I am 24 and this is the first time in the 13 years I have been home that I am actually reaching out to others who have been through a parental abduction.For so long I was in denial about what happened to me and I didn’t want to deal with all of the anger and emotions I had because of my mother taking me, but I have finally got to a point in my life where I don’t want to feel bad about myself and about what happened to me.

I never thought there were any support groups or web sites on parental abduction, so the internet was the last place I looked. But one day I typed in the words “parental abduction.”For a long time I thought I was the only person who went through something like this and that no one understood what I was going through because they had never even heard of anyone who had been abducted by a parent. In all honesty, I felt like an outcast and lost within myself because I felt like I was sooo different. Going through a identity crisis is not easy. I had no one to turn to who had experienced it themselves.. I will start at the beginning for you.My parents met in the late 60’s and never really believed in marriage; they were definitely a product of their generation. But they got pregnant with my brother in 1970, and then with my sisters, who are twins, in 1972. They started to have a lot of problems and my mom had a breakdown. She was diagnosed as manic. She was verbally abusive to the kids and my dad, she would lock herself in the bathroom and hurt herself and call the police and blame it on my father even though he was not home. I know these stories are true because my siblings were old enough to remember what was happening. I have heard most of the stories from them and not my parents, so I believe them.

I was born in 1977. I am the youngest and the baby in the family and everyone loves me. I had it great. Even though I don’t remember the early years there are hundreds of pictures and videos and stories to know I was very happy. My parents couldn’t work things out, so in 1979-1980 they went through a common law divorce in Illinois. My father got custody of all the kids and my mom went crazy about it. My siblings were old enough to testify and say who they wanted to live with, and they chose my dad. But I was too young to choose, so I was the only one who had mandatory visitation with my mother every other weekend.

This went on for about a year until one weekend, when I was 4 years old, my mother picked me up and never came back. Of course this devastated my father and my my siblings. I feel the worst for my sisters and brother because their mother left them and made them feel unloved. My mom’s whole side of the family did not talk to any of my siblings or my dad’s side of the family the whole time I was gone. My dad put out a search for me. He was one of the first parents to go to the FBI and he also went to private detectives, Child Find of America, I was on a milk carton and all. He went to all ends to find me.

My mom fled to Texas with me, she had all of her moles and distinguishing marks removed from her body and she had fake birth certificates made for her and I. She changed my name to Heather and my birthday she just added on a 1 to the 7 and I was now a different person with a different life. As I grew up she told me my dad didn’t love me and that he took my siblings and never wanted to see me. I of course believed her lies and grew up until I was 11 with hatred for my father and an unstable life. My mom was into drugs and had a boyfriend who beat her and there were nights I would wake up and she was not there. It was not the best time, even though there were moments of happiness. Finally in 1989 my mother and I moved to California. She was following her abusive boyfriend, and we bought a house and lived there for about 5 months until one day I was taken out of class by my principal and escorted to his office. I was nervous because I thought I was in trouble and the principal was giving me funny looks. When I walked in there were two police officers, a woman and two “suits.” The suits I found out to be FBI agents and the woman was a local politician who was there to make sure I was ok and not overwhelmed (nice try). The woman sat me down and pulled out a milk carton with a picture of me when I was four with my real name underneath it and asked me if I knew who it was. I naturally said no, and she explained it was me. I didn’t understand and she explained that my mother abducted me and that my father has been looking for me for 8 years. I began to cry. I didn’t know how to react, so I asked to see the badges of the FBI because I didn’t believe them. They showed me and I was taken to a foster home for the night until the morning where I would meet my dad for the first time in years.

I didn’t remember my dad and I didn’t know how to act or what to say. I felt so alone because my mom was arrested and I had no one from my family because the FBI were afraid they would try and take me again. The next morning I was taken to a hotel restaurant where I met my dad. He was cool. There was no pressure from him; he told me I could call him dad or Bruce, it was up to me. I chose dad because he was so laid back. I instantly felt safe with him. Today my dad is my best friend. I got on a plane with him and we flew home and I met all of my family for the first time again in the airport. I remember everyone crying and staring at me. My grandma said she thought she would never see me again while she was crying. I didn’t know what to do or how to feel; it was an alternate universe where I had a different name and a family who loved me and didn’t shove me to the side because I only reminded them of their lies and faults. My mom was arrested but was let out 2 days later and given probation. Not that I want my mom to go to prison but I am still mad that’s all she got. To this day she doesn’t think she did anything wrong.

I have had a “normal” life since then, I have a loving and supportive family who would die for me. My sisters are also my best friends, my brother and I are kinda butting heads but it’s only because we are so much alike. For so long, I thought it stopped when I was found, but it only began. I have been unhappy for so long because of they things my mother did. I have feelings I don’t know how to deal with and anger towards her I don’t know how to let go of. And I am ready to let go, but for some reason I can’t. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself because what happened is not my fault, but then I tell myself this is my life and I have to take control. But I know I have issues because of what happened to me and I feel like I can’t move forward until I resolve them, and I don’t know always where to start. The members of Take Root are the first people I have ever talked to who have been through this or even know about it first hand. I needed to talk to people who have experienced this!