Yesterday John came home to tell me he had heard an Amber Alert. You know, one of those emergency messages telling you to watch for certain people, or a certain vehicle, because a child is missing. This one said that the dad had taken his two little kids.
What a horrible experience for those kids. They're supposed to trust Dad, and here he whisks them away from Mom, who they live with, who takes care of them, who they love. Yeah, they love Dad, too, but now he's not acting right, not taking them home like he's supposed to. How scary.
Or is it? Having had a very little experience with people divorcing and dealing with custody issues, I now have a different perspective. When one party is always late returning the children to the other, how can we be sure that the kids are really "taken?" Or, when one party, even the one who is always late, refuses to allow even a minute of tardiness to the other, how can we be sure the kids are really "taken?" Has Dad had car trouble, hasn't been able to reach Mom, and Mom decides, after 15 minutes of tardiness, that Dad has "taken" the kids? She calls the police, who issue an Amber Alert. Yes, I realize we live in a time of cell phones, but we also have dead zones. And dead zones are not always cellular infrastructure. Sometimes they are in attitudes; toward divorced moms vs divorced dads, for example.
I realize that most Amber Alerts are real, genuine, and the kids need to be found. But, after watching this process for a little while, there will always be a little nagging voice in the back of my head saying, "Did he/she really take the kids? Was there an accident, a misunderstanding? How can we be sure?"