I Let My Ex Take Our Girl & Have Full Custody -- So She Could Be Happy
"I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. It was my worst nightmare."
There are days when I snowball back to the beginning because it’s hard to recognize my life compared to 10 years ago. One decision led to another and here I am — living almost 3,000 miles away from my daughter — and I can’t believe this is my reality.
I remember looking down at that positive pregnancy test and not fully comprehending how drastically my life was about to change. I was only 18, and in an unstable relationship with an uncertain future. The next few months were filled with doubt and fear as I explored options and made decisions that would impact the rest of my life.
But the moment she was born, nothing else mattered. I loved her with all of my heart, and I knew I would do anything for her. I had no idea at the time that would mean letting her go.
I assumed the paperwork would be quick and easy since it had been so long since I had even heard from my ex.
I was completely shocked to find out he had previously filed for divorce in South Carolina without my knowledge and had been granted temporary full custody months before.
At that point, everything was chaos.
The courts fought over jurisdiction. I hired multiple attorneys in both states to defend my case but after many hearings, a judge in South Carolina required that I quit my job, terminate my lease, and move within 30 miles of my ex.
I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. It was my worst nightmare.
So I continued to fight.
I always felt so strongly that everything happened for a reason, but I couldn’t understand — why this?
After an intense custody battle, we reached an agreement outside of court that would allow me to relocate eventually and set visitation for that to happen. But because it wasn’t filed with the court, it wasn’t official.
Which led to the most terrible experience of my life: the day my daughter was taken.
I still remember driving to our meeting location and the panic that started to set in as time went by and no one showed up.
Finally someone answered their phone (his mum, his girlfriend, I can’t remember) but my knees buckled and I dropped to the ground when she said they weren’t coming, and they wouldn’t tell me where she was until I saw them in court as my daughter cried in the background.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know if I would ever see her again.
So I drove to South Carolina and filed a police report but they said there was nothing they could do until I had a court order from a judge.
We filed for an emergency hearing and finally had enough evidence and documentation for leverage to discuss a compromise.
The moment I got my daughter back was so bittersweet. Knowing that no matter what, she would never be just mine again.
We were paying over $1,000 per month just on plane tickets, I was leaving my husband and other kids to travel, and it was usually over a holiday so I was missing that time with our family. It wasn’t sustainable.
I called our attorney and prepared to go back to court. I have so much distrust and fear associated with the system but couldn’t see any other way.
Something had to change.
When I hung up the phone, I had an overwhelming impression to let her live with her dad. And immediately I denied it because that was the one thing I promised I would never do. It just couldn’t happen.
Around the same time, we began noticing signs of parental alienation and my daughter had asked to live with her dad. The answer was always no but they continued to push the option.
My daughter began to manipulate situations and not telling the truth — using both parents against each other. I felt like I was fighting for someone who didn’t want to even be there. The odds were against me as I looked into all alternatives to any other solution.
But it always came back to the one thing I couldn’t bring myself to do: let her go.
And our lives haven’t been the same since.
Our situation is still difficult and probably always will be! But I know she is where she needs to be. She is loved and well taken care of. She’s happy!