Sarah is a Navy veteran of 7.5 years, long-time community servant, and mother of two beautiful children - Micah 9, and Isabella 7. She has lost her children due to discrimination for being transgender.
***MASSIVE UPDATE*** I am beyond excited to share a major development!!! My EX & I SETTLED OUT OF COURT!!! Most importantly, my ex agreed to some major provisions in our parenting plan that lay the groundwork and provide adequate structures to facilitate healing my relationship with the kids and making sure they get they help and support THEY need!
This is SOO important. Beyond not being able to afford a 5 day trial, I firmly believe that the very best outcome for my kids will be if we can work together as co-parents. This marks the end of the most debilitatingly painful chapter of my life. The depression and anxiety have been ever-present and often paralyzing. The grief has been crushing. The expense of the past 12 months of litigating my way back into my kids life has taken every penny of my credit, savings, and income which was still not enough. This is where you - my family, friends, acquaintances, and often complete strangers have stood in the gap for me an more importantly, for my kiddos! I am in tears as I reflect on how this experience has taught me how to receive help and love. You are beautiful people and I am forever grateful. There have been two critical points in this battle where I was on the verge of being priced out of the legal battle and you intervened. Thank you!
As this chapter is finally closed, a new one begins. Yesterday, after six hours in mediation with the attorneys and the judge, we walked away with EVERYTHING settled and agreed upon. Obviously this is just paper and now the real work begins and there are major hurdles ahead and wounds to be healed, but at last that work can begin. Last night I spoke with my ex about how to move forward and I am very hopeful that we can finally learn to cooperate and put the kids ahead of everything!
I struggle to find the words to adequately describe the weight that has been lifted. You played a critical role and I am forever indebted. I will continue to provide periodic updates as things continue to develop.
Ok folks, it all comes down to this! These next few weeks will set a legal foundation that will affect my children for the foreseeable future and as of a hearing this week (4/23) I am still facing blatant discrimination in court. My only recourse is to provide the court with education and to make an iron-clad legal argument that leans heavily on the LGBT moms and dads who have gone before me. There are a few specific ways in which this case has the potential to confront discrimination in a way that could affect the rights of other transgender parents in the future. If my case ends up in the court of appeals, it will break ground on a few critical questions that will have a major impact on legal precedent for future transgender parents - either very good, or very bad. (I.e., magnuson v. magnuson is an unfavorable appeals decision that is harming my case NOW)
HERE IS HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE TODAY:
1. Please consider giving financially as you are able. Everything helps! 100% of these proceeds will go towards legal fees and mental health care costs for my kids.
2. Please consider sharing with a few friends who you think may be touched by my story. Or if you know of any organizations you think might be able to help.
3. My kids and I will take all the positive vibes, thoughts, and prayers you're willing to send our way. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
- If I get either full custody or even temporary full custody this summer to allow for intensive anxiety treatment and reunification therapy, I will need to find a reasonably priced apartment or home (2 or ideally 3 bedrooms) in the Bellevue/Redmond/Kirkland area or Capitol Hill. I will also need childcare Wednesday afternoon - Saturday - if you happen to know of any affordable resources.
I wish I could express adequately how incredibly grateful I am for your generosity and support. I have never been so broken emotionally, spiritually, and financially - and my family, friends, community, and even complete strangers have stepped in and made certain that I am not alone in this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!
UPDATE - 4/25/2018
Thanks everyone for your support emotionally and financially! This has been, without a doubt, the most challenging season of my life. GOOD NEWS: My relationship with Isabella has improved dramatically and I am able to see her regularly. Micah, on the other hand, continues to struggle with debilitating anxiety and will not even get in the car with me. He needs specialized help but my ex continues to resist cooperation in a campaign to maintain her religious indoctrination that is causing him great harm! I motioned the court to grant sole decision making rights for their therapy, but I was met with blatant bias from the court and the decision was punted to the trial judge.
My ex continues to show zero willingness to provide our children the emotionally and psychological support they need to adjust to our divorce and my transition. She maintains it is her religious right to teach the children whatever she wishes which includes the notion that transgender people are “mentally ill sinners rebelling against God’s design” This teaching has totally severed my relationship with my son and greatly contributed to his debilitating anxiety!
This saga is coming to a climax over the next 4 weeks, as we just had a hearing on 4/23, have a settlement conference on 4/30, then a FIVE day trial starting 5/14!!! I still hope to and will continue to try to settle - but trial preps must go on! This is a wildly complex case that requires expert witnesses and massive legal costs to prepare and argue the case. In addition to the legal fees, I have to pay these expert witnesses what will likely be in the $6,000 - $7,000 range. In addition, the therapy bills are ~$700 EVERY month after insurance.
Here are my expenses for the next 4 weeks surrounding trial- (this excludes the ~$35,000 that I have spent over the past 12 months)
APRIL LEGAL FEES: ~$10,000 - $12,000
MAY LEGAL FEES: ~ $15,000 - $17,000
APRIL/MAY EXPERT WITNESS FEES: ~$6,000 - $7,000
HUGE UPDATE: I spent last weekend with BOTH of my kids!!! This was the second time in 10 months and the first since **JUNE**!!!
I am so grateful for the support and generosity of each and every one of you! Friends, family, and complete strangers who have stood in the gap for me and my children! You have moved the needle and literally allowed me to keep my legal representation at a critical point in this whole process. **THANK YOU**
The battle is far from over - but I firmly believe that this past month has opened a new chapter and we have made progress that is critically important! This campaign is closed, but I will continue to provide updates for those who are following along!
Hey folks - I cannot thank you enough for your generous support - both emotionally and financially... this is the most painful thing I've ever been through and it's been particularly difficult during the holidays... Your support has really been a lifeline! Here are a few updates:
CONTACT WITH KIDS: Well, after a victory in court earlier this month, the judge admonished my ex quite sternly and ordered a concrete plan to work towards reunification. One of the results of this, I have gotten to talk to my daughter TWO TIMES on the phone and once on FaceTime this month!!! (photo is a screenshot of our facetime call - we were making silly faces) THANK YOU ALL!! It's progress!
FINANCES: Thanks to everyone's generosity, I was able to retain my attorney for at least another month - I almost lost her due to inability to pay the bill in full. THANK YOU ALL!!
COURT: I have a parenting plan that orders that I have daily contact with my kids and that I get three days/nights with them every-other week. Thus far I have observed this ONCE since April 2017. The only way to achieve this is to hold my ex accountable to obeying what the court has ordered! More updates to come on this front!!
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