Bring Andrew Home
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February 10, 2011-We had an eventful evening demonstrating outside the IR/PS building at UCSD. A huge thanks to Karel and Amy for coming to join us! We handed out some fliers to some students and a few of the non-student attendees. We also drew a lot of attention with our signage!
We had a long talk with the Mexican Consul General in San Diego, Mrs. María de los Remedios Gomez Arnau. We had had previous written contact with her but had never had the opportunity to speak wit her. While she seemed firmly rooted in the concept that the Mexican courts should and had decided who should get custody of Andrew, we welcomed the opportunity to inform her that the applicable Hague Convention laws are not intended to decide custody, rather they are about whether or not our countries will respect and honor the rulings of their counterpart. As such, Mexico should honor the custody rights previously assigned by the US courts in Wisconsin. We were also able to correct her belief that the courts had made a final decision, when, in fact, things are still in progress.
We also had contact with a photographer, Erica, and Regina, the editor of the UCSD newspaper, The UCSD Guardian. Erica took a LOT of photos and Regina asked a lot of good questions. She and Trevor spoke after the demonstration as well, via phone. We expect a story to be published this coming Monday, February 14, 2011.
We also had the pleasure of talking to one of the speakers at the symposium. He seemed genuinely interested and eager to help and requested Trevor's contact information so he could put us in contact with Mexican Human Rights groups that may be able to assist us. After his departure, we were informed that his name is Manuel Arango, a deeply respected philantrhopist and activist for the underprivileged in Mexico. We are honored that he took the time to discuss Trevor's plight and are hopeful that he can be of help in providing useful contacts via his knowledge of philanthropic entities in Mexico.
We look forward to continuing our demonstrations in front of the Mexican Consulate on Fridays and welcome you all to join us!
January 15, 2011- We just got home from an unsuccessful trip to Queretaro, Mexico. I was joined by my parents and a friend who were there to support me during my third set of psychological evaluations. Two days were supposed to be held jointly with Andrew, but his mother decided not to bring him to court on those days. Unfortunately, false criminal charges filed by Mariana and a confrontation with her and her family caused us to flee Mexico before I could complete my psychological evaluations for fear of being detained, arrested or physically harmed. This also forced me to miss my scheduled visitations with Andrew over the weekend. It's now been since March, 2009 since I've seen my son.
May 24, 2011-Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights (headed by Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) who was instrumental in the reuniting of David Goldman with his son, Sean, who was abducted to Brazil) is to hold a hearing titled "International Child Abduction: Broken Laws and Bereaved Lives". The object of this hearing is to listen to the testimony of left-behind parents and obtain support for a bill that will elect an Ambassador-at-Large dedicated to cases of international parental child abduction.
The hearing takes place at 2PM (E.T.) in room 2230 of the Rayburn House Office building. The public is welcomed to attend to show support for this bill.
We published a brief notice on Fathers and Families (http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/?p=15674) regarding this hearing as well as on Facebook (group name: Bring Andrew Home). Please share with your friends!
May 24, 2011-I was able to listen live to the hearings hosted by the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights regarding international parental child abduction. The testimony of all the parents was both moving and convincing. The written testimony I submitted about my case and the ongoing problem with Mexico was officially entered into the Congressional record. Although this is the 7th such hearing over the course of many congresses, it is my sincere hope that because the hearings were held relatively early in the 112th congress that they will accomplish their goals and that this bill will go to a vote on the House floor. I urge everyone to contact their representative and ask them to co-sponsor this bill. The more co-sponsoring represetnatives, the more likely it will move into the next phases and become law!
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June 5, 2011-My parents, who still live in Wisconsin were able to attend the recent Missing Children and Adults Awareness day at which Andrew was highlighted as an ongoing case. My mom and dad write:
"We just got back from Madison and we are tired. It was a long day, but we are very glad we went. We took pictures and will send you some soon. The event was hosted by Wisconsin's Attorney General and was held inside the spacious and beautiful capitol rotunda. Several hundred people attended. It was a well organized and managed program. At the end we were invited to place a candle in front of a prominent display of an enlarged poster with Andrew's and Mariana's photos on it --- the one published by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. We were pleasantly surprised by the special attention that Andrew's case received."
June 20, 2011-My congressional representative, Susan Davis agreed to co-sponsor HR1940 at our request! I have had several conversations with Congresswoman Davis' office and they have been very supportive. Marcy also called and requested that Congresswoman Davis co-sponsor HR1940. She also requested if Davis decided not to co-sponsor the bill that Davis write her a letter detailing the reasons she would not. Fortunately for us, she wrote to Marcy a few weeks later saying she was a proud co-sponsor. This is evidence that calling your representative and telling them your views and wishes really works! Call yours today!
