Category: home

awareness, child abuser, cps, custody, false allegations, family, home, love, parental alienation syndrome
Backlash Against Parental Alienation: Denial and Skepticism About Psychological Abuse

By Richard A Warshack, Psychologist and expert on P.A.S. @richardwarshack

This post is in honor of Parental Alienation Awareness Day—April 25.

A boy wrote a letter to his mother telling her that she belonged in a mental institution, that she was nothing to him, that she was nothing but a screw-up, that she was sick, selfish, that he wanted to have nothing to do with her or any of her relatives, and that he hoped she died a horrible, painful death. In other words, this boy disowned his mother with the most aggressive, vile, and hateful language.

The father’s attorney attempted to minimize the child’s alienation by claiming that the boy merely loved his dad a lot more than he loved his mom.

Attorneys spin the facts to zealously advocate for their clients’ positions. We expect it.

But what excuse do others have for denying the reality that a child can become irrationally alienated from a good and formerly loved parent? And for denying the reality that the child’s unjustified rejection of one parent can be traced to the other parent’s relentless manipulations to drive a wedge between child and parent?

How could anyone who works in the family law system deny the reality — affirmed nearly unanimously by legal and mental health professionals — that children can be influenced by one parent to turn against the other parent?

Encouraging a child to align with one parent against the other, and teaching a child to hate a parent for no good reason, is cruel. If a teacher did this to a student, bad-mouthed a child’s parents and systematically undermined the child’s love and respect for her parents, that teacher would be out of a job.

“Stealing the soul,” is how I described this process in DIVORCE POISON—enlisting children as agents in their own deprivation and violating children’s trust.

Leading authorities on divorce agree. Dr. Joan Kelly and Dr. Janet Johnston held no punches: “Whether such parents are aware of the negative impact on the child, these behaviors of the aligned parent (and his or her supporters) constitute emotional abuse of the child.”

Society has a checkered track record in recognizing and protecting children from abuse. Denial and minimization intermittently subdue awareness and acknowledgment. It has been this way with physical abuse, with sexual abuse, and with psychological abuse. So we should not be surprised that a subculture of parents and professionals denies that children can be manipulated to reject a parent for no good reason—or that they go so far as to claim that most children will turn against the parent who is abusing them in these ways.

How do deniers rationalize their apparent blindness?
Here are five strategies.

1. Deflect attention from the reality of divorce poison and its destructive impact with debates about whether parental alienation constitutes a bona fide syndrome. The claim is that because the official manual of psychiatric diagnoses (DSM-5) does not include the term “parental alienation,” the problem must be bogus. You also will not find “reckless driving syndrome” in the DSM-5. But you would be wise to avoid getting in a car with a driver who has this problem. Children need protection from reckless, toxic parenting, regardless of how we label the parent’s behavior. Moreover, the DSM-5 does refer to the concept of irrational parental alienation. The diagnostic manual mentions “unwarranted feelings of estrangement” as an example of the diagnosis: Parent–Child Relational Problem.

To the parent who loses her child, or the child who loses a parent, it matters little whether we label the loss a syndrome, a disorder, a condition, or a problem. What matters is whether a child is suffering and whether a parent’s behavior contributes to a child’s suffering.

2. Claim that it is only a speculation, hypothesis, or theory that children can become alienated from one parent when exposed to the other parent’s negative influence. As I explained in my article, “Bringing Sense to Parental Alienation,” there is nothing theoretical or speculative about the existence of irrationally alienated children. These children can be directly observed by anyone willing to look.

