I think we can all agree that the episode of “Iyanla Fix My Life,” featuring Kamiyah Mobley was a complete and utter mess. In case you missed it, all you really need to know is that the episode ended with Kamiyah yelling in Iyanla’s face, threatening bodily harm.
I could tell from the beginning though that there was a good chance it wouldn’t go well because Kamiyah’s mother, Shanara Mobley, didn’t show up. For a woman who had missed the first eighteen years of her daughter’s life, it was an odd choice.
But a recent interview with The Daily Mail, proved that it was a choice that is pretty consistent with the type of relationship the estranged mother and daughter have shared in the time since Mobley was reunited with her biological parents, over a year ago.
Since that time, Kamiyah has refused to stop speaking to Gloria Williams, the woman who kidnapped her when she was just hours old and raised her as her own for 18 years. Williams was sentenced to 18-years in prison last week.
During a recent interview with ABC News, Kamiyah revealed that she speaks to Williams several times a week.
“We actually talked today. I still do call her Mom.”
It’s a lingering relationship that breaks Shanara Mobley’s heart. So much so, that she’s issued an ultimatum to her daughter. “I shouldn’t have to compete with a kidnapper- she has to pick one of us.”
Shanara says she feels like Kamiyah is rejecting her and it hurts just as deeply as when Williams disguised herself as a nurse and stole her in 1998.
“It’s like a tug of war between us. Whenever I feel like I’m winning her back, boom the other side pulls me down,” Shanara said through tears. “Nobody acknowledges my pain. I feel like I’m being robbed all over again every time she [Gloria Williams] reaches out to my daughter.”
Prosecutors say there’s nothing they can do to prevent the two from communicating.
While Shanara was in the courtroom during Williams’ sentencing, she believes 18 years wasn’t enough, that the death penalty would have been more suitable.
Meanwhile, Kamiyah, who is still living in Williams’ house in South Carolina believes the sentence was fair and looks forward to the day when she’ll be released.
Shanara believes authorities should prevent Williams and her family members from contacting Kamiyah.
“When a man rapes a woman he’s never allowed to contact her again, so why can this kidnapper continue to reach out to her victim? I don’t feel that she should be able to contact Kamiyah and I don’t feel that her family should be able to contact my child. The first time round Gloria stole my baby by herself. This time round now you’ve got the legal system helping her to steal her all over again. She can reach out to my daughter every day-my sentence won’t stop until she’s dead.”
Shanara explained that she was 15 when she learned she was pregnant with Kamiyah. Craig Aiken, Kamiyah’s father, was in jail when Shanara gave birth on July 10, 1998.
“When they first handed Kamiyah to me I said, ‘open you eyes so you can see how pretty your mama is.’ She smiled right back at me, it was the best feeling ever.”
Eight hours later, Shanara, still groggy from the epidural, remembers a woman wearing blue scrubs and surgical gloves coming into the room. She assumed she was a nurse. Instead it was Williams. Mobley said she befriended her, talking with her, smiling at her. “‘She seemed to be really nice and so kind but she was evil at the same time. She was a devil dressed up in sheep’s clothing. I let her hold the baby and now that I look back on that day, she looked at the baby as if she was perfect. She looked at her like, yeah, this is the one.’”
Aiken’s mother noticed something was wrong when she saw Williams grabbing Mobley’s baby bag on the way out of the room. The family alerted the hospital staff that something was off and they raced around trying to find her but by that time it was too late.
Later, we would learn that Williams had secretly suffered a miscarriage before Kamiyah was born. And when she brought the baby home, none of her family members doubted that the child’s identity.
Shanara said that in 1998, investigators were convinced that Mobley sold the baby to Williams.
But Mobley knew she was specifically targeted because of her age. “Before Gloria came into my room she was in another lady’s room but the girl’s parents walked in there and the kidnapper immediately got up and walked out. ‘She was deliberately targeting women my age maybe because she didn’t think they would believe us.”
By the time the then 16-year-old Mobley spoke to authorities, she had become a victim twice over.
“The detective punched my hospital bed and said ‘what did you do with that baby!’ They accused me of selling her or giving her away. They wanted me to confess to something I didn’t do. I think they thought that way right up until the day she was found. People still say to this day that I sold her to Gloria. They would say that woman ain’t gonna go to jail by herself, she’s gonna snitch on Craig and Shanara. ‘That’s what the woman did to me for all these years. Not only did she steal my child, she had people thinking I was a liar.’”
Shanara said in the months after her daughter was kidnapped, she fell into a deep depression, contemplating suicide. She said she drank Benadryl to help her sleep at night. But just as she was about to hit rock bottom, she had her second child, Lashawnye Rivera, now 15. Shanara, 36, is the mother of six children, including Kamiyah
Last year, when she learned that Kamiyah had been found, she assumed that she would just come into their lives. And when they first met, the relationship seemed to be going pretty well.
The two had girls nights out, took a trip to a music festival. Shanara drove three hours to get a photo of Kamiyah starting her first job at Dollar General. But the two fell out the night before Mother’s Day when they got into an argument.
“When we first met we were inseparable. We talked every day. I felt she would just come on into our lives. I didn’t know the kidnapper had such a hold on her. I can that it’s my child but I can also see traits from the kidnapper in her.”
Shanara said she was tired of being disrespected and blocked Kamiyah’s number.
“She’s blocked now because I don’t want to argue with her. I’m tired of being hurt. I’m not saying there’s not a time that we can get closer but I really should not have to compete with that woman.”
When it comes to Gloria, Shanara says she has nothing but hatred for her.
“I pray to God He changes my heart towards you but I hate you and that hate is very, very, very strong. Help me to forgive you. Just let my baby go. Please let my baby go. If you feel any sympathy for me let her go please. I’m not saying that as a bitter, angry woman. I’m saying it as a mother was robbed 20 years ago—and still counting.”
There is no way any of us can imagine what Shanara Mobley has been through and the very real hurt she’s still enduring. Still, the approach she’s taking with her daughter seems to be misguided. Instead of using these eighteen years that Williams is in jail to strengthen her relationship with Kamiyah, she’s decided to push her further away by enforcing an ultimatum, blocking her phone number and deciding not to be present for her daughter in what is undoubtedly a trying time.
I do agree with her that Williams and her family shouldn’t have complete access to Kamiyah. I would argue that their communication should be limited. Still, the thought that she would stop speaking to the woman who raised and loved her from birth to present day is unrealistic and would expose Kamiyah to additional trauma and pain. In her decision to block Kamiyah, Sanara’s inadvertently caused Kamiyah to rely on the only mother she’s ever known even more intensely. Who else does she have right now? Instead of trying to compete with Gloria Williams, Shanara should focus on developing a trust and a friendship with Kamiyah before the two can see and treat each other as mother and daughter.