The story of Alex: from my point of view.
My senior year I began dating my husband. We had a long journey ahead, but we knew we were meant to be together. Its been a rough road at times... really rough.. This is the story of one of those really bumpy roads..
About a year after we got together we moved to Wisconsin to stay with his brother. That led to Joe and I breaking up for a few months and went our separate ways. Joe went back to New Hampshire and I went to Texas. Shortly after we reconciled, we were informed that a woman Joe had slept with during our separation was pregnant. She suspected Joe was the father. It was an incredible blow to both of us, in different ways of course. I had already suffered a miscarriage in the beginning of our relationship. It was not easy, but I had to make a decision. I decided to stay with him. In November 1995 Alex was born. A few months later Joe was asked to take a paternity test. Which really wasn't needed. The boy was an almost exact replica of his dad. This of course was very trying for Joe and I and the years that followed were very hard. We lived in Texas, Alex in New Hampshire. Joe had traveled up at times to NH to visit Alex. He struggled with the notion of doing what was right, and being a husband and father to this family, and being with me, who he truly loved. It took me many years to understand this. It was a lot of emotional pain for both of us, for a long while. I can not imagine his struggle. This is his child. During this time, I suffered a second miscarriage It was the most devastating experience of my life to this day. Not only was I feeling the loss of the man I loved with all my heart, now I was dealing with the fact I may never carry a child. The doctors had chalked it up to endometreosis, and after my 2nd miscarriage, it was discovered I was also RH-.
It wasn't till the fall of 1997 that I agreed to move to New Hampshire so Joe could have a relationship with Alex. Things were rough. Alex had a very bad home life and that was the only thing that gave me comfort in my decision. Alex NEEDED us. I admit I was extremely hurt and jealous, of her. Alex and I took to each other quite well. He filled a void I had. Several people would tell me stories of evil step moms, but I did not feel that way. My maternal instinct was very strong. He was my husbands* son. I was not the only one with jealousy issues. Alex's mother began to make things difficult for us and into custody court we went. Visitations became a power struggle, the mother would not be home when we came, or not have Alex ready. We bought Alex everything he needed to be with us, so we no longer had to rely on her for his belongings.
*(we were not married till years later, but I refer to him as my husband because that is how I see him, then and now)
We spent 2 years in New Hampshire/Vermont. In that time we developed a great relationship with Alex and I was finally able to carry a child to term. I gave birth to Jacob in December 1998. Shortly after Jacobs birth, we decided to head back south where we had a stable income. We had planned to bring Alex, but the last moment, his mother opposed. Our goal was to get settled and go back to court. It didn't take that long.. Within a month, she called and sent Alex on a plane to live with us.
Me, Alex and Joe
Alex and Jacob when Jacob was born. Urijah looks just like him
Jacob and Alex
Alex and Joe spent a lot of time traveling back and forth to visit Alex's mom. It took a toll on our family. We now had a second child, another son. We finally decided, the summer before Alex was to start kindergarten that we were not going to do that anymore. So Alex and Joe stayed the summer with us. It was the last few weeks of summer when Joe's mother called and begged for us to send Alex up there to see her at least. She even offered to pay the plane ticket. Joe agreed and sent Alex on a plane to New Hampshire. That was August 2001. We never saw him again............
We got a call and Alex arrived safely and was having fun. Things were going good. Little did we know about the plot that was boiling. A few days later we got a phone call from their attorney. Joe's uncle had petitioned for an emergency custody hearing... in New Hampshire at 2pm EST that day. Let me remind you that we were in Texas and the call came in at 10 am CST. this gave us 3 hrs to get Joe to the airport, on a plane and into the courtroom. The judge granted custody by default and Alex went to live with his great uncle and his wife.
We got notice of another custody hearing to finalize it all. But there was no way we could attend. The cost of travel and court fees was more than we could bear. Joe made several pleas to the courts but they went unheard. It didn't matter. The judge had already made his decision. Joe's appearance by phone call was just not enough. The State of New Hampshire took away Joe's paternal rights, based on nothing more than hearsay.