3. Attribute unsupportable, fake positions to parental alienation studies, and then refute the fake positions—a tactic known as “attacking a straw man.” For instance, a recently published study claimed that “the alienation hypothesis” (see denial strategy #2 above) maintains that parental denigration is only unilateral, not reciprocal, and that all children exposed to parental denigration become alienated from the target of denigration. When the study found that a group of volunteer college students reported that both parents denigrated each other, and the children did not reject either parent, the authors of the study concluded that “the alienation hypothesis” was not supported and that parental denigration does not cause children to reject the parent who is denigrated.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that no scholar has claimed that parental denigration necessarily leads to a child rejecting the denigrated parent. Of course many children whose parents badmouth each other maintain relationships with both parents. Rejecting a parent is an extreme consequence, not a common one. Furthermore, anyone who has worked with irrationally alienated children knows that these children are reluctant to admit that their favored parent maligned their other parent— in fact, these children are reluctant to admit anything negative about the parent whom they favor.

Researchers who genuinely want to learn about the forces that lead children to irrationally reject a parent will begin by studying alienated children. Studying children who are not alienated merely makes the obvious point that their parents occasionally bad-mouth each other without alienating the children from either parent. This is the sort of “scholarship” that gives social science a bad odor because the study advocates for and confirms a bias against the existence of parental alienation.

4. Ignore studies that fail to support one’s pet theories. For example, while promoting skepticism about the notion that children can be manipulated by a parent to hate the other parent, the authors of the study mentioned above failed to cite the largest study, published by the American Bar Association, that explicitly attributed children’s problems to being brainwashed by one parent against the other. They also failed to cite the volume of scientific evidence about various mechanisms by which children’s attitudes can be influenced and by which negative stereotypes about a parent can be promulgated.

Children’s feelings and behavior toward each parent are influenced by the way their parents treat each other. Does any reasonable person seriously believe otherwise—that children are immune from a parent’s influence? If so, tell that to all the child psychologists and authors who study and write about how to raise smarter, healthier, happier, and better behaved children.

Ironically, one of the authors of the straw-man study, in a previous article, railed against scholars who selectively cite research that confirms their biases, a tactic he called “cherry picking” or “stacking the deck.” Pot, meet kettle.

5. Promulgate, or accept without investigation or critical scrutiny, dramatic and exaggerated claims that the evaluator, therapist, child representative, and judge in a case mistook a child’s justified rejection of a parent for unjustified alienation, or that children removed from toxic alienating environments have been abused by the family court system. Such claims are repeated without considering all the evidence weighed by the court in reaching its decision.

We have a lot to learn about the roots of parental alienation and about why some children become ensnared in a campaign of hatred toward a parent while others resist. And why some children draw closer to the target of bad-mouthing and reject the parent who dispenses divorce poison, a phenomenon called “blowback” in the video, WELCOME BACK, PLUTO: UNDERSTANDING, PREVENTING, AND OVERCOMING PARENTAL ALIENATION.

But the existence of parents who effectively teach their children to hate the other parent, and of children who absorb this lesson, is beyond dispute.

Exactly two weeks before Parental Alienation Awareness Day in 2017, British High Court Justice Russell delivered her judgment in a Liverpool family court case. She wrote, “By manipulating her children, [the mother] has achieved what she has always wanted and stopped contact with their father. She has done so either because she cannot help herself or because she had quite deliberately set out to expunge their father from their lives. These children have suffered significant emotional harm as a result of their mother’s manipulative actions.”

Do the deniers and skeptics think Justice Russell was deluded?

As journalist Kathleen Parker observed, “Anybody old enough to drink coffee knows that embittered divorcees can and do manipulate their children. Not just women, but men, too.”

We may not want to face the fact that some parents prey on the children in their charge—physically, sexually, or emotionally. Often these parents carefully groom children to engage in harmful acts that victimize children. Whether children are victims of sexual abuse or psychological abuse, we must not turn a blind eye to them.

The fact that some children are able to resist does not obscure the reality that such abuse exists. Professionals who feed denial and skepticism play into the hands of those who want us to look away.

Because deniers and skeptics contribute to a backlash against protecting psychologically abused children from efforts to alienate them from a parent, 13 years after it was introduced we still need Parental Alienation Awareness Day to shine a light on the plight of children and parents caught in this maelstrom, and to remind us that much work remains to be done.

