In my last post, I dealt with yet another international child kidnapping. I pointed out how the article reporting on that case utterly silenced the father while providing an open forum to the abducting mother to denigrate the father and portray herself in the most flattering light possible. I showed the many important issues the article left out in order to buff the mother’s image. One of those issues was the hell she put the father through. For three years, he didn’t know where his daughter was or whether she was well, ill, happy, distraught, etc.
Well, here’s a piece that appeared in an Australian paper that answers my question “what suffering did the dad experience?” at the loss of his daughter (Herald Sun, 10/9/12). The article is about a case I’ve never dealt with before and don’t know the particulars of. It’s just a father’s description of the torment he endures to this day because the mother of his children decided that he should and courts rubber-stamped her decision. Tellingly, it appeared in the Australian press after the case of the Italian man with four daughters abducted to Australia had concluded with his daughters returning to Italy. Having waited until that case was over to publish the piece, it’s as if the Herald Sun is telling us frankly that it didn’t want to drum up too much sympathy for fathers of abducted children. The dad’s story is heart-rending. Here it is.
IN ALL of the images of screaming children, an hysterical mother, and police wrestling young girls into cars, it is easy to forget the other victim of this Italian custody battle – the father.That answers my question about what fathers suffer when their children’s mother kidnap them. Too bad so few publications ask the same question, much less answer it.
I say this with intimate knowledge of such things as, two years ago, my life was shattered beyond repair in a similar way.
My story is one of deceit, international legal battles, but more than anything the manipulation of children to ensure they have no interest in returning to a father that loves them beyond words.
Just over two years have passed since I returned from a business trip to be told by my wife that she would be taking my children overseas for several months … and they would be leaving in less than two weeks.
To my surprise at the time, but true to the form that I later uncovered, I was the only one not to know. My children, their teachers, and the airlines were all aware, booked, and excited.
And here lies the mastery of such a plan. Convince the children that they are better off, that Dad can visit every month, and that where they live is terrible and you have 90 per cent of the battle won.
The legalities are nearly incidental.
Armed with nothing more than a promise of a return, or faced with scenes similar to the ones more recently evident of police dragging my children away at Sydney airport, I let them go.
I still see them walking through the entrance to immigration, waving back at me oblivious to the manipulation that had occurred or was about to be escalated.
Within days I was faced with missing birth certificates, missing medical records, and revealing emails. But more than anything I found I had young children that suddenly hated where they were from, wanted very little to do with their father, and seemed to blame me for everything from wearing school uniforms to the rain in February.
The manipulation that had occurred leading up to their departure had now escalated at incredible speed. And without me being there to defend such statements and accusations, they believed every word. And why wouldn’t they when it was their own mother telling them?
The swiftness at which I went from being super-dad to villain-dad was, and still is, beyond my comprehension.
My life was literally falling apart around me and I was at a distance that I was nearly incapable of influencing the outcome. I would spend hours crying on my children’s beds, clinging desperately to their memories of only weeks prior, distraught beyond words trying to simply understand how my children, the loves of my life, could believe what they were told.
But they were young and impressionable and I will never hold them responsible.
The most horrendous months of my life passed by and the time for them to return arrived but I knew I had emotionally lost them by that point. I knew that any effort to force them to return to their home would result in children who had already been told how terrible I was, being even more resentful towards me.
My only chance for their return was for them to do as they’d said and come back of their own accord. Which of course they didn’t.
International legal battles continued shortly after but when, in the most gross form of manipulation to date, my now ex-wife arranged for my 12-year-old daughter to sign legal affidavits against her return to Australia, I withdrew my application under the Hague Convention.
My focus shifted to, and remains, on my long-term relationship with my children. Not a minute goes by when my heart is not physically heavy with their absence, not a minute goes by that I don’t battle with their unjust change in opinion of me, and not a day goes by that I don’t wonder whether I should have forced them back to my open arms.
People tell me that the future will reveal the injustice that has occurred, and my children will come back to me. I hope that’s true more than I could ever express.
In the mean time I wait, the manipulation of my children continues, and parents like me remain the silent victims.