Help Cyborg dad regain custody

$8,080 of $10,750 goal

Raised by 83 people in 24 months
My name is Rich Lee. In 2008 I found my passion in life: using technology to augment the human experience. This passion borrows from many areas like biohacking, grinding, transhumanism, body modification, electronics, neurology, cybernetics, and more. In 2013 I had implants installed in my ears as part of a series of cyborg audio experiments which allowed me to hear heat, detect distant footsteps, and many other cool things. Some people think it is strange and that's ok. I've had the opportunity to speak on the topic internationally, I've been on TV shows, and done many interviews. My kids (age 9 & 12) love it. They were always excited to introduce their friends to their cyborg dad.

I got divorced in 2015 and have shared a one week custody rotation with my ex since the divorce was finalized. I've tried staying on good terms with her, employing the "gray rock" strategy whenever possible. I bought our marital home and spent a lot of money to make it nice for the kids and so they could continue to live in a familiar setting. Being a single income household in a town with the second lowest wages in the nation is tough, and I've struggled to make ends meet. Despite that, we were happy.

On September 24th I installed a thin tube of non-Newtonian armor in my shins to see how well it would protect bones from an impact. This upset my ex for some reason, and on September 28th she failed to return the kids to my house. She sent me a text saying that I'd never have custody of my children again. I got the police involved, but it seems that our terribly worded divorce decree had given her a legal loophole to do this. 

I immediately hired an attorney and filed a motion for supplemental parentage with the court. Her attorney responded saying that I was an unfit parent because I am "into a form of self mutilation called biohacking". She filed her own motion asking for all decision making authority and sole custody of the kids. I'd still get visitation but I'd be prohibited from "exposing the children to his biohacking/transhuman/grinder lifestyle."

This has been horrible on the kids who are in distress about the situation. They love both parents equally and want to live with both of us. I've never exposed them to any implantation procedure (but many kids their age are hunting and gutting deer, which is far gorier to me). They used to think I was an awesome dad with super powers, but now they have been told I am a self-mutilating parent with a problem and that they are victims for seeing the stitches in my legs. I've also suffered. I can't sleep well, I've had panic attacks, and worry has killed my appetite. I have lost 20 pounds since the ordeal began.

I've always tried to tell them that body differences are not something to be feared. Sometimes those differences are intentional and sometimes those differences happen at birth or due to circumstance. But a body doesn't dictate how much empathy someone deserves or let you judge the content of their character. I have friends from all races, some with tattoos, piercings, and other body mods. I have trans friends, skinny friends, fat friends, amputee friends, and friends who need dental work. I strongly believe that one's body is theirs to what they want with. I choose to customize mine with through various technological interventions. That does not make me an unfit parent and shouldn't make my kids love me less. I fear that the courts system in my small conservative town will not understand that parents being into body modification and biohacking ARE NOT FORMS OF CHILD ABUSE.

I want my family back and I need help. Things were tight before, but now 30% of my wages are being withheld for child support and even more will be going toward attorney fees. My poor kids could use an unbiased therapist and some X-mas presents from their dad. The courts are backed up and I'm told I might not get a hearing until February. Most of the money will go toward my attorney fees. My highest priority is getting an untainted therapist, and the rest is to help keep my home out of foreclosure until my court date.

I'm a good dad and my kids need me in their lives. If you help me out I will be eternally grateful. I'd be willing to speak at events, help brainstorm...whatever I can do let me know. Or, if I ever strike it big I'll repay you tenfold. Thanks for you consideration!

(I adjusted my goal. It looks likely that a custody evaluation will be ordered which will add an additional $4,000 expense :( bummer)
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Today, after nearly one year, the courts reached a decision in my custody case. This has been the darkest time in my life. I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights and worry. My strengths and accomplishments were used against me to portray me as a monster. My children were traumatized by the sudden irrational change in custody and made to believe that it was because of my biohacking activities. They were involved in therapy sessions and a hospital visit to help them better cope with dad’s biohacking “problem” and the consequences it created. I went from hero to zero. I’ve missed 11 months of watching TV before bed, helping with homework, family vacation opportunities, and all of those little moments which are the amazing parts about being a dad.

I need to give a special shout out to Josiah Zayner and Mark Doerksen who took time from their busy schedules to fly all the way to my small town to help defend my biohacking activities. Their expert testimony was critical in helping the courts understand biohacking in a rational manner. The judge found no evidence that my biohacking or body modifications made me an unfit father. He made it clear that these were non issues in his decision. I’m no lawyer, but perhaps someday this decision can help other transhumanists, grinders, biohackers, and body modifiers who find themselves up against similar exaggerated allegations. Thank you Mark and Josiah.

