I’ve Lost My Identity: No, It was Taken from Me

Hardships of varying degrees made up my life in Taiwan for 3.5 years of divorce and custody battles, posted here.

We live in a world full of horrific strife, frequent tragedies, and unimaginable horrors, so I know that my venting here, my emotional unloading, just doesn’t compare to some of the ills that others experience elsewhere, every minute of every day, worldwide.  In comparison to what others go through, my experience pales, so knowing that massive fires recently wreaked havoc on communities in Southern California, that the ferry disaster in South Korea has left scores upon scores forever affected, and that hundreds were lost on that mysterious Malaysian Airlines flight, leaving families distraught in a world of the unknown to this day, well, I should simply close up my laptop and put these thoughts down on paper instead, merely to rest on a bookshelf or in a drawer–and not publicized here, lest I’m labelled as selfish.   However, the urge to get this off my chest and out to friends and family–and to whomever is listening, overwhelms me.

You see, I am a father.  But for the last 148 days (as of June 15th), that identity has been challenged, almost to the point that I feel at times, when I am most down and out, suffering from angst that rivals nothing I’ve experienced, hitherto, that my identity as a father has been taken away.

Yes, as I’ve just stated, this is nothing like a world-altering terrorist event or far spread famine, but, nevertheless, a tragic loss for me–and if I may extend this to them, for my children, too.

No, my children haven’t died.  They didn’t meet a tragic fate, there wasn’t a horrible disaster, and they haven’t been scarred for life.  Actually, some might argue that they have, but I’ll expand on that concept later.

You see, on January 18th, 2014, a Saturday, my kids were forbidden to go out with their father, to go to his house the three nights a week and on the outings for seven hours every Sunday that had been previously scheduled (and agreed upon by two separated parents).  The morning of the 18th was the last time I saw them, having dropped them off via taxi service at 7:00am, the time their mother required, at her house.  I hugged them and kissed them as I always did, saying in the local language of where we live, “See you tomorrow!”

My spouse, from whom I’d been separated for about three months at the time, demanded that I could no longer take them out; moreover, she dictated that the only way I could see them was to visit them under her supervision in the apartment complex courtyard in our city somewhere here in the Eastern Hemisphere.  She claimed in her email that evening that she was protecting the children from my social life and from my “women” and in order to do that, I needed to visit them with her present!  Those details are for another blog, which I’ve already started, for writing about them, to me, is therapeutic, but suffice it to say that I had no social life, that there were no gatherings at my house (which she now claims in the divorce paperwork), and there SURELY were no “women” I was exposing them to.

Incidentally, my initial reaction to her demands was that I wasn’t going to concur, for she had no right to dictate how and when I saw my own children, yet two days later, after receiving advice from female family members via email, I wrote her back to accept her offer, lest she one day use it against me that I chose not to see the kids.  She’d even said, “What are you afraid of?  That you’re women cannot come?”  Instead of then agreeing to my idea to see them that Tuesday, two days later, under her terms, she wrote back, “Sorry, but we’re really busy now.  We’ll let you know when.”  That was the last I’ve heard from her.

Since January 18th, I’ve sent nearly daily emails and/or text messages, requests that have run the gamut of ideas–all respectful and placid, for I am not going to stoop to her level and turn this into something wicked.  I just want to see my kids.

So about my exposing them, hurting them by having them with my “women” (that is such nonsense that I despise even repeating her accusations)…

The quickest way to explain is that in December, I’d taken the children out with an international visitor (a female college student) from a website, Couchsurfing.org, a traveler’s hospitality exchange site, the same one we’d used as a family eleven months before to plan eight excursions with five different “hosts” while traveling for nine days in another country here in the region.  All the CSers I’d arranged to meet there were women, too, and they all loved interacting with our family, especially taking to our daughter, just four years of age at the time, and son, a mere one year then.  There, some of those women held hands with our girl, watched her dancing and singing, and hugged the kids when saying goodbye.  CSing is a wondrously good traveler’s concept, and we, as parents, had NO qualms taking the kids on such adventures.

So, how on earth did a three-hour outing sightseeing with said female visitor turn into anything wrong?  Yet that night, after taking my kids back to their mom’s after dinner, I received an email labeling me as a bad dad, stating that I had no clue what my children needed, that I was exposing them to my “women” so early after abandoning them.  Huh?  Why on earth was this misconstrued?  Three hours with the kids.  We had a fine time.  My kids enjoyed themselves.  Nothing transpired to cause such an emotional reaction.  Nothing.

Trying to keep this summary brief, for this blog is simply about losing my identity as a father (hopefully temporarily so), I need to also mention that 2-3 weeks later, I had a friend visit from overseas, and on one Sunday for 4-5 hours, we went with my children to a local religious site for sightseeing, also, and all interactions were equally wholesome and genuine.  My son and daughter enjoyed the outing.  In fact, all was completely natural to the point that they didn’t blink an eye.  My friend of 18 years, a world traveler herself, having decided to come to see my adopted country for the first time, instead of repeating the destination her husband and children were heading to, was great with the kids, being a mom, herself.  We all had a fine time.

So, how on earth did a 4-5 hour sightseeing outing turn into anything wrong That night, I received a text and email that gave me an earful about being a bad father, that I had no sense of what being a good dad entails.  Another innuendo about being out with the kids with my “women” surely stood out.

Hmmmm…  I wonder what triggered such a reaction.

It must be said that if my good friends Bob, Ben, or Brian had come to visit me and had gone touring with the kids and me, well, there would have been ZERO issue.  So, did I make a mistake in being out with the kids with someone?  Or was it merely, simplemindedly, because it was someone of the female gender?

Two days later, after an email warning that “you don’t take women in the family car,” my wife also called the police on me and essentially, heavy-handedly wrested the vehicle from my possession (for I’d been the only driver for the 18 months we’d owned it).  Eleven days later, she took my kids.

And my identity.

Being that my daughter is five (and I missed out on her birthday three months ago–as well as my son’s), the last half decade of my life has revolved around being a father.  My travels and my profession, the one-two combo of what I’d identified myself as years before my kids (and somewhere in there was my spouse, but I cannot honestly give her any credit or kudos for anything being that she has abducted my children) were superseded by my daughter (and three years after, my son).

Those five years only solidified my identity as a daddy.  My solo travels went from 2-3 times per year before having kids to once a year (and I am aware that some people cannot fathom a father traveling without family, but it was something I’d expressed I’d still like to have once a year after we had family).

Now, I’ve long been a person who needs balance in my life, and I have long striven to incorporate a variety of those needs, which for five years surely entailed my children coming first, with spousal time, me time, occasional social outings, and work providing the rest of the ingredients for a balanced life.  My ex, who is a homebody by nature, who doesn’t value or need ‘me time’ (she’s one of those martyr moms who just needs to prove every single second of every single day is for others and never her), who doesn’t have any hobbies, would argue that I liked my ‘me time’ too much, which included blogging, photography, and language study.  However, first and foremost, my identity centered on being dad.

To now have no dad time at all is a sickeningly arduous experience.  On the average day, I proceed numbly through the steps of what life is supposed to otherwise be about.

I awake in the morning to thoughts of my babies.  I go to sleep at night with similar mental musings.  It sounds cliche, but they are on my mind all the time, but it is completely different than having them in my life regularly, naturally.

When I leave my house for whatever reason, I cannot, obviously, say goodbye to them.  When I arrive home, they’re not there with a hug and enthusiastic “Daddy!” to greet me.

There are no more outings.  No “Daddy and _______ Dates”, which my daughter and I shared at various time (when mother was too pregnant to go out much or during the recovery after brother’s birth), excursions to parks, playgrounds, or cafes to lounge together.  No more “Family of Three” trips that I labelled them as after separating from my wife, which included restaurants with children’s play centers, kid’s museum visits, or our adventures by subway to a variety of places in our city.

Nothing.

Such an identity helped me, admittedly, also develop a slightly stronger sense of purpose, moreover.  I’d had a decent sense of who I was, theretofore, but once you become a parent, many other aspects of life don’t matter as much.

But now that my kids are gone from my life, nothing matters at all, really.  They were all in retrospect.

Nowadays, I have more ‘me time’ than I ever wanted.  It is all I have, yet I cannot identify with anything that is currently in my life.

I blog, but I am not into it as much as I used to be.  I periodically work on my photos, but they’re irrelevant now.  I do such things in a numb state just to force myself to not be 100% concentrated on the lack of my kids in my existence.  Being that I am still married legally, I cannot engage in any interests on other levels, either, so this ongoing focus on my loss of identity continues without those types of outlets for getting my mind off such matters.

Losing my identity as a father has also made me contemplate those people who intentionally leave their children.  How could they?  Isn’t there a natural inclination to have one’s kids in one’s life?  Forever?  That’s another topic for another time, I suppose.

But speaking of which, a man I know here recommended a few weeks back that I just start over, that I just accept this situation and move on.  Impossible!  They are my core.  How can I just replace them with something/someone else?  Never.  They aren’t replaceable; neither is my connection to them.

Currently, I am waiting on the court system here to render a decision about my seeing the kids.  I don’t have any clue how so many near-countless days have already passed without that decision already being made.  The court hearings to date have been a travesty of what actual legal proceedings should be.

Thus, with this wait, hand in hand, comes waiting for my identity to be restored.  Until then, I simply don’t have one.  I am hollow inside.

Will the law prevail?  Will my rightful status as a custodial agent for my son and daughter be returned?  Will my identity, also?

If not, I am… nothing, it seems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Negotiations in a Foreign Land: The Third Meeting

Court BS prompted this posting (here originally).

Here, for family, are the 3rd negotiation notes, which took place on May 28th.  They’re going to be sketchy and sporadic, for it was a frenetic, brief, charged event.  It took place on a sofa, loveseat and chair arrangement in the office of someone, not in the negotiation business-like conference room of the last three total visits.

