(Note: I am writing this from a mother’s perspective because I am a mother.. but this could apply to anyone, male or female, who is grieving the loss of a child)

“Finding Dory” (2016, Pixar) is a touching animated movie about a fish named Dory who gets separated from her parents at a young age, and goes on a journey in search of them. Guiding Dory are the memories she has held onto all of her life. Since Dory suffers from “short term remembery loss” she is guided by only glimpses of her past, and along with it, the sense of home, and feeling of belonging.

Years pass. Dory meets new friends, including a quirky fish named Nemo, that become like family. One day, Dory’s memory gets triggered, and she is compelled to find her lost family.When Dory was young, her parents set out a trail of purple shells to teach her how to find her way back home, she follows it.  So Dory sets off on an epic journey to find her parents.

 

Dory’s parents spent years forming trails for her to follow – up and down valleys, across distances and through the dark currents of the ocean, in the hopes that she would eventually find them.

“Finding Dory” offers a powerful message for Protective Parents separated from their children that is familiar to those who have experienced this particular kind of pain, grief and loss.  

And for children separated from their mothers, what Dory felt may also be familiar – missing family, fear of rejection and the emotional experience of trying to piece together memories.

The purple shells are what connect Dory to her parents, and trigger the memories that eventually lead her home. The tiny shells are unremarkable in the vastness of the ocean. At times the sandy floor washes over them, and they disappear. But Dory is not alone, with the support of her friends, she finds her way.

 

What are your purple shells? Each parent and child has something special or shares something that links them together. It could be a physical or emotional reminder. A trinket, photograph, a prayer or special song, a drawing or toy etc

You can also create “purple shells” to honor your parent/child or to preserve special memories. Some ideas: scrap booking, releasing balloons on special occasions, lighting a candle, spiritual celebration, talking with friends/family, writing a letter etc.

Create a Path in the ways you can. Find creative ways to connect to or reach out to your parent/child if possible. Use your shells to bridge the distance. Seek support to help cope with the loss or grief.

Another message in “Finding Dory” is that Dory, and her parents, never gave up hope.The love they have for each other is unconditional. For those mothers/children who are estranged from each other, and have no contact or communication, there is a value in hope. And value in holding onto the love you share. Through love, we maintain our “purple shells”, our connection to our family – and it does not diminish with time or distance.

Also, when Dory was separated from her parents she found other ways to express her energy and love, and was able to channel her loss in a positive direction. You see that especially in her unique optimism, and her loyalty to friends. Though a loss of a parent/child can never be replaced, we can channel the expression of our love, and what that person meant to us, in other areas of our life. Or use that love to make a positive difference in the world. Some ideas: volunteer, be a friend, participate in community groups/activities, do something in memory of your loved one, fight for a cause, raise awareness, join a prayer chain etc

Final message – Never give up!

~ EJ, © 2016.

Another Perspective:  

Mother, Carrie Goldman, shares her thoughts after watching “Finding Dory” with her family. Carrie’s teen daughter was profoundly moved by the movie. Carrie shares insights from her perspective of “Finding Dory” and on her daughter’s reaction to it. Finding Dory: Why It Made My Seventh Grader Cry by Carrie Goldman

 

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(Montreal, Canada: June 2015) Dean Harper spent 16 agonizing years looking for his daughter Athena Glusing after his ex girlfriend took off with the then 2 year old child. Harper says his ex was upset about the end of their relationship and allegedly told him, “If you leave me, you leave your daughter“. Harper said he did not have financial resources to take legal action in family court. The ex girlfriend refused to let Harper see Athena, then moved with the child, cutting off all contact. Harper never stopped looking for Athena, and never stopped hoping they would be reunited.

Athena apparently had a very troubled life in the care of her mother, who put her into foster care at age 12. Administrators at Batshaw Youth and Family Centers had the name and contact number of Harper but never contacted him, and never attempted reunification with his daughter. Now that Harper has found his daughter, he is being slapped with a $7,800 bill for “parental contributions” to reimburse the state for foster care!

I don’t understand how they could have my daughter, know who I am, not look for me, then send me a bill once I find her.” said Dean Harper. Harper is very upset, and says he would have taken his child in, rather than have her go to foster care. He is considering taking legal action against Batshaw.

