Spotted an Error?
Carola Wilcke had a nightmare years ago: the youth welfare office thought she was a liar with a personality disorder and wanted to take the children away from her, as she tells in the interview. She now knows what to do in such a case – and passes on her most valuable tips.
Carola Wilcke may be a former victim, but she has not been a victim for a long time. Because the mother of two did not let the seemingly hopeless situation get her down. On the contrary. The qualified journalist and event manager is now an ace when it comes to matters relating to the youth welfare office and family court. She will never be as helpless as six years ago.
Put an end to the nightmare
The goal of the Görlitz woman is to put an end to the nightmare, which she says many mothers in Germany experience. Never again should children be torn from their families for no reason. In an interview with FOCUS Online, she shares her knowledge and experience and advises what other people affected can do even in hopeless situations.
FOCUS Online: They almost lost their children to the youth welfare office a few years ago. How did that happen?
Carola Wilcke: In 2013, I had an unsuspecting assessment under a family law custody procedure. The expert at the time was to examine the child’s well-being criteria (continuity, commitments, support, child’s will). He did that and a little more. Suddenly I had a personality disorder, I was a liar and I had just made up the accusations of violence against my father. My behavioral repertoire, which is intolerant of ties, must be punished. With custody and the removal of the children from my care. They were ten and eight years old at the time. Appropriately, the youth welfare office attested that the children had been manipulated. In a secret action, which was declared as a child’s hearing in the family court, the children were to be separated from specially appointed watchmen by me.
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FOCUS Online: What has led to this "secret action" did not take place?
Wilcke: The judge fell ill the day before this measure and in the long term. After three months the trial was continued with a new judge. It quickly put an end to the spook and assured me that there was no reason for her to be relocated, also because of the child’s will. I only found out about the unsuccessful confiscation of my children by accident because, because of my gut feelings, I hired another lawyer who asked to see the files. In doing so, she discovered a note with the sergeant’s request to hear the child.
When I found out about it, all the dams broke and I cried uncontrollably. So far it was unimaginable for me with what arbitrariness and violence the so-called helper system at the family court actually acts.
FOCUS Online: So you couldn’t have done anything to prevent your children from being taken away from you?
Wilcke: It was just luck after I had so much bad luck in the "choice of teammates". Starting with the malicious expert from Berlin, through the incompetent and non-partisan clerk at the youth welfare office, to the dependent legal advisor who was unable to represent the child’s interests. The crowning glory was the family judge, who shone through a lack of, at least rudimentary, psychological knowledge and an expert opinion. For this, they mastered the methods of emotional manipulation by exercising psychological violence quite well. Scaring and needing was part of the repertoire.
Carola Wilcke has completed training as a procedural assistant, nurse and companion since 2015, studies social work and works on a voluntary basis for the ombudsman in Saxony. She also looks after her self-help group "lion Mamas" on Facebook with over 1,400 members. She is also active in politics, has already been invited as an expert for the children’s commission of the Bundestag and gave a lecture on the subject at the family conference of the left in the Bundestag "What do separation families need?".
"Persistence is often helpful"
FOCUS Online: What was the greatest lesson that this experience has taught you?
Wilcke: Oh, there were some. My belief in the rule of law has been shaken considerably. The intertwining of the helper system with the judge did not allow independent work at all. How many people held out their hand there and cashed in – madness. That can go into the high five-digit range that parents have to pay. And always fascinating how amateurish the actual experts acted, by not looking at the individual case, but working with drawers and ideologies.
The situation for me and my children did not improve until I was able to think clearly and analyze our dilemma again. With a good dose of self-reflection. At that time I was doing trauma therapy at the university clinic in Dresden, which brought about a change for me. To do this, I devoured tons of specialist literature and acquired a lot of knowledge from "real experts". To do this, I looked for support in self-help groups, such as in the re-empowerment group and in the mothers’ lobby.
