Welcome to Three little birds! This site is made for Mirabelle Spitzer, Lucas Spitzer and Robin Spitzer

Dear Mirabelle, Lucas and Robin,

This site is made for you so that you know that opa and oma, Tante Daphne, Finn and Kirse, Tante Rens, Tante Femke and Tante Ischa, and all your other family and friends and schoolmates in Holland still think of you, miss you and love you very much.

You are always welcome to contact us!

Webmaster: info@threelittlebirds.eu

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Destroying confidence in life

Destroying confidence in life

After Wendy affirmed she would go to court for our case, opa thought of asking the police in Minneapolis per mail to look if you were really living there. We gave the address of your uncle, where the kidnapper lived before the kidnapping and hoped they would going to find you there.

 

This was opa’s mail:

 

Thursday the sixteenth of July 2009 19.19

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

We are a Dutch grandfather and grandmother. Our daughter (32 years old) had 3 children of an American man. His name is M.  He lived in Minneapolis,………, in his brother’s house.

This winter, he was in Holland to see his children. But on February 14, 2009 he took them to the USA. My daughter committed suicide on February 17 (she went into a coma and died on March 30). We want to trace him, but do not ask to catch him, for if the children would lose their father too, what then?

Our question: could you please look if three children (Robin, 6 years old, Lucas, 7 years old, Mirabelle, 9 years old) are living there? Do you have a social worker to see if they are well?

We dearly hope you have the possibility to do this for us.

If you don’t trust this message, please contact the Dutch Ministry of Justice in the Hague, Mrs. C.L.W., tel. 0031703706252, Dept. International Child Abduction).

 

Heleen and Arie van der Stoep

Holland

0031-168-482947

 

And yes, even that same day there was a response:

 

Monday the sixteenth of July 2009 20.26

We received your e-mail message concerning the above subject and have forwarded it to the appropriate County agency.

Thank you for contacting us.

 

John G.

Business Technology Unit

Minneapolis Police Department

 

After some days this mail came:

 

Monday the twentieth of July 2009 20.13

We could do a health and welfare check on your grandchildren if you like. Does M. have any custody rights that you are aware of?

 

Inspector Kris A./Minneapolis Police Department/ 5th Precinct/ 3101 Nicollet Avenue South/ Minneapolis, MN 55408/ 6126735504 office

 

So there was rather a quick reaction from the police who took opa’s mail very seriously. The other day I wrote this mail:

 

Tuesday the twenty first of July 2009 17.15

Dear Kristine,

 

For the Dutch law M. doesn’t have custody. We should be very glad if you can arrange a health and welfare check with our grandchildren. If you see the children, will you please say to them that their mother loved them very much and also that we love them very much and miss them very much?

We thank you in advance!

Arie and Heleen van der Stoep

 

On Tuesday the 23th  of July at 7.20 the following mail came from Kristine:

 

I inadvertently deleted your last e-mail about custody. Can you give me that information again?

I spoke to the neighbors who said they moved out a while ago, but live in the neighborhood. I asked her to give M’s brother my business card and have him call me. To this date I have not heard back from him. She told me that the children will be attending school in the Minneapolis School district and I will also follow up on that.

Inspector Kris A.

 

I gave her all the information about you and your father and mother and about the kidnapping.

 

But now I will take you with me to something Anne van der Berg asked tante Daphne to do. The above information about our contact with the Minneapolis police will come back below. Anne asked tante Daphne to write a mail to your father. She asked tante Daphne to write your father a kind and polite mail to keep the contact open. I must say it was very hard for tante Daphne to write this kind of mail, because she was so very angry with your father for all he has done to her sister (your mum), and to you, her beloved niece and nephews, but at the insistence of Anne she wrote the following mail.

 

Monday the 22nd of June 2009

 

Hi M.

 

Thanks for your email. I understand you ‘d rather have contact via me.

 

We miss Mirabelle, Lucas and Robin very much and love them a lot. We are very curious to know how their new life looks like: their friends, their home and rooms, their experiences at school, their plans for the summer holidays, how they spend their weekend and how Mirabelle enjoyed her birthday. We would appreciate it if you would write extensively about them and send us photos.

 

How are the children? How nice of you to buy them kittens. Have the children already thought out names for them?

 

It’s not easy for both our families to get into touch with each other after all what has happened. We are very emotional at this moment about all the things we have gone through. But you will also be touched emotionally by the situation and you have of course the care of the children. We can’t however stuck in the present, but should think about the children’s future together. The children are now with you in the US. We should like to have a mediator for arranging the contact between the children and us. What is your opinion about that? I have read your email to Lo Blok. In that email you mentioned many ways to have contact between the children and us. What way of intercourse do you suggest? By email, telephone or skype?  The children now enjoy their summer holidays, so it might be a good time to start up contact. Shall we prepare that contact? Maybe it is a good idea to clear up things beforehand, so that the children will have an unobstructed contact?

 

I like to hear from you. So love to my niece and nephews.

 

Bye Daphne

 

Tante Daphne didn’t receive any reaction. Then she wrote the following email:

 

Monday the 27th of July 2009

 

M.

 

Unfortunately you haven’t reacted to my previous email, so I will try and email you again. We -friends and family from Holland- are very eager to get into contact with the children. We miss them a lot, are very worried about them and want to know how they are doing. We can’t imagine the children are not longing for contact with their friends and family in Holland. Once again I will draw your attention to your own promise to keep several lines of contact open. I can’t think of any reason for you to prevent the children from contact with their beloved ones in Holland.

 

Beside it, there are several practical things concerning the children to be dealt with in Holland. Among other financial things. So it will be practical if you respond to this mail.

 

Daphne

 

Then, finally, the next mail of the kidnapper was sent to tante Daphne.

 

Thursday the 30th of July 2009

 

Daphne,

 

The time of worry about the children was when they were in Holland. The vd stoeps knew what was being done to the children and did nothing. The children are doing surprisingly well. They love our house. Mirabelle says that her bedroom is the room she’s always wanted and loves to have her friends sleep over. Robin and Lucas are sharing the largest bedroom by choice though I suspect Robin will move into his room when he gets a little older. They all still have nightmares about their late mother and Willem. The therapist says that will continue as they still see Willem as a danger to them and contrary to what your father would say, I do not think they are just being “stupid Americans”. The children all love their school and it truly is a very good school, and I’m pleased to report that Lucas really applied himself and is reading English well enough to move on to the next grade with his class chums when school starts again in the fall. I’m very proud of him as I am them all. I am not refusing to let the children contact the Netherlands. I asked Mirabelle to email you and she did, though I must say that I would have liked have read it first. She is one smart girl! My children do not want to talk to your mother or father, no surprise there you know what your father and your mother hit them once too often though no where near as often as she used to hit you and your sister, though she didn’t draw blood the way Willem and Judith used to. I will ask Mirabelle to email you again. I will not make her. There is a chance she might email Ischa. I heard from my brother that your parents were bothering the police in Minneapolis, that just makes the kids madder at them. M.

 

A very intimidating email from the kidnapper. He started accusing us of having abused his children, to conclude that in the US the three of you should be much better. And the reason of the nightmares was our so-called ill-treating you! Not the sudden death of mamma and the sudden and definitive departure from Holland of course. Do you really believe it?

 

Then he listed how lucky you are: the rooms were large, friends are allowed to sleep, you are doing well at school.

