Chronological series of events:
Aug 2004: Ryan came to stay with us and was upset about bullies at school. Pete called his Mum, and she said that 'she was bullied at school, so he should go through it too'. Pete said he'd come to Wales himself and sort it out if she wouldn't. We also found out that she'd been telling Ryan things about her relationship with his Dad that he didn't need to know, and also that 'Your Dad was better than Dean(her new husband) anyway'.
Nov 2004: Ryan asked to come and live at his Dads. We knew Sian would say no but Pete didn't want to let him down so we asked. She went mad saying she didn't care if he was unhappy, he was her possession and he would die at Armageddon if he left. She called Claire hurling abuse the day he went home. Claire spoke to her calmly and put her in her place and Sian apologised at the end of the hour long phone call. She then made Ryan feel guilty about it for the next year, saying he'd ruined her life etc. She had counselling and openly blamed Ryan and Claire.
28th July 05: Collected Ryan for school holidays. His Mum still takes our maintenance even though he's with us for 6 weeks. She sends him here with instructions to beg for a haircut. I refused.
13th Aug 05: Pete spoke to Ryan saying that the decision was his, if he wanted us to get him out he was to say the codeword 'make it happen' on the phone as they listen to his calls.
5th Sep 05: Ryan goes home. He called Pete that night as his Mum was late collecting him and had switched her phone off. It had thundered and Ryan was scared. They'd already made him miserable and he wanted to come back to us. Codeword was mentioned.
6th Sep 05: Ryan sent us a text stating that he 'Just wanted to die'. Pete called Social Services and they said they may be able to help. They referred Pete to the Hampshire Social Services.
Sat/Sun Sep 05 (unsure of exact date): Ryan came for the weekend and had packed all of his clothes as he thought he would be able to stay. He brought a huge holdall. We had to take him back home.
21st Oct 05: We collected Ryan for the half term holiday. He told us that Sian had said she couldn't wait to see the back of him and he was ruining her family. Dean and Sian had been losing their tempers with Ryan. He'd been hit with coat hangers, pinched at the meetings, and threatened to be dragged from the house naked by Dean as he hadn't wanted to go to the meeting. Sian and Dean had also both hit him at the same time one night during an argument.
22nd Oct 05: Pete called Sian and said 'You can do this the easy way or the hard way, give him to us or we go to Social Services'. She consulted the Elders and called back that evening saying that he could stay but she obviously wasn't too happy about it.
2nd Nov 05: Sian has been hassling Ryan on the phone about the meetings. She has been saying 'You have a lovely relationship with Jehovah' and 'I though you wanted to be baptised'. Every time she calls he gets upset, can't sleep for feeling guilty and he struggles for a few days. She wants him to go to Centre Parcs for a JW group holiday in December. He doesn't want to go, and we won't allow him as he is about to start school. She gave out our phone number to Elders so their children could call him (Levi did call at one point but Ryan wasn't interested and he hasn't called back). Pete spoke to Social Services to get some advice, then called Sian to speak to her about witnessing to him on the phone as it's upsetting him. She thinks he's having a holiday and is telling everyone at the congregation that he's just here for a short while. She refuses to send us his clothes(they finally arrived on the 1st of December).
3rd Nov 05: Ryan sent her a handwritten letter of his own composition stating that he didn't want to be a Jehovah's Witness and they should let him make his own choices.
Various Nov Dates: Letters in post stating that Jehovah loves Ryan and they miss his answers in the meetings. Sian handed Child Benefit over to us and we began receiving it in December 2005.
Dec 05: Sian spoke to Ryan every few days, hassling him about Christmas. She said he'd come back to her once he saw how empty Christmas was.
Whilst Sian was visiting family in Wales she called and told Ryan off as he'd spoken to an old Welsh friend(non-JW) about leaving the religion and how much he was loving being out and living here. The friend had told a Welsh JW friend what Ryan had said and Ryan was now being blamed for giving the young JW boy doubts about the religion. He also spoke to Felicity( his teenage auntie) on the phone. She asked him what it was like 'in the world' as she is also a JW and he said it was good and he was enjoying himself. Ryan was also then blamed for giving her doubts.
14th Dec 05: Ryan has been training with a local football team. They've been really pleased with him and asked him to sign up full time. He needs his birth certificate before he can play his first match after Xmas, so Ryan called his Mum and asked for a copy. She gave him more grief about Xmas, so we turned the phone off on the 19th Dec. Ryan called her one more time to remind her about the certificate, or he couldn't play his debut match. He also asked her to come visit him in January but she said they couldn't pay the £30 ferry crossing.
