To whom it may concern:
My name is Jennifer McCallum. I am an Australian living in New South Wales where I am a wife and mother to four wonderful children. For the purposes of this letter, I will spare you further details, but one of those children, Daniel Robinson, was fathered by Larry Norman. And, for the last few years before his death earlier this year, and in the immediate aftermath of his passing, I have fought a losing cause to get recognition for my son, Daniel, by either Larry or the Norman family.
I want to say from the outset that it was never my intention to hurt Larry's memory or to cause any pain for the family. But last night, I got a call from my son who was in the throes of a very dark moment, and he spoke of committing suicide. Daniel and I have fought this battle long enough by ourselves. I am writing this to enlist your assistance in obtaining some justice for Daniel.
Larry Norman and I came together in the late 1980s when he was on tour in Australia. He had been a friend of my family. I had been married before and had three children with my first husband, and I had done some concert promoting for him toward the mid to late 1980s. Suffice it to say that we came together at a time when both our marriages to our respective spouses had ended. I became pregnant with Daniel during a ten week tour that included Russia. The last time I saw Larry before Daniel was born, he knelt to kiss my very pregnant belly and reassured me he would be back in Australia for the birth. He promised my family and I that we would one day be together as a family in America, and that he would take care of us all. I didn't see Larry again for five years. It was the only time that I ever saw him again after that, and only one of two times that our son Daniel spent any time with his father.
In 1994, Larry arranged for a month-long visit for Daniel and I to come to California. Larry spent about a week's time with Daniel, taking him to Disneyland and some other attractions, and again, promising us that when things got a little bit better financially, he would bring us over to America to live. I spent most of my adult life believing that Larry would come through on his promises. Sadly, it has been a bitter pill to swallow.
It has been tremendously difficult for my son to grow up without a father. You can't imagine the questions that a little boy has about his famous father who lives in America and sings songs about Jesus, but has no time for him. Daniel has had to deal with a lot in his young life because of this, and my heart breaks when I think of all the pain that could have so easily been avoided. It was even harder to watch how Larry doted on his other son, Michael. Why was my son so mistreated when this son was so seemingly beloved?
There was a very long period of time when there was absolutely no contact between us and Larry. I got tired of the endless broken promises, and came to realize that he was incapable of being a true father. I could say more, but I will hold my tongue for now.
When Daniel turned twelve years old he began to start to ask some questions about his dad and really became anxious to meet him. As you can imagine, he had a lot of questions for him. When he was about fifteen, Daniel got on the Internet and wrote a letter to an early version of an Internet chat board that Larry had on his website. The very next day that chat board had been taken down. But Larry emailed Daniel and they started to correspond.
I wish I could say that things went well. They did not. Larry pretended to want to see Daniel and spent countless hours compiling lists of endless requirements that he needed from Daniel before they could find a good time to get together. When Daniel didn't do exactly as those requirements suggested, Larry then turned the tables on Daniel and announced that it was his fault that they couldn't get together, that Daniel had somehow been the one to cause the rupture in the proceedings. He told Daniel that he was a mistake, that it was our fault that his career had gone sour, and seemed to blame me for trying to contact people in America to get his attention when Daniel was sick in the hospital and we desperately needed medical information from the birth father. This silliness went on for a good two years, from about 2005 until just before Larry passed on. From my vantage point, Larry seemed more concerned with the damage that Daniel's appearance could do in his life than actually taking responsibility for him. He vacillated between denying paternity, calling me all sorts of names, and then turning around and being affectionate and caring, telling Daniel he would send him presents (which he did on very rare occasions).
Of course, all of this was completely confusing to my son. Why treat your own flesh and blood like this? What is wrong here? And worse of all, because of the tenderness of that age, someone as young as Daniel was cannot help from feeling partly responsible for what was taking place. This has had a devastating affect upon his self-esteem, and it has been a constant state of worry for me.
In 2006, Larry's friend Randy Stonehill and his wife Sandi came to town. Daniel waited sheepishly in line to speak with Randy, and was very skittish about approaching him to tell him who he was. Daniel had never been accepted as being Larry's son and has always been told to just keep quiet about it. But Randy and Sandi sat with us for a couple of hours after the concert and listened to Daniel's story. They seemed genuinely interested in us and what had happened. And for Daniel, it was one very rare moment of acceptance amidst a lifetime of rejection.
