Do Not Challenge a Widow for Her Only Child
No one, relative or not, has the right to your children or to interfere with how you raise them. Period.
Caleb wakes up for school every morning with a groan and a mop of disheveled, dark blonde hair that matches mine. I wrap him up in his robe and follow him downstairs to the kitchen for his current favorite: waffles. He is quiet in the morning like me, but he wakes right up when his older cousin comes in with his usual happy chatter.
Believe it or not, Caleb gets ready for school without complaint. He dresses himself and brushes his teeth with no instruction.
The following is something he was never able to witness from his dad, but he follows in Jason’s footsteps all the same:
Every morning, we stand in front of the bathroom mirror while I apply makeup, and he styles his hair. I tell him, “That’s what your dad did, but he used beeswax instead of hair gel!”
Caleb laughs, “Why didn’t I get curly hair like my dad?”
When I get home from work, Caleb rushes to be the first person to hug me, and he asks me about my day and what I’m cooking for dinner.
Our routine is not flawless, but this year he has been great about following a list of chores when he gets home. I always check his homework, and we always study together.
We say a prayer every night: Thank you Lord for all You have given us- medicine, food and shelter…”
I am so thankful for every precious moment with my son.
Every Decision I’ve Made Has Been in the Best Interest of My Son
I became a Type 1 Diabetic when I was nine years old. My dad’s excellent federal health insurance covered the huge cost of my treatment, but the company was more than happy (and legally allowed) to drop me from coverage when I got married. They gave me a three year “extension” for about $450 mo.
I learned from the experience and purchased individual coverage for Caleb shortly after he was born. I sat down with the broker and made her swear- “If my son is diagnosed with ANYTHING, he is covered, right?”
After hearing about the insurance plan, someone close to us asked if they could adopt my son and put him on their insurance. I was polite, but I was also offended. I was in excellent health and in good financial shape. Why would I even consider that?!
If I was in dire circumstances, the only people I would trust to take care of my son’s finances and spiritual upbringing are my parents.
This Year I Hired a Lawyer
I’m a widow, leftover from a suicide that had no warning. That was my worst year.
Looking back, 2014 has been my best year. This year I learned to identify my enemies. This year I turned 30. This year I was acting on 3 decades of experience- knowledge of the human condition.
This year someone began a legal process with the intention of winning rights to my child.
This year I took control of an unhealthy situation…I hired a lawyer.
In March, I received a letter from the person’s attorney asking me to agree to a visitation schedule, as if we were a divorced couple! Why would I do that when the person decided to move out of the home where we had previously spent time together?
The person’s unexpected coldness made me feel unwelcome in the new house, and I could not agree to leave my son unsupervised in a place frequented by people I do not trust. The person would not accept my mother’s intuition. The situation was bewildering!
I felt that involving a lawyer was the person’s attempt to intimidate me into bending to their demands. I tried to assure the person that we could all spend time together, but they insisted that time with my son be unsupervised. Red flag alert.
In May, my aggressor filed papers claiming to be the “fit and proper person” to have custody of my son. Also documented on the official complaint is that I myself am “unfit” to retain custody of my son. If custody was denied, my opponent asked for court mandated visitation instead.
In June, during the first and only hearing, my opponent was unable to present any justification for having alleged that I’m an unfit parent.
Months later, the “case” ended with a mutual decision to drop it.
This year, no matter how unsettling and inconvenient the process, I defended my family. I refused to sign over any rights to my son, however limited.
I maintain my original answer to the litigation: the opposing party is welcome to spend time with me and my son together.
Writing about this causes me no embarrassment. I have always been a wonderful mother, and I had support during this controversy in every corner. Even parties that would traditionally choose the side of my opponent contacted me with advice and even apologized for my being dragged into something so ridiculous.
I love that I have grown to be a person who lets no one take advantage, a person that meets conflict without flinching. I defended my family and somehow kept the peace at the same time.
And I’m still left to wonder:
What was the whole point of these shenanigans??
It’s bad enough when a child grows up without his father. It’s terrifying to imagine a court system that would entertain the claims of a party that is trying to usurp the rights of the parent. Loving parents are facing litigation, and the people who suffer most are the children.
Why would you pull a child away from the only parent they have left? Why would you disrupt their schedule and routines?
A child will lose their sense of security if the court is allowed to overrule the decisions of their parent. The situation is not in the best interest of the child, but it happens all the time.
What would you do if someone challenged you for your child?