  1. First, my interpreter will be “fired” (or at least never contacted again). She, the same woman who cam to the second negotiations on 4/17–and was late then, was late by ten minutes. She wasn’t there when my lawyer chatted prior to meeting in a hallway waiting room, so I missed out on that dialogue other than that my wife and my lawyer and hers were chatting about seeing the children. This interpreter showed up around 7-8 minutes into the negotiations, but since the time frame from start to finish (when my wife and her attorney walked out) was only about twenty minutes, she missed a good chunk of the all-present—except her—process.
  2. The negotiator started with something about my wife’s behavior, refusing to let me see the kids, resulting in the injunction I’d filed (and resulting investigation on 5/15). Why that was brought up, I have no clue, but that English understanding came from my lawyer, who was trying to keep up with dialogue and interpreting simultaneously, an arduous task.
  3. My wife (I don’t even like to use her name any more) stated in response that I chose not to come and visit and instead prefer to sit at the convenience store outdoor café across the street (which I did once with co-workers who go there regularly—so I could possibly get a glimpse of the kids and videotape her or her parents trying to avoid me trying to see them).
  4. She and her lawyer immediately went into an emotional demand to know why I haven’t signed or agreed to sign the divorce paperwork yet. My lawyer explained something in the local language, but I think, as he told me before the negotiations, when we met for around 15 minutes, that I had friends back home and a lawyer friend suggest I not accept divorce yet. I didn’t speak up about this for I just wanted her to get more emotional, thinking it would hurt her image.
  5. She and her lawyer then went into some BS about how even starting back in July and Sept/Oct I wasn’t even financially responsible for the kids. That’s a total fabrication, but I wonder why they were trying to paint that picture (other than trying to say I was a bad dad). I considered on the spot if they are trying to get me to say I was working private lessons—and then they could attack me for not paying taxes for the two years between living in the last country we lived in and until my current full-time position. They further stated (and my interpreter came in by now) that I was not making a living, that I was not responsible, that I had/have no concern for the financial well-being of the children. Her lawyer said that loving the kids is natural, but if I don’t pay a penny, I don’t love them. I allegedly “wasn’t able to pay for them” even back in those months.
  6. Although I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to reveal anything new (i.e., reveal any evidence I have to refute her nonsense), I was getting worked up at that point. Enough that I wanted to shout at her to stop the drama. However, I didn’t. I asked my lawyer to give me a few moments to talk. I addressed the moderator (the same not-an-attorney woman from 3/17 and 4/17’s sessions—but not the judge from the 5/15 investigation), and then explained that her claims were not correct. I explained that in the first three months of the separation, she vacillated with her demands—and that in the beginning, she told me one amount in one email, but then later said “we don’t owe each other a cent”, yet later stated, “Send me $_______________ paid in six months up front.” During this exchange, my wife kept on harshly demanding, “Show it!” I simply responded, “I have documentation I will present in litigation.”
  7. Her lawyer then got dramatic and explained, “Why are we dealing with this, this is so trivial.” He said we shouldn’t be discussing any of this since even back in July… September I wasn’t supporting the children.
  8. There was quite a heated discussion at this point.
  9. My attorney mentioned that regardless of what happened, we can agree on paying a certain percentage now into a bank account for the kids. (I don’t actually agree to doing this just yet, for I do feel that by doing so, it simply, somehow, shows I concur with her abducting my children. I once explained to my lawyer that since she abducted them, why should I turn around and say, “Hey, let me support you now, financially, in keeping my kids from me.” Before she took the kids, we split the time with the kids [though she’ll argue she had the kids more because I work longer days—which even is wrong because she took on my daughter MORE back in November when she took her out of school], and that felt natural like I was also paying for them, too, via rent, clothing, kids furniture, etc.)
  10. My guy chimed in that regardless of a sole custody or joint custody decision, the support we pay should be proportionate.
  11. Throughout this emotionally-charged section, I was really getting annoyed with her lawyer claiming that such affairs were trivial.
  12. I asked for time, having to really press to stop them all from going on and on. I reiterated that her lawyer (with a false “with all due respect and honor”) had reiterated a few times that such discussions about finances from the past were trivial. Pause. However, their entire argument about me not seeing the kids is about my supposedly not helping with the kids, but how could that be the foundation of their stance if discussing finances is now trivial?
  13. They added somewhere, too, that I should be responsible for half the kids living expenses. I responded that I have emails that clearly state she WAS paying certain monthly bills and that she’d informed me she was taking it out of “our account” and “the joint account”. My wife scoffed, repeating what she said in the 5/15 investigation that the money was all hers.
  14. Her lawyer now started on the slant of “If we aren’t going to discuss divorce, we don’t need to proceed.”
  15. It was mentioned again that I could take the children back to my country if they let me see them. Tired of those claims, I reached into my bag and produced the kids recently cut passports (I’d cut the corners off the front and back of both, making them void and useless–even though my daughter’s passport was already expired). I flicked the corners back and forth, repeating, “I am not going anywhere with the kids.” They said I could still travel and take them to my country. My voice grew stronger in repeating, “That is nonsense. It is impossible.” Then her lawyer and she just jumped in with “What if he takes the kids to the capital city for a month and I don’t see them?”
  16. At that point, I wanted to ask, “So, if I take them and you don’t see them for a month, how is that different than you taking them for nearly FOUR months!?” I didn’t, worried that they’d just jump onto the notion I’d do that as retribution.
  17. Her lawyer threw out that a man should be willing to pay for his kids, and that I am not. This notion was repeated a few times.
  18. Once more, it was brought up emotionally (my wife was starting to get impatient), “Why hasn’t he agreed to divorce yet?” My interpreter asked, but I didn’t respond. My man explained something in the local language, but too much cross-communication happened that I don’t have anything written down about what he said.
  19. Even the negotiator, in her partially-biased method, which she has revealed already (by laughing when I’d stated last time that I wasn’t going to ruin my career by absconding with the kids back to _____________) spoke up and said, “It is rare that someone isn’t willing to discuss both child visitation and divorce/finances at the same time.”
  20. Then, the negotiator brought up (I don’t believe that it was my wife nor her lawyer initiated this) that my wife can submit something to the government to hold part of my income because I’m not paying living expenses.
  21. Now, this got to a point of disbelief, because my lawyer retorted with the word in _________ for “foreigner”. Internally, I was wondering what the hell he was getting at. The interpreter went on with “foreigners sometimes makes mistakes that will be enlarged by the courts”, but he feels that if I have the children ½ the time I am willing to pay ½ the expenses. (There was such a whirlwind of activity and emotion, there wasn’t much of a chance to respond.) Her lawyer and she went into attack mode about their allegations of my not giving financial support.
  22. At one point earlier, when I’d mentioned the email exchanges and how my wife’s demands fluctuated wildly, the negotiator did press my interpreter, “And did he pay?” I just responded with another, “She has the accounts! She wrote about what expenses she was paying. And I kept reminding her that the courts should decide this all.”
  23. Her lawyer stated, “Why are we arguing about this? This is the simplest issue. He is not supporting his children.
  24. I once more went back into the facts that her emails vacillated, that her different demands were not what I agreed to, that she did tell me she was paying for the expenses, etc.—and that I continually repeated that we should come to an agreement with the courts, not her demands.
  25. My wife and her lawyer got up and left, saying that if we weren’t going to be discussing divorce, they didn’t need to be there.
  26. Egad.
  27. After a few minutes of them leaving, the negotiator finalizing comments to them, my lawyer chuckling outwardly, and much frenetic activity, the negotiator came and sat in the couch across from our loveseat. She explained, “Based on my experience, people usually come to an immediate agreement about finances and that is no argument about money. [I sat there feeling that cannot be true, for money is a huge aspect of many separations/divorces.] She said that it is clear that my wife is upset (she even patted the spot where my wife had just been sitting) and that she understands what she is saying because I am not paying for the children’s expenses. And that I haven’t been doing this in a good way. And this is the third case she has seen from ______________, which is my place of employ! What the hell does that have to do with the price of tea in China?!?!?!?!? And that I may take the kids to the capital. And in her experience, she feels custody would be unlikely because I am not paying for the children and because in this country custody usually goes to the women. And that she understands my wife’s side, and that maybe I just see things because of a different culture.
  28. WTF.
  29. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…
  30. I had to chime in then. I had to.
  31. While she was providing her “insights” of wisdom and experience, I went into my computer bag (I didn’t bring the three 3-ring binders of documentation I’ve brought the first three times), this time. But inside my shoulder bag, I have documents my translators and I have been working on recently.
  32. I explained, “With all do respect… You keep on repeating that I am not paying and didn’t pay expenses for the children, but please listen. Here is the photocopy of the bankbook. When I moved out, we had $15,000US dollars in the account so she had money to pay expenses and bills and for the kids. And I had the kids living with me—and my expenses were also “theirs” for I had to pay for rent and bills for the house just like she did. And here are emails that are highlighted where she informed me in October/Nov/Dec that she was withdrawing money to cover expenses from “our account” and that we had this much “left in the joint account” after paying six months of rent up front. And here is where she said, “I’ve sold off our stocks”.   And here is her email that clearly states, “we don’t owe each other a cent,” and “I hope this sounds fair to you. It should be, because I am not asking any money from you.”
  33. The negotiator responded, “But your wife was talking about money for her. What about you not paying for the children?”
  34. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
  35. She then explained that my not visiting the children because I am demanding M/W/F like before may be too much time. Maybe I need to start off with once a week. (But the discussion was SUPPOSEDLY all for naught, anyway, since the investigation on 5/15 is apparently going to result in a decision of my being with the kids. I ASSUME that today’s experience will have no impact on the other case number’s judge’s decisions, but I should clarify with my attorney. These negotiations aren’t recorded, with no stenographer present, so even legal aide attorneys told me months ago that what is said within doesn’t apply to later litigation proceedings.)
  36. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…
  37. She got up at that point, but I asked for one more question.
  38. As she sat, I asked (in both ____________ and English), “In your opinion, was my wife taking the children away from their daddy right?” She replied that “No, it wasn’t right… and then rambled on about how she understands that my wife is upset.” I cut her off and asked her to please look at one last thing. But I slipped in, “Ma’am, if I had written emails to her and told her I wouldn’t pay anything, then I should be responsible and even punished by the government holding part of my income, but I never said I wouldn’t. If I was a jerk and said I wasn’t responsible for helping financially, I should be punished, but I didn’t say that. Showing her the highlighted email print out, I explained, “Here is my request on January 22nd, four days after she emailed to say I couldn’t take the kids out, where I asked her to reconsider her decision—because her decision was killing me, that she was hurting me already.” I then pointed out where my wife said, later the same day, “The fact that you think it is not a problem to take the kids out with a woman makes me feel like I need to protect my children… please give me your schedule, but we are busy, I hope you understand.” And I revealed that on January 24th, I wrote “You talked about meeting in your courtyard. I assume that means Tuesdays and Thursdays. What time? 530pm? 6pm? How much time would I have with them?” AND THAT EMAIL ON THE 22nd WAS THE LAST MESSAGE SHE SENT ME, and I HAVEN’T SEEN THEM SINCE OR HEARD FROM HER, but I have sent her 130-days’ worth of texts and emails asking to see them, saying I wanted to open up an account for the kids but I needed her signature, that I… and I started to cry here.
  39. The negotiator handed me a box of tissues.
  40. That was it.
  41. Nothing more. My lawyer, my interpreter and I walked to the door. Putting on our shoes, they small talked momentarily, but I didn’t have anything to say.   She said, “It is clear they both love the children.”

He reminded me of the moderator’s statement about my not probably having a chance at sole custody.

He went off on his same spiel about how divorce court could be long and drawn out and painful. I simply said that I am still pressing for sole custody.

[By the way, before the hearing, I got 15 minutes with him in a side room. He apologized for not letting me know until the last minute about his not attending the 5/15 hearing. He tried making an excuse that he was hoping that the presiding judge who received my injunction might simply feel that she could make a decision for me to see my kids without even needing to attend the investigation, so he was waiting to find out. Uggh.

I asked about why he’d not responded to my emails about not going with me to see the kids, or how 2.5 months have passed and I still haven’t seen them. He explained (not very well) that I may not feel that he is putting in much time, but that he has been doing a good amount of work for me since he is communicating and scheduling things, but he knows he hasn’t responded to all my emails. He said my email also went to an account where he sometimes loses emails (his Gmail account) and gave me his business card with a different email. I’d explained that when I wrote the other day “please check email”, he responded to an email from weeks ago about the investigation, but not to the email I sent him two days ago. Apparently a different email account.

At one point, he explained that his “something something” was broken, which was something about his phone (he said the word, but I didn’t understand his meaning—even trying to clarify) so he maybe didn’t get all my messages. Uggh.

I was honest in explaining that quite a few people have stated that my paying a lump sum up front may not get me the best service (stating it is the system—not just him and not personal) in _____________, that a lawyer may feel that the payment was received so a win or lose for a client may not matter. He explained that because it is such a small town, he would not be like that, for he has a reputation he needs to maintain.

He said that although he’d like to help me see the kids, that it would be hard for the extra time that it would include. He focused on “let’s get them to agree today to you seeing the kids in the courtyard.”

That didn’t happen.  133 days without my children…

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The Fiasco of the Court Order: Three Weeks of Nonsense

More of the court’s BS was blogged about in July of 2014 (here).

Here is the chronology of events since the court order was issued/received.  As with other entries here, I don’t use the name of the actual language spoken in this foreign land, where I, a foreigner, reside.

Sun., June 29th:     

The father received court order notifying of his right to visit and take the children sometimes.

He immediately emailed his wife to notify her of Tuesday’s first visit.

His wife didn’t respond.

Mon., June 30th:    

Her lawyer notified his lawyer the family was in the capital city, but they’d return on Friday. After 170-something days, it was utterly surprising that they just happened to be out of town.

The father wrote her that he’d be there Friday.

Fri., July 4th:   

The father arrived with a friend, but nobody was home. The guard stated nobody was there. The father called the police.

They couldn’t do anything since nobody was there.

He wrote her to inform her of Monday’s visit.

Sat., July 5th:   

His wife wrote an all-Swahili email. The father had to send it to his lawyers and translators—on a weekend!

He later got the translation that she was dictating many things different than the court order’s protocol.

The court order stated that she can only be present if he agrees.  Her email demanded she be there.

The court order stated he should notify the family one day before of a visit.  She dictated 12 noon the day before.

The order lists “residence” for visitations, but she dictated only in her parents ____th floor apartment.  Residence also includes public spaces such as gardens and courtyards in this country.

Sun., July 6th:   

The father asked his wife to please use English to communicate; she only wrote back in Swahili.

Her text messages were only in Swahili; he doesn’t read Swahili.  After nearly ten years together, her language preference somehow changed with him.

Mon., July 7th:    

The father arrived for a visit. He notified his wife that he had a friend along to be present five minutes before.

She wrote back in Swahili (he needed to send it again to his translator) that he could NOT bring a friend.

Having to get things translated via text (or email) five minutes before such happenings is unfair (or at any time).

The security guard to her building rejected his friend’s visit; he didn’t go alone to their ____th floor residence based on fear.

The father texted to see if he could return on Wed., with his lawyer, but his wife said no.

She dictated only that he could visit the _____th floor.  But for months before, she’d said if he got to visit the kids, it would be in the garden courtyard.

Tue., July 8th:

The father notified his wife he would not be there for the M-F nightly visits until his lawyer worked things out.

However, he explained he would be there on Saturday for his first weekend outing with his children.

Friday, July 11th:

The father texted to his children that he was looking forward to Saturday.

His wife wrote back that he was “too late”, that they’d made plans, so he responded that he’d already told her on Tuesday, via email, about the plans. She claimed 3-4 days wasn’t in the court order—and that it says “one day”. And because his text was at 4pm,  it was “too late” (because she’d dictated he tell her by noon, even though the court order says “one day before”).   All her messages were still in Swahili.

Sat., July 12th:

The father arrived with a friend, a translator and the police to his wife’s house. His wife (via telephone to the guard) and their security guard stated that the cops couldn’t go with him to the _____th floor. He rejected the idea of going alone.  The cops went by themselves. They cannot interfere with the visitation, but they wanted to get her side of the story, they said later.  All happenings were done in Swahili.

Mon., July 7th:

The father’s father’s girlfriend wrote, “not realistic for anyone let alone you going alone behind closed doors without another pair of ears and eyes, suicide… I am extremely worried, uncomfortable you going alone, not a good idea!”

Wed., July 9th:

The father’s step-mother wrote, “… out to get you… it is so obvious NEVER go by yourself u will be walking into a trap…”

Thur., July 10th:

The father’s 33-year friend, who is a police officer, told him, “I would not go up to the apartment alone, that is just a disaster waiting to happen.”

Fri., July 11th:

The father’s step-mother wrote, “I agree with ——– [police officer of 23 years] 100%… you are walking into the lion’s den.”

The father’s father’s girlfriend wrote again, “100% in agreement with ——- [police officer].”

Fri., July 11th:

The father called her home. The grandfather answered, and when he asked to talk to his children, the grandfather hung up on him. He called his wife’s cell phone five minutes after. She spoke only Swahili, saying something about the kids not being there.

Later, his wife wrote an email (in her language) to apologize for her father hanging up because he thought the father was a fraudulent caller.  He knows his own son-in-law’s voice after nine years because he speaks broken Swahili.  There was no mistake.

Various July:  

The father wrote his wife three times to ask about needs of the children, such as what diaper size he should buy or clothes sizes. She NEVER wrote back about any of those questions!

Sun., July 13th:

The father called and talked to his children for the first time in nearly 180 days (even though he’d asked his wife between January 18th and July, with near-daily emails and texts message to speak with them, to see them, to help them, etc.). The grandfather was there and so was his wife, talking to the children simultaneously in the background.

Various July: 

The father has tried to call his children, but his wife continues to speak Swahili only and to write Swahili emails and texts.  The Google translations of her messages just don’t make sense.

He also sent them photos via text on his cell phone, but his wife wrote back saying “no attachments” (in Swahili).

Fri., July 18th:

The dad called to speak with his children. The grandmother said something in Swahili about calling the wife’s cell, but that didn’t make sense since he had already called the house phone. The children could have talked right then!  She hung up the phone.

His wife wrote some nonsense (what he could see on Google translate) about calling her phone and that the landlords would be upset.  The landlords are apparently her parents.  Such calls would disrupt the landlords, even though the kids have a right to get calls from their dad.

Sun., July 20th:

Because the father had sent his children photographs via email over the weekend, his wife wrote back in Swahili to say he couldn’t send them photographs any more! That is cruel!  She claimed he must only deliver photos in person, and not via email or text.  Yet she denied all access to them on attempted visits so far.

Three weeks of a court order ended in ZERO access to his children.  She made a mockery of the system.  The whole process is an utter travesty.

On Monday, July 21st, the couple signed a divorce statement.  That process, in a land where the husband is against the language, the culture, the processes, the family and spouse here, etc., was another nightmare.

If you’re an expat abroad, don’t get a divorce.  It is hell.

 

 

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The Ridiculousness of Being in Court Negotiations in a Foreign Land (and the Appeal that Flopped!)

All sorts of nonsense happened in Kaohsiung’s family court over 3.5 years, including this BS (originally posted here).

I’ve written up this summary of the fourth negotiations in my divorce and child “visitation” cases, hitherto, in this foreign land where I live.  As an expat, I wish this on no other expat.  Going through this whole ordeal overseas is a nightmare.

———————-

There is an average of 730 total hours per month (calculating for months that have a varying number of days). I have been given 70 hours with my children per month until the custody case involving the children is resolved and comes to fruition (and that includes roughly ten hours of sleep time). Why on earth is there such an inequity in the amount of hours I can see my children? Why does the ex get roughly 90% of their time each month? I still have legal custodial rights of my children, yet I have been given about 10% of each month to exercise my parental rights. That is clearly wrong, clearly unfair.

[From this point forward, there is a switch to the third person in this recount, for this was originally written up to provide the courts with an appeal.  That appeal fell on deaf ears this Tuesday, July 20-something, 2014!  However, I have removed all names and references to place and people.  As with other entries on this blog, the term Swahili replaces the actual language here in this country.]

During the courthouse negotiation meeting on 7/21/14, the husband was surely under duress, and when he stated he agreed to seeing his children on two weekends per month, he wasn’t able to further negotiate properly because of a few factors. The outcome is drastically unfair because he was under such duress.

First, the court-provided interpreter was horrible. Not only did she not provide quality interpreting, she left the husband in a confused state of uncertainty and doubt about all that was being discussed. In total, he understood about 10-15% of all that was stated (and he wasn’t fully clear on even what went into the document which he was asked to sign at the end of the fast-paced, frenetic session). The interpreter remained silent for much of the goings on, she wasn’t able to keep up or keep track with interpreting what was said, she fumbled on her words many times, and she was clearly nervous about being there. A few times, she didn’t know the English word for something said, and one time the husband’s lawyer even corrected her English (even though his lawyer’s spoken English is not efficient enough to communicate clearly).

Second, the husband doesn’t communicate enough in Swahili to understand more than 10-15% of what’s being addressed in regular conversations about topics he can speak about basically, but with regards to court proceedings and dialogue, he needs to understand 100% of what’s happening. He can speak some, but his listening skills are quite bad. So for the court to assign someone who is incapable of interpretation, he was unfairly placed in an extremely difficult position. He was uncomfortable. He was pressured. He reluctantly conceded to divorce, but he was not clear about all the details.

Additionally, the husband was put on the spot, and he was even confused by what the interpreter tried to help him understand during a discussion in the hallway during the process. His lawyer explained, partly through the inept interpreter, that if he agreed to pay $______ that he could see his children on two weekends a month. It sounded like the new arrangement would be more binding than the previous court order (which she fought against for three weeks–and evaded, for he didn’t see his kids at all), so he was keen on seeing his children. Yet, five minutes later, back in the negotiator’s chambers, it was brought up that the husband agreed to divorce! He was totally unprepared for that! In fact, he even had told his lawyer (and earlier showed her a written document to explain) that he didn’t want a divorce UNTIL something was worked out for (temporary) equitable child sharing until custody was decided.

