I am fully aware that people often assume an average woman who gets herself impregnated by a celebrity is a gold-digger looking for a quick and easy payday. However, contrary to popular belief, I was fully cognizant that I was going to be a single mother. I knew that he was not going to be involved – I was okay with that. I went through my entire pregnancy alone and worked full time with no support from him. Most of the people in my circle never even knew he was the father until our court case made headlines. Deep down, even though I knew he never wanted the baby, I was hurt at the idea that there was a real possibility that my daughter’s father might not be part of her life. I thought that he would accept our daughter’s impending arrival and want to take part in the process, but I now know that thinking was naive.

Knowing that he had no desire to have a baby, imagine my surprise when he filed for physical custody of our daughter and a judge ruled in his favor. I was stunned, devastated, and overwhelmed. I asked myself over and over again, “How could this happen to me?” What had I done wrong? It felt as if I were screaming into howling winds and no one could hear me say, “I’m a good mother. I love my daughter. I’m a good mother. I love my daughter.”

What kind of mother gets her child taken away from her? I only cut back on my work hours following my maternity leave to ensure that I had enough time to spend with my daughter during the first year of her life. However, it was this financial reasoning along with events that transpired 20 years ago in my teens that were the justifications used when issuing the decision. The retribution continued to roll in because apparently taking away my child wasn’t enough of a punishment. 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. As I apologized to my friends and family for not being able to share imagery of the evolution of my child, I scratched my head: What does Instagram censoring have to do with disparate income levels? Subsequently, I now have no child, no First Amendment rights, and I’m in debt to the tune of six figures.

Read the rest of Tamika Fuller’s essay at MadameNoire.com.