When a parent takes their child or children away from the country in which they reside to live in a foreign country without the knowledge or consent of the other parent, they drive an unbelievably heavy stake through the heart of the left behind parent.
Cases of International Parental Child Abduction as it is better known, has more than doubled over the last decade with almost two UK children being abducted abroad each day according to new figures released in 2013 by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and charity, Reunite International.
Imagine yourself coming home after a hard day’s work; only to find out that your family has disappeared, you have no idea where to start searching for them, no one else can offer you any concrete help and even when you eventually discover what country they are in, you realise that it’s too dangerous for you to go there and still no one, not even the police, nor the government can help you get them back.
Now imagine that same situation in 1973. Back then there was no home PC, no internet access, no social media, no mobile phones and very few homes had a phone. The cost of a flight was at least 50% higher than it is today.
My mum knows all these feelings only too well, she was just 26 when her two children, me just seven and my sister five years old were taken by our dad to Nigeria from London England out of the blue. We lived in Nigeria for a total of 14 years. That was my defining moment.
Nowadays, you get to hear from the left behind parent very often, you hear about how their life had been ripped apart and how much they miss their children. Sometimes you even hear from the abducting parent, they try to justify their reasons but very rarely do you get to hear the child or children’s perspective. Usually the trauma is something they don’t want to re-visit so they keep it all locked up inside.
In 2011 my mum finally read my story in the original version of the book “Time Will Tell” she recalls having a towel around her neck which she used to wipe away tears as she read through the pages. The book went on to surprise me as it led to various media work for me including an appearance on BBC Breakfast News. The book won an award and my Facebook page got more than 10,000 Likes.
I got hundreds of questions from all over the world, people wanted to know more, there were too many unanswered questions in the book, they wanted to know amongst other things how I rebuilt my life once I came back to England as a man and most of all they wanted to know why my dad did it.
In January 2014 the updated edition of “Time Will Tell” was published. I was lucky that both my parents were willing to help, they filled in a lot of the gaps and helped me to complete a book that I am immensely proud of. “Time Will Tell” is my story, right from the beginning it takes you into the suspense unfolding before my eyes and it goes on to take you through my emotions growing from boy to man.
Yemi Elegunde’s Matador Bibliography: