Will the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming help us?
The wrong Raad voor de Kinderbescherming
On the twenty fifth of June 2009, Mrs. X. of Jeugdzorg called us to say that she sent a message to De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming: she wanted to send a correspondent of the International Social Services to our grandchildren in America. “What do you think about this proposal?”, we asked Anne. She was glad with it, and urged us to push the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming to make work of the action. And she repeated her message: “Speed is the essence”. It means that the chances to do something for kidnapped children are good in the beginning and are becoming worse if the time passes. Anne also said that the Raad ought to take the temporary custody of the three of you, till something was done. But things develop totally different as she thought.
Ok, on the eighth of July Anne said it was time to call the Raad. I had to tell them that the kidnapper abducted the three of you, but I had to tell them too that the kidnapper conducted a smear campaign against mamma, she said.
The ninth of July I looked for the telephone-number of De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming. But good lord, there were several numbers and which number had I to call? I chose the number of Tilburg.
Raad voor de Kinderbescherming: “Good morning you are speaking with Erik van der H.”
Oma: “You are speaking with Heleen van der Stoep. Can I ask you something?”
Erik van H.: “OK, go on”.
Oma: “On the fourteenth of February the American ex of my younger daughter Judith abducted her three children. When he said her that she would never see back her children and abused her children and it appeared he had conducted a smear campaign against he, she suicided herself”. The man was shocked, I could feel it.
“Now I want to ask for information about the message with the request to the International Social Services Jeugdzorg sent to your organization. Can you please inform us about the continuation of this message?”
Erik van H.: ”What a sad story. Let me first look on the national register for missing children to find the names of your abducted grandchildren. What are their names?”
Oma: “They are called Mirabelle Shalena, Lucas Julian and Robin Nathaniël Spitzer.”
Erik van der H.: “Have you got a moment please?”
Erik went to look for the names of the three of you and quickly came back.
Erik van H.: “I can’t find the names in the national register. That’s strange. From which place or town were the children kidnapped?”
Oma: “It was from Dordrecht on the fourteenth of February.”
Erik van H.: “Oh, then you have the wrong department. Dordrecht has its own department of the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming. It is strange the children are not written in the national register of missing children. But, first of all, who had the authority of the three children? Father and mother together, father alone or mother alone?”
Oma: “My daughter had the sole authority. In 2003 she had executed a testament with the guardianship before the notary.”
Erik van der H.: “So I will warn you it may be possible that the children are without authority now. Probably there is a so-called lack of authority. It is the task of the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming to mention that to the judge. But it is strange that the children are not registered in the national register of abducted children. Very strange.”
Oma: “So I have to call and warn the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming Dordrecht there maybe a lack of authority. I thank you a lot for your information.”
When I put down the telephone I told opa about the probable lack of authority.
Opa: “Maybe the kidnapper also arranged the custody like he did with the family-name of the children. Do you still remember? Suddenly the children weren’t called any more Van der Stoep, but Spitzer. He made Judith sign a form without explaining what she signed for.”
Oma: “I hope it isn’t true. But how is it possible their names were not registered in the national register of missing children?”
Then the telephone was ringing.
Oma: “You are speaking with Heleen van der Stoep.”
Erik van der H.: “Here I am again, Erik van der H. from De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming Tilburg. Your dossier is with De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming Dordrecht. I had a consultation with our jurist about your three abducted grandchildren. Do you know the address of the notary where your daughter executed her testament for the guardianship of your grandchildren? It is important that you check if your daughter still had executed another testament after 2003. If not, you will have to check with the district court if the kidnapper arranged, that he has got the guard/custody now.”
All this information Erik told me in a very kind but also quiet way. I felt he has to do with the three of you who were abducted and lost your mother. He had also to do with opa, tante Daphne and me who were so desperately looking for help. I had the idea that with his help we could do more than with the strange help of Mrs. X. of Jeugdzorg, who behaved as if we were a piece of shit. As if we were not grandparents, who first lost their grandchildren and then their daughter by the big mistake of her. I felt Erik empathized us, something we needed so much at that time.
Oma: “I thank you a lot for this information. I will immediately call the notary to ask him if he looks if our daughter had executed another testament after 2003.”
