Category: parental alienation syndrome

parental alienation syndrome
A Life Lesson About Parental Alienation that I Learned In High School

Life lessons. Learning the hard way sucks. If you’re a stubborn person, you already know this.

My first job was at a movie theater in a mall. I was 15 years old, working part time, in a suburb of Dallas, where the mall was the local hang out for teenagers. I loved my job, selling movie tickets at the movie theater. At the time the minimum wage was $3.35/hr which was, at least in today’s terms, an unbelievably low wage. Of course that was a simpler time.

My best friend, John, was older than me, and we would run around after I got off work at the mall. One night, we decided to leave through the Sears Department Store exit to the lot he parked in. We ran into a friend of ours (can’t even recall his name) who was browsing in the music section. As we all stood around and talked, the guy slipped a cassette tape in his pocket before we walked out.

Yes, I saw him do it but I dismissed it, turning to leave with John and him. As we left the mall to walk out to the parking lot, we were stopped just before we were about to get into the car. It was mall security. They also saw the guy steal the tape.

We were corralled into a little office where monitors hung on the wall for the cctv cameras. I was scared.i was also defiant. After all, I hadn’t done anything wrong, I thought.

Being only 15 years old, and the only one of the 3 of us who was under age, that meant a call to my father. I knew that meant I’d be in trouble. I pleaded my case, “I didn’t do it” I”I didn’t steal anything!”

They rewound the tape and we all watched as the three of us stood in a group talking, the guy slipped the tape in his pocket, and we tried to leave.

“See- it was him, not me”.I cried.

That’s when the officer said to me, “but you watched him steel it, and did nothing to stop him” … You are guilty by association.

I’ll never forget that night and recently, John found me again, and as we talked and reminisced about the times we had 35 years ago, I asked him if he remembered that night. We laughed about it now that we’re in middle age.

Guilt by association.

The Abuse of Enabling
Parental Alienation

parental Alienation is defined as a set of strategies that a parent (or other person with influence over a child’s life) uses to foster a child’s rejection of the other parent. Parental alienation syndrome develops in children who come to hate, fear, and reject the targeted parent as someone unworthy of having a relationship with them. This is since independent of any negative or harmful accu of that parent, such as committing acts of child abuse or neglect.

When a child is alienated from his out her absent parent, the effects are tremendous. They are long lasting – and passed on, sometimes over many generations. The effects are so tragic that it can destroy relationships between a parent and child beyond repair . It can lead to a letting filled with psychological problems as the child grows into adulthood, ranging from substance abuse, self harm, suicide ideologies, relationship issues and more. A myriad of dysfunctionality throughout the child’s entire life.

It is one of the most harmful acts of abuse to alienate a child from a loving parent. Usually the risk of highest during a messy divorce or custody battle. The alienation can involve not only the child and the targeted parent, but also, extended members of the child’s family. It is not an invisible abuse, though it is gradual and takes place over time. The term “brainwashing” is often used o describe the alienation, and comparisons between parental alienation and tactics of cult leaders brainwashing their cult members are often made. The child is put in a position to hate or feel ambivalent about the other parent, choosing the alienater over the targeted parent.

How does this pertain to my teenage mall security story? The lesson of guilt by association.

When defining Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome, there are certain manifestations that are universally common among cases despite the difference in the tactics used.

The first step towards stopping Parental Alienation is too be able to recognize parental alienation.

As discussed here, in this eight part series outlining the eight symptoms of parental alienation and the syndrome associated with it, are as follows:

Symptom 1. The “Campaign of Denigration”. First, the campaign of denigration refers to the one being waged by the accusing parent in his or her indoctrination to the child. The other component, however,it is this second component of the first symptom that is seen, manifested in the child himself, which is critical in understanding how the alienation begins. This is the child’s own contribution towards this denigration.

Symptom 2: Weak or Frivolous Rationalizations for the Deprecation of the child’s relationship with the targeted parent. This typically refers to a child offering up trivial reasons for not wanting to be in a relationship with what is now known as the targeted or unfavored parent. During the evaluative process in the context of divorce when parental alienation is present, the alienated child is invariably asked why they do not wish to see the once loved, now unfavored parent.

Symptom 3: Lack of Ambivalence in the child’s emotions with regard to the targeted parent. This symptom refers to the child having no emotional connection to the targeted or unfavored parent. In some respects, this symptom can be a little misleading since severely alienated children can express hatred for the target parent, which is a connection, albeit not a loving one.The term “ambivalence” has a special meaning within the world of psychiatry, psychology and psychotherapy. It refers to a remaining emotional positive connection between a person and what is referred to as a “love object” which is a psychoanalytic way of saying, the other person, even in moments of anger and conflict.

Symptom 4: Independent Thinker Phenomenon. The Independent Thinker Phenomenon refers to the consistent behavior seen in alienated children where they claim that their resistance to seeing the unfavored or targeted parent derives from their own independent thought and is not the result of the other parent’s influence. Very often, this symptoms appears as the child – very much out of the blue – announces that no one told them to say this, and that this is his or her own thought. The significance of this “out of context” expression is that it reveals an agenda, on the part of the child, to carry out their assignment of arguingthat their resistance to seeing the unfavored parent is their independent thought that this thought is not result of the influence of the other parent.

Whilethese two components are in many ways overlapping, their separate expression is consistent with the kind of urgency that only alienated children experience. The purpose of this symptom is to convince the audience – very often court appointees – that they should not have to see their once loved parent.

Within the context of parental dispute, be it divorce or post divorce, unless there as been actual abuse and or neglect in the extreme, children will typically contort themselves to not takes sides in the parental dispute. If a child feels one parent is being ganged up on in some way, they will often go to their aid and support their position

Symptom 5: The Reflexive Support of the Alienating Parent in the Parental Conflict. Within the context of parental dispute, be it divorce or post divorce, unless there as been actual abuse and or neglect in the extreme, children will typically contort themselves to not takes sides in the parental dispute. If a child feels one parent is being ganged up on in some way, they will often go to their aid and support their position.

Symptom 6: Absence of Guilt over Cruelty to and/or Exploitation of the Alienated Parent. This symptom is typically found in the more severe end of the spectrum of parental alienation. It is manifested through the alienated child’s angry and critical tirades against the targeted parent.
Under these circumstances, the severely alienated child will hurl hateful and demeaning comments directly to the targeted parent and will express or experience no guilt or remorse for doing so.

Symptom 7: The Presence of Borrowed Scenarios. One of the most common examples of “The Presence of Borrowed Scenarios” is when an alienated child announces that the targeted parent did not want for them to be born, and that they wanted the mother to have an abortion. This obviously could have only come from the alienating parent or her minions.
This symptom may also be identified by the age inappropriate use of language by children. For example, a 4 year old child saying that she had nightmares when she was at her father’s house (the targeted parent in this particular case). When asked about her nightmares, she said that she did not know, and that I should ask her mother because this is who told her that she was having nightmares at her dad’s..
Borrowed scenarios may also be thought of as being the result of coaching. The notion of coaching, that is the alienating parent, either directly or indirectly saying things to the child for the purpose of negatively influencing their perception of the targeted parent, is a hallmark of the alienation process

Symptom 8: The Spread of the Animosity to the Friends and/or Extended Family of the Alienated Parent. The last symptom, the eighth symptom of Parental Alienation is The Spread of the Animosity to the Friends and/or Extended Family of the Alienated Parent. With this symptom, we see once loved grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins being rejected by the alienated child.

I recommend reading the entire 8 part series, a very good read and source of information. By clicking here.

As one can only imagine, the process of these eight symptoms and their development when a child is indoctrinated, especially in severe cases. It takes time. This process is far from instant, and it can even take years to truly manifest. The situations all differ depending on the circumstances and the influence the alienater has over the child.

At first, it may be unnoticed or dismissed at first by others. Maybe they are not immediately involved in the child’s life to se the abuse. such as the extended family members who live only visit from time to time. Maybe the initial lack of attention to the abuse fail to seewhat is going on is due to a lack of education in the topic, or maybe a lack of compassion is the reason, or fear of the abuser. Only knowledge and the desire to intervene will prove helpful if done in time, before the harm is set in. However, most alienaters are narcissists and, as such, narcissists will only surround themselves with people who are either so charmed by them that they blindly believe every word they say is true or people who have learned that it’s easier to keep their mouths shut rather than reap the wrath of expressing an opposing opinion. That being said, If you’re a targeted parent, it’s a painful realization that the abuse kicked into high gear was only possible with the help of enablers, some of whom may even have stooped so low as to deliver a few blows themselves.

in my case, the abuse went even further since 2 of my 3 older brothers are attorneys. The abuse came from our mother, towards myself via my child. My brothers have such a close relationship with our mother, that it would be impossible to imagine that they didn’t know what was going on. They have not spoken to me since my son was taken, and they knew quite well that my son was kept hidden from me. My oldest brother “represented” my mother in an incredibly painful 14 year custody battle over my daughter when my mother intervened during my divorce from her father. The money wasted in that case could have put both my kids through college. My son’s father is in prison so without him to contend with, getting rid of me was fairly simple with the backing of my entire birth family, who all enabled the abuse. They are GUILTY OF THE ABUSE AS WELL, under the doctrine of guilt by association. That lesson I learned in high school.

What do you think? What life lesson changed your perspective throughout life?

Leave a comment and tell me what you think, or share your story. We would love to hear it. Knowledge is power.

cps, domestic violence, parental alienation syndrome
THE BATTERER IN CUSTODY AND VISITATION DISPUTES

 

If you are involved in a custody battle with your abuser, this article is a must-read.  I have included below only the topics and first paragraph of each, click on the topic to read the entire article.

UNDERSTANDING THE BATTERER IN CUSTODY AND VISITATION DISPUTES

by R. Lundy Bancroft c 1998

A sophisticated understanding of the mind of the abuser, his style as a parent, and of the tactics that he most commonly employs during separation and divorce, are essential to anyone making custody recommendations or working to design visitation plans that are safe for the children and their mother. Contrary to popular belief, children of batterers can be at just as much risk psychologically, sexually, and even physically after the couple splits up as they were when the family was still together. In fact, many children experience the most damaging victimization from the abuser at this point. A genuine batterer can be difficult to distinguish from one who is unfairly accused, and batterers who will be a grave risk to their children during unsupervised visitation can be hard to separate from those who can visit safely. The insights and expertise of those service providers who have extensive experience working directly with abusers needs to be drawn from, and the level of contribution from victims themselves to policy design also needs to be greatly increased. Custody and visitation battles amidst allegations of domestic violence require policies and interveners (judges, mediators, and Guardians Ad Litem) based in the most detailed knowledge, experience, sensitivity, and integrity. The stakes for children are very high.

This article is drawn largely from the author’s ten years of experience working as a counselor and supervisor in programs for abusive men, involving contact with some 1500 abusers, and hundreds of their victims, over that period. During the first few years of this period I worked almost exclusively with voluntary clients, and during the latter period worked primarily with court-mandated ones. The characteristics of the clients changed remarkably little during that shift. In the late 1980’s, professionals in batterer programs began paying particular attention to the behavior of clients with respect to probate processes, and we began asking victims more questions about the man’s conduct with respect to visitation and custody. Since leaving direct work with batterers, I have served with increasing frequency as a custody evaluator (both as Guardian ad Litem and as Care and Protection Investigator), and have worked closely with child protective services. I also have drawn from numerous published studies, several of which are listed in the back of this article. [I have chosen for reasons of ease to refer to the abuser as “he” and the victim as “she,” but I am aware that there is a small percentage of cases of domestic violence to which this language does not apply.]

PROFILE OF THE BATTERER  (view article)

Generalizations about batterers have to be made with caution. Batterers come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of education. They have the full range of personality types, from mild and mousy to loud and aggressive. They are difficult to profile psychologically; they frequently fare well in psychological testing, often better than their victims do. People outside of a batterer’s immediate family do not generally perceive him as an abusive person, or even as an especially angry one. They are as likely to be very popular as they are to be “losers,” and they may be visible in their communities for their  rofessional success and for their civic involvement. Most friends, family, and associates in a batterer’s life find it jarring when they hear what he has done, and may deny that he is capable of those acts.The partner and children of a batterer will, however, experience generalizable characteristics, though he may conceal these aspects of his attitude and behavior when other people are present:

BATTERERS’ STYLE IN MEDIATION OR CUSTODY EVALUATION (view article)

Batterers naturally strive to turn mediation and GAL processes to their advantage, through the use of various tactics. Perhaps the most common is to adopt the role of a hurt, sensitive man who doesn’t understand how things got so bad and just wants to work it all out “for the good of the children.” He may cry in front of the mediator or GAL and use language that demonstrates considerable insight into his own feelings. He is likely to be skilled at explaining how other people have turned the victim against him, and how she is denying him access to the children as a form of revenge, “even though she knows full well that I would never do anything to hurt them.” He commonly accuses her of having mental health problems, and may state that her family and friends agree with him. The two most common negative characterizations he will use are that she is hysterical and that she is promiscuous. The abuser tends to be comfortable lying, having years of practice, and so can sound believable when making baseless statements. The abuser benefits to the detriment of his children if the court representative fails to look closely at the evidence – or ignores it – because of his charm. He also benefits when professionals believe that they can “just tell” who is lying and who is telling the truth, and so fail to adequately investigate. Because of the effects of trauma, the victim of battering will often seem hostile, disjointed, and agitated, while the abuser appears friendly, articulate, and calm. Evaluators are thus tempted to conclude that the victim is the source of the problems in the relationship.

WHY CHILD ABUSE MAY BE REPORTED AT SEPARATION/DIVORCE FOR THE FIRST TIME (view article)

Allegations of child abuse that arise during custody and visitation conflicts are treated with similar skepticism by court personnel and service providers. A large-scale national study found that the rate of false child sexual abuse allegations does not increase at this time, contrary to popular belief (Thoennes and Tjaden). As with domestic violence allegations, there is no substitute for careful and unbiased examination of the evidence. Batterers who do abuse their children can be convincing at portraying themselves as victims of a deliberate strategy on the part of the victim in order to derail proper investigating. There are two salient reasons why child abuse reports may first arise at separation or divorce. First, children may disclose abuse at this time that is longstanding. The awareness of the custody battle can make the children afraid of being placed in the abuser’s custody, or of being forced to spend increased time with him without the protective presence of the other parent. This fear can lead children to make the frightening leap involved in discussing the abuse. After separation, children may begin spending extended unsupervised time with the abuser for the first time ever, so that the abuse escalates or they fear that it will. Increased visitation may cause panic in a victim of child abuse; a case of mine illustrated this point, with a child disclosing a detailed history of sexual abuse immediately after her visitation with her father was increased from one night every other weekend to two. Finally, children are known to be more likely to disclose abuse in the midst of any disruption or major change in their lives. (See MacFarlane et. al. on the above points.)

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN BATTERING AND CHILD ABUSE (view article)

Batterers are several times as likely as non-batterers to abuse children, and this risk appears to increase rather than decrease when the couple separates. Multiple studies have shown that 50% to 70% of men who use violence against their intimate partners are physically abusive to their children as well. A batterer is seven times more likely than a non-batterer to frequently beat his children (Straus). A batterer is at least four times more likely than a non-batterer to be an incest perpetrator. (Herman 1991, McCLoskey et. al.) Psychological abuse to the children is almost always present where there is domestic violence; in fact, the abuse towards their primary caretaker is itself a form of emotional abuse of the children, as numerous studies now document. It is true that battered women are also more likely to abuse children than non-battered women are, but unlike with batterers, those levels decline rapidly once the relationship separates(Edleson and Schecter).

JANET JOHNSTON’S TYPOLOGY OF BATTERERS AND THE AFCC RISK ASSESSMENT:THE QUEST FOR SIMPLE SOLUTIONS (view article)

Efforts are underway nationally to ease the complexity of assessing risk to children from visitation with batterers by placing batterers into distinct types, based largely on the work of Janet Johnston. For example, a risk assessment distributed nationally by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) draws heavily from Johnston’s work. The types Johnston posits are as follows:

Type A: “Ongoing or Episodic Male Battering”

Type B: “Female-Initiated Violence”

Type C: “Male Controlled Interactive Violence”

Type D: “Separation and Postdivorce Violence”

Type E: “Psychotic and Paranoid Reactions”

ASSESSMENT OF RISK TO CHILDREN FROM VISITATION WITH A BATTERER (view article)

Assessing the safety of children with batterers during unsupervised visitation requires careful examination of all available evidence, with as few preconceptions as possible about the credibility of either party. Even a highly skilled service provider cannot “just tell” that an alleged abuser is telling the truth or is not dangerous, even after several hours of interviews and even with the assistance of psychological testing. These can be important sources of information, but careful assessment of the alleged victim’s version of events, comparison with outside sources (to assess credibility), examination of court records, and confrontation of the alleged abuser to assess his reactions are all essential to an evaluation.

(view article)

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Parental Alienation, the Courts, and Emotional Distress


What is Parental Alienation?

The intentional alienation of a child’s affections with his or her parent without cause.

The tactics used after methodical and calculated acts of child abuse which can result in severe consequences. The alienated child an targeted patterns can suffer irrepairable harm. 

Even if the child and the targeted parent once had a close, loving relationship before the alienation began, in severe cases, they can lose any existence of a relationship as the direct result of the alienation.

The “alienator” is not always a parent, it can be anyone in the child’s life that has the control and opportunity to influence the child. 

The alienation also oftentimes extends to the child’s friends and extended family members.

While family courts recognize that parental alienation happens, (especially in high conflict divorces with child custody disputes), allegations of domestic violence can create an atmosphere of improper justification for the tactics used in alienation.

Daniel G. Saunders, Ph.D.,  Kathleen C. Faller, Ph.D. and Richard M. Tolman, Ph.D. or the University of Michigan, School of Social Work, submitted a research report to the U.S. Department of Justice which analyzed parental alienation in the family court system.

In their findings, it was concluded that the Judges, private attorneys, and custody evaluators were more likely than domestic violence workers and legal aid attorneys to believe that mothers make false allegations of abuse. This position creates a difficulty for a battered spouse to protect themselves and the child from abuse as they are labeled as an alienator.

This can have catastrophic consequences when “parental alienation syndrome” is brought up by the abuser to counter an allegations of domestic violence. The. battered spouse can even lose custody to their abuser and be erased from the childs life.. 

In a 2002 case in Nassau County,  a trial court found that in cases where parental alienation is alleged, “the court has the duty to become aware of and seek out every bit of relevant evidence and advice on the custody issues before it”, which included a forensic evaluation. (Zafran v. Zafran, 740 NYS2d 596).

This can be achieved by a forensic custody evaluation, home study, or in cases where conflicting testimony is present, the court has the authority to use is an “in camera” interview (also called a Lincoln hearing) with the child.

The judge will interview the child in the absence of the parents and their attorneys, having only the child’s attorney present. The judge has the discretion to do an “in camera”, usually making this determination by assessing several factors. These factors include the facts of the case, the age and maturity of the child and the need to protect the child from the adversarial proceeding. The judge will conduct an “in camera” if they hear conflicting testimony or if one of the attorneys make the request. A lot of judges are partial to getting children directly involved in child custody or visitation cases and will therefore only conduct an “in camera” when it is absolutely necessary.

Parental Alienation as Form of Emotional Distress Tort Claim

Divorce lawyers see quite a bit of parental alienation in its various forms.

Some cases are severe, like the Tsimhoni case from Waterford & Clarkston, while other cases are mild.

An interesting case, Fukimaki v Ichikawa, decided in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court makes the Tsimhoni case look like a pro confesso divorce proceeding.