He was shocked that they said that! He tried to explain in Swahili that it wasn’t what was discussed outside in the hallway! He fumbled on his words and couldn’t explain everything, for it isn’t his first language–by any means. He said that he had agreed to paying money and seeing the kids, but there was nothing discussed about divorce. And then his wife and her lawyer got up and left the room, stating that if he didn’t agree to divorce, he couldn’t see the children at all!

Immediately, the husband told the negotiator and his lawyer to have her and her lawyer wait outside! They’d already left the room! He was so fearful that he wouldn’t see the children for months to come! They were playing a tactic that put him under duress—especially given the language barriers and confusion.

He tried to explain that they’d just agreed to the $_________ “deal” and then to him seeing the kids! That was it! They couldn’t go back on their oral agreement, but now they were all saying that divorce was agreed on, too!

The husband’s lawyer put pressure on him that in [this country], divorce is handled first, and even the court negotiator came over with three examples of other court cases (he could see the paperwork were cases, but couldn’t read the Swahili at all) that were on her desk, and they both energetically expressed that divorce happened in all of those cases (from what he understood from his lawyer’s and the interpreter’s broken English) before custody was decided. That moment was pure hell for him.

His wife was ready to leave outside the door. He was thinking of his kids and the focus was on agreeing to divorce to see the kids, so he didn’t even have a chance to negotiate other aspects of the temporary agreement, such as seeing the children M-F, or how often he could call, when he could call, etc.

At the beginning of the negotiations, the negotiator had stated that maybe it was best to meet in a safe place (the husband had to say the word “neutral” to his interpreter, which she agreed was what they meant). Yet that topic got quickly swept aside in the drama of the proceedings about him agreeing to pay money to the wife.

He had also brought copies of __________’s Swahili emails, copies of what she had dictated to him regarding the first court order, etc., yet that was all brushed away in the hastiness of everything. Thus, the first court order fiasco wasn’t addressed properly. Things were not ironed out. When he tried to address the negotiator by asking, “What is this court order?” hoping to get her to understand that “it is a legally binding document”, she instead said that it stated he could see the kids M-F and two weekends per month. Yet he couldn’t speak more in detail about how his wife had not followed the court order—and the inept interpreter was sitting back and just watching (instead of talking for him).

He didn’t want his wife to leave, knowing that she would have the kids for another length of time. It had already been around 185 days since she’d taken the children from their father, so that was on his mind when they threatened to leave.

Being that his lawyer and the negotiator were claiming divorce had to come first, being that his interpreter was inept and unhelpful, and the being that he was put on the spot to agree or not to divorce (with the threat of not seeing his kids on his mind), he made a decision under duress. It was a nightmare experience.

With all of the aforementioned parties milling about, with an addition 3-4 clerical staff coming in to work on the new divorce document, there wasn’t enough time to sit and discuss anything else. At one point, he realized that the whole issue of his wife’s repeated use of Swahili only to communicate about the children wasn’t addressed yet. He asked his lawyer into the hallway again. With broken Swahili and broken English, they discussed that. When the negotiator walked by, his lawyer brought it up to her, but she dismissed it with a wave of her hand! He insisted that his lawyer have the clerk add something to the document about using English.

Yet that was it. The clerks had printed out the document. The other party had skimmed through, changing items and adding items. The husband’s lawyer was supposedly doing similar things, some of which she tried to explain in broken English. At one point, the interpreter had stepped out, but she came back and gave a quick run through of the document with him. The other party had agreed to having the children come to the front gate of their complex, instead of their demanding he enter their building and meet them on the 10th floor at their residence, but there were still details to work out.

When the husband was told to sign the document on the last page, questions were still running through his head, and everyone was milling about, ready to get their work done. Swahili was, of course, thrown around, and he simply didn’t want the other party to walk out because of the threat he’d not see his kids.

He signed, reluctantly.

He regrets doing so.

Thus, the husband would like to file an appeal for a change in the scheduling of the times he can spend with his children. He should have more equitable time with his children. He has a right to that, for he is still their custodial and parental caregiver.

For the duration of the time before custody is finalized, the husband should have two weekday nights per week with the children, from 6pm until 745pm. The two nights are flexible, since his daughter supposedly has classes some nights, so he is willing to agree to any two nights Monday-Thursday. This will give him more overall time with them per month, but also allow them to see him more regularly. The second and fourth weekends of each month is not consistent enough, and there is too much of a gap between each weekend. He wants to be a more consistent caregiver for his children. His children also need more of his parenting and care giving for their own benefit.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

In addition to another document created as an appeal from the children directly, for his daughter had told him on their first weekend together this past weekend here that she would like to see him more often, this [modified] document above was submitted to the courthouse.  Actually, it was rejected immediately and not submitted, but he tried.

That process, in itself, requiring a translator to attend with him, was a travesty.  Here’s a summary that was sent to friends and family back in my home country.  To have an understanding perspective, imagine you are in a country with a different set of cultural norms and practices, where perspective, outlook, ideas are different, where the language is not easily navigable (only reading just a few words), etc.  Even the approach of my lawyer is different, based on social understandings here, not those of my home country.

The Summary:

After writing up the appeal, having it translated, then verified (and paying my translators for that), and having a translator take half a day from work, I… got rejected.

The courthouse clerk, who knows me by now, wouldn’t take the doc I’d done up, and I also included what I’d done up after the above document (an appeal for/from the kids directly since they’d told me they wanted more time with me)–which required today’s translator friend to hand write it in Swahili on the Word.doc I’d printed at 7-11 this morning, i.e., I put 4-5 hours into doing it all, plus money, plus transportation, which is a 30-minute transit each way…  well, he rejected it.  His supervisor was standing over his shoulder, and she reiterated the same sentiment.  This new “agreement” isn’t a court order.  I cannot disagree or argue against it because we both “agreed” to it.  No can do.  Nothing.

I asked again, to make sure.  Nothing.

I explained, too, that my lawyer had sent a message this morning that I should cancel the retaining order I’d submitted last Monday morning, but they told me I’d have to go to another desk to process.  I don’t want to cancel it, but my lawyer suggested I should.  I conveniently forgot to follow up on it before we left–since we did get sidetracked with something else.

So the clerk asked if I’d received the divorce paperwork.  I said no.

He called up to the clerk who is handling the divorce/custody case for me and the ex and told us to go upstairs to see it.  My translator wanted to make sure that I didn’t sign for custody or property or anything unknown.  I’d made sure I’d not done that (but again, it was all Swahili).

The clerk upstairs was stern, stoic, and all-together… rude.  My translator explained that I’d not gotten it yet, but we wanted to see.  She pulled out from a large pile what she supposedly sent me yesterday.  It was on white paper, but the doc I signed last week was green.  I asked my translator to see the original.  The clerk said that was it.  I asked again.  She opened another cabinet where a stack of green docs lay, and mine was on the top, with signatures within.  I asked for a copy, explaining that in my home country I should, of course, get a copy of what I signed.  She said she couldn’t unless we requested it downstairs!  Red tape is around the world, eh?!  There were copiers within 20 feet!  When my translator asked why the doc we’d signed wasn’t in the pile for my case, the clerk really got stern.  She said they retyped the doc and that’s what they use (i.e., not the signed one).

My translator asked about any chance of appealing, and the woman (who may have apparently been one of the clerks in the negotiator’s office last week), stated, “Don’t worry.  It is just temporary.”

I almost barked out at her, but I didn’t.  I wanted to ask her if she had kids and how she’d feel if she got two weekends only and had to go through the BS nightmare of the proceedings in another country.  My translator stated that I feel I didn’t get a fair chance, and the woman scoffed.

She said, “He knows what he signed.  He knew what was going on.”  She totally dismissed my claim on the spot!  And she repeated, “It is just temporary [the schedule set for seeing the kids].”

OMG.  I wanted to tear her a new one, but in the back of my mind, I knew/know she’s handling all the paperwork for the case, and most likely will until the duration.  She gave my translator the blow off and went hastily around, moving piles of paperwork.

We walked away, and I explained to my translator that the woman had NO right to judge me and my understanding of the court proceedings and documents.  But again, in dealing with the culture, and my translator today is a mature woman (i.e., she knows what she was doing), I just had to accept it.

Did she have any understanding of how a parent feels when he/she is given a limited amount of time with his/her children even though he/she wants every day with the kids?  How dare she suggest, “It’s just temporary,” dismissing it like it is no big deal.

I can go without beer, football, and ice cream for months and have no concern.  Same with sex (egad, the last ten-plus months have been tough).  Same with traveling, my erstwhile raison d’etre!  But having my kids gone from my life… well, she cannot dismiss that simply with a wave of the hand.

The clerk wasn’t budging (to help), but we’d already been rejected by the help desk staff downstairs–so it wasn’t like she could change anything.  And although in my country I may have tried to jokingly plead or even flirtatiously beg to at least get a copy, the language barrier and cultural norms are surely factors that impede any such efforts.

Downstairs, the same guy asked how it went.  He then had to listen to our request to get a copy of the signed doc (not the one, unsigned copy they’d sent me), which required a form.  My translator had to then fill it out, yet the guy had to white out sections of it.  It took 15 minutes!  Yet the doc was sitting upstairs in a stack, 20 feet from a copier.  He then said the clerk would call me when it was ready, and I’d have to come back in or get it sent.  What nonsense.

Bottom line… No appeal was filed.  I’m so regretful about last week’s negotiations and how I accepted the pressure-cooker-induced deal.

I have spent soooo much time typing, translating, etc., for months, yet nothing has really proven helpful.  Even last Monday’s documents I had on my lap in the negotiations barely got “used”.  I’d had copies and print outs of all her Swahili emails/texts, translated English-Swahili emails I’d sent her, docs translated about divorce and why I wanted to hold off, etc.  Yet nothing helped.  It makes doing more even more daunting.  One translator is typing up a translation of the January 18th email exchange when Ling cancelled my outings with the kids.  She presented to the court a cut-and-copied section or two of the whole exchange–to suit her needs, but I am now having translators type ALL in Swahili to show she’s manipulated and presented incomplete “evidence”.  Yet I doubt now that it will even be used.  I’m nearing $9000US dollars total for everything, and it all seems like a waste.

But to have seen my kids this last weekend makes me continue.

