Wednesday, March 23, 2011


A story is usually a layered piece of literature, like an onion, once the peel is removed, you find one layer upon another. There are layers of meaning in the story of Paul and Zabeth Bayne and their four children. Each of us seeks to get beneath the initial layers which are so familiar to us, to see what lies inside the onion of this story.

As you examine the first layer, you can see a faith commitment with both of them. I do not know much about either Paul or Zabeth before I met them as visitors to the church that I pastored between 1991-2001. They arrived around 1999 and they were engaged to be married. They became involved in the church. Zabeth was immediately an asset because she was an accomplished pianist. Zabeth had grown up in a conservative Christian family. Paul came to faith later but was clearly a convinced and practicing Christian.

Peeling back another layer I was able to see their love for one another, and I had opportunity over many weeks of pre-marriage counselling to know them better, and then I officiated their wedding ceremony in the summer of 2001. I respected them both and believed that they were a fine couple and would have a good marriage and life.

There are many layers of this story with which I am unfamiliar. They are the years from 2001 to 2009. I moved from that church. Yet many of you knew Paul and Zabeth during this period. You remember the jobs that Paul held, and the music lessons that Zabeth taught. You remember their children being born. Your remember Zabeth's difficulty to carry her babies to term. You remember the challenges of prematurity, particularly for one child. You remember their move with two sons from Surrey to Hope, B.C., and their purchase of property and a house.

Among those story layers, was an injury to that most premature child, fractures to an arm, initially alarming enough to order Paul away from the home until an investigation was completed and then the conclusion that the injury was an outcome of fragility due to the baby's prematurity.

Another layer displays Zabeth pregnant with a third child, and then the happy birth of a daughter.

A further layer and the peeling of this onion begins to truly make a person weep. Their daughter is only weeks old when she sustains injuries. Injuries which require Paul and Zabeth to obtain professional medical help. They are increasingly concerned as their daughter does not improve and professionals seem not to discern a cause.

Another layer of meaning informs us that the baby is in grave physical condition with bleeding in the brain and other significant symptoms. At Children's Hospital she is diagnosed and now the parents have come under suspicion of having harmed her themselves.

A couple of layers indicate great personal trauma for the Baynes, with a child receiving life saving treatment, arrests and charges of harming their children, overnight incarceration, then dropped charges, yet the intervention by the Ministry of Children and the apprehension of their children from parental custody. The tears generated by these layers of meaning affect everyone for so many reasons.

This is a very large onion with many layers of content, some of which are heavy with suspicion by the Ministry of Children and subsequently its determination after three years to ask for an order that permanently keeps the children from Paul and Zabeth. Others layers of which are concentrated with enjoyable visits between parents and children yet sorrowful as goodbyes occur weekly.

There are some layers of substance that are difficult to see, that is, our vision is clouded. Even those of you who have known the Baynes very well, cannot verify with certainty that their account of a fall between a toddler and the infant occurred. It becomes evident from Judge Crabtree's reasons for his ruling that he too struggled to discern the meaning.

Nevertheless, far beneath all those layers there is a kernel or a substance of meaning, truth you might call it. Judge Crabtree found that and announced it. This baby was not harmed by shaking by one of these parents, contrary to the diagnosing doctor and contrary to the insistence of the MCFD Director in charge. Further, because of that, in a specified period of time, six months he said, the Ministry of Children and the Bayne parents are to work together toward the satisfactory outcome of returning the children.

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting that the 'multiple layers' strategy is the approach the Ministry uses to promote lengthy intervention. A typical investigation effort is to portray the average family as appearing complex as possible. This way, they get to make it appear as if their job is difficult and solving the problem will take a long time, and this justifies a lengthy intervention period.

    The key to reforming child protection is to simplify issues, NOT to make them appear more complicated. If it costs taxpayers ten times more than the total cost of raising a child from birth to University for child protection investigators to do their job, fire them and revoke child removal authority.

    If police can make a determination in a day parents are not responsible for abusing their children, let THEM make the protection determination and let social workers do their job and administer services only.

    MCFD participants in this case have gone out of their way to present a complex picture for the judge.

    Read through the 3-day shotgun approach by MCFD Lawyer Finn Jensen as he successfully floods the judge with fear doubt and uncertainty with respect to the Baynes family. By listing every conceivable concern, real or imagined, fabricated, hinted at, the judge was tasked with wading through this mess, and he did so willingly.

    The judge had it within his power to first order the family undergo a Parental Capacity Assessment before trial resumed mid-2010, but he chose not to do this. The Ministry chose not to apply for a mandatory PCA.

    This judge encouraged complexity by not objecting to anything, so in my opinion, this judge is complicit in this fiasco of a trial.

    After nearly four years, what is this solution we see after this complex analysis and massive taxpayer expense and permanent psychological damage to children?

    In his judgment, the judge does not have any idea of the remedial service to recommend, the, MCFD lawyer has no idea in his closing argument, asking the judge to answer this question, the social workers never mention any remedial services other than being very general and just repeating the word "services;" the Director does not mention any specific service in his letter threatening to remove Josiah if said unspecified services were not engaged.

    What service cuts through this seemingly complex situation that comes to the rescue and will be responsible for returning four children after four years?

    This one and only service is called "Project Parent." Perhaps 30-50 hours to complete. Try and find any mention of "Project Parent" in trial transcripts. Go to any MCFD office and see what brochures you can find on "Project Parent." ASK any Ministry office to provide you with information and come back to this blog and write what you found. I went to two offices in the lower mainland, grabbed perhaps 50 pamphlets in the office and I found nothing. MCFD does NOT WANT PARENTS TO KNOW of this service before removal.

    Completing this Project Parent course will satisfy the Ministry. Simply agreeing to it satisfies the Ministry of concerns because it lets them off the hook for removal, even if they later withdraw without a trial. The course is meaningless in terms of actual training and testing, but that is beside the point.

    After a complete analysis of the Baynes family to "peel off the layers" to get to a conclusion, what do you bet the parental capacity assessment will recommend Project Parent as the remedial course of action?

    This as opposed to the observation by the psychologist there is nothing wrong with this family, and that continued supervision is counterproductive to the objective of family reunification (I copied that phrase right out of my own PCA) and the Project Parent service is NOT required and the children should be returned immediately?

    This chance is small if the psychologist ever has hope in the future of snagging further $10,000 assessment contracts from the Ministry.


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