One particularly unusual aspect of the case is that the ex-husband filed a brand new case against his ex-wife in the court of general jurisdiction more than a decade after his divorce was completed in the family court.

The basis of the new case: tort claims for “alienation of parental affection” and “intentional infliction of emotional distress”.

The trial court judge dismissed the action on the grounds Michigan does not recognize the parental alienation tort claim and that the emotional distress claim was time-barred.

Not so fast, says the Michigan Court of Appeals. While the appellate court agreed that there is no cause of action for parental alienation, it held that the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim did not accrue until the mother began preventing parenting time with the father.

The trial court selected a much earlier date to begin running the “statute of limitations” clock: the date mother was awarded sole physical and legal custody of the child.

To establish the intentional infliction of emotional distress, the appellate court held that plaintiff must demonstrate that a defendant’s conduct was, “so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.

In sum, the courts have held that to be actionable, the defendant’s conduct must be so severe and shocking that a community member is compelled to shout, “Outrageous!”

In his complaint, father sets forth the following allegations:

  • Mother was twice held in contempt of the family court for disallowing father’s parenting time with the child;
  • Mother arranged for the child’s teacher to keep the child while she served a stint in the county jail following her second contempt of court ruling;
  • Mother sent father letters promising that she was committed and determined to completely destroy father’s relationship with the child;
  • Mother denied father parenting time for 22 consecutive weeks, and
  • Mother conspired with the child’s school to exclude father from all school-related events.

Based on these facts, if proven by a preponderance of the evidence,  would constitute “Outrageous!” acts of conduct.

The case now goes back to the Washtenaw County Circuit Court where this father gets the opportunity to establish the elements of an intentional infliction of emotion distress claim; not an easy thing to do.

Father will have to prove extreme and outrageous conduct that is intentionally designed to cause severe emotional distress.

Although rare, torts can be filed against one’s spouse or former spouse, just like any other named defendant.

Recognizing Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation can be difficult to detect, largely because it may not be intentional. Yet whether the alienating parent intends to disrupt the relationship between the targeted parent and the child, the damage is the same.

In extreme situations, the alienating parent may relocate the child without the targeted parent’s knowledge or permission. Generally,  alienating parents feel they are doing the right thing.Fortunately, courts have jurisdiction over most cases; the relocating parent must obtain leave from the court to move out-of-state or more than 100-miles from the child’s established custodial environment.

Sources:

Clarkston Legal

Parental Alienation Awareness

cps, parental alienation syndrome
(Audio) Imagine THIS Conversation being one of the last times you spoke to your child

It was 4 days before Christmas, 2004, when I arrived at my scheduled visit with my 8 year old son. The visitation center was getting ready to be closed until after the new year. I waited, and waited. I had driven over two hours in sleet and snow with an arm full of presents to give him for the holiday.

After about a half hour or so, the Director of Collin County CPS, Claudia King, came in to inform me that there would be no visit that day. When I asked why, she told me he “forgot” it was visitation day. I knew that could not be true.

When she proceeded to tell me it would be after the New Year before I could reschedule, I threw a fit and threatened to file emergency court papers if I did not get to see my son that week, before Christmas. She finally agreed to reschedule for the following day. Her reluctance was a red flag to me so I came the next day with a tape recorder and camera.

When my son arrived the following day, he was scantily clothed in a pair of shorts and a cut off red t shirt that had no sleeves. He wore no socks, and no jacket, and it was snowing that day. He had a pair of mittens on, pink girl mittens. His shirt had blood all over it. He had dried up blood in his nose. His eye was freshly cut, near his brow, and blood filed the whites of his eyeball.

The following are notes from that visit and the audio can be downloaded here.

I had only one more visit with him after that – a few months later.

It would be more than ten years before I was able to see him, or talk to him again. Once he was an adult.  It was more than a decade after this and one other visit before I was allowed to see so much as a photograph of my son.

It was this visit that uncovered the abuse he suffered in that home. It was this visit that haunted me and became the story, “It’s Almost Tuesday”

I tell every family involved in the system that my advice, most of all, is to record as much as you can. Record everything!

If I hadn’t recorded this visit, I wouldn’t have been able to go back and listen to what he was telling me. I wouldn’t have had the proof of the abuse which my lawyer had to leverage good release from foster care.

Unfortunately my was released into the custody of our abuser and the parental alienation and brainwashing was set in motion.  Our sacred mother/child bond was severed and our lives destroyed. my relationship with my son – as it stands today- (almost 2 decades later) is, I am almost certain, beyond repair.  Barring a miracle.

Regardless, my child in these audio recordings was taken from me and forever gone. Nothing can give back that time. No amount of money, apologies, sanctions, not God, not Satan, not a judge, social worker- not a single person or thing can give back my little boy.

The best I got back was an adult version of my son, who is as broken as I am. Or more broken as I am. I don’t know hope broken he really is, and I may never know.

That haunts me every single day of my existence.

As for me, I was murdered in cold blood, just because I haven’t taken my final breath yet does not mean I was not murdered.

He was 8 years old in the following three audio recordings.

: Part 1

: Part 2

: Part 3


Below are notes from the transcript of these audio recordings.

The time stamps are the markers for each note.

Thank you for your support over the years.


4:25 my child tells me that he was not there the day before this visit.
he was told that i never showed up the day before which was not
true. I was there the day before to visit him and had been lied to
by the director, Claudia King when she told me the day before that my son “forgot” that he had a visit.

5:30 my son describes the 3 of the other foster kids ganging up on him
and the incident that occurred when they threw rocks at him in
front of the foster mother

6:20 my son says “i’ve learned how to control my anger” he says – who has told him he needs to learn how to control his anger? That means to me that he’s getting angry and someone’s saying “You need to learn to control your anger!”

7:10 He asks “what sister?” . henn i ask about his visit and he tells
me he sprained his ankle playing dodge ball at PE – Was he taken
to the doctor?

7:56 I’m really ja…. piped up right now” he says … sounded like he
was gonna say “jacked up” but he said “piped up” where did he
learn those words?

8:39 – describes how they gave him pills he’s not supposed to take because they “forgot” and how it triggers his muscles and he can’t control his hands, and how it keeps him “going and going and going” and how its a “good thing” – is he being told in there that making my son a drug addict is a good thing?

14:28 I tell him to wear more clothes than sleeveless top and wet pants in the snow – he says that’s all the clothes he has, the rest are in the wash.

15:10 he shows me the camera he bought with a $50 gift card from a party (a party??)

The caseworker takes photos with the camera – I would
like to have a copy of all pictures taken with that camera.

16:50 talks about being afraid to plug things in since being at his
cousins… and cuts off into totally separate topics, obvious
effect from the drugs of “speeding”

22:20 Argues with me about playing with fake guns and talks about the target his foster father set up and how his foster brother can shoot it “in the heart” over and over again. He says “everybody plays with fake guns”

24:30 mentions how foster parents don’t have much money. He said he got his foster sister to take pictures of his eye when he got beat up
… who is the foster sister? where are the pictures?

he says the foster mother doesn’t look at the pictures they take.

25:15 He says he’s got a cold (did he go to the doctor?)

25:52 he says “I just want to hug you” and says “I only have a few more
months until I’m out of foster care” he tells me that he won’t
have to stay more than a year to a year and 1/2. Who is telling
him this?? He says he worries that it’ll be too long before he
gets out that they’re tearing apart his life.

26.55 his Daddy (stepfather) calls, and they won’t allow him to say
Merry Christmas, even supervised. Ryan gets upset and starts crying. I tell Ryan his daddy misses him and he says “I miss him too”.

28:08 hear people crying in the background.

28:27 I tell him to be strong and tell him that alot of people love him.

28:29 Everything time I go home from a visit i just scream at my foster mom
Cuz each time she walks in, it’s not you.

20:55 You okay?
What are you thinking I’ll give you a penny for your thought?

He said I don’t know what I’m thinking – – well, i’ve been having visions. he talks about “visions” he’s been having, like the kind of visions Jesus Christ has.

Why was my child dressed in army clothes for a visit? I will never know.

Learn more about parental alienation and obsessed alienation and how it effects the child and the targeted parent.

cps, parental alienation syndrome
P.A.S.: What Grief Does to the Body & What it did to mine (warning: graphic picture)
Parent Alienation Is An Unresolved Loss

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome or P.A.S. ?

Parental alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a controversial term introduced by child psychiatrist Richard Gardner in 1985 to describe a distinctive suite of behaviors in children that includes – showing extreme, but unwarranted, fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent.

Parental alienation is the intentional targeting of a parent by the other parent to interfere in the parent/child relationship. This can also be perpetrated by another non-parent adult or caregiver who is present in the child’s life. 

In its severest form it is referred to as”obsessed alienation”.

Parental Alienation Syndrome has been described as the brainwashing of the child’s mind, much like a cult leader would brainwash the cult members.

It is an intentional act with the goal being the interference with the relationship and affections between a child and the targeted parent.

This is a progressive unhinging of the affections, and an ongoing abuse that is difficult to detect. The longer the alienation is allowed to continue, the more damaging the long term effects will be.

If the alienation is allowed to continue uninterrupted for too long, the relationship can become so damaged it is irreparable

Without strict intervention the parent/child bond will be unfixable. The bond will be forever severed.

In my case, the alienation began when my son turned 8 and we had been forced to move back to the same state my family lived in after my husband and I separated in 2003.

I became the targeted parent in 2004 in an unnatural campaign of hate by my own mother.  She was bitterly angry at me for reasons that had nothing to do with my son. She also has unresolved issues from her own childhood. Additionally, my older brothers, two of which are successful attorneys, enabled her, and continue to enable i her to this very day. She teamed up with my ex-husband and abuser, despite full knowledge that he was under investigation for multiple sex crimes against children, and knowing I had a permanent protective order against him to protect me and my son from being abused by him.

The two of them – my birth mother and my abuser, worked together, conspired and planned to ABDUCT my son, which they did, talking him from church on mother’s day.

