I made the decision to relocate to the US with my parents in summer of 2016, after filing for a divorce. I was in an increasingly emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship, which led me to move to Istanbul during my pregnancy with the girls (when Isaak was just 5 months old). After several agonizing months of trying to reconcile, I came to the conclusion it was an impossible relationship. Throughout this time I learned of the complicated nature of my twin pregnancy, and after the girls were born, learned of Eva's end stage renal disease. I underwent extensive training in Eva's dialysis treatment and when she was discharged from the NICU after 44 days, I was her sole caregiver. This was an added responsibility to the already heavy load of caring for Isaak (who turned one a month after the girls were born)and Sofia, a newborn. The childrens' father had returned to the remote island where we had lived together, about a month following the birth, and only returned and visited with them one time in several months. He was aware of my need to relocate with the children and acknowledged his understanding of our situation, at one point even saying that he would agree to the divorce and would apply for the children’s US passports with me. He later decided to fight the divorce and imposed a block on my ability to get passports for our children, following a pattern of giving false hope and quickly withdrawing promises. Miraculously I was issued passports for the children after explaining our critical situation with no place to live other than to return to the US with my parents, and with a child who had a life-threatening illness. The US State Department removed the block he placed on my obtaining their passports and the children were issued passports within a week.
Following my transition to the US with the kids in August of 2016, after establishing Eva’s care at the University of Iowa, while divorce proceedings in Turkey continued, my husband opened a Hague Convention for Child Abduction case against me in May 2017. He argued that the children ought to be returned to Turkey, as our divorce case is still in process (which can last years in contested cases), and custody has not officially been decided. According to Turkish law, the mother almost always receives custody of the children when they are under schooling age. As Hague Convention cases are a niche of family law, obtaining an attorney experienced in this area was critical, though legal expenses have been overwhelming. Being employed as a stay-at-home-mom, my daughter’s medical treatment has been covered under our Medicaid insurance, but we were not expecting this emotional and economic hardship. The legal fees have compounded due to my husband representing himself in this case, after his attorney withdrew due to irreconcilable differences and disagreements regarding “repugnant actions” my husband had been insisting upon. He has filed several unnecessary motions, requiting responses from my attorney, even adding my father as a party to the case, making it increasingly obvious that his motivations are rooted in a desire to cause pain and add stress to our situation.
The hearing was in October, just a month before Eva's transplant. After I was approved as Eva's donor following rigorous compatibility testing, my legal team argued that it would be a grave risk for Eva to be returned to the suboptimal care in Turkey, and on the cusp of her transplant. At the time there even was a travel ban against US citizens that made it difficult to know whether I would have been able to travel to Turkey with the children. The day of the court hearing and subsequent two weeks until the judge released his order, were emotionally taxing. In his 43-page order, the judge denied my husband's request to return the children to Turkey and it was evident that the judge clearly discerned the situation. We were relieved to know that we could proceed with the transplant and Eva could continue to receive her excellent medical care.
It was inevitable that this would not be the end of the story. Immediately following Eva's transplant (for which he was not present), their father attempted to contest the judge's order by filing a motion to amend the decision. This again was denied and further demonstrated his manipulative behavior and hurtful intentions. He now has 30 days to attempt to appeal the decision to a higher court, prolonging this excruciating experience and further deepening our legal debt. I have received gifts from family, close friends, and with the help of my parents have taken out loans, but still the legal fees are more than we can bear. To date, my legal fees have totaled over $80,000.
Though this is not directly a fund for Eva's medical expenses, this is to help compensate the amount I incurred to ensure that she (and her siblings) could remain with me in the US to receive the comprehensive care required for her kidney disease. My greatest concern has been for my children’s well-being, particularly for Eva to receive the best treatment possible and live in an environment that is conducive to meeting all of the responsibilities that her care entails, which continues post-transplant.
Please consider helping bear the burden of these fees and contribute to keeping my family healthy and safe.
Eva and I were also featured on a few local ABC-affiliate channels! Check out the story on her transplant below!
Transplant News Story
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