The Stereotypes, the myths and the reality…

My daughter Alexis and I when she was two weeks old. I raised her alone with very little help from her father. He would later sue me for custody to punish me for leaving him.

My daughter and I had a close relationship before her father sued me for custody. Now she calls someone else Mom.

I had to go back to work when my daughter was a little over a month old because her father refused to add her to his health insurance

It’s taken me nearly six years to realize that I was the victim of a sadistic abuser with a personality disorder. I won’t attempt to guess at what caused his personality disorder, but I have a strong suspicion that it may be his father who taught him that women are objects to be used and thrown away at a man’s discretion. For those of you who don’t know, I lost custody of my two year old to my ex-partner.

Why?

And that’s the question that bothers me. Over and over and over again. If I tell anyone that my daughter does not live with me, I have to answer the next question, which is “why?” If I were a father and I said my daughter lived with the mother, nobody would ask that question. But when you are a mom and the child lives apart from you, people automatically make the following assumptions:

1. You’re an abusive parent
2. You’re abusing drugs or alcohol
3. You’re unfit to parent for some reason

I can’t even relate how frustrating this is because none of these situations apply to me. I’ve never abused my child. As a matter of fact, one of the criticisms that I heard most often was that I was soft on discipline. I could not bear to hit my own child or inflict any kind of pain on her. I never abused her and I never will.

Am I an alcoholic drug abuser? No, not even close. Never touch the stuff.
Am I unfit to parent? Well let’s review.

-I carried my child to term as a single mom and never missed a prenatal appointment. I signed up for prenatal yoga, breastfeeding classes and childbirth education.
-I started a college savings plan for my daughter when I was 5 months pregnant and I read to her every night, even before she was born.
-I brought her home as a single mom to a nursery full of everything that she would need for the first year of life.
-I paid for all of her medical bills out of pocket because her father refused to add her to his health insurance
-I breastfed, made my own baby food, enrolled her in Mommy and Me music, the Little Gym at 4 months and Gymboree at 6 months.
-For a year I was a stay at home mom, running a small business from home while caring for my infant as a single mother.
-By the time she was two years old, she was playing the drums, violin and piano/keyboard.
– I was active in the local parent’s association, her sunday school class and volunteered at her daycare center.

So why did I lose custody? Well, for one thing, her father sued me for custody because he was angry that I left the relationship.

On a Wednesday evening, I told him our relationship was over for good. That Saturday, I was late coming home from a shopping trip for his weekend visit pickup. He dialed 911 and told the police that our daughter was missing and that I had a gun. When I got home, there were three squad cars waiting for me. I was handcuffed and thrown on the hood of a police car in front of our infant daughter. But I’m the unfit parent?

So you get why he sued me for custody. But do you know why I lost? Are you ready for this?

-My lawyer didn’t show up at the hearing and the father got custody by default. And because of that I’ll never

-get to walk my daughter to school on her first day of kindergarten
-be able to spend Mother’s day with her without an order from a judge
-be able to style her hair without his permission
-be able to take her to her pediatrician
-be able to bring her cupcakes to her school for her birthday unless he gives me permission
-be able to enroll her in any kind of music lesson, dance or extracurricular activity unless he approves it first
-be able to tuck her into bed at night on a Wednesday
-be there to kiss her bruises

If you think this is a rare occurence, think again. Statistically, a father who sues for custody will win the majority of the time.

So if I tell you that my daughter doesn’t live with me, don’t assume I’m a monster. I’m not.

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2 Responses to The Stereotypes, the myths and the reality…

  1. Janette Colbert says:

    Hi Alison, I finally found your blog. Great stuff you have here. I got an advanced reader copy of your book from Cecilia and I read it in one sitting. I can’t believe some of the things you went through from McKinly, I truly hated him by the end of the book and I never even met him!
    I cried when I read about how he went to court and made you get an arrest warrant when you were at your granny’s funeral, or about how he called the cops on you and almost got you shot. I cried with you when you mourned your baby and when you talked about how he found a loophole in your court order that meant you didn’t get Alexis on Mother’s day. What an asshole!
    I just have a few questions:

    -When he told you to keep Alexis for an extra day then called the police on you and had you arrested, did you get a felony for that? You didn’t explain it in the book.

    -Was it true that he wouldn’t let you comb her hair without his permission?

    -The part where you said he made you call him “sir” if you wanted to talk to the baby–was that part true?

    -How did you feel when he enrolled Alexis in school and you didn’t even know what school she went to?

    I’m writing a book review and I just wanted your opinions. Thanks!

  2. Hi Janette, thanks for responding. I didn’t know Cecilia had gotten the ARCs already. I have to start passing them out to the book clubs. I have a few book clubs waiting for a copy…

    In response to your questions, I can do an interview with you for your article that’s more in depth. I also have a press release/handout that I can email you. But I’ll answer the questions you asked:

    1. I was arrested in April 2009. McKinly had asked me if Alexis could stay an extra day and I would drop her off Monday instead of Sunday. I agreed. He then went to the police—remember he works for the Department of Corrections so he knows people—and reported Lexi missing. When I came back the next day to bring her back, I was arrested. She witnessed me being arrested. I spent three days in jail, I was handcuffed, fingerprinted, the whole nine yards. Luckily I had been in the habit of recording all of our phone calls, so I had an audiotape of the conversation. I had to pay an attorney several thousand dollars to defend me, but the judge dismissed the charges eventually. I don’t have a felony and I’ve never been convicted of a crime.

    2. Yes, that’s 100% true. He told me that his girlfriend combs her hair now so I’m not allowed to. Once I combed it anyway and he called me furious and said I had ruined his girlfriend’s son’s birthday party. He demanded that I apologize to her. I told him in not so nice language what he could do to himself. I think Cee-Lo says it best.

    3. Yes, I have to say “May I please speak to Alexis sir,” if I want to talk to her. Sometimes I have to say it over and over until he is satisfied with the response. He often puts me on speaker phone so that his family and Alexis can hear me begging to speak to her.

    4. I was devastated. I guess I always thought I would take her to school on her first day and make her lunch and give her a kiss at the door. I never imagined I would have no choice in what school she attended. I later tried to get info about the name of her teacher, her class, etc. and I was told that I wasn’t listed in any of the registration paperwork. He had listed his girlfriend’s name as mother, so I had no access to any information. It took me three more court dates, a year and $2,500 in legal fees to get my name on the registration card.

    Wow, that was hard to write again. It’s painful to think about but I press on. Life goes on and we get stronger as we get older. I realize his need to control is a function of his low self-esteem. He has a stuttering problem, a ridiculously low IQ and he has seizures and severe skin problems. He feels weak and powerless so he uses our daughter to feel like he has self worth. Sometimes I feel sorry for McKinly but not often. He’s a very small man.

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