Reunite Xavier with his mother, and help him get what he needs to thrive!!
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In June 2016, Xavier, my beloved son, was taken from me citing a mental breakdown I had, despite the fact that I have never once posed a danger to him. The mental breakdown I had was a result of abusive treatment I experienced in my relationship and from my ex-inlaws, combined with post-partum depression. At the time Xavier was taken, he was 2, he is now 4, and has failed to thrive. Which is not a surprise; Xavier and I have had an extremely symbiotic bond from the beginning, making this sudden disruption perhaps the biggest trauma he has experienced in his short life.
Furthermore, I have photographic evidence of a cut covering almost the entire length of my son’s head from the beginning of 2017, which Jeugdbescherming and the police refuse to investigate. At the time, my son was living with my ex’s parents, who were being used as foster parents. When this incident happened, my ex’s father was the only person who was at home with him. My ex’s father hit his other grandson while I was pregnant, and he tried to assault me in December 2015. Jeugdbescherming has turned a blind eye because both my ex’s mother and my ex said it didn’t happen.
I have also overheard my ex and his parents tell my son that I’m crazy and that he’s strong willed like I am. When I confronted them about this, they responded by saying I misunderstood because Dutch isn’t my first language. This is one of many examples of gaslighting I have experienced, both during my marriage, and by my ex, his parents, and the Dutch legal system after the breakup. Gaslighting is when as abuser convinces their target that they are crazy, to the point where they actually become crazy, stripping them of any credibility. It is a form of abuse that is perhaps even more harmful than physical abuse, and is certainly the least talked about root of mental illness.
Despite the fact that the psychologist I have been going to for the last 2 years has stressed to Jeugdbescherming (aka Dutch child services) that I do not present any risk of harming my son, we still have not spent the night together in 2 years.
Jeugdbescherming’s reason for increasing the length and frequency of our visitations as slowly as possible is that Xavier is still behind on speaking and other aspects of his development, and that he has a diagnosis of autism. Where virtually any child psychologist will tell you that the quickest way to delay a child’s development is to unnecessarily separate them from their mother. They say he's deeply traumatized and that's why they are keeping him from me. Well, anyone who opens their eyes can see clearly that the fastest way to heal trauma IS to reverse the trauma as fast as humanly possible
Even the UN has recently said, in light of Trump's deplorable actions against immigrant families in my home country, that separating a child from either parent at such a young age leads to permanent psychological damage, and especially for a special needs child. So, if they are waiting on Xavier to thrive before we can be together, which is the very thing he needs to thrive, it is a no-win situation, and sets Xavier up for a lifetime of trauma.
Furthermore, Jeugdbescherming continues to leave the door open for my ex to pay me only €300/month to live off of, which is rapidly driving my yoga studio into ruin. If my studio goes out of business, the reality is as a foreigner in Holland with my qualifications, including a degree in accounting from the US, I don’t have any options for a job to build a life for my son and I besides menial ones. If I am able to hold onto the studio, being my own boss, I will have lots of flexibility in planning my time around what is good for Xavier, not to mention set a great example for him. As of right now, I am on the verge of homelessness, which is exactly where my ex, and from what myself and many others can see Jeugdbescherming, want me.
There have been incidents where my ex has intimidated and threatened me, including when I confronted him about how the cut ended up on the back of our son’s head, yet I’m not allowed to go to the authorities about this. In order to have equal access to my son, I have to have my own place, and my ex and Jeugdbescherming have made sure that this is something I’ll never be able to get. I continue to live off of virtually nothing, and as an American who moved here 7 years ago to be with my ex, I have no family here to count on.
Unfortunately, this trend of favoring the abusive parent, usually the father, in custody cases is a worldwide trend. In the US, as an example, 70% of the time when an abusive parent seeks sole custody, they are successful. http://abusersgettingcustody.blogspot.com
When the custody evaluation (KSCD) was done, both evaluators present claimed that they couldn’t speak English but that I was free to answer the questions in English, there were a lot of questions that I didn’t understand. I am an intelligent person and can speak Dutch very well, unless I am under pressure. Thus, the evaluation, which recommended that my son be sent to live with my ex and that I be allowed only limited visits, was very inaccurate, however our caseworker still insists that this is a valid investigation.
For a long time, I was only allowed to see my son for 2 hours every 2 weeks, supervised, and the very person who most often brought him to the visits was my ex’s father, the same one mentioned earlier in this. Currently, we’re at 6 hours every 2 weeks unsupervised, the last step before this one was 4 hours. They will evaluate how often we can see each other every 3 months, and make every excuse to increase contact “stapje voor stapje”, or in other words, as slowly as possible. I have stressed to them that while 2 years might not seem like a long time to an adult, from Xavier’s perspective, it is half his lifetime. For a 40 year old, that feels the same as 20 years.
Xavier has made it clear that he wants to be with me. I have lost count of the number of times I had to take him back to his father, and he had a complete meltdown, only to go quiet as soon as he was in the car with his father, as if he wasn’t allowed to show his true feelings around him. Best case scenario, his father is overwhelmed by raising him as a single dad with his parents being a 2 hour drive away, which alone is a huge risk to them having a healthy relationship. Worst case scenario, I have nightmares imagining it. Considering the lack of transparency that my ex, his parents, and Jeugdbescherming have had with me from the beginning, worst case scenario unfortunately wouldn’t surprise me.
While all of this continues, Xavier is 4 years old and still unable to speak. English is his preferred language, making taking him from me at age 2 even more dangerous to his development than it would if the primary caregiver he was taken from spoke the same native language as the country where he is living.
My family and I have grave concerns about Xavier’s future, as he is being kept away from one of the most important factors as to how a child’s development goes, his mother. Jeugdbescherming still insists that they’re doing Xavier a favor by keeping him away from me and sending him to special education for his autism diagnosis instead. One of his teachers, at the school he was going to while living with his grandparents, quietly told me that she thinks what they are doing to us is wrong, and regularly sent me photos of him at school. She then got in trouble for it. This is an ongoing pattern, any professionals who see clearly the damage that Jeugdbescherming is doing to Xavier are pushed outside of the sphere of people making the decisions. Most of the decisions affecting Xavier and I are made by a group of people from Jeugdbescherming who have never met us and never will.
Please help to end Xavier’s nightmare by signing and sharing this petition. All this petition asks is simple:
* To restore Xavier’s contact with me to no less contact than he has with his father, without any more delays or any steps in between. Xavier is only 4, and time is of the essence when it comes to helping him heal from the trauma of our separation. If another custody evaluation is necessary for this to happen, it needs to be in English or have interpreters present next time.
* To demand that I am given what I am legally entitled to, and accurate information about what my options are, so that I can have the house and income that I need in order to provide for Xavier.
And last but definitely not least…..
* To demand that Jeugdbescherming, and that Child Protective Services all over the world, is educated on gaslighting so that they are equipped to do the right thing by millions of families.
Xavier, if you’re reading this, first, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re bad because you’re different from most kids. You are an amazing, intelligent, dynamic, and compassionate person who deserves nothing less than to be surrounded by people who believe in you. There need to be more people like you out there. And you are strong-willed, you get it from me, and I will never stop fighting for you. I love you so much more than words can ever express!! xx
If anyone reading this is in a position of power to change things for us (either in The Netherlands, or in the US where I come from), wishes to interview me, or has resources to help us, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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