Oh, my heart hurts today. In a twist on the standard child custody cases that make the news, a dad named Richard Rodwell is making news for getting back the child support he'd paid to his wife plus damages totalling $40,000. It turns out Rodwell really never needed to pay because his kids weren't really his kids at all.
Rodwell's ex-wife, Helen, had been lying to him for years. Eventually a paternity test proved the teenaged kids each had different fathers. But while this one is marked in the win column for the rights of men, I don't see any winners here.
Yes, Richard Rodwell got back the $25,000 he paid in child support over four years and then some when he proved his kids weren't his kids. But what's $40,000 compared to the love of your kids?
This poor man spent 17 and 14 years respectively thinking he had a daughter and a son. Now he has neither as both of the kids have cut him off. Despite his expressed interest in remaining in the children's lives, he says Helen turned them against him.
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You don't have to be a man to imagine how much that would hurt. When you become a parent, it becomes a part of your identity, and your kids carve out special places in your heart. That has nothing to do with biology -- just ask the part of an adopted child or a stepparent.
It's a quirk of nature that's hard to explain to people who don't have kids. Simply put, you change. You become willing to do grandiose things like throw yourself in front of a bus for them and little things like saving the last cookie for them.
And as frustrating as it can be to be a parent, you feel empowered too. You feel special to have been given this gift of a life that you are helping to raise to adulthood.
And after 17 years of parenthood, you can't just make those feelings go away ... no matter how much money someone pays you.
Do you look at this as a win for this "dad" or is the $40,000 scant comfort for his pain?
Image via Easa Shamih (eEko) | P.h.o.t.o.g.r.a.p.h.y/Flickr