Lawyers know that and an out of state wilderness program is often a station or the tool itself to teach a child to hate the parent who is trying to keep them safe at home where they are surrounded by family, siblings and friends.
We have searched a little and found a specific case where the wilderness program Redcliff Ascent was used in a nasty divorce case. Here is the first statement from the parent left out:
My 15 year old stepson was abducted from his mother's (physical custodian) home, at her direction a month ago. He was taken to Redcliff Ascent in Utah. We have moved heaven and earth trying to get him out. He shouldn't be there, even his psychologist said it was totally unnecessary, and could be counter-productive. This is a good kid, never skipped school, no drugs, no drinking, never arrested. His crime? He refuses to submit to his mother's wacko screaming demands. He screams back. The problems are HERS. It is documented.
We tried to get a court order to remove him. Same thing.....got the same judge (marital master) who oversaw the divorce and has heard all the custody issues for the past 9 years. And has always been biased for the mother. We couldn't PROVE he would definitely be harmed by being at Redcliff (and she didn't care what the psychologist had to say about it) and we were DENIED.
My husband and his EX have Joint Legal Custody, yet Redcliff won't release the child unless we get a court order from a UTAH COURT (we live in NH). It doesn't matter to them that my husband is his father. Redcliff refused to recognize he has any rights whatsoever. And lately, they have refused to communicate with him at all.
In Redcliff's enrollment contract, they have a section to address withdrawal by another parent, and say they will simply release the child to the other parent, regardless of that parent's custodial status. But they have a whole different set of requirements for my husband. And they refuse to explain this. Hopefully our attorney can flush this out this week. In the meantime, my husband is inconsolable. He feels so helpless that he can't do anything for his son.
The parent continue with the legal process:
I am sad (understatement) to report that we have NO legal recourse. As long as the mother signed along with the sicko-wannabe-father, there is nothing we can do. Redcliff has a MORAL obligation in this, but not a legal one. And moral doesn't count in anyone's book but ours, and maybe with parents who are considering signing away their own parental rights away to Redcliff. The fact that the child's psychologist determined this was unwarranted, and could be counter-productive (and has proven to be so)is not something Redcliff has a legal obligation to recognize. As long as someone signs and pays, that's all they need. We learned that we DO, in fact, have to go to Utah and get a court order to make anything happen.....to even get the records that the NH court says he is entitled to. Geez, if we only had a couple of months to screw around with this legal stuff, while a child suffers. What a haven Utah is for the Wilderness Therapy Business. This is Day 33 for the boy. Nobody gives a rat's behind what he is going through.
I have been in contact with a lot of news agencies about this....radio, TV and newspapers...and it will be exposed.
Okay, I'm mad at the world right now. But I am NOT without resources. I WILL FIND A WAY to make sure this child has not suffered in vain. I know, that sounds melodramatic. Bear with me. I'm furious, and I'm worried. An innocent 15 year old child has been shat upon in the worst possible way by his own MOTHER (and sadly she has the legal right to call herself a MOTHER), and we have no recourse. The courts are heartless. His mother is heartless and disturbed.
Now his "mother" says she is going to spring him on the 2nd of September. Why? Because that's all his school is willing to allow...beyond that, they can't help him catch up, and he DOES have a minimum legal number of days to attend, even with a private Catholic School (we're not Catholic, he wasn't either.....his mother lied to the Priest to get him converted to assure his continued enrollment in Catholic School, while robbing his college fund to pay for it). But if he stayed at Redcliff, with the unsatisfactory progress he is reluctantly making, they expect he would be there until late September, or early October before being graduation-worthy.
So, given that he is not going to be allowed to graduate and get the sense of satisfaction that MIGHT give him, why is he staying until the 2nd of September? Wouldn't it make sense to pull him out now? No. His "mother" (and each time I am using the term more and more loosely) has PLANS. She has sailing events at the Yacht Club, and other plans with her boyfriend. So he must remain in the desert, humiliated and angry.
