Monday, 11 April 2016

Kidnapping your own child

or children is fraught with danger. 
I haven't been following it too closely but there is a story in the media at present about a mother from Downunder who went to Beirut to, apparently, try to "rescue" her two children. They were taken to Beirut by their father - who said they were going on holiday. They did not come back.
It is a more common story than most people realise. Children do get kidnapped by their parents every day. Many of them are returned quite quickly. Others are not returned for years or are never found at all. 
Sometimes the children are the centre of a custody battle. There is another case here where a father was awarded custody. The mother has taken the two girls and is "on the run". It is clear she is being supported by people who know her and know her story - but she must still be looking over her shoulder all the time. 
People sympathise. There are people who have set up organisations whose purpose it is to kidnap the children involved and return them to the "right" parent. It is dangerous and risky work to be involved in. It can take months of preparation and split second timing at the end. It can still end in disaster.
In all this though there is something that is often left out of the reports - and that is the children themselves. Sometimes they are too young to know what is going on but, on other occasions, they do know - and it can tear them apart.
I remember meeting two adult children who had been in this position. Their father was awarded custody in the days when mothers were normally awarded custody. It was unusual enough to suggest that there was something out of the ordinary going on. 
Not long after the court order was made and while "access" visits were still being arranged their mother took them out of the country. They disappeared from view for the next six and a bit years. They moved constantly. Their mother went from one man to the next and then the next and the next. Pre-internet days the children were just bewildered and believed their mother had the right to them. 
      "She was not a good mother. We scarcely saw her at times. She drank. She tried drugs but preferred drink. We were told that our father was a bad man and that we should be very careful never to say anything or he would come and beat us up when he got out of prison. Every time, just before we moved, Mum would give us new clothes and new toys. It's obvious now that she stole most of them."
Their mother's story about their father was completely false. She was eventually caught shoplifting - perhaps not for the first time. The children were put "into care" and inquiries were started. Their father arrived soon after but it took some convincing them that he was not the sort of person their mother had made him out to be.
They are adults now but the scars are still there. I wonder what they would say of the two children in Beirut. 
Is anyone thinking of the children?

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