A Woman’s story
I am glad for the realness that this site is bringing in. I have wondered why it has attracted me, since I am a female. I don’t care for the anti-feminist movement but I do care for others that walk like I have. And I am a feminist in the fact I want female to be equal to male. Equal not more than.
Anyhow, my CYFS journey started 11 years ago when my 2 sons were only 3 and 5. At the time my marriage was on the rocks. I had gone to a women’s refuge out of town. You see, my husband and I are addicts but in recovery. I had allowed my children to stay with strangers but fantastic strangers (Maori and White New Zealander) for 8 weeks so I could get myself together. At the end of it I took my children home with me to my husband. We had to attend a CYFS family conference out of town because the Women’s refuge boss was on the board of CYFS. It was meant to be an easy meeting but I was at the time on the Methadone Program and this CYFS was not very understanding of it. They went to court behind my back and told the judge they didn’t know where I was. But they sure did. The only reason they got away with that is because while stressed out about the meeting, I had left my bag with money at a shop. They offered to get me money from WINZ cause they were connected and I could go home for the night but the children had to stay.
You can imagine how devastated I was to learn that my children were gone when I returned. Straight away I hired a lawyer. But things were so slow and my bill was $3,000 just for the first month. The lawyer told me my options were to spend approximately 3 years in court or give them what they wanted and get them back earlier. I chose the shorter time. During my young children’s stay with caregivers out of town they were being physically abused. No one denies that but no one did anything.
Out of town CYFS sent the problem to our town’s CYFS who wanted to separate them. 1 in our town and 1 in another. I frantically spread the word amongst bosses I worked for. A lovely couple was found and rushed through the system to care for the boys. Once back in our town the CYFS social worker was going to return the children but quit his job because his marriage was breaking down. So we had to start again with a new social worker but that one quit and the next one quit. This was becoming a joke.
After this came the Maori against White New Zealander war and rich against poor. I remember looking at the Children’s Lawyer and asking, “This isn’t about the children anymore is it?” CYFS social workers were sending their relatives around to my husband’s house and my husband would not back down. It had become a physical fight. Even more the Labour MP’s wife who I shall not name came around without any knowledge to tell us, “Just because you have money, don’t think we can’t get you.” What was that all about?
The Children’s Lawyer stepped in to resolve custody and have the children returned to me. A meeting was called and I had even dropped letters off to social workers homes to make sure they attend. But they didn’t and dropped a letter off to me 1 hour before the meeting canceling. Unknown to the letter, I dressed up and took all my hard documented work to CYFS and was told, “We have no meeting planned and no mention of a meeting.” Well I lost it and told them that their business was fucked up. So CYFS called a meeting to tell me that I have anger problems and that the children should not be near me unless supervised.
It just kept getting worse and worse. Just to add no one was stating I was a bad mother. For 10 years I went to court under section 101 under emotional abuse but only under possibility of emotional abuse. There had been no evidence of emotional abuse and everyone agreed I was a good mother. How fucked up is that.
The caregivers could not control my eldest son so he was placed in home after home. 13 homes in 11 months one year. Then basically locked up with bars outside his room and trackers during the day. CYFS told me it was not their job to care for the emotional or spiritual welfare of the children. They were there to provide food, clothing, shelter, school and medical (which is limited)
By now I had my family overseas offering to take the children but CYFS would only give my eldest. As a parent I could not leave my child in government care in another country. My family could not believe what was happening and continued to tell CYFS they would not find anyone in the family to care as much as I would.
Year after year, social worker after social worker, home after home and now I am lost in a system. The boys by now have been told to forget about me and the younger sons caregivers have been threatened to take custody or else loose him. They refused saying. “She is the mother.”
I had been supervised for 3 years, driven hours and spent days trying to find something to do with my boys. I have had numerous psychology reports with none finding fault. But it all meant nothing.
In 2002 I attended a court case where both CYFS and the children’s lawyer were proposing I get full custody of my eldest son. They were now scared of the monster they raised and had run out of money. Just before we entered the courtroom CYFS approached me in despair because the judge was in a bad mood and all cases were being denied. I just looked at her and said, “No, it will happen cause it is in God’s hands now.” And it did.
But that became only another beginning. My eldest son was homicidal, could read and write only a little, and was doomed to the streets. He carried knives everywhere and ended up stabbing someone. This is of course after fighting and burglary. So my life went from the family court to youth court and then to adult criminal court.
