Myles from Home
Just under a week ago, on Monday 30th September at 10.45pm, my worst fear occurred: Myles, my son, had been identified boarding a plane at Heathrow airport. A plane that would take him out of the country, and out of my life, indefinitely. His mother had abducted Myles to Russia.
There had always been a strong possibility that Myles’ mother would one day choose to flee the U.K. with our son; she is a Russian national, we are no longer in a relationship together and she had already applied to the courts to leave the country with him. Thankfully, in June earlier this year, the courts decided that it was in Myles’ best interest to remain in the U.K. with his loving family and the comfort and security his homeland provides.
One of the greatest things you can feel when growing up is safe and secure-nothing to worry about, loved and content. This is true for all children, but especially true for those children with additional needs. Myles was diagnosed in 2017 with autism and is lucky to be in a mainstream school that supports his educational and additional needs brilliantly well. A child with autism’s general well-being relies on structure, familiarity and routine. For Myles, stability is quite simply all about being at home where he is able to enjoy the simplest of pleasures: sharing his love of ‘space and exploration’ with me or enjoying the comfort of watching the birds in the garden. Comfort for Myles is certainly not about flying to an unfamiliar country and being dumped in a land of strangers where he is unable to speak the language.
Early on, I realised it was up to me to defend the interests of our father-son relationship. I had no option but to fight for access through the family court system. I understood the importance of playing an active part in Myles’ life and fortunately, so did the court: I was granted 50:50 access in September 2018. To prevent parental child abduction, and Myles leaving the U.K. without my permission, specific issue orders made by the court were put in place. One of which entitled me to hold both Myles’ passport, as I posed no risk of abducting my own son.
In July 2019 just a month after the courts rejected his mothers request to remove him permanently from the U.K. to live in Russia. She had arranged for somewhere to live, a school place and a job her so they can start a new life. I returned to the courtroom as Myles’ mother had requested to take him on holiday to Russia. Despite raising my natural concern regarding his safety, I was given little choice by the court but to agree to this. She therefore took Myles on holiday, and returned, albeit a day later than what had been agreed. Since returning to the U.K. she retained Myles’ passport and refused to hand it back to me. Once more, I had no choice but to apply to the court for an enforcement order to guarantee the safe return of his passport to me. A date was then scheduled with the court on the 3rd of October 2019 for this to be settled. Little did I know that this date would not be met and my son’s passport would not be the only thing snatched from my life.
On the morning of Monday 30th September 2019, I did not know that this would be the last time I would be dropping my son at school, discussing with his teacher about treasures that Myles collects and the book he has been so desperate to bring to show his school friends, or that this kiss goodbye would be our last. I did not know that I would not be collecting him from school because he would not be there.
It was only when I contacted the school to arrange a meeting at the end of the day between myself, Myles’ mother and a member of staff that the real nightmare began. I was informed that I would not be able to hand deliver the court paper work regarding the passport handover because Myles had been taken out of school. Armed with Myles’ passport, his mother was already well in the process of absconding with him.
My beautiful son was boarding his plane bound for Russia at 10:45pm and was being abducted.
That’s SIX HOURS after I called 999 at 3.44pm to report a potential abduction, request that a crucial block be put on his passport and desperately ask for help. The passport, it turned out, had not in fact been blocked until 9.30pm.
SEVEN HOURS after I called 101 to seek guidance on how this tragic event could be avoided.
NINE HOURS after I had attempted to serve the papers to regain possession of Myles’ passport.
TEN HOURS since his mother initiated the plan and collected Myles from school.
TWELVE HOURS since I turned to give him a wave as I walked out of the school playground, seeing him for the final time.
Unfortunately, we have not reached the end of this nightmare.
Since Myles’ abduction, I have been advised that I am not entitled to any financial assistance in getting my beautiful son home. Due to repaying previous court costs, I am unfortunately not in a position to fund this myself. I have no idea, nor do I want to imagine, how much longer this might take and therefore, I feel that I have no other choice but to appeal to the kindness of others. My son is a not a possession; he is a human being with rights and feelings. I miss him. I fear for him. And I desperately want him back home where he belongs and where he can be himself.
Help me share the word on Twitter by following twitter.com/bringmyleshome
- Cathy Forster
- Jennifer Bonner
- Nicki Colville
- Paula Webster
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