So what was all this about you ask. Joe's mother, brother, uncle, grandmother,cousin all got on the stand and told of horrible stories of abuse. All the ways Alex was mis-treated. Their testimony, some even quietly admitted to purgery years later, gave the State of New Hampshire all they needed to take away Joe's parental rights.
Its only fair to note two things here. Prior to Alex leaving Texas, the state where he was in fact residing, Social Services interviewed both Joe and Alex based on an "anonymous" phone call they received. They had no findings and we received a letter stating their investigation was dismissed. New Hampshire how ever, never did conduct and investigation. Other than that interview no one ever came to the home after the allegations from NH surfaced. While that may be disturbing to you, what you may find more disturbing is this. We had two other children in the home. If Joe and I had been the people they described on the witness stand. Such abusive and vile people that they deemed fit to take Joe's son from him then why would they put those other two children in jeopardy? Why was no one looking out for the welfare of those two little boys? Its simple.. Everyone one involved, from the family, to the lawyers, to the State itself, knew those children were not in danger.. They knew the allegations were false. If only I had known the law better.. If only I had had the gusto I do now...If only we had more money... I will spend forever saying.... If only..
Things started to look up, or so we thought. We were able to speak to Alex on his birthday and again at Christmas,. This of course was only to make us aware of all the material items this child now possessed. and to buy them a bit of time.
Joe and I had called and spoken to a few attorneys about the case but none would touch it with out a large retainer. Joe had began to slip into a depression and no longer allowed me to speak of the situation. He became a very angry man. Every so often I would try to make contact. I'd send certified letters which were returned. I'd call the State of NH and try to see what we could do. This usually would drive Joe into a deeper depression. I still made my bi annual calls but without Joe there was little I could do. It was a very trying time for me.. Joe was starting to become the man they accused him of.
I cant recall the dates or specifics, that is for Joe to tell, but one day he decided to give all his anger over to God. I do not know how, because I have not been able to. Not fully. I want to. I want to let go of it. I just have not been able to.
We also gave up the fight as we knew it.. We knew at this point there was no undoing what had been done and now it was our job to wait. For several years after that I continued to make my phone calls regarding Alex's new living situation. It was not ideal and in fact, border lined the type of situation which would require the state to remove a child from custody. I find it quite ironic that they would not even investigate based on my phone calls as I did not actually see these "events". This is the same type of "hearsay" they used to take him in the first place.
We have tried in recent years to make amends with the family. We have told them that it is not our intention to create division. We only want to be able to reestablish a relationship with Alex. That in the end they can still be the good guys. They cant hide him forever. This is their chance. He has 9 siblings here who know about him. Two that remember him. Its hardest on Jacob.. He was 3 when Alex was taken. For years I protected those involved. He knows the truth of it all. He is also patient. He knows he will see Alex again someday.
As for those involved, well they know Karma quite well. She has them on speed dial. I wont get into the nitty gritty because its not something I feel I need to disclose. I will say that my last phone conversation with the State of New Hampshire, they actually called me this time, I told them I am on record warning them for years. This is now on their head.
Alex turned 17 a few months go. We know the day will come when he wants to find dad. Even if its to "kick his ass" as some have put it. The truth never stays covered for long. My heart breaks for him.. To have a family who loves you so much and to not know they even exist or that they care so much about you. I am also saddened by the thought of the loss he will feel when he knows the people he cares about most lied to him for so long. I have seen a few recent photos I have been able to snag. He looks terribly sad. You can see the emptyness in his eyes. In 10 months he turns 18. I get anxious thinking about it. I hope he is able to find it in his heart to contact us. I wish he knew how much we love and miss him.
The irony in all of this, is that several years ago, the custodial uncle lost everything. His job, his home,... It was at this point, he went to the state to get welfare for Alex.. The state then began to come after us for support. Joe is required to pay money to the man who unlawfully legally stole his son. This sounds like something the mob would do. Kidnapping and ransom.
I have had this blog post in draft mode for 2 years. I have written and re-written it a gazillion times. I never had the courage to publish it. Fearful of indulging our most private matters, fearful of judgement. Fearful of putting my heart out there like this.. I still cry when I tell the story.
But I feel I had to. I feel I need to share my story. I hear so often about how innocent people have nothing to worry about. How if you just comply, things will be fine..
Don't be so sure.
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Edited to add: