Saturday, February 04, 2006

I Kidnapped my Daughter

Man, have I had a mind-blowing week. Flew up to Johannesburg to see Miss L Friday morning 8 days ago. As I said in December, we were really concerned with Miss L. She's been cutting her hands and wrists; not suicidal we were assured, "just" self-mutilation. And then in December she'd opened up to me for the first time and told me about the terrible fights at her home.

I never married Miss L's mom. Which makes me a Natural father, not a Legal one. So when there was a huge and messy custody battle 5 years ago, I never got her. One of the major reasons was that they dredged up all my psychological history, mutiplied it 10 X, so that the judge thought I was a walking vegetable.

After Miss L opened up to me in December, I picked up the phone straight away and phoned step-dad. Told him we needed to patch up our differences and that he must start considering the possibility of Miss L coming to live with us one day. I asked him if I could meet with him in Johannesburg in about 3 weeks time.

Just before we flew up last Friday he phoned to say he didn't want to meet, and that Miss L was fine. I had tried. Friday night Miss L gets dropped up off with us and we head to a steakhouse. Then it happens: I catch a glimpse of some deep cuts on her left wrist. Fuch Damn %$@!!!. It floored me. I broke down in tears.

Up to now I haven't pursued with the custody battle as I always let Miss L make her own decisions and believed she really wanted to live with her Step-Dad. But Saturday morning I had a 180 degree paradigm shift. I told Miss L that the reason I'd gotten so emotional was "what if she slipped when cutting?". Her answer: "I don't care". From that moment on I realised that this is one 13 year old whose mind is in no state to make her own decisions.

I had to do something. Step-Dad, as I said, was adamant not to meet me. No option. I phoned my lawyer. From that moment on things stepped up a gear into high acceleration.

First, an emergency appointment with a psychologist. 3 hours. Next day (sunday), an emergency meeting with the advocate. I was due to drop Miss L off with Step-Dad on Sunday night. But the psychologist's, lawyer's and advocate's overwhelming consensus was that Miss L could not be put back in her home environment. I was not to return her on Sunday night. Legally, they pointed it out, I would be "kidnapping" her, so they advised me to book into a new hotel under a false name.

Sure enough, when Step-Dad learnt that Miss L was not coming home, he said he was contacting the police to lay a kidnapping charge. Mrs M was besides herself. Jail cells in South Africa aren't a pretty place. The chances of getting raped (me, not Mrs M) by an AIDs infected thug are high. So we payed everything cash so as not to leave a credit card trail, and BP Guy took up smoking again, I mean, SHITE, if I'm gonna spend the night in a holding cell being eyed out by horny gangsters, I better have some smokes!!!

Monday morning the lawyers get together. Should have seen it coming - their dick head attorney demanded that all 4 parents get full psychological assessments in addition to Miss L. BiPolar sufferers arent able to be parents remember. Hah! Mrs M and I spent a gruelling 6 hours of interviews and filling in questionnaires. Told them up front this time about my BiPolar. And guess what - we passed with flying colours! Step-Dad and other Mom, on the other hand, had emotional breakdowns during their evaluations and cannot go through with them! Backfire!!
So, Firday morning my urgent application for custody goes to court, and Friday midday (yes, yesterday) Miss L, Mrs M and yours truly, are flying back to Cape Town with a brand new
live-in teenage daughter! We're all ecstatic!

Justice has finally prevailed. Day before I left I went to Mandela Square in Johannesburg and took this pic of Nelson Mandela. A fitting icon for my new found justice.

Yeah, I'm in the pink today. Have been all week. But it's a different kind of happiness. Waking up for the first time this morning with Miss L sleeping in her room next to ours evoked a kind of contentment that I have never felt.


  1. You have just raised the bar for all the other father's in this world! My high opinion of you just went through the roof! You and your wife have 100% saved your daughter's life as I am sure you already know. You get the daddy of the year award here! When my oldest daughter began cutting - I informed her "biodad" who quickly came over, but when the problems began to flood out, and she told him she needed more from him than just an occasional visit, and needed to tell him how much he had hurt her in the past - he quickly fled the scene, and hasn't been around much since. He said he didn't like everything being turned around on him and that if anything was wrong with her it was my fault. I have already admitted all of my faults to my daughter, saught the therapy and help, done everything in my power, and it boils down to abandonment issues from her real father. She simply needed to tell him how she felt, and spend more time with him, and once again he bailed on her. Sooo that is why I am rooting for you all the way sir - a good man with a good wife left on this planet who loves a child no matter what is priceless!

  2. I wondered where you've been. What an emotional week. You proved to be strong, with the exception of a smoke (wink wink) and not crash. It's amazing how we can be ill but when it comes to our kids something else takes over, no?

    I hope I'm saying that right.

  3. Congratulations! Score one for the "crazy" people. :) That's great news.

  4. Hey BPG

    What a week man! Sounds like some movie. Can't really say my absense from the net has been anything quite as dramatic.

    Very happy for you that you got Miss L back with you and stopped the sillyness going on there. Must have taken some guts to have done all this.

  5. He damned well better have a good explanation for those cuts. Bipolars can't be good parents? If they're compliant with their meds, they can be very sensitive and caring ones because they know the meaning of hurt.

  6. That is wonderful- you totally did the right thing. As far as bi-polars not being able to parent thats just a crock of sh*t!! My daughter went thru the cutting and she did become suicidal after being drug and raped. we went thru 3 years of therapy together and seperately and with that and some good antidepressants the girl is alive and well today with a beautiful baby boy. NONE of us know everything about parenting but I believe if you can put your childs well-being first and your own ego second you will do ok and you will survive and so will she. My thoughts and prayers will be with you both.

  7. Congratulations on your *new* ;) baby girl! Cheekyness aside... I'm glad you took the steps to make sure you got her out of that situation. I was going to comment that being bipolar has nothing to do with being a good (or not) parent...but I see my example and one of my dearest friends has already commented to that effect. I do want to say though...make sure she gets some therapy. Cutting is addictive and once it starts, it's very very hard to stop. Just being out of the initially triggering situation isn't going to be enough to stop it, most likely.


  8. New to your blog but very glad I found it!!

    I am so glad that you saw the warning signs in your daughter's behavior and made the right choice in bringing her home to live with you.


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