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Please Help James Rhoades

March 31, 2008

It may be too late to post this, and if it is, James, please accept my heartfelt apology. I don’t check my gmail account as often as I should.

I had a conversation over lunch last week with a dear friend. She and I often disagree with one another and, because of our differing views, we often have deeply passionate discussions. But even if we still disagree at the end of the conversation we walk away knowing we love each other. We’ve been friends for too long to let political views or other highly charged subjects get in the way. And I adore having those kinds of conversations with her. Iron sharpens iron, you know.

Anyway, we had a long conversation about James’ ordeal, and I’d like to share the way the discussion went, because I think it illustrates exactly why James is in this situation.

When I brought up the comments James posted last week, and asked her thoughts on them (because she reads the blog), her immediate response was, “He should just leave the poor kid alone until he turns 18. Then if he (the child) decides he wants to pursue a relationship with James, so be it.”

I was immediately taken aback. Really, truly taken aback. Mostly because I hadn’t expected this argument from her. I honestly thought we’d be on the same page. I asked her why she thought what she had just expressed. She explained.

“Well, the child is in a nuclear family. He has a Mom, a Dad, siblings. It’s a stable environment. I think that’s what is best for him.”

“How do you know?” I responded. “How do you know that it’s a stable environment? How do you know that they’re not child molesters, or abusers, that they don’t fight all the time, that they have a healthy marriage, that the child is even having his needs met? How do you know that James wouldn’t be the better parent in this situation? Just because he’s not married and doesn’t have a nuclear family?”

She thought about that for a minute, then said, “I don’t. I don’t know. I guess I didn’t really think about it that way.”

I went on to tell her that Family Court was in place specifically to answer those questions. I explained that the child’s mother, her husband, and her husband’s father, had successfully legally stonewalled James for quite some time, that although DNA testing proved that James was the child’s father, this ancient law on the Kentucky books was allowing the mother to keep James and the child from each other. I asked her to consider what might happen if the roles were reversed.

Let’s say that James was married and the mother was not. Let’s say that shortly after the child was born, James went to the hospital and took the child. Because he’s the father, you know, he would be allowed to do that. Let’s say that he and his wife reconciled, or agreed to stay together for the sake of their existing children, and the mother was unmarried. Let’s say he spent the next year of that child’s life denying the mother access. Let’s say that he passed his wife off as the child’s “real” mother because it was best for that child to stay in a nuclear family.

There would be outrage the likes of which we have never seen! How dare he keep that child from his mother! Barbaric! Awful. The public outcry would be massive. The courts would have no choice but to intervene. James would be villified for using the legal system to keep them apart. His reputation would be sullied. His name would be slandered. How dare he?

And yet, that’s exactly what the courts have allowed. Only in this case the child is being kept from his father instead. Is it somehow less impactful to the child? Since it’s only his father?

I then went a little further to examine James’ options here. Because the child’s mother wants James out of the picture, she is, of course, not asking for child support. But if she wanted him in the picture, if she wanted his money, she would have the right to ask that James pay it. She would have the right to request the DNA test, if James denied that the child was his, and pursue him for the money, garnish his wages, have him put in jail for non-payment if he could elude the garnishment, whatever other punishment the court might see fit. If she wanted him in the picture.

Because she doesn’t want him in the picture, because she wants to pretend that she can continue her life as it was before she met James and they conceived this child, she can legally keep him from the child. Does that make sense to you? That fathers, biological fathers, have no control over their own destiny as it relates to their children? That this man could either be fully responsible for this child, or could be kept from ever seeing this child until the child turns 18, at the whim of the mother? That seems like an awful lot of power to grant one parent over the other.

Under normal circumstances, they would have gone to Family Court, and likely James would have been granted liberal visitation unless she could prove that he was somehow unfit. In this case, the mother, because of the legal pull her family has, has acted as his judge, jury, and executioner. She has made the decision that James will not see his son, and his son will not see him.

That decision, and the fact that the court system is continuing to allow her to keep his child from him, is frightening to me. It is frightening to me that a biological parent could be stripped of his rights by the other biological parent. It is more frightening to me that this is happening to a father, because we would never stand for it if James were instead the child’s mother. I have two boys and I don’t want to see them grow up and face this kind of pain. Should they marry, or not marry, and be 50% of conceiving a child, I would never want them to go through the unimaginable pain of not seeing that child, not being able to be a part of that child’s life. I wouldn’t want that for my boys. I wouldn’t want that for anyone’s boys.

