Amie and Derek have been informed some months ago that they can expect Ayn to be returned to them some time during the month of September 2013.
Ayn was ten years old when she scaled a fence that surrounded the back yard. She was not affecting a prison break. She was not violating a community standard. She was not disrupting anyone’s peace, although she did cost the taxpayer some money because of the urgently placed 911 call from her father summoning the help of RCMP who sent a helicopter into the Abbotsford skies to locate his child. Even Derek with his anxious parental response would have reasoned to summon friends instead of RCMP had he known that the outcome would be the agony of separation from his daughter for most of these past two years.
Amie and Derek I submitted might be apprehensive as they wait for Ayn’s return to them, because the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) is authorized by government legislation to have control over their daughter’s future and accordingly their futures. These parents have experienced already the now predictable disappointments that characterize MCFD’s bureaucratic relationships with some parents.
Yes, I did say Amie and Derek are divorced. They nonetheless have remained astonishingly communicative and cooperative with regard to the raising of their children. Amie has endorsed Derek’s parental competence. She trusts him, and for that reason agreed some years ago that he should be the primary caregiver. That has been Derek’s vocation, his calling you might say. He is devoted to his children’s nurture and he is to be commended because Ayn and one of her brothers contend with the neural developmental disorder known as autism (ASD). Of course Derek’s is a demanding full-time responsibility and he has been enabled financially to do this by public funding programs that have been merely adequate.
MCFD was already aware of Derek and his children prior to the June 2011 missing person event. Upon locating Ayn just a few houses away from her family residence, the RCMP consulted MCFD as a matter of protocol. MCFD was then required to investigate the circumstances because they are charged with responsibility for protection of children. That probe may have confirmed that Ayn was a behavioural challenge for educators at school. It may have suggested that Derek was overwhelmed with his parental responsibility. It could have implied that he was negligent. It may have hinted that Ayn would benefit by analysis by professionals and possibly by treatment she was not receiving in her father’s care. MCFD caseworkers at that point made a judgement call to examine Ayn and the family more closely and that this could best be done by removing the child from the family.
Caseworkers arrived at Derek’s home, ostensibly to converse with him about Ayn’s afternoon wander from home, but they came prepared with a form for Derek to sign. A voluntary parental consent form that would release Ayn into the care of the Ministry. That infers that in the judgement of the social working professional, Ayn was in need of protection. Derek came unglued. His own audio recording of that occasion, which in the early weeks of his understandable antagonism, he shared publicly in order to expose his sense of outrage and fury at what he deemed was MCFD’s presumptuous intrusion. His refusal to sign the document resulted in MCFD’s covert snatching of the child from her school and a subsequent notification of her father.
I was never convinced that MCFD exercised due diligence in their initial investigation. It became clear as time went on that MCFD did not claim that Derek was negligent, nor that he was not an effective parent. MCFD has after all, permitted him to parent his other two children without monitoring him. I have never been convinced that removing Ayn from her father’s home has been in her best interest, which is the universal credo of child protection. I see that phrase rather as an innocuous and fatigued attempt to justify what seems to me in this case to be a merciless and bungling practice.
Derek’s alarmed assertion in the months that followed his child’s removal, was that under MCFD care, Ayn’s behaviour was ordered by a regimen of psychotropic drugs. He had, through all her years dealt with her behaviour through discussion and affection. He was so distraught over his daughter’s absence and her detention that he refused to visit her because he was convinced it would destroy her trust in him and would ultimately harm her psychologically. He vented in television and radio and other interview formats. He is intelligent, articulate and he was convincing. Then he grew silent. For almost a year he has not made statements either written or verbal. For some time he devoted his available free time to preparing the materials by which he intended to win a court verdict when he would finally get his day in court. Then some mediation must have occurred, that is, MCFD promises concerning Ayn’s return to him, and of course he will have been expected to make some concessions, possibly agreeing not to speak publicly about his case. I will be more disappointed with MCFD if that is the case.
In recent months Amie was given reasonable visitation privileges and these were gratifying to Amie and pleasurable to Ayn. It appeared promising. Visits with Derek were started which reveals that he at last capitulated either to pressure to demonstrate some compliance with MCFD expectations or to his own heart longing for his daughter. Those visits I have seen as a good and promising step. Now we have been hearing that Amie’s visits have been interrupted and she is not receiving word about when they will resume. Why? The administrative wheels grind slowly when it affects someone else. Is this all furtive preparation for Ayn’s return?
So of course, the parents are waiting, and we are waiting, 3700 Facebook page readers, not to mention the many family and close friends of the principal players.
MCFD has a pamphlet you can read online telling you as a parent what you need to know about investigation by the MCFD. http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/child_protection/pdf/cp_investigation.pdf