In recent days, after missing mother Samantha Baldwin and her two sons aged six and nine were found, details have been released about the reason why the children were considered to be at risk of harm. The reasons, which include drugging her children as part of false allegations of abuse against their father, are common amongst a particular group of parents who alienate their children against the other parent. The sad part about this case is that the children appear to remain in foster care rather than being reunited with their father. The reason for this being that they had not had a relationship with him for some time prior to their disappearance, which seems to mean that there is a belief that care is the better option for these children. It almost certainly is not.

From my perspective as an expert in reuniting children who have been alienated against a parent, the worst outcome is when children lose not one but both of their parents in the attempt to repair the damage that one parent has done to them. Whilst some complain that the court does more damage than good and others believe that the family court is not the place to deal with such cases, in my experience it is not the court which does the damage but the unskilled practitioners who do the work of carrying out the judgements in such cases. Contrary to the belief that the family court is not the place to do this kind of work, it is absolutely the place where such matters must be dealt with, but attempting to resolve such cases without the court’s firm control of the dynamics, especially when children are at such risk of harm, is both foolish and naïve. What is required when children are used as pawns in this way, is the holding of the case by a skilled judge and the delivery of a strong intervention to reunite children with the parent they have rejected which is carried out by skilled practitioners. When these two elements are combined, children are protected, reunited with their rejected parent and the risk of harm is vastly reduced.

Children who are being influenced to reject a parent are often at the mercy of a parent who is driven by rage, hatred and other highly negative feelings which arise at the end of the adult relationship. The psychiatric term for this is the Medea Complex and it is serious and concerning to observe. In Samantha Baldwin’s case, it would appear that a determined eruption of fury and resistance, led to a plan to spirit her children away in the face of a judgement she did not agree with, a plan which was executed on the day the judge decided her children should go into care. Supporters of this mother say that she is a great mum and that the judgement is wrong. In my experience, parents like Samantha are capable of inveigling others into the delusional belief of persecution, a belief which is rarely based on truth and one which can continue long after children have been removed and reunited with their rejected parent.

We haven’t heard much from these children’s father but in my experience, it is with him that these children’s longer term wellbeing is best protected. Children who reject a parent in the circumstances so described are often able to reunite with that parent when they have been removed from the parental source of their allegations and professed fear. Given that they have lost one parent to the behaviours that arises in some parents through and beyond family separation, it will be tragic if they have to lose both on the basis that they haven’t seen their father due to the long period of prevention from doing so on the basis of false allegations.

The court has made its judgment, the children have been found. Now is the time to bring the boys back together with their father to bring them peace and certainty that they are safe both now and into the future. Punishing them by making them lose both parents because of the actions of one would be a tragic outcome that they do not deserve to suffer.


This post is a feaured blog on Huffington Post today – 12.4.2017