Sunday, August 12, 2012


by Ron Unruh

She is a delightful girl. Ayn is ten years old now. An entire year has passed since the Ministry of Children and Family Services took her from her father's care. It was not a necessary removal even by MCFD standards. It was an unnecessary reaction to a situation in which a girl wandered from home for three hours and a father became livid when social workers appeared with a voluntary release paper for him to sign. How surprising is it really that an autistic child might try to explore her family neighbourhood? How surprising is it that a diligent dad will show hostility when social workers or anyone wants to take his child?

When receiving expressions of concern about a child from educators, neighbours or any observer, is it always necessary to remove the child from parental custody and care before conducting a thorough investigation? I do not believe that it is. Investigation of Ayn's care by her father and investigation of her health and her home and her living conditions and her nutrition could so easily have been done without an immediate removal. Investigation of her father's parenting capacity could have been affected without removing Ayn from the home. Asking questions about Derek's and Aime's divorce and Aime's endorsement of Derek as primary caregiver to the children did not require Ayn to be in a hospital or a foster home. Opting for the default protocol of removing the child first was a regrettable social work decision. All the assessments required to file a report could have been done without this apprehension which social workers know from experience always extends into months and too frequently into years.

Ayn was not in need of protection. She had not been neglected. She was not evidencing ill health or bruises or discontent. Were any of Ayn's bizarre autistic behaviours inconsistent with her place on the spectrum? Probably not. Was she thriving? I am sure that could have been determined by professionals while allowing her to remain with her family. Was it reasonable to assume that a more effective assessment of her thriving quotient could be made by provoking the trauma of removing her from the people who mean the most to her? I don't believe it was reasonable.

This is one of those cases that gives child protection a bad name. This child did not need protection from her father or her two brothers or her mother. What she needed was for MCFD with all its resources and resource people, to come alongside her and her dad and this family unit with two autistic children and help them to function and to flourish as an effective child-rearing family unit to the satisfaction of MCFD. Pour the money into the family rather than creating a fractured family and pouring the money into a foster family account. Build Derek's confidence and self-esteem with support rather than depreciating his energies and spirit.

A man or a woman have to be remarkably strong in character to endure and to survive the missteps and the mismanagement of an entire department of the British Columbia government. Paul and Zabeth Bayne have been that durable and resilient. Derek will also tenaciously hold on, because he is a committed and responsible father to his four children. All who know him, commend his determination and performance as a dad. But the unanswered, perhaps unanswerable questions, are why does such a well equipped ministry with so many well intentioned people predictably make decisions about people's lives which all of the rest of us clearly perceive to be mistaken. And, why when ministry personnel know the time, cost, trauma, and pain that will be done to a family, is this repeated time after time?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Published and dedicated to Ayn van Dyk with thanks to Ron Unruh for his insight and words expressed here with such understanding, empathy and love. 

Justice is a garment woven from billions of threads knit together into a strong and integrated fabric. Love is the thread and it has produced a fabric of integrity. Injustice occurs when countless numbers of these threads are pulled from the garment. The wearer of the garment is uncovered and vulnerable.

The work of justice is to mend the rips and tears of injustice that have occurred in the fabric of a society and its governance. The repair consists of the replacement of frayed threads, so the work must begin with love.

The thoughts for my literary fragment above were inspired by THE JUSTICE CONFERENCE that uses the motto ‘Love is a Thread’. 

Ayn Van Dyk’s release from government care into the waiting arms of her father Derek Hoare is at the very least the requisite solution to a human rights issue.
When due consideration is given to the child’s autism rather than a father’s negligence, to a medical condition which accounts for her nomadic excursion to a neighbour’s yard, then the shredding and slashing of justice is readily apparent. When a child is missing for three hours and found near to the family home, then the taking of that child from her family by a protection agency calls into question the policy, the interpretation and practices of that agency.

Very soon following Ayn’s brief trip, protection social workers appeared with a voluntary release form for Derek to sign. That was met by his anxious and incensed refusal. Four days later, unannounced, this government agency removed Ayn from her public school classroom. Ayn’s justice garment was in tatters as was Derek’s and his sons’, and the extended family’s garments.

Love covered Ayn at home in the prettiest material designed specially for her. Now only love’s thread can mend the rips and tears of her adornment. Almost 4000 people are members of Ayn's Facebook page, called 'Help Bring Little Autistic Girl Back to Daddy," and many are actively involved in lobbying for her release. Our comments are shared all day long. Here we weave our voice and our gifts into the project of Ayn’s protection so she can wear her garment of justice with its irreplaceable threads. It will be the right thing for the Ministry of Children and Family Development to put Ayn back in her family home without further delay or conditions.