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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Parental Abduction

Q. I am the victim of parental abduction, but I am not the child. I am the parent who was left behind. Now, after 8 years, my children are back in my life. I have not seen my children yet, but have been talking to them on the phone for approximately 2 months. I am anxious to see them and they are anxious to see me. The obstacle is their dad.

How do I incorporate my children into a life that went on without them? How do I find support groups in my area to help me deal with this newfound relationship? I had grieved for my children when I couldn't find them and time had gone by. What is the best way for me to deal with all those emotions again?

A. This has clearly been an agonizing and tumultuous journey for you and your family. There are no simple answers to the questions you are asking, but just asking them is a very good start! First of all, don't put too much pressure on yourself to accomplish quickly all these desirable goals, such as incorporating your children back into your life, dealing with these newfound relationships, etc. This will all take time.

Talking to trusted friends, clergy, and perhaps other family members may be helpful, of course. But as you seem to recognize, getting some professional help may be a good idea. There are many ways you might go about finding support groups and other professional help.

You could speak with your family doctor to see if he or she knows of such resources in your area. You could also contact your county or regional mental health center. You may not find a group that's precisely geared to your somewhat unusual circumstances, but there may be groups that deal with issues concerning missing children or parental abduction.

You can also find support and information at the website for TeamH.O.P.E (http://www.teamhope.org/index.html), a support network for families with missing children. Another website you may find helpful is www.capcsac.org/crisisnumbers/national_hotlines.html.

You might also try emailing your specific needs to hwinfo@healthy.net, the address for the National Organization for Victim Assistance. I hope you soon find yourself on the path to healing.

September 2003

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