Erik van der H.: “You are welcome. Much strength!”
I told opa that we had to call the notary to see if mamma had had executed another testament.
Oma: “Now I am so afraid that De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming Dordrecht is not so helpful and kind as the Tilburg’s one. But let me first call the notary”.
Yes, then I didn’t realize that Jeugdzorg didn’t want to treat the kidnapping as a kidnapping. Why? When they would have been honest, they had to acknowledge that they made a terrible mistake which caused mamma’s death. They always treat the case as if mamma really ill-treated you. They did that for their own sake and not because they were so concerned about you. They were only interested in whitewashing themselves to cover their own blunders. Bit by bit we should discover their strategy.
Did the kidnapper ask for the guardianship?
Yes, at that time we didn’t wonder why the three of you were not registered as abducted in the national register of missing children. Now we know that Jeugdzorg didn’t tell to De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming that it was an abduction. Now we know, that Jeugdzorg in that time probably did not mention it an abduction, so that they weren’t accused of having treated this case wrongly. If we were confronted with an abduction in the future, we would immediately be alarmed. Then we would tell Jeugdzorg that they made a mess of it and that they did harm to three little children. But eleven years ago the total case was totally new for us, and too complex. I still can feel that strange kind of stress, of concern about the three of you, that feeling that I was pushed to do all kinds of things of which I didn’t know anything of all.
- The first thing to do was a call to the notary with whom the kidnapper and your mother were once to arrange the custody of you.
Mrs. M.: “You are speaking with Mrs. M. What can I do for you?”
I explained the case to her and asked if she could look if mamma executed another testament after that of 2003.
Mrs. M.: “What a terrible story. First of all, I will offer you condolences with the sad death of your daughter.”
The lady on the line had a kind voice.
Oma: “Thank you very much.”
Mrs. M.: “I am sorry, but I cannot look in the register of testaments without a copy of the death certificate of Judith. And you have to legitimate yourself with a copy of your passport. When you send me those two copies, I will look in the register of testaments for you and inform you as quick as possible.”
Oma: “O bad luck. It is important that it is immediately done. This gives me perhaps the possibility to check if the kidnapper asked for the guardianship/custody with the district courts. I thank you a lot for the information and I will send you the copies without delay.”
Anne advised me to write a small letter to the notary with the request not to take contact with the kidnapper. I still have that letter which I sent to Mrs. M. together with the copies of the certificate of mamma’s death and a copy of my passport.
After two days I got the answer. There was not any other testament.
De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming Dordrecht
The same day that I called the wrong Raad voor de Kinderbescherming, I also called the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming Dordrecht. I called three times. The third time I got one Mrs. B. on the line.
Mrs. B.: “Good afternoon, you are speaking with the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming.”
I explained her for the umptieth time what happened with the three of you and with mamma. What struck me immediately was her slow insensitive voice with which she explained me the following:
Mrs. B.: “O you said the children are in America? Then it is not a business for our Raad. It is an education-question of America.”
Oma: “Pardon, the children still are under the Dutch law. You won’t tell me that the Raad doesn’t do anything for them!!”
Mrs. B.: “No, we cannot do anything for them. It is an education-question for America I tell you another time. Good-bye Mrs. Van der Stoep.”
I was totally flabbergasted by her cold behavior. I was totally overwhelmed by what she said to me: “It is an education-question for America”. I wondered if it was so easy to kidnap children. Not any organization which has to do with children felt responsibility to do something for you. How was it possible? What was the matter? How could this happen in this country?
Another call to the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming Dordrecht
I checked with the district court of Rotterdam if the kidnapper asked for the custody of Mirabelle and Robin and I checked with the district court of Amsterdam if the kidnapper had asked for the custody of Lucas. The kidnapper didn’t. There was a lack of custody and I had to warn the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming. It was necessary the lack would be solved!
Anne van den Berg was very angry. Said again that the Raad had to take the temporary custody of the three of you. That it was more than scandalous that the Raad didn’t do anything.
You were outlawed and it was Anne again who urged me to call the Raad another time, because they hád to take the temporary custody of you, she said. I called that Monday, the thirteenth of July 2009 again. And another time I got the same slow speaking Mrs. B. on the line.