#PAADay #ParentalAlienation

drug abuse, families, family, financial, funding, General, government, home, money, news
This is why Trump’s recommendation to replace SNAP FOOD STAMPS with food boxes is a bad idea… and its not really about the food or the money.

And when it was my turn, there was nobody left to speak up for me…

I know this isn’t normally in line with my blog topic of Foster Care but it does relate to the interest of families all across our country.

So, please take a moment and help me get this message out.

I am going to tell you why i believe President Trumps’ idea to replace SNAP food stamps with boxes of food is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

But before i do, i have drafted a petition to President Trump on this issue that i am asking you to sign. I need 100,000 signatures in 30 days for it to reach the white house.

So even if you do not agree with me to sign the petition, please at least share my post, or the link to the petition, so it gets passed around. someone else might feel as strongly as I do on the topic and might want to include their signature. Thank you.

I’ve created this petition asking President Trump not to replace food stamps with boxes of food.

I must reach a goal of 100,000 signatures so that my petition makes it to the white house.

Even if you don’t agree with the current program of SNAP FOOD BENEFITS, that’s okay. This is about much more than that. If you value your FREEDOMS AS AMERICAN CITIZENS, please take a moment.

SNAP food stamps are NOT just for people who do not work. In fact, most employees of Walmart are on food stamps…(and incidentally spend them at Walmart…hrmmm).

For many families it is the difference between going HUNGRY OR having the ability to cook a real, heathy meal with meat and vegetables.

I’M NOT DEBATING WHETHER OR NOT SNAP IS necessary, or for who, or how much or for how long.

I do not even receive SNAP benefits, by the way .

I want to discuss the IMPLICATIONS of what The POTUS has proposed.

Trump wants to replace food stamps with boxes of government food.

THINK ABOUT THAT.

The government issued boxes of food Trump Is proposing for the future….

the bread lines of the past.

Once a month, poor families well be given their share of whatever food the GOVERNMENT THINKS they should get to eat.

Bread lines.

Is this how things should be done in a “free” country? or is this ONE STEP CLOSER to repeating history?

This is AMERICA, LAND OF THE FREE, which includes the freedom to choose what we eat, when we eat, and how much.

AMERICA is NOT A COMMUNIST COUNTRY … government issued food boxes is one more freedom removed targeting the poor.

THAT’S A BIG DEAL.

There are too many ways the government can save money and make reforms to programs including SNAP food benefits

Please sign and pass along my petition at this site.

I need 100,000 signatures.

Thank you.

THOSE WHO DO NOT REMEMBER HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.

HITLER WAS ELECTED. REMEMBER?


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abuse, awareness, cps, families, family, foster parent, home, judicial system, kids, social services, social worker, social workers
10 Things To Remember If A Social Worker Comes To Your Home

1. Ask for the social workers business card. Have your attorney contact the worker on your behalf if the situation is hostile.

2. Find out the allegations before allowing the social worker access to your home or child.

3. Do not waive your rights to be protected from illegal search and seizures by allowing anyone in your home without a court order or warrant.
These rights are guaranteed under the 4th amendment of the US CONSTITUTION.

4. Insist on being present when your child is interviewed
by the social worker.

5. Tell the social worker you will call them after consulting an attorney. Then call an attorney.

6. Ignore intimidations. Social workers are trained bluffers.

7. Offer supportive evidence-
~A dr.’s statement after exam of child.
~References from individuals vouching for your good parenting.~Photos or home videos exhibiting happy healthy children.

8. Bring a tape recorder or credible witnesses to all meetings. Limit discussions to allegations and try not to tell past family events beyond what they already know.

What you say can and will be used against you.

9. Avoid potential situations likely to lead to cps investigations-
do not
~spank in public
~do not leave children home alone
~do not spank other people’s children.

