RETURNING TO U.S. – HOME

RETURNING TO U.S. – HOME


After the lengthy court situation, my daughter and I returned to the U.S. in July, 2006.  A day or so before I returned to the U.S. with Megan, I had met with my German attorney regarding Dr. Brunger’s report.  My German attorney translated some of it to me; and he thought the court would follow Dr. Brunger’s recommendations completely.  Dr. Brunger recommended that Megan be taken from both her mother and father, given to the German Youth Authority, put into an English speaking residential (psych) facility (although my attorney knew of no English speaking ones); with the probability of custody to her father.  Megan (11 years old) knew no German.  At that time I asked if I could legally return to the U.S.  He said yes.  The lawyer said we had until August 1 to respond in court.  Somewhere around July 13, 2006, I found out via email from my German attorney that Megan might be picked up sooner (and they would not wait until the August court date) because custody was being given to the German Youth Authority so Megan could be put in a German mental facility.  I decided at that time to protect my daughter and to return to the States.  Megan told me she would run away from the German institution.  The idea that my daughter would be put into a German mental institution (not knowing the language) plus the fear that she would be a runaway in a foreign country where she did not speak the language, and the fear she would be returned to her abusive father, made the decision a moral one.  I had to protect my daughter.  Also in the decision making process, I spoke with an American military attorney who mentioned that I had not been served with any papers and that if it worked like the American system, I should be able to go.

By leaving Germany as quickly as I was able, I did leave my apartment behind with all our belongings.  I also was awarded alimony which I have forfeited for the time being or maybe forever by making the decision to protect my daughter.  I could have stayed in Germany and lived my life without my protecting my daughter, but there was no way I could abandon and betray my daughter in that manner.  I, as other women and children involved in an awful domestic violence situation, had gone to the authorities – the police, the courts, etc…  The OSI had decided there was no evidence of the abuse, but that does not mean the abuse did not occur.  The German police who had the actual jurisdiction were not investigating it further since Tom was no longer in Germany.  I, as a mother, chose the only morally right and heartfelt action — flee to America (our home country) to protect Megan.

We are both fearful of Tom, the other abusers, and future abuse.  My major concern was  protecting my daughter from her abusive, sadistic father.  Since we were in hiding, I could not use my SSN in order to rent an apartment or find employment.  I immediately contacted attorneys and tried to find a legal solution.  I also contacted several domestic violence shelters and was not able to receive assistance.  I also could not get German documents translated into English at this time.

I was able to enroll Megan into All Saints Catholic School in Spokane, WA in December, 2006.  She adjusted well to the new school situation.  In fact, she made the principal’s list (high honors) for the year.  Megan did just as well in 8th grade until we were discovered in November, 2007.  We lived in several places due to the kindnesses of people.  Megan was healthy, thriving, and enjoying her friendships at school.  Both of us became quite familiar with the city, the bus system, and the activities the city offered.

In the 16 months I was in the States with my daughter, hiding to protect her, but having her in school and doing well; I sought legal avenues to no avail.  In late November, 2007, we were discovered.  Tom discovered we were in Spokane, and  had a blog filled with misinformation and lies on the Internet which he copied and had given to the local hospitals.  That led to our discovery.  I was arrested for custodial interference.  (In the time I was in the U.S., the German court gave full custody to my ex-husband, Tom.) The jail held me for a 72 hour hold (which ended up being five days because of the weekend).

I had hoped that the American legal system would provide protection for Megan.  Now I will abide by any decision the American court makes and the decisions it has made.  Megan is 13 years old and will turn 14 years old on September 30.  I can have no contact with Megan until a court allows.  I will not run again with her.  Megan knew that once we were found in America (if we did not bring the case to the American legal system ourselves which is what we had hoped to do), that she would be on her own.  Megan wanted to be in America.  She wanted to be with me.  At no time was Megan ever forced to stay with me.  She knew where her father was, how to locate him, and she did not choose to do so. In fact, she would look him up on the computer white pages with me because she wanted to make sure he was still miles and miles from Spokane.

My daughter and I both had lawyers when we were discovered.  .  She actually had her own lawyer already because in the State of Washington we were informed she could have her individual lawyer.  Megan was taken to a CPS (child protective services) holding facility.  Within the five days, her father and girlfriend (who both live in Virginia) came to Spokane, and Tom went to and/or spoke with the local media claiming I was mentally ill and had abducted Megan.  Megan had prepared a statement already stating she was abused.  Tom was able to get Megan released.

Megan was taken in hand/wrist restraints via two bodyguards, Tom and girlfriend to Virginia.  The bodyguards escorted her via restraints all the way to a psych facility in VA.  She stayed in one short-term psych facility (Dominion Hospital, Virginia) from November to January; and was in the Virginia Treatment Center for Children (VTCC), a residential psych facility, until this summer.  Megan is/was speaking of the abuse (at least in the first facility, Dominion Hospital, Virginia), does not want to see her father, and is not being believed again.  Megan was in the restrictive environment of a psych facility probably until she recanted or was medicated and/or labelled cured.  If she is labelled as having shared psychotic disorder based on my German psychiatrist 1-1/2 hour interview, based on a faulty, possibly unethical diagnosis by Dr. Masino, (with Dr. Forbes’ knowledge and approval), and based upon being forced to be in a locked facility for months, it is unfair and extremely sad.  I guess her father gave her a choice of going with him or being in the residential psych facility.  She chose the psych facility.  Megan refused to see her father at all for weeks including family meetings when she was in Dominion Hospital.   Megan was given another physical in Virginia, the SANE, and it did not show that abuse occurred.  Experts will tell you that the SANE is a great tool to show abuse occurred if it is given soon after the abuse.  The SANE was given to Megan more than four years after the abuse stopped.  Obviously it does not prove the sexual abuse did not happen.  Megan is 13 years old now.  To say I am concerned about her is an understatement.  The one positive aspect is that she is now able to correspond with a few friends from her past, which she wasn’t allowed to do in the first psychiatric hospital because her father would not allow it.