If my kids know only three things about me for the rest of their lives (if I were to disappear off the face of the planet), it should be that I love them, dearly, that I am forever their daddy, and that I worked my fingers to the bone in the spring and summer of 2014 to get them into my life again (and keep them there).

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Throw in the towel? No way in hell!

Three years ago on my other site I wrote about this nonsense (here).

It started with… “Get out, move out… get a lawyer! And get a visa!”

The final demand. At least the final demand before we separated, the one that led to a seemingly, theretofore, inevitable divorce. Marriage had become burdensome. My ex and I couldn’t deal with things any longer. In fact, for a long time before, we’d not dealt with anything. For a stretch, life together had not seen sunshine, except with and for the kids.

Fuck. What about the kids? They were all that mattered to me.

All else in marriage in August of 2013 was practically intolerable.

I’d grown so damn weary of the days-on-end silent treatments, the pure drama when trying to talk to her (i.e., the absurd, defensive reactions over the simplest issues), and the struggles that were faced because of her disorders. My patience had worn incredibly thin with her avoiding communication. I got antsy about being ignored. And because she’d shut me out so many times, over the years, never initiated any dialogue, and swept things under the rug so constantly, I’d started to give up on any in-person conversation—other than when with the kids for daily plans, what’s for dinners, logistical issues and the like. Yet for years, I’d resorted (sometimes because of our opposite work schedules, but mostly because she’d just unleash drama when I tried sharing my feelings with her about our issues in person) to sending her emails or private FB messages. I needed to get things off my chest. I needed to open up. I needed to let her know how I felt. Especially during the 3-4 day periods when she utterly ignored me. But about a year before, she simply stopped responding to most of my messages, leaving me feeling like she didn’t give a shit about my feelings. For me, it was better to at least open up electronically than experience complete disengagement between husband and wife.

For one example, back a few years ago when we had enormous decisions to make about leaving the country we were in or not, I’d put thoughts to paper (to keyboard, really) one night while I was on an extra work-related duty, and explained the pros and cons about staying, moving back to her country, or moving on to another country. The email was tantamount to a 3-to-4-page Word.doc; however, she wrote back, “You and _______ decide.” That’s it (oh, she included the name of my school where the blank lies). Yes, sad that I’d resorted to getting things out via email, but utterly shocking that such a life-changing decision was up to me—or that she couldn’t communicate her needs, desires, insights or ideas.

There were smaller issues, too, that we allowed to destroy us, such as how we argued every time one of our kids was feverish, for she wanted to administer medicine, provide sponge baths, and even take our kids in to the doc or hospital at the slightest sign of fever, at around 38.5C (101.3F). Yet I was fine with the body’s natural defense mechanism of elevated temps to defeat whatever bug or infection was happening, thinking even 103-104 (39.4-40C) was acceptable, with watchful eyes being ready just in case we needed to step in to bring the temp down. Without fail, it brought tension to our home. We couldn’t see eye to eye on that nor quite a few other parenting issues, some of which were cultural, for certain (e.g., her culture saying air currents cannot cross over the exposed navel).

Habitually, and more and more over the years, she sided with her parents. She couldn’t question her parents’ decisions, even though I knew she didn’t necessarily, internally agree with all. For nine years I’d known her to really have issues with her own parents, but for months on end beforehand, it seemed to be that it was three vs. one. The expat, foreign husband against the in-laws and their daughter. Even when they suddenly cancelled all childcare because I’d suggested my wife volunteer at my school last August—so that her resume experience would increase, so that our teaching-team marketability would grow by leaps and bounds (since she’d not yet had any classroom teaching experience that overseas schools want—since doing her Master in Education), i.e., my suggestion was to benefit the family… well, she couldn’t question her parents’ choice to leave us without babysitting.

When I asked, she simply said, “That’s my dad’s decision, and in _______, we don’t question our elders. It’s disrespectful.” That was the final straw, really, so when she yelled at me to “Get out…”, it actually appeared to be the best solution, though it was the second time she’d shrieked similar sentiment in about a year’s time frame.

The first month, honestly intended to be a month away, was full of pure drama. On one occasion, when I’d picked up my daughter at 7am for school, my ex held open the elevator door, with our son in her arms, with my daughter at my side, and squealed emotionally, “Tell me, ________, is it over? Is it over? Tell me!” Rapidly, but trying to be subtle about it, I motioned for her to stop screaming. She wouldn’t let the door close. It fought against her grip a few times.

Then on another night, when I told my daughter—upon dropping her off after school at mom’s house, that I was going out with some new co-workers, my ex dramatically demanded to know why I was going out when I had said I’d been so busy at my new job. Her drama in front of the kids was scary—and it was causing a considerably more harm than good. It was supposed to be a “take-a-breather” month, to recuperate, to consider our thoughts. Such actions prompted more distance-is-needed thoughts. By the end of the month, it was the only option.

Undoubtedly, it wasn’t about a month’s time off, however. It had needed such closure for eons.

With that said, this journal isn’t about the end of the marriage. Writing is a means of unloading. Hitherto, the intro served as a background of what’d been happening.

What has happened since is what I need to get out on paper here. I need to experience the release.

First, it was the accusations that hurt during the initial stages of the separation, when she said such things as I was no longer family, that the kids had all the family they needed—and that I’d abandoned the family. Even though I immediately explained I wanted joint custody, and that I was happy with the schedule of every M/W/F night at my house—and seven hours on Sunday with the kids, she threw it at me repeatedly that I’d abandoned the kids—and she later told the courts that. How can someone who wanted custody and the kids so much actually be labeled as abandoning his children?

Then, there were erroneous accusations that I was “seen being intimate at bars.” Absurdly wrong. No ifs, ands, or buts about that. That was followed soon by, “Your so-called friends are being friendly” with sharing with her what I said and did. Great. I started to feel I couldn’t open up with anyone we’d previously had as mutual friends. Most of our friends were mixed-race couples with kids. That local wives were surely going to listen to everything she created, everything she alleged, was clear.

Then, there were threats. One being, “Return the passports by midnight or else Isabella won’t go to school tomorrow.” On one of the nights I was watching the kids at “her” place until she came home at 10pm from work, I decided to keep their _________ passports with my possessions and me—and I’d left their _________ passports with her. If I’d taken all, that would have been wrong. Yet she told people I stole the passports, which she told the courts, and then she told me that “the passports belong with the family, and you’re not family any more.”

That threat was followed a few weeks later by, “If you don’t send an apology to me by 1pm, I am going to call your boss.” She did. That whole saga is its own book.

A few weeks later, she sent a Thursday night email to say, “Tomorrow is ______’s last day. Make sure you get her things when leaving school.”

Unreal. When I begged and pleaded for her to reconsider, she wrote an email that said she and her parents were my children’s family and that they needed to know what family meant, so having my daughter back at home every day was best. My daily commutes with my baby girl, dropping her off in the morning and picking her up daily, to opened-arm hugs, were done. No more afternoons tell-me-about-school moments between father and daughter. She had taken that time with my girl. Left were three nights a week and Sundays for seven hours.

Her email she sent to my boss to withdraw my daughter included how she felt my boss was discriminating against her (since my boss is an expat and my wife is a local) because my school told her (after she kept wanting to interfere with my job) that it was a family issue, not a school issue.

My ex later sent me an email that accused me of having an affair with a co-worker and that school was covering it up by telling her it was personal business and not something school could handle.

Unreal.

On top of all that was the fact that she denied me access to our two accounts. She said I couldn’t take out money. And when I asked her to not use our money until the courts decided, she went ahead and accessed it, spending it on their rent for six months upfront, even though I had rent to pay and the kids were with me three nights a week and on Sunday days.

I started feeling like I was a punching bag.

She’d also kept my work-related documents, docs I’d needed to get my license renewed.  When I wrote that she cannot hold them from me, by law, she wrote back, “Sue me!”  When I said she’d hurt me professionally since my job requires certification, and that could hurt the kids, too, if I cannot keep my position, she wrote back, “Think of how you hurt the family by moving out.”

On top of that, she’s kept my memorabilia, old letters of my mother’s, etc.

And more threats ensued.

“Watch your back,” was sent twice via email.

But I kept on chugging along, not wanting to throw in the towel. The adversity was heavy and constant. No matter, I couldn’t let it all get to me.

And then in December, after I toured around an international visitor with my kids for three hours on one of our Sundays together, visiting a sightseeing hotspot in our city and going for great local food, she went bezerk. Even though we’d met five different women while on a family trip in another country just eleven months before—all through the same hospitality exchange website for travelers, she now accused me of having an affair with the traveler—and exposing my children to it, saying I hurt my kids and that I was a bad dad. Quite the contrary. The kids had a fine three hours. My daughter held hands with the woman walking up the stairs. We joked around, taking pictures together. It was just like our trip last January, but without my wife present. How that was twisted into being wrong, I still don’t know nearly a year later.

Yet that night came another threat. “If you don’t email me by midnight with a promise that you’ll never meet another _____.org traveler, I will contact the woman and tell her of your indecent behavior.”

What? Indecent behavior?

I just wanted it all to stop. It had reached the ridiculous.

Yet, three-four weeks later, when an 18-year friend from Canada came to visit _________, a woman who was married with two kids, herself, it just got worse. On the one Sunday she was in town, I thought long and hard if I should invite her with the kids. I knew in principle there was nothing wrong if she met them. Nothing. But having her return to Canada without seeing my two kids, especially because I am so proud of them, especially since they are the loves of my life and I wanted her to see them in person (compared to years of FB videos and photos) because it might be years before we meet again (it had been 9-10 already), was just to odd. So we went for 4-5 hours to a major religious temple complex and then for lunch. The kids had a fun time. No harm done. All was legitimately based on being long-time friends, i.e., all was platonic.

That night, I got a text that said, “An anonymous texter told me they saw a woman getting out of the car today.” Of course it was my daughter her told her. Then, all went haywire. More email accusations of how I was a bad father, exposing the kids to my “women” and involving them in my “affairs” followed.

Then, a threat.

“Bring back the car by Tuesday, or else. The car is a family car, and you do not have women in the family car.” None of what I wrote via email got through to her. She wouldn’t listen to the truth.

We’d already agreed via emails over the last three months that I was going to pay off the bank loan balance when January arrived.

Two days later, I pulled up that Tuesday morning to drop off my two kids at her house, on my way to work at 7am. Her parents arrived with her, extracted the kids from the back seat doors (in an effort like an Ocean’s 11 heist), and she then jumped in the car, demanded I turn it over, and then called the police.

Five hours later, with my lawyer at my side in the police station back room, with her daddy having alleged to the police that I’d never paid money for the family, nor the car, etc., I was forced to sign over the car. That whole fiasco nearly pushed me to the brink. It wasn’t so much that I lost my car (I was the sole driver; she never drove in nine years together), it was that I’d felt like I was stripped bare in the police station and that they’d fucked me with a baton.