A big thanks to Tim Cannon who had the same issue brought up in his custody case and talked me through this custody stuff. I owe a huge thanks to all of my biohacker and transhumanist buddies like Amal Graafstra, Amanda Plimpton, Jeffrey Tibbits,
Meow Ludo Meow Meow, David Ishee, my Grindfest crew, The lifeboat foundation, Druid & the BDYHAX crew, my cyborg pals, all the supportive people from Biohack the Planet, the Def Con Biohacking village, the Dangerous Minds podcast, the TNC, and all the others who believe in what we do. I’m working on a surprise for you.

This is really hard to write. The judge has nonetheless awarded my ex-wife sole custody. I am devastated, needless to say. I’m still processing this, so please understand if my reply times are slow. I want to thank everyone again for all of their support, advice, financial contributions, and for listening. I could have easily faded from existence but you guys kept me in the game. I wish I was in the right state of mind to compose a proper letter of thanks to each of you individually.

I know I will be hounded by inquiries on why I was not granted joint physical custody unless I address them now. What follows is my recollection of what was said during emotional distress. So take that for what it’s worth and order the transcripts if you need to fact-check. I’m throwing in my personal opinions here and some are emotionally charged, angry, and sorrowful. I may change my mind or regret saying some of these things when I’ve processed this more. This is not exciting stuff and not meant to be gossip. It is what it is. I'd appreciate it if these details were not shared or communicated with my children. I'll replace this document with the actual court transcripts when I get them.
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Here is an overdue update on my custody situation.

On January 27th the judge held a preliminary hearing alongside 25+ other cases. Due to the numerous changes requested by the opposition in their counter motion, the judge ordered that the case would be more appropriately decided in a petition to modify terms in the original divorce. The judge has ordered us to participate in a mediation session (something I have pushed for since day 1) which is scheduled for March 30th. It is possible that mediation will allow us to come to a mutually agreed upon arrangement and skip the trial altogether. The likelihood of this happening is extremely slim, unfortunately, as my ex continues to make unilateral decisions in all aspects of parenting, usually without notice, and refuses to co-parent.

The main trial is scheduled for May 11th. I am in the process of finding expert witnesses that can enlighten the courts on matters of body modification, self harm, and parental alienation. I will update you all when a final decree is given.

I still enjoy 15 hours of weekly visitation with my children, which is more than many parents enjoy in an entire month, so that has kept me sane. The kids had a great Christmas thanks to your support. By the time the courts make a decision I will have missed out on the entire school year. My inability to have the children overnight has meant that I am unable to take them on family vacations, which is unfortunate. The kids have seemed to settle into the current routine, which is sad for me but probably less stressful for them. Some behavioral issues have emerged. This entire mess has had a negative impact on family dynamics, creating what psychologists might call a "perverse triangle". Additionally, the kids are under the impression now that I essentially abandoned them when I signed my parental rights over to their (indemnified) mother in the petition to divorce. While this hurtful perception is discouraging, I think that things can be made right again with time.

A while back I declared that I had hit my funding goal, but later I was informed of the additional time and expenses which would be involved, so I was forced to increase my goal. That was awkward to say the least. I still don't have a good estimate until I find my expert witnesses and see how much they will charge. I have been working hard in my spare time to launch a business so I can escape the rat race, but that is going to take some time.

Again, I appreciate all the support I've been shown by friends, companies, relatives, and total strangers. All of my stress has probably had a negative impact on those who are close to me, so if that is you then thanks for understanding. I will keep everyone posted on events as they unfold.
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I hit my goal! Words cannot express how relieved and grateful I am. I face an uphill battle mending the damage caused by parental alienation in addition to the legal matters. Hearing my child say things like "you aren't even human" and "how can you think that is right to do to your body?"...

It is heartbreaking. Despite having their hearts turned against implants (and any form of non-standard modification, really), the kids thankfully continue to express their desire to live with me again and return things to normal. I'll keep everyone posted on the situation. Thanks again everyone!
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I'm really close to hitting my goal. Some have suggested that my goal is set too low given that many custody cases cost $20,000 USD or more. I debated setting a higher funding goal, but I decided just to ask for the amount that I think will get me by. I'd hate to take too much when, you know, there are people starving in the world. That said, if my donations exceed my goal, I promise to put it toward an awesome project or a noble cause.

I had the opportunity to talk about my situation on the Dangerous Minds Podcast, You can listen to it here:
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$8,080 of $10,750 goal

Raised by 83 people in 24 months
Created November 10, 2016
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Jack Kingsman
14 months ago

So sorry, Rich -- thanks for always being an upstanding member of the biohacking community; hopefully you can convince the lawyers to see you that way too.

14 months ago
20 months ago
Geoffrey Ring
21 months ago

Wish you luck

Doug Copeland
22 months ago

Hope things are getting better for all of yal during this holiday season.

23 months ago
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