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)July 13, 1996

l\ .

Ms. Claudine Dombrowski

Box 304

Lamed, Kansas 67550-0304

To Whom It May Concern:

I met with Ms. Claudine Dombrowski at her request for three hours on May 14th, 20th and 23rd.
Ms. Dombrowski is a thirty-one-year old Licensed Practical Nurse. She specializes in psychiatry, and
recently fmished a position at Topeka State Hospital which she held for-three years. Her daughter, Rikki,
was born on December 12, 1994. Ms. Dombrowski is in the process of seeking a divorce from Hal, her
second husband, whom she married in October 1995. They had seen each other for two years before that;
during which time she was unaware that he was married to another woman. She states that he divorced his
frrst wife in September of 1995. Ms. Dombrowski consulted with me out of the concern 1hat her husband
was trying to force a serious custody dispute by claiming that Ms. Dombrowski was emotionally unstable;
she wanted to have a professional assessment by a neutral party with which to respond to that accusation.
Ms. Dombrowski gives the following history. She was born in Beloit, Kansas, but her family soon moved
from there. She has few early childhood memories. The first is of a Christmas time: she and her brother
were chasing each other around the house. She was often ill and in the hospital as a child, and suffered some
damage to her right kidney due to ureteral reflux "from her bladder. Eventually she had surgery for this, the
ureter was re-implanted and the kidney recovered.
n)She was in foster care during many of her early years. She is not entirely sure why this was, but believes that
/ she was caught in some sort of triangular issues between her parents. She has a sense that some similar
process is occurring now as she and her husband try to sort out their relationship as divorcing parents, and is
determined that Rikki not be harmed by this.
Ms. Dombrowski's memories become clear and continuous at about the age of 12, when she was restored to
her mother's care. She remembers starting to get interested in boys that year. Her mother wanted her to wait
until she was 16 before beginning any relationships. Indeed, she had her frrst boyfriend at 16;-they would
hold hands and he carried her books to and from school. She did well in school at all levels through
achieving her LPN. She often made grades of A without opening her books simply by taking in the
classroom material.
Ms. Dombrowski entered the United States Army National Guard in 1983 at the age of 18. She had a six­
month triiining period followed by three years' active service. In 1992 she joined the army reserves, and
served one year of active duty, from January to December of 1994, to team nursing. She enjoyed this until
her child was born. Shortly after this event she left the military because of their requirements that she come
in on weekends and odd hours which were incompatible with carrying for a newborn child.llrideed, this was
a child who had some early special needs. Rikki had been born at 36 weeks' gestation after a period of
maternal hypertension and oligohydramnios, and was small for gestational age. She spent seven days in the
newborn ICU before going home.] Rikki is now doing very well, and Ms. Dombrowski, a proud mother
indeed, showed me a number of photos of her daughter in robust health.
It is worthy of ~<* here that in addition to having spent many of her early childhood years in foster care, Ms.
Dombrowski loSt her fITSt four pregnancies through spontaneous miscarriages. These events have made
issues of parenting and of the bond between mother and daughter more intensely loaded for her then might
0Jtherwise be the case.
It should also probably be noted at this point that some circumstantial medical evidence recently came 10
f0':~t which h~ led to questions wh~ther Ms. Dombn:>wski mi~t have been sexually abused during one of
' )....le
foster penods. Ms. Dombrowski has no recoHectlOn ofhavmg been abused, and may well nothaveoeen;
however, the possibility exists that something may have happened to her which could have intensified her
awareness of dangers a young daughter might face alone in the custody of a man: even her own father.

We discussed the very bitter relationship with her estranged husband. She reports that he has a problem
with feelings ofjealousy which she says are unfounded, and which seem"1o have come to a state of violent
intensity during her pregnancy with Rikki. She states that she did not know that her estranged husband was
married until she was three months pregnant with Rikki. She further says that she had no notion of his
potential for violence until she was five months pregnant. This was when he struck her for the first time.
She declined to call the police after violent incidents until after Rildci was born, but reports that she had a
black eye from his abuse at the time she gave birth to Rikki. She also reports that in her previous marriage,
which lasted seven years, there was no abuse or physical fighting whatsoever. Thus, she has not had a
pattern of seeking out abusive or physically contentious relationships. She readily volunteers that she did
defend herself physically from her husband's attacks. This was especially true if she feh that her husband
was unaware ofthe proximity of their child to scenes of violence. At such times, she felt fearful that Hal was
so out of control that Rikki might be inadvertently harmed.

Ms. Dombrowski recounts a number of ways in which she came to be frightened of and by her husband's
behavior. I will leave it to Ms. Dombrowski to recount the details of these experiences, but the materiai is
certainly of the nature that would very appropriately result in a justified sense of personal danger,
traumatization, and very powerful emotional distress.

Ultimately, Ms. Dombrowski moved out of the marital home and spent two weeks at the Battered Women's
Shelter with her daughter. She found the program very helpful, and misses it and the people she met there.
Ms. Dombrowski has now taken a job in Lamed with the Department of Corrections, working in Youth
, j
)rvices as a Court Services Specialist. This allows her to-be near her mother, who provides some help with
child care while Ms. Dombrowski is at work.

Ms. Dombrowski is a well nourished, well deve10ped woman who appears her stated age. Her positive,
energetic and engaging character came through strongly throughout these interviews. She is well endowed
intellectually, and her thoughts are well rooted in reality. She maintains a logical, lucid, undisturbed train of
wen-reasoned thought at all times. There is a tendency to experience frequent moments of anger at her
husband, and the first interview was focused on her feelings toward hernusband, and the legal system's
paradoxes and unavoidable delays. These frustrations seemed quite consistent with her situation. Despite
times of anger and dismay about the events of the past few months, she maintains her good sense of humor
throughout and is altogether a very pleasant and cordial person to interview. Her affects are appropriate to
the material under discussion. The inquiry into vegetative signs and symptoms such as sleep disturbance,
appetite disturbance, difficulties with mood and affect and so on reveals only relatively minor and transient
effects. These are more than adequately exp1ained by residues ofher traumatic experiences, as wen as her
current task of extricating herself from a devastating marriage and putting her life back together again. She
denies any sort of visual or auditory hallucinations, delusions or unusual convictions. She has had no
experiences of "lost time," nor of finding notes to herself in strange handwriting, or discovering that the
furniture in the house has been rearranged without her being aware of it. -She does not experience herself as
developing intense positive and negative splits between different people into "good" and "bad" groups, and
says "I like people, and people like me." She has no significant history of head trauma except forher report
of having been struck by her husband with a crowbar during an argument. There was no loss of
consciousness at that time, and she has no other history of loss of consciousness, seizure or absence attacks.
She states that she·ordinarily is a light user of alcohol, and describes her usual intake as one glass of wine

with dinner, two 10 three times per week. She has discontinued this practice at the suggestion of her
attorney, since her husband accuses her of being an alcoholic.

One area in which Ms. Dombrowski may not have served herself as well as she might was in the area of
working collaboratively with her previous attorney. She reports whatto me seemed a sensible
recommendation from this attorney (not to move her residence from Topeka without flfSt seeking the court's
approval), which she did not follow. While the reasons for the action she took (to reduce the level of stress
on herself and her daughter) are clear she might have been better served had she worked more closely in
alliance with her attorney and found a way to tolerate this sort ofminor delay, which is inevitablein any
legal undertaking. [I have subsequently learned that the Court had no problem with the m~v~] Another
issue which Ms. Dombrowski is working on is llerlendency to be intensely focused on and eXlremely
protective ofher daughter. This is an understandable tendency on her part given some of her own
experiences in childhood and her impression that her estranged husband has at times been oblivious to
potential harm to Rikki. It is an area ofwhich she is perfectly well aware. She brings it up on her own
initiative as a working issue, and is addressing it actively to fwd a more comfortable balance. I do not
believe that the degree of involvement and concern she describes raises any major or worrisome concerns
regarding her relationship with her daughter, or about her daughter's well-being. My impression overall is
that she is a fine, highly competent, deeply caring and attentive mother. From a psychiatric perspective, I
can see no basis on which Ms. Dombrowski's menta! or emotional competence. should for any reason playa
part in any questions of custody that might arise in the course of her divorce from her husband.
I hope that this information is helpful in any area to which Ms: Dombrowski brings it for consideration.
Please feel free, with the appropriate release ofinformation, to contact me for any further information you
should need or desire.