Fighting For My Daughter

Many of you know that I’ve recently experienced significant growth in the relationship with my daughter. Some of you probably didn’t even know I had a daughter because for a long time it’s been a very sensitive subject for me to talk about due to seriously complicated and unfortunate circumstances.

Anyway, I do. I do have a daughter and her name is Lyric. She was born in Denver while I was living on the run (2005-2010) trying to avoid a ridiculous prison sentence for a marijuana charge, because of Alabama’s  very strict laws regarding marijuana that suggested I’m a hardened criminal. I'm not a hardened criminal, I was young, and wasn't making the best decisions at the time (obviously). Also, I'd like to take this moment to add that I am 6 years clean and sober. I have a home, two jobs, two dogs and a cat. And am in a long-term relationship with a very lovely, caring lady (who also want's nothing but the best for Lyric). 

So Lyric was born in 2008 and I was a stay-at-home-dad/starving artist (making music, touring, etc.) for the first 18 months of her life. She was a stereotypical “daddy’s girl” in every aspect of the phrase but I’ll stop gloating…for now.

She was a year and a half old when the US Marshals kicked in the door to haul me back to Alabama to “pay my debt to society”. The image of her standing up in her crib, hysterically crying, tears streaming down her cute baby face as they walked me past her bedroom in handcuffs is burned into my memory for eternity. It was brutally painful. To make it worse, they were in full on bully-mode and wouldn’t even let me say goodbye. In fact, I could still hear her screaming from the police car out front.

Fast forward to about 6 months into the 42 month bid of being held captive in the Alabama Department of Corrections. To when the letters stopped coming in. To when the phone calls stopped being answered. To when Lyric’s mom decided to go above and beyond in attempt to delete me from Lyric’s life. Her goal was to delete me like I never existed. Obviously, there was very little I could do about…well, anything. Especially from behind that razor wire fence. One of the first survival tactics you inevitably learn while doing time is accepting that you can’t control what happens on the outside from the inside. I know it sounds like common sense but trust me, it’s supremely harder than it sounds.

So as if I had a choice…I accepted it. Everything. Her mom moved on and I did my time. Luckily, Lyric’s grandmother kept in touch a bit and I was able to send letters to Lyric through her. Clearly, Lyric was way too young to process any of what was going on, much less read a letter, but relentlessly I drew pictures for her, wrote her letters and thought about her constantly.

The year 2013 finally rolled around and apparently ADOC deemed me “rehabilitated” enough to be set free. Surprisingly, Lyric and her mom were even at the prison to greet me as I walked through the back gate. One of the most surreal days of my life. I got to spend the first week as a free man with my, now 4 yr old, Lyric. It was genuinely like we never missed a beat but instead picked up right where we left off.

When they flew back to Denver I had hopes of transferring my probation to Colorado so I could continue being a father to Lyric and start making up for everything I’d missed during my time in prison. Those plans came to a screeching halt when I learned about all the  stipulations of making that happen. I either A) needed to have immediate family living in Denver or B) needed to be married to someone living in Denver.

I know what you’re thinking…having a child is considered “immediate family” right? Well here’s the shittiest of all shitty things about this unfortunate situation:  I was literally a fugitive from justice when Lyric was born and, as a measure of caution, did not put my name on her birth certificate. I know, I know. It’s  awful but that’s what happened. **Side note:  I did, however, fill out the proper paperwork while in prison to be added, but for some brilliant reason her mom never filed the paperwork, and subsequently fail off the face of the earth.

I kept trying to figure out ways to be in Lyric’s life. Marrying her mom was never an option and I’ll spare you the details of why and just say that our relationship was an unhealthy spiral of doom and regret and the absolute last thing Lyric needed in her life. I even tried to get “fake married” to a longtime  Denver friend just so I could move there to be close to Lyric. While that would’ve been understandable and totally worth it, I just couldn’t go through with it. Just didn’t feel right and I needed to get my life in order before I started making desperate decisions like that.

After multiple fallouts with Lyric’s mom which included false accusations of sending her “fake money orders” among other irrationally immature arguments, I found myself resorting back to that ol’ prison survival tactic of accepting the fact that I can’t control some things…only now I’m on the OUTSIDE but still (up until now) have felt circumstantially powerless as they hold my lack of LEGAL fatherly rights over my head as some sort of twisted torture device.

I’ve seen Lyric exactly twice in the 4+ years I’ve been home. Once in Birmingham and once in Denver and both times at least 4 years ago. A third attempt was made, in April of 2014, when my ever-so-rad and wonderful girlfriend Melanie and I drove all day and night to Denver just to be denied a simple visit with my Lyric. It crushed me. No words can describe the pain of being denied seeing your daughter after driving 24 hours straight. I felt like I had no choice but to give up until the universe  grants me with an opportunity to go through the proper legal channels to access my fatherly rights. Well, the time is now and I feel I need to strike while the proverbial iron is hot. Since her mom has been the one keeping her from me, it wasn’t until her recently “hitting bottom” and disappearing for a few weeks that Lyric actually mustered the courage and ability to find a way to contact me. We are all concerned about Lyric's living arrangmenets and the circumstances surrounding her mom's well-being and ability to properly take care of a little girl. Apparently Child Protective Services has been involved for some time now but I honestly don’t know a lot of details as to why or what’s going on. Lyric is currently living with her grandmother and is seemingly in good spirits although she’s a bit devastated about the whole thing. She wants to come to Birmingham but they (Lyric’s mom/grandmother) have been very vocal about how that’d never be a possibility.

Until I go through the aforementioned “proper legal channels” the odds are severely stacked against me.

Obviously this is not going to be easy or inexpensive. I’m going to have to hire lawyers that practice law in Colorado. There will be much travel cost and tests and paperwork and…you name it. But it’s all possible and could actually become feasible with a little love and assistance from friends and family. Which leads me to asking you - my friends and family for help. 

Any amount of money donated is supremely appreciated, I literally can't get to my daughter without you guys. You are the ones that will honestly save my life, and possibly, literally, save the life of my precious baby girl. 

Peace and Love to you all, and in advance, Thank You, from the bottom of my heart.
  • Tessa Arons 
    • $200 
    • 47 mos
  • Benjamin Muniz  
    • $10 
    • 47 mos
  • Michael Turberville 
    • $100 
    • 47 mos
  • Helen Logan 
    • $60 
    • 47 mos
  • Jacob Mathews 
    • $10 
    • 47 mos
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Ryan Howell 
Birmingham, AL