I was woken up by knocking on the front door of my house. I rolled over in the bed and noticed a police officer standing outside. I got out of bed and quickly made my way downstairs. I opened up the door and said "hello officer." He passed me an envelope and said "I was asked to hand deliver this to you sir." I thanked him as I shut the door and walked into the kitchen. I sat at the kitchen table and opened the orange envelope. I slowly pulled out a piece of paper that read "custody trial; location London England" across the top. I read the fine print and basically what this piece of paper says is that Christian's mother Melissa is challenging me for custody of Christian. I'm not really worried about it though because I know she's just trying to get media attention.
I went back upstairs and got ready for the day before deciding to call my lawyer John Branca. I invited him over for an early breakfast and I think he knew something was up. Once he arrived, I let him inside and my personal chef made the two of us Belgian waffles. John asked "who is suing you now Michael?" I chuckled and said "no one John!" He seemed surprised as he asked "well; then why did you want me to come over so early in the morning Michael?" I said "I don't know if Frank told you; but I was a foster parent to a child named Christian and I recently had to give him back to his mother. Christian told me some unsettling things about his mother and her boyfriend. Long story short, I want to get Christian out of there."
John looked at me with a confused expression on his face and asked "why are you telling me this?" I said "because I want custody of Christian and I need your help. I filed a report with the child protective services in London and now Christian's mother Melissa has decided that she wants to bring everything in front of a judge." John responded "I'll do my best to help you Michael; but you have to remember that I'm an entertainment lawyer. I deal with things like recording contracts and copyright infringement; not custody battles!" I begged "please; give it everything you have! Christian is meant to be with me; not with his mother!" John could tell that I was getting a little bit emotional and said "wow; you must really want him back! Are you sure you're ready to be a dad Michael? I mean you just turned 29 years old." I said "trust me; I'm ready and if I'm not then I'll do anything I have to make sure that I'm ready!"
John asked "where is that paperwork that you were served with Michael?" I passed it to him and he put on his reading glasses to give it a closer look. He said "oh my God Michael!" I started to worry as I asked "what's wrong?" He said "the court date is in two weeks from today! We have a lot of work to do so we can make sure you have more to offer Christian then his mother can." I asked "isn't it a trial? That's what it says at the top of the paper!" He said "custody trials are a little bit different from the typical trial. There isn't a jury; it'll just be you, me, Melissa, and Melissa's lawyer." I asked "will Christian be there? How long is the trial going to be?" John said "Christian will probably be there; but you won't be able to see him unless you win custody or temporary foster care back. I said "I don't just want to be his foster parent again! I want to be his legal guardian!" John said "I know you do Michael; but it's not going to be that easy! I don't really know how these types of things work; but I think legally adopting him is going to take you a while. In the meantime, I can try to get Melissa's parental rights terminated and then you can return to being his foster parent; until you can get all the paperwork filled out." I said "I will prove to that judge that I can handle Christian. I want you to get that paperwork to adopt Christian for me and I can start filling it out. That way when we arrive at the courthouse in London I have all the paperwork I need to adopt Christian!" He said "okay; I'll go to the courthouse here in LA and see if I can get it for you ahead of time. I'll come by tomorrow morning once I figure out what the next step you need to take is." I said "thank you so much John!" He responded "no problem Michael!"
I got up really early at around 5 AM because I didn't know what time my lawyer John would get here. He knocked on the door and I let him inside as he passed me a gigantic packet of paperwork. I was about to look at it when John said "come on Michael; you can look at that later! We're going to be late!" I put my black fedora hat on my head and shut the door behind me as I asked "where are we going exactly?" He said "a child CPR course; so you can get your certification because it'll look good when you're in front of the judge." I climbed into the car and said "okay; whatever you think is going to get Christian back in my custody is fine with me! I'll do whatever you say John!"
We pulled up in front of a local fitness gym where the course was being held and the two of us got out of the car. I asked "there aren't other people here; are there?" John said "don't worry about it Michael; I had the instructor come in to the gym today because it's normally closed." I breathed a sigh of relief and we walked into a small room with plastic dummies of children that are used to demonstrate CPR techniques.
A few minutes later, a woman walked into the room and shook my hand as she said "nice to meet you; I'm Caitlin." I said "I would introduce myself but I think it's pretty obvious who I am!" She chuckled and said "yeah; I think pretty much everyone in the world knows who you are by now! Alright; let's get started!" She demonstrated how to perform CPR on a child of Christian's age and then she wanted me to try.