And the three of you are not “stupid Americans”. M. was offended by the fact that opa was always joking saying “those stupid Americans”. I am convinced you know that that was a joke, because why should opa deliberately offend the Americans? He liked joking like that.

Then your father said Mirabelle wrote that first email and that he did not read it at all. Naturally, we didn’t believe it. I have argued before why we were convinced he wrote this mail.

 

And then the most accusing part was that opa and I should have hit you too much. And that we hit tante Daphne and your mother even much more. And William and mamma should have hit you so much that it made blood. And our hitting should have been the reason that you didn’t want to have contact with us. This part is dirty intimidating, because the kidnapper is exaggerating our rare slaps by asserting we were severely ill-treating you. And when you hear that often enough from the person you are dependent of, because you are cut off of all the persons you were addicted to, you are going to believe it. It is the usual pattern, all kidnappers do it: they blacken the family of their victims. They are so mean and so egoistic, these kidnappers, not thinking at all of the well-being of their victims. And I must say, honestly speaking, it still hurts me a lot that he blackened mamma and us like this, the more so there is a great chance you were going to believe it. And that you believe we ill-treat you hurts me a lot and when I already feel hurt about that, how terrible mamma must have felt, when the so-called pediatrician said to her you won’t ever go back to her, because she should have ill-treated you!!! He deliberately destroyed ties which were good. He only helped himself by doing that.

 

And yes, we had contact with the police in Minneapolis (you know that from the correspondence I copied before for you) and that contact was only to know if you were living in Minneapolis and to get into contact with you and not to punish the kidnapper, because he is your father. We didn’t want to make it sadder for you. That’s all.

 

And tante Daphne? What did she? She sent this mail:

 

Saturday the first of August 2009

 

M.,

 

Thanks for your email. I appreciate it to read at least something about the children. It would be nice if Mirabelle, Lucas and Robin will write an email to my son Finn or to me.

 

I totally disagree with all your accusations and I can prove these accusations are all false. However, I’m not interested to quarrel with you about that, for (thank God) we are not a married couple. For now, our first interest should be to make concrete agreements about contact between the children and their family and friends in Holland.

 

I think that “contact” is more than the receiving of an email. Therefore, I should like to confer with the therapist of the children about how, under his/her direction, the contact between the children and us could be repaired. I would appreciate it if you will give me the name and email-address of the therapist.

 

I have told Ischa about Mirabelle’s wish to mail her. Ischa will send Mirabelle an email, so it will be easier for Mirabelle to respond to that.

 

Daphne

 

I still wonder if you really are thinking mamma, William and we ill-treated you.  I wonder if you are not questioning the correctness of your father’s story after all these years. Brainwashing is a terrible thing, as the target is to destroy every tie a child had in the past, and by doing that destroying all the confidence children need to find their way in life, including relations. The literature says that kidnapped children will keep difficulties with building up relations in their later life.

And what did Anne say: “The kidnapper is busy eliminating all what had to do with Judith. He probably lied to the therapist either. And he explained “the nightmares” to himself. Is this father able to educate his children?”

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Wendy van der Stroom

Wendy van der Stroom

By the way, Jeugdzorg didn’t write to the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming it was a kidnapping or an abduction. The Dutch Ministry of Justice, however, affirmed it was certainly an abduction. Even a very sad abduction where the father accused the mother who had the sole custody as is written in the letter below. On the 30th of March 2009, the mother committed suicide, it said. This was the first letter the Dutch Ministry of Justice wrote to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State.

Yes, this letter of the Ministry of Justice said it was an abduction, contrary to Jeugdzorg. I must admit that in those days I hardly realized what Jeugdzorg was doing. The abduction of the three of you and mamma’s sad death was not long ago. I still remember how I felt, as if I was fallen in a bad dream, a horror movie, where we were constantly too late and where we were constantly opposed by one evil genius. One evil genius who always thwarted our actions. Our actions to prove mamma’s innocence, our actions to show that the three of you were abducted. It seemed like nothing might go in the right way. And on a moment something did look well I became suspicious, because everything must go wrong like as always happens in a horror movie. We felt totally disordered.

Fortunately we had Anne, who called me the morning after her visit to us. The visit in which I told Anne how ugly the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming reacted.

 

Anne: “Good morning Heleen. How do you feel?”

Oma: “Terribly, after those calls with de Raad voor de Kinderbescherming.”

Anne: “Yes, it is hardly to believe de Raad reacted in such an insensitive way. There must be done something for the children. That’s why I have informed after a good family lawyer at the Center and they advised me Wendy van der Stroom for you. She is even mediator between kidnapper and family left behind. She knows a lot of international family law. She works at the lawyer’s office Smeets-Gijbels in Rotterdam.”

Oma: “Ah well, I shall call her. Do you know if she is busy or in other words: can she make time for us?”

Anne: “When she will hear that it concerns an abduction I know it for sure, she will accept your case. Really, she is a good one Heleen.”

Oma: “Okay I’ll call her. I let you know more later.”

Anne: “Okay, good luck.”

I called the number of the Lawyer’s Office Smeets-Gijbels and got the telephonist at the line. She connected me with Wendy.

Wendy: “Good morning you are speaking with Wendy van der Stroom.”

Oma: “Good morning, you are speaking with Heleen van der Stoep. I received your name from Mrs. Anne van der Berg. She is working for the Center of International Child Abduction.”

Wendy: “Oh yes I have contact with the Center every week and even have some clients via the Center.”

Oma: “Yes, that’s my question. Will you take our case, an abduction?”.

Wendy: “Can you give me information?”

Oma: “Yes. My daughter had a relation with an American, they got three children. In 2007 she broke off the relation. Her American ex went back to the United States. She had the sole custody over the children. Every year he came back to the Netherlands for two or three times and stayed some weeks. During that stay he was in my daughter’s house, while my daughter stayed with us or later with her new boy-friend, a Dutchman. They planned going to live together with my daughter’s children in a new house. It would be the first of April. The sixteenth of January the American ex came to the Netherlands to see his children. While he stayed in Judith’s apartment, he brainwashed the children. Said them that my daughter, who was diagnosed as a borderline-patient, was ill-treating them. Accused her at school, with the Boddaert and with Jeugdzorg. Jeugdzorg immediately believed him, did not ask her vision, did not verify if he spoke the truth.

At the fourteenth of February he abducted the children. In the night of the fifteenth the American called Judith, saying her that she would never see back her children, because she was too ill. On the seventeenth of February Judith was invited by the school of the children to see a Jeugdzorg employee. She, it was a woman, made a cruel start. No word about an abduction, no word of pity for a mother who lost her children, no word about three children who had lost their mother. Nothing of the kind, there throned a severe judge who had made so-called broad investigations and had collected convincing proofs that the young woman who had entered the room with her parents was a criminal. Judith hardly sat down if she started blaming Judith for ill-treating her children.

And so on, it was a rain of accusations.

And there was more. That evening a so-called American pediatrician called her to tell that there were found spots of ill-treating on the bodies of the children. She said all three told her they won’t ever go back to her. That was too much for her and that night she committed suicide.”

Wendy: “What a terrible story. I heard quite a lot of sad abduction-stories, but this is more than sad, because the mother died in such a sad way. Please may I recapitulate your story?”

Oma: “Oh yes, I realize, it’s a complicated story.”

Wendy: “Well, your daughter had a relation with an American, who later abducted the children.”

Oma: “Yes.”

