Monday, May 28, 2012


The image represents the loss of time. Time that Derek spent with his daughter Ayn, time that he should be with his daughter has virtually melted and liquefied and slipped from his hand.  

It is already May 28, 2012 and Ayn Van Dyk is still not home, but rather in the care of foster parents and of greater concern, under the supervision of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

In that previous sentence there are identifiable issues that should concern us. First, Ayn is not at home. Back in June of 2011 she was not at home – for three hours, and that absence became the catalyst for the ill-advised action by our provincial child protection agency. MCFD removed her from her father and two brothers. Ayn had scaled her well-fenced family back yard and set out to explore her neighbourhood. Derek called for police assistance to locate her with a successful result and her return to her dad until days later when MCFD showed up her school and took her from there without notifying Derek. Did her 3 hour absence that day, justify these eleven months wrested from the family unit? No!

Second, the term foster parents is confusing, not to adults but rather to the children. Caregivers for children who are removed from their biological family are generally of acceptable character and respectable intention and performance. Nonetheless, a child with a mom and or a dad, is abruptly expected by virtue of title to accept one or two strangers as parent. Whether the biological parent-child relationship has been satisfactory or deplorable, to identify someone else as mom or dad is a problematic expectation. It can break a child's heart or reinforce a horror. In a wholesome family like Derek's, the longer this foster relationship is sustained the more cavernous the distance between the biological parent and his child. In a case like Ayn’s this is an injustice for which the government will never be called to account.

Third, Ayn remains under the supervision of the Ministry. Parting words of explanation by the social workers around the time of their seizure of Ayn from her dad, Derek, were to the effect that they were providing relief for him, suggesting that he could not manage the care of three children two of whom are autistic. After eleven months in Ministry care has the Ministry action affected that relief for Derek, or, has it imposed an enormous psychological, mental, emotional and even physical burden upon Derek, and his sons, and upon Ayn’s mom?

Image by Therseus
Fourth and finally for now, the Ministry of Children and Family Development is a misnomer when it comes to cases such as Ayn’s. No attempt has been made by Ministry personnel to improve the capacities, the circumstances, the efficiencies, the resources of the five principal people in this family network. Rather, the Ministry treats Derek and Ayn’s mom Amie as adversaries, challengers in a dispute over child custody that the ministry aims to take all the way to court, albeit, in December 2012 when a court date is available. By that time more of the dissolving clock will have slipped away. Somewhere, sometime, someone within this system will need to become a whistle-blower, a change-maker, and a champion for the innocents whose best interests are not being addressed but rather disregarded.


  1. Good point that the Ministry is not helping Derek with his two boys. More information should be made available on why this might be, if the Ministry somehow views his parenting as deficient in some way with Ayn, but they have zero concern with the two boys. It is extremely rare that the Ministry removes just one child when there are others at the same home.

    On the matter of including the name "parent" with "foster." This is a huge insult to the biological parents. I recall a similar online discussion in the U.K. and their, the term is 'carers' or other term that does not include the word parent.

    Remember the underlying, "innocent until proven guilty", which is why parents even get visits in the first place. I do believe though, that prisoners get more time with their kids than this family. Perhaps some research into exactly the 'righs' of prisoners compare with the rights of parents under the thumb of MCFD.

  2. I cannot provide an informed opinion on either the level of concern the MCFD may have with Derek's care of his two remaining children as compared with their seeming concern about his care of Ayn, or, the relative rarity of the MCFD's removal of one child while leaving other children with a parent. However, I do recall Derek's testimony in the days following Ayn's removal when he stated that social workers made the trite comment that they were helping him out because he was demonstrably overwhelmed with responsibility for three children.

    The "innocence until proof of guilt" theme is one that most of us have played frequently because it is the common sense approach to these cases of apparent injustice. Yet we are told that comparisons cannot be made between criminal case management and child protection cases because mere suspicion has to be a primary element of the latter for the sake of children. What I would like to see is greater respect shown to parents and more effort made to work with parents even when they appear uncooperative and they will when they feel their rights are being trodden upon at every turn. Thanks for writing.


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