After I did, Caitlin said "wow Michael; I've never had someone catch on to the techniques as fast as you have!" I said "I take these kinds of things very seriously and I just want to be prepared; just in case I would ever need to save a child in this sort of way!" Caitlin said "that's great Michael! Here's your CPR certification card." She passed me the card and I said "thank you for coming in to work on your day off!" She said "I'm glad that I got to meet you today Michael! It didn't even feel like I was working because I was excited to meet you."
John and I walked back out to his car and got back inside. Once he started driving, I asked "what's next John?" He said "I still have to figure out what the next step is; but I'm going to take you back to Neverland so you can start filling out that paperwork." I said "oh yeah; I forgot all about that!" John asked "by the way Michael, did you tell your parents or siblings that you decided to pursue adopting this child?" I put my hand over my face and said "I'm not excited to hear what they have to say about me choosing to become a father at 29 years old. My mother already doesn't like the idea of me not having a girlfriend. I don't think she's going to like the idea of me being a single father either. John responded "please tell them before I come to meet up with you again in a couple days!" I said "okay; I will."
I was sitting on the couch and just beginning to fill out the first page of the paperwork to adopt Christian, when there was a knock on the door. I answered it and it was my mother. She followed me into the living room and I sat back down on the couch next to her as I grabbed the packet of paperwork again. She looked over my shoulder and asked "application for adoption? What kind of animal are you adopting now Michael? Not another snake I hope! My gosh; the one you have now creeps me out enough as it is!!!" I chuckled as I said "Muscles; he's harmless mother!" Mother asked again "what animal are you adopting?" I looked up from the paperwork and smiled as I said "well; he's not exactly an animal." She asked "what are you trying to say Michael?" I said "I've decided to adopt Christian!"
She stood up and asked "that little boy you were fostering a few weeks ago?" I said "yes mother" and tried to avoid the conversation by continuing to fill out the various questions on the application. She grabbed the pen out of my hand and said "Michael; I don't like the idea of this at all!" I asked "what don't you like mother?" She responded "you're a 29-year-old, single young man who is the biggest superstar on the planet! Fostering a child is one thing; but permanently adopting him is totally different Michael! Once Christian is yours, you'll have to change your entire life to make time for him! You'll be completely responsible for him Michael; 24 hours a day and seven days a week! You're going to have to make music a secondary priority to Christian and his needs!"
I hugged my mother as I got off of the couch. As I pulled away from the hug, I looked her straight in the eyes and said "mother; I can make this work! Christian was meant to be with me and I'm doing everything I possibly can to make sure that that can happen. I can handle this!" She smiled and said "I believe you can handle it Michael; I'm just worried for you! From here on out, I'm going to be as supportive as possible! I'll be sure to tell your brothers and sisters about Christian; but you know how some of them can be! When is the day of the custody trial?" I said "next Sunday" and she said "well; make sure you call me from London as soon as you find out the verdict!" I smiled and said "of course I will mother!" She kissed my forehead before walking out the door and saying "good luck on Sunday Michael!!!"
I let John inside and asked "what is there left to do?" He said "I think it would be a good idea if you and I went shopping today; so we can decorate one of the bedrooms here. Christian needs his own room and it would be awesome if you had pictures to show the judge of what Christian's environment will look like!" I smiled and said "great; let's go!"
We went to a children's furniture and room decoration store. We got out of the car and walked inside. The first thing we saw when we entered the store was different color wall paint. I grabbed at least three cans of each color and John rolled his eyes as he asked "what do we need all that for?" I responded "I'll decide what color I want his room to be when we get back to Neverland!" I walked over to the corner of the store that was dedicated to various Walt Disney cartoons and started to grab anything to do with Mickey Mouse. I put everything in the cart and John asked "let me guess; Christian likes Mickey Mouse?" I chuckled and said "that's an understatement!"
We went over to where the twin sized beds were and immediately saw one that I thought was perfect for Christian. One of the store employees walked up to us and asked "is there anything I can help you with today?" I said "yes please; I'd actually like to order this furniture set. I need it before this Sunday." The employee responded "I'm sorry sir; we're currently all sold out of this specific version and we don't get another shipment for three more weeks!" I took out my wallet and asked "what about the display model? Can I buy this one?" The employee seemed surprised and the manager said "of course you can Mr. Jackson!" I said "thank you; I'll have my bodyguards come pick it up in a few hours with a moving truck."
After paying for the things that I had bought, John and I went back to Neverland to start setting things up. We went upstairs and I picked the room directly to the left of my bedroom to be Christian's because I know how terrified he is of almost everything. I want to be where I can check on him and he can come get me if he needs me in the middle of the night. John I walked inside and we had come to the mutual agreement that painting his bedroom red was the way to go.