I was released from jail in November 2007 after the five days without being charged and with no stipulation that I had to stay in Spokane.  Meanwhile my attorney and Megan’s filed for jurisdiction to remain in Washington State.  They also petitioned my husband for contempt of court for taking Megan out of state, but our efforts failed.  Washington refused jurisdiction.  Then in Virginia, a Child in Need of Services petition was filed and we again lost.  Tom has full custody of Megan with no interference from any child protective agency.  The courts accepted the German psych reports and opinions without question.  An unbiased complete American look at Megan’s situation has never occurred.  Tom meanwhile got a protective order in a Virginia court against me so I can have no contact with him or my daughter.  Tom said I was a danger to him.  That is the first time he has alleged that.  Tom is the one who has the black belt in Karate Tech and who the one who I fear.  I do not want contact with my ex-husband.

The American psychiatrist, Dr. Pontzer., Acting Chief of Inpatient Psychiatry at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl Germany, has made two declarations one of which says I am/was not delusional (dated December 27, 2007).  The other explains that the German system does not equate with the American system. In Dr. Pontzer’s declaration dated January 7, 2008, he makes several points.  I will summarize and comment on a few.  The first point is that these “experts” as Tom refers to Dr. Fees and Dr. Brunger, would not be considered experts in the United States.  The idea that the American court system and the American psych facilities are accepting these evaluations by these foreign practitioners when such evaluations if performed within the United States would not be accepted due to substantial differences in training, accepted standards of care, language barriers, licensure, etc. is very hard to comprehend.  Secondly, these interviews were conducted with use of a translator.  It was very difficult, especially with my single psych interview with Dr. Fees, to convey my history and facts of the abuse when I am essentially speaking to a woman translator who is then relating my words to the German psychiatrist.  It is hard to know what is being translated and if the exact meaning is being sent.  Thirdly, there are factual errors and inconsistencies in my report from Dr. Fees.

Next, Dr. Pontzer states that PAS “Parental Alienation Syndrome” is not a recognized diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association.  The DSM-IV-TR makes no mention of it.  It (PAS) can also be used by an abusive parent as a weapon against the protective parent.  In this case, that is exactly what has happened.  Megan has stated over and over again that she does not want to be with her father, that she is afraid of him, and that he abused her.  I have followed the professional advice of not speaking to Megan about the abuse unless she brought it up or because of legal reasons.  In Germany, we began a new life with a new apartment, etc…  During the time we spent together in the U.S., Megan and I spent much time discussing the daily activities of life especially as she was experiencing school for the first time, her teenage years, and listening to Megan speak of her future.  There was little reason to speak of her father or the abuse unless for some reason she wanted to speak of it usually due to something we saw on television or someone she saw who reminded her of her father or one of the abusers.

Dr. Pontzer speaks of the criteria for Shared Psychotic Disorder and repeats that I did not meet the criteria for a Delusional Disorder.  He also states that I apparently did experience persistent depressive symptoms concomitant with my alleged “delusions,” which contradicts the diagnostic criteria of Shared Psychotic Disorder.  He also brings up the point that American Psychiatry does not diagnose chronic schizophrenia of the paranoid type where delusions are developed.  Lastly, Dr. Pontzer explains that the reports of abuse were unsubstantiated which means they cannot be proven.  That does not mean the abuse did not happen.  It seems to me that Megan’s future and present is being based on two psych evaluations that should not be accepted for the above-mentioned reasons.

In March, I was informed by my criminal attorney that the State of Washington is pressing charges against me for first degree custodial interference.  I voluntarily turned myself in.  After 19 days in jail, I was released on my own recognizance (after the prosecutor originally wanted $250,000 bail) with stipulations that are not usual in this kind of case.  All my attorneys have provided their services pro bono until recently.  This summer, 2008, I was appointed a public defender partly due to cost of representing me due to the complexity of this case.  Since Tom has full custody of Megan and since Megan is in another state, we may not be able to succeed in getting a subpoena for her to testify at my trial.  (Now I’m also under a criminal court order not to have any contact with my daughter directly or indirectly.)

I do not know how the stress and pressure of being told her mother is mentally ill; being told that the abuse did not occur; past family meetings with her father (the abuser) in the psych facility; being separated from her mother for the first time in her life; not allowed any contact with her mother; and having been in two psych facilities; and now residing with the man she repeatedly said abused her; has impacted and is impacting my daughter.  Megan already knew that Dr. Fees and others had labelled me mentally ill and she, of course, did not believe the diagnosis because she was abused and was not being believed; and she knew me as a psychological well mother who was taking care of her, providing for her needs, and protecting her.  She more than once thanked me for that protection and she understood the risk I was taking.

Megan has had no contact with me for more than nine months.  She is not allowed to even write a letter to me.  What impact does that have on her?  Is that in the best interest of the child? The fact that Megan can no longer be with me, her mother, because the truth of the abuse cannot be proven is one problem.  The fact that Megan was not in a better, least restrictive system such as foster care and going to a regular school is completely unfair to her and a travesty of American justice.  As far as I know, Megan is no longer in the Virginia Treatment Center for Children (VTCC), the residential treatment psych facility.  She is residing with her father, the man who has abused her.

I, as Megan’s mother, will always love her dearly.  I will pray for her and hope for the day she can be reunited with me.


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