I live in Devon and I am the victim of Parental Alienation (PA) and false allegations from a child born through donor conception (artificial insemination) into a same sex relationship.
When I met my ex-partner (“H”) in 2010 I already had a child conceived via this method from a previous relationship. H bonded well with my daughter (herein, “C”) and took on the role of step-parent to her. Quite early on in the relationship we discussed having another child. I had always wanted more children and H wanted children too.
As I had already carried a child – and had a difficult pregnancy with C – and as H was younger than I was, we decided that it was best if H would carry our child. The process for same sex couples wanting children is complicated, limited, invasive, and probably not well understood or accepted in society. Legally, the only options available to same-sex couples is the lengthy adoption route or IVF, which is extremely costly, and there are no guarantees. In both cases the process is very selective and there are still prejudices against lesbian and gay couples. All these hurdles tend to deter even the most tenacious and securest of couples.
The only alternative for a gay couple is to seek out a private donor where an agreement between a third party can be made. We decided to research donors via the internet, where there is a plethora of information, donors, help and resources without the expense and intrusiveness of a fertility clinic. We spent several months seeking a suitable donor, eventually finding a man who agreed with our plans. We met a few times to discuss the practicalities and logistics of the process. It was agreed that we wanted to find somebody that did not want any involvement from any child born through artificial insemination. He had been a donor for a leading fertility clinic, so he was familiar with the complexities same-sex couples faced when trying to start a family.
In 2013 our daughter (herein, “K”) was born and we both played a full parental role in her life. My eldest daughter embraced the fact that she had a sister and they both bonded well.
In 2015 I discovered that H was secretly planning to leave the relationship. She had become quite distant leading up to the separation and was obsessed and controlling with our daughter. Reflecting on things now, I believe that H was already beginning to alienate me from her.
H left the relationship in February 2015. I had contact with our daughter until May, although H was making things very difficult for me by refusing to commit to regular contact, changing or restricting days and times, generally being avoidant, and not responding to texts or calls.
This became very distressing for C, not knowing when she was seeing her sister. Knowing that I didn’t have any legal status in our daughter’s life, and given the sporadic contact I was having, I thought it would be a good idea for the both of us to complete a parental agreement in order to give our daughter stability and continuity with both of her parents. H outright refused, and things became contentious, which resulted in her telling me that I was never seeing K again.
I desperately tried to call, begging her to let me see K, and for C to see her sister. But all calls and texts where ignored.
The next thing I knew, a police officer arrived at my door to tell me an allegation of harassment had been made against me. I was horrified. I had never had any dealings with the police prior to this moment. My eldest daughter was only seven years old at the time, and she was fearful they were going to take her mum away.
With all communication now severed, I had no other option but to file an application to the family court for a child arrangements order.
I waited months for a hearing, during which time neither C or I had any contact with K. C spent night after night crying herself to sleep begging me to let her see her sister. There was nothing I could do. I felt helpless since any attempt I could have made had the potential to result in a criminal offence. C was so distressed she became physically unwell and she suffered at school. She generally became reclusive and angry.
The court finally listed a hearing, and to my dismay H attended making all manner of allegations against me. This called for a “finding of fact hearing.”
What was going on? A whole host of allegations were presented to the court, from domestic violence to the denial of any agreement ever being made for me to parent our daughter. I was shocked and confused. Why would somebody I trusted do this?
I now had to wait several months for another hearing. In the meantime, H had enlisted the backing of a solicitor. I was bombarded with an array of specious statements and beguiling evidence, all of which was enough to stop any contact being granted. So much for innocent until proven guilty.
I had applied to the family court to ask them to help me see my daughter and for C to see her sister. It had now become a complete character assassination and witch-hunt. I was isolated and felt browbeaten without any support or guidance with how to deal with this situation. A four-day “finding of fact hearing” was listed over several months. This continued to prevent me from seeing my daughter, and C from seeing her sister.
I cannot even begin to tell you the level of distress and fear that these false allegations caused me and my eldest daughter. It was complete psychological terrorism. I lost two jobs in the space of twelve months. I had no form of income and nearly lost my home. Even my family and friends questioned my integrity. I became quite emotionally unwell, suffering paranoia, depression and anxiety.
Once the allegations had been disproven, CAFCASS tried to set up contact, but H refused to engage, and began complaining about one of the CAFCASS officers involved.
A new CAFCASS officer was introduced to the proceedings. She came blundering into the family court arena stating that she had no idea what role I had in our K’s life, and that she couldn’t comprehend why I was making this application. She’d clearly never had dealings with same-sex couples with children and seemed to impose a homophobic approach to her evaluations. She requested a psychological assessment of the four of us, individually. By this time, two years had gone by with still no contact with K.
The psychologist’s assessment lasted a few hours with a series of tick-box forms to complete. The process was so protracted, by the time the psychologist had carried out her full assessment she concluded that my daughter had no recollection of me and only indirect contact would be suitable in this instance, due to the conflict.
Conflict? What conflict? There was never any conflict on my part. All I was trying to do was see my daughter. The only conflict present was from my ex-partner who was determined to stop me seeing our daughter, saying and doing everything and anything in her power to fulfil her desires.
I am still astonished, bewildered and appalled by the whole family court process. At no point was my ex-partner ever reprimanded for the false allegations made against me, or the level of distress this caused. I thought perjury was a crime. Nobody ever asked to witness me with my daughter, or to see C with her sister, in order to see the relationship and bond we had. In fact, the CAFCASS officer involved went so far as to say that I was no longer allowed to refer to myself as a mother to K anymore. K had always known me as mummy and referred to me as such. Now, not only was I being prevented from seeing her, I was being told that I am not to use the familial name I was known by. I am sure that a father in the same position would not be told that he had to stop calling himself a father to a child that he helped bring into the world.
What kind of homophobic approach was this: not considering our family unit and implementing their own agenda to my situation, knowingly destroying my relationship with K?
I am completely confounded by the narrow-minded professionals involved, the slow-moving process, and lack of understanding when it comes to Parental Alienation or same sex couples with families.
I can’t even begin to describe the emotional turmoil and impact this still has on my life. It’s like having a limb removed from your body without your consent. You have no idea why it was taken, and no matter how hard you scream and cry, nobody is going to do anything about it. You try to function without it but nobody is going to teach you how to adapt or adjust to your new set of circumstances. The pain and grief are unbearable. You know that somewhere out there somebody has a part of you that is missing and it will never be returned to you, nor can you ever replace it. You try to function without it, but it is just not the same.
From the moment you wake to the moment you go to sleep at night, the loss and grief is there, even in your sleep you suffer nightmares of how somebody stole a part of you that you cannot get back. You dream of what it was like when you once felt complete. Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming you numb to it and you’re unable to cry. Suddenly, something will trigger a memory of what you had and you cannot hold back the tears.
Nothing anyone can say or do can make you feel any better.