Family

My Son’s Mother Contacted Me While I Was In Prison — It Was The Shock Of My Life

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father holding baby looking at water

The first big story I ever wrote was about my son before I was incarcerated.

It hit in a way I never would have expected and I have my wife to thank for that in a big way, as she did a lot of the editing. The stories are mine; she’s just better at fleshing things out if that makes sense.

Back in December of 2020, my son’s mother — let's call her A — picked up our child for a visit and didn’t return him.

At the time, all we could do was guess as to her reasons, because she wouldn’t respond to phone calls or texts. She’d moved with no forwarding address. We couldn’t take her to court because we didn’t have the means to do so.

We were already dealing with the criminal justice system regarding the situation that eventually landed me in prison and trying to procure an attorney for that.

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Needless to say, it was not a good time in our lives.

Until recently, we had no way of knowing where my son was but eventually learned that he was okay, thankfully. We still were not in contact with my ex, but she was allowing my daughter to spend time with my son. So every once in a while, I would hear updates from M, my daughter, about C, my son. (My kids have different moms.)

A was very careful still not to share where she was living — even with M’s mother.

I didn’t ask, but M’s mom would say things like, “I’m not even allowed to pick him up, she always brings him and drops him off. I guess she’s afraid I’ll tell you where she lives.” Which is kind of crazy, considering I was already in prison. Plus, what would I do? I guess she was afraid I would do what she did: pick him up and disappear.

Out of the blue, I got a letter from A, my son’s mom. In North Carolina, all inmates receive letters through a centralized service called Text Behind, so as long as you know an inmate’s name, you can easily send them a letter through an app on your phone. It costs the same as buying a postage stamp, but it’s as simple as typing a text message.

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I’ll admit, I was shocked to receive it.

I knew she was aware I was in prison. My daughter’s mom let me know they’d spoken about my incarceration. Plus, the county we’re from may as well be gossip central, everyone knows everyone else’s business — so I knew she knew what was going on. Or at least, what had been reported.

Her first letter wasn’t pleasant by any means. She was basing all of her information solely on what had been reported to her by my daughter’s mother (which wasn’t accurate), the plea bargain information, and gossip. She was rude and condescending and said she wanted my parental rights terminated — because C was asking questions about where I was and why I had not been in contact, and she didn’t want to tell him the truth.

After discussing things with my wife and briefly with a close friend of ours who is an attorney, we decided to ignore her letter. Essentially, she couldn’t have my parental rights terminated just because I am in prison, so my ignoring her letter wouldn’t make a difference.

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Within a week or so, she sent another letter singing a completely different tune.

She apologized for her initial letter, saying she just felt like she needed to get her anger at me out on paper but that she knew she was wrong for doing that, and that C deserved to have his father in his life, regardless of how she felt about me. She also said I deserved the right to say my piece as well.

She provided her telephone number this time and said I was welcome to call her so we could talk.

So I did. And I got to hear my son’s voice for the first time since December 2020.

I’m not too proud to say, I cried like a baby.

He talked and talked like we’d just spoken yesterday. He told me all about playing on the playground that day, how he and his little brother (she has an almost 3-year-old son as well) were playing Avengers, and on and on, then he broke my heart.

“Daddy, did you stop loving me? Because you don’t come to see me. Why did you make bad choices and go to jail?”

If I could have become one with the floor I would have.

A immediately responded, “I didn’t tell him you stopped loving him, please don’t think that. But he has been asking a lot lately about why he couldn’t see you and I didn’t want to lie to him. So I just told him that sometimes grown-ups make bad choices and they have to pay the consequences, which can sometimes mean going to jail. So right now, Daddy is in jail, but he’ll be coming home as soon as he can. But he does love you, very much.”

I wish that wasn't the conversation she had with my 5-year-old son, but I also understand there wasn’t really a better one to have. I can’t be upset about it.

A works a lot as a waitress and her schedule is sporadic so I don’t get to talk to my son as much as I would like — but I do get to talk to him. And I know where he is and that he’s okay. He’s in Kindergarten now.

Time goes by so fast. And there is happier news still: A and my current wife have begun to communicate.

She got to see my son for the first time since December 2020.

I’ve seen the photos and I can tell you, I’m not sure which one was grinning the biggest.

She and A talk fairly regularly and they get along — something I never thought I would say and something I honestly never thought I would willingly facilitate.

I wasn’t mature enough for that — today, I am, finally.

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Damian Delune is currently incarcerated. He writes about what prison is really like and the effect it has on families.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.