Another tale of an international child custody battle now focuses on the case of Orange County’s own Andrew Ko and his 9 year old twins.
In August of 2009, the divorced father tossed around a football with his 9-year-old twins, Christopher and William, after visiting their grandmother in Newport Beach, California.
The next day, Aug. 30, he played basketball with them before their piano lesson. Their mother, Mei Wang, came by at 6 p.m. that Sunday to pick them up. Ko did the “1, 2, 3” routine with his sons: a tap of foreheads, kisses, and then hugs. “See you Wednesday!” he told them. He didn’t.
On Aug. 31, 2009, when the twins’ mother was supposed to take her sons to school, Wang, 45, instead put them on a plane and fled with them to her native Singapore – defying a court order and launching her ex-husband on an international crusade to get them back.
So far, despite desperate pleas to U.S. agencies and politicians, and despite the work of lawyers, private investigators and friends, Ko has little to show for his efforts – as his grief and frustration mounts.
“I have good days, and I have bad days,” he says. “Especially on the weekends, I miss them. Sometimes I will go lie on their bed….”
“I miss talking to them. We did homework together. We played together. They’re my life.” Ko, a Hong Kong-born U.S. citizen who grew up in Newport Beach and attended Corona del Mar High, is perplexed at a government that so far has seemed powerless to help him.
After all, shortly after the kidnapping, he was granted full custody of his kids as a result of his ex-wife’s action, documents show.
“The United States is a very generous and bighearted country,” Ko says. “When foreign countries ask for help, whether it’s Indonesia after the tsunami or Haiti after the earthquake, we jump in with both feet and we help.”
“But I’m an American. And when Americans need help, everyone seems to duck.”
Like the recent high-profile case of David Goldman, the New Jersey father who spent five years getting his son back from Brazil, Ko finds himself an unwilling player in the emotionally charged, and legally and logistically daunting arena, of international parental abductions.
Only 69 of 194 countries have signed an international treaty known as the Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which makes it easier for countries to work together in bringing fugitive parents to justice.
“The current situation is not acceptable,” Ernie Allen, president and chief executive of the National Center for Mission and Exploited Children, said in a recent speech.
Singapore has not signed the Hague pact. The NCMEC currently is working more than 1,200 cases involving children abducted by a non-custodial parent from the U.S. to a foreign country. Mexico by far leads the list, with more than 530 cases.
If you are a Southern California parent who finds him or herself in this tragic position (or fears that as a marriage dissolves you may), consulting with a Los Angeles or Orange County child custody lawyer at the earliest opportunity is imperative. Fighting for your rights in California family court can be difficult, especially for fathers. A Costa Mesa father’s rights attorney is an essential ally as you navigate our complex, and often confusing, legal system. With international custody cases sometimes taking years to resolve, it is important to have a California custody attorney who will fight for you working on your behalf from Day One.
Source: OC Register: OC Man desperately wants sons back