Tag Archives: Journal

Seth Romeo Singleton

To Envy Those Who Grieve

I went to a funeral a short time ago.  While nearly all funerals are sad, this one was particularly heartbreaking, as the deceased had passed away, suddenly, unexpectedly, and at a relatively young age.  A mother, still in the prime of middle age, was taken without warning.   A large and loving family had gathered from all over the United States to grieve the passing of a woman that they all had fond memories of.  Although I didn’t know the woman at all, it was obvious that she would be missed by a great many people.

While I sat and watched the family pour out their grief during the funeral, and then later the burial, a strange emotion came over me.  It was an emotion I would have never expected to feel at a funeral, and it took me some time to identify it.  It was envy.  I felt envious of the family that had gathered to mourn the loss of someone they loved so much.  I felt ashamed of this emotion at first, and I tried to bury it.  I was there to support someone who had lost a close family member, this was not the time to be focused on myself.  But later on, once I was alone, I began to reflect on what I had felt, and more importantly, why.

I obviously didn’t envy the family for losing a loved one.  I have many people in my life whom I love dearly, and I would not want to lose any of them.  I have had loved ones die, and I certainly did not want that to happen to again.  What I envied was not their grief, but rather that they were able to express it.  My sons are gone.  Not dead, but just… gone.   They are gone from my life, and the lives of my family.  When my wife filed false allegations against me, and took my children from me, it was terrible, but it didn’t feel like they had died.  It was a terrible feeling, a great loss, and it was very painful, but it didn’t feel like death, with its shock and finality and hopelessness.  At least, it didn’t at first.

Unlike with death, there were moments of brief hope.  For five long years, every occurrence was a chance at getting my sons back into my life.  Every time I went to court, I believed the judge would hear me out, and award me time with my children.  When my wife hit me with her car, I thought for sure she would be charged, and I would be able to see my kids.  When my wife burned down her house, and the arson report concluded that she had done it, I thought surely something would change.  When my daughter was taken from my wife, and I spent nearly a year EARNING her back from foster care, I believed that the authorities would force my wife to reunite us with the boys.  But each time I was disappointed.  And slowly, creeping up more and more each day, the feeling that they were dead formed like a malignant tumor, growing inside my heart.

It feels like my sons are dead.  I know that they are not, but they have been removed from my life as surely as if they were placed in wooden boxes and lowered into the ground.  No voices, no pictures, no word of what they doing has come my way.  I don’t even know what they look like today.  I know from letters that were sent to the judge, and from what my daughter tells me, that they hate me.  They think I am a terrible person, and that they want nothing to do with me.  This is all so different from the relationship we had before.  I was once their hero, their confidant, their champion – I was their father.  The last time I saw Aiden he was sick, but he insisted on spending time with me, even though he felt awful.  The last time I saw Seth, I held him while he cried in my arms, as I tried to console his fears about his parents splitting up.  Now, in their minds, I am dangerous, a cancer, someone to avoid at all costs.  Such has my wife poisoned their minds and hearts against me.

Everything I knew about my sons is gone.  Our relationship no longer exists.  The children they once were no longer exist.  It has been five years now – they are both approaching 15 years of age, well into their teens.  To me, they are still nine years old, frozen in my mind at the age I last saw them.  But the children I knew have grown up, and every connection I had with them has been severed.  Even if we were reunited tomorrow, nothing that we once had has been preserved – we would have to start our relationship from scratch.  I have lost my sons.

Throughout history, our society has developed ways of dealing with grief.  We have a funeral for the deceased.  We tell stories of fond memories with them. We look at photographs of the ones we’ve lost, and we remember the joy they brought to our lives.  We pour out our grief, and those around us acknowledge the loss, and they comfort us.  Then, as the final gesture, we lower a casket into the ground, or present an urn of ashes to the family.  The survivors go through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.  And often there is a stone at the final resting place, a marker of the one who has been removed from our lives.  I will see none of that.

I will not get to hear others laugh telling stories of my sons, or cry over how much they will be missed.  I will not be able to gather my family together in mourning, and watch a collage of photographs showing their lives.  I will not see a casket lowered into the ground, or hold an urn, as a tangible reminder that my sons are gone.  I will never allow myself to fully reach acceptance, because no matter how distant and dim hope becomes, it is always there, taunting me, just out of my grasp.  There is no demarcation line, etched in stone, no marker to indicate the day my sons were taken from me.

  My sons are gone, and I must envy those who grieve.

Stages of Grief applied to Parents Affected by Parental Child Abduction / Alienation

Seth Romeo Singleton, Aiden James Singleton, Haley Rose Singleton

This article has really helped me to understand what I’ve been going through, and to see that my emotions are normal for my circumstances.

