An Abbotsford dad said his autistic daughter cried for 18 days straight after she was removed from his care, and he was asked to provide a photo of himself to help calm her down.
Derek Hoare, whose story was first reported June 25 in The News, has been fighting to get back his nine-year-old daughter, Ayn van Dyk, since she was taken by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) on June 16.
Hoare said he was told the ministry was taking Ayn because, as a single father caring for two other children, including a 10-year-old autistic son, he had overwhelming responsibility.
The removal came four days after Ayn had disappeared from their home for three hours, resulting in a search by the Abbotsford Police. She turned up safely in a neighbour’s backyard, but Hoare said the incident was used as an example that he could not properly care for her, and that Ayn’s behaviour was “self-endangering.”
He appeared at a family court hearing on Tuesday – the second scheduled appearance since Ayn’s removal – but was only able to declare that he did not give his consent for his daughter to be in ministry care.
The next court date, when Hoare will be able to present his case, will not be set until at least September.
Hoare said Ayn spent 12 days in hospital after she was taken and is now in a foster home for two to eight weeks while on the waiting list for a more intensive six-week hospital evaluation.
Hoare said a report from her 12-day hospital stay concluded that Ayn showed no evidence of physical abuse or neglect.
It also indicated that she had been medicated to sedate her due to her becoming “profoundly dysregulated and aggressive; biting, kicking, scratching and screaming…”
Hoare said he is adamantly opposed to medicating his daughter, and she did not exhibit this behaviour at home, although he acknowledges that she has outbursts in other environments, particularly school.
He said he received a call from a social worker last week requesting a photo of him that could be given to Ayn, who was upset and had been crying incessantly. Hoare said he is hesitant to visit her, only to leave her again and cause further distress.
“I want to see her, but I think it would permanently damage her.”
Since Hoare’s story was first published, his Facebook page detailing his plight has garnered more than 2,800 supporters. The page is called “Help Bring Little Autistic Girl Back to her Daddy.”
Many of the members are themselves parents who struggle with the challenges of raising an autistic child and have spread Hoare’s story across the Internet.
A petition urging that Ayn be returned to Hoare has so far collected more than 2,300 signatures, and another Facebook page is raising funds for his legal fees.
Hoare said his emotions have ranged from “devastated to very driven,” and he will do everything he can to get Ayn back.
“The love I have for her heals me … I will fight until I get her home,” he said.
The MCFD does not comment on individual cases.