“We all have chapters in our story that we’d rather not talk about. They’re the parts of our story we would rather push deep down inside and deal with them internally, without telling the world how much they affected us. They’re the most personal paragraphs. The most private sentences. Sometimes these chapters so dark that we don’t want to relive them. Sometimes they’re so embarrassing that we could never ever admit we behaved so badly. Sometimes they’re so unbelievable it seems no one else would be able to relate.
But aren’t those the ones that are the most important?
This chapter of my book is probably the most important one in terms of me being forced out of who I was, and into who I’m meant to be. It’s the part of my story that ripped me down to my core and forced me to either step up, or tap out. This chapter shaped me in more ways than I could ever explain.
In 2016 I flew back to Michigan to be by my father’s side as he was dying from terminal pancreatic cancer. His wife had just died from an overdose a few days prior and they had a 2-year-old son, Easton, who was now about to be an orphan. My father had to decide who would be the one to raise Easton. After a long family meeting, it was decided I would bring him back to Washington and raise him with my husband, Tim, as our son, along with our other four daughters.
My father signed over custody to me, naming me as first in line, followed by my uncle and brother if something were to happen to me in the time it took to adopt him. Easton was going to stay on our side of the family, no matter what, as my father felt he was safer there. Since my father was the only remaining parent of Easton, his opinion is the only one that mattered. He crossed all of his T’s and dotted all of his I’s, doing everything by the books with the lawyers, before he passed away. The judge granted me custody just the day before he passed.
We flew back home with Easton at the end of March and started our new lives. We were all settling into our new lives when I had a knock at my door that June. A USPS worker handed me a certified envelope that contained documents fighting me on custody of Easton.
Here’s what the court documents state in summed up terms:
- Easton became a ward of the state after his mother died under suspicious circumstances.
- Easton’s father died twelve days later, also under suspicious circumstances by an administration of a lethal hospice drug.
- Easton’s guardian / step-sister, Molly is suspected of being present at the time of death of each parent and is upon information and belief a person of interest in pending homicide investigations.
There’s also 11 other accusations against me. Those are not nearly as horrific, but equally shocking.
Someone is saying that I murdered my father.
That I killed him.
Someone is saying that I ended my hero’s life.
I’m being accused of murder. Twice.
This was the absolute lowest I’ve ever been in my life. My soul was crushed. It was more than just my heart. It was my whole being.
I can still feel my heart sinking when I read those lines.
I can still remember hitting my knees, crinkling up the paper, sobbing into it, and wanting to die. Literally wanting to die.
I can still remember the cries of my 8-month-old twins wanting to nurse and me not even caring to help them.
I can still remember my oldest kneeling down next to me, asking me what’s wrong.
I can still remember throwing up into the toilet for who knows how long because I was so sick to my stomach from fear.
I can still remember the seconds ticking by, wondering when the police would knock on my door. Would they ever?
What? Why? How can someone be so evil?
I was silently suicidal at the time. I knew I’d never go through with it, but I thought about it. A lot. I never told anyone. Not even my husband Tim. I cried almost all hours of the day. I’d drop down on the kitchen floor in the middle of cooking dinner to sob until no tears were left. I stopped eating…yet was still nursing my twins. I somehow survived off of yogurt and oranges. I became angry at everyone who told me ‘how strong I was.’ I wasn’t strong. I was an unstable mom who shut down completely. I was a hot mess. A hot freaking mess.
Social media sure hides a lot.
I was broken in the most spiritual way a person can be.
I became a shell of the person I knew to be. My anxiety climbed to an all-time high. I used to sit up in my bed and beg whoever (dead) was listening to not allow people to come into my home and steal my children in the middle of the night. I felt like I was seconds away, all day long, to somehow losing them. I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown every other minute. Which I did on some days.
I thought CPS would show up at any second and rip my babies out of my arms. Every knock at the door immediately put me in a panic that ‘this was it. This is when I’m going to be arrested.’ I was petrified of everything. Every day.
I look back on pictures of myself in that time and my face looks sick and my eyes look like my soul is dead. Murder accusations is not the weight loss program I would recommend.
I was about to go through a huge court case. I’d never been in trouble with the law before. I got pulled over once. ONCE! I was going 7mph over while going down a huge hill, so I wouldn’t even consider that a huge deal. Yet there I was, about to be thrown into the court system.
What if someone actually believes the person saying this?
That was where my fear laid. That was where all of my anxiety was. What if someone actually believes it? Do hospice nurses chart good notes? Will their documents say what I already know to be true?
