It's hard to believe that it's been 18 years since the day of your birth. You had such big eyes and long fingers, and the most adorable, quiet little cry! I love you so much.

I'm so sorry for what you've been through. I miss you. It must have been heartrending to be put in the position of having to talk to a judge and choose between saying that you love and miss your mom, or trying to protect your dad from getting in trouble again. What an awful position to be in.

I know that either choice you made would have been painful for you. Kids shouldn't have to choose which parent to hurt; it's just not fair. You've always been very sensitive to other people's feelings, so having to tell the judge you didn't want to see me again must have been scary. I can't imagine how stressful it must have been for you. A lot of kids who have been forced to reject one parent in order to protect the other feel almost as if their rejected parent has died... but its even worse than that, because they can't even express their grief or sorrow about it to other people. They have to act as if they're happy, because they're afraid to hurt the feelings of the parent they had to choose. Alienated kids usually usually feel they have to even cease contact with grandmas, grandpas, cousins, aunts, uncles and other relatives in order to protect the chosen parent.

It may help you to learn more about parental alienation. I didn't know what it was at first. This video was made by a person who realized, as he got older, that he was a victim when he was a kid:

This one is good, too:

A lot of alienated kids struggle with guilt when they have to choose between parents--and then even after they are out of that situation, they struggle with guilt later in their lives when they look back. I hope you don't. I want you to know that what happened was not your fault. You never should have been put in that position in the first place. I know that if you'd told the judge that you love both your parents, it would have been scary, too. Your dad would have been in trouble again, for one--and a lot of kids in who've been put in the position that you were in come to believe they're betraying one parent by just loving their other parent. But love divided is increased, not diminished. In other words, when a child loves one parent, it doesn't reduce the amount of love the child feels for the other, and it's not an attack on anyone. Love doesn't work that way. It's not a finite quantity.

I would love to see you again. You don't have to tell your dad you've visited, if that would make it less stressful for you. We don't have to talk about anything that makes you feel as if you might be hurting someone. I'd rather just catch up with YOU and hear how things are going in school. And I want you to know, in case you're worried--alienated kids often are!--that I'm not mad at you, although I'm mad you were put in that awful position! Remember that my love for you is unconditional. If any part of you is worried about that, please don't worry. Kids do what they have to do to cope with the pressure when someone places them in the middle.

If you come, you can meet our little dog. He's a little scaredy because he was abused before we got him. He's a rescue, a little red spaniel--you would love him. Spider and Spooky are still okay. Spider's getting old--he's a year older than you are, remember, which is old for a cat! He's still pretty healthy for his age, though. Spook sometimes even likes to go on hikes with me and Reggie--it's pretty cute!

Please come to visit. If you let me know in plenty of time, I could start a loaf of garlic bread--your favorite. (It takes 14 hours to rise, and 2 hours for the second rise and bake!). Or if there's something else you'd rather have, like our Friday night bacon-onion-mushroom pizza, let me know.

Happy birthday. You are never far from my heart.

I love you,