February 19, 2017

The date that has been scarred into my heart and soul. The day I had been waiting for but never imagined it would really happen. The day I had been preparing for yet still wholly unprepared for.

I now suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder); it yanks me back to that moment after I read the email from my son’s abductor. I can’t breathe, just as I couldn’t breathe in that moment. My heart is pounding, my legs are weak, my vision is going dark, and I can’t breathe.

Grief was suffocating me!

I wake up frequently, and when I do, I check my phone. Because of our history, anytime I see an email from You-Know-Who (let’s just use this reference because I refuse to say his name), I get instant anxiety. It had been that way for years.

After reading the email, praying that this was just some sick joke or horrific nightmare, I jumped out of bed and stumbled to the living room doorway. There are wide steps there which I collapsed onto. I can’t breathe.

I’m shaking so badly that I can barely hold my phone up to call my husband.

He was fulfilling a dream of mine to own a classic car. It was a 1963 Dodge Dart; mint condition other than the front right side. Josh, my husband, answered, and I know I sounded frantic. I didn’t tell him why, but I told him he needed to come home now. I begged him not to buy the car and to just come home.

I didn’t know that he had already bought the car by then.

We hang up, and I sob uncontrollably. The dam finally bursts. This can’t be real. This can’t be happening. How is this even legal?

I’m shaking, I can’t breathe, and my mind is about to explode with a torrent of thoughts.

I wanted to scream and rail to the heavens that this wasn’t right.

It was a Sunday.  The court decision had been decided February 2nd, literally ONE day after Zander was supposed to come home. The whole excuse of delaying his return to March 3 was simply that. An excuse. It was a delay tactic; he was trying to throw the scent off so I wouldn’t be suspicious. 

To this day, I have no idea how long he sat on those papers before sending them my way…on a Sunday of all days. I couldn’t do a damn thing on Sunday.

Except PRAY.

And that’s exactly what I did. I humbled myself like I had never before. I fell to my knees and I begged God to have mercy. I begged Him to bring my son home and spare him, knowing exactly how selfish I was being after he sacrificed his own Son for our salvation. I have no idea how long I rambled on, loudly begging and praying.

Eventually, I stopped. A feeling of immense calm settled over my shoulders. Be calm…and wait. 

My Faith was solidified in that moment of intense grief. It was like a flip had been switched. I was able to call people. I called my sister. I messaged my closest friends. And I began to Research. Plan. March forward. I was never going to rest until my child was back where he belonged.

The first 4 days, I literally could not eat. I could not sleep. I spent days researching. It was in those days that I realized there was very little help. My chances of having Zander returned were slim to none. The government will not help. There is no financial assistance for parents in that situation. 

The only ones willing to help me without trying to scam me came from parents of abducted children. Parents like me.

How is this fair? How is this acceptable? There’s funding and resources and awareness for just about every possible situation, but not this?

America’s STOLEN children??

February 22 (Diary excerpt):

“I broke down tonight sitting in Zander’s room. I picked up  his toys, put away his clothes, laid in his bed. Reminders of him are everywhere. I’m grieving.

There is no hope.”

One of my biggest angst with the Maltese Family Court system is the fact that the other party does not need to be served or even notified to move forward in court. For me, our divorce was delayed for a whole year because I couldn’t serve him with him being in another country. Yet, You-Know-Who can file whatever he pleases, and get away with it….without me ever being the wiser for it. I have no idea the processes for this. Does he declare a statement promising to properly inform me? Do they ask for my contact information, and he then lied about it?

There are still a lot of unanswered questions. However, I have learned that this tactic of proceeding in court without the other parent’s knowledge, is a common tactic used by abductors.

First off, the 1980 Hague Convention Treaty on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was set into motion for just these situations, to make it illegal to take a child out of his/her habitual residence to forum shop.

Forum shopping is a practice adopted by litigants to get their cases heard in a particular court that is likely to provide a favorable judgement. Indeed, courts have found that the Hague Abduction Convention was designed to deter parents from engaging in international forum shopping in custody cases. Specifically, the Hague Convention attempts to prevent situations in which a parent dissatisfied with current custodial arrangements flees with the child to another country to re-litigate the merits of custody and to obtain a more favorable custody order.

You-Know-Who skewed the facts in order to get his original favorable ruling. Homeschooling in Malta is illegal. This was his basis for getting that ruling. He approached the family court as if Zander were not being educated at all, that I was simply keeping him home all day. In the Maltese Civil Code, neglecting educational rights is a serious offense. The word homeschooling doesn’t even translate in the Maltese language, as I found out 3 months later.

Thank the Good Lord that after all the evidence was presented, the Judge ruled in our favor with some pretty harsh words against You-Know-Who.

The respondent argues that he cannot be found guilty of wrongful retention for not returning the minor after the expiry of the period agreed with the mother, because in the meantime he had obtained a decree issued by another section of the Family Court that authorized the minor to reside in Malta with his father. This Court, however, considers this reasoning as legally unfounded.

The decree that the defendant succeeded to obtain during the mediation process cannot be considered as exonerating the defendant from his premeditated conduct not to return the minor child back to his mother in the United States.

So, there you have it!

There is never any excuse for these abductors.

This is abuse, plain and simple, and not just for the minor children involved, but also toward the Left Behind Parent. I can’t even obtain a Protection From Abuse order because this man doesn’t live in this country. Yet, he can take me to court and get a decree with me being none the wiser.

February 19, 2017 was the worst day of my life. 

The very last thing I ever said to You-Know-Who was this: 

“You won’t get away with this. Say hi to the Hague.”

I am quite happy and content at leaving it at that for the rest of my life. No one can force me to speak to my son’s abductor and my abuser. For my own peace of mind; for my right to pursue happiness and my right to liberty and freedom, I do not have to speak to such a man. And I won’t.

February 19. 

You didn’t win.

You didn’t.