Thursday, March 20, 2014


APRIL 1st, Can you imagine that? That's the date for the next court date when something further will either be decided or delayed or postponed with regard to the return of Ayn Van Dyk after almost three years of being withheld from either of her parents, Amie or Derek. Nothing has been going on for months.

You do recall I hope that it was in June 2011 that she was taken surreptitiously while she was at school.
Her father learned of this only when it was un fait accompli. Do you remember the precipitating event? Ayn was ten years old then, a girl with autism, a girl who required steadfast care. Her father is a stay-at-home dad and Ayn's full-time caregiver, caring for her two older brothers as well. The younger of those two is also autistic. Derek understands their conditions very well. He knows the attention they need. He rented a home that met all their requirements, including a tall fence to contain Ayn. Among the activities to entertain her in the back yard was a play house on stilts. He learned that day in June, that it was too close to the fence and that Ayn was a capable climber. She was also curious rather than mischievous, and she went for a stroll. Police discovered her three stressful hours later. She had gone only as far as a neighbour's back yard. I appreciate protocol, so I understand that RCMP and MCFD (Ministry of Children and Family Services/Child Protection) had to connect. It is even easy to understand that MCFD would be concerned for Ayn when they learned that apart from this episode, she was a difficult child to manage at school as well. It is who she is with autism. Social workers came to Derek's home expecting that he would sign release papers to let them have her. He did not and he was agitated and that states it mildly. Few fathers fail to understand that emotion. So MCFD took her when she was in school.

Due diligence is what you would expect of child protection workers whose mandate is to return a child as soon as possible to parents who are reliable. Derek was then and is reliable. There was never an allegation of negligence made against Derek. In fact the social workers wanted their action to be perceived as help for an overburdened single dad. Ayn's absence brought deep grief for Derek and his sons. For months Ayn was deeply distressed and heavily medicated to subdue her anxiety.

And where was Mom during all of this? Amie and Derek divorced well prior to this incident. All marriage dissolutions are no fun, but by all reports the two had parted amicably enough and they had agreed that Derek would be the caregiver. Amie supported him as a capable and good dad.

Admittedly, I know very little about either of the adults. I have met Derek on one occasion, been in his home, met the boys, and my impression was that he is a good man, dedicated dad and keenly committed to his daughter. These years have been hell for him. Can you imagine the frustration, the anger at bureaucracy, the patience to work within a system, the helplessness that a person feels. I know Amie only through some limited information exchange. So, of course I must confess that I have no clue to the data that MCFD uses to justify their retention of their child for so long. Frankly I don't think that MCFD tries to justifies this. It simply does it because it can. But rumours over the last long while are that MCFD may return Ayn in the next quarter and she may be given to her mom, Amie. That will be a significant adjustment for both parents, if that is the case. Amie and Derek are not communicating publicly about any of this and I can understand that. In fact there may be an imposed prohibition of public disclosure of this mediation arrangement.

Speaking candidly now, the Facebook page that was established to rally around Derek when all of this began three years ago, has become little more than a public gathering place for people like me to wish the family well, to vent, or to encourage one another, or to hold out hope and to stay in touch. Derek really needed us back then. There were concrete and substantial accomplishments, demonstrations, letters to authorities generated from the Facebook page. That's all changed. Derek doesn't need us now. Oh I am sure that is gratifying to him to know that we care.  There is very little direct topical comment pertaining to Ayn Van Dyk on the page any more. We all wait to see what April 1 will being in court.    

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