Dec 25th: Ryan had a great first Christmas
Dec 31st: Ryan celebrated his first ever birthday
Jan 3rd 06: Ryan called his Mum to ask about the certificate as he needed it for the following day. She said she hadn't even looked for it. He was so upset that he cried. We called the team manager and explained the situation, he was great and said that our child benefit letter and a letter from Ryan's school would be enough. Ryan called his Mum in anger and told her not to bother as he was playing anyway. This annoyed her as the whole reason for delaying the certificate was to stop him from joining the team. He'd been stopped from mixing with normal children at her house and she was trying to do it here.
Jan 14th 06:Two of Ryan's Jehovahs Witness Uncles wanted to take him to a JW football match in London. He didn't want to go alone as he was too scared of the Elders asking him questions, so Pete was to go with him. He then found out that his new youth team were going to Southend United to be ballboys that day. He called the uncles and told them that they were more than welcome to come here in the evening to see him. They made up an excuse not to come right at the last minute.
Ryan didn't bother calling Sian for a few weeks, and she didn't call him.
2nd Feb 06: Sian called asking Ryan to come and stay for a week in the holidays. He doesn't want to go as he's scared of her. He told her he would come for the day. She wasn't happy with this and demanded to see him for a week. We told Ryan that the choice was his and we would drive him down there for the day if that was what he wanted. Sian was adamant that we were telling him what to say. She upset Ryan and he cried. Pete took the phone away and told her she had upset him. She started to get angry with Pete, and didn't believe that Ryan didn't want to see her even though he again took the phone and told her. Pete said 'I'll bring him for the day, lets leave it at that' and put the phone down. Dean called back shouting abuse at Pete, who calmly listened and even laughed. Dean said 'I know Ryan better than you' (even though Ryan can't stand him and has had nothing but abuse from him). Dean very suspiciously told us that we weren't allowed on the Isle of Wight while they had him for the day. This made Ryan even more nervous and he thought they might run off with him against his will. Pete calmly stated that we would bring him for the day(which we don't have to do) and eventually put the phone down. They both sent him texts that night. Deans was nasty and Sians was apologetic. Ryan hardly slept at all that night.
3rd Feb 06: Ryan broke down in school, and was pulled out by the deputy head Miss Pepper. She had a good long chat with him and called Pete as she was very concerned. She said that she'd never seen a young boy so distressed and scared of his Mother, and that we should not send him there at all. She also sent a referral to Social Services. Ryan told her that he didn't want to see his Mum at all but he really missed Holly his half sister.
Pete called and spoke to Dean that night and informed him that Ryan had broken down, Social Services were now involved at his teachers request, and that they weren't to speak to him for a few weeks. Dean said 'We'll see you in court'.
6th Feb 06: I called Miss Pepper, who said that we had her backing and she would contest in court about Ryan not seeing his Mum if it upsets him. I also spoke to Social Services who informed me that because he was now safe here with us they couldn't do anything. Unless he was in immediate danger they couldn't get involved. I also called contact centres, Relate(Ryan is now on the counselling waiting list) solicitors and mediation centres. Ryan took herbal sleeping tablets as he was having trouble settling that night. It actually took him a week to settle back down. We've had no contact from them for a fortnight, but are shocked that we've had no correspondence from their solicitor.
?? Feb 06: We've visited a solicitor and are looking into transferring residency to us. Possession is nine tenths of the law, and as he's 12 he gets a say in where he lives. Unfortunately we don't get legal aid as we are earning £50 a month too much.
13th Mar 06: Ryan had another row with his Mum on the phone as she's refusing to sign residency over to us, even though he's too scared to visit her without us having legal custody first. He's scared she's going to run off with him. She thinks we are putting ideas in his head, we think he's old enough at twelve to make his own mind up and have never influenced him.
11th April 06: Ryan has an appointment with a counselor tomorrow, at last.
31st May 06: Thanks to the counseling Ryan can finally stick up for himself on the phone to her without her shouting him down with her threats of Armageddon, so he feels ready to see her. We arranged a day trip down to Portsmouth(NOT the Isle of Wight!) as he feels safer meeting her on neutral territory. It was all agreed weeks ago. We don't HAVE to do this at all, she never helped us to travel the 13 hour drive to North Wales when he lived with her. In fact she was downright difficult. We are doing this journey down for him, not her. Anyway, she called up last night shouting and screaming saying it had to be the Isle of Wight or nothing, and that she'd never beaten him up and it was all lies. Why she had to do this at the last minute I'll never know. Ryan told her to speak normally or he'd hang up, so he did!
1st June 06: He called her tonight and arranged to meet her in Portsmouth as agreed or not at all, and she agreed. She is either going to give him a hard time, or she'll make him feel so guilty that all the work we've done with him will be back to square one. Worse case scenario is she'll run off with him. We've told him to take his mobile, and walk away if she even starts in the slightest. Pete will be down there with him in another part of town in case anything happens.