Harper is happy to be reunited with his daughter, who is 18 years old now, and has returned home, living in his care.

Commentary:

Harper has been robbed of the ability to be the father to Athena when she needed him most. The system first failed when the Courts did not give Harper any means to gain custody or visitation. And failed again when Athena was put into the chaos of the foster care system when she could have been given a safe, stable home environment. The government has inflicted great damage on this family, and continues its abuse by forcing Harper to pay for the state sponsored kidnapping of his own child. There is a very real possibility that Dean Harper will face financial troubles, and even punitive action if he does not pay the $7,800. And yet, Harper never wanted his daughter in foster care, and had been looking for her for 16 years. This is outrageous.

Obviously Batshaw saw more incentive to keep this family apart, and keep Athena in the system than to reunite her with her biological family. Why? This case should trigger and audit and in-depth investigation of Batshaw. I suggest following the money trail and the financial incentives for placing children in foster care. #JusticeforDeanHarper

– EJ Perth

Read More:

“Father finds long lost daughter after 16-year search only to receive $7,800 bill for foster care she was placed in without his knowledge” by Daily Mail UK, 6/2/2015:

  • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3108466/Father-finds-long-lost-daughter-16-year-search-receive-7-800-bill-foster-care-placed-without-knowledge.html
  • “Dad joyous, bitter at finding long-lost daughter” by CTV, 6/1/2015:

  • https://youtu.be/Z5D-8yqr4gk
  • Some thoughts on how the loss of my children due to an unjust family court order has motivated me to fight for family court reform. This post give you a glimpse into my family, and what the loss of my children means for us.

    I dropped my youngest child (not involved in this custody dispute) off at preschool, he gave me the biggest hug and said “Love you Mommy… see ‘ya!” then ran off into the classroom. I remember the tight squeeze of my son’s arms wrapped around his neck. The softness of his hair under my chin. How he smells like bubblegum toothpaste and the crisp, wintery air that dusted snowflakes on his coat. I remember the sound of my child’s sneakers slapping across the linoleum floor when he ran into the classroom. And when the day is done, I will pick my child up from school, we will share our life together, as family.

    I treasure each moment with my youngest child because I know the deep pain of being forced to live without your children.

    My two oldest children have been unjustly taken from me and sole custody was given to an alleged abuser, with over a dozen child abuse allegations against him. As a result of the abuse, both children have suffered from anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, problems socializing, problems communicating and more. My daughter has been diagnosed with “adjustment disorder” for almost her entire life…I think it is a sign that she has never truly “adjusted” being forced to live an abuser. My son has clear memories of abuse, and when he was younger he would bang his head on the wall or hit himself in the head because physical pain was the only way to drown out the memories. My son now lives a “double life”. He has learned to project an image to the outside world, what he wants people to see…and hides who he really is. My son says that he on purpose blocks things out as a way to cope.

    The abuser is using sole custody to totally exclude me from the life of my children. I do not get basic updates about their care or schooling. I wake up each morning with a tremendous emptiness. I do not get the chatter at the table as we eat breakfast. I do not get the hugs. I do not know what my children do during the day, or if they remember to say their bedtime prayers at night. I do not get to see my little girl grow up, and cringe at the thought of an abuser, who has shown no respect for women, is now guiding my little girl as she grows into a teen…all those important questions and conversations a mother and daughter share, will never happen for us. My oldest son spends all of his time on the internet; he has a new family in video games and Skype.

    There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel the incredible grief for my children… the place where my children once nestled in my womb, safe beneath my heart, is empty.

    The future for my family is a frame with no photograph.

    It was my dream to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to be on the PTA, and attend play groups. I wanted to take my daughter to dance class, and play dress up with her. I wanted to encourage my son to develop his interest in science, and do crazy experiments together… Now I am the Mom involved in never-ending court proceedings. The Mom studying legal blogs, court rulings and rules of procedure—to fight a legal battle just so I can have a place in my children’s lives. I escaped the abuse to give my kids a better life, and now the Court is telling me their life is better with the abuser. Horrific.

    I am the Mom who attends meetings, speaks out and takes every opportunity to advocate for my kids…and others like them… families negatively impacted by the failures and injustice within the family court system.

    I will never stop fighting to keep my kids safe and to bring them home.

    — “EJ”