Joshua Hare was homeless, and in legal trouble, when Michelle Lowney MacDonald’s daughter brought him home one Sunday telling him, “My mom can help”. Michelle recognized Joshua from Choir, and asked what happened to his song bird voice. By the time they finished discussing his case, Joshua was singing harmony in the kitchen for Michelle’s husband, Thomas, and offered to put music to words for Family Innocence. Joshua borrowed a pink guitar, from when her kids took lessons, saying his needed strings.
Michelle learned Josh’s parents lived in two states, divorced when he was 5, and he moved out of his mother’s at 18, because her housing assistance prohibited another adult from living there. At court, Joshua said he was “up all night praying”, and in an unprecedented move, MacDonald proved his innocence by sharing his story with the Judge, who miraculously gave him a huge break, so he could sing. When MacDonald helped Josh pay his fine, he said he was now living with his grandparents, on condition he attend church. When MacDonald said that should be easy, he said “But they go every day. I write songs there.”
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding [Proverbs 3: 5-6]
The Family Innocence opened its doors in 2011 among a whirl of controversy. In search of a symbol and name, MacDonald’s daughter gave her a photo she took of a pigeon on the top of the Empire State Building, which eerily reminded her of how clients feel after family court. Driving to court one day, a voice in her head said check if “familyinnocence.org” is available, when her own voice had told her for weeks it wouldn’t be. Upon opening her home every first of the month for “Talk for Family Innocence” socials, several supporters expressed concern that abolishing court for families was too radical, and would be offensive to lawyers and Judges. Considering objections being voiced, Family Innocence team chose to provide Family Innocence Advocates, to help couples work out their own agreements, and to walk them through a mediation and binding decision-making process, with lawyers obtaining only the necessary court orders in a court ceremony.
Family Innocence reached the media when its members testified before the House and Senate on the God-given, fundamental rights of fit parents, and equal rights for mothers and fathers. Then Family Innocence filed an amicus brief for the Supreme Court in a case involving a parent who was restrained by court order from seeing his children for 50 years, with no abuse. Through the early turmoil, the main mission of Family Innocence has steadfastly been to eliminate court for families by means of a “peace treaty” where family members agree in writing not to sue each other and essentially submit to “family innocence”. We at Family Innocence extend our welcome, and will do all we can to make your experience in times of family crisis a peaceful one, with the goal in our “Separate Together” program to be the wind beneath your wings, creating two related, sustainable families. And when we learned Pigeons, considered a nuisance, are identical birds to the Dove, symbolizing Peace and Love, we knew we were spreading the right bird.