*Losing a child is never easy on a parent. Especially if both parents are at odds with each other under the gaze of the public.
Tamika Fuller knows first hand the results of this as she recently lost custody of her daughter to the girl’s father, rapper/actor Ludacris. In a personal essay she wrote for MadamNoire.com, Fuller touches on losing her daughter as well as the court’s preference towards fathers in child custody cases and what she feels is the reason why Ludacris was determined to win his cases against her.
The article,titled “A Personal Essay From Tamika Fuller…Fighting For My Daughter: Power, Wealth, And Hip-Hop,” was posted Wednesday (April 8) and details how Fuller’s relationship with Ludacris came about as well as his reaction when he found out she was pregnant two years ago.
“The psychological manipulation began immediately. He broke down in tears when I told him that I wanted to keep our baby, and he begged me to abort the child whose heartbeat was developing in rhythm with my own. He told me that it would destroy his career and his image. I contemplated heavily on terminating my pregnancy. I don’t believe in forced parenthood or trapping anyone into raising an unwanted child. However, when I visited the clinic and heard my daughter’s heartbeat on the ultrasound, I knew I couldn’t go through with it,” wrote Fuller, who touched on the pressure to have an abortion as Luda “promised me the world “ if she went ahead with the procedure.
“He made me feel as if I was ruining us. It was as if he believed that our friendship should take precedence over the life growing inside of me and when he realized that it didn’t, it couldn’t, my real nightmare began.”
Fuller further revealed that Ludacris had no desire to have a baby and ended up not having much of a presence in his daughter’s life. As a result, she was surprised the rapper went all in to gain custody of their child. As it turned out, Ludacris did receive custody of the young girl, which caused Fuller to question herself after the ruling.
“I was stunned, devastated, and overwhelmed. I asked myself over and over again, “How could this happen to me?” What had I done wrong? …What kind of mother gets her child taken away from her?” she said. “… I was then denied assistance with lawyer fees and told that her father needed to authorize the pictures I posted on my personal social media page. … I walked into that courtroom believing that no one would take a child from a good mother; I walked out knowing that, in some cases, money is greater than motherhood and being good isn’t always good enough.”
Fuller goes on to cite Phyllis Chesler’s book, “Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody” as evidence of fathers having the upper hand in child custody cases.
“Chesler found that 70 percent of fathers who fight for custody win, regardless of the father’s character or even if he’s an active part of the child’s life,” Fuller stated as she noted that “the perception of mothers who retain custody of their children is flawed.”
Fuller doesn’t place all the blame on Ludacris. In fact she mentioned her own shortcomings (i.e. her “less than ideal financial state and accusations that I had abandoned my first child”) for helping to bolster the entertainer’s case. In Fuller’s eyes, the effort worked.
“His strategy to malign me in order to gain custody of our child, which was only done to avoid having to report his finances and pay me adequate child support (like he does for all his other children), was malicious and cruel. But it worked…He used the legal system as revenge, to spite me. This man never visited our daughter, never called to inquire about her well-being, and never even sent her a gift until the court battle began…. he knows I cry myself to sleep without her in my bed at night, the pain of her absence overwhelming. I try to call just to hear her voice, but he directs my calls to voicemail. He warned me that he would resent me for not having the abortion, and that’s what I saw in that courtroom. I didn’t see a man who loved his child so much that he wanted custody. I saw a man who hated his child’s mother so much that he would take custody away from her.”
As a result of her ordeal, Fuller revealed that she is starting a foundation to provide support and help women in similar situations via education “on how to have a safe and healthy pregnancy while under seemingly insurmountable stress” as well as guidance to financial assistance for low-income mothers.
“Regardless of what a judge decides, having less money than the father does not mean that a mother cannot adequately care for her child,” she said. “And we should not be penalized for not being wealthy in a misogynistic society that is financially hostile toward women. I want women out there who are going through this or who will go through this to understand that I hear you. I am you,” Fuller wrote while addressing her critics.
“Many people in comment sections and blogs have attempted to paint me as a jealous villain intent on destroying his relationship with his new wife, which could not be further from the truth,” continued Fuller. “I am genuinely happy for them. But surely his wife understands that I want the opportunity to parent my daughter every day as she will get to do with hers.”
To read Fuller’s essay in its entirety, click here.