AGAWAM, Mass (WGGB) — A local mother and her young child are allegedly being held captive in Brazil over a custody battle.
When Shauna Hadden’s ex-husband was deported from the United States three years ago, their daughter was just three years old. After years of her ex-husband trying to convince her to visit with Ava, Shauna decided to make a summertime trip.
She checked with embassies, checked with the courts prior to booking flights, and then decided to arrange a visit this summer so father and daughter could see each other.
Even with proper preparation, Shauna’s worst case scenario is playing out overseas. She’s turned to Facebook posts as her latest pleas to come home safely with her daughter.
Their international nightmare began when they arrived in Brazil in late May.
“She got a call from somebody in that town where her ex-husband lives and said don’t come down here,” Shauna’s aunt Kathy Ayre said. “He’s got something planned, he’s been talking about it so she became scared and wasn’t sure what to do.”
Kathy says threats were made against Shauna so she cancelled the visit and fled to northern Brazil so she could wait to fly home. In the meantime, Kathy says Shauna’s ex-husband filed for child custody of Ava in a Brazilian court.
According to Kathy, Shauna didn’t think the move would be taken seriously — especially because she has american custody paperwork with her in brazil.
“She has her divorce in writing, she has sole custody, he’s never paid child support, she’s the sole provider and everything’s in order but in brazil he has rights,” Kathy said.
Shauna wrote in an email “On June 6, 2013 five federal police with guns showed up at 5 am and said I was ordered by a judge to hand over our passports.”
“At the time Shauna was very frightened and turned them over and didn’t realize that they really couldn’t have taken her passport, which they still have at this point,” Kathy said.
Now Kathy says the Brazilians won’t give Shauna, nor Ava’s passports back until a father-daughter visit is arranged in Brazil. Shauna visited the US Embassy in Brazil to explain the dangers of that, and they told her the Brazilian court process must play out.
Meantime, Congressman Richard Neal’s office released a statement Tuesday saying: “He (Congressman Neal) has raised this matter directly with the appropriate officials at the State Department and expressed his concerns about the health and welfare of this young family. In his opinion, Shauna and Ava should have their passports returned immediately and be allowed to return to the United States without further delay.”
“We want this expedited,” Kathy said. “We want to get Shauna and Ava back home as soon as possible. They are tired, they want to come home. It’s going on seven weeks- that’s a long time to be away. She’s a little girl.”
A little girl who wants to be home for her summer before first grade.
The State Department of the United States and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office are both aware of the ordeal, and say they are working on getting both Shauna and Ava home.
Stay with ABC40 for the latest developments.