My dear niece and nephew –
It’s been nearly six years since you’ve been home to America, the country of your citizenship, and most importantly, surrounded by your extended family. I think of you, every day, and miss you in such an amount that it seems almost impossible to explain. I feel like our family is wrongly locked up, like the mother elephant in the Disney movie, Dumbo. I wish we had magic feathers that could make you fly.
Hoping the New Zealand Family Courts, and your mother, would extend a Goodwill gesture, in July I wrote asking if you could visit America and participate in our Cousin Camp. It’s a five-day vacation of clamming, kayaking, swimming, roasting s’mores, and, in general, celebrating family, allowing you to make memories and build relationships with cousins, aunts, uncles, and your grandmother.
While I wasn’t surprised, I was disappointed by the reply that you are in the middle of Family Court proceedings and it is a matter of working New Zealand’s way through the process which wouldn’t be resolved by July. I wonder, daily, if New Zealand will ever take steps to resolve it.
These “court-proceedings” have dragged themselves on and on for nearly SIX years. And once again another event, this summer’s family reunion, can’t ever be a do-over. It came and went. The kids got mucky sand between their toes and I spent most of the time laughing at the things they said or did. And, I cried bittersweet tears because amid those fun things, as I knew that you would have LOVED each and every moment.
Your situation was explained as the case not being able to set for hearing until a report the court ordered had been completed and the parties had an opportunity to file additional evidence.
I wonder what further evidence needs to be brought forward. You are being denied your family connections and access to your culture. These are things that are in direct violation of New Zealand’s own laws and the United Nations’ Rights of the Child. The reality of your lives, as hostages, in what is otherwise a first-world, modern society, is simply unconscionable.
I want you to know that each of us, including your dad, your grandmother, me, and your aunts and uncles, along with the rest of our family and network of caring friends, continues to advocate for you to come home. We are working, every day, to establish what is called in this country a “residential schedule” so that you can spend equal time with both your mother and the rest of your family as well as get to know your natural born American heritage. We know it is in your best interest to know and be loved by your entire family. It is in your best interest to understand your citizenship; and the history and culture you, as well as both of your parents, were born into. I promise that we will not stop advocating until you come home, safe and sound.
With deep love, your Aunt