Wendy: “The American accused your daughter of ill-treating her children. Let me tell you, practically all kidnappers do so, they mostly blacken the partner left behind. It is the way to cover their own deeds. What is special here, that he involved school, Boddaert and Jeugdzorg in his plans. Your daughter is accused of ill-treating her children and later committed suicide.”

It struck me how quickly she understood the case.

Oma: “Yes, it is.”

Wendy: “This abduction is a-typical, because the mother cannot claim back her children. But let me see, is it possible that you write down the story in short for me and mail it to me? Then I will look at it closely.”

Oma: “Does that mean that you accept our case and will work for it?”

Wendy: “Yes I will. I will call you over two days and then we can talk it over.”

Oma: “I will write down the story and send it to you.”

There was something in the behavior of Wendy which gave me a new heart. A combination of straightness and empathy and intelligence. That’s why I immediately wrote down the story of the abduction and mamma’s death and collected information for Wendy, which could be useful.

That fifteenth of July she called again.

Wendy: “Thank you for your information. Beforehand I must say, that I will go on holiday next week, and that we must make an appointment in August to talk over the stuff. I have studied your story and the information you gave me and found three routes to go to court: 1. Via the recognition of the custody, but I don’t think you don’t agree the kidnapper will have the sole custody after his terrible deeds. 2. Via the temporary custody of the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming; in that time your daughter Daphne can claim her custody. 3. Via the grandparental access; it gives you however hardly a weapon to move the kidnapper to mediation.”

Oma: “I think the best is via route two, but please can you repeat the three routes once more?”

Wendy repeated her three routes once more. From that time on we would be more confronted with juridical possibilities and juridical phrases. That was quite a new world for us. We had never had to do with the court.

Wendy: “You must talk it over with Arie and Daphne, but I suggest to talk with the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming and with Kristy W. of the Central Authority (Ministry of Justice) about this case. If Arie and Daphne and you allow me to do so, I will call them tomorrow. And I will call you on Friday the seventeenth of July. Will you please mail me if I am allowed to call the Raad and Kristy W. of the Central Authority?”

Clear, purposive and friendly was this phone call, despite the complicated stuff. Of course, opa and tante Daphne had not any objection that Wendy would take up contact with the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming and with Kristy W. of the Ministry of Justice. So, I immediately mailed Wendy she could take up this contact. That Friday Wendy was too busy to call. Just before she left the country for her holiday, she informed me in a mail about nine points which were important to do research into or to discuss. She made excuses she hadn’t the time to call us. She called Kristy W., she wrote, but the jurist of de Raad voor de Kinderbescherming was not present, alas. She would do that after her holiday. She asked us to make an appointment with her secretary in the week of the eleventh August. These were her nine points for the lawsuit.

 

  1. The father recognized his children only after their birth. Recognition doesn’t give custody in the Netherlands.
  2. It is an international child abduction in accordance with the Hague Child Abduction Convention. That will say it is punishable like is written in article 279 of the Criminal Code.
  3. It is the question if father had received a disposal from the United States to take the children with him. Might that be, then still always he had not the right to take the children with him against the will of the mother in accordance with the Dutch right.
  4. It is important that is requested for a return of the children, because in the United States father could have asked for the custody of the children and in the United States that is possible, because the children also have the American nationality. But their habitual residence was in the Netherlands, so a Dutch judge has the authority to judge in this case.
  5. Asking for the return is not usual, when there is not a mother, but maybe there is another possibility. I think about the temporary custody of the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming. I don’t know if it is possible, because I could not talk with the jurist of the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming.
  6. The question is if it is possible to let Daphne ask for custody of Judith’s children in accordance of article 21 of the Hague Convention. Next Daphne can request for the return of the children. It will only say that the Dutch judge has the authority to judge, because the children’s habitual residence were the Netherlands. It is necessary to educate Judith’s children together, but also to realize a grandparental access.
  7. There is a clear preference to give the custody to the biological father in Dutch family right, but the attitude of this father is not positive. It is the question if he can be seen as a good educator. (abduction, a contact stop between mother and family, showing the children a negative image of the mother).
  8. This all has to be done before the fourteenth of February 2010. After that time you cannot ask for a return of the children. Because after a year the children will be uprooted. Then father will receive the automatic custody.
  9. It is also possible to take legal actions in the US for a grandparental access. In that case I can give you the names of lawyers in the US.

 

  1. 1. You see how difficult it is to have two different juridical systems: in the US the recognition of children can give custody, in the Netherlands not.
  2. 2. Both the Hague Child Abduction Convention and the Criminal Code article 279 say that abduction is punishable.
  3. 3. Did the kidnapper receive a disposal from the United States? Did the kidnapper ask for it? Was that possible without the allowance of mamma? In which way he could have succeeded in receiving it?
  4. 4. Another difference between the Netherlands and the United States: you also had the American nationality and therefore the biological father can ask the custody in the States, in the Netherlands it is not like that. The Dutch judge had the right to give a decision on the case, because your residence was in the Netherlands.
  5. 5. Wendy proposed the temporary custody of the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming. During the temporary custody of the Raad one can look what’s the best for you. The Raad can check if the father is a good educator.
  6. 6. First of all, I will explain why mamma chose tante Daphne as the second guardian. She trusted tante Daphne with all her heart. Tante Daphne was a prop and stay for her. Was mamma spontaneous, warm, social and practical, tante Daphne was silent, even somewhat shy, wise and intelligent. Mamma so often asked tante Daphne for education advice. With her academical study of educational and ortho-educational science as a background, tante Daphne helped her a lot. And beside that she saw how tante Daphne loved children and dared criticize her but also dared criticize others. One of mamma’s strong characteristics was she could handle criticism in the right and constructive way. And tante Daphne was always allowed to criticize her, because she fully trusted her beloved sister. That’s why tante Daphne was mentioned as the second guardian in mamma’s guardianship scheme. She really wanted her as your guardian. Usually the mother asks for the return of her abducted children. Would it be possible that if tante Daphne receives the custody she could ask for the return of you?
  7. 7. Yes, it’s clear that Wendy wondered if the kidnapper can be a good father, when he abducted you and brainwashed you, saying that mamma and we ill-treated you and destroyed the contact between you and our family.
  8. 8. It is never good for children to let them return to Holland when they are accustomed to the United States, they will become uprooted. It has never been our purpose to get you back to the Netherlands. We only wanted you back so that the judge could make a decision about the shared custody of the kidnapper and tante Daphne, and also a parental control after the kidnapper. It would be much better for you. After a year it would be impossible. Speed was the essence, as Anne always said.

Ad. 9.  It is also a possibility that Opa and I could also take legal action for a grandparental access in the United States.

 

Well then, this was our first acquaintance with the world of law and protocols. It is necessary that there are laws and protocols, they accurately describe the rules everyone has to keep to. However, we had an unusual case, a case which went far beyond other cases. We soon realized, that a particular case which goes beyond the habitual case is far more problematic, because the judges don’t know exactly how to judge when there are no exact rules or sentences for this particular case, the so-called jurisdiction. Our case was unique. What the judges did was using rules, which are not appropriate for this particular case with consequences they didn’t foresee. “Bizar”, Bas de Groot, who worked for us voluntarily, would call that years later.But I will tell you more about him and his proceedings much later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eleven years ago mamma died

This photo is a sweet memory of mamma. Always busy to make a great feast of your birthdays: baking beautiful cakes like on this photo, buying lots of presents, organising great parties for the three of you. Always successful.

On the thirtieth of March 2009 at 6.13 am in the morning she died. We miss her so very much!

