"Just get a rock and talk"
Oct 05, 2012
Note: this is about a child custody proceeding.
The circle was held shortly after Christmas. Elizabeth and Peter were the keepers. The participants were Bill, Andrea, Alyssa and the young girl’s two grandfathers. It lasted about eight hours, far longer than most subsequent circles (the average length is two hours), but it ended with an agreement between Bill and Andrea. “I got more accomplished in eight hours than a year in court,” he said.
Alyssa herself was the key player. At one point, according to Bill, she said, “I love both of my parents. I can’t make a decision. I don’t know what to do.”
“Everyone ,” he said, “was crying.”
Bill agreed that it was best for Alyssa to remain in Hawaii. Because he was paying child support, he couldn’t afford multiple yearly airfares to bring her to Chicago, so he and Andrea devised a plan to share that cost without overburdening either of them. By the end of the day, an agreement was printed out and signed. “Not legal language,” said Elizabeth, “but their language. Their spirit and their language and their content.”
A few days later, Bill called her. “He had just dropped his daughter off at the airport — it was the best visit they’d had in ages. He wanted to send pictures to Judge Mills of Alyssa on a fire truck.”
And four years later, Bill is still overflowing with gratitude for the circle that saved his relationship with his daughter and allowed her to prosper. She’s an A-student in Hawaii; in Chicago, she’d been struggling. Dad’s heart bursts with joy. It’s not about custody. “It’s all about her,” he said.