10. Pray and elicit prayers and support of local church members.

“The Government’s interest in the welfare of children embraces not only protecting children from physical abuse but protecting childrens’ interest in the privacy and dignity of their homes and in the lawfully exercised authority of their parents.” Calabretta v. Floyd 189 F.3d (9th cir 1999)

accountability, awareness, child, children, cps, education, families, family, foster care, government, home, law, legal, social workers
CPS v. Home Schoolers… FAQ on Dealing With School District

HOME SCHOOLING PARENTS v. CPS

Truancy laws are very often used by CPS so its a good idea to be familiar with what could happen.

If you are homeschooling in Texas, it might be a good idea to be familiar with what you could be up against when it comes to CPS and your child’s education.  Many home schoolers find themselves being accused of truancy when they are being schooled at home.

So before you find yourself being charged with Parental Failure to Abide by the Compulsory Attendance Laws, followed by Neglectful Supervision, here’s a FAQ sheet on DEALING WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.

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This article is reprinted from the Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers published by the Texas Home School Coalition Association and may be copied only in its entirety, including this paragraph of credit and information. The Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers is a manual for home educators in Texas that includes information about where to find curricula; the laws in Texas; the how-to’s of home schooling; graduation; national, state, regional, and local organizations; and samples of letters referenced in this article. It can be purchased from the Texas Home School Coalition Association at PO Box 6747, Lubbock, TX 79493, for $20 (includes tax and shipping). For more information, contact the THSC Association at (806) 744-4441, staff@thsc.org, or www.thsc.org.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS when dealing with the school district.

  • I have decided to home school. What do I need to do? My child is enrolled in public school.

The first thing you need to do is obtain a curriculum. It is wise to find a local support group to help you set up your school.

Although you are not legally required to contact the school district, chances are very high that you will receive a visit from an attendance officer if you simply remove your child. Therefore, once you have a curriculum in hand, write the principal of the school your child attends and tell him that you are withdrawing your child to teach him at home. If the school contacts you and says that you must do more (come to the central office, fill out a form, or something else along those lines), do not go to the school. Your reply should be that if they will provide their request to you in writing, you will be glad to respond. If you receive a request of any kind, you are only required to give them a simple letter of assurance.

  • How many days per year must we have school?

The Texas Education Code requires that public schools meet 180 days per year; public school students must attend 170 days/year. This applies to public schools only. Home schools in Texas are private schools and the state of Texas does not regulate the number of days per year that private schools must be in session or the number of days a student must attend.

  • How many hours a day must we conduct school?

Home schools in Texas are private schools and are not regulated by the state. No minimum hours are required. You will probably find that your student can accomplish more work in the same period of time than public school child if for no other reason than because of not having to stand in line, wait for roll call, and the like.

  • May someone else homeschool my child?

Yes. Home schools in Texas have been determined by the Texas Supreme Court to be private schools. Private schools are not regulated by the state of Texas. There are no requirements such as teacher certification or curriculum approval. The ruling of the Leeper case states that a parent “or one standing in parental authority” may educate a child. However, if a person is teaching more than three students outside her family, she may encounter problems with local zoning ordinances, and the state may require that she be licensed for childcare.

  • May my child participate in classes at the public school?

That is a local school decision. It is possible for a public school to allow this, but it is not likely at this time. The rules are somewhat different for special needs students; check with your local district.

  • May my child participate in extracurricular activities at the public school?

At this time, a local public school could allow your child to play in the band or other such activities; however, he would not be able to take part in events sponsored by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) such as athletic competitions or band and choir contests.

  • What is the compulsory school age requirement?

A child who is age six as of September 1 of the current school year must be enrolled in school until his eighteenth birthday, unless he has graduated. 16. What about testing my child? Although the state of Texas does not require testing of private school students, many home school parents do give their children annual tests using nationally-normed achievement tests.

  • May my child go out in public during the day? What if someone questions him about why he is not in school?

