Granger mom fighting to get her kids back to U.S. - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Granger mom fighting to get her kids back to U.S.

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A mother's nightmare. She says her children were ripped from her life and taken to a foreign country.

A Granger native says she's spent the past two and a half years fighting to get her kids back.

In a Skype interview with FOX 28 from Cyprus, Marla Theocharides describes her emotions.

"Oh, it's devastating. It's devastating and heartbreaking and every night I go to sleep thinking it's going to be over and every morning I wake up thinking they're gonna be here and am traumatized that it's still going on," says Marla.

Marla married her husband, a native of Cyprus in 2004. Several years later the couple and their two children went there for an extended visit. Marla says while there, her ex-husband got violent and ultimately said he wasn't coming back to the states with her.

"He took me to the airport, dropped me and the kids off, his mother was with them. When I got back in the states I filed for divorce, then he filed kidnapping charges against me," says Marla.

She says those charges were eventually dropped in Cyprus.

According to court documents, a St. Joe County judge granted Marla full custody of her children, part of the reason stated was because of domestic abuse.

Unfortunately, Marla says the Cypriot government doesn't recognize American custody rulings and she was forced to turn over her kids in fear of being thrown in jail.

"Was very gut-wrenching to think that this could possibly happen. It was very traumatic for us," says Marla's Jeri Smith of Granger.

Jeri says her daughter was granted joint custody in Cyprus, but Marla says her ex-husband's family refuses to let her see her kids.

Wayne and Jery Smith say they've contacted the U.S. state department and members of Congress, with no luck.

"The children are US citizens and our government has done nothing to protect those children," says Wayne Smith, Marla's father.

Wayne and Jeri say all they can do now is be supportive.

"That's the worst feeling. We're very helpless. All of us. it has affected our whole family. We all want to do something, but we don't know what to do," says Jeri.

And their daughter, alone in a foreign country, says she's not giving up.

"It's been so long that I've not had my kids that I'm in just a desperate situation for help so I'm doing anything and everything I can to get my children returned to me," says Marla.

Marla says her ex-husband lived in the states for about 15 years and was a U.S. citizen, so she never dreamed he would take her kids from her to Cyprus.

She also says there is currently a warrant out for her arrest in Cyprus for two months unpaid child support. She said she hasn't been able to get a job in Cyprus because she hasn't been granted a work visa yet.

FOX28 has reached out to Marla's ex-husband to hear his side of the story.

We are waiting to hear back from him. If and when we do, we'll tell you what he has to say.

Her family has started a petition page for her at http://www.change.org/petitions/government-of-cyprus-family-court-of-cyprus-send-marcus-and-katerina-theocharides-home-to-the-usa

 

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