Concerned Father for the future of Our Children!!
by William Washington
(Tacoma, WA, US)
Over 9 years ago, you made a decision to allow me to see my son once a year, for the first 4 weeks in August. While that is ok for a father that doesn’t know his child or has never seen his child, this is not ok for me. I have always known my son and have always had a relationship with him. I have been employed with the United States Army for the past 6 years and have maintained a reliable income as well as a stable home for my family. My son means a great deal to me. For years now I have read the statistics of young men without their fathers present when they grow up and the effects on them. I also have had much advice from those that are going through the same situation I am going through. The point is, everyone has an opinion of what I am supposed to do. I have been patient and not tried to drag my son through a bitter custody battle that would tear through his emotions.
I have seen him when it was convenient for his mom. I have done what I believe I could do and can do up to now. My only question is: which answer is right for me? The law is very vague and basically gives all the rights to the mother and the burden of proof for the child to reside with the father relies solely on the father. This is difficult seeing that the father also has to give child support (rightfully so) while fighting to have more visitation.
I was told by a county clerk in California when this case started that all I had to do was give child support and I wouldn’t have to worry about a thing. This bothered me so much that I had to walk away from her. She basically stated that my responsibility ended with the child support. No visits were needed, no presents at Christmas, no school parent teacher’s conferences, etc. This is unacceptable to me.
I am a FATHER and a good one at that. For some, a mother has a deeper connection with a child than the father does, but in my case this is not so. I have a deep connection with all of my children. The judicial system declares that a person is innocent until proven guilty, however as men, we are proven guilty before anyone has even heard the case. Society assumes that we are the criminals and the mothers are the victims. We aren’t taken seriously when we step into the court room.
We are seen and not heard. The laws must be rewritten to accommodate both mother and father to have the equal opportunity to raise and educate their child together. I have been a physical presence in my son’s life as well as a financial presence. Before I deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan Jordan came for his yearly visit and he stated that he wanted to stay with me. He asked me why his mom wanted to keep him, why she won’t let him go and doesn’t she know she can’t keep me forever? All of these questions I knew were going to come sooner or later. This isn’t the first time he has asked this question either. This time he said it crying at the airport while waiting for his flight.
In his mom’s house resides her husband and 4 children. All the children have different fathers. During the summer months and holidays his sister and little brothers get the opportunity to see their dad’s. My son does not. The amount of support that I am required to give does not allow me to purchase multiple plane tickets for holiday visits and multiple requests for our son to stay with me for the entire summer have failed. If I were stationed closer to him then it wouldn’t be such an issue, but I haven’t been that fortunate.