By then, my father had already abandoned me. At or around the age of 16, my mother (the only thing left in my life) died suddenly right in front of me from a heart attack. As I grew up, I had a tough life, not understanding much and not knowing much for that reason. I was born with something called "intellectual deficient range", so I struggle with daily limitations and at times, frequently taken advantage of.
The months went on and we started dating throughout high school until we graduated in 2004. While in high school, I always felt the desire to do special things for Nigia - especially for her birthday and Valentine's Day. My favorite gifts to her were a dozen red roses, a teddy bear and chocolate with a note saying, "I love you."
In our senior year, I moved in with Nigia and her family. Things were going great. We always got along and loved being together no matter what time it was. A few months later, Nigia became pregnant. Her parents were extremely upset about the pregnancy and things started to go downhill. About a month before Emily was born, I moved out of Nigia's home, and moved in with my cousin.
When Emily was born, I was unaware of the special moment taking place. Nigia only called me an hour after she already had our daughter. I immediately went to the hospital with my two sisters. When I arrived at the hospital in Berwyn, I had mixed emotions. At the same time that I was heartbroken that Nigia hadn't called me to see Emily come into the world, I was overjoyed to hold Emily and know she was now a part of my life. I was especially happy when I found out that it was a girl. I have always wanted a daughter and felt like Nigia had given me the greatest gift of all. After holding Emily for about 30 minutes with her hands wrapped about my finger, I left the hospital.
The next day, Emily and Nigia went home. When I went to see Emily, I was a little uncomfortable and still upset about what Nigia did (something I will never forget.) When I went there, Emily was sleeping. I picked her up and just held her until she woke up. When Emily woke up, she blinked, yawned and smiled at me, then went back to sleep. I wanted to see Emily every day and be an active father, but Nigia and her parents refused to let me see her as much as I wanted to.
A few months passed and I decided that I needed to hire a lawyer to assure my rights as a father. In December, 2005, I hired a lawyer. Not only had Nigia not listed me as Emily's father on her birth certificate, but she refused to allow Emily to participate in a paternity test. In court, the judge ordered a DNA paternity test. Based on the results of the DNA test, the judge ordered her to put my name on Emily's birth certificate. On January 4, 2007, after nearly 2 frustrating years of negotiations, we were finally able to agree on terms for a parenting agreement.
One year after the parenting agreement, everything seemed to be going well. But On March 27, 2008, however, Nigia wrote a letter to me explaining her frustration with the courts and decided to leave, apparently never to come back. The letter explained how she felt threatened by the courts, and that she was afraid she was going to lose custody of Emily sooner rather than later. She was also angry that I knew she was not a legal U.S. citizen and scared that she was going to be deported.
As soon as I finished reading the letter, I went to the Berwyn Police Department to explain what had just possibly happened and asked to file a missing person report. For the next six months, I hit nothing but bumps, calling everyone from the Illinois State Police to congress, Senators and Lawyers. On September 25th, 2008, Emily was listed with NCMEC and other missing children's organizations.
On March 20, 2009 I submitted my petition for my daughter's return under The Hague Convention on the civil aspects of International Child Abduction. Despite all of the difficulties that I may still face, I will continue to fight for my daughter's return home/access from Brazil. On September 2, 2010 INTERPOL (Brazil) located the whereabouts of Emily and Nigia. On October 10, 2010 I flew more than 5,000 miles to Sao Paulo, Brazil in an attempt to reunite with my daughter who I have not seen in over 3 years, but all the long nights waiting in a hotel room, all the long sleepless nights and painful memories; On October 20, 2010 I flew back to the United States and was unsuccessful in reuniting with my daughter. I know that I will never stop looking for my daughter, but I cannot do this on my own. I need help.