Starting Over When You Can’t Go Back? – To All Protective Parents: Rebuilding when you can’t go home again:
To all of my friends: I have slowly begun to rebuild my work and my career, my freelance paralegal research. I had been self-employed in the same field for over 20 years when my life came to a screeching halt in 2010 when my young children (ages 9 and 12) were kidnapped by their father and taken over 200 miles away … this was parental kidnapping, against custody, against the law. So many others are familiar with this horror but this type of kidnapping garners little sympathy and certainly less action. This atrocity, and the long-haul of horror it places a protective parent in is in no way different than having your children kidnapped by a stranger. Although with parental abductions there may some knowledge, confirmation, and awareness, however vague, that your children are alive, the complete, abrupt and traumatic separation from them is very real and the agony, horror and pain is just as sharp. It is as if a parent is separated from their children by walls of glass, unable to see, care, and nurture them, while waiting on the slow and uncertain and oftentime unfair and outrageous and corrupt “system”. In most cases, delay after delay, motion after motion, and date after date is heard and set by professionals while years roll on by and everyone ages.
These few months have been spent, for me, on the newest course of my re-burgeoning career and I am encouraged that a fresh new start may be open for me, and hopefully, for my children. We have all nearly “aged out” of this system and are in no ways closer to being intact than that fateful summer day in 2010 when my children were snatched away from me, from their home, their school, their friends, family, neighbors, activities. Family court protected the abductor, not the children.
No milestones in life have any meaning without my children and they as yet have not been returned to me, and we have not been able to “go home again”. I am one of the last ones to let go of a memory, a life, that can never be regained. I am a mother … I can’t, I won’t, let go of the hope, the dream, our memories.
I continue to pray that I will soon reunite with my youngest child, at least, and to once again have her in my physical care and custody (this youngest, my now 14 year old daughter, who has now been back in my legal custody since early this year… I have been working hard to recover financially, and avoid a jail term for the ever-threatening, unpaid gal fees issue that continues to hover.
This past winter both my 14 year old daughter and her 16 year old brother, Philip, were removed from their father’s home and custody, September 2013. It was at that the court removed all custody and visitation from my ex-husband due to his conduct and parenting, and for the “irreparable harm” he inflicted upon both children. At that time I would not be considered by the court as a suitable alternative for my own children’s custody because I was facing imminent jail/incarceration for the court appointed guardian ad litem fees I had been unable to pay. It was quite a surreal, chaotic, and worrisome time for me, and for my children.
It’s important to note that the fees I owed this guardian ad litem had been tallied and billed despite the fact that I had only met with this guardian ad litem just one time for little over two hours, an occasion in which I drove the 200 some mile distance to meet with this gal at her office on a day prior to this gal’s “custody-switch” recommendation in November 2011 .. this despite the fact that I had always been my children’s primary caretaker, caregiver. I was not nor had I ever been a criminal, a drug-user, an abuser, promiscuous, or mentally ill …. there were no charges that deemed me to be unfit but regardless, this gal recommended in 2011 a full custody switch that would place custody of both of my minor children into the full-time care and custody of my ex-husband despite the fact that he had never been the children’s primary caregiver and he was a criminal and abusive spouse and parent, and, he was and continues to be a drug-abuser.
Most damaging to me in being able to recover my children were the guardian ad litem fees which had compounded to much higher than I could ever pay. It is interesting that my portion was much higher than any amount my ex-husband was ever charged and/or billed, and much higher than any portion he ever paid. Why? And, for my part, this gal never acknowledged me, nor did she ever perform any thorough, proper investigation. This same guardian ad litem, in August of 2013, almost exactly two years after her initial recommendation, called an emergency hearing to remove the children from the care and custody of my ex-husband, the same parent that she had fully recommended that both children be placed with back in November 2011. It would appear that this case, and outcome, could be quite the embarrassment for this guardian ad litem, and for all professionals involved. It has certainly been quite destructive, and heartbreakingly painful to my small family.
I had long campaigned, attempted, to convey the very abuses and neglect on the part of my ex-husband to this guardian ad litem but to no avail … with a guardian ad litem to be the voice of the parties involved, and, deigned to be the “arm” of the court, a person cannot be heard if a guardian ad litem does not wish it so.
At any rate, I have been pouring all that I have into my work while desperately hoping and praying, doing all that I can to find the way to reunify with my youngest child, and, start life anew somehow.
Just last week I learned, quite by accident, that this week the most recent hearing was to be heard for the matter of my incarceration, jail for fees for this guardian ad litem’s unpaid fees. It seems this matter will forever be looming over me and separating me and my children, preventing our reunion and recovery from all of these lost years. Extremely high and unnecessary costs and fees, over-and-unfair-billing by court appointed professionals, and, the threat of incarceration for inability to pay appears to often be used as a strong-arm tactic, a method to used against a protective parent, one who has undeniable proof, justifiable means and complaints, against a recommendation/ruling regarding custody of children.
It does not seem possible that these things can go unaddressed and “un-righted” for so long a time. My son has successfully been alienated for me. I often ask others that I speak to regarding these terrible matters how a person, how any parent, can explain to their own children, matters re: blatant unjustices. How can you explain to children, after two, three, even four years or more, that they really ARE important, that the justice system really is fair and does work? I have been unable to satisfy these questions for my children, it is heartbreaking to have to try. Even though my children are fully cognizant, aware, of their own memories, of me, their mother, of my behavior, of my affection, my deep, abiding, maternal love for them, and of our lives together, I have yet to offer any reasonable explanation why their father, an indisputable criminal, abuser, drug-user, was able to obtain, and keep, custody of them for so long, and, how this was done with the complicity of those court appointed to see to the children’s safety and well-being … how all these things were done for so long, how I was given very limited, stringent visitation, as their mother, and for so long. Is it acceptable to try to explain to children? How does one do so in any rational way? These considerations fly in the face of everything I believe in, know, and cherish.
I continue to be very proud of my children. They continued to love me despite such great pressure to reject me totally. This has never been their fault. They were never prepared, never protected and those who were assigned to protect them the most failed them the greatest.
I pray with all of my heart that I will in fact be able to reunite with my youngest, my 14 year old daughter, who has certainly suffered the greatest abuses, betrayals, and injustices … she stood up for herself, for me, and for the truth, and for the quiet, peaceful, happy life that we once had. She continued to express her views long after anyone, even me, could have ever guessed or anticipated. She used her voice, despite overwhelming odds and despite all of the abuse and retribution she endured for doing so. I can never fully, adequately, explain how painful that was to watch, experience, and how even more painful it was to be prevented from helping her when she needed, asked and called out for help. I will never fully recover from that alone.
I ask each of you, my friends, to continue to keep us in your prayers. I appreciate any and all feedback on how to proceed, move forward, recover from what has undoubtedly been such a terrible and heartbreaking experience. There are few “help” groups for this type of suffering, much less for this type of recovery. Sadly, but out of necessity, such groups are forming all over the Nation, but none locally, yet, as far as I have discovered.
All I continue to pray for myself is to be reunited with my daughter as soon as possible .. at her age she desperately needs the loving care and supervision of a Mother, her mother, ME. And, I continue to have some hope for reconciliation, reunification, with my 16 year old son. I have long accepted and understood that this is a far-reaching dream of mine but, through God, I believe that all things are indeed possible.
I thank all of you for your love and support. It has never gone unnoticed or unappreciated. I truly hope for the day in which I will be able to do more to convey my thanks and gratitude and perhaps to pay it forward.
Rebuilding when you can’t go home again – To all protective parents who have gone before. Not only were you strong enough to endure the unimaginable but you paved the way, gave a name to the nameless, defined the undefinable, made sense out of the senseless. You have lifted up those of us falling in right behind you. Sadly, but out of necessity, our numbers are growing by the day.