ABP World Group - Parental Abduction Recovery & Kidnapping Recovery

June 23, 2016

Source: Medium.com

“The death of a child is indisputably one of the most incredibly horrible tragedies one can imagine. Whether by sudden accidental circumstance, or by a more lengthy cause as in illness, the loss of a child is undeniably painful to experience. Painful to the parents, parents to the family, and painful to anyone related to the child. Never knowing the laughter of that child again or the tears, the joys and the accomplishments is a pain no parent should ever have to endure, and yet it happens. No one might be to blame. It can just happen”. (Tim Line)


Imagine a similar pain and the same sense of loss, with one exception-the parent is very much aware that the child is alive.

Parental Alienation PAS

The effects of Parental Alienation, Parental Child Abduction and retention are very similar to the loss of a child in some other way…

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Appreciating the Heroes – Dawn Scott, CASA

Today I’d like to take a moment to recognize one of the heroes.  This particular person went above and beyond their regular job (which was already a noble undertaking), and took action to right a wrong and to help a child in need.  Today I’d like to thank a true hero, Dawn Scott of the Georgia CASA program.

If you’re not aware of how the CASA program works, it is one of the few things that the judicial system has actually done right.  CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate.  CASAs are volunteers, often with backgrounds in child development, that are appointed by judges to advocate for children in foster care.  Unlike GALs (guardian ad litems), CASAs are not lawyers, and they are not paid, so they are not influenced by the legal system or by money.  Their only allegiance is to the child they are appointed to.  And they usually work only one or two cases at a time, so they are not overburdened like social workers.  While their reports hold no official legal weight, judges often listen to what they say and follow their recommendations.  They are true warriors for children, and heroes in my book.

When my daughter was removed from my ex-wife’s custody by Georgia DFCS, she was assigned the standard DFCS case worker and a GAL to oversee her case.  She was also blessed in a big way to be assigned Dawn Scott as her CASA.  Dawn is a genuinely kind and attentive person, and spent a lot of time with Haley listening to her needs and advocating for her interests, like CASAs are assigned to do.  But Dawn also went above and beyond her regular duties.

When Haley was placed in DFCS custody, my ex-wife told everyone stories about her abusive husband in Florida.  The responding police officer, the DFCS case workers, the GAL, the court officials, and even the Victim Advocate at Family Menders – everyone she spoke to – either bought the story at face value, or didn’t care enough to get involved.  Except for Dawn Scott.  Whether Dawn listened to Haley talk about her father, or simply suspected something fishy in Jennifer’s stories, I’ll never know.  But she decided to dig deeper.  She began to search for information about Haley’s father online.  I don’t imagine it was hard to find.  My Facebook profile is open with pictures of my children, as well as Google +, Wikipedia, and any sites I could find to put my name out there, carefully crafted to make it easy for my children to find me and see fond memories of the relationship we had.

Dawn found me immediately, and she alerted the court about what she found.  Near the beginning of December 2015, I received paperwork from the Catoosa County Court petitioning for custody of Haley.  Of course I had no idea what had happened, and the frantic phone calls and emails began.  It took me several weeks to finally get in touch with all the right people, and no one wanted to cooperate with me.  It took me another month to learn about Dawn, and when I finally emailed her about the situation, she responded immediately.  Dawn was able to meet with me before my first meeting with Haley, and she gave me valuable advice on how to reconnect with the daughter I had not seen in three years.

Were it not for Dawn Scott’s efforts going above and beyond her already admirable work as a CASA, the Georgia court system may have never contacted me about Haley’s situation.  The time it would have taken me to find out on my own is anyone’s guess.   Because of Dawn I was able to begin the journey to win back custody of my daughter and reestablish the relationship that had been stolen from us.  Thank you, Dawn Scott.  You are unquestionably a true hero.

More information about the CASA program can be found here: CASA for Children

custody-hearing

Naming the Failures – Lt. Steve Blevins

I wrote this when I was angry.  I let it sit for a few days, so that I could evaluate whether I still wanted to publish it.  I do, and I am still angry.  I’m angry about the way the system failed my children.  I’m angry enough to name names, and today I’m going to call out one name in particular – Lt. Steve Blevins of the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department.  Lt. Blevins failed me and he failed my children by failing to perform his job.  The police officer’s motto is “To Protect and Serve”, and one would think that they would take that seriously, especially when it comes to children.  But not Lt. Steve Blevins.