August 2, 2011-I'm still awaiting another decision by the Mexican Family Court system regarding my case with Andrew. The latest decisions have been delayed due to an Amparo requested by Mariana which was recently denied. Further progress has been hindered by an 'appeal' of the decision on this Amparo. On top of this, the court is having a week-long recess for vacations. I'm told I will have news about a decision as soon as August 8th. I will keep you posted so stay tuned.
August 2, 2011-I have contacted the State Department requesting a "Health and Whereabouts" report be done for Andrew. This report is not customarily done in cases involving children living at 'home'. It's typically used to check on loved-ones in prison or hospitals and institutions to ensure that they are being provided for in a proper fashion. Since I cannot be with Andrew in Mexico and since I have genuine concerns for his safety, I request these every six months, the maximum allowed by the State Department and Mexican Central Authority. Although Mariana has permitted these in the past, she has recently been refusing them and trying to use this as collateral to make demands that I remove this website and any information about Andrew's abduction on Facebook. I am currently waiting on her decision regarding my latest request for information about Andrew's well-being. I will post an update once she has made her decision.
Andrew and Mariana may have a new address. I keep myself informed about my case through the court's website which posts recent activity. The most recent post indicates a change of address, although nothing more is described. We are wondering if this means that Mariana and my son, Andrew, have moved out of her mother's house or if the family has moved together to a new location. It's strange to think that I have no control, can give no consent nor am informed by Mariana about where Andrew lives and goes to school. I hope to have more information about this court posting soon.
August 21, 2011-The good news is that Mariana did allow a Health and Whereabouts Visit to occur! The bad news is that she did not allow pictures, so I don't know how Andrew has changed since I was last allowed to see him in March, 2010. I was able to write a note to Andrew:
According to the report, the officials read the note to him in Spanish and he took it and ran off to show his friend that he got a letter from his father!
Incidentally, the visit took place in the same address as always. Andrew and Mariana did not move.
This is your father. I wanted to send you a letter to tell you how much I love you and miss you. I hope one day we will be reunited. In the future you will understand why I am unable to be with you now. It is not my fault. I hope you are having a good summer. I am enjoying the summer. The weather is perfect where I live. I live near the ocean and I like to go boating on the ocean. Do you like boats? I like to go swimming in the ocean. Do you like swimming? I also like gardening. I grow a lot of vegetables in my garden. I have a lot of tomatoes and peppers. I like eating vegetables, do you? I also like ice cream when it is hot. I bet you also like ice cream. I will take you to get ice cream when I see you next time. I will see you soon. I love you very much and I am sad that I can’t be with you. You are very important to me and I want you to know that I think about you every day. Love, Dad
October 6, 2011-I was told by my lawyer that the courts intend to make a ruling on my case by the end of this month. This is because they have a three month deadline to resolve this case. Since the most recent amparo was resolved in August (in my favor), this would make October the deadline. I am nervous but remain hopeful that the courts will make the right decision and do what is best for Andrew by returning him to the United States.
According to the State Department, Mariana has recently fired her previous attorney and hired an US attorney that is based in Los Angeles, CA. I don't know what this will mean for my case, but I remain hopeful that it her reaction to the case not going the way she wants it to.
December 26, 2011-The State Department received and forwarded a packet of documents from the Mexican Central Authority, as required by the Hague Convention. Included in the packet were several submittals from Mariana, which judging by the informality in which they were concieved, appear to be written directly by Mariana complaining to the Mexican Family Court about this website. The documents detail the contents of this web site as 'evidence' of my bad character and my inability to be a good father to Andrew. In one document she goes as far as to discredit the State Department's report of Andrew's happy response to the letter I wrote him for the Health and Whereabouts Visit claiming that his joy was merely a response to having done what his mother told him and not say anthing negative about and to respect his father. While it is disheartening to think that the negative nature of these recent, desperate measures may be passed onto Andrew, I am confident that Andrew will come to know the truth about this situation and will realize how much I love and miss him.
December 26, 2011- There is no progress to report on the status of the case. My lawyer reminded the Amparo judge that he was violating the law with respect to the amount of time allowed to make a ruling. This seems to be a pattern...
