Tag: families

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.”

General
The Do’s and Don’ts of talking to your child about her period.

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon. The kids are playing in the yard. Your husband is bbqing and you are enjoying your new couch with your girlfriend who’s visiting for the weekend. Sounds great.

Until your 11 year old daughter tells you “Mom, I have blood in my pants”.

Do you know how you’ll react? Will you stop breathing for a moment before calling your own mom for advice?

What should you say to your daughter on that fateful day? Have you thought about it much?

You can’t stop it, puberty is a part of life. We all go through it at one point or another and as parents it’s your job to help make the transition as smooth and painless as possible.

So here’s some do’s and don’ts of explaining puberty to your daughter, and preparing her for her monthly visitor.

First, what is it? It’s a cycle a woman’s body goes through shedding the lining of her uterus when she is not pregnant. This happens about once a month to then prepare the woman’s uterus for a baby. If a baby doesn’t come, it sheds it again in a month. Once a girls’ monthly happens, she can become pregnant. She can even become pregnant right before her first period if she has sex.

DO talk about it.

This is nothing to shy away from. It’s not anything to feel embarrassed about, or ashamed of. It’s a milestone in a girls life when she becomes a woman. She shouldn’t be afraid of it. She should be taught to embrace the changes and learn her body so she can feel comfortable during it’s changes. Most of all, so she respects her body, and herself, and expects others to respect her as well.

DON’T avoid the subject. DON’T just expect her to learn on her own.

So, when do you talk to her about it?

That’s really up to you and your daughter’s personality. Each girl is different, and your relationship with her will hopefully tell you the right time If you remain open to it . If she shows interest by bringing it up, dont steer her away, embrace the conversation. Be honest with her. It’s nature after all. If she doesn’t bring it up, you may want to take the lead when you know she’s around that age when it begins.

DO respect her privacy. It’s not an event that you will want to announce to her friends and family members. This is not a birth announcement or gender reveal. This is a very intense part of a girls life. You don’t want her to be embarrassed or feel humiliated.

DO teach her what to do to maintain her health and cleanliness. Teach her the difference in the products available for use during her period. There are health risks involved with the use of tampons for example, like toxic shock syndrome. It’s important for her to know the proper way to use them.

DON’T force her to use pads over tampons or vice versa. Let her decide.

DO teach her what is normal and what is not normal. She should know that cramping is normal during the days prior to her period starting each month, but they should subside. Her flow should be heavier at first then lighten up over the week. She should learn her body to be able to tell if something doesn’t feel right.

DO let her know that she can come to you if she feels like something isn’t right with her body. You want to make sure the lives of communication are open in case she needs medical attention. She will experience mood fluctuations due to hormones during this time and during her monthly visitor. She should be ready to feel those changes. Let her know that it could feel overwhelming at times and to come to you. Many teenagers experience depression and anxiety that can seem extreme, if this occurs, be sure you’re child knows you are there to listen to her without judgment. Teenagers can sometimes overreact, and in extreme cars, can lead to suicidal and even homicidal ideations. You don’t want you’re child to feel alone if she had those thoughts. Keep an open live off communication so she knows she can come to you. No matter what the issue is. She should not fear your reaction to her innermost conflicts if she chooses to express them. Hello her to find alternative ways of dealing with her emotions that are healthy

And finally, DO explain to her that if she chooses to become sexually active, she will be able to become pregnant. Ignoring this fact will not make it go away. A teenager who is sexually active needs to know how to be safe to prevent STDs and an unplanned pregnancy. Having a child as a teenager is a life changing decision, and one that is usually made under duress. It can affect the rest of her life. It’s important to discuss abstinence and birth control methods.

It’s your job as a parent to raise your child into adulthood as best you can to give her a good foundation to start her adult life. This is all part of the process. It’s also one of the most important things you can do to take your little girl and make her into a healthy and well adjusted woman.

Remember, love respect, and good open communication goes a long way. She will remember this time in her life and how you prepared her. She will also thank you one day.

cps
Parents whose rights were terminated can now petition courts: Champion/Moran bill restores parental rights

Every state should follow this lead.

This is an awesome step forward in the fight for child welfare system reform.

Good job Minnesota!!!

Walz-Moran
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed into law legislation allowing the reestablishment of the parent/child relationship. At left, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Sen. Bobby Champion, at right, Rep. Rena Moran and Sen. Jeff Hayden. Andrew VonBank

Gov. Tim Walz signed into law HF 554, a bill authored by Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – St. Paul), that allows parents who had previously had their parental rights terminated for non-egregious harm to directly seek reestablishment of these rights from the courts.

Currently, only a county attorney can make this petition.

“Whenever we’re able to, we should keep families together and our children deserve to be protected, loved, and nurtured. When they can stay in their community with their parents, this gives them the best outlook in life,” Moran said. “We know all too well that our child welfare system doesn’t seem to always have the best interest of the child in mind, and that’s why it’s important for us to keep working to improve it. Every child deserves a strong future and I thank Governor Walz for signing this important bill into law.”

The House approved the measure by a vote of 130-0 on April 4, and the Senate followed on April 29 with a vote of 66-0 and the governor signed it into law May 6.

Under the bill, petitions for reinstatement of parental rights would only be allowed in cases in which the rights were terminated for non-egregious harm, such as chemical dependency or mental illness, and not for physical, sexual, or psychological abuse.

Studies have shown when children, especially African-American children, remain in the foster system, they face poorer life outcomes than those who remain with their biological families. These include lower lifetime employment rates, a greater chance of experience with the criminal justice system, and higher rates of mental illness and addiction.

The legislation requires the parent to clearly demonstrate the steps they’ve taken to address the underlying issue which led to the termination of rights in the first place, and a judge would make the final decision.

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
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.

cps
Trump has passed a new federal law aimed at keeping at-risk families together during treatment

This new federal law will change foster care as we know it
BY TERESA WILTZ
Stateline.org
May 03, 2018 01:00 AM

WASHINGTON

A new federal law, propelled by the belief that children in difficult homes nearly always fare best with their parents, effectively blows up the nation’s troubled foster care system.

Few outside child welfare circles paid any mind to the law, which was tucked inside a massive spending bill President Donald Trump signed in February. But it will force states to overhaul their foster care systems by changing the rules for how they can spend their annual $8 billion in federal funds for child abuse prevention.

The law, called the Family First Prevention Services Act, prioritizes keeping families together and puts more money toward at-home parenting classes, mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment – and puts limits on placing children in institutional settings such as group homes. It’s the most extensive overhaul of foster care in nearly four decades.

“It’s a really significant reform for families,” said Hope Cooper, founding partner of True North Group, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy consultancy that advised child welfare agencies on the new law. “The emphasis is really on helping kids stay safe with families, and helping vulnerable families get help earlier.”

Most child welfare advocates have hailed the changes, but some states that rely heavily on group homes fear that now they won’t have enough money to pay for them.

The federal government won’t release compliance guidelines until October, so states are still figuring out how the changes might affect their often-beleaguered systems. Most expect the impact will be dramatic, particularly states such as Colorado that have a lot of group foster homes.

For the first time, the Family First Act caps federal funding for group homes, also known as “congregate care.” Previously, there were no limits, Cooper said. The federal government won’t pay for a child to stay in a group home longer than two weeks, with some exceptions, such as teens who are pregnant or parenting.

But even in states that are moving in the direction envisioned by the federal law, officials are worried about certain aspects of it.

In New York, state officials are concerned that the limits on group homes will cost counties too much. Under the new caps, New York counties will have to chip in as much as 50 percent more for certain children, said Sheila Poole, acting commissioner for New York’s Office of Children and Family Services. That would be a significant hit for smaller counties with scant resources, she said.

In California, city, county and state officials and child welfare advocates worry the law will place a burden on extended family members who are raising grandchildren, nieces and nephews outside of foster care. That’s because “kinship caregivers” won’t be eligible for foster care payments under the new law.

This practice isn’t new, but it is likely to expand under Family First, said Sean Hughes, a California-based child welfare consultant and former Democratic congressional staffer who opposes parts of the law.

The new law, Hughes said, “closes the front door to a lot of safety nets that we’ve developed for kids in foster care.”

Child protective services investigates alleged abuse or neglect in as many as 37 percent of all children under 18 in the United States, according to a 2017 report in the American Journal of Public Health. African-American children are almost twice as likely as white children to have their well-being investigated by child protective services. (The report only looked at reports of child abuse and neglect, not placement in foster care.)