Mrs. B.: “Good morning you are speaking with Mrs. B. of the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming.”
Oma: “Good morning. I call you for the second time in connection with the case of our three kidnapped grandchildren. Can you inform me now about the message Jeugdzorg sent to you?”
Mrs. B.: “I have to tell you that we don’t send this message to the International Social Services, because it is an education-question in America. Jeugdzorg has to do it herself.”
Oma: “But I must tell you that the message is more than necessary now, because the children are without custody. We have checked it with the court. It is more than urgent that the Raad does something.”
Mrs. B.: “No, we don’t, because it is an education-question abroad.”
Oma: “But you have to take the temporary custody!”
Mrs. B.: “No, we don’t, because it is an education-question abroad.”
Oma: “But our grandchildren are outlawed right now. Something must be done for them.”
Mrs. B.: “No, we don’t, because it is an education-question abroad.
Oma: “Can I get the jurist of the Raad then please.”
Mrs. B.: “You don’t get the jurist, because it is an education question abroad.”
Mrs. B. drove me mad with her cold, slow speaking voice, saying each time De Raad won’t do anything, because it was an education- question abroad. While she repeated her message, a robot, totally insensitive, as if three lost children were only lice, I got angrier and angrier. So angry that at last I gave the phone to opa. I only know that opa scolded at Mrs. B. and that at last he threw the phone on the hook.
And there we sat down, angry and at the same time desperately. Certainly, Holland has organizations for the protection of children, the government boasts on it. But the reality is that none of these organizations wanted to do something for you. It was incomprehensible for us. So to speak, every person in the street to whom we should tell the story of your kidnapping would be convinced that something has to be done. But the organizations refused to help you and us.
But I took courage and called the Raad another time and this time another lady took the phone and I asked her for the jurist of the Raad. This lady sounds friendly and she promised me the jurist would call me back in the afternoon. That afternoon I was called back by the jurist of the Raad.
Jurist Mrs. Lieke van D.:” You are speaking with Lieke van D.”
I heard a voice so cold as I never heard before. And immediately I had a bad feeling about the result of this conversation.
Oma: “You are speaking with Heleen van der Stoep, grandmother of the three kidnapped children of my deceased daughter Judith van der Stoep. This morning I spoke to Mrs. B. about the message of Jeugdzorg.”
I told her that we discovered there was a lack of authority. And that in our opinion the Raad had to do something, for instance taking the temporary custody, because our grandchildren were outlawed at that moment.
Lieke van D.:”Yes Mrs. Van der Stoep, we only do something when we get the order of the judge. We are only second-line care.”
Oma: “What can we do then?”
Lieke van D.: “Your daughter Daphne may contest the custody. But let me see, I cannot make up out of the papers that there has been a kidnapping.”
Oma: “We are coached by the International Center of Child Abduction which is connected to the Ministry of Justice and they are convinced it is kidnapping.”
Lieke van D.: “Yes, it can be, but then first the judge has to order us to act and…. your daughter clearly wished in the first place that the custody would be given to the father as is written in the testament. And we have to fulfill her wish.”
Oma: ‘But do you still think she would have given him the first right of the custody, when she knew he would kidnap the children and would falsely accuse her of ill-treating her children? Do you really think that? He is a kidnapper!” I asked her desperately.
Lieke van D.: “Yes madam. But you must understand we have to follow the law. There is a testament with the wish of the mother to give the father the first right of custody. It is your daughter’s last will, we have to obey it. I repeat, it is the wish of your daughter. Good afternoon, Mrs. Van der Stoep. I have clearly explained to you that we cannot do anything for this case. And I ask you not to bother us with this case anymore.”
She laid down the phone. I will never forget this telephone-call. So cold, so insensible. It looked like the offender got all the right. The fate of his victims, you, was not taken seriously.
When I write right now about this terrible call, I notice it still upsets, because of the injustice. Injustice to you and opa and me. I also wondered why one Raad voor de Kinderbescherming was helping me so kindly and the other Raad voor de Kinderbescherming was treating me like a contagious disease. Now I know why. Why this difference: Jeugdzorg had contact with Dordrecht, but it had no contact with Tilburg. You may guess what happened.