The first accusation with Easton’s mother would be a piece of cake to prove since my phone records would show where my physical location was. But how do I prove I didn’t overdose my own father? Could I prove that? OBVIOUSLY I didn’t, but how do I show a legal team that these accusations were absolutely insane??
Innocent until proven guilty. Would she somehow be able to prove me guilty? Lawyers are ruthless when they’re being paid to go against you. Would they be able to come up with something insane?
Anxiety sucks. It really sucks.
What if someone believes her?
I was so sick to my stomach about it, every day.
Truthfully, one of my biggest fears in life has always been that I’d be locked up for a crime I didn’t commit. It’s been a fear since I was younger. You hear those stories all the time. ‘He spent 35 years in jail for a crime he never did. He was wrongly accused.’ So now, I felt like I was actually living one of my worst nightmares.
Now let’s break down the facts from those three separate accusations:
- I don’t think anyone knows a whole lot about what happened to Easton’s mother. Her death may have been suspicious, but I don’t know any of those details. I’m not sure anyone ever will. What happened was extremely unfortunate. But at the end of the day, her autopsy revealed that she died of an overdose. And that’s all the police really have to work with.
- My father did die on hospice…from terminal pancreatic cancer. Yes, I was the one administering his morphine at the end of his life. The hospice nurse taught me how to administer it. The physician, along with the hospice nurse, were the ones who determined the dosage he needed. I had nothing to do with that. To even suggest he was given a ‘lethal’ dose is absolutely disgusting, hateful, and immoral. Period. You really think I would have given him more than he needed? For what purpose? I didn’t want my father to die! I’d be the LAST person on this planet that would have done that. The very last.
- This one has a lot of parts:
- Step sister – I’m blood related. There is no step. But thank you for trying to make a dig at me.
- ‘Molly is suspected of being present at the time of death of each parent.’ I guess I’ve mastered time travel?? I was in Washington when Easton’s mother died. I wasn’t even in the same city, OR the same state, OR THE SAME TIME ZONE for that matter. And again, my father died from terminal cancer.
- There are no homicide investigations. There never were.
- The medical examiner’s office never believed Easton’s mother was murdered. Neither did the police.
- Same goes for my father. He died on hospice. The police knew that, therefore there was no open homicide investigation. He never had an autopsy since he DIED ON HOSPICE because he was terminally ill…AKA he was sick as hell. Again, it’s absolutely pathetic and shameful for anyone to even suggest it.
So why was I targeted the way I was?
I’m not one to hide behind my own mistakes. I’m willing to air all of my own dirty laundry because I wasn’t this perfect angel while my father was married to his wife.
Before I get into that – I think it’s important to first state the head space I was in. I was 25 and my father was dying. I was losing my best friend and everything he owned would legally be his wife’s after he died. She’s only 7 years older than me. I knew she wasn’t going to play nice once he died. I knew she would claim everything as her own because that’s what she would legally be allowed to do.
She was married to him. Who cares if I’m his daughter?! I would be nothing in the eyes of the law. So I was conniving behind her back. I was trying to do what I could to get what I felt like was mine. I didn’t care that he had a wife. I felt like I had to do whatever I could to get my share. I’d be left with absolutely no heirlooms if I just trusted her to do the right thing. I felt like I deserved something from my father. I felt like my kids deserved something. Wrong or right, that was where I was, emotionally and mentally.
I was nice to my father’s wife around my father because I wanted to be respectful to him. But I wasn’t convinced that her intentions were all pure from the beginning.
During the time I spent in Michigan at the end of my father’s life, she would do bizarre things. She would start acting strange, have massive tantrums over weird things, and just have odd behavior all around. So I would start posting about it in one of my private mom groups made up of about 50 people. I’d post videos of her acting crazy. I’d make fun of her parenting. I’d talk about how I was feeding Easton his meals because she would just disappear. I’d talk about how I didn’t think a 2-year-old needed bottles anymore. I’d talk about how I struggled to get Easton to eat anything other than soy milk. I talked about how it was crap that I was there to visit my dad and yet I was taking care of all of these kids by myself since she would just leave for hours at a time.
I’d complain about how she was going to be getting all of this money after my dad died and how she would just blow it in a few months. I’d call her phony and fake. I made fun of her appearance. I made fun of her style. I’d talk about how I wanted to ask my dad to set aside money for a Disney trip for all of his grandkids so they’d at least be able to benefit in some way from their grandpa. I basically went on a two-month long binge of hating this woman. I was your definition of ‘daddy’s little girl’ that despised her step mom. I was the quintessential character you see in the movies.