On Friday, 8/28/2015, my daughter, whom I had not seen in three years, went to school with bruises on her face, arms, and chest.  A teacher noticed, and rightly contacted Georgia DFCS.  The teacher also spoke with my daughter, who did not want to disclose the abuse at that time.  But when she found out DFCS had been contacted, she told them she was afraid to go home.  DFCS then contacted Steve Blevins of the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department.  I wish they had contacted the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office instead.  When my ex-wife showed up with her mother, they confessed to abusing my daughter, and even produced a video, taken by my son at their instruction, showing part of the abuse. (As a side note, having children witness abuse of another child is a crime in itself). Of course the two of them put the blame on my daughter, but any reasonable person could see that their behavior was abusive.

It was decided then and there that it would not be safe for my daughter to return to her mother’s house.  She was taken into DFCS custody, finally free of the physical and emotional abuses of my ex.  I would like to tell you that the story doesn’t end there.  I would like to tell you that Lt. Blevins arrested my abusive ex and conducted a thorough investigation, that he contacted me or my extended family,  and that he got my daughter in front of a victim advocate to tell her story.  But Lt. Blevins did none of those things.  What he did do was write up a very vague and bland report, and called it a day.  He did no follow up with an investigation at all, but rather sat on the case for six weeks and then marked it “Exceptionally Cleared”, which is cop-speak for “We can’t technically close this case, but we don’t feel like working on it anymore”.

Contrasting Lt. Blevins’ report with the report made by the social worker shows a blatant incompetence and/or apathy on his part.  Several key parts of the narrative that justified the removal of custody, and would have supported a prosecution for a Cruelty to Children charge, were missing.  Phrases like:

“She stated they had “ganged up on her” and that is how she received the bruises on her right arm and right eye”

“Ms. Singleton [was seen] sitting on [child] while [child] was screaming for Ms. Singleton to stop”

“Ms. Singleton also said something in the video while she was lecturing [child] about “a dumbass kid””

“[Child] stated that her mother and brothers would antagonize her and then when she became so upset they would videotape her”

“[Child] stated that… her mother had taken her drawing, journaling, and walking away privileges away”

“[Child] stated that… her mother reached under her arms and punched her in the eye”

“Ms. Singleton became defensive and told Case Manager Baldridge “Just take her into foster care.  I am fed up with her”

Instead of putting these things in his report, Lt. Blevins uses language that suggests my daughter is responsible for the incident, and it’s just a simple matter of a parent being overwhelmed by an unruly child.   Although he acknowledges there are inconsistencies in Ms. Singleton’s story, he simply takes her word for it that “they were all abused by her husband in Florida”, and doesn’t bother to try and contact me.  I don’t even find out about the incident until more than three moths later, and then he ignores all my attempts to contact him at that time.  It won’t be until I am finally awarded custody of my daughter, ten months after the incident, that she finally gets an interview with an Abuse Advocate at my insistance.

Now you may be asking yourself, “Why is this guy so hung up on the criminal case?  He’s got his daughter back, so what does it matter if his ex gets prosecuted or not?”.  Because my ex still has custody of my two sons.  My sons were not only a witness to this abuse, they were a part of it.  Now, I don’t blame my sons for this.  They are children, and they act at the direction of a parent.  My ex has made them her henchmen in carrying out abusive behavior on their sister.  This is unacceptable.  And no one is there to stop her.  The boys are home schooled, and their computer access and contact with adults are tightly controlled.  I haven’t seen or spoken to them in almost five years.  NO ONE IS WATCHING OUT FOR THEM.  So because Lt. Blevins had little to no interest in Protecting and Serving, my sons remain in the home where their sister has been removed by DFCS and the Georgia Court System, with no oversight whatsoever.

Steve Blevins, you failed me, you failed my daughter, and you failed my sons, leaving them with an abusive woman who has already risked their lives with an arson attempt.  Your failure to act and follow up on this case is negligent, despicable, and shameful. You don’t deserve the badge you wear, and you don’t deserve the respect of the people of Fort Oglethorpe.

10/19/16 – Little Moments

I wanted to post something a little different today.  Most of my posts are about what has happened in the past, or what I hope for in the future.  But for this post I just want to take the opportunity to appreciate a small moment that happened yesterday, a moment I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t have custody of my daughter.

Haley went on a school field trip yesterday.  It was a long trip up to Georgia with the FFA to an Agricultural Fair.  I had to drop her off early in the morning, and she didn’t return until 8PM that night.  It was a fairly large group going, with three charter buses taking students from several different schools.  When I arrived to pick her up, it was dark.  The parking lot was full of cars, some with parents still in them, while other parents had chosen to get out of their cars and stand around the parking lot to wait.

But I’m not your typical parent.  When the buses arrived, I got up in the bed of my pickup truck.  As soon as the kids got off the bus, I hit the panic alarm.  So there I am, horn honking, lights flashing, standing up in the bed of the truck, grinning and waving my arms like a maniac.  Needless to say, Haley spotted me immediately.  She sprinted to me, laughing like crazy.

