Two Years Later: What I Have Learned After Regaining Custody of My Daughter

On April 3, 2012 my mother and I left New York around midnight to drive to Hampton Virginia to get my daughter Cydney who had been in her grandparents’ custody since her mother Timile passed away months earlier.  For my new readers, this story can be read in detail here. We got to the Hampton Sherrff’s Department at 8 a.m.  I called my lawyer and told him that I was in Virginia to pick up my daughter.  Virginia law states that if a father has evidence that he is a biological parent then he can take his child.  Timile’s parents didn’t have legal custody of Cydney; she was just with them.  My lawyer said that if there were any issues to give him a call.  That wound up happening.  Cydney’s guardian as litem-court appointed lawyer to oversee what is in her best interest-was contacted and scheduled an impromptu temporary custody hearing for April 4 until the final hearing which was May 21st.  

I’ve had Cydney since the guardian ad litem granted my visitation the afternoon of April 3rd.  Ever since then things have been much sweeter.  Looking back on how the last four years have played out there has been a lot to think about.  The stress that has come along with it has began to overwhelm me recently as I have been running without too much time to process what has transpired or even just to grieve.  It’s been one thing after another.  I looked at myself in the mirror while getting my hair cut yesterday and didn’t like what I saw.  My barber 360 is a good friend of mine and he looked at me and said “Are you alright?”  He knows what I’ve been going through and has been someone I’ve talked to through these last couple of months.  My eyes aree always red, the bags under my eyes are dark, I’ve lost a lot of weight because I don’t even eat regularly–I look a mess.  I look like someone who is in need of a vacation and when I get one just turn my phone off.

With all of that said would I do everything again had I known how things would turn out?  Absolutely.  I will never forget the first time I cried to Timile.  It had been maybe three weeks into when we started dating.  Out of nowhere I was just overwhelmed with sadness.  She asked me what was wrong.  My response was “I think I’m gonna lose you.”  I didn’t know how or when but I had just felt that one day she was going to be gone.  I was right and for the last two months having that conversation after watching The Godfather 3 on my couch in Atlanta has been ringing in my head and I have pictured the moment as vividly as the day it happened.  If I knew then what I know now I would still follow almost all of the same chains of events.  I wouldn’t change the arguments, the breaks, the good times, or even all of the struggle and stress that came along when she got sick and after she passed away.  They defined me.  They made me a man.

I may not be anywhere near my goals in life, but this process has made me a very strong individual.  While I am much more cynical and I am still a big kid who is optimistic and faithful that things will turn out for the best.  I am hardened a little more but I think that since I haven’t lost all of myself or even faith in people is a testament to my resilience and is something else.  I don’t think God would have placed me through the things that He has if I wasn’t built for it.  I am very self-aware and a healthy paycheck every two weeks from fully being self-actualized.  

Honestly, I probably would be much worse off if I didn’t have Cydney through all of this.  Being the father to a little girl makes me smile more and has brought out my inner teddy bear because I really love to hug, kiss, and cuddle with my baby girl.  I would have lost the rest of me that is silly if I had a son because I would be seeing the world as a cold place and would have tried to make him a man way too young.  I smile more than I used to (I didn’t really smile at all before).  My laugh [sometimes] is more than a nonchalant smirk that comes out of the corner of my mouth.  I make an effort to communicate way more than I did before.  I have a patience that just might rival Job and the spirit of Nehemiah .  Sike; they got me beat by a long shot but I feel like it in my head.

From a relationship standpoint I have all of the confidence in the world.  While I am still very shy I am fearless.  I’m pushing thirty but I can say that I have lived every vow one takes on their wedding day.  While most people I still interact with or have dated are still figuring out how to sustain a relationship or get married I know how to do it.  Sure everyone is different but the process is always the same.  I’ve lived through pregnancy, and I am a father.  I am thankful and blessed because I can say that God made someone for me to learn how to love, the unconditional service that comes along with it, bore me a child to learn responsibility and how to make things happen for her.  This wasn’t just for me…it was for whoever I choose to marry.  Not that I think super highly of myself but that person is incredibly blessed that God made all of this happen for that woman.  Cydney and I will be handfuls but it’ll be worth it.

Two years ago today I had no idea what life would be like.  I didn’t even know what Cydney really looked like that morning.  But I say all of this to say that adversity may seem like a hindrance but it is in face defining.  Another conversation I had with Timile when she’d told me about her childhood was I explained to her the process of gold.  As a mineral it first takes millions of years to develop.  Someone recognizes that it as something potentially of value and then plucks it from it’s natural habitat.   It has to go through the fire, be melted down to liquid, molded into shape, and then polished before you see what we consider valuable.  Gold may melt but it does not fear the flame.

The process is in fact perfect even if we do not see that while we’re going through it.  That is what I have learned these last two years.

 

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3 thoughts on “Two Years Later: What I Have Learned After Regaining Custody of My Daughter”

  1. Congratulations on your accomplishments. It is hard to imagine what you have been through. The fathers here, definitely are given an impossible amount of stress and discrimination than any whole race or sex of people that I know of – I guess I can say this from the life that I have been blessed to share with my Fiance. Sending well wishes and good vibes you and Cydney’s way, I’m sure Timile is sending her good vibes as well. Take care, and know that you will always have the support from all that love and see what you do as a wonderful parent and person.

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  2. A story of significant personal growth and sacrifice.
    I very much relate to your desire never to be regretful, but to learn from everything you experience. I do believe that it is important to grieve our losses (and they come in so many forms) – otherwise the stress of that can build up and then one day, we explode or completely burn out.

    I think its brave and wonderful that you are sharing your experiences so openly. I’ve no doubt that there are others in similar situations and your words would really provide comfort 🙂

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Miss Lou
    x

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