In 2007, Daniel was in England visiting one of his siblings when he emailed Larry and told him that he was going to come and see the concert and meet up with him. By this time, Daniel's nerves were frayed and he did not have much sympathy left for Larry, having been so mistreated by him when all he wanted to do was make contact with his father. Needless to say, that meeting did not go well. Daniel returned from that visit pretty much willing to let it go. He had come to an uneasy peace that for whatever reason, Larry was unable to give him any of himself and had chosen to turn away from him. Months later on the night we received the news that Larry died, Daniel had emailed a long letter to Larry telling him that he had forgiven him. We are pretty sure that Larry never received the letter. But it was important for Daniel to write it. He collapsed in my arms when I told him that Larry had died, and for about two weeks he was a shell of his former self. There will always be a hole in my son because of this situation, and it is a very unfortunate thing that still mystifies me as to why Larry did not accept Daniel as his own.
When Larry died earlier this year we emailed the Norman family, telling them of our plight and wondering whether they could fly us to the funeral. Perhaps that was a bit much. I don't know. But we felt that perhaps now with Larry having passed, things between Daniel and the family could become official, and he could be welcomed into their midst. Only a few short weeks ago, we saw some daylight. We received an email from the family saying that they were shocked at this revelation, that Larry had told none of them about Daniel, and that they would pay for a DNA test within 48 hours and that if Daniel was indeed Larry's son, they would fly both of us up there to meet the family and take part in a memorial service. Finally, we were making headway.
Two weeks went by. No word. Then we received an email from the Norman's lawyer stating that if we could provide them with a birth certificate, then they would talk. Otherwise, they wanted to be left alone. We were devastated. Larry never signed Daniel's birth certificate. He went AWOL from Daniel's life, and never wanted to ever take responsibility for him. Here again was the closing of the wall, the great wall of secrecy that always surrounded Larry and everything that he did. I used to believe that, as he told me over and over and over again, that because of who he was, there were people out to get him. I do not believe this now. Larry Norman was no victim. He caused great devastation in my family and in my life.
Daniel and I have contributed to a documentary on Larry's life put together by a friend of our family that will come out later this year. You will want to see this film because for the first time you are going to see what some of us have known for a long time, that the manner in which Larry Norman portrayed himself to the Christian community was in total contrast to the way that he lived. My son and I are victims of a Christian community that doesn't understand the difference between justice and forgiveness. My family has been traumatized because nobody listened, nobody cared, and nobody would take up our cause.
Again, I am not writing this out of any attempt to hurt the family or diminish Larry's memory. But the truth here is very dark and disturbing. I am asking your assistance to help me get the Norman family to offer Daniel what is rightfully his. Please email this letter to any newsgroup or chatboard or other person that you know. If media outlets wish to contact me, that would be fine. I need assistance here to obtain what is rightfully Daniel's. This isn't about whatever money there may be (if any). It is about seeking justice... Larry is dead. But Larry promised Daniel acceptance. He promised that part of the hole in my son's heart would be filled by acknowledgement that his father was who he was, something that has been up to this point robbed from him. This is about a mother's heart for her child, wanting that simple acceptance to be known as the child of the father who gave him life. This is a fight for Daniel to be recognized, to have some sense of who he is. Thanks for reading.
As the Normans are not responding to our pleas for a DNA test through our repective lawyers, our legal fees are escalating.
We have been informed by the DNA clinic, that a 3 way test is required.... one for myself,Daniel, and either some DNA from hospital samples from Larry, or from one of Larrys relatives.
Along with legal fees, we are looking at approx $3,000. Aus to be able to pay for these tests to be done.I am really sad that that the Normans are behaving like this.
They are going to be really sorry when they realise they are hurting their own flesh and blood... but then I guess it never bothered Larry enough to do anything about it. Please contact me at Jennifermomski@yahoo.com for more information.
April 28, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
There is a DNA clinic appointed in both Salem and also in Victoria, Australia.
The DNA test required is actually a 3way test... myself, Daniel and either a sample from Larrys hospital, or a family member.
As we are required to employ legal staff to assure that this whole procedure is done honestly, we are looking at approximately $3,000. Aus.
At present we only have $350. of donated moneys for this to happen.
This is a serious project, that requires some assistance from friends and concerned listeners/readers.
Many thanks to the people who have contributed so far.... we never wanted to ask for financial help, but we have come to the end of our recources, due to the Normans not responding to all of our pleas for recognition, the legal fees are mounting.