2nd June 06: Ryan's visit with his Mum was uneventful. Our car didn't make the journey back and is costing us £400 to fix, so she's still costing us money. We still haven't had any maintenance at all from her. He's been here for 8 months now.
JULY: No phone calls from her at all, Ryan called her a few times and she wasn't interested.
3rd August 06: He got a card through today saying 'Buy yourself something nice, if Dad will let you'. Of course he thought that the £40 was just for him and he's already spent it in his head. That evening she phoned and told him that it's actually maintenance money. If it were truly maintenance it'd be going straight into the pot to pay for new school uniforms and football team fees, not for him to spend as pocket money. This whole thing was designed to make Pete look like the bad parent for 'taking' the money off Ryan. Also, whilst on the phone she said 'When are you bringing him down to see me?'. That's no longer our problem. If she wants to see him she can make the 2 hour drive. She hasn't visited him once in a year. We used to drive for 13 hours, 5 times a year to see him when he lived in Wales with her, and she still used to delight in calling Pete and making him feel guilty about not seeing him enough.
10th August 06: Sian called while we were away, asking Ryan to visit her. She wanted Pete's Dad to drive up to collect Ryan, then at the end of the week drop him home again. Pete said no way, as his Dad has Angina and can't drive far. Also, it's not his problem. It's her job to collect him for visits. As soon as he put down the phone, I made Pete call his Dad and tell him to say no when she asks. Of course, she was on the phone begging him 5 minutes later, even though she KNEW he wasn't well enough. Ryan has asked us to get him more counseling.
24th August 06: Ryan went to stay with his Mum. Pete dropped him off at the station to meet his Mum on Friday as she travelled up by train and he really didn't want to go. He had a bit of a panic attack in the car and nearly changed his mind.
1st September 06: Ryan is home. His Mum told him she'd changed and grown up, which is a totally inappropriate thing to say to a child. She's 35 years old, she should've grown up years ago! She's also promised him he won't have to go to church meetings if he moves back there. That's is a blatant lie. The elders will give her and Ryan constant pressure and intimidation until he comes back to the church. They've spent hundreds of pounds on him, trying to buy his affection(still no maintenance here though). She also gleefully told Ryan that she won't be sending us any money for him at all, as she doesn't have to.
September(various dates): A barrage of sickly phone calls most days asking Ryan about his football, which she previously had no interest in at all. She hates him playing football. When he moved in with us we got him straight into a team, but he needed his birth certificate to play and she tried to sabotage the whole thing. She really upset him at the time, as she was trying everything she could to control him. Thankfully we managed to find a way around it and get him playing. Fast forward to now and the whole love bombing escapade, she knows that football is his life so has developed an all consuming need to encourage him. She now calls him everyday asking about his football. The whole thing is an act.
23rd Sep 06
Sian just called Ryan, and was immediately nasty. This means her facade has fallen away, she has snapped and reverted back to her usual self, and Ryan could actually see it for once. She expected him to have fallen for her love attack by now and move back in with her, because the worm has turned. She no longer cares about his football, and the abuse has started back up again. She didn't say a single nice word to Ryan on the phone just then, it was all attitude. Also, Holly(she's five) was made to speak to Ryan about the meetings, and she asked Ryan if he still loved Jehovah. Ryan was really good and told her he didn't care and wasn't interested.
Ryan is now totally sick of his Mum's antics again. I just hope he remembers this time that she will not change. If she says she has changed, it's a lie. We don't have to do anything to make him hate her. She called him giving him more grief about Jehovah last night. Being nice hasn't worked, so she's gone back to plan A; guilt him into submission. He is supposed to be seeing her in December but he's now not sure if he wants to go. That will be the start of another war if he tells her no.
Sian called Pete yesterday and had the most adult and sane conversation she’s ever had with him.
She says she’s going back to work soon and will give us some money then. Pete told her she is upsetting Ryan by not paying, as it shows him she doesn’t care about his welfare. Pete also told her that the whole witnessing thing is the worst thing she can do, as Ryan hates it and it makes him dread seeing her. She’s promised to leave him alone, but we’ve had that conversation before.
Ryan really doesn't want to see his Mum in December, but he's not feeling brave enough to tell her. She didn't call him for about two weeks, then was back on the phone getting Holly to talk about the meetings again.
Ryan wasn't sure whether he should go on holiday with his Mum right up to the last minute. She collected him from the house while I was there, we all came out to wave him off and you should've seen her face when he hugged me.
I just spoke to Ryan on the mobile as he'd snuck off to speak to us so they weren't listening. I asked him if he was having fun and he just went 'Hmmmmm'. His Mum has moaned at him all week. They stopped him from talking about Christmas in front of Holly, but all they've done all week is moan about Christmas. What hypocrites! They can whinge about it, but he can't say how great it is. Every time a Christmas song comes on she says 'Lets all think about Jehovah for a minute'.
