Fighting for Fatherhood

by Michael Brown

I came to the city in 2007 because I have two boys. I was driving trucks countrywide for work. So I came to the city to be around the kids, they needed someone stable around. I took a job at Fort Miley VA hospital, I met a young lady who worked there and we ended up having a child. Once she had a child she went back to college, she got a degree at SF State. In 2015 she got a job and left Fort Miley. Around that time we broke up. 

When I left her I ended up homeless, and that’s how I met Stanley, who taught me the ropes while I was staying at Next Door. I was scared, didn’t know how I would make it. But after a few years I got my own place. I was dealing with the loss of my family, my son and my ex-girlfriend who wouldn’t let me see him. So I went to family court to explain to them what was going on. But instead of helping me out they gave her full custody, and made me start paying to see my son. So I wasn’t just paying, I also had to take drug tests. And I had to do supervised visits. 

Parenting is my joy, I’m a good parent, but they took that from me. I did this for two years, but every time I made a contract, they would break it. Two years of paying for supervised visits, 24 drug tests, all clean. They would give me one day with him when they agreed to two days. I jumped through all the hoops and it still didn’t matter, they wanted more. And you know, we were in a cement room with toys on the floor and a two way mirror. When I told them I couldn’t keep paying for visits they stopped letting me see my son at all. 

To this day I have no contact with my son, no phone calls or anything. This is practiced nationwide, keeping fathers from their sons. They give the judges immunity, and allow them to rule by presumption. Presumption is the new prejudice; he is allowed to be prejudiced legally. But now a 9-year old boy hasn’t seen his father in three years, and no one cares. 

So this gives me a feeling of powerlessness. I’m a disabled vet, I pay taxes. I’m invested in these systems that do nothing for me. The attorney that I used to have took my retainer and then showed up to court on Monday just to accept a bad deal that I didn’t consent to. So I went and got another attorney, and I give him a retainer, and by the time we went to court I ran out of money, so he left, and just kept that money. And the third one got $1,500 off me too. 

But in spite of all of this, I have still made a home for myself. He has a room at my place that he’s never seen. It’s got toys, got a guitar, and he’s never even seen it. And I brought all this information about how she is lying about me, but they are stuck on punishing me and my son. And three years is a long time to not see your dad, when you’re a kid. It feels like yelling into space. 

If I saw my son today, I would want to heal. I would want to show him we’re family. I would give him a hug, eat some food, and just let him talk to me.