Here’s why it’s hard for me to feel sorry for Bode Miller...
During the past year, Bode Miller was involved in a very ugly custody battle – a custody battle instigated by him in which he clearly was thinking of only one person- himself.
Bode Miller and Sara McKenna met in San Diego through a matchmaking company. The relationship did not last long, but during their brief time together, McKenna became pregnant with Miller’s child. The fact that they were going to be parents together did not lead to a reconciliation. In fact, shortly after Miller found out McKenna was pregnant he met and married another woman.
When she was seven months pregnant, McKenna moved from San Diego to New York City, so she could attend Columbia University. She was working as a firefighter in San Diego when she became pregnant, and decided to go to college in order to pursue a career more conducive with single motherhood. She is also a veteran. As she reportedly told Miller, she chose to attend Columbia because the University offered special opportunities for veterans, offered financial aid, and provided superior services for students with children.
After McKenna moved to New York City, Miller filed to establish his paternal rights in California courts and for custody of his yet unborn child. Basically, he was demanding that the child be returned to California while it was still in the mother’s womb. He accused her of moving to New York City solely to find a favorable court. After the child was born, McKenna filed a suit to establish custody in New York City, but the New York Judge shockingly adopted Miller’s view of the case. The judge called McKenna’s decision to move to New York while pregnant akin to a kidnapping. Wrote Judge Rodriguez, “while (McKenna) did not ‘abduct’ the child, her appropriation of the child while in utero (sic) was irresponsible (and) reprehensible”. Custody was consequently awarded to Miller.
Clearly the one most to blame in the situation is the judge – and indeed her opinion was overturned by the Court of Appeals. But, it's clear that the case would never have been in front of this judge without the actions and accusations made by Miller. Here was a woman trying to make a life for herself and her child; who, as a pregnant woman, had no choice but to travel with the fetus. And yet, Miller tried to force her to stay in California. He tried to stop her from exercising her rights to freedom of movement, liberty, and equal protection because she was pregnant with his child. If accepted, this position would stop all pregnant women from leaving the vicinity of the baby’s father. It reduces women to production facilities and fails to recognize the autonomy of women. It fails to recognize the rights of all women to pursue life and liberty even when they are pregnant. I am not denying the importance of fathers or the right of Bode Miller to have a role in his child’s life. But, did Bode Miller ever think about what was best for his child or the mother of his child? Why didn’t Bode Miller follow McKenna if he was so determined to have a role in his child’s life? Bode Miller has resources and clearly a career with flexibility. Why wasn’t Bode Miller the one asked or willing to make accommodations?
Yes, today, everyone is quite concerned about Bode Miller and his treatment last night by the overly inquisitive NBC reporter, but when not in the limelight, did Bode Miller really take time to think about his treatment and best interest of his unborn child? Or mother of his child? Did that NBC Reporter ask personal questions with the intent of making Miller cry? Probably yes. Did she exploit his grief in order to advance her career? It sure seemed that way watching the interview.
I am not saying that her behavior is okay or that Bode Miller deserved to be treated badly because of his past behavior. However, it’s hard for me to read about all of the sympathy for Bode Miller’s tears and to not think about the tears of McKenna when her baby was taken from her and shipped to California. It’s hard for me not to think about the tears of the baby when he was taken from his mother’s arms. These are also tears that we should be thinking about when we think about Bode Miller.