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Yes I know. Many of us have been through a divorce and it is one of the most difficult times we have ever had to go through.
But you can guarantee that for the children involved, it will be something they will never forget, for better or for worse.
So, our children must come first, because the decisions we make on how we go about the divorce proceedings, will affect their lives profoundly.
For all the criticisms I may have had about my ex-husband and the father of our four wonderful children, he never let spite get in the way of any decisions we had to make. Our three sons were teenagers and our daughter was 11 years old at the time of our divorce. He took our two oldest sons to live with him and I cared for the two youngest children. However, the children moved freely between the two households at holiday times etc.
It is only on hindsight that I can now see we mostly did things right. Yes, we stuffed up occasionally, but not once did we denigrate each other in front of the children.
The point I am coming to is this. Please don’t separate siblings from each other permanently. The bonds between them are vital because they will need each other in the years ahead. Please don’t use your children as pawns or turn them against each other. Emotional blackmail is absolutely soul destroying for all concerned!
I didn’t have to read about all of this in books. I and my siblings have lived it.
Our mother, Doreen, had severe bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes which was diagnosed when she was in her thirties. Her psychiatrist and youngest sister, Anne, believe her childhood traumas brought on the severe manifestations of the disorder.
Even though Doreen wasn’t able to care for her children there was no doubt she loved us. (If you want to know more about her story, please read post: Letters to Anne Frandi-Coory. But both our extended Lebanese and Italian families abandoned her and her children.
Doreen had 6 children in all. Hers was a desperate quest to find love and a family. Three children were taken from her and adopted out. Her oldest son Kevin lived with her in between her frequent bouts in a psychiatric hospital when he was just a small boy. His was a lifelong devotion to her. I was her second child and my brother Anthony her third. All three of us were placed in various orphanages; Kevin whenever Doreen couldn’t look after him (she was either working or in hospital, no benefits in those days). Records show I was 10 months old and Anthony a new born when we were placed in the Mercy Orphanage For The Poor in Dunedin, for all our formative years.
I don’t know the full truth as to why I, Kevin and Anthony were not adopted out as well, but the one thing we three had in common was that we had three different fathers who were all brothers from an immigrant Lebanese family. My father Joseph adopted Kevin at about six months old and of course I was his only child. He loved us and did his best, but his family were adamant they did not want us in the family home. Anthony was completely ignored and neglected until he was much older but cannot remember any of his past traumas. However, they show in his demeanour and on his face.
Getting back to sibling separation, the reason for my writing this piece.
We grew up in different orphanages and had different lives with many years passing between each brief contact. We could never support each other through the very tough years because we didn’t have that all important bond of growing up together or being in close proximity.
It has taken us years to overcome our childhoods but we have done it all ourselves with no help from drugs, drink or family support. Without the luxury of having each other to share our tears with. I am sad about that but I am also proud that we have refused to be victims.
I believe the deepest cuts were those inflicted when our mother abandoned us and we were separated from each other. Please don’t do that to your children.
© To Anne Frandi-Coory All Rights Reserved 15 June 2013