Tag: ambiguous loss

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.”

Thanks for reading The Times.
Subscribe to The Times
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
New Years Day- The Nostalgia of Life

I remember, before CPS came into my life, how we spent the holidays with my son. I didn’t lose him until he was 8 years old, so as the years progressed from his birth until then, I wanted the holidays to become bigger than life the older he got.

The last year I had him, for example, Santa Claus delivered all his toys as he slept, in an all sports-related theme.

In our living room, my son woke to huge Nerf football goal posts on each end of our living room. Between the goal posts, Santa also left him an air hockey table made for kids, and a full size basketball free throw arcade game.

As my son awoke from his slumber his eyes went from half lidded to bright and wide as he found the magically fantastic wonderment that made the holidays what they were.

The night before Christmas, we had lined our yard with paper bags with lights, and sprinkled the grass wish oatmeal and glitter – reindeer food. My son knew the more oatmeal he spread would glisten and lure Dasher, Dancer and the rest of Rudolph’s crew to our house.

It worked.

We baked cookies and left them out with milk and a note on the table for Santa.

My satisfaction as his Mama was the moments i cherished watching his sleepy eyes saw the goodies that was left in appreciation for how well he behaved all year.

In the week that ensued, Christmas became new years, with resolutions for self empowerment, self discipline and the hope for something better than the year before.

Of course, for my son, it was the excitement of getting to stay up late to drink apple juice as we drank champagne and did the traditional toast and kisses at midnight and the magical ball dropped in New York- which we always watched on TV.

The phone calls would then follow, calling all our family in our home state of Texas that we had leftt many years before. For an hour, out phone was our heartline to wish them a happy New Years… with the exuberant aspirations that believing in the mainstream world brings to the all-American middle class folx of times past.

Before CPS.

So once the excitement died down, my son would innocently sleep soundly until the noise of the televised new year’s day parade would wake him.

Our home was filled with the scent of black eyed peas slow cooking in the kitchen and the sounds of men watching football as the women cooked and drank wine. All in the name of expecting good luck for the year to come.

Traditions.

Bigger than life.

That was my goal.

To make the magic of the holidays last forever in my son’s memories of his childhood.

Was I successful?

Only my son can say.

Our relationship was interrupted. Our traditions, severed, and the life as we knew it, deferred.

I remember the first time I spent new year’s alone – after CPS came into my life. No apple juice or champagne, no phone calls from family, for they failed to support me or be there for me once I lost my son, I had no more kisses for I was utterly alone, and no reason to celebrate, or cook,, or expect good luck.

My resolutions for the year to come had become a quest to merely survive myself.

Who was I?

I had become she.

It is now 15 years post-CPS. my life has come back to me.

I’m settled now in a marriage to a man who never knew me before the loss of my son. He only knows the stories I tell him over and over again in my post traumatic afterlife. it still hurts like it did the day he was taken,I won’t lie .

My kids are now two dogs that I spoil rotten, and new year’s eve consists of cuddling with them until midnight, watching the replay of the ball drop since I’m three time zones away now in California, talking about the crowd and how fearful we would be to ever consider going to such a celebration in this day and age.

we kiss goodnight.

Normally my daughter would call me but this year she’s suspended her family traditions due to the flu. She and her husband now understand the life as a family trying to create memories for her children.

Traditions.

My son and I did finally reunite… but as is sadly common in ambiguous losses – the reunification has been difficult, and hard for us both. Well I assume for us both, but I suppose I can only speak for myself. Its highlighted in my healing from the grief how many spaces there are between us – spaces that didn’t exist before CPS came into our lives.

Still, I relive our beautiful years together in many stories I tell my husband over and over again. I tell him about the apple juice and hope had back then, and he always listens even though allot of it he’s heard before. He sits with me, in those moments of mine, quietly reflecting, as I now pray that my son is safe tonight.

On the east coast, it’s the witching hour- 3am – when the year turns on the clock for me . Allot can happen n in the three hours past the ball dropping over New York City for a young man in his 20s now. A huge country away from me.

I kiss my husband goodnight here in Cali.

I will always hurt somewhere in my soul.

The morning of parades is gone for me, erased by the loss when CPS came into my life, though, as if they were yesterday, I still remember how it sounded. How it felt.

the hope is now that where ever he is, he is safe, and living a simple life, feeling content, and that this year will be better for him than the last.

As the saying goes – someone shot nostalgia in the back. Some one shot our innocence – in the shadow of a smile.

I hope my daughter recovers swiftly from The big that had invaded her holidays this year and her family succeeds and finds a prosperous life this year in everything they do.

I watch my husband vacuum, feed my dogs, and remind myself to pick up a can of black eyed peas before dinner, as we need all the luck we can get, in this day and age .

Oh the nostalgia of life.

It’s Almost Tuesday wishes all a happy and safe New Year in 2020.

In this divided society, I remind you to please be diligent, and be kind to each other. it may be the only thing to save us in this day and age.

If my children are reading this, know I love you more than all the stars above .

cps
Removing Children from their homes IS a big deal…

by 14thdaymom

child-abuse-foster-care-300x300

My last post about the BREAKING NEWS in Houston where a judge made an unprecedented move when ordering CPS to have NO CONTACT with children it removed from their natural home.

At the end of the video a statement is made that I think needs to be reiterated, and that’s how big a deal it is to take a child from their parents.

IT IS A HUGE DEAL.

download

It is against the constitutional rights of the parents and the kids!

How big a deal is it? Its been 14 years since my son was taken from me. We have since been reunited now that he’s an adult, but not without scars. As I tried to share in my posts about ambiguous loss, parents often learn the hard way, as I did, how hard it will be when they meet back up with their kids one day.

The expectations of what will happen when they reunify and what actually happens are not the same. It blindsides them when what they’ve built up in their minds are expectations almost impossible to meet. Kids who were separated from their families grow into dysfunctional adults, and the parents never heal.

images

The family in Houston lost their children for three days. That’s horrible and it’s awesome to know it was acknowledged as wrong. I lost TEN YEARS with my son. The judge showed justice in their case, but there’s countless other families who did not get that justice. It is a big deal to take children from their families. It’s such a big deal that it NEVER GOES AWAY.

No matter what. It is a lifelong curse. The kids become a case number to the social worker but the social worker becomes the person that changed that kids life path entirely. A decision like that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

There is nothing that can make that right. There would be no amount of money that could fix the damage done to my relationship with my son. There is no telling how our lives would have fared if he had not been taken from me. NOTHING can mend that pain that I still feel EVERY DAY, even 14 years later. Some days are better than others. Some days I might almost go without thinking about it, but something will always remind me. Some days I can’t escape it. I can’t go back in time, and I can’t erase the memories. I still feel the anger and have to stuff it inside. I still carry guilt just comes with the questions … the could’ve been, should’ve been torture.

Its been 14 years and still it is a big deal. Fortunately I have the support and understanding of two people very close to me. My husband who was put in a boys home 30 years ago but recalls it like it was yesterday. My best friend sadly understands as well since she lost her kids too many years ago. She still has not reunited with hers. They are adults now too, after 9 years since they were separated. She suffers the grief so deeply. It truly haunts her.

I can talk to her or my husband any time I need to. i know it’s been 14 years and sometimes I catch myself feeling like I’m just repeating myself over and over again. I know that they’ve both heard my story and thoughts a thousand times over.

They know that they’ve heard my story before. Still, they listen to me with understanding and compassion like it’s the first time I’ve told them.

That’s because they understand how big a deal it was when my kid was taken from me.

If only the CPS workers had understood what a big deal it was when they took him from me.