Posted: Apr 11, 2013 7:00 AM
 
It's unthinkable to imagine losing custody of your own children. When the Hakkens kidnapped their young sons and sailed to Cuba with them, did part of you secretly root for them? As parents, how do we process stories like this rationally?

We've all heard horror stories about parents losing custody of their children over misunderstandings or overreactions. At the same time, it's all too common to hear of neglect and abuse that went unnoticed and children who perished due to lack of interventions. As parents, how do we process hearing stories of children who are removed from their parents' care?

Kidnapped by Mom and Dad

I first heard about the kidnapping of the Hakken siblings from an Amber Alert on my Twitter feed. The alert was local. Two brothers had been kidnapped from their grandmother in a local town. What surprised me was the fact that the kidnappers were the boys' mom and dad. After losing custody of the boys, they allegedly kidnapped them in the early morning and took off on a 25-foot sailboat from Madeira Beach, Florida and headed to Cuba.

No longer parents

With a judge's order, a parent can lose all rights and become, in the eyes of the law, no longer a child's parent at all.

Details aren't clear as to exactly why both parents lost custody of the boys. Allegedly, dad Joshua Hakken was found with his kids in a hotel room with weapons and marijuana. He also allegedly threatened a foster care worker with a semiautomatic weapon when he showed up demanding to see his boys.

As a mother, it's hard for me to fathom what it would be like to have my parental rights severed. With a judge's order, a parent can lose all rights and become, in the eyes of the law, no longer a child's parent at all. While I don't question the decision to remove the boys from their parents' custody, the mom in me aches for the Hakkens and the choices they made to lead them down that path.

Who do you root for?

I have to confess that as I followed this story, a small part of me rooted for the Hakkens. I thought about parents who neglect their children or show no interest in them. I thought about parents who abuse kids. Here were two parents willing to go to extreme lengths to get their children back. Surely they had their kids' well-being at heart. Did they go about things the wrong way? Absolutely. Can I sympathize with a brutal need to be with one's children? Yes, I can.

Trusting the system

I have to hope that the system that severed their parental rights will be as vigilant when it comes to other children living with neglect and abuse.

I have to place my trust in the system. While I can understand why these desperate parents took their children back forcefully and ran away from the government who told them they weren't parents anymore, I know that they had better options. They could have sought legal counsel and worked with the courts in Louisiana to prove that they were fit to be parents or, at the very least, fit to visit their children. The impulse to root for the Hakken parents was ultimately fleeting. I have to hope that the system that severed their parental rights will be as vigilant when it comes to other children living with neglect and abuse.

Share with us!^ What would you do? If your children were legally removed from your care, would you kidnap them if you felt it was best? Leave us a comment below.

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