Portland, Oregon, resident, Richard Johnson, lived the American dream. A loving and devoted family man working in the Tech industry, his family was offered the chance of a lifetime to live in New Zealand, temporarily, so his wife could work as a consultant. At Christmas, they joined extended family in Hawaii. His sister, Lise, remembers it well:
“Something about his wife felt distant, different,” she recalls. “That Christmas, I knew something wasn’t right between them.”
Richard and his family returned to New Zealand. Immediately after the New Year, exactly 6 months after arriving in New Zealand, his wife separated from him and placed a travel restriction on the children to prevent their children from leaving the country. Through the divorce proceedings, it was revealed Richard’s wife had an affair with a New Zealand colleague starting no less than a year prior to their move to New Zealand. Due to protracted legal proceedings, his children have missed returning home to visit their grandfather before his death, and also risk the same with their grandmother. They also are missing cultural experiences and family, which all reside in America.
His experiences working with elected officials, the State Department, foreign legal consultants, and receiving essential support from international groups, inspired his family to create Children at Borders. The vision of this organization is to end the practice of parental abduction of American children, preventing them from being cared for by both parents and growing up with experiences in their American culture and heritage.