US: Mother reunited with son after nearly a year.
MONROE COUNTY, Ohio
A Monroe County mother has reunited with her son who was abducted and kept overseas for nearly a year.
Barbara Hise has been fighting since last November to get back her 9-year-old boy who was illegally kept from her.
The story ends in Woodsfield, but it began thousands of miles across the ocean in the island country of Malta, where a judge ruled that a boy was held against his will for nearly a year. Now that boy is back home in the United States.
"I can't even put it into words,” Hise said. “I know the first few days he was here, I would wake up and, 'was it a dream?' Is this real?' And I would walk up to his room, and he would still be sleeping, and I just said, 'oh thank you, God. He's home.'"
Hise, her husband and her two other young children, are still coming to terms that after 9 months, 9-year-old Zander is home. In November, Hise's ex-husband was due to return Zander back home as part of a U.S. court-ordered custody and visitation agreement.
"The reason this was an abduction rather than a retention is because it was premeditated,” Barbara said. “He had a child psychologist ready to go even before Zander was in his custody."
Hise and her ex-husband wrangled over Zander's mental health and cognitive abilities. Diagnosed with autism, Zander's biological father tried to convince a Maltese court that he didn't have issues with autism, and that Barbara’s homeschooling of Zander was harmful.
The judge in Malta disagreed.
"He even mentioned in the order of return, my other two children, that this was an injustice to all of us,” Barbara said.
She couldn't do it on her own. The iStand Parent Network helped with travel and ironing out international bureaucracy.
"We don't charge any money or any fees,” explained Dr. Noelle Hunter, president, iStand Parent Network. “It's exhausting work, but Zander's case --"Bring Z Home to Me" -- it's the absolute example of what we do and why we do it."
According to state department data, more than 1,000 American children are abducted by parents or guardians. And only about 20 percent of them return. The daunting task didn't faze Barbara. Her faith in God powered her through doubt and pain.
"I never lost my faith. He was there every step of the way,” she said. “You can't tell me there is no God, because I felt him every step of the way. I see him every day of my life when I see my kids together."
The fight is not yet over for Barbara. She plans to return to D.C. in late October to fight for other parents whose children have been abducted.
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