Friday, January 31, 2014

Funny, I've been suspicious of many of the rulings (or lack thereof) my judge (Judge Linda. Schoonover) has made, including vacating her own order giving me custody after my son had been living with me for one month.
Now this has hit the news and it really makes me wonder what has been discussed about MY case outside of the courtroom, and just how close IS she with my mom's lawyer?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I gave my mother temporary custody of my son when he was a baby. she let me visit sporadically but things got weird after she taught him to call her "mom". in 2010 she told me my son "didn't want" to visit me and she "didn't think it was right to make him" when i threatened to go to court, she told me "do what you gotta do" i began my battle representing myself, until the point that my mother's attorney requested appointment of her friend and colleague as guardian ad litem. i am grateful to have acquired my own attorney when she was first starting out, and she gave me the option of a monthly payment plan. but after four years, the grand total just keeps growing. what was a clear cut and dry case of revoking temporary custody from a family member (who agreed i am a fit parent) has turned into four years of what amounts to 45 scheduled hearings (19 with the magistrate and 26 with the judge) of which 18 of those were cancelled or continued in an effort to let my son get old enough to resist visitation more actively. 27 of those hearings were actually held, but as i sit here without my son i cannot help but wonder what any of the hearings hae accomplished, exactly.  Not counting attorney fees, i have paid almost $8000 in therapy. costs (at one point I was paying $185 per week to see my son for two hours at the therapist's office), while my mother has contributed less than $500 and currently owes me $2500 in court ordered reimbursements from the first therapist. once he filed his report (that my son should end up with me and that people not following court orders should be held accountable for their actions)she moved to have him replaced with a new therapist.

Sigh....Intro to the drama

I wrote this draft and lost it somewhere, I came back to it just now after starting my other blog, and suddenly it seems like a good idea to take this story here as well. I see that two more years have passed since I wrote this, and my saga is much sadder, though I have earned some smiles and even some laughter for my trouble. My son is 15 now. Still, I perservere in my efforts to make sure that he knows that I love him. I am told I am selfish, and that I am stubborn. Ok. Or I know what the right thing to do is, and I choose that, despite wanting nothing more than to turn my back on the whole lot of nonsense.

January 2011:
How to summarize this in few words? I don't think that's possible.

My son (he'll be 13 in a few short weeks) was born when I was 19. I wanted to place him for open adoption because I was getting evicted from my apartment. (and I actually ended up spending the first 2 years of his life living in my car)

My mom (instead of patting me on the back and reassuring me I COULD be a mom, or even supporting my decision for adoption) or offering me a place to stay, convinced me that he should live with her to "stay in the family" and so that "I can see him and be part of his life" So shortly after he was born, we got our 24 hour eviction notice, and took him to live with his grandma, "Nana".

I was ok with that decision for awhile when I could see him or call him. I was evicted from my apartment and made ends meet as an exotic dancer. I had zero knowledge of these type of things and stocked her with groceries, diapers and clothes, and gave her cash (because, duh, I was a dancer, I got cash daily) When I had something for her or could DO something for her or wasn’t a threat (read: still out partying and acting like a kid) I was allowed to see my son.

In 2004 I spent a year in jail that was my wake up call and my first encounter with counseling of any kind.  It was the most critical time in my life, as I sat around studying ME and MYSELF and the family I came from. And understood why I was the way I was, and also that I had a CHOICE not to be that way.(Imagine that!)

 As I grew the heck up and pulled my head out of my @$$ she pushed me more and more away.  While I was in jail my son starting calling "Nana" "Mom". I objected. Loudly.  I sent letters, and she told me she wasn't giving them to him because I signed them "Your Mommy" and I was "confusing him"  She said this was his choice. At first I argued that her JOB was to remind him that she was his GRANDMA and that he had a mom.  When I got out of jail, she wouldn't let me see him. Not because I had been in jail, but because I refused to refer to myself by my name instead of as Mom.
It took her a few months, but I eventually broke down and agreed to stop calling myself Mom so that I could see him. And so I contibuted to the delusion myself. 

A rift grew between my mother and I.  Determined to right my upside down existence, I moved a few states away to live with my father (whom I had never lived with in my life) in the middle of nowhere in the mountains of North Carolina. Got myself turned right-side up and was rediscovered by my middle/high school boyfriend/crush.

I called to talk to my son, and sometimes I could, but most of the time my mom monopolized the conversation and told me about problems I wasn't allowed to help fix (My son was getting bullied but she wouldn't let me pay for self-defense classes)

We got married, and though my son was invited, he strangely "had plans" out of state that week, and was unable to attend. Sometimes I regret having my mother present at my wedding, but I figure the irony of her "giving me away" to my husband is fitting enough to make it tolerable.

My stepdaughter lives with her mother halfway across the country, and visits 3 times a year.  We have a solid start though because the first 2 years of our marriage we had her every weekend before she moved away with her mom. Our first daughter together was born, and even more missing parts of my upbringing made sense as I learned firsthand how all this "Mom" stuff really works.

Thanksgiving 2008 my mom cut all contact and refuses to let me see my son, telling anyone who will listen how he “doesn’t want to”, and told me to "do what you gotta do".  These tactics would have bullied me into submission prior to my therapy. Instead, I am doing what I have to do. It isn't pretty, and I am fairly helpless so far as to keeping my son out of the middle where she has placed him. All I can do is follow through to the end and hope it influences his adult life in some positive way.

I filed with the courts for visitation and she filed for supervised visitation. I got “4 supervised visits at {visitation center} to be followed by reasonable visitation as agreed upon by the parties” Needless to say after my 4 visits we were unable to reach any kind of agreement. No matter what schedule I suggested her response was basically "How about NO visitation?" so back to court we went!

We got a Guardian Ad Litem (who honestly doesn't seem to have done much in the last year and a half, which adds to my frustration) who is supposed to advocate my son's "best interests" but she says a lot of "he doesn't want to" as well.  Sorry, if I parented that way, my 3 year old would eat nothing but chocolate and would never nap.  Not necessarily in her best interests, kwim?
I have now fought my way visitation every Friday WITH a counselor and we are slowly but surely making progress, though my mother will disagree.  He's joined ROTC this year, which makes me happy because last year he wasn't really doing his homework, but there was little I could do about it.  He likes ROTC, and if he wants to stay in it, he HAS to do his homework. This pleases me. :)

He was supposed to come over this year for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it never happened. She claims it is his choice and she has no control over him, and is powerless to force him to go. The counselor has expressed that he sees no need for supervised visitation at this point, but my mom refuses to let it go. For the record, we are supposed to be starting family therapy, but she's dragging her heels on that front as well.

I maintain my sanity by sewing until my fingers feel like falling off, doing yoga (with the Wii, it still counts!), and chasing my precocious 3 year old daughter around all day. 

I figure one of us has to be rational. 

He may not realize that someone is me yet, but he's only 12.  I have a good understanding of his position since my mother pretty much did the same thing to my dad. She badmouthed him all the time. My dad never (still!) spoke poorly of my mother, though she likely deserves it. The closest he's come to it is saying "Well, that's your mother" when I am complaining.  And you know what? Because of that I have a far greater respect for him than I ever will for her.  And because of that I know if I just remain calm and perserverant and be patient, my son will put the pieces together eventually. I hope.