Months later, my younger son started running away, into drugs and became satanic and suicidal. The caregivers were strong Christians and my son had deliberately left around death wishes and satanic drawings. They were so hurt. But CYFS had lost control. I was only called in as the last resort. They wanted to place him in a behavior home for 1.5 years with children out of control between 11 and 15. I asked, “How can you take a child from a strong Christian home and place him with other children that are close to prison. You will drive him to death”. They saw the logic and couldn’t chance it so gave me the chance to care for him believing I would not cope and return him to them and support them by keeping my son under control.
I have spent the last 2 — 3 years fighting churches, schools, police and continually CYFS. I used every resource I could think of and mental health. Churches, schools, police and mental health gave so much because they could see I would go to the ends of the earth and more for my boys.
Full custody was gained for my younger son 2005 and with it came a lot of respect. I have said since to these lawyers (now barristers + judge) that we are going to be OK. They replied saying, “No, your family is going to more than OK. You have beat obstacles that others will never face.” And they are right. My family has a very strong bond. No more court cases, no more police, and no more knives, suicides, homicides etc, etc. And my boys are becoming upstanding citizens.
I have told CYFS that never in a lifetime could I have done as much damage to my sons as what they have. CYFS workers are also respectful. This has been a lesson for all involved in this case.
But most importantly, after all this my heart is white. If it weren’t you would have seen my boy killing CYFS workers on the news. I guess what I am trying to say to you is that I will support your cause for it is the children at the end of the day that I care about. Use me to find information for you and to change people’s minds. I have earn’t so much in my struggle and I know I can make a difference. I don’t want my struggles to be for nothing. I know the insanity too well.
Julie I am at a total loss for words. Your family has been wronged so badly by CYFS and yet they seem totally unaccountable. Such a scary story and sobering for males and females.
Maybe the mens movement needs to be mroe than just a mens movement? After all what we are all fighting for is equality for all especially the children. Maybe it requires more of a family movement, both men and women rising up against the femnazi? Just a thought
Thanks for telling your story Julie. I can see what you meant when in an earlier post you said “I’m a strong person”.
I like how, although you and your children have been terribly let down by the system, you still take personal responsibility.
CYFS is a sick, dysfunctional organisation and there are many social workers in there who are untrained and worse than incompetent. But I also know from personal experience that there are good people in there too who somehow get up everyday and go to work for families and try to do the right thing. Sounds like you were fortunate to at least strike a few decent people in amongst all the crappy ones who work in law, caregiving, social services etc.
My personal preoccupation is with fathers and how they get alienated from their kids. And so I’m left wondering; where was your boy’s father all this time? Was he fighting for his kids? Was he stereo-typycally a deadbeat dad? Or was was he simply beaten?
Paul, I thought someone would ask about the dad. Well, I lost his children but he still loved me, I thought I could take care of a meeting and once again I lost his children. And he still loved me. I guess he lost it in the end. He just says he is not the type of guy to talk about it. That shows he is terribly hurt, to me anyhow. This journey destroyed both of us but we are still friends. And we both love our children.
Thanks Julie. I think perhaps I was being a bit nosy asking about that.
I just want to add that in many situations where children die through cot death or get seperated from parents like my situation, marriages break up. My husband worked hard and long hours to support our family when the children were little. I was in charge of the nurturing towards the children. If I had of earnt more than him we would have swapped roles. There was no way we could have prepared for what happened and never in our wildest dreams did we believe it all possible. We could have had it all and today we are just happy with the small things in life. But on the bright side we are humble and spriitual.
Who is Layton Smith on newstalk ZB?
Hi Julie…Three years down the track…Where is your life at now?…
Also your boys and your husbands…Have you kicked the “addict” habit…
You didn’t say what you were/are addicted to…
Hi Julie, Your story is compelling like many people I have met who have dealt with the family court. Although this site is MENZ I personally view it all from the children’s perspective. Virtually all men involved in this see it that way as well which is why so many women are involved.
The problem we are facing is an ideological one which is why it is so hard to make progress.
Hi Jess, why thank-you for asking about us. This post was written 3 years ago. Life is sooo different now.
We sit among the mainstream of society now. My sons have wonderful lives and not one criminal record. I can tell you so many crazy stories and how this family has changed so much for people and youth in NZ.
My addiction was morphine before I entered the methadone program. I would fight for clients on methadone but I gave them something very wonderful through the drug and alcohol world through my journey. I don’t have the strength to take on pharmaceutical companies and I don’t think we are ready as a group yet. (methadone is past for me but I still care for this very bad drug being prescribed)
The days past are a reality of our lives but they don’t have control of us. We are free to be whatever we choose. We all re-entered education to be a somebody and a somebody we all sure are.
Thanks again for asking.
We will get there Dave. (smile)
Good always prevails.