After the abduction to the USA Jasmin and Felix are looking forward to return to their school.

On Monday Felix (6) and Jasmin (9) finally return to their school. They are looking forward to their friends, the teachers and sports. Three months ago the father abducted the children to the USA.

by Juergen Lauterbach

Exhausting weeks lie behind Susanne N. (42). For a long time she did not know to where the father, living separated from her, abducted the children and how they are doing. By her own initiative and the help of her family, lady-attorneys and a detective Susanne N. found her children in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since one week mother and children are back home.

With each day Felix and Jasmin get better accustomed to their old surroundings in the grandparents’ house, says the mother. “Jasmin can hardly wait to go back to school on Monday, see her friends and do acrobatics.”

What the children experienced since February 15, Susanne N. gets to know in small portions. She uses no pressure, she rather waits until they tell her, for example about the yellow American school bus which took them to school in Charlotte, or about bowling trips.

On that Sunday in February Susanne N. wanted to pick up her children. But Erico N. secretly had flown with them to Charlotte where friends of the family are living. Susanne N. quickly realized that something was fishy and informed the police. With their help she went into the husband’s apartment. For camouflage he had left the lights on and the TV set was running.

Now a constant up and down started for the pharmacist Susanne N.: “At first it all was like a nightmare. Then I thought I would never see my children again. Then I believed it would all be a matter of time and we only had to be active and determined.”

Being supported by her parents and sisters she approached authorities, found experienced lawyers in Germany and the USA, contacted the American embassy, found out which organisations help in such abduction cases.

Susanne N. was optimistic since obviously the FBI was involved. But for weeks on end nothing happened, she got no information, she did not hear from her beloved ones.

Since nothing happened, the woman decided to search on her own. The organisation “Committee for Missing Children” supports people in such a crisis. So Susanne N. heard about private detective Thomas Lauth from Indianapolis who had been successful in similar cases. Lauth only needed two days to discover Felix and Jasmin in Charlotte.

Easter Sunday Susanne N. was at her computer and investigated. The phone rang, the detective was on the phone. Her heart was racing when she heard the relieving message. Together with her mother she went to the States.

When they arrived, the police had already taken the children out of school and brought them to a foster family. The mother could see the children only three days later – one supervised hour at the social welfare office. “Jasmin talked like a waterfall while Felix sat on my lap”, she says.

Pretty soon the judge decided that the children were allowed to see the mother at her hotel. Until the court hearing on May 1 they distracted themselves by going on trips. On the computer they watched their grandfather in front of the camera playing with their beloved mongrel Alegra and making faces.

The hearing took a good four hours during which the father, born in Brazil and being US-American, stated that he and the children were exposed to discrimination in Germany. It took the court five days to make a positive decision for mother and children. As fast as possible the family flew back to Germany, without the father. Susanne N. knows that the children love their father and vice versa. For their sake he shall have visitation in the future – after appropriate precautions.

Susanne N. has made a first résumé of the chaotic weeks. She had lost six weeks because she relied on the authorities. “Police, youth welfare office, embassy, Federal Office of Justice are necessary, but don’t help searching”, she says and adds: “You yourself have to take the first steps, take care and take advantage of the experience of others.”