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Chaos

Chaos

 

Where did we stay in the story of our struggle for mamma and for you? Yes Jeugdzorg showed a strange behavior of so-called empathy and at the same time clearly delaying the whole procedure.  The reaction of the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming was totally incomprehensible: they didn’t help us at all. But I advise you to take the following two points in mind as keys to understand this whole complicated story.

 

Key one: Big mistake

Mrs. X. and her manager made a big mistake, when they immediately believed what the kidnapper said before the kidnapping, namely that mamma ill-treated you. They immediately believed him, because mamma was falsely diagnosed as borderline patient and was some time in prostitution. Yes, in their opinion such a person ill-treats. They didn’t do any research after these accusations and straightly believed him. That’s why immediately after the kidnapping they accused mamma of ill-treating in a conversation and didn’t give priority to take care of the safe return of the three of you. Only after the return of you, they might have done research after the accusations of ill-treating. But they didn’t help mamma to get you back at all. They accused her. They, together with the lie of the so-called pediatrician, caused mamma’s death. They didn’t spend any attention to poor mamma, who lost you and was accused by them of ill-treating. It was far too much for such a vulnerable person like mamma and she made an end of herself.

 

Key two: Lie

Mamma’s death is the reason why they started to lie. Of course, because her death might have consequences for their position with Jeugdzorg: Mrs. X. might lose her job and her manager, who even gave lessons on the university, might lose his fame. And Jeugdzorg doesn’t want to lose its imago and therefore will do everything to cover mistakes. That’s why they started to cover themselves, to prevent that it will become known which mistake they made.

The first lie we discovered was, that the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming was not told that it was a kidnapping. There the chaos started of our story.

 

You should keep these two keys: “big mistake” and “lies” in mind to understand our story. I will tell you every time, when they lie to cover their big mistake. And in the progress of this story I will give you more keys to understand this horrible but real story.

 

Fortunately we had Anne, who led us through this chaos. The chaos after a kidnapping. For us also still more chaos caused by organizations which ought to work for the best of children, but did the opposite: treat us as enemies. I will tell you more in the next conversation, where Anne tried to explain us what is strange in the whole course and what we could do the best.

 

A conversation with Anne

Because the situation was more than complicated, Anne came to our house to discuss with opa and me how to take further action. Her red curls were glossy, her blue eyes as bright as always. She immediately started to interrogate us.

Anne: “I am eager to hear from you how the phone call was with the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming”.

Oma: “It was terrible. I got the same slow-speaking Mrs. B. on the line. That stupid goose! When I informed if they would take care of the International Social Service-message, Mrs. B. made me clear, that the Raad won’t do anything, because it was an education-case abroad.”

Anne: “No!! And when you said that the case is still a case of the Dutch judge?”

Oma: “Yes, I immediately said the children still fall within the scope of the Dutch law, because they were kidnapped. I said the Dutch judge ought to judge about their case.”

Anne: “And what did she say then?”

Oma: “Then… she started again that the Raad wouldn’t do anything for this case, because it is an education-case abroad.”

Anne: “It is really incomprehensible! And further?” Anne shook her head, her red curls even shook harder, her face was one big amazement. “What did this stupid goose say more?”

Oma: “I tried to intervene her, saying we urgently need the help of the Raad, because there was a lack of authority. I don’t know if Mrs. B. understood about what I was talking, because she again said the Raad won’t send the ISS-message, because it was an education-case abroad.”

Anne: Anne made eyes like saucers, outrages saucers, angry saucers. “And?”

Oma: “I asked her to give me the jurist of the Raad several times, but she repeated and repeated that I couldn’t speak with the jurist, because it was an education-case abroad. As if I had to understand that in that case I couldn’t speak with the jurist. Because I had a tendency to scream, I thrusted the phone into Arie’s hands. He followed the conservation between a desperate grandmother and a public servant who had never understood the meaning of the word servant”.

Opa: “That stupid goat said to me that it was an education-case abroad, like she did all the time to Heleen and that the Raad couldn’t help. I threw the phone on the hook. What a fucking cow”.

Anne: “I never experienced things like this in my work with the center. It is usual that people empathize with the family left behind from kidnapped children. This is incredible.”

Oma: “Yes, Arie and I were almost in a state to go there and cry, cry very hard. It is that we don’t use violence in case we are angry… After these experiences I can imagine that people go with a big bulldozer to the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming to drive inside the building to ask attention for their urgent questions. But, let me tell further. After some time I called the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming once more and yes……..I got another woman on the line. A kind woman, not opa’s fucking cow. I asked for the jurist and she said the jurist was in consult with someone, but should call me in the afternoon. And indeed, the jurist called back in the afternoon!

Anne: “And?”

Oma: “It was a cold shower. Already from the start. Only that impersonal, cold voice of that juridical cold fish! “No, it was mother’s wish that father was the first guardian”, she said. “The Raad would only follow mother’s wish as expressed in the testament.” And when I exclaimed: “But do you really think, that mother would let go her children to someone who doesn’t care about the fate of his children, only cares about his own needs?!!”. She said in her cold way: “Yes, but it is the law, it is our duty to follow the law”.

Anne: “And the children were kidnapped. The Raad ought to take at least the temporary guard of your grandchildren, till a solution is found!” She almost breezed with anger.

Oma: “She said, it couldn’t be concluded from the papers received from Jeugdzorg it regarded a kidnapping.”

Anne: “It looks as if Jeugdzorg doesn’t do its home-work properly. I don’t trust Jeugdzorg anymore, do you know. I become very suspicious about the fact that Jeugdzorg doesn’t tell it concerns a kidnapping. Jeugdzorg ought to have informed the Raad immediately. And now, after five months, the Raad doesn’t know we have to do with a kidnapping??!! It doesn’t add up”.

Opa: ‘What do you mean Anne? I also have the feeling that Jeugdzorg does unbecoming things.”

Anne: “Yes Arie. Already from the very start Jeugdzorg ought to have given priority to the kidnapping on that sixteenth of February. And what did they do? They accuse a mother just robbed of her children! They even didn’t do any research after the accusations! Do you know what I believe?”

Opa: “Not needed to guess. You are going to say that Jeugdzorg is not wanting to help us, that they helped a kidnapper instead of his victim.”

Anne: “Yes, exactly! When things had gone as it ought to go, Jeugdzorg had the greatest reserve against such a father and his previous accusations immediately after the kidnapping. I think they fully realize they made a big mistake and are busy now to manipulate this case.”

I felt a cold shiver. I always heard such stories, but now I experienced myself that we were opposed by a typical enemy, an organization which ought to protect children and did the opposite. But at that very moment I couldn’t believe it. I was too naïve. Opa was less naïve, he had what Anne said in his mind but had not spoken it out.

Anne: “Jeugdzorg must have wondered if the accusations hadn’t anything to do with the already planned kidnapping.”

Opa: “What do you think Jeugdzorg had to do?”

Anne: “Arie, all point to a situation they were in contact with the kidnapper! I am an inhabitant of this country and thought it could not happen here. But it happened: Youth welfare work does not help innocent kidnapped children but their kidnapper! They must have called him and said to him that kidnapping is punishable. That it is the worst you can do to children, cutting them off from their safe world. Then, at the very beginning they might have had any influence to let the kidnapper make change his mind. But if you ask me they were convinced Judith was the ill-treater, because of her borderline-diagnosis. I think further, I think they knew what the kidnapper was going to do. Also that they might have permitted him to take the children with him, perhaps even advised him to.”

