I am so proud to introduce Gini to you all today. Her post is so powerful today about how different motherhood is for her. Today she tackles custody battles, step-parenting, & most of all the love she has for her two girls & her husband. Enjoy & please leave her some comment love. Or better yet, stop by her place and say hello!
Hi! Iâ€™m Gini and I tell tales of all things life over at The McGlothin Family Nest: love and marriage, our faith in the Lord and how it sustains us, babies and parenthood, balancing work and family and tons of pictures of our adorable girls. I emailed Kate a week or so ago and told her I really needed some inspiration. I was drawing a blank on what to write about. My blog is about my life, but what do I write about on someone elseâ€™s blog?
Well, Kate said I could still blog about my life, even though Iâ€™m in her house. So thanks, Kate for the hospitality. But where do I begin? Probably on the day I married my husband and best friend, Luke. He completes me in places I didnâ€™t even know I was lacking. He is the most amazing partner to me and father to our girls that I could ever ask for. And speaking of our girls, one of them is not technically mine.
So yes, right from the beginning, my version of Mommyhood detours from white picket fences. When I married Luke, I also became a step-mother to the most beautiful angel, Bella. Only three years old at the time, Bella held my heart in the palm of her hand, and I learned that you really can love another person more than words can describe. And I also learned that the thought of losing that person can tear that heart in half. Bellaâ€™s mother got married six weeks after Bella was born and has moved her all over the country trying to keep Luke away from his sweet daughter. Theyâ€™ve been in Jacksonville, Chicago, San Diego and are now in Hawaii. (While Luke and Bellaâ€™s mother were never married, he has been in her life since she was born.)
Then, as I learned that I was meant to be a mother, even if it was a step-mother, Bellaâ€™s step-father filed a motion in Probate Court to adopt her. Yes, the same place that handles the estates of dead people can decide if the father of a now four-year old girl will ever see her again. Luke and I donâ€™t have lawyers. Long story short- his first lawyer agreed to something in court that Luke was whole-heartedly against- and from then on, Luke vowed to never let anyone else speak for him when it came to Bella.
So the two of us, with the support and prayers of our amazing families, went to court to fight for her (and I know you may think fight is a strong word not to be used when speaking about another human being, but itâ€™s definitely what it felt like… the fight of our lives.) I testified, Luke cross-examined, her mother and step-father said Bella would be better off without us in her life, but the judge decided that Bellaâ€™s step-father could not adopt her. Bella had a father that was more than willing to provide for her and desired to be a prominent fixture in her life. Score. We thought we were done.
Nope, they appealed the decision to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, so we spent the next summer filing briefs and motions and never even allowing ourselves to think the verdict may be reversed. Again, the appellate court ruled in our favor. Bella had a father and she could not be adopted by another man. So, now weâ€™re done, right? Now I can focus on our family and possibly even adding to it? Now I can stop having nightmares that we will never see Bella again?
Wrong again. They again appealed the decision, this time to the Supreme Court of Alabama citing the Probate Court exercised judicial misconduct when it ruled Bellaâ€™s father should not be eliminated from her life. I know it sounds ridiculous, but they maintained the argument that if we truly loved Bella, we would let her go. And they did all of this knowing that there was no way that was ever going to happen. Luke and I were never going to give up. Never.
And if this wasnâ€™t enough, they told us they were moving to Hawaii. Bellaâ€™s step-father is in the Navy and his orders required they be stationed at Pearl Harbor. (We would later learn in court that they had requested to move there.) So if the courts wouldnâ€™t take Bella away from Luke, they were determined to put 5,000 miles between father and daughter. We filed a motion to prevent this move, but the court actually had other advice for us. The judge was infuriated to learn that her step-father had attempted to circumvent the family courtâ€™s order by trying to adopt Bella in Probate Court and now they were taking her half-way around the world. He told Luke to file for custody of Bella.
What? Fathers almost never get custody of a child when the mother isnâ€™t dead or in prison. But we thought if the judge told us to file for custody of Bella, then we might actually have a chance. And while we would love to have Bella with us full-time, our motion for custody was joint. We didnâ€™t want to take Bella away from her mother like she had taken her away from us. We just wanted to see her more than a few weeks a year and to stop spending about that much time travelling back and forth to bring her here and then home again.
