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Mom originally from Illinois recalls international custody battle

A complex child abduction case that began in southern Illinois in 1981 has recently been recounted by the mother. The case involved a child custody battle that spanned several states, as well as the Pacific Ocean. The story reflects how far child abduction laws have come in the last 30 years, as officials in Jackson County were unable to do much for the woman at the time.

The saga began when the woman's older brother snuck into her mother's house and took her 20-month-old girl. A friend of the girl's father eventually showed up at the house and explained that the baby was being transported to California, where she would live with her father. The mother contacted the Jackson County sheriff, hoping that the baby would still be with her brother. The police were informed on the phone that the baby was indeed being taken to California. The sheriff told the woman that there was nothing more they could do. The family later learned that the father had actually taken the child to Dallas.

The mother eventually filed for a divorce and custody of the child. The divorce was granted, but she did not receive custody until three months after the girl was taken. The custody decision came around the time that the father took the girl to his native country of Bangladesh.

The woman then began fighting a second custody battle in Texas, where she was told that her Illinois custody papers did not apply. She was basically told that she could either re-marry the girl's father or try to snatch the child back herself. The mother then arranged a meeting with the father in Dallas. While the father was putting groceries away in his apartment, the woman snatched the child and ran away as quickly as she could. It was the first time she had seen the baby in almost a year, and the little girl no longer spoke English.

The girl is now a teacher in Florida and has no recollection of the events. She also has a good relationship with her father who lives in Bangladesh. It's likely that if this type of situation were to happen today, the courts would be much more receptive and helpful regarding the mother's situation. Thirty years later, a mother should hopefully not have to take such extreme measures to get her child back.

thesouthern.com, "Family recounts story of abduction, determination" Dustin Duncan, Dec. 08, 2013

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