The posts aren’t nice.
But she knew something was up. I left my computer at their house one night and she went through my Facebook. She found all of the posts and she saved them.
It was a BIG lesson for me. While I was just using it as an outlet to vent and gain support from some of my closest friends, it was still not the best way to go about it. I never thought she would see any of it. My intention was just to use this group as my journal. It was like a therapy session every day for me. But the whole situation was a big wake up call for me. I couldn’t take any of it back.
That was the hardest part.
It was all written in stone.
So that was fun explaining to my dying father. It created a really awful situation for the two of us in his dying days. It was heartbreaking and one of the worst things that could have possibly happened. The worst timing ever. His friends and our family all saw the posts. I was not a very liked person in regards to those around us for what I said. Everyone thought what I said was dramatic, blown out of proportion, and that I was just this huge B. Which in everyone’s defense…that last portion was true.
I did genuinely feel bad about everything I said to her and I did give a heartfelt apology. I was completely in the wrong and I knew it. It was one of those ‘yeah, I really messed up and I can’t take it back’ moments.
But it still sucked. It really sucked that my deepest thoughts about my dad’s wife were out there for everyone to see. It sucked that nobody really believed me on a lot of things I witnessed.
But once his wife died, it was almost like we just let it all go. In those last days, he told me that he knew I was right about most things. He was worried about what would happen to Easton under her care after he passed. It was one of the biggest stressors in his life at the end. But he could never admit that while she was alive.
So the person accusing me used all of those posts in the court battle. She had all of them still saved. They became part of her ‘evidence’ that I was not a great option for Easton.
But that wasn’t fair.
How I feel about Easton’s mother has nothing to do with how I feel about Easton.
Say it louder for the people in the back.
He became an orphan in 12 days. He needed a family. My father, the remaining parent who was still alive, got to make that decision. Nobody else’s opinion mattered.
We gathered a witness list. We had people we were about to subpoena. My lawyer had to become a witness, so then I needed a new lawyer. I was about to go to trial, essentially. I was living a real-life episode of Law and Order. I was basically watching a movie about my own life that only Lifetime Movie producers could think up.
Courts work slowly. It took a year for everything to finally be dropped and worked through. It felt painstakingly dragged out in the moment, yet I understand now why these things have to take time. The more the time went by, the more my anxiety eased. Obviously nobody believed her. Not even for a second.
The Facebook posts weren’t even talked about. Ever.
We actually never even went to trial. Everything was dropped since the things she was claiming were completely false. We transferred the case to Washington and we adopted Easton two months after that in 2016.
While my relationship with Easton’s mother was not the greatest, she still adored her son. I can’t take that away from either of them, nor would I ever want to. Just because we couldn’t get along doesn’t mean that she didn’t have meaningful relationships with other people. What happened is very unfortunate, but Easton is always reminded that his mommy loved him. I know without a doubt that she loved him with her entire heart. I will always speak that truth to him. He will always dance around the room with her dancing back, like they always used to do when she was alive. He prays for her every night like I know she did for him while she was here. He has pictures of both of his parents hanging above his bed. They will always be his parents. They are the ones who gave him life. He will always know that.
Since joining our family, he has been this bright light. He has brought so much joy and love into our home. I honestly don’t know any other child that is as loving as he is. He takes the time to include everyone. He listens to everyone. He snuggles the closest person to him every time he’s sitting on the couch. He is such an old soul in such a tiny body that he just exudes wisdom and affection. I will forever say he was our missing puzzle piece. Our family would be so boring without him. I mean, the kid is in acting classes at 5 years old because he loves to make people laugh!
It’s been three years since I was served that paperwork. I’m scarred. I’ll forever remember my emotions during that time. It’s a part of my story that I’ve come to appreciate, despite how awful it was in the moment.
You can’t just make up false accusations and try to ruin someone’s life. I don’t care how upset you are. It’s not okay to force someone to shell out thousands of dollars for lawyer fees just so you can feel like you’re getting back at them in a petty way.
If you want to say something negative about someone, write it on a piece of paper and immediately burn it. I think we both learned valuable lessons in this.
As Lauren Conrad once said, ‘I want to forgive you. But I also want to forget you.’
And I have.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Molly Schultz of Tried and True Mama. You can follow her on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read Molly’s powerful backstory of adopting her half-brother:
‘My half-brother became an orphan at 2 years old, and was finally adopted after 458 days, by me – his sister.’
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