But we also decided this would no longer prevent us from growing our family. The two of us lived more than ten months a year without children, and we knew we wanted more. Itâ€™s not that Bella wasnâ€™t enough, but we always knew we would have more children and we shouldnâ€™t wait any longer. So we ditched the pill (or as my friends say- â€œremoved the goalieâ€) and the next month we were expecting.
I got lucky that the morning sickness was gone by the time Bella arrived for her Summer 2009 visit. I had also recently been laid off, so while no one was hiring (and especially hiring pregnant ladies) I spent the six weeks at home with my angel. Bella rubbed my belly constantly, talking to the baby and tell her all of things she would teach her one day. It was a great bonding experience and an awesome way to involve Bella in our growing family.
After three delays by Bellaâ€™s mother, we finally headed into our custody trial just one week before Claire was to be born. But the judge seemed to forget how angry he was ten months earlier at their outrageous attempts to take Bella away from us. He seemed to think we couldnâ€™t work together well enough to sustain joint custody. And he denied the very thing he told us to file for. It was heartbreaking, but we have full faith in Godâ€™s plan for us and for Bella.
On the brighter side, the Supreme Court of Alabama didnâ€™t even agree to hear the adoption case, much less reverse the decision. But now Bella will know that her mother and step-father spent over two and half years trying to eliminate us from her life, and that makes me sad. We want to think the best of our parents, and I donâ€™t look forward to the day she learns this. And I can guarantee it wonâ€™t be from us. Itâ€™s too hard, it hurts too bad and it wouldnâ€™t do anybody any good.
We have accepted the time we get to share as a family of four, and Bella is adjusting to Claire very well. She loves taking a bath with her, reading to her and playing peek-a-boo. While my version of mommyhood is nothing like I pictured it would be, I wouldnâ€™t change it for anything.
You can find out more about us over at The McGlothin Family Nest, and we hope youâ€™ll fly by! Thanks again for your hospitality Kate. The tea and scones were delightful.
Gini, wow you have been through so much here. While we can't control the actions of others (in your case bella's mom) it is amazing how well you guys chose to act. I really respect your decisions to fight for bella. I'm sure that even though you didn't in the end gain full custody, she will learn how much her daddy fought to have her and be close to her and that will minister love and life into her soul. Thanks for sharing your story.
Kate, sorry it must seem like I dropped of the planet. I still think of you and sending love your way. Things have just been crazy busy here. I know we'll get that phone chat in sometime in the next year : ) and happy birhtday to your hubby!
What a sad battle to have to fight! That is heart breaking what has happened, especially for Bella. She definitely needs Godly people like you guys in her life to let her know what real unconditional Love is about. Thanks for sharing your story.
Wow, I can't even imagine having to go through all of that, fighting for someone you love. I guess that's just what you do, but you have certainly gone way beyond what most mommies have to do.
Wow. Good for you and your husband to keep fighting. My friend (a guy) also fought for custody of his son and lost – he and his son's mother also were never married. That was over 12 years ago and it still kills him not to see his kid every day.
Thanks, Kate, for introducing us to Gini!
Nice to meet you Gini. You have been through so much. I too have been through a nasty custody battle. However for me it was me as the mother against the father. However I had very good reasons for wanting sole custody and the right to move. Sounds like Bella's mother didn't though and was just being a you know what.
What a sad story, I feel for you and your partner, I don't know what I would do if my two little boys were taken out of my life. It doesn't bear thinking about, I wish you well for the future.
Oh what a heartbreaking story!
seperation, legal or not, in gods eyesight your still maeirrd. until a divorce is final a person is still maeirrd. so what is going on here is that you have really knocked up someone’s wife. you do need to be their for your child, but you should have waited to make her your girlfriend. they could both decide tomarrow that they wanna call off the divorce and close the case. they can get back together and you will just be another baby daddy. its to late now so you gotta be there for the baby.