He asked her last week on the phone not to buy a coat for him without him choosing it as he's at that age where he's fussy. She wouldn't have it and wouldn't listen to Ryan telling her not to waste her money. Even Pete tried to reason with her about it. So, she bought the damn coat, and he hated it. So she bought him another, which he hated, and a hat(which, yes, he hated).
She's also been bleating on about him leaving her being the worst thing she's ever been through. He told me just now he just wishes she could be a proper Mum. Poor little guy. She also dumped him at football today and walked off, she couldn't even spare the hour and a half to watch him. Sad. Jehovah is much more important, obviously.
Pete spoke to Ryan today without them being with him and he's really fed up. Pete asked him if it was bad enough for us to borrow a car and come get him, and he said it's not quite that bad, but even so it shouldn't be bad at all! She's been going on and on about him coming back to the meetings, and her JW friends have been on at him too calling him 'worldly' and giving him a hard time. Thankfully he's stuck up for himself and told them that he's happy here with us, and would never go back to her or the meetings. She asked why he likes it here with us and he said the atmosphere is great and we're chilled out. She let him down at football again today and went off with her friends. He's been eating alone and swimming alone every day.
I was desperate to get home before he did to welcome him home. I got in at 5.15 expecting him to be there and he wasn't. They turned up 5 minutes later and he couldn't wait to get away from them. He cried, not because he was sad to leave them, but because he was glad to be home.
They'd shouted at him all the way home, telling him how evil we are, and how much she hates me and that she hoped I wouldn't be there when they dropped him off. She thinks I control him, which is a massive psychological projection of her personality traits on to me, because honestly, if I were controlling at all Pete would have kicked my arse to the kerb years ago like he did to her. She can't accept that this is RYAN'S CHOICE. She has gone on and on about how he could come back and he's told her time and time again he likes it here and would never come back. He has a voice, and an opinion, and he's entitled to one. We raise our kids to have confidence and a sense of self, and to question the things in front of them, and she HATES that. They've argued with him about Christmas being empty and worthless, about the JWs knowing more than doctors when it comes to blood transfusions, about him being here with us 'wordly' people. Honestly, he's just a kid! He said he's never ever going away with them again. I don't blame him.
She also asked Ryan in secret if he would come back if she dumped Dean, her husband. What kind of wife does that?
Ryan's Mum has been giving him a hard time on the phone, and she was horrible to him all week at Centreparcs, which has made him generally nervy again and not able to sleep. His nervous tic has also come back a year after it disappeared(he clears his throat constantly, even he knows it's connected to his Mum), and he suffers from bouts of Irritable Bowel Syndrome when he gets stressed.
We turned the phone off a few days ago as she likes to call him to tell him how empty Christmas is, just to rattle him. She did it last year leading up to Christmas so we turned the phone off then too. We turned it back on for about an hour on Christmas Eve so that Taylor's Dad could call to arrange a pick up time, and surprise surprise Sian called while the phone was on. I shouted to Ryan to leave the phone but he bloody answered it! As soon as he realised it was her he said 'Oh!', and laid the phone down on the table. I spoke to her, here is the gist of the conversation:
Me: Ryan doesn't want to speak to you until after Christmas.
Sian: Whys that then?
Me: Because you upset him and try to ruin his Christmas.
Sian: I've never mentioned Christmas to him.
Me: Yes, you have. You did last year.
Sian: I know what I have and haven't said(her famous irrational temper was now rising to her trademark scream).
Me: So do we Sian, we've heard you. Also, he's felt like crap since coming back from his holiday with you, and he doesn't want to speak to you. It was his choice to lay the phone down when he heard your voice, I wasn't even in the room.
Sian: Slams phone down
Ryan then spent a good hour on the toilet with an IBS attack. Thankfully he felt better by the time our party started, and the festivities over the last few days took his mind off it.
Unfortunately, now that's all over he's been worrying again. He told Pete today that he might not speak to her again, he is just sick of all the stress. I think he wishes she could be a normal Mum, but it's never going to happen.
3rd January 2007
Sian called, I answered, and said I thought Ryan had just left(they were putting their shoes on to go out), but I didn't think he wanted to speak to her. Ryan came to the phone and said very clearly and concisely that he didn't want to talk to her, she'd really upset him on the holiday, and he wanted to be left alone. She said fine and put down the phone, and that was that. He felt guilty for a while, but relieved too. He seems fine now, and soon ran off to play football. I wonder if this is it?
Monday, September 25, 2006
The custody battle
I'm putting this here for my benefit more than anything else. It helps to have it all out there, so people know the background and the extent of the crap we go through. Also, if my computer ever loses this file, I'll have an online copy. If you read through all this you're either very brave, or insane. :)