Family members (hers!) have tried to get her to remove him before any more damage can be done, but she is adamant. She has plans, and she won't be denied her "party time" while her son is not in her "care". In this case, this means while she flits about and the son's father sends her fat child support checks so she can feed her hairy live-in boyfriend.....while she has given her physical custody away to Redcliff Ascent. If nothing else, she's in for a surprise with regard to the child support.
I have a rhetorical question for anyone familiar with Utah law. IF a therapist hears directly from a child that the child has been repeatedly exposed to (and possibly the victim of) violence, and is afraid for his (or her) own safety, is that therapist required by law to report it to the authorities? Just "curious". Simply a rhetorical question. Anyone know?
We are afraid that September 2nd, when he will be picked up by his "mother", will bring a family tragedy. And our hands are tied.
I will keep up my efforts to expose this situation so other parents won't mistakenly think they are somehow protected by having Legal Custody. Yes, folks, a big business in Utah can take your child against his will, against YOUR will, and you have NO recourse. They can simply refuse to acknowledge you exist, and refuse to acknowledge there is an authorization in the file that allows you to have information about your child (even if you fax them a copy of it), and refuse to acknowledge you have any custodial rights given by the court in your home state (where the child was BORN, and where the jurisdiction for custody lies). It's NOT about the children. It's about the $$$$$$$$$$$$$.
In the end the child had to endure 80 days in the wilderness. The went to pick him up. Here is a entry made a short while after they picked him up:
I haven't posted in a long time. There was so much going on, and we had no luck removing my stepson from Redcliff by legal means. His mother's permission, and the permission of her 3rd ex-husband (representing himself as the boy's father), along with approximately $31,000 (including the cost of his abduction) was sufficient reason for Redcliff to keep him as long as possible, against my husband's wishes.
FINALLY he did graduate. It took 80 long days. We went to Utah and attended the parent's seminar. Trust me, nobody wants to go through that. It was ongoing hours of listening to Dr. Dan drone on about things that had absolutely no relevance. I went because I expected them to tell us what to expect, and about aftercare. Nope, it was just Dr. Dan enjoying hearing himself speak. People were nodding off. The boy had his FIRST SHOWER IN 80 DAYS. It took about 3 weeks to finally chisel all the filth off him. It's a wonder they didn't all have lice.
Fortunately, one good thing came out of this long saga. The boy revealed enough about his home life to his therapist there that we were able to gain custody of him.
We objected to him being sent to Redcliff because it was done without my husband's knowledge or consent, and against the advice of the boy's evaluating psychologist, who said it could be counterproductive. It was established that all he needed was some regular local counseling to deal with anger issues (and now we know...boy, did he ever have reason to be angry!) and a more stable home environment. For that, he was abducted by strangers and taken to Utah. We had never had any problems with him other than him being quite spoiled, and having a sense of entitlement.
That has sure changed. We brought him home from Utah, and it has been chaos ever since. The experience has nearly ruined him. Of course, he had to enter high school late, so he will likely end up in summer school to attempt to catch up. But he likes his new school. Other than that, he hates everything. He resents having rules to follow (very REASONABLE rules, I might add) and he has blatantly lied to us more times than I can count. He has gotten into trouble, and he refuses to accept that he is grounded as a consequence of his actions. Every day is a constant battle. We've tried to talk to him about the merits of being honest and trustworthy, and he just says that's a bunch of crap, and he doesn't care if he's trustworthy, and why would anybody spend any time thinking about trust? He is extremely disrespectful and cruel. He says he is not going to respect the rules, that he shouldn't HAVE any rules, etc. We read some of his written therapy assignments, in which he says how important trust & truth are, and how he wants to be a better person. He now admits, he learned to play the Redcliff Game, and knew what was expected of him to make him worthy of graduating. All the kids learn the game. He just took longer than average.
