Life Goes On - 2009

"This court makes the finding that she abandoned her children."

- The Honorable Susan Lopez-Giss, 17 March 2009, California Superior Court, Pomona.

Eleven Demons ends in 2007 with our flight to California after the death threat. But of course, real life goes on, and these unfortunate cases continue in Bali, Jakarta, and California.

Nine months after the threat, Made Jati arrived in California while fleeing an arrest warrant from the Tabanan police on a separate accusation of fraud, and she entered a petition to the California court for custody of the children. She refused to cooperate with court orders to meet the children or participate in mediation, however. Her attorney in Bali, Ida Bagus Wikantara, advised her to refuse court orders for deposition under oath and instructed her to abandon her children.

In the meantime, the police investigator in Tabanan, the city where Made had obtained so many false documents from city officials enabling the fraudulent marriage, was removed from office, and the Tabanan case was quashed. Made Jati fled California in June 2008 and returned to Bali. She has refused all communication or support for her children since then, even repeatedly turning down summons from the National Commission for Child Protection to meet her children in Jakarta.

California family law mandates that, if at all practicable, both parents have equal rights to the children. Even parents convicted of murder can maintain visitation rights. A decision awarding all custody to the father is extraordinary, but as Judge Susan Lopez-Giss stated in her decision: “I know that the Petitioner sought to stop this court from exercising jurisdiction… and quite frankly, the court gave the Petitioner so many opportunities to come back to court… The Petitioner has given the court absolutely no recourse.”

Made Jati still refuses to support her children in California and refuses all communication with the children or me.

Uluwatu Boutiques, Kori Restaurant and other family assets remain in litigation and are still our legal joint family assets, although Made Jati has, contrary to law, taken all profits from the businesses since 2005.

Made Jati remains subject to an outstanding arrest warrant in California.

Criminal cases are still under investigation in Indonesia and California.

Life Goes On - 2014

I haven’t kept up writing all the details of our lives through the years; it would fill several more books. But in short, Sean and Brenden are grown now, both in college, and both doing well.

In 2011 I returned to Jakarta where I requested the Komisi Nasional Perlindungan Anak (KNPA) or “National Commission for the Protection of Children” for assistance in helping the boys meet their mother. I hoped with this to spark the beginning of some family reconciliation. I reported some of this in the News section at the time. Made refused to come from Bali to Jakarta to meet them, however. She told reporters—not me or the boys because she refused to talk to us, even by phone—that the boys would have to come to her home in Bali if they wanted to see her.

The following year I returned to Jakarta for a month, something I was finally able to do because I felt the boys were old enough now that I could leave them on their own for a time. I soon found several high ranking police officials who took an interest in the case. (And by the way, if anything in Eleven Demons or this website leaves an impression that all police are corrupt, it is far from true. The great majority I have met have been sincere and helpful.)

A Disappointing Meeting

With a letter from authorities in Jakarta requesting attention and protection from the Bali police, Sean and Brenden and I finally returned to Bali in June 2013. As per their mother’s demand in 2011, the boys came to her home. My attorneys and several police were with us to ensure calm, just as they were with Made when she came to our home in California in 2008. I had asked help from two additional lawyers—Renatha Sihombing and Rielen Pattiasina, women attorneys with particular experience in family issues—to help protect the boys’ interests.

The results were disappointing. After briefly hugging and crying over the children she hadn’t seen in five years, she flew into a rage because I had entered her home—actually technically also still my home—and demanded I leave immediately. She refused to talk to me under any circumstances and said she would only talk to her children out of my presence. Sean agreed to talk with her, but Brenden said he wanted her to meet with Sean and Dad and begin to work out our family problems before he felt ready to see her alone.

To the requests from my attorneys, Renatha and Rielen, for a family meeting to discuss mediation, Made replied that all communications must go through her attorney, Ida Bagus Wikantara.

For the next six weeks we stayed in Bali at our new home 300 meters down the road from Made’s home. Brenden never saw his mother again, and she never called or came by our house to see him. Wikantara refused five requests from Renatha and Rielen for meetings to include the children, replying to the requests by SMS “There is no longer any legal connection between Michael Donnelly and Made Jati.” To Rielen’s response that they were also attorneys for Sean and Brenden, and that there was a continuing legal connection between Michael and Made as parents of the children, Wikantara made no reply.

Sean saw her several times, but his mother would only talk about superficial events and refused any discussion of family issues. In fact, she claimed, she knew nothing about any family issues, everything was under the control of Wikantara, she had only a 5th grade education and knew nothing about law in Indonesia or in California, everything had been handled by her attorneys. She didn’t know the results of the California court decision, she said. She didn’t know anything about Indonesian court decisions.

When Sean asked why a mother who loved her children would follow an attorney's advice to abandon her own children, and why—if she didn’t know the California court decision—she had never returned to California to see them, she became angry and ended the conversation. Sean saw her only a few more times over the six weeks.

Another Try

In January 2014 Sean and I returned to Bali again with hopes he might be able to communicate with her enough to urge her to stop relying solely on Wikantara to manage her life, but she again became angry and refused to discuss it with him.

For the next three weeks in Bali, again she rarely saw him and made no attempts to initiate reconciliation.

The police pressured her, however. Made had refused entirely to help with the boys’ living expenses all through their teen years. The police were now taking a look at that, and so in February she finally agreed to help Sean and Brenden with their college expenses. She came to a reluctant agreement with Sean, but then failed to make the money transfers to their accounts as promised. After making partial transfers, she gave Sean photocopies of bank drafts in which further transfers would be effected with a value date at the end of February, after Sean was scheduled to be back in California.

Both Sean and I were skeptical. “Don’t count on it,” I told him. “She will probably do as she always does, she will think of a reason, any reason will do, as an excuse to cancel the payment once we are out of Bali.”

Which is exactly what she did. Even while we were still in Bali she was apparently preparing the excuse. Sean had messaged her, thanking her for the first transfer, but she didn't reply. Sean sent several more messages asking if they could meet, and still no answer. Then when Sean messaged that he would come to her house, she blasted back that she had imagined he had already left Bali and never even said thank you and had just come to get money from her.

“But that’s not what happened,” Sean replied. “I messaged to thank you and I asked to meet several times and you didn’t answer me. You’re mad at me for something that you made up, something I did only in your imagination!”

She didn’t meet him; she didn’t even reply. We returned to California, and as expected, the payment never arrived, and she didn’t answer Sean’s emails asking about it.

A week later, she finally responded with another blast that he had not thanked her for the first transfer while in Bali.

Sean once again pointed out that he had indeed thanked her and tried to see her, they had already discussed this, and that she herself had failed to answer Sean or agree to meet him before he left.

There was no reply from his mother for several weeks, and then on his birthday she emailed that she had made the transfer, and it was his birthday present.

“What kind of a birthday present is finally doing something you promised to do a month ago?” Sean wanted to know, but I counseled him to just “say thank you, and let it go.”

She didn’t send the money she had promised Brenden. Maybe he will have to wait another six months for his birthday, but the budget Made and Sean had agreed on was for her send college money every three months. Somehow, unilaterally, she apparently “changed her mind” and converted it into a one-time birthday present.

There is a great deal more, but no room for it here. The cases are far from over, and in fact they are picking up speed now that the boys and I are able to return to Bali under the protection of the Bali police. We are still hoping for some reconciliation or mediation, but Wikantara at least—and possibly Made as well, though it is hard to know how much of her behavior is her own and how much is under the control of her lawyer—seems to be dead set against it.