I know I’m probably the last person you want to hear from, but I felt compelled to write you this letter. Your grandfather is dying, you have a five-year-old brother and two step-brothers, and though you no longer share my name, I still miss you and think about you all the time. You need to know this and so much more.
Twenty years ago, I found out I was going to be a dad and I was both excited and scared. I worried if I would be a good father, if I would be able to take care of you, and if I had any business bringing another life into this world; but once you were born, all of those questions disappeared the moment I saw your face. I knew I loved you more than life itself and I vowed to do anything and everything to keep you safe. Never in a million years would I have believed that my love for you would be put to the test, but it was. I never believed I would be forced to prove that I could be a good father to you, but it happened. And I never believed in an evil so uncompromising that it would force a man, me, your father, to walk away from his sweet, beautiful child whom he loved so much.
I found out that such an evil exists and my life has never been the same since.
This evil that I speak of is one so strong that it can turn lies into reality and makes the truth seem like lies. This evil cares nothing for anyone but itself, and it is aided by a legal system that profits from the misery it causes between children and their fathers. The pain, the anger, and the complete devastation committed by this evil has gone unchecked, aided lawyers and courts and the so-called laws they’re designed to enforce.
You know this evil, dear daughter… it is the evil that came from the people who told you I didn’t love you, and that I left you. It is the evil that took you from me no matter how hard I fought.
It was they who demanded sole legal custody of you; they even told the court that it was the “only reasonable solution.” To further show how reasonable they were, they also said that I was a horrible person who wanted to hurt you. This didn’t bother me because I’d heard these lies before. Unfortunately, it was what you said, dear daughter, that hurt me the most. When you said that you were afraid of me and didn’t want to see me anymore, I realized that I no longer had a place in your heart or your life. I flew over 2,300 miles to fight for you, yet in that instant, I realized that anything worth fighting for was long gone.
Losing a child is every parent’s biggest fear and this evil forced me to face that fear. They not only made me stare that fear in the face, they made it a reality… one that I’ve had to live with for nine long years and counting. I hope you never live to understand what it’s like to have the one thing you love more than life itself just taken away from you for no good reason. At least you were happy, though. You seem to be living quite the wonderful life and I’m happy for you; I’m reminded once again that life goes on.
If you’re still reading this, dear daughter, I would like to leave you with this offer: if you ever want to know the truth about everything that happened between us, I would love to have the chance to tell you. I’d be glad to show you the stacks of paperwork – the letters to judges, the Governor and the Friend of the Court – as well as the attorney’s bills, that show a desperate father trying to do everything he could to keep his daughter in his life. I know you once told me that you don’t want to talk about the past because it’s too painful, but there’s so much more to our story than you’ve ever been told, and it’s equally painful for me not to talk about it. In the end, I will respect whatever you decide. Just know that I am here and I haven’t forgotten you, and I haven’t stopped loving you.