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This forum offers parents the opportunity to voice their own experiences of international parental child abduction, and related issues, and to share useful information with others in a similar situation.

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Life after the Hague Convention

by Rebecca / Posted 16/03/2010 / Updated 07/11/2014

It has been a long time since I have been on this site, but it is 5 years ago this week that my nightmare with the HC began. I am an ´abducting´ mum, born and bred in the UK, along with my ex and our child. We moved to Australia in Nov 2004 for a ´better life´ but things fell apart after 9 weeks and we split up. I came back to the UK with our 2 yr old son 19 weeks after arriving, but ex wanted to remain in Oz so used the HC to get us back there, and 5 months later we were ordered back to Oz by the High Court, and so followed 2 years of homelessness, financial hardship, isolation, despair, helplessness etc, so I know how you feel if you are going through this now. After 2 years of court applications I was granted a Relocation Order to return to the UK with our son, who by now was approaching 5 yrs old and had had weekly contact with his dad and was very close to him. I was prepared to remain in Oz at this stage as I´d made a life for myself and didn´t want to separate my son from his dad, but the immigration had other ideas and revoked my temporary visa, so we had to return to the UK and did so in July 2007. There was no way my ex was prepared to move back to the UK, he made it clear all along that his life was now in Oz. During the court proceedings out there he married and was having a child with his wife. It was hard adjusting to an international move again. Although family were delighted to have us back I no longer had my home in the UK, no job to return to and things were difficult. My son missed his dad, he was upset and I felt so sorry for him. He´d been messed around so much and none of it was his fault. Thankfully, I maintained a good relationship with my ex´s parents and made sure my son saw them several times a week so he has his paternal bond through them. They help me with child care and they are still a great help to me now. My ex refuses to have any contact with me whatsoever, but he phones my house twice a week without fail to speak to our son, I just let son answer the phone and get on with it - gone are the days of trying to monitor phone calls etc, I just accept that his dad rings him, sometimes he talks to his dad for 10 mins, other times it´ll be 30 secs, but the length of the call has nothing to do with me. 2 years ago came the first return visit to Oz for contact, as per the court order, and ex´s parents agreed to take our son for 3 weeks. I lived in fear for that whole time, dreading that he wouldn´t come back, plus the fact ex did not allow telephone contact on a frequent basis and controlled the length of the calls, but thankfully my son came home again and I breathed a sigh of relief. He came home with a mixture of emotions, but on the whole - happy. The phone calls continued regularly, then 8 months later the ex came to the UK for a 3 week visit and my son went off to stay with his grandparents for 3 weeks. Ex would not allow my son to have much contact with me during those 3 weeks, despite living 300 metres away, but I accepted this, and when our son came home to me again at the end of the visit he was a confused little boy. Last summer was the second trip to Australia for him, this time for a month, another trip with his grandparents, this time he phoned me more often and sounded happy. I was more relaxed about the trip, and once again he came home with his grandparents on time. This time he was a little more anxious and troubled, and a very angry little boy began to surface, one who felt abandoned by his father because his father would not come and live back in England so he could see him more often. A series of counselling sessions were quickly arranged, they helped a little. My son is now a very mature 7 year old, almost 8, and he is very aware of the situation he is in. He cannot understand why his daddy chose to remain in Oz instead of coming back to England, he cannot understand how a country is more important than a son, he has told me that when he becomes a daddy when he grows up he will never abandon his children, and these are his words, not mine. In 2 weeks time his daddy is coming to the UK again for a fortnight, and my son is looking forward to the visit, but is upset at the same time because he doesn´t want to say goodbye again. He tells me when he is 12 he is going to live in Australia for 3 years and then England for 3 years. My ex still doesn´t communicate with me at all, but I can manage that fine. I have not stopped my son from having contact with his father, but the effects of moving abroad for a ´better life´ and the effects of the HC have had a huge impact on my son, and the true depth of this will not be known for many years. I have recovered from the ordeal, I have grown from it, learnt from it and now use the experience of it in my line of work, I have re-settled in the UK and my life is better than it was before I ever left. If my son wants to go to Oz again next year I will let him, if he doesn´t want to go then I won´t force him, I will let him decide, but I will always ensure he can have contact with his dad by phone. I´ve offered msn/webcam but ex won´t have that, he is just happy to have phone contact and visits every 8 months, and for now that has worked for us. It´s not ideal, it´s not what I´d hoped for in life, it´s not the life I wanted for my child, but that´s the way it is and that´s what I have to accept. If I´d have known about the HC in the first place then I´d never have moved to Australia, but that´s the benefit of hindsight.
For those of you who are in the middle of this nightmare right now - I feel for you. There seems no end in sight at times and the despair and isolation is painful. I hope my story can bring some peace to some of you that there is an end to it, and although the result is not ideal it can be manageable. Whether you are the ´abducting´ parent or the left behind parent, at least allow your child/children contact with the other parent, because it is they who ultimately are the losers in this situation and they who carry the scars the longest, and eventually, when they grow up - it is them who we have to explain our actions to.

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