That’s the kind of moment that makes me happy to be a father.  That’s the kind of moment that helps me keep it together, when all week long I’ve wanted to fall apart.

kiss

10/10/16 – Not Ashamed

This was taken from a post by Time to Put Kids First, at http://timetoputkidsfirst.org/ . Although the words are not originally mine, they read directly from my heart.

“I’m not ashamed of the false allegations made against me, or of the threats, the restraining orders, or even the jail time I served because of my ex. In times of darkness when I feel like a failure as a parent because I am not ALLOWED to parent, those things make me remember what a great father I truly am! Though I can’t be with them, I have done, and will continue to do, everything in my power to be a part of their lives. Not everyone could live through so much.”

These words speak to me, because I have been through everything listed here.  I was once ashamed of all this.  When the false allegations were first made, I was deeply ashamed of them.  When a person is accused of something so heinous, it is difficult not to FEEL guilty, even when you’re innocent.  I had made my share of parenting mistakes, and when the false accusations came, every one of those mistakes seemed magnified 100x.  I condemned myself over and over.  I found myself confessing to the smallest infractions to anyone who would listen, trying to rid myself of the guilty feelings.  I felt like others believed the accusations as well, and I wanted to hide, to just disappear.  I found it difficult to trust anyone, even my closest family and friends.

After that, the guilt of not being able to protect my children from what was happening to them set in.  In my mind, a father should be able to protect his children from anything.  I felt that it was my responsibility to protect them, no matter what the courts or the cops said.  I spent two weeks in jail after trying to see my daughter.  It took months of therapy to finally accept that I had to release myself of the burden of protecting my children, because legally I could not.  I still don’t know if I have fully accepted that this failure is not my fault.  Even though I faced a mountain of lies and legal judgements, with the might of the police force to back them up, I still sometimes ask myself, “What kind of father am I to let some stranger tell me I can’t talk to my children?”.

But I am healing.  I am releasing that responsibility.  I am accepting that I am a good father, and I deserve to see my children, even though I am being prevented from it.  Every day I spend with my daughter proves to me that I am a worthy parent.  And I am no longer ashamed.  I do not own those lies – my ex does.  And I will not hide any longer.  The truth is on my side.  The courts do not know what is in the best interests of my children, I do.  And I will never stop fighting for them, whether they know it or not. family-at-epcot

Seth Romeo Singleton

10/04/16 – Extended family

I’d like to reminisce a little bit today. This weekend I was given a picture that was taken a long time ago. It was Seth’s adoption photo. In it are many people my children will recognize. Starting from the left, they would be familiar with their mother’s parents, Cheryl and Romeo Gil, with their Uncle Steven standing behind them. Then comes Seth, being held by me. He was so small! But even at that size, he had a big personality. Their now adopted sister Haley is standing in front of me. Hard to believe she was once that short; she is as tall as I am now! I suspect she will eventually be taller than me.

Next to Haley is her brother Charles, who we were also fostering at the time. I don’t know how much they would remember of Charles, since he was removed from the home when I was away at Basic Training, shortly after this picture was taken. Jenn accused Charles of some pretty awful things. In light of what happened to Haley and me, I have to wonder if any of those things were true. It seems just as likely now that Jenn simply did not like Charles, and wasn’t able to parent him in the controlling manner she preferred. I suspect she made up those horrible things about Charles, so that he would be removed from our home “for the safety of the family”. I’m sure that would sound familiar to Aiden and Seth. I wonder who will be next?

Then we have Jenn holding Aiden. Aiden was so happy to be gaining a brother! I hope he’s just as happy about it now. I’m glad they are still together, at least. Behind Jenn is the judge who granted Seth’s adoption to myself and Jenn. Standing next to Jenn is my mother, who the kids called “Grandma Jane”. She misses Aiden and Seth as much as I do. She was thrilled to finally be able to talk to Haley again after so much time, and I know she’ll be just as excited to talk to her grandsons one day. Finally behind Grandma Jane is my Aunt Anna, and her daughter Peggy. Haley was finally able to see them this past weekend.

At one time this family was all together. While we lived in different places, there was nothing stopping any of us from picking up a phone and calling, or making a trip to see another part of the family. At the very least, the children had unfettered access to all of their extended family. While Jenn and I separating was going to be difficult and painful no matter what, my intention was that it be as easy as possible on the children. Our marriage may have been broken, but there was no need for the children to lose so many people who loved them. I know I could have swallowed my pride so that they would still have their entire family. It’s hard to believe that one person would want to cause so much unnecessary pain. It is my greatest wish that ALL of my children will be able to see ALL of their family again one day.scott_singleton_aiden_haley_seth

Seth, Haley, and Aiden with their Uncle Scott.  He misses them very much as well.