Let that sink in. Imagine ad a mother, having your 8 year old child, whom you’ve protected for those 8 years from an abusive man, taken from CHURCH ON MOTHER’S DAY, never to return home again.

The trauma is unbelievable.

The anger at God for failing to protect your child in His house of worship, and at the family who stood idly by and allowed it to happen, is unquenchable. Particularly because, as attorneys, they were able to stop it, but didn’t.

I’ve spent years wondering why they didn’t stop her.

Big brothers are supposed to protect their baby sisters. Where were my brothers when I needed them?

When court ordered by the judge to return my son to me, they voluntarily placed my son in foster care to keep him from coming home.

  He was abused in foster care.

As a defense, my mother and ex made false allegations of horrific acts of child abuse against me. The claims of abuse were brutal. Those allegations of abuse against me were never substantiated. 

Had they been true, I would have been a monster to ever do anything to my child. I didn’t even believe in spanking my children. If anything, I was overprotective.  

In retrospect, my  (fatal) mistake was a belief that if i was truly innocent (which I was), then the system would not wrongly convict me. 

I believed that without concrete proof of abuse, they would not take away my parental rights. I was a good, loving, attentive parent.

In other words, I believed in the system.

I believed in the United States Constitution and the rights of families to raise our children free of government interference.

I believed the government protected those rights.

I believed in the law.

I believed that cases were judged by their merit and on the weight of the evidence presented.

I had been foolishly NAIVE.

I learned the hard way that merit had nothing to do with it. 

Until I saw for myself, first hand, I would have never known how crooked and corrupt the system can be.

I had no idea how flawed the family court system really is.


By the time I figured all of that out, it was too late.

Nevertheless the entire process of losing my son, and the campaign of alienation was so strong and severe (see obsessed alienation) it extended into my entire family.

My two brothers who are attorneys, my other brother and my sister, and all of their spouses, ALL failed to intervene . None of them attempted to stop the tactics my mother and ex had employed. 

All of the members of my family knew the allegations against me were false and that my ex was under investigation for sex crimes.

It was over ten years before I saw or talked to my son again. I still have no contact whatever with any of my family. They are all in my son’s life though and I am not.

By the time I saw my son again- it was at my father’s wake. My father passed away in May of 2010- 5 years later – my son was not my little boy anymore but the shell of a damaged young man.


He has been on a self destructive path ever since.

What Is An Ambiguous Loss?

The grief associated with the loss of a child to P.A.S. is an experience so painful and deep. The loss is called ambiguous or an unresolved loss.

This type of loss is often described as an “ambiguous loss,” which is a term used to describe the nature of trauma, grief or mourning people endure when they have experienced a loss that is open-ended. (Boss, 1990).

Targeted Parents encountering alienation from their children are experiencing an open-ended loss.  This type of loss is often times more difficult to come to terms with than the grief of morning a death. 

When someone we love passes, the absence of the person is final  and the mourner recognizes this finality.

In dealing with my grief, I have said many times that if my son had died, I could have layed him to rest, and grieved. I could have moved on, with a place to visit him, at his grave.

Of course I have heard the argument that as long as he is still alive, he is somewhere out there in the world. There is hope of a future in that. But is there?


At first, i believed that one day it would happen.

I visualized it.

We would embrace.

We would talk through the night, tell each other our stories and life experiences while we had been apart.

We would compare notes and both understand what happened to us.

We would hug and cry and get to know each other again. Then, one day, it happened.

I did reunite with my son. It was, to me, glorious, but not at all as I imagined.

He refused to talk about what happened, so I never have been able to tell him my side of things.

Instead he spoke of tall tales. Experiences that he has had that I can’t imagine could have been real.

He didn’t engage me, but talked over me and through me. He told me things almost to see if he could shock me.

He was a stranger.

It was only after that first reunification, that I saw how the years of brainwashing he endured (and STILL endures) have damaged him. Our bond that was once so close, was gone.

 In fact, the harm done was so incredibly deep that I am struggling to accept that my years of hope had been nothing more than an illusion.

Is this really what my mother wanted to do to us? Did my family really think we deserve this pain?

Finding my son again only led to me losing him again.

It has been almost 17 years since our loss and I am grieving today, as deep, if not deeper than the day he went to church and never came home.

I lost him. 

To learn more about ambiguous loss and ambiguous reunification, click here.


The physical effects of Grief

range of studies reveal the powerful effects grief can have on the body.

Grief increases inflammation, which can worsen health problems you may already have- and cause new problems. It also batters the immune system, leaving you depleted and vulnerable to infection.

The following two pictures are of me before I lost my son, and during the initial months after he had been taken. In the moment of the most stressful times. (Warning, that picture is graphic, but an honest representation of the whole body response to stress and grief).

Photo taken before my son was abducted

I was so affected by the loss of my son, my friends described me as “disconnected” when they talked to meI spent the first few months writing over 1500 letters to anyone I could think of desperately begging for help. I would not allow myself even a moment to rest. I felt like I didn’t deserve to rest while my son was locked away in foster care.

The stress from the grief quickly landed me in a hospital having emergency surgery. The doctors had to drain an antibiotic-resistant infection from my eye socket and nasal cavities. The doctors said if it had reached my brain, it would have killed me. They said I was hours away from deaths door by the time I got to the emergency room. 

It took almost a year before the scars on my face faded and I could bear to look in the mirror again.

Photo taken of me in the hospital while my son was in foster care

I never was the same again. You can see it in the after picture below, I was dead inside.

I became someone new.

I became a mother, murdered.
I became “she”.

A photo after I lost all hope of a reunification with my son

Broken heart syndrome

The heartbreak of grief can increase blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. Intense grief can alter the heart muscle so much that it causes “broken heart syndrome,” a form of heart disease with the same symptoms as a heart attack.


Stress: What is it, exactly?

Stress links the emotional and physical aspects of grief.

The systems in the body that process physical and emotional stress overlap, and emotional stress can activate the nervous system as easily as physical threats can.

When stress becomes chronic, increased adrenaline and blood pressure can contribute to chronic medical conditions.

Research shows that emotional pain activates the same regions of the brain as physical pain. This may be why painkilling drugs ranging from opioids to  Tylenol have been shown to ease emotional pain.


Depression is a mood disorder, not a normal part of grief

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive  disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

Depression is not a normal part of grief, but a complication of grief.

Depression also raises the risk of health complications and often, requires treatment to resolve. Therefore, it is important to know how to recognize its symptoms.

Sidney Zisook, MD, a grief researcher and professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, says people can distinguish normal grief from depression by looking for specific emotional patterns.

“In normal grief, the sad thoughts and feelings typically occur in waves or bursts followed by periods of respite, as opposed to the more persistent low mood and agony of major depressive disorder,” Zisook says.

He says people usually retain “self-esteem, a sense of humor, and the capacity to be consoled or distracted from the pain” in normal grief, while people who are depressed struggle with feelings of guilt and feeling worthless.

They also feel a limited ability “to experience or anticipate any pleasure or joy.”

Complicated grief differs from  both depression and normal grief. M. Katherine Shear, MD, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and director of its Center for Complicated Grief, defines complicated grief as
a form of persistent, pervasive grief” that does not get better naturally.

It happens when “some of the natural thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that occur during acute grief gain a foothold and interfere with the ability to accept the reality of the loss.”


What are the Symptoms of Complicated Grief?

Symptoms of complicated grief include persistent efforts to ignore the grief and deny or “rewrite” what happened.

Complicated grief increases the risk of physical and mental health problems like depression, anxietysleep issues, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and physical illness.


Rumination

Margaret Stroebe, PhD, a bereavement researcher and professor of clinical psychology at Utrecht University, says that recent research has shed light on many of “the cognitive and emotional processes underlying complications in grieving, particularly rumination.”

Research shows that rumination, or a repetitive, negative, self-focused thought, is actually a way to avoid problems.

People who ruminate shift attention away from painful truths by focusing on negative material that is less threatening than the truths they want to avoid.

This pattern of thinking is strongly associated with depression.

Rumination and other forms of avoidance demand energy and block the natural abilities of the body and mind to integrate new realities and heal. 

Enduring the experience of parental alienation is also a profound psychological trauma experienced by the targeted parents. It is both acute and chronic, and externally inflicted. It is thus a type of domestic violence directed at the target parent. The fact that children witness such abuse of a parent also makes alienation a form of child abuse. The events that plunge a parent into the role of an alienated, targeted parent is especially damaging to those who are closely attached to their children and were actively involved in their lives.

Research by Stroebe, and others  show that avoidance behavior makes depression, complicated grief, and the physical health problems that go with them more likely. Efforts to avoid the reality of loss can cause fatigue, weaken your immune system, increase inflammation, and prolong other ailments.


A Vicious Cycle of Passing on Childhood Traumas

Parental alienation is also a form of complex trauma. It is no coincidence that the pathology of the parent who engages in alienation is often born in complex trauma from the childhood of that parent, and that the current processes of attachment-based parental alienation are transferring onto the targeted parent a form of complex trauma. From a psychodynamic perspective, the processes of parental alienation represent a reenactment of the childhood attachment trauma of the alienating parent into the current family relationships.

When my mother was, herself, a child, she endured the loss of both parents. As an infant, her father passed away from a plane crash which decapitated him at the young age of 30.

My grandfather was the pilot of the plane that went down, killing him and leaving three young children without a father. The time period was the early 1930’s. It was a difficult time with WWI ending and with third Reich and Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Regime rising power in Germany.

The youngest of three children, my mother didn’t remember losing her father, but was only told about his death by her paternal grandmother. She had taken the three children following her son’s death, and kept them hidden away from their widowed mother who eventually died of cancer at age 39. In effect, my mother never knew either one of her parents, and developed psychiatric malformaties from the attachment traumas resulting from the loss of both parents in her own childhood.  

Understanding that, I can understand where her own twisted justifications came from for taking my child. My mother is an extremely damaged woman as the direct result of being orphaned as a child.  Still, knowing doesn’t make it less painful, heal it or make it any easier to come to terms with.

