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 (in 2024) six, 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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Finally home

It took six years of fighting, but finally, on May 2, 2024, forever “Homecoming Day,” David was able to come home (for a few days); and this is the way of it.

On Monday April 22, after getting a third parenting evaluation (first was from a psychologist in Indiana, which wasn’t good enough for them, second was from a dishonest provider who made false claims and refused to complete the evaluation)–and driving all the way to Morgantown for it–I filed a renewed motion to bring David home for my graduation (May 4). Like the first evaluation, the written report said I’m a fine parent, intelligent person, even used the word “talkative” (which isn’t like me for most of my life), should be able to bring David back to Indiana, and (in response of ridiculous assertions from wife’s lawyer) would not try to abscond with David to Canada (although we do hope to go there and spend some time with my parents there over the summer). The guardian ad litem filed a favorable response, which no doubt helped, and I received the emailed order on Thursday April 25, astoundingly fast in comparison to the general pace of things. I had specifically requested an emailed order as opposed to the usual postal mail (non-attorneys can’t use the online case system that WV finally set up), which was a good thing as I only got the mailed order Saturday.

Since David fortunately didn’t have school Friday, I picked him up Thursday after school, at his “nana”‘s house where he stays with Honey, with his clothes and a few toys (like a plush Dark Bowser and his Mario bridge and “people”), at about 3:45 p.m. after his bus dropped him off near her work. We headed straight out–up the hill road to the “Coalfields Expressway” (that we’d only ever taken once before to go to a playground in Beckley), and onto I-64. We stopped around 6:30 p.m. to eat at a Wendy’s, which may have become his new favorite restaurant (usually I cook for us at the place I rent), and it was dark by the time we were all the way home at around 10:00 p.m. David didn’t sleep any in the car–he tends to resist naps, but see later–and so he saw the lights of the “triangle house” as we drove in, into probably his first garage, and up the steps and unpacked. We quickly did his nighttime routine–no story because it was so late, which we made up for the next day–and had a good and refreshing sleep.

Friday was our main day together (because Saturday we had graduation and Sunday church and driving to WV). I’d unpacked the toys I traveled with so often in his room, and put in a bed there, even though he still sleeps with a parent (and now wasn’t the time to change that). He loved his room, where we had the road rug and his cars too, and some toys he hadn’t played with in a while–only so many could be carried in the car, and I tried to rotate them. We went outside and rode the tractor (with his ear protectors that I’d been saving for a long time) to the playhouse out back (needed a little vacuuming near the doors), which he loved, especially the small loft. We also went to look at the workshop and he climbed the ladder with me to its loft, too. I’d set up the same (original) Nintendo emulator on my TV as on the Raspberry Pi media player I travel with, and he played a few of his recent favorite games such as Blue Shadow (which also has two player mode) and Bonk’s Adventure, as well as the Mario classics. I cooked a hot breakfast, and I’d laid out my old Charlie Brown placemat for him, which he knows from the movies. In the afternoon, we mowed the back (I’d done the front/sides earlier and saved the back); I asked a couple times if he wanted to get off and sit and watch but he wanted to stay with daddy and finish it, so we did. We toured the upstairs and found the game room (with the “big” original 1980s Fireball Island game, as compared to the smaller recent remake we had). He was so happy to be there and I think it was the best time of his life; it certainly was of mine. We had steak and pea–steak in the sous vide then seared–I wasn’t sure if he’d want his cooked more but he was fine with how I made it.

My mom arrived around 9:00 p.m. that night, with two of her siblings, my Uncle Murray and Aunt Lois; David had just gotten to sleep, but opening the door set off the alarm (I hadn’t intended to leave the door unlocked, figuring they’d text first), so he woke up and he spent a little time with everyone, since he didn’t want to be alone in the bedroom (not a matter of a new place; he doesn’t in “house #2” we rent in WV, either, or with Honey (at “house #4”)). We got everyone settled in and then got back to sleep.

Saturday morning David and I got up around 7:30 a.m., which is typical for him, and tried to be quiet while others were sleeping. I made a big, but “progressive” brunch–coffee, of course, made the whole pot, and a round of sausages, banana pancakes (the secret ingredient is banana–and the Meijer mix), bacon, yogurt, and a second round of pancakes. It was the first time having that many people in the house for a long time–last time might have been having the old small group for dinner. We went outside and viewed the property some, and David rode his bike down the driveway and back (and I took some trash to the front), and then around the oval. While we did that everyone else went to see the playhouse (and then David got to show grandma again).

We left for graduation in Bloomington (it was nice not having to drive) a little after noon, which turned out to just get us to the East Garage and then (walking) to the Indiana University Auditorium for the required 2:15 p.m. for graduates, where I got a name card then got in line, and everyone else headed in for the 3:00 p.m. start (they wouldn’t let mom bring her bag in, so she prayerfully hid it in the bushes, and fortunately it remained; graduates weren’t searched, so we could have had anything under our robes…). There is a recording of the proceedings (I’m at 1:34:56); great speeches, especially Prof. Krishnan’s (who I had for property), which emphasized having compassion and empathy as a lawyer.

