Thursday, February 7, 2013

Having Babies - Stealing Children

I was married in 1987.  We shared the important personal commonalities that would create the foundation of a successful relationship.  Our lifestyle was energetic and fun.  Overshadowing our happiness was his need to be the center of attention and be viewed as “unique” was often disclosed without blushing.  The hints of troubles began on our honeymoon when he refused to pose for the typical “newlyweds” pictures, or sleep in the same bed.  Instead of seeking a marital bond, he found a friend who he incorporated in our together time.  I hated my honeymoon.

Our marriage started off with highs and lows which I attributed to adjustment.  Instead of enjoying our time together, he prioritized his days in the company of his friends, and admitted he believed his own desires took precedence.  Normalcy was putting your own wants first, was the mantra of the man I married, the words of a narcissistic sociopath.

In the fall, he ignored birth control and threw caution to the wind.  By Christmas I was pregnant….and ecstatic.  He reacted with moans of annoyance.  He complained of the morning noise as I ate crackers to quell my nausea, grumbled about buying maternity clothes, and expressed irritation of purchasing baby furniture.  His disinterest in the pregnancy was clear as he did not want to feel the baby kick, attend prenatal visits, and mocked our childbirth classes.  During my three days of labor, he offered no support, encouragement, and incredulously left the hospital, returning hours later too stoned to be allowed in the operating room for my emergency C-section.  The birth of our son did not elicit a kind word; only a gleeful whisper that I wouldn’t be “all stretched out”.  Without experiencing the journey toward parenthood with my husband, I was now a mother.

Recently, I saw a gorgeous portrait of a woman on the beach.  She was partly reclining, leaning into the man seated behind her, holding her in a protective embrace, their hands entwined and resting on her pregnant belly.  The picture conveyed love, caring and the sharing of a beautiful moment that I missed.  I only experienced blatant indifference during pregnancy #1 and #2, and a frightening demand to abort my third pregnancy.  I fought for the life of my third child and was blessed with a beautiful daughter, who, at 21 years old, ironically puts her father on a pedestal, despite his order to terminate her life.      

He claimed our children were interference to the life he wanted, and choose to pursue that rather than be a father.  His appearances at home were rare, his knowledge of his own children were vague, having to often defer to my expertise.  His limited times alone with the children were almost disastrous, and I maintained my role as sole caregiver. Nevertheless, when I filed for divorce, he decided to retaliate by demanding custody.  His lawyer was the daughter of the attorney who represented him in the 1980’s for cocaine possession.  Her unethical way of practicing law did not hinder her conscience to present him as the perfect father, business owner and securely living in the house belonging to the woman he had been dating during his marriage.      

Money talks in many ways.  It spells success, regardless if it’s obtained legitimately or criminally.  Money buys what you seeking in the family courts.  It erases any former drug records, photographs of physical abuse, and infidelity during a marriage.  In the courtrooms of justice and family, the more money you have, automatically makes you the better parent. 

It makes no sense that the probate courts are also called “family” courts.  The word family evokes a picture of two parents happily enjoying life with their children.  It does not conger up a picture of a man strangling his wife, ignored the cries of his children, reveling in his reputation of dealing marijuana, and or beating his children.  Logic would immediately dismiss such a man as a custodial parent, until they peak in his pocket.  Some mothers have who lost custody due to illnesses, or temporarily relinquishing custody, or a prior past of substance abuse.  My past was not marred by anything.  I was a stay at home mom who provided meticulous care, love, and a variety of activities for my children, despite having no income and no access to money.  I wore maternity clothes throughout my marriage while my husband spent his money on boats, cars, a wine collection, other women, and his designer wardrobe.  Despite that, I was a survivor for my children, yet…without money, I was an easy target for the probate courts to steal my children and give them to a drug dealer, batterer, liar, philanderer, and thief. 

I will never see a portrait of myself being protected by a partner.  I have realized that it is not something I need.  And it’s a trade-off as any picture of me demonstrates personal strength, independence, and the will to reveal in my ability to sustain sanity, and share my story.  And as to my qualifications of being a mother…one only needs to see my youngest daughter (from my 2nd deceased husband) to confirm how I have excelled there as well….on my own.

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