More than that, stripping a biological parent of his/her rights without cause seems to be a horrifying slippery slope. What will be next?

My last point was that, if the child grows up and discovers that his stepfather is not his biological father, he will have questions. And what will he think if James gives up? Will he believe that James did it for his own good? Or will he feel like he missed a huge piece of his life? Would he be glad that James just “let him be”? I don’t think so. I think it would mean the world to him that James fought to see him, to be a part of his life.

On the face of this situation, it seems natural to assume that the child is in the best situation, right? It does. Nuclear family. Mom, Dad, family dog, siblings, whatever. But it’s important to note that the only person who has decided it truly is best is the mother. The courts have not decided. There has been no child and family investigator appointed. James and his son have had no chance whatsoever to even explore a relationship with each other.

James is his biological father… of that there is no question.

The only remaining question, then, is how much power do we give mothers over fathers? In this case, she has the ultimate power. Why? Because she has a uterus? Again, if the roles were reversed, we would be outraged at a father keeping a child away from his mother. Why do we not feel the same here?

Please, urge the courts to give James his due process. Urge the courts to give James and his son the chance to know each other. Because that boy needs his Daddy, whether his mother thinks so or not. And lies have a way of being found out eventually. He will know eventually that his mother lied to him and he will be damaged by that.

In the greater picture, urge the courts to treat fathers equally. Don’t let them grant this kind of power to mothers, because all of our children will suffer.

An excerpt from an e-mail that James sent to me:

The Kentucky House just passed a bill that would allow me to re-petition for custody and visitation with my son. So I need your help. If the Kentucky Senate does not push the house bill thru before April 1st it will be dead.

Please call 1-800-372-7181

And ask the Kentucky Senate, Senate Committee on Committess, and Senate Judiciary Committee to push and pass HOUSE BILL 685 before the end of this session. Tell them you are in support of HB 685 and you support equal parental rights.

They will ask your name and address, and it does not matter that you don’t live in Kentucky. Please, please, please help me, for I love my son and want to see him. They take calls until 11pm eastern.

Please do.

And please check out his blog. All of the information is there–the good, the bad, and the ugly.

James needs our support.

Fathers and children everywhere need our support.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. lyndaspix permalink
    March 31, 2008 9:14 am

    I made my call to support equal parental rights!!

    James, you and your son are in my prayers.

    Stephanie, thank you for speaking out for your friend!

  2. March 31, 2008 9:23 am

    I believe in equal parental rights and father’s rights and I made the call.

    However, I’ve read through James’ blog and it is unsettling to me on many accounts. It’s unsettling that a mother would fight to so hard to keep the father away. I have to ask, what is her motivation? We are not given this motivation in a fair environment. This is where the court system knows more than I do. His blog is unsettling to me because it comes across as stalking in its rawest forms.

    I hope, for the young son’s sake, that sanity can win and the child is given a happy, healthy, safe, place to love all adults involved.

    -d

  3. March 31, 2008 9:51 am

    Stephanie, that’s great of you to post this. I called the other day and the folks who answered didn’t care that I didn’t live in Kentucky.

    -d – I agree with you that it is unsettling… but I can only imagine how James must be feeling. He at least deserves to have an opportunity to see his son.

  4. March 31, 2008 11:13 am

    Thank you to everyone who called.

    I must admit, I don’t see my blog as stalking. Rather the only tool I have to apply pressure and reveal the truth about those who hold my son captive. It’s hard when your child’s mother, her accomplices, and the Court system cut you off from your son for a year (and for NO reason). I’ve went a whole year without any information about my son and his well being or development. And this is after numerous requests.

    And to set the record straight, she has only let me see my son for 45 minutes in 18 months. Once for 15 minutes, after 6 months of alienation, in an attempt to get me to sign an unfair parenting agreement (they dangled my son above my head) and another time for 30 minutes in order to have a child psychologist write a report in their favor (5 goons watched me and my son in a hotel lobby). To me that is unsettling! It’s not easy just sitting by for months and months waiting for someone to do the right thing, heck I tried that for the first 7 months.

