My daughter Ayn was removed from her school by the Ministry of Children and Family Development of B.C. on June 16, 2011. I was told it was to ease my burden of responsibility but this action has had an opposite affect. It has been more than four and a half months since she was apprehended.
On December 14th ten years ago when I laid eyes on her for the first time in the delivery room, my heart was hers. I have given my all for her. I would never harm her, nor have I been accused of such. I have dedicated my life to nurture and understand her.
She has been torn from her family for no apparent reason other than a perception that she was an unmanageable, deteriorating child and that far from the truth. Ayn is a wonderful caring child. It is true that she is autistic and that she has a difficulty explaining what she wants but she has an astute understanding of body language and she has a very strong will. Although Ayn is verbal and possesses a large vocabulary, she still struggles to share with others her desires, fears, and thoughts. Presently, she continues to ask for me and she continues to assert that I am coming. She knows I would not abandon her. Yet the Ministry of Children and Family Development continues to keep her from my care and custody.
On Oct 18 the government sought court approval for temporary custody for 90 days. I refused to consent to this and since this is my continued stance, an effort will be made to determine if trial is necessary or whether mutual consent can be achieved between the parties. This step is called the Case Conference and has been scheduled over 90 days away.... on Jan 23rd. If this is the case, why ask for 90 days? Why even pretend to ask? My reasons for refusal will not be heard. I continue to wait for hearing after hearing, never being given the opportunity to even speak. At the conclusion of each meeting, another one is scheduled and in effect we are shuffled to the back of the line struggling to merge schedules to obtain the next suitable date.
While in care of the Ministry, Ayn has escaped twice in four months. At the second escape she was naked, drugged, wet and wandering as far as the "main street." Police were called and she was located and returned her to caregivers. Information is not provided to me, or, I receive what the MCFD chooses to tell me. I am frequently told, "It is under investigation." However, considering that the first escape incident was months ago one should assume that something is known by now? How difficult can the investigation be about whether in her drugged condition Ayn was being watched under the care of a 15 year old fellow foster child? How much more investigation is required to determine why the window of the bathroom in which Ayn was bathing was not locked?
When the MCFD is purportedly educated to identify emotional abuse, why can abuse be ignored when MCFD is the actual source of that abuse? At home Ayn was in no greater danger than her disability naturally initiates. I am asking that she be returned to my care immediately. If MCFD is obliged to investigate then expedite that inquiry rather than separating us for over four months already with no social worker as yet asking me how Ayn was when she was in the family home, the very place from which she is being withheld. She has been returned to the school where the "deterioration" was observed. She has been returned to the foster care home from which she has twice escaped.
MCFD has offered to me unsupervised access effective immediately and yet MCFD will not return Ayn to me. This is a nightmarish power struggle for our family with an institution whose stated function is family development and whose guiding principles are: "a family is the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of children and the responsibility for the protection of children rests primarily with the parents" (CFCSA 2b) and "decisions relating to children should be made and implemented in a timely manner" (CFCSA 2g).
I have devoted my life to my children and I continue to care for my sons, one of whom is also autistic. I do this cheerfully and have never once complained about the complexities and problems I face raising two severely autistic kids. All three children and most certainly the two autistic children are happy and thriving children and there is nothing to suggest otherwise.
I am angry. I am in pain. I suffer and yet the truth is that this does not matter – Rather, my daughter Ayn is all that matters. This young girl does not deserve this traumatic interruption. Instead, she should be viewed as a citizen in the same sense as you or I, and as the social workers involved in her case and as the different judges who are giving oversight to this process. However, she is being treated like property. The sadness she experiences because of my absence from her is used against me as is my advocacy for her to get proper services. During all this time she sits in a basement wondering where her family has gone and not understanding what has happened or why. She may wonder whether she did something wrong, or whether we don’t want her anymore. She has no capacity to comprehend the Ministry's legal squabble. She knows only that she has been forcefully removed from those whom she loved and who love her and with whom she has be every day of her life before this horror. Is the horror to be regarded as acceptable because Ayn has been placed with various caregivers who are nice people? It is still not commendable that good people do the wrong things. Even caregivers are uninformed as is the public and as am I. So now we wait, past her December 14th birthday, past Christmas and New Year, for a “Case Conference” in which I will still not have opportunity to argue for her return. Instead I will receive a scheduled date when that will happen, a date which in all probability will be a year or more away. Of course this cannot be what our community expected when we created this child welfare institution.
Please help to tell Ayn’s story and thereby help her to come home. She is very special. She is a sweetheart. She needs to be with me her daddy, with her mommy and with her brothers. We love her so dearly. I will never concede, or all of this will have been for nothing and the net result will be a little disabled girl who will never know why or when she could be snatched again.