(Titlemaychange)A mother endures the kidnapping and subsequent alienation of her children.
|Janet's Story Arc/ Other Story Notes
(I'm thinking that we will have some of the chapters/sections be told from Craig's and Cindy's point of views. Sort of in the style of Jodi Piccoult's novels.)
Janet's Desire Line: “I wanted to be a mother/a good mother.”
Status Quo Scene:
Janet was young, married to Bob. They had a relatively normal life. Bob had his shortcomings, Janet had hers. Neither of them were especially happy, but they weren't unhappy either. Janet wanted to be a mother. She and Bob had tried but were unsuccessful at having their own so they adopted a little boy. His name is Craig. Janet was over the moon happy to be a mother, but Bob didn't really want children. They couldn't seem to make each other happy, so their marriage ended. It wasn't a bad separation, nor was it good. It just was.
Now that Janet was a single mother, she decided to move to Reno so she could be closer to her parents. They helped her to be a good mother by watching Craig while Janet worked to provide for herself and her son. It wasn't long before Janet found herself in a relationship with Elmo Wortman. He made her feel wonderful. (?Elmo wanted children and a family, and Janet felt like she was going to have the family of her dreams, where she could be the ideal mother!?) Their courtship did not last very long, and soon they found themselves on the way to the church to be married.
On the day of the wedding, on the way to the church, in their wedding attire, Elmo drops this mind bomb on Janet. “We don't have to do this if you don't want to,” he said. The seeds of doubt have been planted. Years later she looks back and still think about this. She thinks, “he tried to warn me, even then!” (We'll get more details on this scene)
Janet wanted to be a mother and she was absolutely happy as she began having children with Elmo. They came quickly one right after the other, and for a few years, things were good. The family moved up to Alaska. They made friends, Elmo built a boat, Janet read the book, “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale, and everything seemed great. She didn't always agree with the things that Elmo did, how he treated Craig, etc. but there was nothing really suspect. First came Margie, then came Cindy, then Randy. (I am not sure I have this order right...)(This would be a good place to talk about a few of Elmo's eccentric behaviors like not putting money in the bank, and working for cash under the table, etc.)
Janet loved being a mother, and felt fulfilled. Elmo's penchant for controlling Janet and the children wasn't obvious and manifested itself very rarely. As more children came, and as she began to assert some independence, Elmo's controlling and abusive nature began to rear it's ugly head. She lived in fear of retaliation while she was pregnant with the youngest one, Jena, and though she was ordered by the doctor to be on bed rest, she didn't take it as easy as she should have for fear that Elmo would think she was just trying to get out of doing work, etc. (She eventually had an emergency/dramatic delivery, and I will put more in this scene)(Another good scene for this point in the story would be a dinner time scene between Craig and Elmo. I remember reading that Janet didn't like how Elmo treated Craig, especially at mealtimes. Will get more details.)
One day, Elmo hit Janet. He said that this was how it was going to be from then on. If she didn't bend willingly, he would make her. Elmo believed that Janet didn't love her children and that she didn't want to have a family. He thought this because she had an independent nature. He couldn't have been more wrong, but she couldn't change his mind.
Janet knew that she was no longer in a healthy relationship. She knew that she wanted something better for herself and for her children. So Janet filed for divorce. She was just trying to do what was best for her children, and Elmo did his best to make things difficult. He tried to starve them out, by not giving her any money, and by slandering Janet around town so no one would hire her. He was constantly telling people not to help Janet or the kids, in the hopes that things would get bad enough, and she would give in and live subserviently to him. He honestly believed that what he was doing was in the best interests of his family, based on how he grew up and how his parents treated each other. (this might be a good time to put in the scene where Janet got to know his mother and realized where all this was coming from... maybe as a flashback or memory)
Janet got a job. She relied on friends to watch her kids and she just tried to get through it. Janet was afraid on more than one occasion that he would take the kids and never come back. Elmo even bribed a psychologist to say that Janet was unstable so he could get full custody of the children! Luckily the judge didn't believe the psychiatrist and Janet was given custody, but Elmo was awarded court ordered family trips with the kids during the summer.
The first summer came, and even though Janet was nervous that Elmo wouldn't bring the children back, he did. The following summer was a different story. The time came for Elmo to take the children for the summer, and Janet was excited to be able to work for a few months without having to worry about the kids. That way she would be able to save up some money and be home with the kids while they were there. She still felt a bit nervous about her children being alone with him, but he brought them back last summer, and after all she had full custody of the children, so she felt somewhat safe letting the children go.
The day came and went for them to arrive home, with no sign of Elmo or the children. Weeks past. (I need to get these events in the proper order!) On her birthday, Janet received a letter from her oldest son, Craig. He said that he and the other kids were alright. They were having a lot of fun, Elmo's new wife was nice, and they weren't coming home for a long time. (I'm thinking we have the actual letter from Craig quoted in the text of the story.) Janet came unhinged. She was not a complete person with out her children. She went to the police, to the courts, to her mother in law, friends and more. No one could help her. In the courts, they told her that they couldn't do anything to enforce the custody ruling. The police told her that it was a civil matter and not a criminal matter. They could do nothing. She wrote letters. She even tried to track Elmo and the kids through the IRS!
It was no use. They had disappeared into thin air. Janet pulled herself together as well as she could, and she found a job and did her best to support herself and make it from day to day. For a time, she found comfort in the arms of a married man, even though she knew it was wrong. She didn't believe in having affairs with married men before, during, or after her affair with this man, and it is the greatest regret of her life.
