Derek has not visited Ayn since she was removed on June 16, 2011. The opportunity has been presented to him. He has chosen not to visit Ayn. Derek has been separated from his wife Amie for three years. During that time Amie and Ayn have become accustomed to Amie’s periodic visits. So, during the five months that Ayn has been in foster care, her mom Amie, has had regular visitations with Ayn and permission was given for these to be unsupervised visits. Ayn has not interpreted her mom’s coming and going as unusual. Derek, on the other hand has not visited his daughter but he misses her incredibly.
Derek is not a foolish father but rather someone who weighs consequences carefully. He has been Ayn’s primary caregiver. He is a full-time father to all three of his children. That has been an agreement that he and Amie have established. Amie has respect for Derek as a father. Then why would he not visit this sweetheart whom he loves. He knows that his decision not to visit is one that requires explanation and he has articulated this in a statement which I will share here today.
You need to know that Ayn responds to Derek. He understands her autism and the behaviour that this condition provokes. When she is difficult to manage at school, he is called and upon arrival, he is able to calm her spirit. There is likely no question that she is a challenge outside Derek’s home, but she adores him. For the first eighteen days of her Ministry custody she cried until social workers requested that Derek provide a photograph of himself for Ayn to hold. She asks for Derek and expects Derek will show up because he always rescues her. His agony is clear when considering the possibility of visiting Ayn and then having to leave her, seeing the terror in which he will leave her. He will not subject her to that. He has received support for his decision from an Autism expert.
Then this week, on November 24th, Amie was informed that her schedule for visits has been reduced and visits will now be supervised. Would you like to know why? Do you really want to subject yourself to another disappointment about the discourtesy and callousness and unreasonable decisions of front line social workers and their supervisors? Clearly a communication breakdown occurred. Social Workers claim that a visit was scheduled for Amie with Ayn this week. Amie did not know that a visit had been scheduled. Why didn’t she? She did not confirm that scheduled visit with social workers and it would have conflicted with her work if she had received anyway.
Will this now be placed in the Ayn file? Will Amie be deemed unreliable? Why the imposition of supervision for her reduced visits? Amie has never been associated with risk or danger. Can you appreciate why observers of this charade of protection grow increasingly suspicious and cynical and incensed?
Here is Derek's own explanation for his Position: "I know the issue of visitation is extremely divisive, and that my view is likely in the minority... but I want people to understand this was made neither lightly nor thoughtlessly... I do soo long to see her believe me. And hence I can completely understand peoples reasons for doing so, it is the natural response; I must however look at this in a long term manner... when Ayn comes home and this is "behind us", will she feel safe, will she know that I would not leave her behind. If you view this for a moment and imagine yourself the victim of an assault laying there pleading for help, or to come home. And your loved one arrives... you are so happy to see them as they are you, but rather than take you away from the situation they walk away leaving you there.... now when it is over and you return.... how do you view that person? What sort of betrayal would you feel... you may be able to understand judicial processes and rationalize why the person left you there... Ayn does not. All she will know is that I would walk away and leave her there rather than honour her wish to come home. that I had the ability to save her but walked away instead... who can she then trust?? that is a permanent realization it does not go away. Many of my closest allies and advisors in this, think I should see her, but they respect my view as I do theirs. For me this is not about satiating a short term desire for us to see each other, this is not about alleviating short term sadness... but is about preserving Ayn's long term belief that in this world she is curiously struggling to understand there are those who will always fight in her defense. She will not understand the nuances of government policy or judicial processes. What Ayn knows is that "Daddy's coming" she knows this... we have a bond that ensures her trust in me. I love her... she loves me.... she knows I will always look out for her... and I'm trying. is this hard yes, very. I cry so much over her absence, I relish everything that reminds me of her. But she will be back and she will know that her home is a safe place and that Daddy never gave up."
Karla Fisher is herself autistic, the same disorder with which Ayn Van Dyk lives. Yet Karla is the author of the article referenced here because she is a brilliant professional woman, mother of grown girls, member of a women’s full contact football team. And here she speaks not only in support of the concerns Derek has about visiting his daughter but Karla is able to speak to what she knows Ayn is processing presently and what it would do to see her daddy walk away from her.