This is Jennifer and this is my update for June 23, 2008.
Not much is happening at this moment. My mother’s attorney is on vacation this month so everything is on hold. At least that gives us a break and time to recollect ourselves. I was recently asked my views of my childhood. I thought I would share them with you.
My parents separated when I was 2. I don’t really remember anything before then. We lived in a blue house in St Lois Park. I remember my father beating up my mother when he would pick us up for visitation. One incident in particular, my brother and I hid in the living room closet. On another occasion he had sent us outside and he beat up my mother in the kitchen. My brother and I watched through the kitchen window. It was horrible! You see…. The judge was so wrong because the abuse didn’t stop just because my parents separated.
I remember that my mom was scared all the time. When I was 5 we moved to a tiny studio apartment in Kenwood. It was so small. There weren’t even any bedrooms but we loved it! My mother built a loft for me and my brother in the dining area. She slept on a futon in the living room. I remember my mom telling us that we would be safe there, because there were people all around. As far as I can remember my father didn’t beat my mother up any more, but he became more and more aggressive to me and my brother during visitation. It got so bad that we used to beg our mother not to make us go with him. I was so scared that I would cry so hard until I threw up. Eventually my mother told my father that we were too afraid that she couldn’t force us to go. My father called the police on several occasions and they would pull us out from underneath the beds and hand us over to my father. Even to this day, I am still afraid of policemen.
When I turned 6 we moved back to New England, where my parents are from. It was a great celebration! We were free! We didn’t have to see my father for a whole year. We were so happy. We still had to talk on the phone with him once a week (court ordered.) Sometimes he was actually nice to us and he would tell us that he missed us. At those moments I missed him too, but I didn’t really trust him. Other times he would warn us that my mother was going to die and we would have to go live with him. At night I used to cry in bed and worry about my mother dying. My mom would let me and my brother climb in her bed and she would sing us sleep.
I remember once when he called and he said he was coming to visit us. My mother took the phone and she hung it up in a panic. She said that my Dad was at the airport and he was coming to get us. We rant to the car and drove and drove. My mother promised that she wouldn’t let him hurt us anymore. We went to the ocean and we slept in the car. In the morning my mother decided to call my father in Minnesota. She hung up the phone when he answered. We were so relieved that it was just a threat. We were happy to go home.
In the spring (1992) we had to return to Minnesota to see our dad. My mom promised that she would go to the judge and tell him everything. She promised that he wasn’t going to hurt us anymore. Suddenly we had to move back to Minnesota and go right back to visiting my father. The court people didn’t listen to us at all. They just said that he was our Dad and we were going to have to get used to going with him again. Michael London (the guardian ad litem) told us that maybe if we behaved better, he would be nicer to us. I was already used to trying so hard to not do anything wrong but I became even more cautious.
Three days before Christmas… (December 22 1992) my mother returned from court in a panic. She was hysterical and said that we had to go live with my father. I couldn’t understand what was happening. She let us open a few Christmas presents. I remember that we both got a new big stuffed animal. My mom sprayed them with her perfume and we went to meet Michael London and my father.
I panicked when he said that it was time to go. I was screaming and clenching to my mom. She picked me up and hugged me and told me that everything would be alright. At one point I was relieved when my told them that she couldn’t do it. She said that she couldn’t make us go with him. Then Michael London grabbed me and pulled me out of my mother’s arms. I wouldn’t let go. I remember all these people prying my fingers loose from my mom’s dress. When Michael London had me, I kept kicking and screaming “MOMMY I WANT MY MOMMY.” I told Michael London “BUT HE HURTS ME AND HE HURTS MY BROTHER!” I still remember him saying “I know!” as he handed me to my father. That was the worst day of my life!!!!!
We were allowed to see my mother at a Christmas party on Christmas Eve for a very short time. After that we weren’t allowed to have any contact with her for months. I have been told that it was only 6 weeks or so, but it seemed like forever. When we were finally allowed to see our mom it was in a county supervised visitation setting. There was one other family there, usually a yucky father with his kids. It was a totally different kind of situation. Those kids were afraid of their father. We loved our mother and kept climbing on her lap and hugging her. We were constantly told that we weren’t allowed to have so much physical contact with our mother. We were instructed to sit at a table and play board games with our mom. All we wanted to do was cuddle in her arms. When we had to leave I would become hysterical. I cried and cried for my mother. The supervisors would threaten me that if I didn’t stop crying I wouldn’t be allowed to come back and see my mom.