The issues related to the language, customs, culture, etc., that were present for me, the foreigner with limited language skills, all just rushed over me, submerging me in so much doubt that I’d ever get a fair shake in this country.

I haven’t yet, eight months later.

All has gotten worse.

And it got worse dramatically soon after my car was taken.

Eleven days later, I dropped my children off (with the help of a taxi since I was left without transport) on that Saturday morning of January 18th and kissed them goodbye, saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” since it would have been my Sunday’s seven hours with daddy.   That never came.

That night, I received an email stating that I could not take them out again, that they couldn’t stay at my house any longer, that if I wanted to see them, they’d be waiting in their apartment courthouse garden for me—in her presence. Within the email exchanges the next 3-4 days were the preposterous allegations that she was protecting the children from my social life and women.

My jaw had hit the floor so many times over the last few months that when it did that night, too, while reading her email, I wasn’t surprised as much as I should have been. She’d just been building up to this all.

189 days passed before I saw my children again. 189 days. You do the math.

Yet everyone I spoke with during those six months said the same thing.

“That isn’t legal.”

“She can’t do that.”

“That illegal.”

But my response stayed the same, “You’re right, but nobody has been able to do anything about it.”

I filed forms. I went to near-countless legal aide appointments. I paid hourly consults at various law firms.

Being a foreigner in a foreign land isn’t easy at times. Try going through this ordeal. I no longer felt like a punching bag. The feeling was more akin to being one of those lifeless dummies that Armies use to practice thrusts with bayonets at the end of rifles on.

Months were spent searching for lawyers, translators, and help; immeasurable hours, on collating, documenting, translating, screenshoting, printing, sorting.

Having taken off so many days of work to attend consultations, etc., I went over my job’s limit of days off (via sick and personal days). I lost a couple of thousand in pay. I’ve spent nearly $10 grand US in total.

I was pushed to the brink a few times, but resilient as hell, thinking of my kids at each and every turn, I stepped back. Yet tears flowed continually. When I heard kids on the street playing, saw dads carrying young ones, held friends’ kids, I cried. Seeing my children’s bedroom, which stayed mostly behind closed doors for six months, brought tears to my eyes.

And this was all done mostly alone. Solo was the name of the game. After such crazy accusations at the start of it all, I went into maximum I-better-not-even-go-for-coffee-with-a-woman mode. I cancelled my Chinese tutor. I avoided chatting with anyone for too long anywhere I went. Loneliness set in on all levels.

Being forced to go cold turkey without my kids’ hugs, kisses, pecks on the cheek, pats on the arm, holding hands, etc., was the worst part of it all. When you’re a parent, that close natural bond and intimacy of the heart is so powerful. When it is taken from you, especially for utterly nonsensical reasons, it kills you. She was killing me. She knew it.

To know that I’d done nothing wrong made accepting some of it all more easy—but, simultaneously, such knowledge made it worse. Unfair it was, without a doubt.

One translation service charged me well over $100US to do a two-page document, but when I got it, I noticed a paragraph was missing (as were two small statements elsewhere). When I asked via email why they’d not translated the paragraph, she wrote, “I didn’t write it because in our culture, we do” this and that, and “I didn’t think it was fair…” That was one of the most absurd moments of this whole fiasco. Still, months later, my blood pressure rises. She manipulated my documents (the translation of) based on her perspective. Translators and interpreters cannot do that.

Court hearings (negotiations mandated by the court system here) resulted in pathetic outcomes in March, April, and May. The first she didn’t show up for. The second she left after ten minutes because I didn’t want her daddy present. The third lasted twenty minutes but she left in a huff because I wanted to address not seeing the kids and she wanted the divorce signed. Unreal.

The injunction I’d filed to see the kids resulted in a court hearing with a real judge. Though I was the plaintiff, the female judge started with my wife—who went off for me in the local language, acted dramatically, and set the tone for the rest of the hearing. The remaining 45 minutes after her charade felt more like an interrogation than my chance to press for seeing the kids. She said I was unfit, that I’d hurt the kids by exposing them to women, that I’d had parties in my house when the kids were over, that they’d returned to her house tired from lack of sleep, and that they’d been really uncomfortable on the two outings with visitors. None of it was true. Literally… nothing.

It must be mentioned, too, that for six months, I sent near daily emails and text messages, none of which were responded to. I’d written about bringing my son diapers, bringing clothes, about needing her signature to sign on to a bank account for the kids, about how much I loved them and missed them. ZERO answer.

Back on January 22nd, four days after her email stating I couldn’t take the kids any longer, she said, “We’ll let you know when we’re not busy.” She never did. That was her last message.

And at one point over those six months, she sent a 2.5-page PDF file to friends and family via former FB connections, accusing me of so many wrongdoings, stating, wrongly, that she’d supported me over all the years.

She also told the courts that my children were afraid of me.

That accusation hurt the most. My heart knows the truth, but when she said that, I couldn’t take it emotionally. She was aiming for the jugular.

Then came the positive news that I was striving for. A court order arrived that gave me M-F eves with the kids from 630pm until 8pm—and every 2nd and 4th weekends, monthly. Immediately, I jumped at the chance to contact her.

The following three weeks so no result. She changed the content of the court order with an email, explaining what would happen, most of which was directly contradictory to the court order! Yet nothing became of it.

The court order stated I needed to tell her one day in advance of a pending visit. She dictated 12 noon the day before.

The order listed “residence” for the M-F nightly visits. Although at the court hearings she’d stated it would happen in the courtyard garden (public) at their building, she dictated in email that I’d have to go into her parents’ 10th floor apartment to see them.

The court order clearly showed that she couldn’t be present during my visits, but she dictated she’d be there each time.

During the three weeks, she was a no show once, she refused my coming with a lawyer, and she rejected my entry with a friend—whom I’d brought as a witness. Even with the police, who came with me for my first Saturday pick up, which she’d made hard to arrange because she claimed I didn’t tell her by 12 noon the day before, I couldn’t enter. Her building guard said I could go solo to the 10th floor, but that I couldn’t bring the police. The cops went instead, but they couldn’t retrieve the kids without a warrant.

Three weeks with a court order and… zilch.

The bayonet bag had fallen to the floor and was being kicked repeatedly.

Incidentally, the court order had also granted calls at any time, but she made it utterly, insanely challenging to call. She demanded I notify her a day before of an exact time to call the next day. She refused giving the kids messages, saying I should just tell them when I see them on my weekends. She claimed my photo attachments I’d sent didn’t work—and then stated I could give them things in person, instead.

Her father hung up on me once, and that was followed by an email from her to apologize for him since he thought I was a solicitor trying to cheat them. Sure, a foreign guy whom you’d known for nine years, asking for the children, was a solicitor? Really? Games.

For the three weeks of the court order, my wife wrote me in her language, only. Nine years together, and she suddenly forgot how to use English—or that I didn’t speak her language that well—or read it at all, practically.

Resilient, I tried to not let it all get to me. Pushed to the edge again. Yet I stepped back again and again.

At the end of the July, there were the 4th negotiations. I’ve written about that in detail to family and friends, but suffice it to say it was overly unfair and biased. The interpreter the court assigned was horrifically incapable of interpreting. I missed 80% of the conversation. Dialogue swirled around me. I was lost. Demands were made. I agreed to paying custody in exchange to see the kids the 2nd and 4th weekend, but that’s all I wanted to agree on. I’d already told my lawyer I didn’t want to sign the divorce until custody was taken care of.

But when my lawyer stated, “Okay, we’ll sign the divorce papers now,” I sat there numb. She, the negotiator, and my wife all claimed that it had to be done, that that was the system in this country. My wife and her lawyer got up, even after we’d agreed to the kids in exchange for custody payments, and declared they were leaving, that I wouldn’t see the kids… unless I agreed to divorce.

Three days later, I attempted to file an appeal. I was rejected. I wrote all about coercion and duress. It fell on deaf ears.

My lawyer, the second since I’d fired the first for complete lack of effort (though paid up front), hasn’t followed through with my requests on a number of fronts, and one topic she has completely avoided in three messages recently.

Assassinating character might work in western courts, but here, I’ve been told, it won’t work. So I’ve got struggles to deal with even with my own lawyers and their approach.

Drama continues.

But, I was finally able to see my kids starting late in July, and I’ve had them three times at mine on weekends. Picking them up the first day was such a surreal event. My heart was racing. It was filmed. All went smoothly for the most part, but my ex stated something that got the mental cogs turning.

The Sunday night of that first weekend, she wrote an email that stated my son had a 3 cm bruise by his elbow. The tone of the email connected me to what she’d said the morning before when I went to hold my daughter, taking her from her grandfather’s clutches. She added, “Don’t hurt her.”

After six months without my children, how dare she say that to me?! I wanted to respond. I didn’t. I bit my lip.

But a week or so later, my ex included in an email—which are now at least in English since the divorce was signed, that I “tried to strangle” my daughter.

OMG.

She isn’t going there, is she?

Unreal.

There are so many aspects of this all that still can be included here, but suffice it to say that, even though I am resilient—and that I’ll persevere no matter what—the process in this foreign land is daunting.

I am afraid her father will want to bump me off, but the court refused to let me file a restraining order against her and him. That’s the email my lawyer has ignored.

Yet even though I’ve spent three wondrous weekends with my wee ones, the drama hasn’t stopped. Until a few days ago, she’d played more games and not let me call the kids. She’d demanded I’d only call at certain times, and then when I started my new school year again, being in full-day training workshops, she dictated that I call at 9am those days. In staff training workshops, I couldn’t just answer the phone, so I asked for evenings. She said they were too busy, insisting the next day I call at 9am again. And then when school started full-throttle, she told the court investigator that I’d have to call from 12-1230pm only.

Once more. Games.

Once more, the courts weren’t willing to get the ball rolling. They wouldn’t demand she let me give my kids a cell phone for direct calls. They’d not require her to provide a schedule of her evening hours and the kids’ classes (she claimed my son has evening classes, even though he is 2.5 years of age) so I know when to call and get them!

Now, I just found out from my new principal that my ex has written my job, asking why they won’t let me make calls during lunch!  Unreal.

And I’ve received notice that my school needs to withhold 30% of my wages for the next eight months, on top of the child support I am already paying, but the court document to garnish my wages doesn’t even state why!  My lawyer said that document will come later.  Unreal.

I’m now at $1800US/month gone from my paycheck, and I don’t even know why.  She’s killing me. Or at least trying to.

All is enough to make many throw in a towel. I won’t. I cannot. They’re my kids.  They’re all that matters to me.

 

 

 

 

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More Antics (or Were They)

My ex perpetrated all sorts of BS, with this experience being one of them (blogged about here). All was on video.

On the 18th of October, I went to pick up my children from their mother’s house, yet when I got there, standing about 4-5 meters from my kids, since a safe distance is needed to ensure no antics from my ex and her family (which is a long story in itself, but suffice it to say that I’d submitted a petition to the courts a few months prior to gain a restraining order against that family for a number of reasons). Although this approach worked without flaw the last 4-5 exchanges, the kids didn’t budge this time. They’d had wonderful times with their daddy on each two-day visit at his house for all six weekends since he first saw them—after six months of their mother abducting them—on July 26th, so there was zero reason for them to hesitate. Zero. For them to hesitate this time was odd.

Instead, my ex decided to take both kids by the arm and proceed to approach me, with her father walking at her side videotaping all on his iPad, causing me to back up down the sidewalk, even out into the street at one point. I needed to tell her that I’d filed with the courts to keep her distance from me. She walked further, so I reminded her again. She finally stopped, and I finally got the kids to come to me without her.

The next day, when I asked my daughter (a mere 5.5 years of age) why she didn’t just come to me, she stated, “Mama didn’t let me go.”

That’s the antics I have to deal with here, in a foreign country. Of course divorced/separated couples all over the world might go through similar situations from time to time (to varying degrees of challenge), yet, it is much worse being an expat overseas. Oh the stories I can tell.

However, there are other incredibly dramatic issues that set the backdrop of these most recent experiences. They include my ex threatening me to apologize for something by stating she’d call my boss, during our separation stage, which she did. She threatened me 3-4 other times with various actions; she withdrew my daughter from school without my consent; she refused to let me gain access to our bank accounts. She’s sent emails that stated, “Watch your back.” She called the police on me even though we’d agreed in writing to have me pay off the balance of our car loan to obtain the title, and then she told the police it was her car—and that I’d never paid for it, never put money into a bank account together (with her father stating the same, sitting next to her in the police station—when all was done in the local language). All lies.

Worst of all, from January 18th until July 26th, she abducted my kids and didn’t respond to a single communication I’d sent (email and text) to see my kids, to help them, to deliver diapers, to set up a bank account, etc. She even had her buildings security guard reject my delivering gifts to the kids after my third attempt. Then when I finally got the courts to issue a court order, she finally wrote me about seeing the kids in late June, but for three weeks, all her communication about the kids visits was in the local language—which I don’t read. During those three weeks (of the initial court order), she avoided my seeing the kids by not being in town, by refusing access to the children with my friend present, with my lawyer present, and even with the police present. She insisted I go into their 10th floor residence by myself without any witnesses to be there for me. Moreover, she’s filled countless court docs (all in the local language) with egregious, unfounded lies, aiming for my jugular, saying I have mental problems, that I have problems professionally, that I have health problems that won’t permit me to be a good daddy. And she’s accused me of trying to strangle my own daughter! So the next drama I’ll explain has all of that as a backdrop that needs consideration when reading about what happened.

On Sunday October 25th, 2014, I had an 8am pick up scheduled for the kids, but…

I went via taxi to get my children, and on the way that’s when I saw that at 737am, she wrote, “[Your daughter’s] temperature is higher than normal. Please don’t bring her around large groups, and let her get plenty of rest today. Check her temp throughout the day.”

Of course I wondered what “higher than normal” meant. If normal is 37C, isn’t 37.3C also higher? 37.5? Vagueness is a key attribute to much of the recent goings on.

I responded, “It is my weekend by court order, so I will still take the kids.”

Meanwhile, she called 8-9 times while I was approaching in taxi, still trying to text her back between her repeated calls.

Since my Windows 7 phone cannot record while I am speaking on the phone, I didn’t answer, relying on text to document all for the courts. The last thing I wanted to do was have her potentially say aggressively what I needed to do or not do without being able to record it.

Today was my school’s 10th anniversary event. I had pleaded with my boss to let me come in 30-plus minutes late since I had a kid pickup at 8am, the time the event started. All was set, but I needed to get the kids efficiently to be able to get to school 30 minutes late.

Incidentally, this past Tues I asked my ex via email if I could get kids at 715am this Saturday for “an event,” without saying what it was because I felt she’d immediately reject the idea since she knew it would put me in a bind with school (she had written my boss two months before to reveal some personal issues we’re having in the divorce phase regarding the kids and communication—writing three of my bosses in her mail, even though we’re divorced and she has no right to do that—to get my job involved, and I’ve since filed another restraining order to stop her from contacting my job). She wrote back, without answering my question, and instead suggesting 9am since “the kids sleep late now that weather is colder” (here there are still highs of 82-90F and 28-32C here). Playing difficult. She was playing games. She does all the time.

So I wrote again an email to ask for a one-time pick up of 715am for this weekend. She only replied “too early” (even though last fall she demanded a 700-730am return of the kids for 2.5 months of the initial separation-phase sharing of the kids).

Even over the last two months, I’ve had to communicate incessantly to a court investigator because my ex wasn’t letting me call my kids at times (permissible by court order), saying “the kids are too busy.” I’ve asked for five-minute calls, but she has made five minutes sound like I’m demanding 5-hour calls. It has been pure nonsense. She started by demanding that I call at 9am this school year, when that time was not possible, as I explained. She then demanded I call at 1230pm, but I had to explain to the courts that as a full-time elementary school teacher, I have lunch duty, nap duty, and various other tasks at lunch. Finally, she won’t have my kids call me back when I miss them at night, but she tells the courts she wants to ensure my bond with the kids (this comes from the woman who took my children from me—and took their rights to be with their daddy—for 189 days!). Similar antics happen all the time.

By this time (after her rejection of the earlier pick up for one weekend—and I offered to return the kids on hour earlier on Sunday night), I wondered if she knew exactly what event we were going to attend. She’d been to the same event last year (even though separated) since my daughter went to school there, too. Could it be that she doesn’t want my daughter to return to the same school where she used to go (and enjoyed doing so), where she would know teachers, where she would see her old classmates, where she would possible like spending time (and want to go back) with her daddy. Currently, my daughter goes to the local school my ex and her grandparents chose, but she used to love my school, until her mom withdrew her with one night’s notice back in November of 2013.

When she texted specifically that I should make sure my daughter stayed away from crowds, I wondered why it was she (potentially) knew that we’d be around crowds. Hmmm… Did she know that my school had a major festival? Perhaps the fact that my coworker is a childhood friend of my ex’s (and their dads were great friends) reveals why she knew the day’s plans (i.e., there would be a lot of people around).

By texting that, and not just “higher than normal temperature”, it put me in automatic doubt about whether I should bring the kids or not to such an event. But that would have caused issues with school, for they require that all staff attend the event, on a Saturday. And I’d already missed some days recently, too. My mind was in overdrive about what decision to make.

But it was MY decision to make. By court order, it was my weekend to have the kids. Even if my daughter’s temperature was “higher than normal”, I had the right to make that decision—and I wanted to see my daughter, first, before cancelling going to the school or not. Again, I was in a taxi a few minutes down the road as I was brainstorming all options, trying to text her while she was calling me repeatedly.

I texted again to have her meet me at 8am. She kept calling instead.

She then wrote a text, stating, “This is an emergency. How can you do this to your children?”

Immediately, I surmised that this wasn’t the truth of the situation. Having a “higher than normal” temperature—so “keep her away from large crowds,” doesn’t constitute an emergency. Yet, of course, she’ll now use her text to explain to the courts that she’d warned me about an emergency, yet I didn’t answer.

I responded that I wanted to see the kids downstairs (from their high rise building) at the planned place and planned time—for it was my right via court order.

Again, I wanted all documented for the courts, so I just texted. If I called, there would possibly be anger in her voice. Threats? Who knows?

Or, as I was pulling up in the taxi at 755am, I thought, “Maybe she wants to have my daughter talk to me, to have my baby girl say she doesn’t want to go.” My ex could record my daughter stating that, and then use that against me if I still insisted on picking up the kids (again, which is my right via court order). In the back of my mind, I also worried that she’ll try to throw a monkey wrench into my plans or twice-a-month scheduled weekends with my kids in the future—if I just cave in to her this one time.

[She’s already alleged that I am the one who wanted the kids just twice a month and not M-F, which is so far from the truth—which was a result of the final court negotiations fiasco in July, 80% of which I didn’t understand because it was in the local language. That was another long story in itself. But knowing she has accused me of wanting the kids less, I was very reluctant to not pick up both kids as scheduled—by court order, at 8am.]

She again wrote back that it was an emergency, adding that if I didn’t call back, it would be “consent” for my daughter to stay home. I responded in text that there is nothing in the court order that would create “consent” because I didn’t call back. I was communicating clearly via text.

It was after 8am by then. She then texted that my son could go, but that my daughter was being reluctant because she was sick. If I agreed to that, I’d not see my daughter for another two weeks. As it is, I get them 70 hours per month, total.  Even if I had to cancel the school celebration, I wanted to at least spend the weekend with her if she were really sick.

Again, I asked her to bring the kids down. I wanted to see how my daughter was. I wanted to determine myself if we could still go.

She wrote back saying, “Your daughter wants to talk to you. How can you do this to your children?”

Uggh. I responded that I had a right for the court order scheduled 8am. Whether it was they were sick, if it was raining, or if I were ill, it would still be my time to take care of them. She didn’t have a right to not bring the kids down. I still wanted to see my girl.

I wrote that I’d call the police to enforce the court order.

Now, each time of the last three pick ups, I’ve taken a taxi (after the first three exchanges were with a friend), and I’ve asked the cab driver to park just around the corner from the place I meet the kids, just in front of their complex.

So I was standing outside the cab, on the corner, 15 meters diagonally across the street from their house.

I called the police. They gave me the number for the “foreign affairs” police, which caused me to run into the convenience store nearby for a pen. I then called the second police station since they sometimes have cops who speak some English.

All this time, I had to go back to my waiting taxi at intervals to ensure the driver that she was still going to take us to my school, but the third time I just asked her to leave, paying her, of course.

The officer wanted details. We struggled through broken local language (mine) and broken English (his), but I didn’t know the address of the convenience store, so I had to wait for the clerk to get through two customers, first, before she could talk on my cell phone. What an ordeal already.

Concurrently, through the store’s windows, I saw that my ex and her daddy had come down to stand outside their complex with my son in her arms. No grandma and no daughter.

After talking with the police (and the clerk, too), I decided I’d go at least pick up my son, knowing he’d not eaten breakfast most likely, for I had breakfast in my backpack for them—and I knew that I could at least spent time with him.