Once we had painted three of the four bedroom walls, I said "okay; you guys can bring the bed in!" My bodyguards James and Tim brought the bed into the room. I helped John put the mattress in and I said "I think I can do pretty much everything else myself John; if you'd like to go you can." He said "thanks Michael; I'll meet you at your hotel room in London on Sunday morning!" I said "okay; see you then."
I woke up on this beautiful Sunday morning in my hotel room and got ready for the day. I got dressed in my best business suit and tie. As I reached into my suitcase to grab a pair of socks, I accidentally picked up one of the pajama tops that I had bought for Christian two months ago when I was still fostering him. I looked down at it and smiled as I whispered to myself "please God; let me win this trial!"
There was a knock on my hotel room door and when I opened it my lawyer John was standing there with his briefcase in his hand. I walked out of the room and shut the door behind me as John asked "are you ready for this Michael?" I took a deep sigh and said "I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be!" John said "just let me do the talking and there shouldn't be any problems; at least I hope not!"
We walked inside the courthouse and waited for the doors to the small conference room to open. While we were waiting, Christian's mother Melissa and who I'm assuming is her boyfriend Adam came out of a nearby room. The two of them came over just in time for the judge to arrive and open the doors for us to begin. I'm just glad that this isn't going to be in a real courtroom because I always feel uncomfortable in those places.
The judge greeted each of us and went through all of the legal stipulations before saying he was ready to hear our cases. He said "okay; I like to start by letting Mrs. Carthage plead her case and say anything that she would like to say." Melissa's attorney said "I believe that Melissa has been wrongfully accused of physically harming her son Christian. I think she is a wonderful mother and I have a feeling that Mr. Jackson is overreacting because he wanted to have the option to adopt Christian from the very beginning!"
I shook my head in disbelief as I halfheartedly smiled at Melissa. John responded "I couldn't disagree with you more if I tried! Michael has said to me that the only thing that matters to him is that Christian is in a home where he is loved and cared for. He loves Christian and only wants what's best for him. That's why he filed the report against Melissa! It has nothing to do with jealousy at all; it never has!"
The judge said "okay; I'm going to ask both Melissa and Michael a series of questions. After I've asked each of them the questions, I will allow each of them to make a closing statement. Then I will dismiss you for at least an hour while I come to my decision about who should have custody of the child; let's begin. Melissa, who lives in your home with you?" She said "just me, Christian, and my boyfriend Adam." The judge opened up a folder and looked at a piece of paper before asking her "Adam has been arrested on 56 separate occasions due to domestic violence; is this correct?" Melissa rolled her eyes and sighed as she said "yes." The judge asked "do you know how to prepare balanced meals for Christian to eat?" Melissa chuckled as she said "frozen chicken fingers and french fries." The judge asked "do you make sure that Christian is well taken care of and reminded that he is loved throughout the day?" She said "I'm usually gone during the day working and Adam watches him for me. I don't know what Adam does all day!"
The judge looked at me and asked "Michael, who lives in your home with you?" I said "just me and my animals." He asked "do you know how to make a balanced meal for Christian?" I responded "yes; I'm a pretty good cook." He asked "would you make sure that Christian is well taken care of and reminded that he is loved throughout the day?" I said "of course I will; every single day!!!!!" He said "okay; I think I have all the information I need to come to a decision. You may be dismissed and I will call you back in here in about an hour."
All of us sat outside the conference room on two separate benches. John could tell that I was nervous as he put his hand on my shoulder and I tapped my foot on the ground hundreds of times. I would look up every so often from staring at the floor and see that Melissa was giving me dirty looks. I wasn't about to bring myself down to her level; so I just looked in the other direction. Adam didn't have much to say to me and I was glad about that because any guy that hits a woman is not a man in my eyes!
Finally, the judge came out of the conference room and all of us stood up to hear his decision. He said "I've come to the conclusion that Mr. Jackson is the more suitable parent; given the circumstances." I almost wanted to scream with excitement; but I stopped myself because I remembered that we were in a courthouse and I had to act professional. Melissa's boyfriend had to hold her back and drag her out of the courtroom because she started acting crazy!!! The judge said the words I have been waiting weeks to hear "Michael; Christian is down in that room at the end of the hall if you would like to go get your son!!! He doesn't know you're here and he doesn't know that you're going to take him home to stay with you forever; so it'll be a surprise!"
I walked down the hall with John behind me and all I could hear were my footsteps. I walked up to the door and slowly turned the doorknob… To be continued :-)