February 3, 2012-The courts in Queretaro granted me a visitation with Andrew on February 3rd and 4th for three hours each. These visits always take place under lock-and-key and supervision at a modestly appointed playground next to the family court. The first day, being a weekday, we had the run of the playground as no other parents were having visitations. Andrew recognized me right away and was very glad to see me. We played for a long time with some Legos I bought for him. He is very smart and was able to quickly construct the car from the instructions. Not only does he have my engineer's brain but he also has one of my moles. When I saw him I pointed to the one on his cheek and when he looked at me quizically, I pointed to my own in the same place on my cheek. He understood and laughed. While there is a bit of a language barrier, with my limited Spanish and his limited English (he's in a bilingual school) we were able to communicate and have a great time. Half-way through the first visit, my parents were granted admission to the play area. Although he didn't recognize them at first, we were soon all playing together. I had matching name-bracelets made out of leather straps and bamboo and metal beads. Andrew really liked his and we wore them throughout the two days. As most boys at the age of almost-six, he's super-active and never ran out of things to do. I think he would have stayed and played for hours longer if he could have. While it was an amazing visit, it is hard for me to see how fast he is growing in his absence from me and how little protection I can provide. I noticed a few things about Andrew that concern me and while I'm following up on them this is what is to be expected when you're unable to see your child on a regular basis.
February 4, 2012-The second day of visitation went laregly the same as the first until it was time to go. After Andrew left, I exited the playground area and was immediately approached by several police officers. My attorney was unfazed by this and we were expecting it. The officers handed me papers notifing me of false criminal allegations submitted by Mariana who exploited my visitation with Andrew to notify the police of my whereabouts. The papers requested my presence to make a statement about the allegations for later in the week. Of course, because we were unable to appear on those days, we went later that day to the requesting locations. Unfortunately, because the minor nature of the allegations, the office didn't even have the file on-hand (it's not an active case so the files are being stored in a central location) and I was not able to make my statement. And because it was Saturday, the second location was closed. My lawyer will have the dates postponed until the next time I'm in Mexico. I look forward to clearing my name and resuming peaceful visitations with my son.
April 17th, 2012-My parents and I just got back from another trip to Queretaro, Mexico. This trip covered several obligations including a psychological evaluation, a visitation (2 days) with Andrew and two trips to different District Attorney's offices to deal with false criminal allegations filed against me by Mariana.
Psychological evaluations-This is the 5th psychological evaluation I've undergone since the start of my case in August, 2007. This psychologist evaluated Andrew, Mariana and me. Once he writes up his evaluations they will become part of the court record. The psychologists in Milwaukee, WI were able to diagnose Mariana's mental illnesses and I hope this Mexican psychologist will as well.
Visitations-My parents and I were able to share some great moments with Andrew during our two 3-hour visitations. As in February, I spent the first hour with Andrew and then my parents came to join us. This time we were able to surprise him with his favorite food...a Pizza from Domino's! On the first day we also brought some cake (we looked hard for cupcakes but they aren't common in Mexico) and sung him Happy Birthday in grand Richardson style (this is the traditional 'Happy Birthday Song' followed by a requisite follow-up 'How Old Are You?' to the same tune). Andrew told us he was 6...in English! We recorded the singing and some other conversations we had with Andrew. We are able to communicate surprisingly well with his English and my very limited Spanish. We had some great conversations this time! Aunt Becky and Uncle Robert bought him an English-Spanish book and so did Grandma and Grandpa Richardson. One of the books was a 'sensory book' that had different textured items. He kept grabbing my hand and making me feel the different textures. I also got him a bunch of Lego's (he's definitely got some engineer in him) and some coloring books that he spent a lot of time working on. He loved his gifts and I hope he's allowed to keep them! Andrew also seems to have acquired my love of gardening. We spent some time watering the plants around the playground together. He also spent some time using my camera to take pictures of one of the books we gave him.
District Attorney-Last February when I was in Mexico to visit with Andrew, Mariana notified the police when I would be at the court playground so they could officially notify me of charges she made against me. Attempts to resolve these allegations at that time were not possible. I arranged to make my statments in response to these allegations this past week when I was going to be in Queretaro for other reasons. She made three radical allegations to one DA. Of course she had no evidence for any of her claims because they were utterly false. I expect the DA to clear me of these charges by the end of the month. She also made another allegation to a different DA. When I presented to make my statement there, the interpreter said there was nothing I had to do because even the DA recognized the allegation was ludicrous and unfounded and intended to dismiss the charges. These false allegations are evidence in continual pattern of behavior by Mariana to stall the case and prevent me from being with Andrew. Overall, the visit was very positive and I can't wait to see Andrew, again!
April 9, 2012-Today was Andrew's 6th birthday. I can think of a hundred things I'd love to give him on his birthday but I'm afraid that anything I give him is discarded by Mariana and her family to destroy any reminders of me. One thing I would have loved to give him this year is a Padre's or Brewers shirt.