Home schools in Texas are private schools. Home school parents are law-abiding citizens and should not feel the need to hide their children during the day. If someone asks you or your child why he is not in school, you should respond that you home educate and that you have already accomplished your work for the day or that you are on a school field trip. You should be aware that if your children are seen during public school hours you will generate questions. If your child is in public without you and your city has a daytime curfew, you could encounter difficulties.

  • What happens if my child wants to enter or re-enter public school?

School districts set the requirements for enrollment in their schools. This is a local decision–not one made by the state of Texas. You should check with the local school district concerning its policy regarding accepting unaccredited private school students.

  • What is required for graduation?

Home schools in Texas are private schools and not regulated by the state; therefore, just as with other private schools, home schools set their own graduation standards. There is no minimum age requirement for graduation.

  • How can my child receive a diploma?

When a student meets the requirements set by his school for graduation (see question #19), he may receive a diploma. Diplomas may be ordered from the Texas Home School Coalition Association and other sources.

  • What if I work?

Remember that home schools are private schools and there is no requirement for hours or the time when education must take place. The only requirement is that a written curriculum covering the basic areas (see question #3) must be pursued in a bona fide (not a sham) manner. Consequently, one could work and teach his child as well. While this would be difficult and take some discipline, it is certainly possible and legal.

  • Is there a recurring theme here?

The answer is “yes”! Home schools in Texas are private schools. Private schools in Texas are not regulated. Therefore, home schools in Texas are not regulated. Keep this thought central in your mind when dealing with those who want to regulate or restrict your freedom to teach your children.

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child welfare reform, foster care abuse, collin county, cps, custody, divorce, false allegations, family, foster care, government, home, judicial system, kidnapping, law, missing child, sexual offenders, system failure, texas
Collin County Texas – Still taking kids from the innocent..

North Texas Man Fighting For Custody Of His Kids

DALLAS (CBS 11 News) ― A North Texas man has been found not guilty of the aggravated sexual assault of a child. Now, he and his wife are fighting to get their children back.

Douglas Buchar was a successful custom homebuilder when he received a phone call two years ago, almost to the day. Child Protective Services called to inform him that they had taken away his kids. “My secretary got a phone call at the office and said, ‘You need to take this, it’s CPS,'” Buchar recalled. “And I got on the phone and it was just like, what? And they said they took all our kids.”

The children, 4-year-old Megan and 11-year-old Justin, were picked up at school and placed in foster care on January 20, 2006. This all came after the couple’s 12-year-old adopted child accused Buchar of sexual assault.

“I couldn’t,” Buchar started, “the whole thing didn’t make no sense. It wasn’t logical, the charges they had. It just couldn’t have happened.”

Over the next two years, the couple lost their business, their house and their children.

Buchar’s wife, Joy, was arrested as well, but the charges were later dropped. “It’s like someone just took all my guts out,” she said.

The kids lived in foster care for a year and a half. Six months ago, they were given permission to live with Buchar’s sister in New York.

Earlier this week, Buchar faced his accuser during the criminal trial. “Looking at her in court and what not, it was just, she had no clue of the repercussions she has done,” he said. “She doesn’t realize what she has caused, nor do I think she really cares what she has caused. Yes, we do feel sorry for her.”

But most of all, the Buchars said that they miss their biological children.

On Wednesday, a Collin County jury found Buchar not guilty of the crime.

“One thing I learned from all this,” Buchar said, “I was a workaholic and I was working six, seven days a week, 12, 13, 14 hours a day, and I learned now. I promised Justin I’d go fishing with him so many times before. Everytime, it would be like, oh, something’s come up. I got to go. That’s all changed now. I’m going to definitely have weekends off, and definitely spend time with him.”

The Buchars have terminated their parental rights to the adopted girl.

