Introduction and Welcome

My name is David Robins. In March 2018, my wife Honey Robins ran off with our seven-month old son David Geoffrey, removing him from our home in Indiana and taking him to live with her parents in West Virginia, and cleaned out our checking account. She has withheld David from me for most of that time. My attempts to reason with her, to ask her to go to counseling, to get more time with my son, to remind her she once claimed to be a Christian have been met with the silent treatment.

I get limited (court-ordered) time with my son, who is now three, every other week – she wouldn’t let me see him without an order. We have a great time together, but it’s not enough. This site is about my fight to bring my alienated son “home to daddy” again, and, I hope, for others in similar situations to tell their stories and to obtain resources and encouragement.

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Week 26: One year of David and Daddy

This week makes a full year of ridiculously limited (5%) time with David—if Honey were reasonable she would have allowed us more time together, but she has always refused, so we are going to need to get a modified order to do that, and finally bring him home again.

We took a break from the Still Run Ridge trail on our walk this Saturday to go back to the Horsepen Knob trail, one of our favorites, since it’s a loop that can be completed during our time and has a bench that’s great for our picnic. We had some cherries this time—I brought a cherry pitter, which saves a lot of time.

We got back to Second Street Station with a few minutes left, so sat on the bench out front and read another book—The Tale of Peter Rabbit—before he was taken away again.

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Evidence of neglect

I received a few notifications from my medical/dental insurance recently that Honey had told me nothing about, or just told me of a “check-up” for the dental. First, that David was approved for ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy (for autism), some 36? sessions over three months; and second an estimate–$3598.00!–to fill 12 cavities, and various supplementary work.

The ABA therapy is fine; I had told her it was necessary for him about six months ago, although I’m sure she didn’t set it up because she listened to me. It is being provided by remotely by a Massachusetts company, which is good; it will make the transition to Indiana easy, although if it’s better for him I may move him to a local provider.

Twelve cavities for a three-year-old is shocking evidence of neglect, however. Honey’s family subsists primarily on soft drinks and junk food, and she definitely gives him soda–seems like a lot of it, just not any with caffeine (which is little comfort). (I have given him orange soda a total of I think four times; and may not do so any more, although it is probably acceptable in moderation.) She should be brushing his teeth, or if he can, ensuring he is doing it correctly. It is good at least that they are his baby teeth! (Honey’s sister tried to claim that she had a lot of cavities at the same age and it’s normal; but that actually makes it worse: David is being raised in part by Honey’s parents and what she learned from them, which was apparently not good.) In no world is this reasonable, and the dentist said it could have been prevented with proper diet and care.

What else is she hiding? She doesn’t like to spend time outside (laziness, blames allergies), and David loves to play ball or go for walks when we do; that may be all the time he gets outside, or the majority of it. How else is she failing to thrive because she is not putting in any effort to encourage, support, teach, and care for him? I am an engineer, and he loves building toys like “pieces” and even basic electronics (Snap Circuits), which she is unlikely to encourage him in.

This lack of care is abusive, as is her complete failure to keep me apprised of events in his life, medical or otherwise; she is not responsible enough to have anything but supervised visits with David until she can take care of him–and ideally become independent herself, first.

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Week 25: G. I. Joe and the vegetable garden

Someone at the “Mullens Opportunity Center” (a converted high school across the road from where I usually stay) had planted a vegetable garden a few weeks ago; we saw it on our walks around the building, along the railing, down to the water, or to sit on the tractor, but it had seemed the weeds were getting the better of it, until this week; the beans had been provided stakes to climb, some weeding done, etc., and there were signs of growth.

David observed that one of the green tomatoes had fallen off the vine; I told him it would not grow any more–how like believers; we cannot grow unless we are connected to the true Vine (John 15).

I brought David a G. I. Joe this week; I don’t spoil him with toys, and he likes the same ones; they provide, I’m sure, a sense of stability and continuity when he’s with dad, but he’s about the right age for it. It came with a couple small accessories but they didn’t cause any issues; he likes that he has a hat, but put it on and forgot about it. Turns out what he likes to do is to play with G. I. Joe on the balconies (decks), either by walking him around the floor, jumping, or mostly, pulling out the camping chair’s cupholder netting then jumping Joe into the cupholder. I don’t know why, but so long as he’s having fun!

This was also the first week David went down the enclosed yellow slide at the village playground. He had liked to go up and down the steps to it before, but would balk at even going near the opening. But I convinced him to sit in the opening, facing the platform, and then to turn and look down, and went around to the bottom and waved at him through it. He still wouldn’t go down; he insisted that “you will sit on daddy’s lap”; so I crammed myself in there and down we went. After that he was more comfortable; and I had figured we’d save him going down it for another day, but gave it a try, and he was willing to go down with some encouragement, and then it was “do it again” until we left the playground

He’s also had a fluctuating relationship with the big regular slide (smaller slides are usually OK, like the ones at Twin Falls; he’ll climb the ladder and slide down repeatedly just fine, for a while now). He’ll always climb the steps and sit down, but then sometimes it takes me climbing up the slide to get him to go down, or he even wants to only go on my lap. This week it got to “daddy will help you” which meant me putting a hand up on the side (but catching him at the end wasn’t acceptable), although I didn’t need to do anything to help him down. He got back to sliding down himself too; I even sat off to the side on a bench.

We liked the Still Run Ridge trail so much last week that we hiked it again this week (one has part of my thumb, but it’s a great picture of David so I kept it anyway):

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Wyoming County roundabout

In my exile to see my son, we are limited (by court order and Honey’s hardness of heart) to Wyoming County, West Virginia, one of the poorest counties in an already poor state, where the main industry is probably the service industry (Dollar Store or Dairy Queen, take your pick), with remnants of mining and railways, and some logging–but they don’t need the personnel they used to–and the meth industry, of course. Mullens (a misspelling that stuck) is the largest town (~1,000) but (to their eternal resentment), Pineville (~500) is the county seat, and where the courthouse is, and there are rumors of another town called Oceana (~500) somewhere in the hills. The rest is tiny unincorporated towns shallowly clawed out of the hills next to the main roads.

Education is seen as a curse and viewed with suspicion (even by Honey’s family, although she has an uncle with a Ph.D–civil engineering–and her grandfather has his Bachelor’s from Emmaus Bible College, and had traveled to the Mediterranean).

(I took the title from a Ladybird book I loved as a child, Nature’s Roundabout. As far as I know there are no roundabouts of the other sort, also called “traffic circles.” in the county.)

Practically, with the limited time we have together, I am limited to areas near Mullens itself (e.g., Pineville is about 30 minutes away, maybe more with current construction). There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of navigable water in the county, although a shallow river runs through town; I would love to take David out in a canoe or kayak. So the spots we usually frequent are of course the Highwater Inn I stay at most of the time (see Travel and lodging in West Virginia), Twin Falls park, for the playgrounds, lodge (and pool!) when I stay there, a local playground (swings, slide, climbing tower, and there’s an old iron bridge over the creek there that we walk over and he walks on a low stone wall as far as we go on the other side), a couple places to eat (Second Street Station in town, the Rebel Smokehouse–not bad, but I don’t go there with David since he wouldn’t eat most of the menu, and Dairy Queen down the road a bit). There’s also a gas station and IGA, where I usually fill up and get groceries coming in on Sundays, near the DQ.

In contrast, when David gets to come home to Indiana, while I live on several quiet acres (despite being close to the highway, it is just one lane and goes up to farms and small towns to the north), there are a number of well-kept parks nearby in Noblesville, and good shopping within 10 minutes’ drive, and all the usual amenities – including pediatric dentists (which will become important later). Hamilton County is the second-wealthiest in the state (Boone, the wealthiest, is nearby) and has great options for schools (and people who don’t despise education), on-site autism therapy (rather than having to be remote as now, since there seems to be no local options in WV), and healthcare (including dentists).

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Week 24: Red party streamers on the Still Run Ridge trail

I brought the guitar in from the trunk and we sang our two hits: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Jesus Loves Me, and then I played/sang a few other songs from the book–a book of hymns for guitar my dad loaned me; he enjoys listening to me play, like I enjoy listening to my father play (although he’s much better), and tries to sing along even when he doesn’t know the words. And we finished Finding Nemo–watching the fish in the credits is fun too–and started Toy Story. He asked to look at “triangle house” pictures (my house in Indiana has some triangular windows, which inspired the site white triangle logo and are in some of the rotating banner pictures), so we did; one of the security cameras points at the living room with the windows.

This week we hiked the Still Run Ridge trail at the park for the first time. We didn’t have time for the whole trail, but we made it to where the Pathfinder trail (yellow diamond) forks off; there’s a convenient “fall-down tree” there where we sit and have our picnic and read some books, then turn back (the rest of the loop is longer than turning around, and would probably exceed our limited time). There was some bright red construction tape tied to some of the trees along the way (close to the path, maybe marked for trimming?), and when David saw them he said, “Red party streamers like in Not Your Typical Dragon book!” It’s great to see him relating what he sees around him to what we read.

