In my own family, and I had no idea.
Growing up, I always had a hard time explaining my family. Most of my friends grew up with both biological parents in home, or divorced parents with no step siblings. My parents are still together. I have a full brother, a half sister that I grew up with, and a half brother that I met only a handful of times when I was little. Explaining this dynamic to other younger kids was confusing.
I didn’t really ever think of my family as “broken”. After all, my parents are still together. I always considered my sister as my full sister because she had always lived with us, I don’t ever remember her going to her dads. My half brother that I didn’t know wasn’t something that I thought about often. I didn’t really understand or was even told about what happened with my brother. I just knew I never wanted to ask my Dad because it was a painful subject.
It all unravelled.
It wasn’t until I started dating my boyfriend that I started asking my Dad some questions. Knowing that he somehow ended up not having custody of his first born, he would have some insight about how my boyfriend was currently feeling, and hopefully some advice. I knew previously that his ex-wife had cheated on him and that’s why they split. I knew that the man she had cheated on him with, is now the adoptive father of my brother. Recently, I learned that when my brother was younger, my Dad had him every other weekend. My Dad voluntarily gave up his paternal rights to his son after an extended time of these every other weekend visitations. My brother would soil the bed in his sleep when he went back to his mothers from my Dad’s place, although never did it when he was with my Dad. My Dad assumed that the reason for this was due to his mother interrogating him when he came back from his visit, and in turn having anxiety that resulted in soiling the bed. He gave his rights up in hopes that my brother would no longer have to suffer the anxiety and alienation of his mother.
I recently connected with my brother. My sister, who has no blood relation with my brother, found him on Facebook and set up a dinner date. My brother was excited to meet us, although he was apprehensive. He had in his mind that my Dad was a terrible person and abandoned him. It was great to finally meet him. He’s married, step father and biological father of two little girls.
I have always been a victim.
Because the family court system so often views fathers as second class citizens, or less than mothers, I was denied the opportunity to grow up with a big brother. I was unable to watch him get married, or be there when my nieces were born.
The family court system allowed my brother to be alienated by his mother.
The family court system did not protect a good man from his bitter ex-wife.
I hadn’t realized how corrupt the system was until my eyes were opened. The corruption of the family court system and the bias towards fathers is not a topic regularly discussed. And when discussed, people automatically side with the mother and assume everything she claims to be true.