AGAWAM, Mass (WGGB) –Shauna and Ava Hadden arrived back in Agawam late last night to a crowd of family and friends waiting with warm hugs and tears of joy.
The are smiles and cheers seven weeks in the making. It was late May when Shauna and Ava left Agawam to visit Ava’s dad, but when they got there, he began making threats so the Haddens’ they fled north. Ava’s father then opened a custody battle and shortly after that Brazilian authorities confiscated the Hadden’s passports.
“It was five federal police-one woman and four huge men with big guns,” Shauna said. “I mean it was 5 in the morning, they were pounding on the door and they were going to kick it in if we didn’t open it so I didn’t really have a choice either way. I know people say ‘why did she give it?’ “I didn’t have a choice, I really didn’t.”
Held against their will for over a month, the Hadden’s had no choice but to go public. Last week, ABC40 shared Shauna and Ava’s story and shortly after it went viral.
From Good Morning America to the Today Show, media around the world picked up their nightmare. Over 12,000 people showed their support on a Facebook page.
“Because of the media, because of my family, my friends, I really think it helped expedite the case and I really think it’s the reason we are here today,” Shauna said.
Through her attorneys, Shauna pleaded with the courts while in Brazil. She begged for help at the US Embassy.
US officials negotiated with Brazilians, and finally nearly two months after they landed in Brazil, Shauna and Ava finally were given their passports Thursday and returned to Agawam Friday night.
“Once we got on the flight to go to JFK i started to feel a little bit more at ease and then touchdown was just like victory,” Shauna said. “I’m so happy to be here in my own place, forever grateful. Never in my life did I ever think I would be so happy to be where I am from, to be in my home town, and I’ll be forever grateful.”
But nobody is happier to be home, visiting with family pets, playing with dolls, and smiling again, then Ava. Now that they are home, Shauna plans to thank everyone for their support, and then get back to normal. Ava starts summer camp next week, which her family hopes will be step one to putting all of this behind them.