|AYN pictured a couple of years ago|
She and Ayn’s father, Derek Hoare, are divorced but amicable associates in Ayn’s care. Interestingly, Amie fully validates Derek’s sole guardianship and care of their daughter. He is presently the primary caregiver of their other two sons, one of whom is also autistic as Ayn is. By all indications, Derek is a responsible and competent parent. To my knowledge MCFD does not dispute that. So tight was Derek’s relationship with Ayn before she was removed from him over two years ago, that she carried a photo of her daddy for several weeks, while he was not permitted to see her. Then when the possibility of visitation arose, Derek took the position that Ayn’s trust and health would be jeopardized if he showed up and then left again. His assertion was that Ayn’s expectation would be that she would go home with her daddy and he could not risk breaking her heart, more than it already was. Some supporters who understand the autistic response defended his judgment. Compounded with that was his sense of outrage that as soon as Ayn was apprehended, by his account, Ayn was loaded with drugs to control her behaviour. Her behaviour after all, was the presenting reason for her removal. It is still a disconcerting fact that MCFD chose to take this child from her father, based on suspicion that he may not be able to manage his parenting load, a notion that rose chiefly from an incident when Ayn wandered from her back yard and was found by the RCMP at a neighbour’s yard three hours after being reported missing by Derek himself. The Ministry covertly removed her from her school one day and then informed her father. It is true that she sometimes presented a challenge, particularly for educators, but Derek was able consistently to moderate her conduct by speaking with her and without the use of dumbing medication. During the past many months, Amie has been permitted supervised and then unsupervised visitation, which she has done her best to maintain in concert with her work schedule. Derek, during the early weeks and months following Ayn’s removal, went public with active, animated, articulate expressions of indignation in various media and then gradually withdrew from public expression. We were given to understand that the silence was at times due to his commitment to parenting the boys as well as preparing his written case presentation, and at other times computer failure. It is possible that he has concluded that presently, no public criticism of MCFD serves his interests best. Ayn, on the other hand has not openly criticized MCFD, yet has expressed how the ordeal affects her personally and emotionally as a mother. Derek lived in Abbotsford. Then half way through this torment he moved to a rental home further into the Fraser valley where I met him and his sons. Ayn was still in foster care in Abbotsford. More recently, Derek and the boys moved even further away, and since MCFD had begun mediation with Derek and he has agreed to visitation with Ayn, a decision was made to move Ayn into foster care outside of Abbotsford. That affects Amie’s visitation privileges as well disturbs a little girl again, because she has been with these foster parents for two years. Some of these dynamics are caught in her remarks below.
On Wednesday 20th July, Amie wrote, “I have been given the go a head for over night visitation. This week’s schedule is already booked but as soon as I know my work schedule I can make arrangements for a sleep over. I'm happy but I'm feeling a tad over-whelmed with emotion at the moment. I am going to process this information and try to regain composure because I have to leave for work shortly.”
On July 4th, two weeks earlier, she and Derek finally had a date before a court judge, with the lawyer for the Ministry of children and Family Development. Here is what she shared following that experience. “Today the Ministry presented another gradual return plan. This one is 13 weeks in length. There is a tentative visitation schedule set up with Derek starting next week. I am emotionally and physically drained. Woke up, went to court, set up an appointment with parenting after separation, had a lengthy conversation with Derek, cleaned my house, walked my dog, and am now just back from work. It is looking as though my access to Ayn will be marginalized, as Derek will begin access. Ayn is being moved from the city I moved to be close to her, from one foster home to another to be closer to Derek. I'm doing my best to process that. I'm not commenting any more tonight.”
On May 21st Amie wrote this lengthy comment in which she mentioned that July 4th court appearance.
“It has been a very hectic month. I started a new job with irregular hours and moved to a new apartment. Moving was a process. Finding a place that was suitable for my children that was willing to accept dogs was a challenge. I find this new job leaves me physically exhausted with very little free time.
Seeing Ayn has become much more difficult. Ayn is in school Monday-Friday and needs to get to bed at a reasonable time for school in the morning and the majority of my shifts are completed in the evening. The foster home also needs to be able to arrange transportation for Ayn to visit and that requires juggling. I've done my best to see Ayn as much as possible, though it has usually been limited to once or twice a week. I'm hoping when school is out for the summer this will pick up a bit.
Ayn was over yesterday and we had a great time. I was wondering how she would react to her new surroundings here. Ayn had previously expressed that she did not want to go to the new house. I attribute that to her fear of the unknown. Ayn becomes very set in her ways and desires consistency in most aspects of her life.
As it turns out, once she was here, she thankfully was very accepting and happy to be here. Again I hear that she doesn't want to leave when the visit draws to a close. I have a hard time with that myself. I do my best to validate her feelings and let her know I miss her and she'll see me soon.
Derek has also moved. I am optimistic that things will be moving in the right direction for him and the boys. He has met with the new social worker. I have not yet had any contact with her but will try to reach her today to introduce myself and hopefully (somehow) arrange a time that we can meet.
As far as over nights go, the previous social worker left the decision in the hands of the new social worker. As far as Ayn being returned to her parents... Now that Derek has completed his move, he is in the process of setting up an intervention program for our son. He has hired a BI that seems to be an excellent fit for our family.
I'm still not sure what the Ministry believes I have done that indicates Ayn should not have been with myself or Derek all along. I have never been asked to do anything more than have social workers monitor my interactions with Ayn and investigate my home to ensure it is a safe environment for Ayn, provide criminal record checks, etc. I have also had contact a behavioral consultant because, guess what? Ayn has autism which isn't going away, and neither am I. If all else fails, we will have a second Case Conference on July 4th.”