David, I am told, was very good the entire time, which must have seemed interminable; he loves to clap, though, so he enjoyed that, and he loved to see me walk up there. Afterwards we didn’t stick around long; I talked to a few friends and professors, and they met David, but we had a 7:30 p.m. reservation at The Grindstone back in Noblesville, which we just made after heading out; Waze routed us around some particularly bad traffic on I-465. Mom and Dad (who wasn’t able to make it this time but sent a lovely letter) treated us to dinner–I had the ribeye, and David, who had had possibly his first steak yesterday (or at least the first he liked) had some and some shared fries and my fruit side. He napped, which he never does, while the food was coming–we were in a nice big semi-circular booth. I opened cards from Mom and Dad, George and Lois, Murray, and Bob and Cathy Cretney had also sent one. A surprise was one from David that Mom helped him write–“I am proud of you Daddy, love David.” They are all now displayed on the old welsh dresser from England.

On Sunday we went to the 8:00 a.m. service at Harvest Bible Chapel (I am not accepting of recent name changes), and then had brunch when we got back. We said goodbye before we headed over, as they had planned to leave while we were at church. David stayed with me in the auditorium during the service; I did get him set up in the Harvest Kids’ system for if he’s there other Sundays and wants to go to class, and I think he will, because while he enjoyed the singing, the sermon was a big long for him, although he was (mostly) very good and quiet, and I tried to explain, especially as it (Nehemiah 9) touched on some of the stories we’d read recently from his Story Bible about Moses, the Exodus from Egypt, the golden calf, and Korah. Was great to have him meet Phil and Sarah, Rob and Joy, Gary, Kevin, two Scotts, and Heather (coming out of the kindergarten classroom, which we went to see, in the second building that I hadn’t been in for ages). He played on the playground, which was pretty decent, then we drove home and I cooked us brunch. He played some more games while I packed up for the week in WV following the drive back, and we left a little after 1:30 p.m., aiming to get us to Honey’s mother’s at 8:30 p.m. with some time included for dinner and a rest break (for me). Dinner was at a Wendy’s in Ohio just outside WV, where he had a plain hamburger and got another dinosaur playdoh toy. It was sad having to drop him off (and no reason he couldn’t have stayed overnight with me, since it began our regular week), but we’ll see each other again at the bus stop after school Monday.

Of course the fight isn’t over. David being home for three days is a start only. He should be able to come home for the summer, when his school is over (beginning of June), and then begin school in Indiana in fall. That’s how reunification must reasonably progress. I’m still traveling every other week to see him at least until school ends. That and caring for him makes finding legal jobs, which are not friendly to remote or even hybrid work, impossible. I am (quite happily) looking for remote software engineering roles again, hoping to find a challenging long-term (“permanent”) role, potentially embedded or high-performance applications. As David has said, “What if we have fifty days?” (as compared to the three to seven we usually get). “Then we will be so happy!”

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Overnights, Graduation, and Home?

I have had not been able to update this site as much as I had wished, and I have so many pictures and videos of David and the things we’ve done together Although I didn’t think I would be able to see David until I was done with law school—despite our every other week ordered time (even if only 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.)—but we have been able to spend some time together. He still hasn’t been able to come home, but there may be hope.

Starting in the second semester of 2L (second year of law school), January 2023, I only had classes Monday through Wednesday, and shifting Sundays, I could see David every other week from Thursday through Sunday, and sometimes the full week during breaks. That schedule has continued through 3L, and now I’m in my last semester of law school, graduating in May 2024. After that I don’t know; it will be easier to get a job, especially a legal job (which is not so friendly to remote work) if David can come home; taking care of him, which includes bringing him home to Indiana, has priority.

Over Christmas 2023 we finally got our first overnights (six, three sets of two, going into January). All were fine; David was very excited—we both were—but slept well after brushing his teeth, taking his medicine, getting pajamas on, reading, and prayers. He has a night light and sound machine that Honey sent with him. He likes a parent to go to sleep with him, and stay there—he checks around in his sleep, and can be quite indignant if I’ve left the room, but will go back to sleep on a quick return. He moves around a lot, and likes to climb on me. And when he gets up, usually a little before 7:30 a.m., he’ll ask what time it is until it’s time to get up (or, since I got him a clock for Christmas, he’ll announce to me each minute that passes). We then had three more overnights on the next Thursday to Sunday trip last week because the snow made driving treacherous: just about 72 consecutive hours (we Skyped with Honey at one point when she asked), from getting him at his bus stop Thursday, through school being canceled Friday, to the end of our (chilly) hike Sunday.

