(NOTE: Many have messaged me cautioning that this Gofundme may not be in compliance with the terms of service and could be pulled. The ToS segment in question states that money cannot be raised for "the defense or support of anyone alleged to be involved in criminal activity." My upcoming administrative hearing is a civil matter, not criminal. I was never arrested nor charged with a crime in the matter associated with this gofundme. Additionally, gofundme has conducted a full review of this campaign and declared that it is allowed.)
So many of you know me already. You’ve heard this story and you’ve lent your comfort and support through these last eight months in a variety of ways and I am nothing short of thankful.
I'm here to share my experience with the people just now learning of this and to put out one final call for your support.
Please, know that the enormity of this feat is not lost on me. But, that I know that nothing is possible if you don’t at least try and I am honoring that possibility by putting this out into the world, today.
I am a documentary photographer and a mother of four. Through years of infertility, fostering, adoption and medical treatments I have been committed to finding a creative voice that speaks to the celebration of the struggles and triumphs, big and small, of motherhood.
In the last handful of years I have been sharing personal images of my life, raising four young children, the youngest of them being twins and while, during a good chunk of it, my husband was deployed to Africa. I have established myself as an artist that doesn’t shy away from being vulnerability as a means to change the way mothers experience shame around their families and bodies.
In May 2016, an image of my husband comforting our sick child in the shower went viral. To date, it has reached over 9 million people worldwide and has attracted a lot of (mostly positive) attention. Of all those millions of people, a single individual sent in a complaint to our local authorities. Thomas and I were investigated by Arizona’s Department of Child Safety and the Sahuarita Police Department for a number of claims that the person made in their letter.
The police right away stated that they were not going to take any action against us and that their case would be closed immediately. The investigator from DCS, however spent the next few months generally trying to have me seen as an immodest, neglectful and abusive mother based on the single interview she had with me.
Later she made it clear that she was basing most of her opinions on me because I breastfed one of my twins throughout the whole interview, without covering myself or my child. Of course, she couldn’t take action against us for any of these things as they were either complete reaches or in the case of me breastfeeding, normal and protected by law. DCS closed their case, as well in July.
The only claim she was able to suggest be substantiated against me [and me alone] was that I neglected to supervise our children by allowing their images to be online and so put them at an unreasonable risk of harm. This go against Arizona’s very definition of neglect and encroaches on my right as an artist to share my work with the public.
Also, it has been confirmed that the department reviewing my case wasn’t even provided with any of my images. These claims are being decided on and pushed through the motions of the DCS system based solely on one investigator's skewed opinion of me, without any evidence even being provided.
If this claim is substantiated I will be added to Arizona’s Central Registry for 25 years. I will no longer be able to foster or adopt children. I will not be able to hold a position working with children or vulnerable adults. Not just in Arizona but, throughout the country.
An administrative hearing is being held on February 3rd. After all these months, the day to stand up with evidence and information is finally here! I have found an attorney with a wealth of experience in this system. Having her defend me against this claim is my best opportunity to finally be able to put this behind me.
*** But, we only have FIVE DAYS to try to raise this money, hire her and get everything collected and submitted to the court. ***
Please donate what you can in the next five days. If you can’t donate, share this page so that it might reach someone who can.
For taking the time to read through my story and consider giving me your support, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
All the best in this new year,