On June 16, 2011 Derek Hoare experienced the unthinkable shock of learning that his nine year old daughter Ayn had been removed from her school by the Ministry of Children and Family Services (MCFD). He was informed that the action was designed to ease his load of responsibility but in fact it created an intolerable burden. Four and one half months have passed since their separation. It is crucial for readers to know that Derek continues to provide care for his two sons, one of whom is also autistic and he has never complained to anyone about the complexities or problems of raising three children, two of whom are severely autistic. He has done this cheerfully for years and all three children are happy and thriving.
Ayn will celebrate her tenth birthday on December 14th but not with her family. When she was born and Derek saw her for the first time, his heart was hers. Since that day in 2001 Derek has given all he is for her. He is not accused of harming her. In fact his life has been dedicated to nurturing and understanding her. Ayn is autistic.
Ayn 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. On June 12th she climbed a backyard fence and stopped in a neighbour’s yard to play but she could not be found until three hours later. Ayn is not out of control. She is a wonderful caring child. Being autistic, she does have 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 in foster care, Ayn asks for her father constantly and she continues to affirm that he is coming. She is confident that her daddy would not abandon her. Yet the Ministry of Children and Family Development continues to keep her from his care and custody. On Oct 18 the MCFD sought court approval for temporary custody for 90 days. In Derek’s communication with MCFD he is met by repeated procedural delays. It is yet to be determined whether a court trial will be required to settle this case. The Case Conference is scheduled for January 23, 2012.
When Ayn was living in her father’s home she was in no greater danger than her disability naturally initiates or expects. Since Ayn was apprehended following her absence from her family premises, it is a conspicuous observation to note that while she has been in Ministry care she has been heavily medicated (drugged) and yet has twice escaped in the past four months. Her second escape occurred during her bathing time and she was later found naked and wandering near a main street. She was recovered and returned to foster care. It is reasonable to query why the MCFD can absolve the caregivers for inadequate safety precautions while maintaining a punitive posture to Derek and Ayn.
It is of interest to note that the Ministry’s own policy document states "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). CFCSA stands for Child, Family and Community Services Act.
Derek is angry and in pain and yet discounts his own agony because in his mind Ayn is all that matters in this case. She does not deserve to experience this traumatic interruption to normalcy. She does deserve to be treated as a significant citizen with rights. She shouldn’t have to be troubled with thoughts of whether she did something very wrong or whether her family does not want her any longer. 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. So now they wait, past Ayn’s December 14th birthday, past Christmas and New Year, for a “Case Conference” in which Derek will still not have opportunity to argue for Ayn’s return. Instead he 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. MCFD could give Ayn back to her daddy right now.
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. They love her so dearly.