I Lost My Kids for Swearing at the Principal

at a glance

Windsor, Ontario
Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society
2011 - ONGOING
Children and Youth Services
Laurel Broten (LIB) Dr. Eric Hoskins (LIB)

We have three children, two school-aged boys and a three-year-old daughter. We own a home with a mortgage in a suburb of Windsor, Ontario. At the time this whole thing with CAS began, my wife was working but I was unemployed. It was really important for me to find a job. My mom would babysit our three-year-old and my sister-in-law lives next door. We have a good support system for our kids but we both need to be employed. Being unemployed was very stressful on me and my wife, so finding a job was very important.

I was at home when I received a call for a job. As I was rushing out the door, the Principal of the school called. She started yelling at me that the bus did not drop my boys off after school because nobody was at the bus stop to pick them up. The bus was bringing them back to the school. She rudely told me I better pick them up by 4:20 because she had a meeting. Picking the boys up meant I would lose out on the job. Between losing out on a job and having the Principal yell at me, I began feeling very stressed out.

I arrived at the school and asked to speak to the person who controls the bus. The Principal told me that she, herself, controls the bus. I said to her, “Why is it a fucking problem? The school had let the boys off the bus by themselves for six months during the last school year and we had no problems. But this year, you're harassing my family.” The Principal told me to leave. As I was leaving, I called the Principal a fucking bitch, told her that she's a stupid cunt, to go fuck herself, that I am pulling my children out from this school, and then I left.

As I was waiting in the parking lot for the school bus, the police showed up and handed me a 'No Trespassing' letter, so I waited for the bus across the street. When the bus arrived, the police officer stopped me from taking my boys home because the school had called the CAS. I went home and called my mother. My mother picked me up from home and we went together with my three-year-old daughter to the school. I waited outside, playing with my daughter, while my mother went inside to pick up the boys. When she came out, she told me the CAS is keeping the children. Then they took my daughter from my mother's arms. My mother went to pick up my wife from work and drive her to the CAS office. That evening my wife and children never came home.

The next day I called CAS looking for my wife. The worker told me that my wife went to Hiatus House (a woman's abuse shelter in Windsor) “to get away from you and keep the children safe.” She implied I abuse my wife and children, which is not true. I told the worker they had forced my wife to go there, but she told me they can't force anyone to go there.

Later, my wife phoned and told me that she couldn't go home if I lived at the house because the CAS didn't want the children or herself around me. She was not to have any contact with me. My wife stayed at Hiatus House for a month, during which time I moved in with my mother so that my wife and children could come home.

After eight months of not seeing my wife and kids, I went to the house to speak with my wife. She told me that she and our children miss me. Even though we knew living as a family would be violating a court order, she invited me inside so we could make up for the time we lost together. I lived at home with my wife and children for about a month and a half before the CAS found out.

One night, when the children were asleep, there was a knock at the door. Afraid to be seen, I left the house. The CAS worker woke the children and placed them next door with my sister-in-law for the night. The next day my wife called to say the CAS decided to take the children away because I had been at the house. I returned home and saw the worker put our children in the car. My children were crying.

On the day that my wife and I went to court, the CAS worker arrived with a police escort. When my wife asked why the worker had a police escort, she was told it was because of me – that the worker perceived me as a threat. I felt the worker was putting on a show for the judge because I had spent time alone with the worker in the past with no incident. Once, she had even picked me up in her car and we had driven alone together to meet my children for a visit at Walmart.

CAS brought so much stress on me and my family. It's so wrong for them to do whatever they feel like, just because they can. The worker even told me that they can write anything they like and they have the court system backing them up, because the judge believes everything they say. She told me the CAS has their own court system.

Today, my wife and I are living together in our family home, doing whatever they tell us to do so we could get our kids back. I have supervised visits three times a week and my wife has unsupervised access three times a week. I am an excellent father. Our children, my wife and our family all know that.

I don't work, but I would love to be working. The job I lost when all this began was working general labour - sorting parts on a line. It was 40 hrs a week and every day. Even though it was through a temp agency, it was still a job to support the family. My wife had a good job, too, before all of this happened. She had no choice but to quit her job so she could attend the programs CAS wants us to do and the visits with our children that CAS schedules . My wife used to work for National Home Services, which was a full time job. She and I would love to work but all of this crap is stopping us from working.

We are trying to keep up our mortgage, hydro, gas, phone, and credit cards up-to-date but it's very difficult while CAS is trying to destroy our family. We are using Legal Aid but since we own property, they have taken a lien on our home. We were struggling with debt before all this happened. Now, we are in much greater debt than we ever were. We are fighting to keep our house and everything we worked so hard for, but the way it looks now, we might be headed for bankruptcy. This entire situation is causing extreme stress to our children, our extended family, my wife and to myself. I'm also afraid that our children are being abused in care and there's nothing we can do to stop it.