Life with my father was unbearable. He didn’t seem happy to have us at all. In fact our presence caused a lot of problems with him and his new wife, Rena. She was also terrible and quite abusive to us. For Example we often had to get them drinks. One time in particular, Rena told me to get her a glass of wine from the kitchen, when I wasn’t fast enough she kicked me. That was the norm in their house. We were there to serve them. They even taught me how to make mixed (alcoholic) drinks for them. I was their bar tender at 7 years old.
My father (and Rena) continued to abuse us. I accepted his abuse but I was so upset when she started hitting and kicking us. My attitude was “He is our father. He is 'allowed' to hit us." (The court officers made that very clear to us.) But…her?… she was nothing to us and we hated her!
On a few occasions I tried to show the court people my bruises and beg for their help. I specifically told Michael London that my dad was still hurting us and he said “This is the way it is. You better get used to it!” I was desperate to get help. As soon as I saw my mom at visitation I lifted up my shirt and showed her my bruises. I said "He's still hurting us Mommy." My Mom started crying and told visitation supervisors to look at my back. At first they gasped. Then the woman said “Pull down your shirt now! You know you are not allowed to talk about those kinds of things anymore.” My mom begged them to help us. They told her to be quiet or we would be taken away immediately.
The days, nights, months, even year (and a half) dragged on so unbearably slow. I missed my mother terribly. Every night at precisely 9:00 I would sit in my window, look at the stars and sing our (Disney) song “Somewhere Out There.” My mom promised that she would do the same every night. She would also sing it at visitation to us when it was time to leave, but then they wouldn’t let her sing it to us anymore, because it specifically referred to “Soon we’ll be together….”
My mom bought a book of Disney songs so we could pick out a new song. She got a piece of paper and a pencil so we could write down our favorite picks. My brother wrote on the paper “Mommy Help us!” I kept watching the supervisors to see what they would do, but they didn’t notice. After that day, we started writing messages to our mom. I would write my mom letters at my Dad’s house and then slide them in the music book.
I was most concerned with the fact that my father kept telling me that my mother didn’t want me. I needed her constant reassurance that it wasn’t true. My mom would write us nice loving letters saying that she was trying everything to get us back, and that she loved us very much. I was so relieved when she promised that no matter what anyone said; she loved us and would never give us up! She promised that somehow, someday, she would get us back! I longed for that day!
The time we spent with my father was unbearable. He, his wife and the court officers tried to change our whole being. We were ripped from our mom, our home, our school, our friends. We weren’t allowed to have any contact with our grandfather (on our mother’s side.) My father even dumped off our clothes at the Good Will because he said that was part of our old life. That was how we were told to associate everything; “Our Old Life and Our New Life.” It was all very strange that he started letting us have visitation with my mothers biological mother. We didn’t have a relationship with her at all, because she had abused my mother as a child. The court in Massachusetts even issued an order for protection forbidding my mother’s mother to have contact with us at all, yet the Minnesota court suddenly gave her permission to take us alone. It was all so confusing why we were allowed to see her and not our own mother. It became quite obvious that everything was in reverse. If we said we wanted something, it was denied. If we rejected anything, it was forced upon us.
Things just kept getting worse and worse. My brother became more and more depressed. He started saying that he wanted to kill himself. I used to beg him not to do it and not to leave me alone in that house of hell. He was my best friend. In our notes to our mom, Zachary told her that he was going to kill himself if she didn’t come get him. She promised that she would come get us in the summer vacation. My father left us home alone all the time for the whole day! We told our mom specifically when she should come get us and we were so excited that the day was coming soon.
18 months and 8 days after my father stole us away from our mother, she finally came to rescue us. The moment my mom called us and told us to come meet her was exhilarating. Even though I was terrified of getting caught by my father, (We would receive a certain beating) I couldn’t wait to go back to my mom! We met her at a designated spot, jumped into the car and drove and drove far, far away.
We were safe!
We were together again!
It was a dream come true!
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