Oma: “I am so shocked Anne. Those poor children. What can we do for the children for goodness sake, when Jeugdzorg is covering the kidnapper?”

Anne: “Did you hear from Jeugdzorg that they called the kidnapper to order him to bring the children back? Some years ago all countries in the world gathered in The Hague and made an agreement about what to do in case a child was abducted, the so called Hague Convention. Do you know the first rule? The first rule is “First children back and then talking.”

Opa: “They didn’t do anything!”

Anne: “No they didn’t. What they had to do immediately after Judith’s death was calling the Raad for the Kinderbescherming to tell the Raad they immediately had to take the temporary guard.”

Oma: “I feel so desperate. I will do something for the children, but Jeugdzorg and Raad voor de Kinderbescherming didn’t help us at all. It seemed they oppose us. And when it is really… as you said that they cooperate with the kidnapper, what can we do?”

Anne: “I already don’t believe in that International Social Service-action of Jeugdzorg. I never heard with the Center that this organization was involved to solve a kidnapping-problem.”

Oma: “What then?”

Anne: “The only thing you can do now at this moment is to ask for a lawyer. A family-lawyer.”

Opa: “How is it possible that no one is helping us. How is it possible an inhabitant of this country, a country that signed the agreement of the Hague Convention, a country which invited the whole world in a Dutch city to make a supranational agreement, is paying public servants who are responsible for children but are too busy with their own that they let abducted children down. And as inhabitants of this country we have to take a lawyer, because none of them wants to help?”

Oma: “I think we have Arie.”

Anne: “Yes, that International Service Action of Jeugdzorg goes so slowly and … suppose that the ISS-correspondents will do their work, then it might be too late to help the children. Now we have to make speed. It is an important lesson we have learned when children were kidnapped: Speed is the essence. The best is that a lawyer makes work of this case. Then he or she can claim the Raad for the Kinderbescherming to take action. Then you can also make work of Daphne’s guardianship. It is really too complicated now. A family-lawyer is now the specialist we need for this very complicated case.”

Opa: “Okay. Do you know good family-lawyers in this neighborhood?”

Anne: “I will ask with the center. I will call you tomorrow.”

Anne was more than angry about the shameful behavior of the Raad and still more about the incredible actions of Jeugdzorg. I still know I fell totally silent while opa talked with Anne. But later I would discover bit by bit that Anne and Arie were right: Jeugdzorg was opposing us instead of helping. Many horrible things would pass after this rejecting behavior of Jeugdzorg and the Raad. But I will tell you about that later.

 

 

 

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Will the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming help us?

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.

  1. 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.

 

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The start of our fight to do something for you

The start of our fight to do something for you

 

logbook

As I said Anne gave us the idea that we still could do something for you. That we had not to wait patiently till Jeugdzorg would finally do something. No, she herself was a person, who would find always an opportunity to do something. What she also advised was to keep a logbook, in which I had to write down every telephone call we had, every mail or letter we received or sent, every meeting or appointment we had.  I filled one and a half thick notebook with notes. I started the logbook on Monday the 22nd of June 2009 and I wrote my last note in the notebook on the 22nd of April 2017. I think that at that 22nd of April I only realized we were totally powerless. It was the moment that I thought -and many people confirmed so- we did everything which was possible for you without any result, because of opposition.

 

Book of reference

I also collected copies of every letter or mail, of reports which were made. Every paperwork I collected in files. I collected eighteen files with papers about the case. I put every paper in reference to the case in files and set them in order. Still I put papers apart, although I know it doesn’t work.

 

The Central Authority

But back to that first time. The labyrinth in which we found ourselves. All those organizations, which had to do with kidnappings. The fear we had about your fates: How were the three of you? Did you realize mamma has died? Was there someone who took care of you? How was your father? Could he get the feeling what it was for the three of you to lose mamma, your Dutch culture, us, your friends, the guinea pigs, yes everything except him? Were you able to follow everything at school in another language? Did the teachers at school know you were kidnapped and did they know you lost your mother? Had you to keep silent about everything you have gone through? We were so concerned about you, so very much concerned. Just like mamma, you didn’t earn that at all. We wished it was quite different for you.

It made me so desperate. And now Anne gave us the idea we could do something. Step by step we got acquainted with several organizations. We studied the information from the Hague Convention of International Child Abductions, their guides of good practices (records of the meetings of the Hague Convention), articles of people who wrote about abductions and the consequences of abductions for children. At the same time, we collected everything for the Dutch Central Authority (department of the Ministry of Justice which had to do with abductions).  And all we did in a big hurry, because Anne said that speed was the essence to do still something for you.

On the twenty seventh of June 2009 we sent a thick envelope to the Central Authority with copies of your passports, photos of the three of you, copies of the birth certificates of the three of you, filled in forms, a record of what had happened, an official letter in which we asked for an arrangement concerning grandparental access and so on. On the 2nd of July 2009 we received a letter from the Central Authority that they received our request and that they would judge if our request for an arrangement concerning grandparental access would comply with the stipulations of the Hague Convention of International Child Abduction. They would inform us as soon as possible about the further continuation of our request.

 

Telephone call of Jeugdzorg

On the 25th of June I had Mrs. X. of Jeugdzorg on the line.

Mrs. X.: “I can tell you that the message  is sent to De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming with the question to send an ISS (International Social Services) correspondent to the new location where your grandchildren live. Then this correspondent will research the situation of your grandchildren. “

You may wonder which organization is  “De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming”.  De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming is founded, because the Dutch state wants to have an organization which decides for the best of children, when the rights of children are endangered. When parents, health care or assistance are not able to solve the situation for a child, De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming has to take action on behalf of the state. So, De Raad voor de Kinderbescherming is higher in gradation than Jeugdzorg, which has to carry out the practical assistance. Therefore Mrs. X. sent the message to the Raad voor de Kinderbescherming, expecting that De Raad would take action to contact the International Social Services.

The ISS (International Social Services) provides assistance in resolving international child protection. This organization occupies itself with among others child abduction. Correspondents from all over the world try to heal broken family ties by mediation.

Oma: “Do we receive any reaction of the continuation of this message?”

Mrs. X.:” Yes. I will call you when De Raad will accept this kind of action. I also want to say you that I wrote in the message which days you took care of the children. And you asked for the address of the father? This is the address of his brother, which you already gave to me.”

Mrs. X. now reacted on the mail tante Dapne and I wrote her, because we were so angry about her mail in which she said that Mirabelle was involved in a conflict. In that angry mail to her we asked the umpteenth time for the address of your father and you.

Oma: “Oh, they live there. Had we known that earlier we would have had the possibility to contact the children! “

Mrs. X. pretended not to hear my remark and continued:

Mrs. X. : “The message is not too much. The most principal what we want to know are the answers to the next questions: How are the kids? Are they supported after the death of Judith? And the question to the organization if the ISS-correspondent wants to mediate between us and the kidnapper.”

Oma: “And what about the school-report which the Johan Friso-school wants to send to the new school of the children?”

As you know, in that report could be referred to the fact that the three of you were kidnapped. It was the idea of tante Daphne, who thought that very important, because then school could keep an eye on the three of you. It seemed rather important to us that your new school should know that.

Mrs. X.: “We will put this idea to De Raad. I think it is the responsibility of De Raad to decide about that.”

