The burden placed on my father by one-sided family law meant that he was no longer able to care for his children, he could not pay for them, and he could not see them. To meet his child and alimony support payments he essentially worked all the hours that he was awake. Unfortunately, his inability to care for his children meant that his alcoholic second wife became responsible for the care of his sons. On one such day Armin’s mother sent him to play in the street in front of her apartment while she stayed inside and drank.
As Armin was playing in front of his mother’s unit, a man hit and killed my brother with a car.
At the time he was hit, under the previous arrangement, he would have been at my father’s house.
He didn’t die immediately however, he was rushed to hospital. Emergency surgery failed to stabilise Armin and for 12 hours he was placed in intensive care but without the expectation of recovery. No notice of this was given to my father, there was no legal requirement to do so; Armin’s mother legally had sole custody.
Armin’s mother waited the full twelve hours for my brother to die, and once he had died, she then notified my father of the accident. My father was only able to arrive in time to see his son’s lifeless body in the morgue. He spent the rest of the evening that he was allowed to remain, just sitting there in the morgue, holding Armin’s hand.
The next day his ex-wife collected the life insurance that she had taken out on her son. Armin was seven years old.
My firstborn son is seven, and often when I look at him—I remember this story.
After finding out about the life insurance policy on Armin my father attempted a custody challenge for Andreas, who he viewed as being in danger of meeting the same fate as Armin. My mother in a bid to protect Andreas began to care for Rainer and Andreas when she wasn’t at work, my father in turn sought out public defenders between gigs for a custody challenge.
But no one would take his case.
Essentially it was explained that as Armin’s death was deemed an accident and as there was no proof of negligence regardless of what he might say about his second wife’s drinking habits, that as a man, winning custody of his children was not going to happen. My father had no money to pay for a lawyer to take the case on privately and therefore continued to seek out public defenders. More time passed and again and again my father was denied willing representation, to add to this, my father’s prepaid rent was running out. He had no way to fight for his children, no way to care for them, and was soon facing homelessness. My mother couldn’t help him, she still lived with her parents and their religious beliefs made a ‘divorcee’ unclean and unfit for their daughter.
|My mother, Gudrun Anna Else Kroker, become the thin line of protection for Andreas from the fallout of his mother’s drinking habits.|
On his last financial legs and about to be on the streets, he saw an advertisement being run by the Australian immigration department. Australia would pay for people with skills to emigrate and he saw it as his last opportunity to start afresh. He approached Andreas’ mother and asked if she would turn over custody of my brother Andreas so he could take him to Australia with him. He explained that he could not find better paid work (my father’s choices were limited, he only had a sixth grade education, as a child his school was destroyed by English bombing of eastern Germany and the Russian invasion of Breslau not long after meant he spent his teen years trying to stay alive as a civilian on the front line); that he would soon be without a home and that without a place to live he would be unable to professionally present himself in a manner that would allow him to continue working at all.
His second wife denied him custody and explained that if did not continue to pay she would pursue him to the fullest extent of the law, or, he had one other alternative. She explained that she was in a serious relationship with another man, the man that she’d had an affair with during their marriage and therefore there was one other way my father could expect relief from his financial burden.
My father and his ex-wife therefore came to an agreement.
At eight years of age, my father consented to give up my brother Andreas for adoption – to the man that had also taken his wife.
As a result I have never met Andreas, and never will—I have since tried to contact him but understandably he views me as the son that managed to have a relationship with our father, after my father “didn’t want him anymore”.
Too many a night as I grew up in my home, I watched my father as he looked through old photo’s, sobbing as he spoke about Andreas.
Now when I look at my son, I think about this and how I would feel if in a few months I had to give my boy up.