    Again, my son and I appreciate everyones’ prayers during this very very difficult and unsettling situation.

  5. Emma permalink
    March 31, 2008 12:05 pm

    I live in KY. Just called and left a msg with my Senator in support of the bill!

  6. cassee01 permalink
    March 31, 2008 12:42 pm

    In regard to your friends assertion that they are a nuclear family and stable – I have to say that considering the husbands attitude toward the father how does he really feel about James’ son? I know I couldn’t walk away if the situation were reversed. I also find it odd that this cases hasn’t received more publicity.

  7. March 31, 2008 1:05 pm

    I called yesterday, James, after I read your post.

    I wish you the very best in this situation. I think Steph has raised some really interesting points, but I do agree with -d’s commentary on how ‘unsettling’ your blog can be. Chronic, heart-wrenching pain tends to unsettle us all.

    Good luck, James. I really hope you see your boy soon.

  8. March 31, 2008 1:12 pm

    Dear God! Was I that blunt? “He should just leave the poor kid alone until he turns 18. Then if he (the child) decides he wants to pursue a relationship with James, so be it.”

    So sorry if I was…(wouldn’t be the first time I opened mouth-inserted foot).

    After our discussion, Stephanie opened my eyes to the plight fathers have in this world (as if her family’s situation wasn’t enough, right?). We so often hear of “dead beat Dads” and fathers who shirk responsibility, that the father who DOES desperately want to be in their children’s lives comes as a breath of fresh air. Which is sad. Fathers absolutely deserve participation in their children’s lives and mothers that assume differently should be duly chastised. Thanks to the 60s and beyond, there are too many controlling women out there, if you ask me. (Oops, another foot-mouth incident?) Sheesh. Maybe I should just go now and take a bath and be with my thoughts.

    James – you and your son are in my prayers. It’s after working hours east coast time, but I will call on your behalf as well.

  9. March 31, 2008 1:22 pm

    I just called — they were still open.

    James – I visited your blog (there’s no space for comments) and the TV clip was heartwrenching. Interesting that the clip highlighted your case (biological) vs. the other man’s case (psychological) in the same KY Supreme Court hearing.

  10. March 31, 2008 2:19 pm

    I just watched the TV clip as well.

    It pissed me off.

    The attorney has a lot of nerve making moral judgments about the affair and then only applying that morality to James. Julia Ricketts bears as much responsibility for that affair as James does.

    Whether the Ricketts like it or not, James has a right to see his son.

    Whether I like it or not, BM has a right to see her boys. While biology doesn’t assure good parenting, it is a place to start. People should not be unwilling forced completely out of their child’s lives. (Divorce already forces parents out of their child’s lives part-time).

    To me, the TV clip exposed how flawed our system is. It compared apples to oranges and it is how attorneys convolute things causing so much injustice. The second man is an established parent (much as a stepparent would be) due to his emotional commitment to the child in question. It is for that child’s benefit to maintain contact. THIS IS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT than what is happening in James’ case. Due to his marriage to Mrs. Ricketts, Mr. Ricketts will have a parenting role—-but it should not be at the exclusion of James.

    I’ll be calling KY shortly.

  11. March 31, 2008 2:26 pm

    Next week on Thursday April 10th at 9:30p.m. eastern I’m scheduled to be on Rick Wright’s Outside the Wire. This is a nationally syndicated live conservative talk radio show. I’ll be on for a 1/2 hour and my show will be followed by Glenn Sacks from 10p.m. until 10:30p.m. I’m sure Glenn, as a fathers’ rights advocate, will have plenty to add to the topic, for he’s very familiar with my case.

    The show is based in Jacksonville/St. Augustine Florida and is also broadcast in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Pensacola, and other parts of Florida, New York, New Jersey and South Connecticut.

    I’ll be posting the call-in number on my blog sometime next week and will be posting the show podcast the day after the show.

    Thank you again for all your prayers and support. And I’d like to especially thank Stephanie, who is such an incredible person!

  12. March 31, 2008 2:48 pm

    I called.

  13. March 31, 2008 3:31 pm

    I will call too. Even when there is no evidence whatsoever that a father is not a good parent, I’d hardly call the time most of them get with their kids “liberal”. A few days a month, after they spent every day with them, is obscene, and so is any mother who blocks a father from his own kids. I can’t think of anything more shameful.