A March report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found the foster care population increased by more than 10 percent between 2012 and 2016, the last year for which data is available. The agency linked the increase in child welfare caseloads to the nation’s opioid epidemic, which is ravaging families.

In six states – Alaska, Georgia, Minnesota, Indiana, Montana and New Hampshire – the foster care population increased by more than half.

To help reverse the trend, the new law places a greater emphasis on prevention.

The federal government underfunded prevention services for years, said Karen Howard, vice president of early childhood policy for First Focus, a Washington, D.C.-based child advocacy group that worked on the legislation. Before the enactment of Family First, states got reimbursed for foster care through funding provided by Title IV-E of the Social Security Act – and that money could be used only for foster care, adoption or family reunification. The money could not routinely be used for prevention that might keep families from sending their children to foster care in the first place.

Now, for the first time, evidence-based prevention services will be funded as an entitlement, like Medicaid.

That means that prevention services will be guaranteed by the federal government for the families of children who are deemed “foster care candidates”: usually kids determined to be victims of abuse or neglect who haven’t been removed from their home.

Under the new law, states may use matching federal funding to provide at-risk families with up to 12 months of mental health services, substance abuse treatment and in-home parenting training to families. Eligible beneficiaries are the families of children identified as safe staying at home; teen parents in foster care; and other parents who need preventive help so their kids don’t end up in the system. States must also come up with a plan to keep the child safe while remaining with parents.

Some child welfare advocates, such as Hughes, worry that 12 months of preventive care isn’t enough for parents struggling with opioid addiction. People with opioid addictions often relapse multiple times on the road to recovery.

Many preventive services, such as home visiting, clinical services, transportation assistance and job training aren’t eligible for Family First funding, Poole said.

The law provides competitive grants for states to recruit foster families; establishes licensing requirements for foster families who are related to the child; and requires states to come up with a plan to prevent children dying from abuse and neglect.

In another first, the law also removes the requirement that states only use prevention services for extremely poor families. Because the income standards hadn’t been adjusted in 20 years, fewer and fewer families qualified for the services, advocates say. Now, states don’t have to prove that an at-risk family meets those circa 1996 income standards.

“That’s significant,” said Howard of First Focus. “Because abuse happens in rich homes, middle-class homes, poor homes. This is a game changer, because states can really go to town” to provide innovative prevention services to troubled families, Howard said.

Under the new law, the federal government will cap the amount of time a child can spend in group homes. It will do so by reimbursing states for only two weeks of a child’s stay in congregate care – with some exceptions, such as for children in residential treatment programs offering round-the-clock nursing care.

The new restrictions begin in 2019. States can ask for a two-year delay to implement the group home provisions of the law, but if they do, they can’t get any federal funding for preventive services.

The group home provision comes after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a 2015 report showing that 40 percent of teens in foster care group homes had no clinical reason, such as a mental health diagnosis, for being there rather than in a family setting. Child welfare experts saw this as more evidence that group homes were being overused. Children’s average stay in a group home is eight months, the report found.

Some states rely more on group homes than others, with the amount of children in congregate care ranging from 4 to 35 percent of foster care children, according to a 2015 report by the Casey Foundation. Colorado, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Wyoming have the greatest percentage of children living in group homes, though the report also found that over the previous 10 years, the group home population had decreased by about a third.

Those who oppose the group home restrictions say they are too narrow in scope.

The law’s additional requirements for congregate care “reduce a state’s flexibility to determine the most appropriate placement for a child and would negatively impact the likelihood of receiving sufficient federal funding,” said Poole, the acting child welfare commissioner in New York. She said the state is weighing whether it will ask for a two-year delay.

It makes sense to not place foster youth in group homes unless absolutely necessary, said Hughes, the California consultant. But sometimes it is necessary. The vast majority of foster youth in group homes are there because staying in a foster home or with a relative didn’t work out, Hughes said. For kids who’ve been through trauma, particularly older kids, a traditional foster home isn’t equipped to give them the care they need, he said.

“The idea that kids are placed in group homes because the system is lazy and doesn’t have any regard for their well-being is unfounded,” Hughes said.