Thursday, October 8, 2009

Single Mom's Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama:

I was lucky. I was raised in a two parent home. My daughter doesn’t have that privilege, but it isn’t because she chose it to be that way. Her father stopped communicating with me when I was just over a month pregnant. I later learned there was someone else. He made the decision to be with someone else and not to be involved in his daughter’s life.

When she was born and just before turning one month old, he wanted to see her. I let him. I also heard how he was going to be involved and be there for her and make sure she knew she had two parents that loved her. My daughter is now almost six months old and we have not heard from him for months. When I called him to see if he was going to even check on her, he hung up on me.

During his initial visits that lasted a period of two weeks – he didn’t even bring a teddy bear. He didn’t bring a box of diapers. He didn’t bring her any clothes. He didn’t leave any money for her care. He went to her first month check-up and didn’t even pay the co-pay. He also wasn’t there the nine months I carried her to check and see how things were progressing – he didn’t see an ultrasound, listen to her heartbeat, or even help decide what her name would be.

I filed the necessary paperwork with my county to initiate support payments. I was told it would be a long drawn out process because of lack of resources and the fact her “father” lived in another state. I have his address, his last known employer, his phone number, his social security number, and even his criminal record. My daughter’s needs cannot be put on hold for a long drawn out process. I told them to pull my papers – chances are I will not receive anything anyways due to the fact he takes a “lay-off” from a union position when he sees fit – usually during hunting season in the past.

Just about every Wed. evening I hear he can be located at a local establishment for beer and wings night. Every Wed. evening, I am playing with my almost six month old daughter, changing her, rocking her, feeding her, bathing her, and nurturing her. Some of those things cost money – not to mention the roof over her head, the warmth in the winter months coming, the electricity, and the food she is about to start getting.

Ohio law says that parents are treated as equals when going for visitation rights. That means if I do file for support again, he has the right to petition for visitation (which he has threatened – mentioning he will take her to WV and I have no say what he does and where he goes with her – I would be fine with that if he was a responsible father, not an alcoholic). I would hope the courts would look at his history and not grant anything more than a supervised visitation. There is no guarantee. Even better, if I didn’t file until she was over a year old – the courts still say we’re treated as equal. Where was the equality in carrying her 9 months and the things I endured? Where is the equality in the money I spent on Dr. visits for pre and post natal care and now well visits? Where is the equality in the money it took and is taking to raise her during that year and right now? And yet if I do file and he does not pay – nothing happens. They may issue a warrant for his arrest once it reaches a certain dollar amount – but they will not go after him, even if they know where he is.

Why does the system let unsupportive parents get so far behind there is likely not a chance of recovering any of it? Why does the system allow parents to not equally share in the responsibility they both created? Why does it matter the unsupportive parent is working for minimum wage and can’t afford support – the supportive parent has to find a way to make ends meet. In my case, the “father” (when working) makes $25+/hr.

Growing up you learn to vote or contact your legislative leaders if you want something addressed. Check. Done that. Received a standard form letter back saying thank you and currently there is no legislation active. Exactly! My letter asked that you review updating legislation that was created many years ago and is ineffective. Thanks Senator Widener for nothing.

With this issue being nationwide, why isn’t anyone addressing it? How can it be said that identifying and exposing “deadbeats” can be harmful to the children? (Lifetime has opted to not air a show called “Deadbeat Dads” because of Fathers & Families protestors) It is just as harmful when children are slighted of better educational opportunities or material things they could have, even the basic necessities, because they are not receiving the support which would eliminate identifying and exposing “deadbeats.” There are so many avenues to do this – taxes, driver’s license, new hires -- any kind of database utilized when obtaining information. Eventually the unsupportive parent will perform an activity that is recorded and that’s when they should be stopped and enforcement made.

If the unsupportive parent is unemployed – it should be made they have to take a job, any job that produces income and that income should be given directly to the child’s account. If they were not giving in the first place, they are not going to miss the money they are now receiving because they are forced to work. Wouldn’t this help out the economic situation? Wouldn’t this help out welfare? Wouldn’t this help out society in general? Money used for aiding supportive parents could be reduced if the unsupportive parent was forced to meet their obligation and responsibility.

Maybe I’m not getting things across clear, but the links below are to a couple of single mom’s blogs, of which two are letters to President Obama – raised by a single mother. If the local legislature will not help – who do we go to? Is anyone ever going to address this issue?

Jan Jacobs