I graduate with my JD in May 2024. I have asked that David be allowed to come to my graduation—a trip home, even if only a visit at first, is the next reasonable step in what has been a progressive reunification. Because, sadly for all, he was not allowed to come home, and to Canada to see relatives, for Christmas, I’ve also requested he be able to come home for part of his spring break in April (and later for most of the summer). As he’s spent extensive time with me with no problems—it’s unfortunate that mere handwaving of potential for problems causes reunification to proceed at a crawl—there ought not to be any difficulty, as the only new thing would be the drive, which is no problem, and we can stop as-needed if any arise.

The Introduction post was written a long time ago—David was 3—and so has also been updated.

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Law school: another way to fight

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

I am a JD (Juris Doctor, law degree) candidate at Indiana University Maurer School of Law. I started there this August. It has been an amazing experience. My main “doctrinal” courses (required, no electives in “1L” year) are Civil Procedure, Torts, and Contracts, and I have great professors for each and enjoy class very much. There is a lot of reading, mostly cases (and Legal Eagle’s advice for briefing cases was spot on). Cold calls are not that bad, so long as one is prepared. Outside of doctrinal courses, I have a legal writing course, which has been challenging and useful, and a legal professions course, which has been… present (perhaps more useful for those who have never worked professionally). The 2024 class is amazing; I know way more people than I ever did in undergrad, and they come from diverse locations, backgrounds, and undergraduate studies, and I expect them to make the curve very difficult.

Mostly I don’t expect law school to benefit personally in my struggle to get justice for my son and I, to bring David home, to avoid being robbed by inexplicably angry “stbx” (soon-to-be-ex) wife, although the way it’s been dragging out, maybe I’ll have graduated before it’s over. Since they’re trying to get me into court in a foreign forum without basis (although they’ve attempted a long list of sneaky tricks, lies, omissions, and misrepresentations), the case is before the state supreme court. I only have two concerns: that the lies and misrepresentations are so deep that we lose on confusion, or, political shenanigans, including making new law/overturning precedents. But the opinions out of the court appear to be fair, so I have hope. If:

  1. the facts are presented accurately–they are trying to sneak in some things as “facts” that are actually conclusions of law, and
  2. existing common law (case law) is followed, and not overturned nor new law created,

then we prevail without any difficulty. Big picture, it’s wrong to haul someone into a foreign state and rob them; it goes against 14th amendment due process rights; and at every lower level of detail they have no case. Public policy is against it: someone ought not be able to run off with a child and plundered money and drag the person they harmed and broke their vows to into any random state court of their choosing. It’s still a long fight, but will at least for the most part (possibly excepting custody) be close to home rather than the added injustice of being haled into a foreign court which has a lot of corruption hovering around it, perhaps more than is typical for family courts. For example, judges bringing armed bailiffs to parties’ houses to loot property; in fact the family court judge in my case was admonished for it by the high court.

Purpose and Goal

But the larger picture is that I want to be able to help others finding themselves in this situation. While I admire what Melissa Isaak is doing fighting for fathers and men’s rights in family law and other areas in Alabama, fathers are not the only victims of abuses like David and I have gone through–unjust separation, withholding, kidnapping, perhaps narcissism, parental alienation, and so forth–and so I wouldn’t restrict my clients to fathers only. It may work out that way if they happen to experience this abuse the most, though. I want to fight to help reunite separated parents and children, and contribute in any way I can to justice for those parents and children in the more general sense, i.e., passing presumption of 50/50 custody that has been so wonderful in states where it is in effect, or helping make good case law that makes plunder and kidnapping difficult. Running off and withholding a child from a fit parent ought not to be possible, and if done it ought not to take years to undo (justice delayed is justice denied), and certainly ought not to give the kidnapper cash and prizes at the expense of the hardworking victim!

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Week 27: The last, until David can come home

For reasons that will be revealed later, I will no longer be able to travel the 400 miles presently required to see my son after this week. I never should have had to do that the first place, and only did because a bitter/disturbed “biological mother” Honey ran off with him and then withheld him from me. I still hope she will repent and turn from it all; or at least let him come home for a little while; or if not, that the court will see her as unfit and let him come home.

But the week with David Geoffrey was still sweet, and as always I am happy to share some picture-memories from it.

David loves playing with Snap Circuits, despite being below the recommended age; he’ll swap out switches and lights and knows that the LED needs a resistor in the circuit. I didn’t want him to get frustrated and never be interested, so was willing to put them away and bring them back when he was older if he didn’t show interest.

We went on our usual Saturday morning hike, and also spent some time walking along the “wall” by the nearby road jumping and balancing, played some T-ball, and of course “catch daddy” on the grass.

The end of our hike Saturday would be the last time I would see my son for a while. By rights, he should be safely home with his daddy. Even a somewhat reasonable biological mother (much more one who claims to be a Christian!) would let him come home for a week or so occasionally, or more to make up time she withheld him.

I continue to fight for my son. David, daddy loves you very much and misses you a lot.

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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 dubious; I had told her to look into it 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 he 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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