Dear Expat Community (or anyone who is listening),
Today marks 1,919 days since I last hugged, giggled with and played with my two children, Isabella and Derek. We had spent our last weekend in Kenting together, and at 7pm on June 25th, I’d dropped them off at the ex’s house in Tzou Ying, not far from the night market. Our penultimate weekend before that, we’d gone up to Taipei together, too, two consecutive weekends of fun, bonding, adventure (of 189 weekends I’d shared with them since a family court negotiator arranged two weekends a month with them back in 2014).
Although each weekend for those three years (in family court) were filled with grand outings, learning opportunities for the kids, at-home relaxation and games, etc., a judge in June of 2017 alleged that my children, a mere 8- and 5-years-old at the time, had come to tell him behind closed doors that they didn’t like me, that they feared me, that they would be happy if they never saw me again (and a myriad slew of other falsehoods). That hearing, in which the judge made that ridiculously absurd allegation, happened simultaneously with my last two weekends (he oversaw two hearings only, with the second containing his fabrications and farce).
After my departure from Taiwan, exhausted (after 3.5 years total in court, starting back at the end of 2013), drained (emotionally and financially), and defeated (my identity ripped from my; my kids erased from my life), I nearly gave up on life. Yet after much support and encouragement from family and friends in 2018–when I posted on social media that I was “done”, I decided to step away from the edge, with people telling me that I just needed to live my best life with hopes of one day reunifying with Isa and Derek, that they couldn’t one day discover I’d given up 100%.
Sadly, having been employed at two K-12 schools for my 12 years in Taiwan, most of the expats I knew those years via that employment route in Taiwan have since or long ago moved on, or locals didn’t want to get involved. Some folks we both knew sided with her (for connections to a job, for example, or because of culture–or the simple-minded believe that the female should get the kids by default). Hash members blew me off when I reached out to them via email to request help. And the few dudes that said they’d speak up to the “b----”/“c—” never did, saying when I left that they’d keep an ear open and eye out. (One did send me a grainy, blurry photo of the kids–two years ago–running in Aozidhi Park in the evening; the other, a message nearly 4.5 years ago that said he’d seen them in IKEA. Neither spoke up to the ex nor said a thing to my children on my behalf.)
Thus, I am asking strangers here…
If you ever see these two kids (this photo is from May of 2017) in Kaohsiung (if they even live there any longer), can you please say, “Hey, your Daddy Michael Brown loves you! He hopes to meet you again. He’s waiting to be in contact! Search for him!”
Naturally, to discover that their daddy is awaiting their reunification or to be in contact could upset or surprise them (if they’ve been told I died or had abandoned them, etc.), yet I’m hoping to simply plant the seed of curiosity in them so that they can start wondering.
I have spent five years dealing with loss, with the devastation of the BS hearings and the end result of losing my kids, and I haven’t given up.