Mike E. was preaching at Otsego Bible Chapel this week at the Wednesday midweek meeting (it’s at the end of our time, and walking distance to kidnapper’s house, so I drive him there and drop him off, and sometimes we get a few minutes to play “catch daddy” on the grass). Since I can only see David every other week and the two Mikes alternate, it had been Mike C. for a long time, so an occasional change is nice. The chapel had a Father’s Day display with the names of fathers at the chapel (although most people still don’t make it in person on Wednesdays at least); and they had gift bags; I shared my chocolate with David.

We sometimes Skype with my parents, and did this week–at first he didn’t want to break away from Toy Story; my dad played guitar some, and mom had some addition puzzles for him.

Honey gave back her rings on the last day (Saturday after our hike); not sure why, some people think to inflict further pain; legally she was allowed to keep them. But it doesn’t change anything; I knew she was committed to destroying the family/marriage already; and I still pray she will change her mind, or at least let David come home for a time. I also wasn’t sure if her sister Emily was a Christian, but she said she was, but does not seem inclined to help us.

When I Skyped with David on Sunday (kidnapper allows 3x weekly, no more) he was good; the last time I had Skyped a week ago Friday he was hiding his face and they canceled the call, and I was concerned alienation was proceeding apace; but maybe he was just “out of sorts.” We talk as best he can–he is talking much more–and read a few books together (he can complete a lot of them).

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Victim to Hero: End Parental Alienation Now!

I came across this site today, posted in a Facebook Parental Alienation awareness group: The Empowered Alienated Parents: Victim to Hero. Looks like it’s regularly updated and has some great resources for those of us going through parental alienation.

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that one is a victim of parental alienation–as is your child; but once understood, it is not helpful to dwell there. Fight for your children, and never, never, never give up.

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Week 23: “Pieces” and the Buck Run trail

New book this week, Optical Physics for Babies (part of the series with Electro-Magnetism etc.), which he liked. I’d like to get a prism to show him dispersion (rainbow from white light).

On Sunday it rained hard, so we stayed inside after getting groceries. I brought some oatmeal raisin cookies from Indiana, which David enjoys. (Also brought some mini apple strudel, but he wasn’t interested – very much “no thank you”!)

This week I brought a set of Brickyard STEM toys – strips with 2, 3, or 5 holes for bolts (which we call “screws”), and some 3D blocks, wheels, and 90-degree angled connectors which we use as seats. He loved them; we built some vehicles, and shapes – like the triangle he’s holding, and a square which he found he could turn into a diamond by pushing the sides in. He took to the tools provided very quickly, screwing in wheels or bolts to “make it tight” and build things.

David called them “pieces” so that’s what I refer to them as. They even won out over playing with trucks! Definitely a hit.

We usually buy frozen garlic bread at the store and I cook it a few times a week for us. Months back he wasn’t sure about it but now it’s almost a staple. I also save him some bacon when I cook some for breakfast; it’s one of the few meats he’ll eat (maybe the only one?)

It was raining again Monday, and was raining when Honey came to take him away, so I ran out to the car and got my poncho and put it on him (was going to put it on me and take him under it but he didn’t appreciate that at all, understandably enough, and it was awkward); he looked cute in it, wish I had a picture. So I carried him out in the poncho and put him in his car seat.

We finished The Jungle Book (for, I don’t know, maybe the third time?) this week; it seems to be one of his favorites. We also got to taking the “pieces” apart – turn the screwdriver the other way and “make it loose.”

This week we walked the Buck Run Trail at the park, not too long but with some steep spots, and it was still damp; we put on lots of bug spray. Instead of picnicking on the trail we went back to the bench at the park playground, under the shade of a tree, and ate and read our books there – including Nobunny’s Perfect and Ten Apples Up On Top, and had some “chocolate mintens” – and played on the swings and slide.

Since I’m no longer racing back to D&D&D (Dungeons & Dragons & Discipleship) in Indiana, I stopped at Bob Evans in Ohio – Rio Grande, first civilization after driving through the slow two-lane “valley of the shadow” part of US-35 in WV – and tried their strawberry salad, which was very good, and read a little.