In fact, it’s the opposite. It is exactly her sad history of own traumatic childhood experiences that make it obvious to anyone looking in who knows her (such as my three older brothers and my older adopted sister) . They all know that what she’s done to me is wrong and she should have been forced to get help for her own issues rather than to be allowed to transfer them onto me via alienating my son from me. They know her family history. There is no excuse that any of them did nothing to stop her.

in my opinion, they are even more guilty of the P.A.S. abuse, as she is obviously sick and so sick, as a matter of fact, that she doesn’t even see it. A true indication it’s mental illness.  My siblings, though, can all see it. They all know all too well how broken and mentally disturbed she is.

My father took care of her until his death, even though they were divorced, because, as he’d say, “I take care of her because I can remember her before she was so crazy”.

If any of them had stopped her, I might still have a relationship with my son. If any one of them had stopped her my son might have been able to grow up without being abused and traumatized by her. 

I have heard from people who knew our family say that ‘if it weren’t for your mother, you might have actually had a good life.” and “She ruined your life, and you had such potential.” and “How sad it is what she did to you and your children”

I can’t count the times I’ve heard people say things like that.

People THAT KNEW HER.

Truth is, she murdered me with the full assistance of my brothers and sister.

Particularly me oldest brother, who actively funded and facilitated her murdering me. I may still be breathing but what she did, with my brother’s help, absolutely killed me.

If I could, I wouldd have them charged with the crime of murder.

It is vital for targeted parents to find ways of coping with the attachment-based complex trauma of parental alienation

They must strive to achieve the triumph of light over the darkness of trauma, and find their way out of the trauma experience being inflicted upon them. They must free themselves from the imposed trauma experience, restoring their psychological health within the immense emotional trauma of their grief and loss.

As much as targeted parents desperately want to save their children, they cannot rescue their children from the quicksand by jumping into the quicksand with them. If they do, they will both perish. 

Before I lost my son
After I lost my son

Who Am I now?

When i first lost my son, I was obsessively dedicated to fighting the system that allowed for him to be taken.

I spent thousands of dollars and worked tirelessly to file pleadings, write letters, join causes and support groups. You name it, I tried it.

In my obsession, I would say, “my son, [his name], repeatedly emphasising that he was MY SON, MY son. MY SON.

After some time, when the realizations began that said he wouldn’t be coming home .. he became my son (less his name), to my boy, the boy, the child.

I began to de-sensitive myself from being a mother of a child would never be coming home.

When [you lose] someone close to you – or someone close to you dies, your social role changes, too. This can affect your sense of meaning and sense of self.

Caregivers face especially complicated role adjustments. The physical and emotional demands of caregiving can leave them feeling depleted even before a loved one dies, and losing the person they took care of can leave them with a lost sense of purpose.

“Research shows that during intense caregiving periods, caregivers not only experience high levels of stress, they also cannot find the time and energy to look after their own health,” says Kathrin Boerner, PhD, a bereavement researcher and professor of gerontology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

This can result in the emergence of new or the reemergence of existing ‘dormant’ health problems after the death of the care recipient. These health issues may or may not be directly related to the caregiver’s grief experience, but they are likely related to the life situation that was created through the demands of caregiving,” Boerner says.

It can be hard to make life work again after a close family member dies. Losing a partner can mean having to move out of a shared home or having to reach out to other loved ones for help, which can further increase emotional stress and worry.

Strobe says the stress of adjusting to changes in life and health during and after a loss can “increase vulnerability and reduce adaptive reserves for coping with bereavement.”

Emotional and physical self-care are essential ways to ease complications of grief and boost recovery. 

Exercisingspending time in nature, getting enough sleep, and talking to loved ones can help with physical and mental health.

“Most often, normal grief does not require professional intervention,” says Zisook.

“Grief is a natural, instinctive response to loss, adaptation occurs naturally, and healing is the natural outcome,” especially with “time and the support of loved ones and friends.”

Grief researchers emphasize that social support, self-acceptance, and good self-care usually help people get through normal grief. Shear encourages people to “plan small rewarding activities and try to enjoy them as much as possible.”

But the researchers say people need professional help to heal from complicated grief and depression.

“The thing about grief and depression and sorrow and being suicidal is that you can’t reach out.

For many people going through a hard time, reaching out is impossible. If your friend is in grief, reach out to them. Do the legwork. They’re too exhausted!”

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Parental Alienation Taints Relationships and is Abuse

When Ties to a Parent Are Cut by the Other

Amy J. L. Baker, left, at the Englewood Public Library. She chronicled the stories of 40 adults who as children were turned against a parent.

Credit…Sylwia Kapuscinski for The New York Times
By Michael Winerip
Sept. 23, 2007

THIS is a nice moment in Joe Rabiega’s life. At 31, he has a good job as a research coordinator for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is happily married and feels blessed that his wife of five years, Tiffany, is pregnant with their first child.

His hope is to give that child a happier upbringing than the one he had. Mr. Rabiega’s parents divorced when he was 8, and though they were supposed to share custody, he said, his father, a truck driver with a drinking problem, did everything possible to turn him against his mother and eventually kept him from seeing her.

“He bullied my mother into giving up custody,” Mr. Rabiega said. When he was still allowed to visit his mother, he’d have to stay by the phone to take a call from his father at 4 every afternoon and 8 each evening. He said his father trained him to spy on his mother’s socializing and spending habits.

“His ability to manipulate her was so lopsided, it never got to the point where a court heard it,” he said in a phone interview. “His threats of violence made it clear she’d never get me.”

Continue reading the main story
For several years, he said, until his late teens, he didn’t see his mother and believed everything his father said about her.

“He took me to the police station and told them my mother abandoned me, even though it was completely not true,”

Mr. Rabiega said. “He had the entire neighborhood convinced that my mother no longer wanted me.

“He had me convinced without him, I had nobody,” Mr. Rabiega said. “When he’d been drinking, he’d get out his gun and threaten to kill himself if I left him.”

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It wasn’t until Mr. Rabiega was an adult that he began to see his mother in a different light, he said. “She was a seamstress in a garment factory who didn’t graduate from high school. She was weak, no one to guide her, no money, no education, no resources to fight for me.” At one point, he said, she attempted suicide.


Mr. Rabiega is one of 40 research subjects in a new book by Amy J. L. Baker, about parents who turn a child against the other parent, “Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome.” Dr. Baker, the research director of the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection at the New York Foundling, does not identify the subjects by their real names, but Mr. Rabiega (called Jonah in the book) agreed to let his name be used for this column. “If this can help people, it’s worth it,” he said. “I really compare what I went through to people who are kidnapped and brainwashed.”

Continue reading the main story
Most people would agree that one parent has the power to turn a child against the other parent; however, classifying the behavior as a mental health syndrome, as Dr. Baker does, has met with considerable criticism in the past.

“It’s been a very controversial area,” said Dr. Baker, 48, who lives in Teaneck, N.J., and has a doctorate in psychology from Teachers College at Columbia.

Dr. Baker’s book is written in an academic style and sticks closely to the stories of the 40 adult subjects, ages 19 to 67, who describe being wrongfully manipulated by a parent.

It is an attempt to take the sensationalism out of the subject. Accusations of such manipulation have been an issue during high-profile celebrity custody battles, like the ones involving Woody Allen and Mia Farrow and Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.

There is none of that in Dr. Baker’s book, which includes a seven-page bibliography of scholarly research. Instead, she tells the stories of ordinary people like Mr. Rabiega, struggling into their adult years with the damage they describe from having been manipulated into hating a parent.

While most research has focused on children, Dr. Baker looks at these children once they’ve become adults. A key question she set out to answer: Do any of these kids grow up and figure it out? “That I can answer yes,” she said. “I can’t say how prevalent it is, but I have found lots of people.”

Some of what she found undercut earlier research. When therapists first described the behavior in the 1980s, they talked about it as manipulation by mothers to punish fathers. This drew criticism from some women’s groups, who dismissed the syndrome as something concocted by lawyers for abusive fathers trying to improve their custody chances.

Continue reading the main story
Dr. Baker said her research — both for the book and with several hundred subjects over the last five years — indicates a mother or father is equally likely to do the manipulating. It is “truly 50-50,” she said.

Other patterns emerged from her 40 subjects: 75 percent were the products of divorce, and 58 percent were divorced themselves;

70 percent suffered depression; 35 percent developed problems with drugs or alcohol.

And perhaps the saddest: Half of the 28 who had children said they were estranged from their own children.

Dr. Baker believes the behavior is prevalent enough to qualify as a syndrome in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of the American Psychiatric Association. While that’s not going to happen soon — the manual won’t be revised again until 2012 — she hopes her research might cause social workers and therapists who investigate custody cases to be more aware.

“If you believe it’s possible for a child to be brainwashed by one parent, the job of a custody evaluator is a lot harder,” she said.

The challenges in such cases can be daunting. How do you know if the scorned parent is being unfairly victimized or if that parent is abusive and deserves to be scorned? “It’s a lot of investigating, and there’s no one definitive tool,” Dr. Baker said.


Some of that investigative muscle is missing from her own research. Dr. Baker did not interview parents for their version of events, nor did she cite independent sources like court records that could corroborate the stories.

“I did what I could,” she said. “This is just one study. It’s a very new field and there’s little research. The point is to give voice to these people who have not been heard.”

It is also hard to get people to talk publicly about family dysfunction. Mr. Rabiega was willing to speak partly because both his parents are dead.

He said that when he was in his 20s, he again developed a relationship with his mother, but that his father’s “brainwashing” had been so strong, he couldn’t entirely overcome it.

“It was hard for me to fully love my mom,” he said. “If she needed me to do something or needed money, I didn’t want to and I’d get angry. My father implanted a disgust and disdain in me for my mother that wouldn’t go away and tainted our relationship.”

