As a Family Law Attorney and a children’s advocate for 37 years, it angers me that our own government has taken more than three thousand children from their parents at the border. Some have been shipped to locations across the country, while their parents are deported. Separating immigrant children from their parents is cruel and inhumane. It’s a matter of basic human rights. Just imagine the horror of it happening to you and your kids. Today, little 3 and 4 year old boys and girls are being forced to appear in court and represent themselves in deportation proceedings. That makes a mockery of U.S. Immigration Law and our Constitution. Thousands of young children have been traumatized, and many will never find their way back to their mothers and fathers. This is not a Democrat vs. Republican issue. It is not American vs. Immigrant. The only question is whether we, as a society, will countenance child abuse.
May 31, 1985
To My Little Girl (6 months old):
Since you were born, I have undergone a gradual transformation. What has changed is my entire definition of self – the way I view myself. The change is imperceptible to others. I look, dress, and act the same as I always have, but I feel different.
I had a beautiful childhood. I felt safe in the knowledge that my parents loved me. This was, for me, a protective shield. My memories of those days are vivid and happy. I can still remember jumping in bed with my dad on Sunday mornings and the way he would turn and smile and wrap me up in his massive arms. I remember him lifting me gently and carrying me off to bed at night, and clinging to him, my head on his shoulder, pretending to be asleep. I remember our baseball games in the backyard and how proud I was that my dad was the one teaching us how to hit, field, and throw. I remember our man-to-man talks and how important I felt as my dad listened intently to my thoughts. In my eyes, my dad was of heroic proportions, fearless and strong, yet kind and wise. Today I not only remember those times with my dad, I feel them.
Now I walk into your room. It is dark and you are crying. You reach for me and I lift you out of your crib and hold you in my arms. You cling to me. Although you are still whimpering, you smile. I talk to you softly and turn to gaze into the mirror on your closet door. Through the dim light, I look at myself and see my dad.
This morning your mother had a meeting, so I brought you to my office. I packed your diaper bag, dressed you, filled the car with the necessary items and off we went. You looked puzzled but I smiled and assured you that this would be fun. We would get along just fine without Mom’s help.
We arrived at the office and I had Anne, my legal secretary and a great fan of yours, hold you while I ran back down to the car. This was going to be a breeze. I swung the diaper bag around my back, hoisted the electric swing over my shoulder, propped the folded-up extra-large playpen under my arm and trudged up the stairs to my office, greeting fellow workers along the way. Once in the office, I set up the swing, unfolded the playpen, arranged all your toys inside, and placed the diaper bag in a convenient location. We were now ready to have fun.
You still looked bewildered as I lowered you into your playpen, but soon you were playing with your toys and I was at my desk, preparing for the day’s work. Then I realized that I had forgotten your jar of, baby food. “No problem,” I thought and, again placing Anne in charge of you, I jogged across the street to Safeway to purchase some strained squash. I returned to find your grandma in my office, smothering you with kisses.
“I’ll take her,” she offered.
“No thanks,” I replied. “I have plenty of experience taking care of my baby.”
“That’s true,” she said, “But not at the office. You won’t get any work done.”
“Sure I will,” I protested.
Grandma left. It was time for your morning nap, but although you were tired, you wouldn’t sleep. Instead, you were becoming fussy. I closed the door to my office, lifted you into my arms, and danced you around the room, singing softly. Thirty-five minutes later you were still fussy, and I was still dancing. “I’ll try feeding you,” I said. I placed you in your swing, tied a bib around your neck and opened the recently-purchased jar of strained squash. I fed you, careful not to spill food on your new pink jumpsuit. However, you were more interested in playing than eating, and it was only a matter of minutes before strained squash was all over both of us. When you had finished eating, I took you out of the swing, placed you on a pad on the floor, and grabbed a clean diaper and a change of clothes from the diaper bag. You were uncooperative. As I struggled to remove your diaper, you arched your back and flung your body to the side, like a wrestler determined not to get pinned. I held you down gently with one hand and, with the free hand, fumbled with your clothing. After some time, I finally succeeded in putting on your diaper and clothes. I breathed a sigh of relief — then noticed that your clothes were on backwards. Drenched in sweat and strained squash, I set about to remedy the problem.
In the end, you were even more exhausted from the ordeal than I was, and after what seemed an eternity you were finally asleep in my arms. I carefully placed you in your playpen and covered you with a blanket. I walked to the window and looked out. There was your mother coming up the sidewalk. I quickly sat down at my desk and began arranging papers, trying to look busy. The door opened and in she came, surprised to see my office the picture of serenity and you sleeping peacefully in your playpen.
“Gee, I’m impressed,” she said. “It looks like you have everything under control.”
“No problem,” I replied.
Gary J. Frank is an Arizona attorney and former Judge Pro Tem with over thirty years of experience in dealing with divorce, custody, parenting-time, and support issues in Family Court. To schedule a legal consultation with Mr. Frank, you may contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through our web site at www.garyfranklaw.com.
The issues in this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice in your particular case, nor should it be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. Every Family Court case is unique. If you have a matter that appears similar to any of the scenarios that you read in this blog, you should be aware that: (1) even a slight difference in a factual situation can lead to a vastly different result; and (2) the laws are constantly changing and new laws are continually being enacted. Legal advice cannot be given without a full consideration of all relevant information relating to your individual situation. Therefore, if you have an important legal issue, you should obtain a consultation with a qualified attorney.