Dear Gentle Parenting Groups, Why Are You Silent on Reunification Camps?

Art by Maya Laing, 15 (via @maya.and.sebastian IG)

I came into parenthood already believing that children were full-fledged humans with the right to be treated with respect and dignity, but I did used to think that my job would involve a lot more molding and forming than I do now.

Pretty early on in my parenting journey, I was faced with a tiny little four year old who was, for lack of a better term, losing her shit all the time.

She was suddenly alone with a parent who was using her to hurt me and when she came back home, I had this small human in front of me who was breaking down in such difficult and heartbreaking ways. Even if I wasn’t sure what exactly she did need, I knew that what she didn’t need was timeouts and punishments and tough love.

What she needed – still needs – is to know that she is safe, that she is loved, and that she is a wonderful human who in no way deserves mistreatment from anyone. She needs to know that I am here and I love her in all of her moods and states – that even, especially, when it is hardest, I will try to model how to handle the hard stuff, not try to craft her into an obedient child.

So I found you: gentle parenting, respectful parenting, whatever words each small subgroup uses. I found you all and my life changed for the better.

Yes. Yes. Everything in my body told me that this was the right way to guide my child through all this trauma.

And my child’s life is infinitely better because of the lessons I have learned – and keep learning – from those of you showing us all how to do this parenting thing differently.

This way is harder (and takes longer) than scaring her into submission but it is also the only way to break the cycles and give her the humanity and dignity she deserves, even in situations that try to strip it away from her.

It is the only way to feel good about myself at the end of each day.

I read day in and day out, in posts by all of you, about a child’s right to dignity and humanity, simply by being. About the practical ways that we protect our own children from the wounds of our own childhood and from the differing expectations of those around us.

So when I spent days in tears after watching the heart wrenching video of Maya and Sebastian being legally kidnapped from their home, just weeks ago, in the name of Reunification Therapy, I started to wonder why none of you are talking about this. Why are none of you standing up for these abusive violations of a child’s human and civil rights?

Do you not know it’s happening? (It is. Daily. All across our nation. And yet so many people really have no idea what the reality of this practice is . . . Maya’s braveness in calling for witnesses has given us a brutally real look at how all of this goes down).

Do you think you shouldn’t be involved in politics? (Because this is anything but politics. This is human rights and child safety).

Do you not care? (This one I cannot believe. So I am writing this to you all. So that if you do indeed not care – or not care enough – then I will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into that painful realization).

Do you feel like you can’t help? (We all feel that way but for those of us who have had to face this as our reality – or our almost-reality – we have to yell even if it feels like screaming in the dark. We have to work to save future children from this horror).

Abusers use the junk science of Parental Alienation Syndrome to deflect from accusations of abuse – it is a time-tested tool to further abuse children and silence protective parents, but Maya’s call for help as she sat inside her house, terrified to walk outside, has finally given us evidence that this practice is abusive and barbaric.

We want you all to see this video , even though I still lose sleep after seeing it, because if anyone can watch this video and not see that children need our help to stop this cruel and damaging practice, then I have to wonder if that person watching has any contact with their own humanity.

Family Court has bought into the idea of PAS even though no credible organization recognizes it. Even though it is a deflection tool of abusers. A tool to not be held accountable for abusing their own children. One used to rip children away from their safe parent and keep them away for way too long, sometimes years.

And even if they are with an abusive parent, this is not the way to fix that.

Abuse does not fix abuse. And if you’ve watched that video, then there’s no escaping how traumatic and abusive that one single part of the process is all on its own.

California had a chance to outlaw these camps mere months ago with Piqui’s Law (modeled after Kaydens Law in the Violence Against Women Act) but it was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee, in large part, by people like Lynn Steinberg and others who profit daily from the Reunification industry. People who have no research behind them and who celebrated the defeat of a bill that would protect children.


What we all see happen to Maya and Sebastian is not unique. No matter the lies the ones who pay their mortgage with money made on the backs of these children who are legally kidnapped, trafficked and held against their will keep trying to tell us, there is nothing peaceful or calm about forcing children to leave their homes and be driven away in the dark to be further isolated from their parent.

There is nothing serving or protecting about police officers being asked to stand by while transporters forcibly remove children and take them to undisclosed locations because a family court judge ordered it without any oversight or review of the process.

What we need in order for this to change is for everyone who is not directly affected by the way family court operates to stand and say STOP.

Moms like me (who by the grace of whatever is good in the world did not have a judge who would entertain this idea) and the ones I know who have gone weeks, months, years without seeing their children after they were ordered into Reunification Camps and then signed over to other ‘troubled kid’ camps or foster care are not believed.

Our fears are dismissed as unfounded and bitter.

We are biased they say. We are trying to gain something. We have an axe to grind.

We need people that they cannot possibly lob those accusations at to see what is happening and to help us stop it.

Will you?

Maya and Sebastian are still not home. They are, presumably, in a blackout period of no contact while their ‘revisionist history is corrected’.

Their friends, other children, are protesting and raising their voices and trying to spread the word but they need help. From adults who carry more weight with our legislators.

Adults with platforms to show others what is happening and to point them in the direction of advocates working to end this barbaric and grotesque practice.

Maya and Sebastian and all the children currently in the throes of Reunification (as well as those who’ve, somehow, survived it who use their voice to help those who will come after them) deserve this from all of you.

Because they are full-fledged humans who deserve respect and safety.

Will you take the time to help change this?

Or will you let it continue?

Organizations working to end this madness:
National Safe Parents Organization
Custody Peace
One Mom’s Battle
Youth Speaks
Center for Judicial Excellence

Published by UnGastheLight

I write to be able to live and live because I can write to make sense of it all.

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