Our children are great kids. I've been in their lives since day one. We miss them so much and we want them to come home. Our children tell us they miss us, too, and want to come home. I miss playing video games with them, watching movies, playing board games, doing arts and crafts, colouring, and sitting down with them to do their homework. I'm going to miss building igloos with them, taking them out for Halloween, sledding, Christmas. I already missed out on spending the summer with them. I missed their birthdays, going for walks with them, taking them to the park, and since my older son can ride his bike we would've went for a bike ride together and done some camping.

My older son has three turtles and my other son has a hamster. I also have a great dog. The dog even misses the children. I still cook for the children since I go and see them three times a week, but I miss the way our family sat at the table together. Our house is so quiet. We miss the sound of them when they're not home. We miss giving them a kiss, hugs, reading them a bedtime story before bed. It's so hard.

My wife and I will never stop fighting for our children to return home. The CAS destroys families and they're proud of it. Why does the government let this happen?

~ Shawn

This story was followed up with a phone conversation with Shawn's wife:

Are you OK with Shawn telling his story?
Oh yeah, yeah. That doesn't bother me.
What is your side of the story from what happened at the school?
He picked up the kids and yelled at the principal. The principal got mad at Shawn and called Children's Aid and the cops, waited for the kids to arrive on the bus, then basically took them away. And then Shawn's mom came with the baby and they took her out of her arms because he called his mom to tell her what was going on.
How far is the walk home from the bus stop for the kids?
It's just up the street! We live on a side street. It's not a busy street or anything crazy like that. It's a short walk, maybe 250 meters. There's sidewalks all the way.
Why did the CAS remove the kids that night from your home?
Well, I had a court order for Shawn not to be here, and Shawn was here.
Did you want Shawn there?
Yeah, because we're a family! The court wants him to - or Children's Aid wants Shawn to be out of our life, you know? And, that's not right. Like, we're basically going to go bankrupt and everything else and they're just trying to ruin families and you know - How is that fixing a family?

They said that Shawn had anger. OK. Take an anger management course. He's completed like 10 courses already and they haven't even assessed anything to give the kids back. You know?

And they made my courses take forever - they've tried to prolong it as long as they could. They said Shawn has to do all the parenting courses first. So, I've had my court order since March and they prolonged all my parenting courses until now (October). They're retarded.

Has Shawn taken his anger out on you or the kids before?
No. I mean, sometimes he yells or something. But it's for - lets say the TV got broken or something. Just mad at the situation. I don't know. But he went through anger management. And that's like basically his only thing. But, everyone has their own issues, you know? They think that his anger - he might bring it out on me or the kids. But, everyone gets angry in some situations. You know? And that's all it was. Like, I get mad. You stub your toe, you're gonna get mad.

Everyone could use counselling, I think. Nobody's perfect.

Why did you go to the woman’s shelter?
They told me that I wasn't allowed to have the kids, or that I had to keep the kids safe from Shawn. I suggested that I go to my sister's or, wherever - and they said, "Well, that's not really safe. That's just next door to you." So then I suggested my other sister. And they basically said, "Oh, he knows where everyone lives." You know, so how are they going to be safe if he knows where you're at? And then, they basically told me that the Hiatus House was my only option. The worker said that if I don't go to the Hiatus House that they'll have no choice but to take the kids away.

I told them I wasn't abused. We were stressed out at the time, so - I dunno. I was kind of like - I was upset because the kids were in CAS. So I told them, "That's just Shawn - you know - he just says whatever he feels. He speaks his mind."

In the court papers it says that I chose to go the Hiatus House. I was just listening to what they -- They basically told me to choose between Shawn and the kids. So. I picked my -- I mean, they were basically saying, "You can either go with Shawn or with your kids." And I chose my kids. So they told me to go the Hiatus House. In my head - I didn't really know what the Hiatus House was anyway. But in my head I was thinking that I was just going somewhere to protect my kids and then when I got there - This is a woman’s shelter! You know, for abused women! And here I thought I was going there for the kids. So I wasn't really thinking I was going there for abuse. I was just going there because that's what Children's Aid told me to do to protect the kids. I didn't do the one-on-one counselling thing or anything, but I went to the groups. They have the volunteer groups that talk about abuse and stuff like that. It didn't make sense to me. You know?

The CAS basically manipulated me. Because I'm like, a farm girl. You know? At the Hiatus House, the one woman was telling me about the nice girl syndrome? Which, basically they used against me.

So what would you do if Shawn did abuse you? How would you respond to that? If he verbally abused you. If he intimidated you. If he screamed at you. If he made you feel like garbage. If he hit you? What would you do? What would your response to that behaviour be?
I wouldn't put up with that. I don't let people treat me like - I've learned to speak up for myself or whatever. He doesn't abuse me or anything. But if he did, I would basically not stand for it. You know?
How do you feel about Shawn? What does he mean to you?
Everything. Yes. We're a family. They're trying to take his kids away from him for no reason. I don't know. They're crazy.

Source: Esther Buckareff