Oma: “It is important for the children that the teachers at school know what happened to them. I also wonder if we are not too late for an eventual return of the children. I know that after a year the children are uprooted. Suppose the situation is bad for the children, then there is no juridical possibility to let return the children. That will be terrible.”

Mrs. X.: “I don’t know anything of kidnappings. So, I also don’t know if it is too late for a return of the children.”

I still am more than angry with Mrs. X. She was too lazy to go into information about kidnappings after her terrible mistakes. Then she should have known, what were the consequences of her unforgivable actions.

Oma: “Oh please give De Raad the request to act quickly.”

Mrs. X.: “And I must also say, that despite your request not to inform the father before the research of the ISS-correspondent, we have to inform the father. The law obliges us to inform him

beforehand.”

Oma: “You know we are afraid the kidnapper will manipulate the ISS-correspondent He is apt to do so.”

Mrs. X.: “We have to observe the rules Mrs. Van der Stoep. I wish you a good day.”

Then she put down the telephone. More and more I got the feeling that something went more than wrong. Later this feeling appeared to be right. More and more I should lose confidence in organizations!

Maybe you still remember that Anne advised us to write a letter to Mariëlle Bruning of the Defence for Children, an international organization which is well acquainted with all the rules of every organization which occupies itself with children’s rights. We asked Mariëlle if it was normal that Jeugdzorg informed the kidnapper about the comatose situation of mamma and later about her death, while Jeugdzorg said to us that the dossier was closed. Jeugdzorg didn’t help us, but informed the kidnapper about everything. Mariëlle answered on Tuesday the 30th of June 2009:

 

Dear Mrs. And Mr. Van der Stoep,

 

First of all I will offer my condolences with you in the sad death of your daughter. What a terrible story. I understand you have plenty of questions and that you have many concerns about your grandchildren.

 

In reference to the questions about the distribution of information of Jeugdzorg, I can inform you that Jeugdzorg has to inform the persons concerned in the research, so father and the grandchildren. As long as the father has got the parental authority and the research is aimed at him, he has a right to be informed. I understand that this will be hard for you.

 

I wish you much strength another time and hope that you may get into contact with your grandchildren.

 

Best wishes,

Mariëlle Bruning.

 

It was the beginning of our fight to do something for you. I now immediately see an important thing:  your father didn’t have the parental authority at all. We then didn’t know much of the importance of parental authority. It was mamma who had the sole authority about you!!! So, it was totally forbidden to Mrs. X.  to inform your father about mamma’s sad situation. It was also forbidden that Mrs. X. gave your telephone-number to the Boddaert and school. School and Boddaert spoke to the kidnapper as if it was permitted to speak to him. The kidnapper might have had the idea that it was permitted what he did, while it is known that abducting is a very serious ill-treating of children with many consequences for children! Jeugdzorg made mistake on error.

 

 

 

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Anne van den Berg

Anne van den Berg

It was Anne van den Berg who made realize us that we had possibilities to start a fight to do something for you. It was also this fight which made us realize that we were powerless, because of the opposition we were confronted with. It was an endless, terrible fight without any result.

 

Anne’s first visit to us

Anne van den Berg, our counsellor of the Child Abduction Center, came to visit us for the first time on Wednesday the sixteenth of June 2009. I still remember it was a nice day, the sun was shining. Anne would arrive around coffee time (ten o’clock in the morning). By telephone I had the idea Anne would be older and more conventional than me, but when I was putting cups, cookies etc. ready in the kitchen some jovial woman walked towards our front door, dressed in easy clothes and with a striking head of red curls. With other words a conspicuous personality. And when I opened the door it was her blue bright eyes and her voice which were the most noticeable. A voice and a vocabulary and knowledge which together made people listen to her. While I was preparing the coffee in the kitchen, she was standing with me, listening to my record of what happened. Opa and tante Daphne,  were sitting in the living. Notable was her fast understanding of what had happened during the four former months. One of the first things she said was, that mamma could not be an ill-treater, because mamma was much too open. Immediately we, opa, tante Daphne, Anne and I  sat down at table, thinking Anne would stay only that morning and we must hurry not to spend her costly time. It was she who taught us a lot of organizations that had to do with kidnappings. And we learned we would have to do with many, many organizations, because of this most complicated kidnapping. Anne guided us through this endless labyrinth and I still owe her a lot. She not only stayed that morning, but also the whole afternoon and after that afternoon our heads were spinning. I will not bother you too much with all that information, but some of the information is helpful to know because it will make you to better understand our actions.

 

Asking the Central Authority for an arrangement concerning grandparental access

We all, opa, tante Daphne, Anne and I, sat there around the table. Paper and pens at hand. Tante Renske took care of Finn and Kirse.

Oma: “I received the forms of the Central Authority” (department of the Ministry of Justice which          occupies itself with kidnappings). “I need to take care of many things I already saw, such as a birth certificate. We have to ask this to the municipalities of the places of residence where the three of Judith were born. So Spijkenisse for Mirabelle, Antwerp in Belgium for Lucas and Rotterdam for Robin”.

Anne: “That alone gives a lot of work. Do you know you need to take your marriage certificate in which Judith was registered with you and that you also need her death certificate?”

Opa: “Yes, they will never give these birth certificates without proofs that Judith was our child”.

Oma: “Yes, and we need an extract from the guardianship register too”.

Anne: “You have to call the notary to ask him at which court the guardianship has been registered”.

Oma: “There is a testament in which Judith arranged that in case she would die the children would go to the father in the first place and in the second place to Daphne. I wonder if Judith knew then what the father should do in the future, she still would have wanted he would be the first guard. It shows that she trusted him. Oh, he has betrayed her trust in such a way!”

Anne: “Yes, it already strikes me that he prepared this kidnapping in such a clever way. It isn’t a usual kidnapping, but let me talk about that later. I also should join a copy of this covenant”. Anne pointed to the papers William gave us. Papers which mamma kept in his house.

Tante Daphne: “Yes, in this covenant is clearly registered the appointment that ‘both, nor Judith nor M. are allowed to book tickets to take the children with him/her when the other parent does not want it!’”

Anne: “Yes, it is important that as well as M. as Judith signed for it not to take the children with them without the consent of the other. And yes, there is also a need for the record of the past history”.

Daphne: “Then we can make use of the record we made for Jeugdzorg”.

Anne: “Alright. Further I advise you to find the addresses of the brother of father and the address of the father of the father, together with their mail-addresses. And  the mail-addresses of the contact persons of Jeugdzorg, school and the Boddaert too”.

Oma: “We should of course also send copies of the passports of the children and photos of the children. Fortunately, recently the photographer was at school. I will ask the school director the address of this man. In the future the children could be happy with these photos.

 

 It is interesting how much Anne understood of how the kidnapper prepared this abduction. As I wrote before, the Central Authority is a department of the Ministry of Justice. This department asks for the return of children, when the children lived before in the Netherlands and there is still a mother. But your mother died, so we couldn’t ask for your return. We had to ask then for a grandparental arrangement concerning access to the Central Authority. We would quickly discover that it looks like the Central Authority would help, but that all our efforts of activating them were in vain: a Central Authority may do something if a partner left behind is still there, but in our case the kidnapper who organized everything as clever as your father did, the Central Authority has got hardly the possibility to do something. It was Jeugdzorg which helped your father and which also made our later efforts totally useless.

Except for the forms which we had to fill in, Anne also advised us to write an accompanying letter to the Central Authority as a result of our next conversation.