FOCUS Online: What do you advise mothers who no longer feel safe with the youth welfare office?
Wilcke: I think the first mistake will be made if those affected turn to the youth welfare office for help at all. You may be lucky enough to meet a competent clerk. But hell can break loose if you hit the wrong guy. And the chances of this are pretty good. In addition to the ideological attitude, the overload also plays a major role. The cases quickly land on the personal level where they do not belong. I missed professionalism, empathy, self-reflection and impartiality the most.
If mothers notice that the development of the relationship with their clerk at the youth welfare office drifts in a very bad direction, I recommend, to keep communication with the office to a minimum. Many sufferers talk about their heads and collars. Administrative complaints against employees generally do nothing but more bad blood.
Professional support through ombudsmen (free of charge), lawyers (for a fee) or simply friends and acquaintances is just as helpful. Everyone is allowed to bring assistance, which is anchored in SGB X § 13. Many youth welfare officers do not want or know this. Persistence is appropriate and often helpful. Taking minutes of the conversations can also be useful.
FOCUS Online: What points of contact do mothers have when they are looking for help?
Wilcke: I just hinted at that. A good and committed lawyer is essential. In addition to family law, he should also be fit in administrative law. In a few federal states, there are ombudsmen in the state parliament who deal with precisely these problems, but only as long as no legal proceedings are pending. At this point I would like to give an example of my colleagues in Schleswig-Holstein who are very committed to helping mothers and who also provide other help centers. There are also other ombudsman offices in the respective federal states that mediate in the event of conflicts between those affected and the youth welfare offices. The power asymmetries should be balanced out so that an eye level is established. Mothers seeking advice and help are not annoying supplicants who need to be disciplined!
There are also a few mother associations with affiliated self-help groups that are more or less active regionally. It is important for those affected that they have the experience that they are not alone with their problem. Networking and knowledge acquisition are essential these days. From this constellation personal friendships can even develop, which have a very positive influence on the health constitution. Psychotherapeutic support in this crisis situation is not a fault either.
The golden rule for all mothers
FOCUS On-line: What can or should mothers do so that their children feel safe and understood despite everything?
Wilcke: The separation children are best off when the caring mothers are doing well. And every woman can take care of that herself. By acting wisely, forming networks for support, taking care of your own health by keeping the stress level low and creating beautiful experiences. A huge challenge for single parents.
There are also coachings that can be used or the self-help groups already described. There are many suitable offers on the Internet, especially on Facebook. A wonderful structure has developed in my self-help group, the lion mums. The "old hands", like me, pass on their experience with the associated solutions to the newcomers. For example, a golden rule is to thankfully reject the assessment of one’s own ability to bring up children while the child is still in the maternal care. This can be done without consequences, as the Supreme Court ruling has determined.
Looking for help? How to find it "lion Mamas"
In her closed Facebook group "lion Mamas" Carola Wilcke supports mothers and grandmothers with advice and action. In the meantime, experts have been found among the 1,400 members who also have an open ear and pass on their experience and knowledge. As it is a closed group, please contact the MIA mother initiative for more information and contact.
One should know that the clear majority of the reports are incorrect, as is shown, among other things, by the study by Werner Leitner, a psychology professor and expert in family law. In very few cases, the truth actually comes out, as a is naive idea of mothers. Instead, it sets the course for the children to be taken out. We even have a mom in our ranks who, as a layperson, successfully enforced a constitutional complaint without legal help. So if you take a few things to heart, you should be able to navigate these cliffs well.
FOCUS Online: So as a mother you are not necessarily at the mercy of fate.
Wilcke: The good news is that these horror stories make sense – they can help us develop personality. You obviously don’t see that at the beginning of this "career" and want it to end as soon as possible. Best with a happy ending. Everyone can do something for that. We are not powerless to the whole. This lesson in the area of self-efficacy shows us limits, but also opens up completely new perspectives.
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