  14. Kelly permalink
    March 31, 2008 4:12 pm

    “My last point was that, if the child grows up and discovers that his stepfather is not his biological father, he will have questions. And what will he think if James gives up? Will he believe that James did it for his own good? Or will he feel like he missed a huge piece of his life? Would he be glad that James just “let him be”? I don’t think so. I think it would mean the world to him that James fought to see him, to be a part of his life.”

    I spoke to this very thing within a comment I made over at “A Stepmom’s Say” in her post titled To Share Or Not To Share.(Read there for a more complete background.It’s lengthy) As a child, roughly age 2, my husband was denied his biological father by his mother, was later “legally” adopted by a man she married and was raised as his son. (This “legal” adoption was filled with fraud.) My husband found out he was adopted in his teens through a venegful relative. He was later united with his biological father at age 18 and they developed a warm and loving relationship. (Ultimately his mother assisted in putting the two together.) I just want to say….. as a child growing up my husband had a very happy life. Ignorance was bliss. But when the secret was revealed….. It changed everybody’s life forever! The betrayal my husband felt, the years my husband lost with his father….. It still haunts him to this day. Just deep and profound sadness. And the relationship with his mother, while not lost, has suffered. James….. keep fighting. Always. Someday your son will know.

  15. Motherof3 permalink
    January 20, 2009 4:36 pm

    First of all no courts can DENY Mr. Rhoades the FACT DNA says he IS Julian’s daddy. Honestly the only reason the courts should deny Mr. Rhoades to be in Julian’s life is IF he is proven to be unfit too be in the little boy’s life. Obviously they haven’t done that. Both parents made a life altering error by having an affair. It’s out in the open and time to get over it and do what is next. What is next is taking care of Julian. I KNOW first hand from experience how crushing it is to think someone is your dad just to find out he isn’t your real dad and you’ve been denied the right to your real dad. Some situations the child should be withheld such as the dad going in and out of the child’s life,he’s abusive,or is a time and time again criminal. Enough already! That is just as painful to a child. This man wants in his child’s life so LET HIM!
    There are too many men out there that as soon as they hear “I’m Pregnant” they haul butt as far away as they can get. That little boy needs all the love and care he can handle. If that means by mom,dad, and stepdad,then DO IT! There’s far too many UNwanted children in the world. There’s too many thinking of only themselves and very little about their children. Then when their child turns bad they look around to point a blame finger at someone else. It’s quite selfish of Julian’s mother and stepdad to keep Julian from his daddy. He will grow to resent both of them. Blogs and reaching out to the public and higher ups is a very good way to prove to him that daddy didn’t give up on him,the Justice system did. There’s no justice in this when you deny a dad from his child all because you are too busy thinking about yourself and how it might mess up your perfect little family you should have thought of before bringing another INNOCENT child into your life. I’d like for his mother to talk to my 16 year old son who I raised alone for sometime until I met my husband. I told my son’s “dad” we(not I) are pregnant. His words “It’s not mine!” He left. I offered him to see his son after he was born and he ran. My son has been angry at him for many years and my son hates him. Hates a man he has never met. I’ve tried to sugarcoat that hate into forgiveness,but the damage is already done and has had too long to scar him. She better wake up and get with it and do the right thing before her son ends up hating her for keeping him from his real dad. Different ordeal but same results I am afraid.

    Good Luck Mr. Rhoades. I truly am sad for your little boy. I know if this doesn’t work out where everyone can come together,your son will carry much anger and pain around for a very long time.

    Motherof3

  16. Motherof3 permalink
    January 20, 2009 5:24 pm

    I understand your point in your blogs,but honestly I think some of what you have in there is only tossing gas on the fire. I don’t think it provides much sympathy from many people by posting her picture all over nor her husband’s, and in so many words you have bad mouthed them. I don’t know them and never heard of them until now. It didn’t do much for me to see some of the content you’ve put in your website. Perhaps a small suggestion to remove pictures that are not of you and your son and to refrain from showing your anger at the mother and her husband on your blogs. I don’t think your son would appreciate it if he was able to see it and grasp it. It makes you come off as it is more “payback” towards the mom than it is about the love for your son. It is a very upsetting and serious matter,but show it with hope and patience,not anger and revenge.

    Best Of Luck!

    Motherof3

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