 

An extra-ordinary abduction

Anne: “Well, what strikes me enormously is that the kidnapper must have prepared this abduction exceptionally well. I never heard that a kidnapper made use of a smearing campaign with Jeugdzorg beforehand”.

Tante Daphne: “Yes, he did it very clever, because Judith was diagnosed as a borderline-patient (which she wasn’t!!!!), Jeugdzorg immediately believed the kidnapper. While his accusations were so weak”.

Anne: “ As I said before, your Judith was too open to be an ill-treater”.

Daphne: “ Of course. If Judith would have been an ill-treater, the children wouldn’t have been on swimming-lesson, because then you would have seen bruises. And by the way, it was Judith who asked for help in the education and the Boddaert never believed she would abuse the children. In the contrary, they were content with all her efforts to improve her behavior towards Lucas and the other children”.

Anne: “It is very important that you write a letter to the Central Authority in which you explain that the kidnapper prepared his abduction in an excellent way. 1. By buying the tickets beforehand, while before he always wanted Judith to buy the tickets. And 2. By the smearing campaign with Jeugdzorg, school and Boddaert”.

Daphne and I noted these arguments for the letter on our writing-pads.

Anne: “And what we should figure out if it is just that Jeugdzorg doesn’t want to give you the address of the kidnapper. Defence for Children International is acquainted with the rules of every organization which has to do with children. This organization works for the rights of children everywhere on the world”.

She paused a moment to think. Then: “You may inform with this organization  and ask for Mariëlle Bruning. You can write her to ask if Jeugdzorg is right to refuse giving you the address”.

Oma: “It is hard that school and Boddaert received this address, while we as the grandparents and aunt of the children don’t receive the address.  As if we are the suspect”.

Anne: “Again: you should write your nasty situation in the letter and ask the Central Authority if they can ask for the address and telephone number”.

Opa: “Yes, several times we tried to make contact by mail, but Mr. Kidnapper keeps us off contact, especially contact with the children”.

Anne: “And the death of Judith embarrassed every effort to do something for the children. We  already lost four months. Ask the Central Authority to treat this case with the utmost speed, because the longer this situation will last the more the children will uproot and the less you can do for them.  And what is sure: the whole is more than traumatic for the children, because they were not only kidnapped but also lost their mother”.

Daphne: “I see it’s a lot of work to make all papers ready for the Central Authority. How long will it take then until we hear when the Central Authority will start its activities towards the children in America and what they are intending to do”.

Anne: “Yes, they will first make contact with the Central Authority in America. That also takes time. You may ask the Central Authority you should like to remain informed about every aspect of the procedure”.

 

By the way, tante Daphne and I were all the time making notes, trying to understand as much as possible of unknown information. For Anne this was all child’s play, but we regularly had to ask her further information.

 

Anne: “Suppose the Central Authority succeeds in getting contact with the father, then you will have to do with traumatized children and the three of you, yourself, have been traumatized too. It would be very confronting after all what happened to come face to face with your grandchildren. Maybe they, especially Mirabelle, are ashamed that they accused Judith and you of abusing them. Maybe they are totally brainwashed and believe that Judith and you did illtreat them. Then they can be afraid of you. And for you it will be emotionally to see your grandchildren too. As they are brainwashed and are loyal to their father, it will be very difficult for you. That will be hard to deal with for you, because the father caused all this trouble. It is always advisable to ask the Central Authority for a counselor or mediator between you and the children”.

Oma: “It is so strange and also so hard, that I, who always took care of these children, must keep distance of the children, because of the brainwashing by and the loyalty to their father”.

Anne: “It is the practice that the basic trust of these children has been damaged a lot. And bit by bit this basic trust must improve. That will take time. During that time, it is important to have someone who will mediate between you and the children. Someone who is trusted by the children and by you. It is important that you write the Central Authority you want the assistance of some mediator at the moment you will get in touch with the children”.

Opa: “The International Center for Child’s Abduction advised Judith not to involve the police. What do you think about that? Judith did not want him behind bars, because, she said to the police officer, the children would not only be there in the United States without their mother but also without their father. We’ll do what she wanted. What do you think about that?”

Anne: “Yes, it is the advice we always give to the family left behind. If you will involve the police, the kidnapper will not be apt to have contact with the left family. When you don’t involve the police, it is possible the kidnapper may consider in that time that it is better to let the children have contact with their family. You might convince the kidnapper there is a good chance that much later the children will become angry with him about all he did to them if he doesn’t allow contact with you. It is important the left family have him realize that. He must know how important it is for the children to have contact with their mother’s family, they are part of their being.”

 

This information of the influence of kidnappings on children and also how kidnappers may react, was new and very useful for us. It was very hard to hear, that your behavior towards us could change. On that very day I was not yet ready to believe it, but bit by bit I saw how you were brainwashed and more and more I have to realize that I would have to deal with it.

 

Anne: “By the way Heleen, if I were you I would also write in that letter how many times a week you took care of the children. Also, that the children often stayed with you in the holidays. It is important that you prove you had a lot of responsibility for these children. Your responsible role may be decisive to get a grandparental arrangement concerning access”.

Tante Daphne: “ It is difficult to realize that Judith was consulting with the kidnapper about co-parenting. She always gave him all the opportunities to be together with the children. She even let him live in her house when he came over to the Netherlands. She booked his tickets, bought food. In fact everything he needed. It is only jealousy that he took the children with him. Jealousy, because Judith was going to live with William the first of April this year, while she wanted to give him all the possibilities to live with the children. I think it is important that we will write that too to the Central Authority”.

Anne: “Yes indeed. Hmm, I see you are a bit tired. Shall we take a break?”

Oma: “Yes I will make a lunch”.

 

 I quickly prepared a lunch, which we ate outside under the weeping willow. After that Anne continued her tips and explanations.  

 

Anne: “Do you know that both the United States and the Netherlands ratified the Hague Children’s Abduction Convention? That means that the United States have to co-operate with the Netherlands about what is the best for the children”.

Oma: “It is not our intention to remove the children from the father, I only think it necessary that there is supervision and that we get contact with the children”.

Anne: “You must google on this convention and then you can read what could be done by the Central Authorities. I will also send you guides of good practices. These are records of the meetings the Hague Children’s Abduction Convention organized”.

 

Anne gave me already all kinds of information of the International Centre of Children’s Abduction, advised us to read about the International Social Services in Genève. Jeugdzorg promised us a correspondent of this Service who would inform after the situation of the three of you. Also, she advised to read on the website of Defence for Children International (this website may give us more information about rules of child protection). Next, she advised us to study on the articles of the Hague Children’s Abduction Convention. She told us a lot about all these organizations which had to do with kidnappings. Anne left in the late afternoon, promising us to call soon. As I said our heads were spinning. But…….we now had the feeling we could do something for you! Then we didn’t know that after years we had to stop, made totally powerless by the opposition of Jeugdzorg, although many people helped us, all we did was in vain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brainwashing

Brainwashing

Mamma already noticed that the kidnapper was blackening William and her when he was still in Holland. Because why didn’t Mirabelle dare coming to stay with her and William? Why was Robin afraid when he was staying the last time with her and William? The three of you were not behaving the same to her like before, we conclude afterwards. Quickly after mamma’s death it became clear to us that it was not a fake thought that you were brainwashed but real. And I only saw before that the three of you were so fond of mamma, that you were not afraid when I was with you! Look at the mail Mirabelle should have sent to Finn on the 13th of June 2009, two and a half months after mamma’s death:

 

Aan: Finn van der Stoep

Hallo tante Daphne finn en kirse, de school is de leukste school oid (sorry ik kan niet so goed nederlands schrijven) iedereen wil met mij speelen ook kinderen van andere klassen m. ( is the kidnapper) gaat voor 2 kittens zoeken. Lucas is heel goed in schrijven rekenen en lezen waar zijn finn en kirse goed in?

