PHILADELPHIA (WTXF)Time again we've seen the early morning raids, dead beat dads hauled off in handcuffs forced to be accountable to their kids. What we rarely see though are the good dads in court struggling and fighting for the chance to be with their children.
FOX 29's Joyce Evans has the story of a local dad who refused to give up on his little boy.
"This kid is designing print ads for people, like Target and Walmart,” said Andre Daniels.
Andre Daniels sounds no different from any other proud papa, bragging about his only son: "He's in his senior year at Savannah College of Art and Design." "Destined to be anything that he chooses to be."
He's emotional not because he doubted his now 18-year-old would flourish. It’s because Andre was worried that they wouldn't make it here together. He feared he would grow up not really knowing his father.
"I couldn't have that. That just didn't seem like the order of things,” explained Andre.
He traveled from New Jersey to Georgia for visits when Andre Jr.’s mother to whom his dad was not married but had a good relationship moved from Philadelphia to near Atlanta.
"I missed him," he said.
Andre says his nightmare began when Junior's mom died in Georgia and he went to get his little boy.
"I thought that I would leave with my son; however, the family on my son's mother's side thought otherwise,” he explained.
But the worst battle he says: "There were times where it even seemed that the judge was hostile."
He's not the first father to claim bias against dads in custody or co-parenting cases.
"It seems like if you are a man, particularly a man of color, an African American man who stands before a judge, you are there because you did something wrong. No, I submit your honor, I'm here because I want to do something right,” Andre said.
This retired Air Force Gulf War Veteran would not stand down.
"There were times where I almost felt like giving up,” he said. "And I remember one time he said to me, 'Dad can you imagine my mother will never see my first dance, she will never see who I will marry and it was just one of those things where. I had to be everything."
But he needed a lot of help from private eye Mark Guralnick, whose a former newspaper reporter and a family lawyer, licensed in nine states and four foreign countries.
"I actually had to physically appear in courtrooms in three different states fighting over jurisdiction who was in charge,” Mark said.
Andre got custody of his son after four years of hard fighting.
"We often hear, particularly with black men, we're not responsible, we don't stand up, that we don't do the impossible,' Andre explained.
And Andre is still fighting as a Westamptom, New Jersey councilman.
"We need to get the motivation to other men. Yes, we can fight," he said.
He's working to take his New jersey fatherhood advocacy and resource program; P.R.I.D.E nationwide through the National Parent Teacher Association while still mentoring boys to become responsible men.