Rhode Island taxpayers have contributed an enormous sum to wage a war that most of us know nothing about. The systems our state established to protect children have instead subjected many to danger and trauma that will profoundly shape the rest of their lives. Who will help to build public awareness and political consensus to protect children from those who prey on them or who profit from their abuse? How should government respond in ways that are transparent and accountable?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Trying to Remember

By August 6, 2007, the girls' 487th day in custody, ten-year-old Sara struggles to remember the home she had lived in all her life. She draws it from memory and creates an enormous diagram, detailing each room with a numbered key listing furniture, doors and windows.

Her drawings are straight, but her handwriting runs downhill, a common sign of depression.

Her kitchen diagram is accurate, but it longs for the human dimension and nourishment that her mother had drawn in their journals:

To keep her spirits up, Sara makes a list of THINGS TO DO ON OUR FIRST DAY HOME.

Her dream-activities contrast to life in the shelter, where staff use television for rewards and punishment, profanity is a constant, and strangers say her mother has mental problems. The first item on Sara's list is "Wash clothes so they smell good." Here is the list:
Wash clothes so they smell good
run around in back yard
play piano together
play a game
do arts & crafts
flop on our bed
clean car
go for a walk @ the beach
clean house
go to Home Depot to get stuff to build clubhouse
plant in garden

Sara's 11th birthday arrives before that month ends. After more than 500 days in state custody, DCYF moves the sisters out of the shelter. They give Molly to her father in another state, and they send Sara to yet another foster home.

DCYF seems intent on breaking Sara's spirit, convincing her that her mother has mental problems, forcing her to visit her father. Why?

From now on the sisters will see each other during their mother's visits at the DCYF office for two hours a week.

Confidential comments may be sent to Anne Grant at parentingproject@cox.net


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About the Author & Purpose

Parenting Project is a volunteer community service provided since 1996 by Mathewson Street United Methodist Church, Providence, RI, to focus on the needs of children at risk in Family Court custody cases. The coordinator, Anne Grant, is a retired United Methodist minister and former executive director of Rhode Island's largest shelter and service agency for battered women and their children. We research and write about official actions that endanger children and the parents who are trying to protect them. Our goal is to reform this area of government and to establish an effective, transparent and accountable child protective system.

We first reported on this case at http://custodyscam.blogspot.com/

To read the blog more easily, please reduce the width of your column. Some of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking once on them.

Comments and corrections may be sent in an email with no attachments to parenting project @ verizon.net

About "Parental Alienation"

If you are not familiar with Richard Gardner's theory of "parental alienation" and how it is being used in custody courts, scroll down to the earliest posting, "Junk Science in Custody Courts." For more scholarly research, visit  http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/1.html

For more on the scandal in custody courts, see: