After the dust has settled from Friday’s hearing, I am left with mixed emotions. It was good to finally have an opportunity to present evidence while at the same time it was frustrating that so much was blocked from the hearing. Most of all, I can’t understand why something so simple as doing what is right by a child becomes the most complex act behind paperwork, politics, and people who are big enough to take care of themselves.
Let me tell you about the hearing. Two of Mikey’s teachers were also able to testify as well as myself and my mother. It was unfortunate that Mikey’s psychologist, Dr. Carol Garfinkle, was denied the ability to testify about Mikey’s care specifically, she could only confirm she made recommendations, not the details of any advice or treatment plan.
Thankfully, Dr. Garfinkle did testify as an expert witness, which gave her the ability to discuss the treatment of abuse and trauma in children. The doctor explained that in cases of abused children, a slow supervised reintroduction of a mistreating parent is typical. This plan allows the child time and space to regain trust in the offending parent. I would like to share my opinion here that the implementation and success of such a plan should hinge on the fact that the parent must show remorse and confirmation that they are no longer abusive.
A few things did bother me that day. While not surprised, I was disappointed that at the last minute, Amber and her mother decided not to testify (the defense called no witnesses). It seems to me testifying would have given Amber the opportunity to tell her side of the story or to dispute the evidence that was presented against her. Yet she chose to stay silent.
My legal team would have liked an opportunity to ask the questions they had ready for her. They were eager to ask about inconsistencies in police reports regarding abuse our son suffered. Records contained explanations she provided for injuries, many of which were determined not to be plausible by child abuse experts. They really wanted to explore the untruths she spoke in her November 2017 testimony, particularly when she stated under oath “Mikey never had a relationship with his father” and we have another 8 questions that were answered that can be proven false.
My Attorneys would have liked to explore her pattern of deceit too, especially as it pertains to interactions with law enforcement or DCFS. During 2016, while Amber was allegedly bettering herself to regain care of our child she was caught secretly interacting with Colin Dameron, a violation of her DCFS service plan and of her previous probation. Please listen to the following call between Amber and Colin while he was in jail. (audio converted to video for posting)
While Amber didn’t testify, I most certainly did, and I was very candid about my feelings on the stand. When asked if I want my son and his mother to have a relationship, I answered “yes”. A relationship is a connection that takes on many forms; sometimes we all think it needs to look a certain way. In fact, he already has a relationship with his mother, it is just not a healthy one for him right now. So, in my mind, IF becomes a key word here. IF my son is given time and opportunity to heal. IF my son can be kept safe while in contact with his mother, verbally or physically. IF my son’s second chance, which he was given when I received sole custody, is maintained instead of forfeited for her.
To reiterate, I just want to keep my son safe. That’s all I have ever done. He was abused emotionally and physically while in his mother’s care. That is factual, the evidence doesn’t lie. It bothers me that there is no acknowledgement or accountability for that abuse. Our son has suffered greatly and continues to suffer from past trauma. He is getting specialized treatment because of it. Where is the empathy for what has been done to him? Denying it only continues a pattern of mistrust. It seems in stark contrast to the recommendations Dr. Garfinkle shared on how to reestablish a parent-child relationship after mistreatment with significant trauma has happened.
To further explain my remark about my son’s second chance not being forfeited for his mother to have yet another chance. This is not the first time there has been an issue involving her mistreatment of her children and in the past, she has risked reestablishing a relationship with them. I know I shared details of her behavior when she engaged in jail conversations with Colin Dameron when a no contact order was in place. But another example is that her own parents questioned the deleterious effects of her parenting back in 2015 and pleaded for her to do right by them. They even attempted to have my son’s half-sister stay with them in Colorado. Not that I trust her parent’s motives, but that aside, Amber continued to ignore that she was damaging them or take responsibility for her actions, much like she is now when addressing my son’s issues resulting from her conduct. I have included a copy of the e-mail here and am providing this information to demonstrate why I have grave concerns. 2015 Buck Email
This case is complex. My son’s behavioral issues are complicated and need to be handled delicately per the recommendations of the professionals treating him. As you can imagine, I’m having a hard time dealing with corners continually being cut when it comes to the best interests of my son. Despite what has been or may be relayed, I have not denied Amber the opportunity to see him. In fact, my legal team and I were open to supervised visits while she was in Massachusetts. But please understand, my son is very fearful of his mother. He has meltdowns daily in response to court ordered calls. If not handled properly, an in-person meeting can do significant damage to his recovery. Because of this, it is very important to have set parameters prior to a visitation.
The recommendation was made that Amber first meet with our son’s psychologist to discuss his ongoing treatment and to prepare her for a visit. It would then be followed up by a two-hour supervised visit. Initially, she agreed to this plan. Yet, once the court decided that Dr. Garfinkle would not testify to specifics related to Mikey’s care, Amber decided against it. If she wanted to see our son so badly, and truly wanted what is in his best interests, then why wouldn’t she take the opportunity to meet with his doctor about the best way to approach this precious little boy without causing more trauma?
While I know it is difficult to walk in another’s shoes, I can honestly say if roles were reversed, I would do anything to see my son. I would also try to do it in the least upsetting way possible. I would prepare. I would do anything that was asked of me. That has been shown in my actions and it is why I was given custody. But that isn’t what happened when Amber requested time with our son. She asked to see him (directed her request to my legal team, not asking the court to intervene or order visitation), however refused to follow the parameters asked of her and for a second time left Massachusetts without seeing our son.
For me, the most disturbing moment of the day in court came during my testimony describing physical injuries my son suffered while in his mother’s care. At this time, two pictures of the abuse had already been entered into evidence when I noticed Amber continually smirking at me. I was so upset by her behavior given the disturbing topics being discussed that I asked the Judge to address it. Thankfully, he was very firm with her and ordered the inappropriate behavior to be stopped immediately.
Judge Cronan made it known that my son will not be removed from the state while we wait for his decision, which is due by September 10th. The hearing was to request a stay that would keep my beloved little boy in Massachusetts during the appeal process, which is to settle a dispute over jurisdiction. Until then, I am cherishing every second with my son while I continue to pray that Massachusetts will take emergency jurisdiction of this case.
Sometimes I just want to ask the people in power who seem motivated by anything other than my child’s safety and best interest – you tell me if someone harmed your child over and over again for years you’d be eager for them to spend any unsupervised time with that child let alone return them to that individual’s custody. My son is not the only one with trust issues towards his mother, and I would expect the courts and professionals involved to feel the same way or at least acknowledge and understand it. Ignore my feelings if you must, but please validate Mikey’s as they are a legitimate and real response. In my eyes and medical/mental health professionals eyes, by ignoring him they are continuing the cycle of abuse, wielding power and putting him in harm’s way. Tell me, if you have to drop on your knees and pray every day that the mother of your child doesn’t kill him that you wouldn’t see the light in what Mikey needs from the big people in his life – care, consideration, and to be treated as someone important in their life. I know he is the most important human in my world
Michel Brian Cadena Sr.