August 11, 2015
Having your child taken is every mother’s worst nightmare.
But, for Lisa it became a reality when her estranged husband took their two children 4,000 miles away to Kansas, America and refused to bring them home.
Lisa, 42, fought to get them back and, eight months later, they were reunited after an American court order forced their dad, Luke*, 36, an American citizen, to return them to the UK.
In February this year Lisa also won full parental rights – meaning her children would never again be able to leave the country with their father.
Now, Lisa’s children, Abigail, 11, and Matthew, eight, live with her in Batley, West Yorkshire, while their dad has moved back to the states and is allowed two Skype calls with them a week.
Lisa says: “I didn’t know if I was ever going to see my children again. I felt so helpless.
“We were having some marriage problems and Luke suggested taking the children to the States for a holiday to see family.
“I was a bit worried about being apart from them for a while, but I never imagined he’d try to keep them there.
“The pain of not knowing when I was going to see them again was indescribable.
“At first I was in shock, then I panicked, but I knew I had to keep it together to get them back, so I put every scrap of my energy into doing that.
Thankfully they’re home now, but it’s been a nightmare and I will never forgive Luke.”
Worryingly, Lisa isn’t alone in her struggle.
In the UK a child is kidnapped by a parent or family member every 12 hours.
A spokesperson from Reunite – a charity that helps with parental child abduction – explains: “We’re seeing more and more children abducted by parents because of mixed nationality relationships.
“When these relationships break down, parents want to take their child back to their home country.
“It can be difficult to bring a child home because a parent has to deal with two different countries and legal systems. A further complication is that the abducting parent has rights over the child too.”
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