Bring Ethan Home - A Father's Fight

Some of you know Ethan.
Some of you know about Ethan.
Some of you didn't even know Ethan existed before reading this.

We don't talk about him much with others. Not because we don't think about him or miss him every second of every day. But because it's too hard. We have been through a lot. We can't even begin to explain the pain or emptiness we feel in our hearts. We grieve the time we have lost with him. Ethan is such an important part of our family, but he has been systematically kept from us for so long. It's impossible to cover all 7 years’ worth of our fight for custody, so in the briefest form possible, this is our story.

Ethan was born in April 2009. When he was 3 months old, his mother took him and ran. Because of the legal system, and a deployment to Iraq, Jordan was unable to see Ethan again until summer 2010 on a brief visit home during the middle of his deployment. The courts determined that since Jordan had been "absent" from Ethan's life (by no fault of his own), he would have to build a bond with Ethan before having any rights to him.

Jordan finished his deployment in February 2011. As soon as he returned home, he began his fight to gain rights to Ethan. Jordan finished his contract with the Army and did not reenlist, knowing a career in the Army would surely keep him from custody. Jordan became unemployed and devoted himself fully to Ethan. He drove from Michigan to Florida once a month for a week at a time to spend every second the courts would allow. Time and time again, Jordan was attacked. His ex-wife filed many allegations against him. False claims accusing him of things that only a sick person could dream up. She deliberately interfered with their time together, and did everything possible to keep Jordan from spending time with Ethan. Every single visit was a fight. Every investigation she launched, was closed with no findings.

Jordan eventually gained shared custody. Rights to Ethan for summers, every other Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring Break, and rights to travel to Florida once per month for weekend visits. Jordan accepted a job in Georgia, lessening the commute to Ethan's home in Florida to a 5 hour drive. Things finally seemed to settle down, and we were able to spend a significant amount of quality time together. Ethan loved coming for visits, and we were able to really be a family.

Deep down, we knew, Jordan's ex wasn't finished fighting. It was hard to relax, and Jordan had to constantly protect himself out of fear of what she might claim next. Sure enough, more litigation followed. She was filing things in multiple states, launching more investigations, and trying to get Jordan thrown into prison. It truly is unbelievable that a person could be so vindictive, so malicious, and so hateful. Even more so, at the expense of her child.

Again, all investigations were closed. Jordan's rights remained the same. His ex remarried (another Jordan), and then divorced again. Meanwhile, Ethan was getting older. We knew he was starting to comprehend some of the crazy things he was seeing and hearing. It began to take him a while to adjust between visits. We heard from him on several instances that he knew we loved him, even though his mommy told him no. He also reassured himself often that daddy would never hurt him. Of course he wouldn't. It's just a shame that his mother would ever want to plant those fears in him.

On the last visit we had with Ethan, we traveled to Pennsylvania to visit Jordan's family. We had a 5th Birthday party for him, and a baby shower for his soon to arrive baby brother, Dylan. It was the end of March 2014. Ethan had so much fun, and really warmed up to everyone. He was comfortable, and happy. You could see very clearly he felt safe with us. We had so much fun together, and he was very excited to meet little "Dylan Pickles" in May. Little did we know that would be the last time we would see him for over 2 years.

It was in May 2014 that Jordan learned his ex-wife had launched another investigation against him. This time, claiming Ethan was sexually abused by Jordan while in Pennsylvania. She filed for a temporary injunction and protective order (keeping Jordan from having any contact with Ethan), and it was granted. The courts wanted to conduct the investigation prior to reinstating Jordan's rights to Ethan. During this time, Jordan's ex-wife had Ethan examined by doctors, interviewed by several authorities, and even claimed he had PTSD. None of this, of course, was founded. None of this was ever proven. Ethan was undoubtedly scared and sad, confused why his father disappeared from his life, and why his mother was so determined that something had happened to him.

Fast forward to today. End of May 2016. We have not talked to Ethan in over 2 years. We have been deprived of countless days with him. But worse - Ethan has been deprived of our love. He has been led to believe his father abused him. He undoubtedly has anxiety, and fear. We know in his heart he loves us still and knows that his father would never hurt him. However, she has had 2+ years to convince him otherwise. Every day that goes by without him is another day he lives believing the lies he is told. He is 7 now. He is growing up, and soon I fear we won't be able to undo all the damage she is causing him. Mentally and emotionally. His mother has a sickness, and poor Ethan is suffering. 

Today we spoke with our lawyer. He is very happy with the latest report that came out. The highest sought after and most well respected investigator in the state of Florida has given Jordan an excellent report. This is what we needed. Jordan's name will surely be cleared. But we still need to prove she knowingly made false claims against him in order to gain full custody of Ethan.

Undoubtedly, Jordan's ex is unhappy with the report. She now wants to prolong the process and depose people over the summer. In August, we will set the date of the trial. Hopefully we can get it scheduled for the fall. Her side is requesting a 7 day long hearing. The lawyer and court costs for that week alone will be $25k.

We are so close to the end. So unbelievably close to gaining full custody of Ethan, and bringing him home. We have fought this fight for 7 long, hard years. It has been exhausting and excruciatingly painful for all involved. And poor Ethan. He has suffered the most. His little heart can't even comprehend what has happened.

We are asking for donations to help us cover the last few months of this battle. Our lawyer estimates we need about $50,000 to see this fight to the end. We just don't have it. We have completely drained all resources. Our family has helped tremendously. We've refinanced homes, taken out loans, cashed out 401k's, and even used every bit of credit card limits to pay the lawyer and court costs. We have no funds left. We are begging for help. Every bit counts. We just cannot give up this fight. We have come so far, and we are finally nearing the end.  Ethan needs us to pull through for him, and we need the financial help to do so.

But even if you cannot help us financially, please please lift us up in your prayers, and spread the word of our story to others. We need God to keep Ethan safe and as pure as possible through all the evil he has been subjected to. Please pray for Ethan. Please, God, bring him home!!

We thank you all for your support and your love. We will update everyone as things progress. Thank you, sincerely. God is good!

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Rachel Shope 
Rincon, GA