Kelly Davis is Buchar’s lawyer who is trying to get the couple’s biological children back home. She said that she never doubted their innocence. “I think that Doug was able to prove to everybody else that he was innocent by performing all the different types of polygraph and tests that they required, and performing in order to prove his innocence.”

Although Buchar was found not guilty, the nightmare continues. The couple said that they will not stop until they can bring Justin and Megan back home.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

child adoption, cps, family, foster care, home
Bonding With Your Foster Child

Top 10 Five Minute Bonding Activities

From Carrie Craft,
Your Guide to Adoption / Foster Care.

These activities are not for every foster/adoptive parent or every foster/adoptive child. Only do what is comfortable for you and your foster/adopted child.
Keep in mind:

  • Child’s Age – Chronological and Emotional
  • Child’s History of Abuse and/or Neglect
  • Comfort Levels

Please note that I’m not promoting these activities as a way to create an instant bond between you and your child. Bonding is a process that takes time. These activities are ideas that will help start the process of bonding.

1. Brushing Hair

This can be a great and easy way to spend time with a child. It also involves a safe touch, which is so important to creating a loving bond.

2. Read a Story

Not only will you be increasing your bond by spending time together, you’ll be increasing the child’s vocabulary and other literary skills.

3. Sing Songs

We used to have a tradition of singing songs before tucking our daughter into bed, favorites included Old Macdonald, London Bridge, and many different Sunday School songs. Also try songs like “This Little Piggy” where each line of the song is sang as you tickle a toe, involves appropriate, safe touching with a child who may be fearful of touch due to past abuse.

4. Clapping Games and Rhymes

Remember the games played on elementary playgrounds? If not here are some web sites with words. Fun activity involving safe touch.

5. Bed Time Routine

A routine can include tucking in with a soft blanket, hugs and kisses, a short story, song, or prayer. Keep in mind the comfort level of all involved. If a history of sexual abuse exists or you don’t know the child’s history, protect yourself against allegations by having another adult with you at bed time.

6. Staring Contest

Maintain direct eye contact, the first person to look away or blink loses. A fun game for older children and a great way to have eye contact which helps build attachment. Be sure the child does not interpret this activity as threatening or intimidating and understands that it is a game.

7. Hand Games

More safe touching activities like Rock Paper Scissors, Bubble Gum Bubble Gum in a Dish, or Thumb Wrestling. Some of the above links will take you to pages filled with more game ideas.

8. Paint Finger and Toe Nails

More appropriate for girls – this is a sweet way to spend five minutes. Consider allowing the child to paint your nails.

9. Rocking

This is one bonding activity in which you must calculate emotional age, history, and comfort levels. My son was 12 when he came to us as a foster child, but he needed and welcomed being held and rocked. I spoke to his therapist before rocking him and had no trouble in doing so. He was extremely small for his age, which made rocking him easier. Be aware of sexual arousal with older children and activities that involve such closeness.

10. Lotioning

Applying lotion to a child’s hands and feet can also be part of a bedtime routine. Children of color will benefit from having lotion applied to their legs, arms, face, and back. Caution: Consider child’s sexual abuse history, age, and comfort level with this activity. Some abused children can misinterpret different kinds of touch. Be aware of sexual arousal. If you sense that any activity is upsetting to the child – stop. Document the incident, tell the therapist at your next meeting.

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, children, cps, domestic violence, family, fear, foster care, government, home, kids, love, missing child, system failure
Missing mom may have feared losing son

The woman’s husband says she was afraid the state would take away their newborn like they did with their other kids.

By CURTIS KRUEGER
Published April 24, 2006


Gregory Pound sat in the Pinellas County Jail for a month for failing to reveal where his wife and baby son had gone, even though he insists he doesn’t know the answer.

But he says he knows this much: Melissa vanished because she feared child welfare workers would take their son, Moses, away from her, like their four other children.

His family, Pound says, is being persecuted by the government.

“She had to flee for her life and the life of her child,” said Gregory Pound, 50, in a telephone interview from jail last week. On Saturday, he was released from jail.