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Week 22: Sliding, races, and the Hemlock Trail

Usually with the blocks David likes to segregate them by color, but this time I talked him through building a structure like on the back of the box, which he enjoyed. Before building, we walked to the store (7-Eleven) and got drinks. We also built a fort again–like in his Pretend book. Nothing “new” as such, but I like to choose and share pictures even so. And he still enjoys the racetrack, although maybe it’s getting to where he enjoys helping assemble it more than playing with it!

Here’s a set from going down the slide; as I’ve mentioned he’s been iffy/back-and-forth on whether he wants to go down it himself, but confidence will come and I’ll enjoy those times where he prefers to slide on daddy’s lap while he still wants to (he also likes to slide down daddy’s legs sometimes when he’s inside).

With T-ball he likes to take a one-handed swing (above) but we’re working on two hands and he does that usually now. It’s hard to be coach, fielder, and photographer–one reason God designed families to have two parents (!), and it would be so much better (obviously for more reasons than this) if we were a complete family again.

We walked (part of) the Hemlock Trail at the park this week, and finished The Silver Chair.

David loves to get hugs–“big hug!”–he’ll climb over from his chair next to mine for a hug, or when he’s sitting on my lap and we’re reading or watching a movie he’ll randomly turn around for a hug. I hang on to the memory of those in the evenings after he is taken from me.

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Week 21: T-Ball and Rock Climbing!

This week I introduced David to T-ball with a set I packed (instead of the basketball net). He caught on quickly and was giving the ball some good thwacks, or enjoyed getting it (he’s not quite catching flys yet) when I hit to him. And here are his new goggles; I don’t think this is the first week he had them, maybe just first pictures. He loves to swim with them.

We also came across a small rock face on our hike, so I helped him climb up a little, and put him up on a ledge, and he had fun with that.

As usual he always wants to play with his trucks, although the green Jeep seems to be one he was missing, according to Honey, and when she told me I got it out of the toy bag in the trunk (so it must have been a Saturday after I had checked out of the park lodge) and we’ve been keeping it in the car seat cup holder and he likes to “swoop” and grab it as I put him in the seat. And he still enjoys the fireman puzzles he got for his birthday. The picture on the screen behind looks a bit scary, but it’s just Puddleglum, the Marsh-Wiggle from the BBC’s The Silver Chair, which we watched this week.

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Week 20: “Up the Steps,” More Blocks, and the Slide Loop

Next to where I stay most of the week in WV at the Highwater Inn, there is a good-sized field of grass, David and I play there, and while the Inn owner doesn’t own it it’s FEMA-owned or something like that so he can use it for parking and someone comes to mow it every now and then and it won’t ever be built on. Across the field (from the street-side; standing on the sidewalk, the Inn is on the left and the field to the right) is a wall made of crumbling old masonry. Beyond that, another road comes down from right to left such that the wall, and various iron railings to keep those on it from falling to the field below, would be on one’s left as one drove from right to left, downhill, to the Inn.

David enjoys a particular routine most days I pick him up and take him there (parking on the left of the field near the Inn, as viewed from the sidewalk). He always wants to play “catch daddy on the grass,” and we do; and we ramble toward the right edge where there is a wall coming out at right angles that has fallen apart to be like steps. I lift David up to the highest brick-step we can put him on, and he jumps to daddy a couple times (and there tends to be random paper plates around, and feral cats, so he’ll frequently observe, “What a mess!”) Then on our way back to the Inn he climbs up on a smaller wall (maybe a couple feet high) and walks along it, stepping up to balance on a narrower line of cinder-blocks all the way to a mess of ivy where he again jumps to daddy. Near here the road is low enough (six feet?), and there is a gap in the railing, so that I can lift him “up on top” and he can gleefully hurl himself into space and again have daddy catch him, which we do a few times. (There’s a lot of jumping to daddy in this routine!) Finally, there’s another narrow wall right next to the downhill road that I help him climb onto and he balances on it (with me holding my hand), ending with a final jump to daddy at the end. (I tried to skip that last wall once, and it did not go over well!)

We built with blocks a couple days; he likes to keep the colors together. If I try to mix colors, he assiduously reaches over and puts the colors back where they belong.

This may have been the first week he climbed up the ladder on the jungle gym at the Twin Falls playground himself–in the past I’d lift him up or help him–and slid down by himself. He was looping around just fine, but still likes a lot of reassurance from daddy. When he was much younger he was very bold about sliding, and then he got skittish, and now he’s back to it most of the time.

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