Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Travesty Fraud and Devastation

I feel like I need to respond to a situation that has occurred. If not to the person who did this, than for myself and those who know me as well as past and future readers.  I feel the need to acknowledge the situation and make it known - If we haven't already been to hell and back, someone has opted to make the trip significantly longer for us.

At some point a woman from southern Tennessee (we'll call her Amy for privacy sake) stole photos from my blog and fabricated her own pregnancy. She could have revealed her miscarraige at any point but instead, she pretended her way through an entire 9 months and on February 3rd, Amy's daughter was born and died 36 minutes later (the same amount of minutes Gabriel survived).  She posted a photo of Gabriel and used it as her Facebook cover photo claiming it to be of her new daughter who passed away from kidney failure. Later she would go on Facebook with her story and receive donations from warm and loving strangers who felt a sense of heartache and desired to help her. They gave selflessly and generously.

At some point, a couple caught on to her scheme when they saw Amy's cover photo in a Google search that led them to my blog.  This wonderful couple collected all the information they could before everyone found out and chaos ensued. How blessed am I that this loving couple had thought to gather all the documents and proof silently before everyone else revealed Amy for who she is. The wife contacted the local authorities with all the proof, she knew who this person was that was doing this. After meeting with their local authorities she contacted me via email.

Her words were loving, sympathetic and heartfelt. A gentle voice to share heartbreaking news.  I read the email multiple times over, grateful she had already taken the steps to alert the proper people before dropping this 10,000lb bomb on me.  Immediate action wasn't necessary. Amy had already been called out on her fraud and the authorities were already alerted to the situation.  I was able to process all the emotions that went through me as each word repeated over and over.  

I feel eternally grateful for the wonderful woman who felt the need to contact me, and also took hours out of her life to protect me.  I'm grateful to her wonderful husband for assisting and supporting her.  I feel hurt that Gabriel was so disrespected in such a fraudulent way.  I feel angry that someone would do this. I'm flattered that she thought my baby was so beautiful she wanted to claim him as her own (I mean lets face it - he was stunning and if he wasnt already mine, I'd want to claim him too). I'm pleased knowing that with my blog posted all over their local Facebook pages, someone somewhere would have seen it that will benefit from it. I'm also pleased that this woman will get what she deserves and all the loving people who so generously gave their money to her will get their justice, whether that's legally or karmatic.  

I'm also utterly disappointed in some people that make up the human race.  I always knew there was risk in posting photos online and publicly.  People steal photos all the time and use them for many reasons. I had thoughts of watermarking all my photos, but a) by the time I thought of it there were way too many to go back to and b) my experience in the photography industry has taught me that watermarking your photos doesn't actually protect you, at least not entirely.   Despite knowing the risk, I felt it was more important that the families who came to my blog with a similar fatal diagnosis would see that these babies do look fairly normal. I remember fearing that Gabriel would look different or deformed.  I posted the photos to ease other parents hearts and minds, and through feedback I know families it has helped. I had however hoped that if images were to be stolen, they would be of my living healthy children. I had hoped that people would have enough respect for the dead that they would leave his alone.  

Amy has made a mockery of all the families that experience infant loss. She's made a mockery of the greiving journey so many of us heartbreakingly walk. She's disrespected every family that has REALLY experienced this heartache.  

I had thoughts of removing my blog or all the photos within it, but I won't. My blog has well over 100,000 views. My blog has helped dozens of families who have since contacted me.  My blog is here for a reason and I can't fathom removing it from future parents who may need it, or that person who hadn't lost a child but now understands. Everyone has taken something with them as they walk away, and that is much more important to me than some unstable woman possibly stealing my images. 

I had faith that people would have enough respect to leave these precious and personal images alone, but alas I hoped wrong again. 

I am an emotional victim in this situation, but the real victims in this story are the loving people who donated generously to her. Another victim is her husband, who seemingly had no idea of her deceit and thought his baby girl had died.

Her side of the story is heartbreaking as well. She says she had miscarried early in her pregnancy but didn't have the courage to tell everyone. She went on with her pregnancy as if nothing was wrong, even had a baby shower. She got so wrapped up in her own web of lies that come her due date, she needed a way out. She seemingly chose Potter's Syndrome at random and through Google found images to use. She claims she never received anything and and the things she did receive were returned to the sender. I have no way of knowing the truth, although I have seen and hold in my hands her posts to Facebook. It sickens me to read her journey and the way she deceived everyone she came in contact with causing them to believe her misleading stories.

At this point the police are aware of the situation, but unless someone comes forward with fraud charges or proof that they sent Amy anything of monitary value, their hands are tied. It's sad that people including her get away with similar acts of fraud and never get charged with any crimes. 

My heartaches, I'm heart broken and have been disrespected in the worst way. I hope nobody ever has to feel the pain I feel because of this woman.

My message to her: Believe me when I tell you that Gabriel's story is not one that you wish were yours. Having precious photos as your only way of remembering what your child looked like is not pleasant. Having to say, good-bye sucks.  This is not a journey you wish to travel or want as part of your life. Burying your child is pure hell and no person should HAVE to endure this kind of pain, and no person should WANT to. The attention a parent receives after their child is ripped from their arms is not the kind of attention you want, it's the kind of attention that is uncomfortable and akward, its filled with pain, tears and gut wrentching apologies. I'm sorry for the loss you've experienced, I have also experienced a miscarriage and remember that pain all to well. I will never make excuses for what you have done, but I can have a certain amount of understanding for mental instability. I hope you find the help that you so clearly need to seek. I'll be praying for you.

The photo is found here: http://mnmom4life.blogspot.com/p/potters-syndrome-bilateral-renal.html

Molly Bears

I've waited a long time for this post, yet it's taken me a week to have time to write it!  I spent 2 1/2 years trying to get on the list for Molly Bears.  Molly Bears is an organization that has volunteers that make bears with weight in them so that they weigh the same amount as an angel baby that has passed.   They only have their list open once day per month and they only accept 200 new purchases.  As you can imagine the timing is curtail when trying to get on the list, and time and time again I was too late.

The bears only cost $20 which is amazing because the average bear is $40 to make and ship.  They run on donations - both monitary and supplies.   I'm grateful for the wonderful people who make this happen.

I finally got my bear on the list in August.  Along with it came the warning that the wait for your bear is sometimes 9 months.  That's ok, I would wait.

In January I received an email that my bear was being made!  I was shocked that it was so quick and soon my bear would be in my arms!

A few weeks later I received the email that my bear was on its way! In a few short days I opened my box to find a package from Molly Bears.  It sat next to me in the car for about 45 minutes before I finally drove home to open it.  The anticipation was killing me but I wasn't ready to open it right away.

Each  Molly Bear looks completely different in design, style and everything.  They are personal to you and that makes it special.  I had put in a request for a bow tie but I had no idea what my bear would look like.

He's beautiful.  The minute I picked him up out of the box there was a sense of peace that came over me.

4lbs 8oz. Who knew it could feel so heavy.