Two years ago, a dog owned by Gregory Pound’s sister, Diane, bit the couple’s newborn, in a case that generated extensive local news coverage. It was widely reported that the dog was a wolf hybrid, though Diane Pound denied that in an interview last week.

After that incident in 2004, child welfare workers removed the rest of the Pounds’ children. The parents have not been able to regain custody. It’s why the Pounds believe their new baby, born in early February, might be taken away also, Gregory said.

Officials with the Safe Children Coalition, which coordinates foster care and other services for Pinellas and Pasco counties under a contract with the state Department of Children and Families, said they cannot discuss individual cases because of confidentiality laws.

But they stressed that in cases like these, a system of checks and balances is designed to give parents legal representation and the right to appeal. Judges, not just case workers from various agencies, review key decisions such as whether children should be removed from home or reunited with parents. They also said parents with children in foster care do not always lose custody of their newborns; several factors go into that decision.

After the Pounds’ children were removed, they were placed with Melissa’s mother, an arrangement that is essentially a form of foster care.

On Feb. 4, Gregory says, Melissa gave birth to their new child. She suggested the name Moses, because she thought it was appropriate. The biblical baby Moses also was sent on a journey – downriver in a basket of papyrus – to escape the persecution of the pharaoh.

Last Monday, the Sheriff’s Office said Melissa, 34, had disappeared and that “detectives are concerned about (her) well-being and the condition of the newborn.”

A spokesman said no Amber Alert had been issued for the baby because it was not clear there had been an abduction; the child was with his mother.

Melissa’s mother, Linda Steenberge, said at the time that Melissa had previously suffered from postpartum depression and that “I think she’s … in depression to where she doesn’t know where she is.”

But Gregory and various friends and family members dispute that, saying her disappearance was planned.

“It was a calculated event, saying, “We’ve got to do this for their safety, for the opportunity for the mother and baby to bond,”‘ said family friend Gene Greeson.

Gregory Pound, a tree trimmer from Largo, says a judge jailed him after case workers accused him of knowing where his wife went and refusing to disclose it. He denied that.

Melissa’s disappearance could damage or delay her chances of regaining custody of the four children she has not seen in about two months.

“You don’t want to lose four trying to save one,” Greeson said.

But at the same time, Greeson said, when you follow Christian principles, “you do what you believe is right, not what you believe is going to best work.”

The Pounds’ pastor, Bruce Bendt of Grace & Peace Fellowship in Tampa, agreed. “We have to take a stand for those things that we know to be right.”

Bendt said Gregory and Melissa Pound were married in a church in West Virginia in 1999, although they did not get a marriage license for reasons related to their religious beliefs. Case workers are supposed to evaluate parents like the Pounds and determine what they need to safely regain custody of their children. They prepare a list of tasks called a case plan.

Gregory and Melissa had been working on their case plan, while at the same time appealing the decision to have the children removed in the first place, Gregory said. He said he had many objections to the process, including a requirement in a domestic violence class that he admit to having committed domestic violence. He says that would have been a lie.

April Putzulu, spokeswoman for the Safe Children Coalition, said participants must “buy in” to the process. Otherwise “the individual is a potential disruption for the rest of the group who do acknowledge their need to improve.”

Gregory has been acting as his own attorney in many of the legal proceedings.

When asked last week whether he and Melissa jointly decided that she should disappear, Gregory said it was her decision. When asked if he supported that decision, he declined to answer. He said he hopes he and his wife will win their appeal and reunite with their other children.

Such decisions, however, are rare.

Failing that, the most likely way Melissa would regain custody of her other children would be to work with the very system she apparently has run away from.

“They will find her, there’s no doubt in my mind,” said Greeson, who stressed that he thinks the Pounds are competent, loving parents. “You find Public Enemy No. 1, why can’t you find a woman with a child?”

[Last modified April 24, 2006, 01:40:15]