Before I met my wife, she had a pretty rough life. She was divorced with two kids from her first marriage and pregnant - living with her new fiance. One evening he beat her oldest child to death.
Her fiance went to jail and she decided to have the child but made it clear that she wanted nothing to do with her ex-fiance. As a result of the fiance's crime, she lost custody of her remaining child from the first marriage.
That is when I came into the picture. I fell in love with her and we were married. Prior to our marriage the scumbag who killed her daughter was let out of prison (he was only convicted of involuntary manslaughter, not murder). I had decided I wanted to adopt her son from that relationship as I was the only daddy the boy had ever known. We started the legal process for that and the ex-fiance decided to contest the adoption and assert his parental rights. He had not even tried to see the kid for three years and now he was claiming he wanted to be a daddy to the boy.
At around the same time her ex-husband announced he wanted to move out of state with their remaining child. So we were suddenly faced with two legal battles to fight at the same time. First the adoption and then the removal from the state.
The legal bills piled up and both cases dragged out for more than a year. We kept charging the lawyers fees on credit cards. Our one hope was to force the ex-fiance to pay the court-ordered restitution from his criminal case when he killed my wife's daughter. We asked the state's attorney to pursue it and the judge ordered him to make payments of $25 per month toward this obligation (so much for justice).
I felt so blessed that we won both cases, but we were still in massive debt as a result of the crime commited by a man who is now free and living his life. We struggled to come up with the money to buy a modest home and have had two more children. Her son from the first marriage eventually decided to come and live with us. I know I should count my blessings...But the debt remains and has grown as we pay so much to try to bring it down that we end up having to use credit again when a car repair comes up or an appliance breaks down...
I work a second job to make ends meet and we pay what we can above the minimum payments to try to make a dent. I feel that my kids have been deprived of so much. Vacations, college savings funds, nice things that other families can provide their children are just some of the things I have had to tell my children we could not afford. Sometimes for weeks at a time I think only of the injustice that is holding us back more than 15 years after this crime was commited against my wife's daughter. I am angry at a "justice" system that let this happen and let a murderer out and let him pay his restitution on a very easy installment plan. It overshadows all the good things, like my marriage and wonderful children.
My wife and I lead a mentoring program for underpriveleged kids in a local school and there are times when I get so focused on our troubles that I have a very bad attitude toward the families of the kids we are trying to help. Then I beat myself up for this attitude. I should count blessings, but in the dark recesses of my heart I want justice...I want revenge...I want freedom from having to pay for a crime that the criminal escaped paying for.