Anne van den Berg; finally assistance

Mrs. X of Jeugdzorg chatted and chatted but did nothing

Mrs. X. of Jeugdzorg promised us to make a new appointment as soon as possible to do something for the three of you.

At first, I believed her. I was glad: she would help to see how you were and to get in contact with you! We were so concerned about the three of you. But soon I started to hesitate, as the time passed on and on without any reaction from the side of Mrs. X. ‘Why such a silence?’, I thought. And: ‘Was Mrs. X. of Jeugdzorg really so worried about you? If they did, why not hurry?’ This terrible situation was the result of her stupid approach. Mamma would not have made her fatal decision, you would happily live here with her.

After some long days of waiting, I decided to send this woman a mail to ask what she had done for you. Well, this time I had to wait only one (!) day. “I’m going on holiday now”, she wrote. “I’ll be back in two weeks”. She proposed to meet on the tenth of June. This date was three weeks later! Still three other weeks!!

Further she wrote that they deliberated with International Social Services and that we could take up contact with the Ministry of Justice. I was totally disillusioned: we wanted so dearly that someone did something for you and again we had to wait. This woman missed every sense of urgency.

And why taking up contact with the Ministry of Justice? Which department? With whom? What for?

It sounds unbelievable if you look to her behavior, but it was Mrs. X. and her team leader who on that twentieth of April 2009 stressed it was important that we would get in contact with you. It was Mrs. X. and her team leader who asserted that it was good for you if we would try to mail with you, to phone with you, to talk with you. Well, it was only words. The practice was that you were abducted in February and that they had done nothing yet in May. No, this is not entirely true: they had a chat with people of International Social Services!


The Ministry of Justice

What I dearly wanted was that the kidnapper would let you get have contact with us, so that I could ask you how you felt. I wanted that he would give me the opportunity to say goodbye to you, to say that you were always welcome with us, to say that we would always love you. Nothing of this happened, however.

When Mrs. X. was back from her well-deserved vacation, she informed me that it was not the Ministry of Justice I had to approach but the Central Authority, a small department of the Ministry. ‘Why not two weeks earlier?’, I thought. Again a delaying tactics? It looked like. “This Central Authority occupies itself with abductions or kidnappings”, she wrote. “Maybe they can do something for you”.


The call to the Central Authority

The next day I called the Central Authority and got the same man on the line who spoke with mamma on the sixteenth of February and who sent her forms by mail on that 16th of February. He was totally aghast to hear about the death of the young desperate mother to whom he had explained that she could try to get her three children back with the help of the Central Authority.

I told him about the bad role of the abductor, who had falsely accused her, and the incomprehensible role of Mrs. X. of Jeugdzorg, who believed him without doing any investigation. I could not see his reaction, but I saw him sitting there behind his desk shaking his head, confused.

“You can try to get an arrangement of grandparental access to your grandchildren”, he said. “I often took care of the three”, I said. “Oh, then it must be possible to get an arrangement of grandparental access on the base of the family life you had with your grandchildren”, he said. “I will send you forms, which you have to fill in and you must write the whole abduction-story, get copies of their birth-certificates and of their passports”, he listed.

And then he gave me an advice that appeared to be very very helpful. He said: “What I can especially advise you is to call with the Centre of International Child Abductions. This Centre exists of professionals and volunteers with much knowledge of abductions. They are especially appointed to assist parents or grandparents whose children or grandchildren have been kidnapped. I can only say you that you will be helped by them in a good way”.

The man was so kind and sympathizing with everything what had happened to you and mamma. He was in every respect the opposite of Mrs. X.

I thanked him for everything he explained to me. I did not lay down the telephone but I immediately called the Centre for International Abductions.


Anne van den Berg comes on the screen

It was a woman listening to the name Anne van den Berg who took up the phone. It was Friday morning the fifth of June. I heard the voice of a woman of my age.

“You are speaking with Heleen van der Stoep”, I said. “Mr. K. of the Central Authority advised me to call your Centre of International Child Abductions”.

“Yes”, she said. Please tell me your story”.

Well, I did, the whole story. At that moment, in 2009, it was a short story. It is 2019 now, and the short story has swollen to a big novel. And yet, also that day there was a lot to tell.

About the abduction. About the fatal conversation of Mrs. X. with Judith. “No”, I said. “It was not a conversation. There was a woman sitting there who without any investigation believed an abductor, was convinced of Judith’s guilt”. And I added: “That three children were kidnapped had no importance, there was a mother who earned to be severely punished. Mrs. X. was not a representative of an organization that helped children, Mrs. X. was a judge”.

Anne sniffled. “You are telling me nothing new”, she said. “I am working here as a volunteer since a long range of years, and I know stories like this. But a Mrs. X. who is so stupid to let herself use as the instrument of a kidnapper is new. This has not happened before, neither in Holland nor anywhere else in the world, as far as I know.

I continued, told her about the so-called American pediatrician who called mamma to tell her that the children had spots of ill-treating on their bodies. Told her that the children said they didn’t want to get back to their mother. Told her about mamma’s suicide some hours after the “conversation” with Mrs. X.

