GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (8/30/2019) - "Men have emotions, just like mothers; you know, we have that bond and that attachment and when it's taken away it affects us," Norman Norwood, Jr. said.
He shared a collage of family pictures, but one of Norman Norwood's girls is noticeably missing. His oldest daughter Ja'Liah.
When she was just 2-years-old, he said her mother took custody.
"They seen like my tattoos. I have dreads and they saw me as like the typical black guy," he explained. "You know, they see me as a stereotype, oh he's no good, he don't do this."
But Norwood said, when the court started looking into his background and criminal history, there wasn't anything there. In fact, he's worked in at least three school districts and has had zero issues.
"I knew when I was a kid, I wanted my Dad there and that pain," Norwood said. "And then, I was like no. I'm gonna keep fighting. I don't care what they say, I'm going to keep fighting."
After a 6-year fight, his family picture is now complete.
Norwood won full custody without the help of an attorney.
"I looked up all the research on what to do, I was watching judge shows, you know, learning the jargon because I was going up against a 20-year veteran attorney, family attorney and she was tough," he said.
Now, Norwood is using that knowledge and experience to help other dads.
He created the non-profit, Norwood Fatherhood Advocacy and is hosting free support groups once a week in Genesee County.
"We're gonna come together as men and we're just gonna talk about what can we do to be better fathers; and if you haven't started the process, how can you start the process," he explained.
Norwood shared his story in a recently published book titled "I Will Not Be a Deadbeat Dad," to help reach fathers across the country.
The support group will be held at U of M Flint every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month. And, at the Grand Blanc Library every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month.