Parental Abductor Melinda Thompson Arrested in AmsterdamWritten by: Rob Print This Article
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On September 9, 2010, law enforcement finally caught up with parental child abductor Melinda Thompson, formerly Melinda Stratton. On April 24, 2008, she had disappeared with son Andrew Thompson after leaving Australia to go to Germany on a Singapore Airlines flight from Sydney to Frankfurt. Her professed intent was to keep the boy away from his father, Ken Thompson of New South Wales, Australia. After more than a year searching for his son, in mid-2010 he traveled to Europe to do a bike tour across the continent in search for his son. He biked over 3000 miles across nine countries raising awareness of his missing son. He wore clothes covered with pictures of Andrew.
Ken discussed in an interview with BBC news about how he discovered Andrew had been found. He had stopped cycling in Germany between Nuremberg and Stuttgart to check his email. There was an anonymous message stating that Andrew had been found and Australian authorities would contact him.
Father Finds His Kidnapped Son Half A World Away
Ultimately, Stratton’s capture was due to her attempting to enroll Andrew in school in Amsterdam with an expired passport. The school principal became suspicious and checked with police, finding that there were 180 Interpol alerts for the missing boy as well as arrest warrants for Stratton.
Melinda Is A Parental Alienator
Melinda has used false allegations of domestic violence to try to keep their son away from his father. The level of access blocking in which she has engaged is far beyond that of most parental alienators. Experts consider parental child abduction to be an unusually severe form of child abuse because it generally strips the children of all relationships other than the one with their abductor. Life on the run is already difficult, but compounding that is how the alienating and abducting parent engages in emotionally abusive behaviors such a badmouthing the other parent and his or her extended family.
Because the child has been abducted and all contact with others who know the target parent is blocked, such children are particularly susceptible to brainwashing by the alienating parent. When this happens, a child is said to suffer from parental alienation syndrome. This reflects that the alienation is so severe that the child joins in the alienation effort, even going so far as to denigrate the target parent, destroy his or her property, and even kill the parent.
As we described in our earlier article Australian Mother Commits International Child Abduction, Stratton claimed that Thompson was an unfit father because of depression and anxiety. Yet such conditions are commonplace in troubled marriages and divorces. If everybody who suffered from either was denied their rights as parents, likely most children of divorce would no longer see either of their parents.
In this case, it appears the parents were still married when the troubles started. If so, it is another example of how parental alienation can occur in marriages, before divorce is ever filed. Some of the reporting on this story refers to a divorce, but it is inconsistent. Ken Thompson still refers to Melinda as his wife and hopes she will get the help she needs to deal with the diagnosed mental health problems contributing to her alienating and abducting behaviors.
Delayed Reunification and Foster Care Common for Abducted Children
As is typical of how governments handle such cases, Ken Thompson has still not been able to see his son even days after the arrest. Andrew is now living in Dutch foster care, apart from both of his parents. Ken realizes that Andrew may be scared of him due to parental alienation from his mother.
‘One part of my mind still does not believe he’s been found,’ Ken said today. . ‘I know he has, but until I see him I can’t quite process it. So much of my life since April 2008 has been focussed on finding Andrew that now, even with the huge amount of support and public interest in his recovery, I feel a bit surreal.’
Ken met yesterday with Dutch police and other authorities to discuss how and when he might be reunited with Andrew. He said today that he is extremely reassured by the care and attention Andrew is receiving from carers and psychologists assigned to ensure that the eventual reunion is positive and the first step on the way to re-establishing the former close relationship between father and son.
‘We need to be reunited carefully,’ Ken said. ‘I don’t know quite how he will react. He may be quite frightened of me, depending on what he has been told about why he was suddenly taken from home to a vastly different life.’
This is similar to conduct seen in Canada in the Ashley Gonis child abduction case. In that case, mother Araceli Bravo illegally moved the girl across Canada to keep her from her father, Frank Gonis. When Ashley called the police for help, Bravo ended up being arrested. But Canadian authorities still would not let Frank Gonis see his daughter. They even reportedly put her in foster care rather than let them see each other.
Clearly the misery caused by parental abduction does not end with the arrest of the abductor. Andrew and Ashley and other long-term child abduction victims will need years and much loving attention and likely extensive therapy to recover from their ordeals.
Parental Child Abduction Often Occurs After Parental Alienation Is Detected
Research shows that custodial parents are more likely to engage in parental alienation. It appears that child abduction is most often committed by current or former custodial parents who engaged in parental alienation and false allegations of domestic violence and child abuse. In 2008, Australia reported 120 parental kidnappings with 75% of them committed by mothers who were usually the primary custodial parents until not long before the abduction. In many cases, it appears the courts figured out the alienator is abusing the kids and the target parent and made changes to increase the time spent with the target parent. As alienators are, as a general rule, prone to emotionally abuse others to get their way, they are apt to resort to child abduction. In abductions that last many years, they are frequently able to get at least one child to believe their lies and succumb to parental alienation syndrome. A couple of other well-known child abduction cases that fit into this pattern are that of Cindy Dumas and Holly Collins.
Website for Finding Andrew John Thompson