I am here to tell you that if you have the WILL, then you will find the WAY!!! My story is not unique to yours; in fact we share a common denominator. If you are reading this then you have had a child (children) that was (were) taken from you. Let me first say that my heart goes out to you as I am a Mother that had to endure living in the dark not knowing what was going to happen or how it would all end. I know what you are going through. I will share my story in just a moment, but before I begin my story I want you to know that I am living proof of that old cliché' which holds true…"if there is a will, there is a way"!
My story begins with a phone call from the Operations Officer on 09 February 2003, informing me that I was being mobilized. I am a member of the United States Military. I returned that night to my duty station in AL to begin life in the fastest lane that I had ever traveled in before. In 72hours, my household goods were being relocated to a storage unit, my family joined me, my daughter was packed with all her clothes, toys and favorite things and she was with her Dad traveling to FL and I was standing on a military post, known as a Mobilization Station, awaiting the adventure that would come. During the next eight weeks as I was growing in my knowledge and preparing along with the unit's other 15 soldiers for the mission we would execute in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as another situation also began on a very close and personal level. My ex-husband created a situation that can only be described as 21 months of extreme turmoil! While I was at the Mobilization Station I had to initiate a court hearing due to Morgan's father's unwillingness to let me see my daughter. In March 2003, the Judge ordered him to begin visits that weekend and every other one until I departed the USA. I was able to see her two times, before I departed America in April 2003.
I returned one year later to my family welcoming me home with one "VIP" (Very Important Person) missing that was my eight year old daughter, Morgan. As the days and weeks passed as I was trying to re-acclimate to "life out of the sandbox", my heart died a little more each day longing for the day that I would be reunited with her. I thought that would occur within weeks of her finishing the school year. However that did not occur and the raging sea that was already brewing came crashing down on me.
In early August 2004, I drove to FL as planned to receive Morgan. Although her Dad had other plans, he nor Morgan were coming to FL and I was left at the meeting place covered in deception, lies and tricked to the point that people were planted at the meeting location with cameras to capture and watch the scene unfold. This was the sickest thing that I had ever experienced. It was HELL! I had never felt this kind of pain before and I searched for answers to questions. How much more of this did I have to take? How much more of this could I take? Thoughts were racing in mind from taking matters into my own hands to trusting in a system that I was completely unfamiliar with to work. My breath was taken from me and a part of me died that day. I tried to pick up the pieces of myself. Yes it was difficult, but I was not going to give up. I focused all my energy and made every effort to get my daughter back.
In the weeks that followed, I made contacts with the State Department, sent a blind email request to a list of attorneys in Germany (this was the country he had taken her to. Her Dad was born in Germany and he had dual-citizenship), replied to those that responded, contacted a reference and began the final months of this journey. The attorney is Mr. Harald Weisker and the reference is Mr. Daid Thelen. A very special and very unique occasion happened upon us which afforded us the opportunity to meet in GA at the Committee for Missing Children's main office in Atlanta. I am proud to say that these two men, their families and staff are precious gems that I found in an ocean that was muddy, dirty and unforgiving. Over the next few months, I called on both of them when I needed advice, needed answers, when I was overwhelmed thinking that I didn't have the strength to carry on. They knew differently and encouraged me to "hang in there"!
In October, Harald contacted me and informed me that we had a hearing date in Germany. I was ecstatic, filled with joy, tears and fears…all ranges of emotions! In early November, I boarded a plane destined for Germany. Within a few days, I found myself in a German courtroom as a Mother determined to receive justice for the awful wrong that I had endured over the previous 21 months. For what seemed an eternity coupled with the language barrier (even with a translator), I was all nerves and ready to throw-up. I maintained my composure and fought that desire, when the translator gently comforted me with a smile and informed me that the Judge's eyes were wide open and he was not being fooled by him. At the closing, the Judge scolded him and ordered him to return Morgan to me. TRANSLATION…we had won the case! Within four hours I saw my daughter for the first time in over 18 months and this can only be compared to a woman giving birth and seeing the baby for the first time. My heart was alive and overflowing! Six days later, she and I boarded a plane destined for AL, our home and to the tear-filled eyes of our family.I would have never imagined that this kind of a situation would happen to me, but it did. I want to encourage you by sharing "our story" and to give you the hope to know that there is a way. Help is out there. The Committee for Missing Children is a valuable organization that aided me so much and in so many ways. They have touched my life and my daughter's life in an immeasurable way. I will be eternally grateful to Mr. Thelen and to Mr. Weisker for all their efforts which made the reunion of my daughter and me a reality!