Book explores child abduction

McAlester News-Capital, Oklahoma/December 21, 2005
By Teresa Atkerson

Bryan McGlothin believes he’s getting a second chance for a happy childhood.

That’s because he and his wife now have a son, 8 months old. “I’m getting to experience it with him. I have a chance for a happy childhood through him,” he said. “I’m privileged.” Since McGlothin works from home, he gets to be “Mr. Mom.”

This is exciting for him since McGlothin has very few happy memories of his own childhood.

He writes about this life in “Have You Seen My Mother?” The book is both heartbreaking and sad — yet it remains a page turner.

McGlothin admits he hates to ask people if they enjoyed reading it. “Of course if they were intrigued and found themselves wanting to turn the page, then they did enjoy it.

“Though with the tragedy of the story, I find it difficult asking readers to enjoy Irony, I suppose,” he said.

McGlothin was a victim of parental abduction when he was two. He was taken by his father at that time and did not find his mother until he was 33.

He says his father, a Jehovah’s Witness elder, convinced him his mother was “demonized” and wanted nothing to do with him.

For years, McGlothin believed his mother didn’t care about him.

As his father told him for years, if she wanted to see her son, wouldn’t she have tried to find him?

It wasn’t enough that young McGlothin thought his mother didn’t love him. There wasn’t much love in the household where he grew up. His stepmother and father both showered love on the two sisters from his stepmother’s first marriage. He received very little caring or love from anyone.

The family lived in Texas for years while his grandparents and other extended family lived in Oklahoma. In the book, McGlothin recalls happy times during the summers when he would visit the extended family in Oklahoma.

Other than that, he did not have a happy childhood.

It wasn’t until he grew up that McGlothin began a search for his mother. He didn’t know if she was dead or alive but he felt he needed to know either way.

It wasn’t until he was 33 that he found his mother. It took many tries and a lot of dead leads but he finally found her — in McAlester.

He learned she hadn’t abandoned him and searched for him for years before eventually giving up. She even tried to commit suicide, which left her with a brain injury. “I have conversations with her,” he says. “Part of the joy is how happy I am making her with her having her son back.”

But that’s only half the story of the book. McGlothin discovers many lies and betrayals as he tries to learn the truth about what happened during his childhood years.

The results are bittersweet. He ends up being disfellowshipped from the Witnesses, making him an apostate. That means he has been literally kicked out of that religion.

As an apostate, Witness members aren’t allowed to talk to or even look at him. And that includes many of his family members, including a daughter from his first marriage.

“Some people need the structure of the Witnesses,” McGlothin said. “But when it destroys families and lives,” that isn’t right.

Recently, McGlothin said, “I want people to understand that parental abduction can be just as traumatizing as any other case of abduction.” He says one of his biggest difficulties is the feeling of not coming from somewhere and not having an origin.

What does help, he says, is the support of his wife and their son. He says he was a “dead man walking” and now he knows “God wants us to be happy and have a good life.”

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