I have only one blood niece. She is my baby-brother’s daughter. Her name is Annabelle (or as I call her, Annabelly or Bella) and she is 2. My brother, Derek, is currently in the Marine Corps. He is doing his tour in Afghanistan until February.
That being said, Annabelle is currently a “child of the state.” While my brother was in Iraq in 2008, his pregnant wife (now ex-wife) was unfaithful. Derek was not able to witness his first daughter coming into the world because he was serving our country. After finding out about his wife’s unfaithfulness, he came home to meet his baby girl and to get a divorce.
Because Derek is in the military, he is required to live on-base. Right now, he lives in Camp Lejeune, NC. His ex-wife decided to move back to Ohio with the baby during the divorce. Someone called Child Protective Services on her (rightfully so,) and the baby was taken away. When a child is taken away in a certain county, they are not able to cross over the county line until everything is resolved or with approval. Annabelle’s aunt & uncle (from Derek’s ex’s side) currently have custody of Annabelle and have had custody for over a year now. Actually, since having custody, Derek’s ex got pregnant from another man and had another child (who was also taken away from the time she was released from the hospital and is in the custody of the same aunt & uncle.)
Derek has been unable to obtain custody of Annabelle because of being deployed. There is another court date in December, but he will not be able to make it. He is fighting for full custody but is not sure how he is going to do it seeing as he’s been deployed twice in 2 years. My mother absolutely loves Annabelle. This is her first grandchild and she has adored that little girl since the moment she was conceived. My mom was able to be in the hospital room when Annabelle was born, and even cut the umbilical cord.
The whole situation is very frustrating for everyone. Derek wants his child, but barely knows her due to 2 - 7 month stints out of the country. Annabelle knows all about her daddy, and when Derek calls, she talks to him (I got to witness this last week when Derek called. She says, “I loves you daddy!”) and loves to be around him. However, she is in a home with her sister and her cousins. When my mom takes Annabelle for the weekend, Annabelle starts to miss her cousins and the children from daycare.
My mom has considered trying to fight for custody of Annabelle, but she said that knowing that she is with other children right now, and her own sister she couldn’t possibly take her out of that environment to be pretty much an only child. My mother’s biggest fear is that she will lose contact with her grandchild.
So, if I talk about my mom “picking up” Annabelle and “checking to see if she can get” Annabelle, you now know why. Even though this child is considered “a child of the state” right now, she is loved by so many of us. I am glad she and her sister were taken out of the situations they were in and are loved so deeply by their family. However, the battle of custody will most likely take years to sort out.