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Below is the anguished and angry letter of a Fathers & Families member. His story is our story. It reminds us why we fight for the simple, natural right to share in the care and upbringing of our children. The author, Phil, is a serious, responsible father who served his country for many years as a Marine. As a long-route pilot for American Airlines, he is now entrusted with the lives of hundreds of travelers every day. Yet the courts have entrusted the custody of his sons to their knife-wielding mother. Read Phil's story to remind yourself why we fight, and then make a tax-deductible gift HERE to Fathers & Families, as Phil often has.

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I am the father of Mark, who was recently arrested in a vandalism incident. I do not know if my son is guilty or not, but he is responsible for his actions and decisions. Nevertheless, as Mark"s "non-custodial' parent, I am writing this letter in absolute and utter disgust that I discovered his arrest only through a third party despite my longstanding efforts to be a positive force in his life. My disgust is directed not towards my son, but to the anti-father values that have developed in the State of Massachusetts. Over the past 15 years I have been before the Family Courts over 30 times to beg and plead that my parenting time with my sons be upheld. I am a fit and loving parent, responsibly employed, without any black marks against me. Time and time again the Family Courts refused to enforce their own visitation orders and over 85% of my visitations were prevented by their mother. Yet the courts did nothing. I was reminded by the courts that except to provide child support I was an inconsequential and unimportant part of my children"s life. My children had a parent and that was their mother, my court-ordered time with them was a "privilege' for me, not parenting time for them. I am disgusted with every teacher, judge, police officer, lawyer and case worker that has been involved with my son during the past 18 months and who has witnessed his decline academically, socially and into depression without once trying to contact me. Not one of you stopped and said, "Where is this boy"s father?' Why did the teachers not contact me when my son"s grades began to decline and they saw changes in his personality? Why did the police officer not call me when he learned of my son"s home situation a year ago, when he was arrested the first and second time? Why didn"t DCF call me when they were informed of the situation? Why didn"t anyone in the court system inform me that my 17 year old son was facing criminal charges? Why didn"t the Judge ask, "Where is this boy"s father.' And why did he never enforce my independent ability to parent my child? Are you all brainwashed to believe that fathers are not important and have no influence in a young man"s life? In 2005, DCF confirmed abuse of both boys by their mother, abuse that included wielding a knife against Mark"s twin. Yet the Family Court judge continued Mark in the custody of his mother. When I learned that Mark"s grades were slipping, I made contact with his school but was told that they only wanted to deal with one parent, not two. I spoke with the arresting officer and discovered that for the past year they had been to the mother"s residence repeatedly for domestic disturbances, and that nearly a year ago they had contacted DCF to get Mark some protection against the violence. I was never contacted. In the past 24 hours since I have learned of my son"s incarceration, my employer, American Airlines, has approved my son to attend one of this country"s leading programs for young men of his age. This is a highly successful 60 day wilderness program for troubled youths 14-24 with one-on-one counseling addressing the youth"s issues and designed to instill self-esteem, integrity and character. Additionally they have offered that I can have the rest of this month off so I can attend to my sons needs and to support my effort to have my son released from jail into my custody. The courts, DCF etc of course see no value in my involvement. Obviously American Airlines, a "for profit' corporation, has far better family values and respect for parent-child relationships than any of the governmental and "social' agencies in the state of Massachusetts. Had I been informed of my son"s problems, this program would have been offered to the Judge at the hearing on Monday. Instead of making any effort to see what a father can do to re-direct and build up my son, Massachusetts chooses to repeatedly exclude me and to beat this young man down by placing him in a vile and filthy place. They should all be ashamed. We need to reform the family courts and all the related agencies, or they should be disbanded. It is a humiliation to be a father in this system, and the carnage includes my son. As Frederick Douglass wrote, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.' Phil

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