She let him come to me without event, and he ran to my arms.

I hated to do it in front of my son (who is 2.5), but I said, “I’ve called the police,” and I walked away back to the opposite corner (this is city living, so not far away).

I sat with my son at a sidewalk table (outside the convenience store) and waited over 15 minutes for the cop to arrive.

When he did, I explained the background of it all and the details of the court order. Fearful that he is from this country and I am already (most likely) at a disadvantage because of that simple fact (and that some expats here do consider the locals here biased towards their own and racists towards outsiders), I said that no matter what I explain, she and her daddy will say I am a bad father, explaining to that the court docs are full of accusations. I told him they’d used “this is an emergency” in her texts, but that it was just a “higher than normal” fever (with warnings about being around crowds). That that wasn’t an emergency.

He then crossed the street to talk to them.

I watched, sitting with my son, feeding him breakfast, giving him water, etc.—then tickling him, having him bite my nose, etc., to distract him.

When the police officer reached the other side of the road, the ex and her father invited him into the courtyard area, to, I assumed all along for the 10-15 minutes, bring him upstairs to see my daughter.

Time passed.

Returning to sit down next to us, the cop said, “I saw your daughter in an iPad video.”

“Huh?”

“I saw your daughter in a video,” he resumed.

“Sorry. I don’t understand. You what?”

“Well, I saw your daughter.”

“In person? Face to face?” I queried, a bit befuddled, wondering what they’d been doing for all that time.

“No. On the iPad. The grandfather took a video.”

“Really? So you didn’t see her?”

In my mind I was wondering if this would happen in my home country.  If this was legit.  If he’d already been swayed.

“No. But on the video, your daughter looks… uncomfortable. I recommend that you not take your children.  I feel it is best.”

Now, this was already going on well past 9am. In the back of my mind I was thinking about my bosses and what they’d think (I’d already texted one and a secretary, too). For a half-day event, I’d already missed 20-plus %. With a commute of 30 minutes from their house, I was calculating how much time I was missing.

This whole time, I was 99% skeptical that my daughter was sick, knowing all my ex has done to make life a nightmare for the last 12 months (thoughts of her and her father lying about our finances in the police station on January 7th fill my head every time something like this happens; knowing she kept the kids from their daddy, though we both had custodial rights, is always on my mind), but there was, of course, a sliver reserved for the possibility she was sick.

That my ex has also claimed in emails to me that my children don’t like going to my house is also a huge factor in all of this, also—though the dozens and dozens of videos I’ve taken since our relationship was restored will hopefully counter her absurd claims.

So I asked what could work.  He stated, “You can agree to have your children another weekend.”

In broken English, he explained that they wanted to switch weekends from this to next. Now, if she had said that from the very beginning it could have diffused the situation. Sounded pretty legit, but I told the cop I needed something in writing, but in the back of my mind, I was still quite incredulous that they were ONCE AGAIN able to get the police to work on their side (for I still felt she had just created the drama of it all, starting back with the emails days before that she countered my 715am earlier pick up with a 9am response, in order to cause a problem with my morning—or because she didn’t want our daughter to go back to the school she’d liked so much; in order to create another issue that she’d say I didn’t want the kids if I conceded; that letting her change the court order would establish a precedence for further alterations to what is legally my right).

He returned to them for another ten minutes, so I texted her in the meantime to ask if they were giving up the first weekend of November to have a switch from this weekend. She agreed in writing.

My thoughts had gone to a moment in July when I’d asked the police to monitor the first exchange for my first weekend with my kids, and that they’d showed up, two female officers, yet my wife rejected my coming up with them to get the kids!  And she refused to bring them down to the security guard gate (in public).  The police were then invited into their 10th floor residence, yet when they came back after 15 minutes of talking to my ex and her parents (they live together now), their attitudes and willingness to talk to me were gone.

And in the police station in January, regarding my car, the police joked and chatted with my ex and her father for three hours.

The cop returned from their complex to verify that she agreed via text–and that I agree to the switch.

I asked for his name card. He didn’t have one.

I looked for his badge number. There was none.

He scribbled his name on a ripped corner from a scrap paper in his patrol card, in the local language, of course, and handed it over.

Thus, kissing my son on the cheek, saying I’d see him the next weekend instead, I then walked him back across the road to his mother’s open arms and with grandpa standing next to her with a smug look on his face.

The cop put his hand on my shoulder as I turned to leave, saying, “Thank you, Michael.” He then turned to them and chatted while I walked back to the convenience store.

It took another ten minutes in the store to finally call a taxi (here in this country, they can call for you from such stores as 7-11), but the clerk had 4-5 customers to take care of. Another customer (who explained in English that he’d lived in LA) came over and helped me order a taxi through a electronic kiosk through which people can order taxis (all in the local language, however).  Additionally, I then had to wait five minutes for the cab.

I left via taxi, and as we passed by her complex, I saw the police officer still chatting away with the two of them, my son in my ex’s arm, nearly twenty minutes after he’d thanked me.  If only I could know what they were speaking about.

Nearly two hours late in total, I arrived at my school for their anniversary celebration, spending the next three hours watching other staff with their baby strollers with sleeping wee ones, toddlers in tow, etc., running around, having a great time.  My kids should have been with them all.  Solo I was, again.

Receiving queries such as “Where are your kids?” didn’t make me feel much better.

At 2pm, I returned home via another 30 minute taxi ride, turned off the lights in my living room, and lay down on the couch for three hours of self-pity that my chances at court this upcoming Thursday (October 30th) are abysmally low. Given the events for the last twelve months, that she was not even reprimanded by the courts (in four negotiations and one hearing), hitherto, for abducting the children from their father (against their rights and his custodial rights to parent), with the language barrier, cultural idiosyncrasies, potential payoffs by her father, etc., I am full of doubt heading into this final few days.

I miss my kids so much. They’re my purpose. I hope further antics cease, but I doubt they will.

Why does it have to be so?

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A Letter Asking for Help…

I asked for all sorts of help (here)!

I am writing to you again as a follow up to our communication about 1.5 week ago in person and via email afterwards.  When I wrote you that the the social services’ report concludes with a recommendation that my ex-wife gets custody of my children, I didn’t clearly state what the report states, for I’ve had three translators look at it since–and they all agreed that there is a sense of negativity in the explanation of that recommendation.  From what I’ve been told, since it is in Swahili**, of course, it states that they feel it is best her family gets custody so that they can keep the children “AWAY FROM THE INFLUENCES OF DIFFERENT LANGUAGES AND CULTURES“.

I am sorry, but this seems rather biased and downright provincial.  The children are clearly bi-cultural, mixed-race children, and that should be supported, promoted, cherished and tolerated.  Years ago, at a wedding of someone in my wife’s family, one of the relatives called my daughter a zebra.  To be honest, I am afraid this is the type of attitude that may influence my children in a negative way, of course.  And I fear that if her family’s attitude is indeed to protect the children from such “influences”–and they win custody based on that recommendation, my children are bound to a life of narrow-mindedness and bigotry.

They should be allowed full access to both cultures, that of the mother and father, and bilingual education.  Even today my daughter told me that her mom now only speaks Swahili** with her at home (unlike the first five years of her life).

Is there something that can be done to ensure my two children, as American passport holders, have access to a more liberal-minded upbringing just based on the fact that they are US citizens (instead of being protected from “the influences” of their father’s culture)?  Even my direct supervisor recommended on Friday getting a human rights organization involved in this. Have you heard of such an organization that would even consider this case?

At the first litigation hearing on Thursday, it was again a nightmare proceeding.  She was not present, but her lawyer was.  He started off with the most preposterously absurd claim that I am the one lying about not seeing the children from January 18th until July 26th!!!  He claims that she let me see the children every Mon/Wed/Fri for those 189 days!  My jaw dropped.  My lawyer scoffed.  My interpreter squirmed.  But the judge didn’t make a single comment!  She is the same judge who oversaw the 5/15 hearing in which, even though I was the plaintiff who’d filed the injunction to see my kids, she started off allowing my (then) wife to dramatically attack me for 15 minutes with claims of all sorts.  This time, the judge didn’t remark on their egregious claims.  And instead of aggressively attack his allegations, my lawyer simply stated we have evidence, otherwise–yet she didn’t ask me for anything to submit to the court.

Anyway, my lawyer actually walked out to the room without stating a single thing to me (not even a goodbye) when I found out on the spot that my submission of a restraining order two weeks ago was then going to be heard as a completely separate case, and I had to physically move across the room to take the plaintiff’s spot (with her lawyer simultaneously taking my place in return); I knew it was a different case number, but I didn’t know there’d be a clearly delineated process.  Anyway, it was then me against my ex’s lawyer!  My personally-hired interpreter, who’d been sitting next to me the “first” hearing then informed me she had to go since she’d made plans for a family dinner (and didn’t know I’d have another case so late).  At least the court-appointed interpreter was there.

However, at one point, my ex’s attorney got dramatically aggressive with his claims, staring at me directly, and he commented on last weekend’s event of my wife not bringing my daughter down for our 8am (court ordered) exchange for my weekend, instead stating via text my daughter didn’t want to go since she was sick.  However, because it was legally my right to have them for the weekend (and to take responsibility of them, healthy or sick) and they refused to bring my daughter down, I called the police at 815am to help me. Their lawyer did state, “You acted in a way that is not like we do in __________.” (According to the court-appointed interpreter.) He didn’t state anything about me being an American, per se, but as a foreigner I wasn’t acting like them and how they do things.  To me, that was in an attempt to sway the judge to be biased against me because of my race/culture.

Does that count at all for something here, regarding biased treatment?  

In the end, after his rant and some related court ongoings, I was asked to sign the printed out stenographer’s transcript, but at after 610pm, her lawyer was getting dramatic about the time, leaving first, and then the female judge and two female stenographers, female bailiff and remaining female interpreter all were standing, waiting for me to sign the transcript.  The interpreter gave me a quick explanation that all that was said was recorded, but she/they didn’t have time to go through every detail (they’d already scoffed when my personal interpreter skimmed through the first case’s transcript an hour before, even provoking consternation by her lawyer and remarks from the judge why it was taking so long–and even my own lawyer snickered that I’d asked the interpreter to go through more thoroughly the document).

I apologize, Sir, for being long-winded here, but this is all a nightmare process.  I don’t believe the court’s decision (which some in my family and I already feel is in a sealed envelope already, awaiting delivery) should be based on a recommendation to protect the children from influences of language and culture (since they are mixed-race children and have a right to their father’s culture and language), and I don’t believe the court should look at me as doing things differently from what’s done in ____________, otherwise.  Is there any help here I can get?  Will a human right’s organization even listen?

Thank you,
______________

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