I served in the Army from July ’93 to July ’07, almost 14 years to the day. I have three children from a prior relationship. I married their mother in December ’04 and got deployed to Iraq in January ’05.
Shortly after I left, my wife went crazy and started sleeping around with random people and even got pregnant by some truck driver she met. Afterwards, she and her new boyfriend got in touch with the father and got the money for an abortion.
I had to come home from Iraq on emergency leave in order to sign over guardianship of my kids to their great aunt and uncle. Then I got a storage building and tried to save all the belongings of ours that I could for when my tour in Iraq was over because my wife had defaulted on our mortgage and my double-wide was being repossessed.
After I returned to Iraq, my in-laws wanted to have the kids live with them so they got guardianship of the kids. While my kids were living with my in-laws, they were letting my wife (their daughter) come back into the kids’ lives. My wife would come back in for a while and then leave again after a couple of weeks. She had met another truck driver and was going out on the road with him. She came back again during Christmas ’05 and left again after another couple of weeks. Both visits that she was there, from what I heard, were disastrous.
I returned from Iraq in Jan ’06 and stayed with my in-laws and kids. One of my children was displaying a lot of sexual behavior and to my shock, my in-laws were accusing me of abusing them! Especially since my mother-in-law herself had told me that the behavior was going on while I was deployed. I went to social services and tried getting advice on what to do. DFACS was notified and the children were all three taken and put into foster care just three months after my year long deployment. By the grace of God they were all put together in one home with a wonderful family.
I had already started divorce proceedings and started trying to get custody of the kids. My wife and I both had a case plan which we had to accomplish in order to get custody. I finished my case plan completely before Thanksgiving and in addition had a polygraph and an examination used to identify sex offenders and passed both with flying colors. My wife refused to cooperate the entire time and never even started her case plan. I was given unsupervised weekend visits and was supposed to get full custody just before Christmas.
Then my in-laws decided they were going to try to get custody and ended up postponing court until Mar ’07. I was awarded full custody and my wife got visits supervised by DFACS. Since I was now a single parent and my unit was getting ready to deploy back to Iraq again, I didn’t have any family to be able to help with the kids. So, I got discharged in July ’07.
The instructor position I was selected for was not awarded the contract so I ended up being without a job. I worked construction for a while and then got into installation for Knology TV and Internet. I eventually got a job at a nursing home as a maintenance technician. That’s where I met my fiancé who was working there as a CNA. We fell in love and everything went great between us and the kids. She quit her job and stayed home with the kids full time.
DFACS stepped out of the case and put the visitations under my supervision with their mom. The visits weren’t being productive and all she would ever do is gossip to me and make empty promises to the kids. She was pregnant again and living with her boyfriend. We are actually still going through our divorce now because she keeps refusing to cooperate and get this settled. She was even three weeks late getting our son his birthday gift because she kept forgetting to bring it with her to the visits. She didn’t even call our youngest child on her birthday because that was around the time she was giving birth to her new baby girl. When I finally did hear from her after a month of no contact I told her that I was ending the visits with her until we could get it settled in court. That was June ’08 and she has had several opportunities to settle this and has ignored each one. She has also broken up with her boyfriend and is moved back in with her parents and is now raising her new daughter in the same situation which destroyed our marriage and caused behavioral problems for the children.
Since I got custody of the kids, I have gotten them treated for their behavior and my fiancé has nourished them and taken their education to new heights. The daughter that had the behavior has not displayed it for a very long time and has recently been accepted to a gifted students program at a school in town. My son has been recommended for it and my youngest daughter is scheduled for an entrance exam for them.
I have been struggling through temporary assignments and have recently been laid off again. I’ve been out of work for a week now but thank God my fiancé had given me the courage and opportunity to go back to school and expand my education. I am now finished with my third quarter for Industrial Maintenance at the local technical college.
Some men my have given up or given in instead of taking on three children knowing that it would end a long, secure military career just six years from retirement. I have gone from one job to the next trying to find where I fit in. I have suffered and celebrated time after time for the last two years during a never-ending roller-coaster ride of emotions. I have kept going when others would have given up because every path I have taken, in one way or another, has led me towards a greater purpose and a better life for my kids. God has put suffering in our life in order to make us stronger so that we can appreciate what we do have instead of complain about what we don’t. I believe that he will lead me to a new career when he thinks I’m ready for it and I know that my divorce will end soon so that I can marry my children’s’ “real” mother who has stood by us during the turmoil and stayed true and faithful to us.
This article is originally published at truthsaves.org