Oma zijn en opa zijn an het liegen pappa zorgt heel goed voor ons hij slaat ons niet geeft ons genoeg te eten en geeft ons en warm bad want mama had dat niet gedaan. Voor: lieve tante daphne lieve finn en lieve kirse gefeliciteerd!!!

 

And we had to believe that Mirabelle wrote this mail herself? Opa was the first one who concluded it could not be Mirabelle who wrote this mail, because of the expressions “zoeken voor” en “de leukste school oid”, which are typical English expressions, literary translated into Dutch.

And tante Daphne said Mirabelle couldn’t have written this mail, because Mirabelle knew Kirse at that time was too little to be already “goed in iets”.

“Papa zorgt heel goed voor ons hij slaat ons niet etc.” In this mail the kidnapper suggested that mamma and William should be ill-treaters. Later especially I would be described as ill-treater. Here you see the effect of the brainwashing of the kidnapper: blackening mamma’s, William’s and my name and covering the negative influence of the kidnapping. When I think of my own parents? Yes, they gave me a slap sometimes; but when I think back to these moments it was necessary to stop me from behaving annoyingly. It doesn’t make them less for me, because I had the loveliest parents of the world. So, the kidnapper was exaggerating this rare giving a slap saying it was ill-treating with the intention to destroy the lovely image of first your mother and later of me.

By the way, indeed there was not enough warm water at the Frank van der Goesstraat, but mamma thought it was not worth to fix it, because it was only some time that the three of you would come to live in a very luxurious house with William with sufficient warm water. Besides, I couldn’t believe Mirabelle would blame her mother writing she didn’t give her a warm bath so shortly after her death. I know for sure that her mother’s death and the missing of her mother didn’t make her saying something like that of her mother. I know for sure she in that time dearly wanted to have back her mother. And I know for sure mamma should have taken care for warm water by heating some for you.

Why was this mail sent?

I sent a mail to your grandparents, because we heard not anything of you. The kidnapper promised us to give opportunity to have contact with the three of you, but not anything happened. So he also promised school that Mirabelle would write a mail. She never did. That’s why I sent the following mail to your grandparents on the 12th of June 2009:

 

Dear M. and A.,

Up till now M. doesn’t take initiatives to let his children have contact with us and we are very, very worried about them. Therefore we approach you with the most urgent request to do your utmost to let us have contact with our grandchildren. We don’t want to prosecute M. because of all he has done. The grandchildren have already lost their mother and it is not our intention to put him behind bars, because then the children will miss their father too. But you must agree with us that it is not healthy for the children that they are totally cut off from their childhood in Holland and from all the persons to whom they were attached in the nearby past after the drama they just had gone through.

We hope you will convince M. that it is important for the children that they must have at least some contact with us. That they don’t wonder now because they have no contact, if the people in Holland love them and miss them. We will stress to them that all these people are all the time busy to get in contact with them, because they love and miss them very much. And also that their mother loved them very much.

We think it is your and our joint intention as grandparents to do everything what is necessary for the wellbeing of our grandchildren. All authorities who engage themselves with children say that the current situation is damaging for our grandchildren without contact with us. Therefore we ask your help to convince your son that it is the best for the children to have contact with us.

 

Regards,

Arie and Heleen van der stoep,

also like you grandparents of Mirabelle, Lucas and Robin

and parents of Judith

 

And what did your American grandfather write back?

 

Saturday, June 13 2009

Dear Mr and Mrs Van der Stoep,

I have forwarded your letter to M. (the kidnapper)

                               Sincerely,

                               A.

 

You understand. I send a mail to your grandfather on the 12th of June, he forwarded this mail and then spontaneously Mirabelle should have sent that mail to Finn, tante Daphne and Kirse? No one believed that. It was to intimidate us and to cover his own behavior. It looked like war, whereas we only wanted to make contact with you. Nothing else.

 

By the way, here you can see how the strategy of the kidnapper worked. Firstly he said bad things about mamma and William, perhaps already of opa and me (I haven’t any proof of that). Consequence: you became too afraid to stay with mamma and William in the time the kidnapper was already in the Netherlands. It was also in this time that Mirabelle had to accuse her own mother of abusing her. I can’t believe she would have done so when her father didn’t press her to do so. Then, after the kidnapping, after much pressure of us to give any reaction of contact: the kidnapper himself sent a so-called mail of Mirabelle, a clear mail written by himself as I explained. The next step is, that the three of you were so brainwashed that you really believe we are ill-treaters. Then the bonds are totally cut. A real horror-scenario. Will that happen? We will see.

 

 

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mamma’s birthday

Mamma’s birthday

It is the 19th of November 2019 now. Your mother’s birthday. She would have been 43 years old. Until this day I took the time to think about what we experienced in Minneapolis. Had I to forget you? I noticed I couldn’t at all, because I will love the three of you till I will die. You are worth being loved! And as I swore once with the director of Jeugdzorg that I will fight for your mother’s innocence till I fall down, I swore also at this website now that I will fight for the best for the three of you till I fall down.

 

Minneapolis

Well, we were in Minneapolis from Tuesday the twenty sixth of March till Monday the first of April 2019. Partly because we were pushed by people saying that it was the moment to go to Minneapolis, but for the greater part because we were so concerned by the signals we received from you, that we only wanted to help you. But obviously you didn’t need us, it even seemed you distrusted us. We didn’t see you at all.

 

The wrong hotel

By the way before our stay in Minneapolis I wrote to you that we would stay in Lambert Inn on the Lambert Road. Why? Stupid Booking-com offered us that hotel on internet, when we asked for a hotel near Whittier Park (as Lucas said) in Minneapolis. Alas we discovered only when we arrived at the airport of Minneapolis that this was a hotel in California near Whittier and not in Minneapolis. So we had to switch the hotel immediately. A kind man at the airport helped us to book a hotel near the airport. It was Fairfield Inn at 2401 American Blvd.

 

Take Root

Look at the website “Take Root”, the organization of adult people, who were kidnapped when they were a child. There you can find assistance for yourself, because I know for sure that life is more than difficult for you. I know for sure that your basic trust is damaged after all what happened to you. Taken away from Holland and cut off from the family and friends left behind there. Your mother committing suicide. Your father blackening the family left behind. Who on earth can you still believe after this experience? I know that kidnappers blacken the family left behind to cover their own behavior. Because they must have a valid reason to argue the kidnapping. That’s why the kidnapper accused us of ill-treating. Us is first your mother and William, later opa and especially me. Because I was, after your mother and father, the person who was the next person of attachment to you in Holland. I was so often with you to take care of you.  And just that attachment, which has not left me yet, makes me feel that the ties between you and me for my part have not disappeared. Kidnappers want to cut these ties. A destructive way to make all people in a family unhappy. The family left behind lost beloved ones and the kidnapped ones lost everyone and everything except the kidnapper whom they are dependent of. Kidnapped children have to believe everything this person is telling them about the left ones. But I cannot accept that mamma, William, opa and me are accused of ill-treating you. Who can accept an accusation that is not true?  It is all lies. And lies are necessary for a kidnapper to cover himself.

 

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