start that Eman would never be able to go to daycare while we were waiting to complete the series of surgeries due to the risks of exposure to illness he still continued to expose him. As for Zeke when he was with his father I seldom was able to speak to him, I would call and they would answer the phone at 7:55 and at 8 the girlfriend would say he needs to get off the phone its 8 and then laugh. When we did speak Zeke began to call me by my first name, he would be rude to me and I would ask him to stop and be polite he would say “you know what Felicity good-bye” and hang up the phone. When he came home he was full of rage, breaking things and having temper tantrums. This went on for 90 days and it seemed like so much longer and I tell you this, 90 days can impact a child for a lifetime. As soon as the protection order expired I advised Howard I was not going to allow the week on/off to continue. The boys counselor and I agreed it was too much constant change for children their age, we started mediation regarding custody, I agreed to allow visits every weekend and 1 evening each week and instead Howard back to Virginia, he simply vanished, one day he was there and the next he was gone, he simply let the custody case default.
    Two years later Howard came back to Idaho, it turned out his now wife had taken her young daughter out of state without permission. It is always difficult dealing with Howard, for many years he ignored Emmanuel but kept in touch with Zeke, after he and his wife split we had a few reconciliations which cause more harm and I regret allowing sentiment to cloud my judgement. After years of counseling for all three boys and myself I’m able to see, Howard is a text book sociopath, it turns out he has many more children than he admitted to, when I first met him. In fact our boys make 8.

    The damage done to Zeke during that 90 days and the subsequent years of on again off again contact with his father has given my son issues with defiance, impulse control, depression, problem solving and difficulty paying attention.

    Howard came out here to visit this past summer and the dynamic of the relationships changed, Zeke is 15 now and is smart, he saw through all the BS he and his dad had a falling out and haven’t spoken since, Howard is keeping in touch with Emmanuel for first time ever, he is using material things to connect,it is the most painful thing to watch and be silent as he favors Eman, it seems sometimes that he does it just to hurt Zeke. I feel like the bad guy for trying to warn Eman to be skeptic about his fathers motives for the gifts. Eman is 12 now all done with heart surgery for now, we’ll know more as he grows, he might need a pacemaker or a transplant, he only has 1 ventricle to pump all the blood for his body.
    Howard has done some despicable things apart from take everything out of our house in 2010 he messed up Eman’s Make A Wish trip to Atlantis to swim with dolphins by delaying the paperwork because he wasn’t allowed to get a passport due to back child support. He gave the Make A Wish team such a hard time they decided to ask if Eman would choose another relative to go with us. I don’t think there is anything I’d put past Howard and that is embarrassing to admit. What does that make me? I know now my empathy made me easy prey and I’ll never be that person again but nor will I allow myself to be a shell of who I am.
    I’m very lucky to have my parents very close by, my father is a positive male role model for my son’s, William is a grown man now, I see some of the insecurity in him still but he’s also like a younger version of my dad bossy and impatient but kind, loving, loyal and generous. Zeke and Eman are teenagers and with that comes a bunch of challenges without the past causing bumps in the road. Love your children, make sure they know every day, I don’t care how redundant you think you sound, hug them and tell them they are loved and if you find yourself with an Ex do everything you can to protect your children from harm by finding a solution as quickly as possible, don’t let your resentment of your Ex cloud your judgement, If you anticipate your Ex violating your parental rights get a good lawyer as fast as you can, my mistake was not protecting myself and my children sooner and I will regret that for the rest of my life.

  • #4089

    Richard Thomas

    Please support Illinois HB 5425, a shared parenting bill. This is the best chance we have of ensuring children have access to both good parents. If a judge determines that both parents are good and fit then they have the first 90 days of any divorce action to come to an agreed parenting plan. If one or both fail to agree, then the non-custodial parent would get the option of at least 35 percent minimum parenting time per week ordered to facilitate even bonding. The bill as strong bi-partisan sponsors, but needs your support to pass into law. I am a co-author of the bill. Richard Thomas, NurseRichardThomas@gmail.com

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