“Terribly”, was Anne’s reaction.

“We have been six weeks in hospital till she died”, I said.

Once again Anne said: “Terribly”.

Then I told her about the Boddaert and about the school of the children, that the kidnapper had compelled the school to make a report of abuse based on what Mirabelle had said to her teacher. And that Mrs. X. wanted to involve an International Service Correspondent.

Anne listened closely, said she had only telephone service and could not do more, but that this story was so terrible that we, and with we she meant also you, three kidnapped children, needed help as soon as possible.

I already noticed that Anne was sympathizing and at the same time very quick-witted. “You must feel very concerned as a grandmother who took care so often of these children”, she said.

“I feel so responsible for them and I can do so little for them”, I answered. “They must feel so sad without their mother, because they were fond of their mother. I can know this, because I was there every week for three days. Now they are there in America not speaking English, not having their mother or us, nor their friends or guinea pigs. I cannot imagine what they are going through. For me it is already so much, and I still have my husband and my other daughter, family and friends. They have only their father who does these things to them!”

“You can set up a website for your grandchildren”, Anne said.

“It’s already done”. I told her of the website Femke and Ischa set up. And that one of my first pieces on that website was about mamma. How sweet she was for her children and how much she loved them. That I was so very concerned you would really think mamma was abusing you. That the false accusations about mamma hurt me so much.

Anne advised me to fill in the forms as soon as possible. “I must advise you not to report the kidnapping at the police station. In the beginning, kidnappers don’t feel sure. They are still apt to communicate with the left family”.

I heard only new things. Which Dutch family knows particularities about abduction?

“You must focus on an arrangement of grandparental access”, Anne continued. “It happened that a mediator who talks with both parties can succeed in that. And he can also make clear to the kidnapper that his act will not be respected by his children in the long run”. And then she took a deep breath and said: “You must try to get in contact with this man”.

“We don’t want to let imprison the kidnapper”, I said. “Not only because Judith didn’t want, but also because in that case our grandchildren would not have a father either. But it would be great if a mediator can reach an arrangement for us”.

Anne stopped our long call by saying that I would be called as soon as possible. And she repeated that we needed help in a case which was “extremely complicated”, to quote her.


Anne becomes our focal point

My telephone call with Anne had been Friday. The next Tuesday morning she called me. Otherwise than Mrs. X., she had not taken a long break for a holiday.

“I told about the abduction of your grandchildren with my colleagues”, she said. “I must first say that Loes, who still spoke to your daughter on that very 16th February, was very touched by the sad story of Judith and her kids”.

I swallowed: what a difference with the attitude of Jeugdzorg!

“The rest of my colleagues thought the case very sad too”, continued Anne. “But also very complicated. Because of the death of your daughter of course, but also because of the false accusations by means of Jeugdzorg with which the father tried to cover himself”, she said.

And then she said something that would appear to become very important for us: “I proposed my colleagues to become your focal point and they agreed immediately.”

Inside I cheered. “I appreciate it very much that you want to do this. I must admit I felt already at ease to tell you the whole story”, I said.

“We must arrange an appointment in your house as soon as possible”, she answered, “to talk the case extensively over. And you are allowed to call me every time when you will meet with difficulties concerning the case”, she said resolutely. We arranged that Anne would come on Wednesday morning the seventeenth of June.

From that very moment the ball got rolling. Anne revealed herself as a person with a lot of juridical knowledge, because she studied law. And as she has worked as a high tax inspector she knew a lot of financial affairs. And as a result of her work at the Centre of International Child Abduction she knew a lot of everything around abductions. And as if this was not enough, she was very sharp and especially critical, no one could take her for a ride. However, she was also a person who was able to empathize with people whose children/grandchildren were kidnapped, and I think this was of great importance too.

Speaking about importance, the first thing she said that Tuesday was a sentence we read often on our journey to find justice, justice for you, for us, but especially for your poor poor mother: “Speed is the essence”. And she explained it. “How longer the kidnapper has the children with him, the more he is able to brainwash them by blackening Judith, but maybe also you. Because…… is important for him that the children cover his deeds by believing and telling everyone that their mamma and you are abusing them”.

“Speed is the essence”. I thought of Mrs. X. with her vacation and a behavior that was the opposite of speed.

“What threatens is a parental or in your case a grandparental alienation. That means that the children, who have only a kidnapper to listen to, are apt to believe their mother and you abused them. They have not anyone there who objects these lies.”

I trembled by the thought you would think mamma and us abused you, but at the same time I realized the brainwashing started already in the Netherlands when Mirabelle told her teacher mamma beat her in such a terrible way.

I told Anne about Mrs. X. and the offer of Jeugdzorg to involve International Social Services.

“They work slow and I haven’t got satisfying experiences with abduction by them”, said Anne. “But perhaps they can do something for you”.

After Anne finished this telephone-call, all her information made me  a spinning head. Her repeated words run through my thoughts: we had to hurry. Could we still save this horrible situation?


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