Ten years of therapy helped, he said, as did his wife and finding religion. “It helped when I reconnected with my mom, she held nothing against me,” he said. “She reiterated it was my father’s fault, and I had no choice.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, “I realized a lot after my mother died.”

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Parental Alienation- An Unforgivable Act of Child Abuse With Permanent Consequences

Intentional alienation of a child against one parent is absolutely wrong and virtually unforgivable.

note: This article describes the relationships between conflicting parents and the children – but it’s vitally important to remember that the targeted parent and child whose affections are alienated can also be the victims of others they are in a high conflict relationship with- such as a grandparent who has, for whatever reason, decided to destroy the parent/child bond with these tactics.

In many cases, others may witness this alienation as it occurs but, despite knowing that it is wrong, or feeling sad for the harm being done, they do not interfere or attempt to stop the alienation. Maybe they think it’s none of their business, or maybe they feel they have no standing, or maybe they, too, are intimidated by the abuser.

Standing idly by without a word can be potentially catastrophic with irreparable consequences for both the child and the targeted parent.

While any application which flows from a suspicion of alienation will be costly and worsen the conflict between the parents, it is urgent that the alienation be stopped immediately if its long-term impact is to be avoided”

The Difference Between an Estranged Cold and an Alienated Child

An estranged child is not the same thing as an alienated child. Parental alienation is AN INTENTIONAL ACT OF CHILD ABUSE, often with permanent lifelong negative effects.

The difference between an estranged child and an alienated child is that an estranged child has grown apart from the parent for reasons that are, to be blunt, reasonable and realistic.

An alienated child, however, is the victim of one parent‘s efforts to destroy the child‘s relationship with the other parent.

An estranged child is either absolutely ambivalent about the other parent or enraged by the other parent. These feelings are, however, justified by the child‘s experience of the separation or by the child‘s experience of that parent.

These children are usually estranged as a result of:

  • witnessing violence committed by that parent against the other parent,
  • being the victim of abuse from that parent,
  • the parent‘s persistently immature and self-centered behaviour,
  • the parent‘s unduly rigid and restrictive parenting style, and/or
  • the parent‘s own psychological or psychiatric issues.

The point here is that the feelings of estranged children are based on the child‘s lived experiences. In cases of estrangement, the child‘s rejection of a parent is reasonable, and is an adaptive and protective response to the parent‘s behaviour.

The feelings of alienated children, however, are neither reasonable nor the result of the rejected parent‘s conduct

Alienated children usually reject a parent without guilt or sadness and without an objectively reasonable cause.

The children’s views of the alienated parent are usually grossly distorted and exaggerated.

Alienation is most easily defined as the complete breakdown of a child‘s relationship with a parent as a result of the other parent‘s efforts to turn a child against that parent.

Typically, alienation begins to show itself as a problem when the parents are involved in extremely bitter and heated litigation. Not every case of high conflict litigation involves alienation, but alienation can and does happen.

A 1991 study by the American Bar Association found indications of alienation in the majority of 700 high conflict divorce cases studied over 12 years..

In some circumstances, alienation can amount to child abuse.

As J.M. Bone and M.R. Walsh put it in their article “Parental Alienation Syndrome: How to detect it and what to do about it,” published in 1999 in the Florida Bar Journal, 73(3): 44–48 I, usually because of an interim order or some other sort of temporary arrangement.

The sorts of behaviours that suggest an intention to alienate a child from the other parent include, among other things:

  • making negative comments about the other parent to the child,
  • stating or implying that the child is in danger when with the other parent,
  • grilling the child about their activities, meals, and living conditions when with the other parent,
  • stating or implying that the activities, meals, and living conditions offered by the other parent are deficient or problematic,
  • setting up activities that the child will enjoy during times when the child is with the other parent,
  • telling the child that it’s up to them to decide whether to visit the other parent, and/or
  • stating or implying that the child is being abused or maltreated by the other parent.

The consequences of parental alienation or attempted alienation can be quite profound.

Alienation at its best is a form of psychological programming; at worst, it’s brainwashing.

Alienation may result in the permanent destruction of a child‘s relationship with a parent and in long-lasting psychological problems for the alienated child.

In their article, Bone and Walsh conclude that when alienation has been identified, the solution is to deal with it immediately:

When attempted [parental alienation syndrome] has been identified, successful or not, it must be dealt with swiftly by the court. If it is not, it will contaminate and quietly control all other parenting issues and then lead only to unhappiness, frustration, and, lastly, parental estrangement. …

The study by Johnston and Campbell described children with strong alignments as “forfeiting their childhood” because of the adult role they are forced to play when they become the alienating parent‘s nurturer, ally, and support system.

Dr. Rand notes that:

Divorce almost inevitably burdens children with greater responsibilities and makes them feel less cared for. Children of chronically troubled parents bear a greater burden. … The needs of the troubled parent override the developmental needs of the child, with the result that the child becomes psychologically depleted and their own emotional and social progress is crippled.”

While the process of alienation is underway, children are subject to a tremendous conflict of loyalties, which compounds the burden of nurturing an emotionally troubled parent, particularly when the alienation is intentional.

When the parents were together, their children loved them both, and children naturally desire for this to continue even when their parents aren’t together. Alienating conduct essentially asks children to pick sides, to chose one parent permanently and irrevocably over the other parent.

In G.F. Cartwright’s article “Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome,” published in the American Journal of Family Therapy in 1993, a number of long-term psychological problems were found in children in alienation situations, including:

  • depression, anxiety, and/or stress,
  • delayed emotional maturity,
  • psychosomatic illnesses, and
  • long-term feelings of guilt and loss.

In A. Lampel’s article “Children’s Alignment with Parents in Highly Conflicted Custody Cases,” published in the Family and Conciliation Courts Review in 1996, these psychological problems were found to include:

  • being angrier than non-alienated children,
  • being less well-adjusted, and
  • being less able to conceptualize complex situations.

Finally, when the process of alienation is complete, the child will have chosen sides.

The child‘s relationship with the other parent may be permanently impaired. While many children afflicted by alienation will recover in their mid- to late-teens and reach out to the other parent, some never do, and their relationship with the other parent is permanently destroyed.

-an unforgivable intentional act of malice –

child abuse in a most destructive form….

To quote from the judge in a 2005 Ontario case, Cooper v. Cooper, 2004 CanLII 47783 (ON SC):

“I find that [the mother’s] sabotaging actions have been knowing, wilful and deliberate. As a result of [her] behaviour, the children have little or no relationship with the father who loves them, who has tried to be a good father, and who has been a good provider throughout their lives.”

While evidence of alienation is necessary before a court can make a determination that it has occurred or make orders to ameliorate it, the impact of that behaviour or the allegation that it has occurred can give rise to situations where children become actively involved in the court action.

Parents often find themselves feeling closer to their children following separation than they did during the relationship. Dr. Rand says that fathers in particular find a greater reward in parenting as a result of the loss, loneliness, and feelings of failure that can follow from the breakdown of the relationship.

Accordingly, the impact of parental alienation is particularly traumatic to the targeted parent.

D.S. Huntington, in an article published in 1986 in Divorce and Fatherhood, noted that some parents can be driven off by a child‘s apparent rejection and refusal to visit.

J.W. Jacobs, in a different article in the same book, says that targeted parents may also voluntarily withdraw from the child‘s life where, in their view, the child would suffer if the custody issues were pursued, or if the child would be exposed to additional conflict between the parents.
Contributing to the problem

Johnston has described ways that a targeted parent can inadvertently contribute to the child‘s alienation by displaying the sorts of behaviours that the alienating parent has taught the child to expect. These sorts of behaviours include: being cold and emotionally distant; being rigid and controlling; being insensitive to the child‘s needs; and, not being empathetic.

These sorts of behaviours may reinforce the alienating parent‘s position and make the environment provided by the alienating parent compare favourably to that of the targted parent.

In cases that are profoundly high conflict, false claims may be made, usually by the alienating parent, that the other parent has sexually or physically abused the child. Sometimes this is the fruit of the paranoia with which the alienating parent views the other parent, when a diaper rash turns into sexual assault and a bruise from falling off a jungle gym turns into proof of a beating.

Sometimes, however, false claims are a part of the campaign to alienate the other parent when the alienation is intentional.

For the targeted parent, claims of this nature are devastating because they are so very difficult to disprove and they attack the moral fitness of the parent in a fundamental and humiliating way.

While the claim is being defended, however, the parent may spend months without seeing their child. Even if the claim can be disproven, the parent may find that so much time has been lost that their relationship with the child is damaged. (Note that even unproven claims may result in arrest and possible criminal charges. Even where there are no criminal charges, a parent who has been arrested is invariably released following arrest on a promise not to contact the other parent or the child.)

Interestingly, K.L. Ross and G.J. Blush, in an article published in 1990 in Issues in Child Abuse Allegations, observed that falsely accused parents typically displayed passive behaviour in contrast to the accuser’s excitable and hysterical behaviour.

An American attorney Dr. Rand mentions says that the falsely accused parents she represents in parental alienation cases are typically emotionally and financially stable people, who were often the child‘s primary parent before separation.

So how do you deal with an alienated child??

When a child is becoming estranged or alienated, or when parental alienation is suspected, the situation must be dealt with as soon as possible.

In most cases, these sorts of problems occur in the context of ongoing litigation, and the problem can usually be dealt with in the context of that litigation.

Section 211 of the Family Law Act allows a court to order that a Needs of the Child Assessment, formerly called a Custody and Access Report, be prepared. If the other parent will not agree to the preparation of a Needs of the Child Assessment, you must apply for an order that the report be prepared.

Proper Needs of the Child Assessments are prepared by a psychologist or a psychiatrist, or another mental health professional, who interviews each of the parents separately, and then interviews the child twice, once in the presence of each parent. The assessor may also give the children and the parents certain common psychological tests, such as personality evaluations and parenting inventories.

Most often it’s only the parents who are tested. The assessor will then prepare a report that sets out their observations and recommendations.

In making an order that a Needs of the Child Assessment be prepared, the court can simply say “a report will be prepared” or it can be more detailed and discuss which person will prepare the report, when it will be finished, and who will pay for it. Most importantly, the order can identify particular issues that the assessor is to address in the report.

Where a report is sought because of suspected parental alienation, the order should expressly state that the assessor is to see whether alienation is or is not happening.

Can you fix the problem?

Frankly, it may be impossible to fix a child‘s alienation from one of their parents even when alienation has been identified by a psychiatrist.

In a 1988 article by N.R. Palmer published in the American Journal of Family Therapy, Palmer quotes a Florida judge who dealt with an alienation case:

“The Court has no doubt that the cause of the blind, brainwashed, bigoted belligerence of the children toward the father grew from the soil nurtured, watered and tilled by the mother.

The Court is thoroughly convinced that the mother breached every duty she owed as the custodial parent to the noncustodial parent of instilling love, respect and feeling in the children for their father. Worse, she slowly dripped poison into the minds of these children, maybe even beyond the power of this Court to find the antidote.”

Dr. Gardner’s solution was to remove the child from the care of the alienating parent. This is, in most cases, a drastic solution which forces the child to live full-time with the parent they have been taught to dislike and distrust.

It may still be appropriate in the right circumstances.

This is what the Supreme Court did in the 2009 case of A.A. v. S.N.A., 2009 BCSC 303 when it found that the mother had “continued to undermine the relationship between [the child] and her father” and “acted in ways that are detrimental to [the child‘s] psychological healing.”

The court ordered that the child have no contact with her mother at all for one year. This kind of solution remains the exception rather than the rule.

In most cases, however, the best that can be done to cure the problem is to obtain an order requiring that the child, the alienated parent, or both the child and the parent see a family counsellor skilled in dealing with the psychological effects of separation. The court can specify who the counsellor will be, how frequent the sessions will be, and who will pay for them.

There is no guarantee that counselling will fix the problem since the source of the problem lies in the conduct of the alienating parent, but counselling is a less drastic step and will be easier to obtain than an order changing the children’s home.

In a small number of cases, it may prove impossible to ameliorate an alienated child‘s views about the targeted parent. These cases are tragic and a legal solution may not be available.

When the alienation becomes deeply entrenched, the issue about which parent bears the blame for the children’s views is irrelevant.

You can lay blame, but that won’t change the fact of how the children feel. In situations like this, the targeted parent may have no choice but to wait until the children become mature and independent enough to seek out the parent and talk about their childhood.

The Fall 2008 edition of AFCC News, an organ of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, discusses a ground-breaking program for alienated and estranged children called Breaking Barriers Camp. The program involved all family members in intensive therapy in an overnight camp setting at a facility called Common Ground Center in Starksboro, Vermont, with enormous amounts of support available to encourage reunification between parents and their children.

The program, by the article’s account, was a stunning success, with four of five families leaving with mutually agreed plans to continue working on the re-established parent-child relationship.

Links

Custody Cases

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Experts Say Parental Kidnapping Has The Most Deleterious Long Term Effects on a Child

Each year thousands of children are abducted by a parent, often as the consequences of a divorce, separation, or custody battle. Parental kidnapping, also referred to as “child snatching,” has existed for many years, but only in recent memory has it become widely seen as another form of child maltreatment.

Parental kidnapping by a noncustodial parent is believed to account for more than 100,000 child abductions a year in the United States. Some experts suggest the figures will continue to rise, due largely to the soaring divorce rate in this country. The American Bar Association estimates that 70 percent of children abducted by a noncustodial parent will never see their custodial parent again.

Fathers are typically the kidnappers, as they abduct their children in order to “circumvent a legal system that in 92 percent of the cases grants custody of the child or children to the mother.”

Tens of thousands of dollars are often spent by the custodial parent in an effort to locate and retrieve the child. Additionally, there is anguish, guilt, depression, anxiety, and other physical and mental stresses the parent must go through in both self-blame and wondering about the health and welfare of the missing child.

In many instances, the abducted child is returned home safely “only after the conflict is resolved satisfactorily for the parent kidnapper.”

Because parental abductions are often still viewed by law enforcement authorities as a family matter, they are not always given the same intense efforts in locating the child as children who are abducted by strangers – estimated at upwards of 150,000 annually.

Even when it is given a top priority, locating children taken by a parent can be an almost impossible task, considering the size of the United States.

Further, some abductors take children overseas, further complicating matters and lessening the chance the child will ever be reunited with the custodial parent.
Laws on parental kidnapping are not uniform from state to state, making the task of locating victims and prosecuting abducting parents that much more difficult.

Most experts agree that it is the emotional harm to the child, loss of parental unity, and family bonding that typically have the most long-term impact.

cps, foster care, law, money, parental alienation syndrome
To Find the Law, Follow the Money: How CPS is Funded

Funding state child welfare services involves a complicated web of funding streams, including federal, state and local money.

The largest source of funding dedicated to child welfare comes from the federal government via formula grants or as federal reimbursement for eligible programs like foster care.

The largest sources are Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act.

Title IV-B includes the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program.

Title IV-E includes Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, Guardianship Assistance and the John H. Chaffee Foster Care Independence programs.

While all states may receive these funds to use for their designated purposes, some states have been granted Title IV-E Waivers, which allow for flexible use of Title IV-E funds to operate innovative demonstration projects to improve the safety, permanency and well-being of children in out-of-home care, and in some instances work to prevent the need for foster care altogether.

In addition to Title IV-B and Title IV-E funds, which are dedicated to child welfare services, states also tap other federal funding streams, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and Medicaid. These sources are considered nondedicated, meaning they are not required to be used for child welfare services but may be used for those purposes if the state chooses.

Below is a description of each of these funding streams. For a more detailed look at the issue see the Congressional Research Service’s Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding report from January, 2015, the Child Trends, Federal, State and Local Spending to Address Child Abuse and Neglectreport from 2014 and the Child Trends report, Child Welfare Financing SFY 2014: a survey of federal, state and local expenditures, from 2016.

Check out a new brief from Child Trends, An Introduction to Child Welfare Funding and How States Use It, released in January 2016!

Title IV-E

Title IV-E constitutes the largest pool of federal funds used by states, totaling just over $6 billion dollars in FY 2012 and nearly $7 billion in FY 2014. States, tribes and territories with approved Title IV-E plans may be reimbursed for the cost of foster care, adoption assistance, or kinship guardianship assistance, in addition to services for older youth who have aged out or emancipated from foster care.

Title IV-E Foster Care Maintenance

The Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments program allows states to be reimbursed by the federal government for maintenance payments made to provide shelter, food and clothing for eligible children.

In addition, it covers administrative costs, training of child welfare staff and foster parents, recruitment of foster parents and data collection. A child is eligible for these payments if he or she entered foster care through a voluntary placement or judicial determination, was considered “needy” according to the former Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program standards before removal, and currently resides in licensed or approved foster care.

The AFDC program was a federal entitlement program to low-income, primarily single-parent households, that was replaced by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in 1996. Traditionally these payments would cease upon the child’s 18th birthday.

In 23 states and the District of Columbia, however, payments may be continued until the child reaches 21.

This extension was authorized by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act).

In FY 2013, fewer than 159,000 of the 400,000 children in foster care were receiving foster care maintenance payments.

Title IV-E Adoption Assistance

Title IV-E Adoption Assistance funds must be used to place children with adoptive families in a timely manner, provide for financial and medical assistance, reimburse states for associated administrative costs, and train employees and adoptive parents. Children are eligible for adoption assistance funds if they meet one of five criteria:

  • They are considered needy, according to the former AFDC.
  • They remained in the pre-removal situation.
  • They are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • They are the children of minor parents who are receiving Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments.
  • They were eligible for adoption assistance previously but their adoptive parents died or had their parental rights terminated.

The Fostering Connections Act increased the overall amount of federal spending on adoption assistance payments to adoptive families by phasing out the income eligibility requirements for those payments over time (delinking eligibility from income). As federal spending on adoption assistance payments was expected to increase and state spending was expected to decline, Congress required states to reinvest any state savings from this change in child welfare programs. However, according to the SFY 2012 Child Trends survey, federal expenditures from the Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program actually declined for the first time, probably because of a decrease in the number of eligible children, and states no longer receive enhanced reimbursed rates through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a federal law that provided temporary assistance to states during the last economic downturn.

Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance

Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance is similar to adoption assistance and foster care maintenance in that it also covers the training of child welfare staff and guardians in addition to administrative expenses.

However, the primary purpose of guardianship assistance is to provide federal reimbursement to kinship guardians, or relatives, who serve as legal guardians and have previously served as foster parents for the child. For the child to be eligible for these payments, he or she must be leaving foster care in exchange for a legal guardianship with relatives and meet four additional criteria:

  • The child must be eligible for Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments while residing in a prospective kinship placement for six consecutive months.
  • The state must determine that returning home and adoption are not appropriate permanency goals for the child.
  • It must be demonstrated that there is a strong attachment between the child and the prospective relative guardian and that the guardian is committed to the guardianship.
  • Children age 14 or older must be consulted about the potential placement.

The Fostering Connections Act provides states the option to use federal Title IV-E funds for reimbursement for kinship guardianship assistance payments on behalf of eligible grandparents and other relatives who have assumed legal guardianships of children.

As of FY2014, 32 states and five tribes have incorporated kinship guardianship assistance into their Title IV-E plan.

STATES WITH KINSHIP GUARDIAN ASSISTANCE

The following states offer assistance to family under the Kinship Guardiam Assistance program:
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin

Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects

Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects allow states to apply for more flexibility in the use of Title IV-E federal reimbursement. These demonstration projects must aim to increase permanency for all children in foster care and/or help children make a successful transition out of care when they reach 18, or in some states, 21; improve child welfare outcomes by focusing on safety and well-being; and prevent child abuse and neglect through early intervention, while also reducing the instances of re-entry into foster care by reducing instances of maltreatment.

Note that the Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects will end in 2019 and have not been authorized to continue.

Currently, 28 states, D.C. and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Washington state are operating Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects. The states are: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

John E. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program

The Title IV-E John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) funds are designed to help older youth in foster care achieve independence and self-sufficiency. The program targets children who are expected to be in care when they turn 18, those who are 16 or older and are placed in kinship care or adoptive placements, and youth ages 18-21 who have aged out of foster care.

Assistance with education, employment, financial management, housing, emotional support and assured connections to caring adults are just a few of the services to which these funds are dedicated.

In addition to helping foster youth achieve self-sufficiency, CFCIP funds are also used to provide Educational and Training Vouchers to foster youth, up to age 21.

These vouchers may be used for the cost of attendance at an institution of higher education, up to $5000 a year.

Further, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 amended the Social Security Act to add that CFCIP funds should be used to “ensure that children who are likely to remain in foster care until 18 years of age have regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age or developmentally- appropriate activities.”

The act also raised the mandatory funding authority of the Chafee Foster Care Independence Programs to $143 million starting in 2020.

Title IV-B

Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services

Title IV-B, Subpart 1 of the Social Security Act, titled the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services, offers states flexibility in creating or expanding child and family services, in partnership with community-based agencies, to ensure that kids can stay safely at home.

This funding may be used for child protective services, including investigations of child abuse and neglect, caseworker activities, counseling, emergency assistance and arranging alternative living arrangements, in addition to family preservation services, time-limited family reunification services, and family support or prevention services.

Family Connection Grants

Family Connection Grants, first established as part of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, support services that help kids in foster care, or those at risk of entering care, to stay connected with their families.

These services are:

  • Kinship navigator programs.
  • Family finding.
  • Family group decision making.
  • Residential family treatment.

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 appropriated $15 million for FY 2014.

Promoting Safe and Stable Families

Title IV-B, Subpart 2 of the Social Security Act, Promoting Safe and Stable Families, encourages family support and preservation, time-limited family reunification services, and services to support adoption.

This flexible-use funding allows states to develop, establish or expand community-based programs to support family preservation.

Other Federal Funding

Other federal funding for state child welfare services includes the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and Medicaid.

CAPTA State Grants

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) State Grants, first enacted 40 years ago, and re-enacted most recently in 2010, seeks to improve child protective systems with an emphasis on collaboration between child protective services, health, mental health, juvenile justice, education, and other public and private agencies.

CAPTA funds are authorized to help states make improvements to child protective services, such as intake, assessment, screening and investigation of reports of child abuse and neglect; develop, improve, and implement risk and safety assessment tools and protocols; and case management and monitoring processes.

Finally, the statutory authority for the Children’s Justice Act is housed in CAPTA. These grants administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are available to states and territories to improve the assessment, investigation, and/or prosecution of child abuse and neglect cases.

According to the HHS Report to Congress, states reported their intention to use their CAPTA grant funds to:

  • Improve the intake, assessment, screening, and investigation of reports of child abuse or neglect (85%).
  • Use the funds develop, improve, and implement risk and safety assessment tools and protocols, including use of differential response (73%).
  • Improve case management, ongoing case monitoring, and delivery of services and treatment provided to families (65%).

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Title IV-A of the Social Security Act, provides federal block grants to states.

This flexible funding stream can be used for any purpose, so long as it furthers one of the four main goals of TANF, including providing assistance to families so children can be safely cared for in their own homes. These funds may also be used for foster care or adoption assistance for children who are not Title IV-E eligible.

In addition, up to 10 percent of TANF funds may be transferred to the Social Services Block Grant. The use of these funds is limited to assisting families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.

Social Services Block Grants (SSBG)

The Social Services Block Grants (SSBG) allow states to implement locally appropriate social services to increase self-sufficiency and independence, reducing dependence on social services.

SSBG funds can be used for more than child welfare services. With five policy goals, one being the reduction and prevention of child abuse, and 28 service categories, states are allowed to tailor services to meet the needs of their residents.

Categories include foster care, substance abuse, case management, adoptive services, counseling, protective services, housing, employment services and more.

See the SSBG 2014 Annual Report for more on how states use this funding source.

Medicaid

Medicaid is an important source of funding for health services—which can include medically necessary health care and mental health— for children and youth in foster care.

It is an open-ended entitlement. States must provide a match based on their population. Key services include Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) and optional targeted case management (limited), rehabilitation services,

Medicaid-funded therapeutic foster care and certain administrative costs. All children eligible for Title IV-E are eligible for Medicaid, and states may extend Medicaid to adopted children or former foster youth ages 18-21 who are not eligible for Title IV-E.

As of Jan. 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act extends Medicaid coverage for former foster youth up to age 26. Medicaid is an open-ended entitlement equal to each state’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rate, between 50-82 percent depending on per capita income.

Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments

Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments were established in 1997 as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act. They are designed to encourage states to increase the number of children who were adopted from foster care, adoptions of older children, age 9 or older, and adoptions of children with “special needs” under the age of 9.

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 extended funding for the incentive payments through 2016 and revised the instances in which a state may receive Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments to include improvements in the rate of children who:

  • Are adopted at any age.
  • Leave foster care for legal guardianships at any age.
  • Are pre-adolescents, defined as between 9 and 13 years of age, and leave foster care for adoption or legal guardianship.
  • Are older, defined as 14 years of age or older, and leave foster care for adoption or legal guardianship.

State and Local Funds

State and local funds are typically used to match federal funds or to draw down federal dollars.

The use of state and local funds for child welfare services varies depending on the state and whether it operates a state- or county-run child welfare system.

View the original source of this article at This NCSL Project by clicking here.

The Denver-based child welfare project staff focuses on state policy, tracking legislation and providing research and policy analysis, consultation, and technical assistance specifically geared to the legislative audience.

Denver staff can be reached at (303) 364-7700 or childwelfare@ncsl.org.

NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. track and analyze federal legislation and policy and represent state legislatures on child welfare issues before Congress and the Administration.

Staff in D.C. can be reached at (202) 624-5400 or cyf-info@ncsl.org.

Additional Resources

Its Almost Tuesday is not affiliated with The NCSL Project.

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Heartbroken Parents of Alienated Children Never Stop Trying To Reach Out To Their Children

source:

Alienated parents share unanswered texts to their kids and it’s crushing

by:Alexandra Carlton

Being prevented from seeing or communicating with your child is a special kind of hell – but a parent’s love never dies.

Imagine if you were unable to see or speak to your own young child.

You may know where they live. You may have a phone number or email address or social media handle for them.

But because they live with a hostile parent who controls their contact – your efforts to communicate disappear into a black hole of despair.

Alienated parents, also known as ‘targeted parents’ are distinct from estranged parents, who have a rift in their relationship with a child for a legitimate reason such as abuse, neglect or infidelity.

Alienated children have been caught in high-conflict separations where they have been forced to choose a side, and are aligned, both physically and emotionally, with one parent, rejecting the other.

Reaching out to an alienated child: ‘Never give up’

For loving parents, yearning for child who is alive but cut off from them is a special kind of agony – a pain some have described as “a living death”.

Almost all targeted parents continue to reach out to their children by whatever means available, as a way to let their children know that they haven’t given up. Amanda Sillars, who runs alienated support group The Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation, calls these communication attempts “breadcrumbs of love”.

I asked a dozen alienated parents to share some of these “breadcrumbs of love” – messages of unbreakable love that went unanswered.

The responses are beyond heartbreaking:

This mum sent thousands of unanswered messages to her sons over the years before discovering their phone had been cut off. Source: Alex Carlton

Parents never give up – no matter what. Source: Alex Carlton

What does parental alienation look like?

Never assume that a parent who doesn’t see their child has done something wrong.

In some cases there may be court orders that mandate that the child must see both parents, but the alienating parent defies them with impunity.

Sometimes there may be no court orders but the alienating parent has successfully ‘turned’ a child against their mother or father, resulting in the child taking one parents’ side in an effort to reduce the conflict between the parents.

In almost all cases, the alienated child had a loving, normal and secure relationship with the parent they no longer see before the alienation happened – even if their demeanour towards the targeted parent has become hostile.

What does the research say?

There is little Australian data available about parental alienation but according to a study from published in the Children and Youth Services Review, at least 22 million American parents may be a victim of this terrible form of abuse.

It’s thought to affect both mothers and father equally. It can be a difficult concept to understand, even for professionals. Research about it is minimal and there is little consensus about appropriate remedies.

It is recognised in courts in the US, Canada and the UK – and increasingly in Australia – but more research is needed to find out why it happens, what the effects are on children and parents and the what the legal and therapeutic communities can do to help those it affects. The Australian Institute of Family Studies has some information here.

If you are a parent who is alienated from their child or a child who is alienated from a parent, The Eenie Meenie Miney Mo Foundation has some excellent resources that may help.

Most of all, stay strong. And never give up.

How to reach out to your alienated child

Amanda Sillars urges targeted parents to keep trying to contact their children, even if they receive no response, as they may one day be the ‘breadcrumbs’ that their children can follow to reconnect and reunite with the parent they love and terribly miss.

“Often the children read the messages but they don’t want to be caught responding,” she explains. “You might not see the positive outcomes for months or years – but your kids may one day have an opportunity, away from the house or on holidays, to try and reach out. Don’t give up.”

She offers some excellent tips for parents trying to communicate with their alienated child here.

Tips for reaching out to an alienated child

  • Speak with love and kindness
  • Always stay calm and never react
  • Focus forward
  • Don’t bombard them with communications even though you may be excited to get a break through
  • Expect crumbs in communication – anything more is a bonus
  • No response is not always a bad thing
  • Be the best version of you
  • Avoid dark and heavy conversations
  • Show your children that you are interested in them
  • Ask them about school, activities or hobbies they may be involved in, friendships they have and so on
  • Avoid talking about the situation
  • Remember: actions speak louder than words
  • Don’t make promises you cannot fulfil