My name is Arthur Harrison and this is my story of how I got my eight year old daughter Mika back through The Hague Convention.
In May of 2014 I was deployed to Egypt in support of the Multi-National Force and Observers Mission in the Sinai peninsula. Upon my deployment my marriage was not going so well with my wife Melanie who is a German citizen, together we have an eight year old daughter named Mika. Because of the situation at my house with my marriage the army sent me home in August for about 22 days. When I returned to Egypt on 4 September 2014 I thought all was well and that my wife and I were well on our way to recovery. I could not have been more mistaken, my wife cut off all contact with herself, our daughter, and I and on 13 September 2014 she left with Mika to return to Germany.
The morning of 14 September 2014 I received a message from my wife stating that both her and Mika were in Germany and if I wanted to talk to Mika I could Skype with her anytime I wanted to.
Upon learning that my wife had abducted Mika to Germany I immediately got in touch with the Department of State specifically Ms. Ludwig from the Office for Children's Issues and she referred me to the website which provided information on what to do if you are the left behind parent. I found a file on lawyers in Germany and knew I had to obtain one immediately.
After contacting numerous lawyers with experience in The Hague Convention, I received a response from R.A. Harald Weisker. He was honest and sincere in his response and he also told me about the Committee for Missing Children based out of Lawrenceville, Georgia. Harald informed me about David and Karen Thelen and put me in touch with them. He also told me that he would be going there soon for a meeting and for me to contact him a day after his arrival. When I contacted David and Harald I was not doing so well and was wondering what I could do and how long it would take for everything to fall into place and get the ball rolling to get my little girl home. Harald and David told me that I needed to be as patient as I could be and begin filling out the application for Mikas return to the USA.
The paperwork was not hard to fill out and within two weeks I had sent everything to Harald, David, and Ms. Ludwig. There was however another problem and that was the fact I had no address and no knowledge of where my wife and Mika were except for the state and general area they may be staying. Harald enlisted the services of the German Central Authority in Bonn in trying to find the whereabouts of my wife and Mika. My attorney in the United States recommended hiring a Private Investigator to determine their whereabouts to no avail.
After a month and a half I received an email from Harald stating that my wife and daughter had been found but they could not disclose the address because of German privacy laws. I was so happy that they had been found finally and I knew it would soon be over and my little Mika and I would be reunited after two months of not knowing how she was doing as her mother would not let me contact Mika at all. I had no idea that it would be a little over two months later that I would be in court in Frankfurt trying to get Mika back. In December I again received an email from Harald stating that the court was in receipt of all the documents and had set a hearing for 9 January 2015, due to a conflict with scheduling we postponed the hearing for a week and the new court date was 16 January 2015. I was instantly relieved and welcomed the news that the end was nearing.
A new wave of emotion came over me as I began worrying about where I was going to stay while I was in Germany for two weeks, how I was going to get around, how I was going to eat, etc... I again emailed Harald and let him know my concerns about the upcoming trip to Germany and he put me in touch with Christiane from the Committee for Missing Children Europe. After speaking with Christiane and Harald, I was told I could stay with Christiane and her husband Henri and the only expenses I would have to pay were the rental car and the flight back to the States.
After spending almost $7,000 between my attorney in Texas and Harald this was a huge relief.
If it were not for Harald, Regina, David, Karen, Christiane and Henri I do not know what I would have done and I appreciate how welcome they all made me feel. I have learned that people that have gone through the same things in life have a common bond that inherently makes them closer. It felt like family and that's exactly what I needed during the two weeks I was there.
I went to Germany a week before the hearing with the expectation that I would get to see Mika before the hearing and I was wrong. The first time I got to see my daughter since 2 September 2014, the first time I got to talk to her since 24 December 2014, was 16 January 2015 outside the courtroom while we were waiting to go inside. Mika was a little skeptical at first but not even two seconds later she was in my arms and it felt amazing. Mika would not let me go or out of her sight until it was time for her to go inside to speak with the judge. After two and a half hours in the courtroom I learned that I had won but this was only the first instance and that my wife could appeal. Harald then informed me that if my wife did appeal that this may not be over until March or April which is news no one wants to hear. I received visitation for a few days over the next week and on Saturday, 24 January 2015 I returned to Texas to wait on news from Germany and go back to work.
On Wednesday, 25 February 2015 I received an email from Harald saying that I could pick Mika up on Friday, 27 February 2015 and that the Higher Court of Appeals had rejected my wife's appeal. I couldn't believe it, I finally would have my daughter back home where she belongs. I immediately got in touch with my boss at work and was able to leave to go get Mika and bring her home.
Christiane and Henri again opened their home to Mika and I for the few days we would be there and I am eternally grateful for what they did.
On Sunday, 1 March 2015 at 2200, Mika and I arrived at home in Texas. All in all my case took a little less than six months from start to finish however, it felt like years. Mika is doing really well and is glad to be back at school with her friends and back at home with her daddy and brother.
Without the support of so many people, I would not have been so strong through this process. I would like to thank god first and foremost for giving me the patience and strength to handle all the things soldiers encounter on a day to day basis and this at the same time.
Looking back, I don't even know how I did it. Second I would like to thank David and Karen Thelen and Christiane Hirts from the Committee for Missing Children and her husband Henri, without their hospitality and understanding I would not have been as calm during this whole process and they definitely took away some of the stress I was dealing with. Lastly, I want to thank Harald and Regina Weisker. I would have never imagined an attorney to be so sincere and legitimately concerned about Mika and I.
I am sure I tested his patience a few times but he never even blinked an eye and was by my side the whole time. Through the numerous emails and roller coaster of emotion he was always steadfast. Thank you. Regina, the hugs were amazing and the hospitality you showed me was first class, thank you!
I can only hope no one has to ever go through this type of thing but understand there are people out there that can help you and live to help people like us, the left behind parent. People to show us that there is hope.