Redcliff was advised within a few days of accepting him into their program, that his psychologist warned this was not right for him. They were given a copy of his evaluation. I told him in a letter that the psychologist said he shouldn't be there, and we were trying to get him out. Because I did that, I was banned from writing to him. Now he says his Redcliff therapist told him a different story. She allegedly told the boy she spoke to his psychologist, and she read the evaluation, and she stressed that he DID say he needed to be there. We contacted the psychologist and he said he never heard from anyone from Redcliff. Because he has done nothing but lie since he arrived, I wouldn't be inclined to believe him, but he volunteered the information. And the therapist had lied to us on at least one occasion that we know of, so who knows what the truth is.
Regardless, I would say to any parent who is considering Redcliff: Don't buy into the advertising. Keep in mind that the success statistics they quote on their website were compiled by people who are (directly or indirectly) affiliated with Redcliff (one is actually on their board of directors). Do your research. It DOES NOT WORK. In our case, they knowingly accepted a kid who didn't need it, accepted him under false pretenses, refused to allow his father to withdraw him, and turned him into a frighteningly angry young man. We sleep with our wallets and car keys. His mother turned her relatively normal son over to Redcliff. He had some very justified anger issues over his home life. She expected them to fix him, when she was the one who needed fixing. After 80 days, we returned home with an extremely angry, unmotivated, sarcastic and cruel young man. Redcliff is nothing more than a lucrative business, operating at the expense of children and their families, and a feeder program to get kids into even more lucrative boarding schools. They should be ashamed of themselves. They feed off the desperation of parents, promising to repair their broken children, and teach them responsibility, accountability, and integrity. I mentioned integrity the other day, and he said "What is that?". When I explained, he dismissed it as something he had no interest in. So what DID he learn at Redcliff? He learned how to build a fire without matches, and he learned how to use a knife.
Even though we told Redcliff that nobody in the family could afford to send him to boarding school....it was NOT an option, they continued to provide him with brochures, and even the field staff told him to keep pressing his parents to let him go on to boarding school (I have the field staff's journal notes to prove it). That's where the big money is, so they try to lure the kids on board. The kids don't know any better. They don't understand it's all a big money making scheme.
So, overall it was one big disaster. He has been set behind in school, his attitude is frightening, and we have a LONG road ahead of us. Every day is a new challenge, or a repeat of an old challenge. Nobody from Redcliff has called to ask how he's doing. They don't want to know. They took a good kid and created a monster. They are still counting the cash. And we are trying to save a kid they destroyed.
Time went by and the parent made a final update where they evaluated the traumatic experience.
I thought I'd pop in to give an update on my stepson. He finished his 80-day sentence at Redcliff over 7 months ago. Nobody from Redcliff has called, written or otherwise contacted us since his release.
We are enduring his rage episodes every 8 - 10 weeks on average, and they last from two to five days each time. The time between episodes is good. He's almost the person he was before he got sent to Redcliff. We get along well, and he behaves at school but he's having difficulty keeping up. He's had a challenging workload due to missing 8 weeks of school while he was at Redcliff.
He only talks about Redcliff when he's in a rage, and his memories are not fond ones. Even though we didn't send him there, and did everything possible to get him out, he is still angry with us. Once in a while, he has the opportunity to direct his rage at his mother and that offers him some relief for a while. She still affects his life negatively, and continues to do hurtful things to him, which make his healing more challenging. Just sending him into isolation for 80 days wasn't enough for her.
When my stepson was in Redcliff, they charged $425 per day for the first 60 days. Now they charge $440. Before they charged $160 for every day beyond 60. Now that is $220 per day. That's quite an increase in 7 months! I hope the increase is due to reduced "enrollment". Maybe the cost of dried oats and lentils has gone up. Maybe the Redcliff owners all bought houses they can't afford. I'm sure there's some reason for the increase. I'm just excited to know that parents will have to dig a little deeper in their pockets before turning their children over to these people to be "fixed". Maybe that will save a few kids.
It is very clear that there is no way a residential stay can benefit a family going through a divorce process. And it is also clear that judges in the childs homestate should hold a parent who arrange for a stay in wilderness program in contempt by jailing them until the child is returned home. A legal loophole exist and this loophole should be repaired.