(If Cindy and/or Craig has memories of what it was like during this time I will put them in here. I don't know if it will be appropriate or not, but we may talk about how Elmo alienated the children's affection for Janet a little here. Maybe we won't call it anything in particular but just show what it was like...)
A couple of years after the abduction, Janet got a phone call from her mother in Reno. “We have Craig!” her mother said. For whatever reason, Elmo was tired of dealing with a son that wasn't really his son. He put Craig on a greyhound bus and sent him to his grandparents house. Janet had one of her children again! She was ecstatic, elated and just a little nervous. Now she had to work to support another person again.
(I'm thinking that we'll tell this bit from Craig's perspective, maybe with a short chapter from Janet's or something.) Craig was “messed up” from the experience. He started hanging out with the wrong friends, and getting into real trouble. Janet did her best but she just couldn't keep him in line. One day, Craig ran away. Janet has mixed feelings here. Relief at being on her own again, mixed with a staggering sorrow at not being a good enough mother, etc. (will get more details) Craig ended up coming home with the help of the police. He was then sent to a juvenile detention center, where Janet was able to visit with him, play games and more. Juvy was probably the best thing that ever happened to Craig. He became a model citizen and when he was released, he went home to live with Janet.
Sometime later, Janet became strong enough and ended the affair that was completely against her code of ethics. She subsequently found Russ. They were married, and have been married ever since. (I need more information on how she was feeling about being a mother, and not being with her children at this point in her life. She had Craig, was she focusing on Craig so she wouldn't have to face the heartache? Was she secretly longing for her missing children?)
Cindy's Chapters and Her story about what things were like living with Elmo will fit nicely here.
Craig had joined the National Guard, gotten married and Janet and Russ were living in Washington. Craig and his new wife went to visit Elmo's mother, and let on that they didn't have any contact with Janet. They asked if she would tell them where Elmo and the kids were, and she told them! (I need more information on why Craig reached out.) Craig called (the sister right under him in age) Margie, and Margie called Janet. She said it was nice that she called but that there wasn't much to say. She was glad for the contact.
Craig and Margie organized a Christmas get together with all of the kids and Janet. She was happy to have found the kids, and she believes that Elmo allowed the visit for two reasons. He was afraid of what would happen if he didn't let the kids visit now that Janet knew where they were, and he was certain that they were loyal to him. He had had them for long enough, that they were not likely to cling to “mommy.” Janet did her best to make the visit a good one. After eight and a half years she finally had her children back! They had the house all decked out. They bought Christmas presents, and Janet and Russ invited the kids to come and live with them. In spite of her efforts, she describes the visit as “nothing more than a pleasant visit between strangers.” (Here would be the perfect time to discuss the alienation of affection and how it affects the children and parents involved, etc. again, we may not call it by a specific name but, we might...)
There was little contact after that. (I need to find out from Janet how she was feeling, why didn't she call the children every day? Did she want to? Was she afraid they didn't love her any more? Was she unable to contact them very often? What kept her from her children?) Until one day in March, just a few months after their Christmas visit. Margie called in a panic. There had been a storm and she hadn't heard from Elmo or the other kids in too long. She was afraid they were gone for good. Janet did her best to comfort her, but was feeling (?) herself. Then it was all over the news, even down in Seattle. The kids and Elmo had been found. They were in the hospital, and recovering.
Janet called a friend who lived near the hospital in Ketchican, and asked if she could stop and check in on them. Her friend insisted that Janet come up right away, so Russ and Janet packed their bags and jumped on an airplane. Things at the hospital were terribly awkward. When she got to the hospital, she made herself known to the staff. She said, “These are MY Children! I have custody!” The staff at the hospital were wonderful, and supportive. Elmo was beside himself with anger that Janet was there, but he couldn't do anything, say anything to anyone to get her to leave.
Cindy describes the time at the hospital as horribly awkward. According to Janet, Cindy's first words to her were “Why are you here!?” and she believed that it was a mix of fear at Elmo's reaction and relief that her mother was there.
(I'll have a chapter from Cindy's perspective, and from Janet's, and possibly from Craig.)
(I'd like to share a tender picture of Randy and Janet at the hospital. Janet told me that he had asked to be in a separate room from everyone else because he blamed his father for the shipwreck and didn't want anything to do with him. When Janet first went in to his room, she said that he just hung his head and said, “I'm glad you're here.” Did he cry? Did Janet cry? What did the hospital room look like? Did he have a bunch of tubes and wires hanging from him at this point?)
Janet told me during the interview that there were reporters all over the hospital trying to interview people about the shipwreck. She said that she was more than just a little tempted to go and splash her story all over the news. In spite of the temptation to feel vindicated and validated by sharing her bit of the story with the news, she knew that it would only hurt her children and her relationship with them more so she declined, “But oh the field day I could have had with that,” she said.
After the hospital, things continued to be strained between Janet and her children. Randy rejected everyone, and has kind of kept to himself. The girls kind of went their own way, never really allowing themselves to get close, except for Cindy. The summer after Cindy graduated from high school, she decided to stay with Janet before going off to college. Cindy's plan was to head to Bellingham for college, but after a wonderful summer of shopping and doing things together with her mother, they got really close, and Cindy decided to stay with Janet and go to the University of Washington instead.
This will be where we close the book. Janet finally got a chance to be the mother she always wanted to be when Cindy came that summer. It's a wonderful happy (not really ending) ending that kind of brings it all back to Janet's desire line.
(I have mentioned to Janet before that it might lend some authority to the story if there is a foreword by a renowned psychologist who can talk about the different things that are going on in this story and how they are relevant to today's audience. I still think this would be great. Other than that, I think this is really shaping up!)