An Abbotsford dad is still fighting to have his autistic daughter returned home, and anticipates it will be at least several more weeks before that happens.
Derek Hoare appeared in family court last Thursday, when a presentation hearing was held in which the Ministry of Children and Family Development laid out its reasons for wanting to extend his daughter’s time in foster care.
The hearing will continue on Sept. 26. Meanwhile, Hoare said he has been meeting weekly with ministry case workers, and hopes that mediation will result in the return of nine-year-old Ayn before the case proceeds through the lengthy court process.
“I’m staring at least at another six weeks (through mediation), but it shouldn’t be another six minutes,” Hoare said.
The girl was removed from Hoare’s care on June 16 – four days after she had wandered away from home, resulting in a police search. Ayn turned up safely in a neighbour’s backyard.
But Hoare said the basis for the ministry’s concerns is Ayn’s behaviour in school, where she, at times, has been violent and aggressive to teachers and herself.
Hoare said the ministry has then used these examples to conclude that Ayn also behaves this way at home, and she must be medicated in order to control her behaviour.
He is adamantly opposed to this step.
“You don’t drug your kids to make life easier for you,” he said, adding that he also does not want to expose Ayn to the possible side effects of medication recommended for her and currently being used while she is in foster care.
He said he would rather home-school Ayn because he knows how to re-direct any issues she is having, and she does not exhibit the same behaviour at home.
Hoare is concerned about the impact the separation is having on his daughter and his two other children – both boys, including a 10-year-old with autism – who remain in his care.
He said a report detailing two visits that his ex-wife, Amie, had with Ayn described the girl’s turmoil.
“She’s disconnected and she’s just sort of walking around saying she wants to see me. She keeps going, ‘Daddy’s coming. Daddy’s coming.’ ”
He has declined to visit her, fearing he will trigger deeper trauma when he has to leave.
Hoare’s Facebook page, “Help Bring Little Autistic Girl Back to her Daddy,” continues to draw supporters from around the world and currently has more than 3,600 members. An online petition demanding her return home has close to 3,500 signatures.
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