A GoFundMe account has been set up to help an Abbotsford mom fight to bring her children back home after her ex-husband took them to Lebanon, where he is from.
The page, posted today, indicates that the children – Mia, 9, and Liam, 7 – were expected to go on a spring break vacation to Seattle with their dad, Wissam Tarabichi, who had also been living in Abbotsford.
Their mom, Shelley, and stepdad, Dean, believed that Tarabichi would return the kids to school on April 3, as he had been authorized by the courts to do.
But Shelley received a call that day, saying the kids had not shown up in class.
She quickly learned that Tarabichi had sold his house in Abbotsford and all its contents, and severed all ties with Canada.
Shelley further discovered that Mia, Liam and Tarabichi had crossed the border from Abbotsford to Washington on March 24. The following day they flew from Seattle to Paris and then to Beirut.
Their exact location in Lebanon is not currently known.
Shelley and Dean have had no contact with the kids for two weeks, and Abbotsford is the only home they have known, the GoFundMe page indicates.
Because Lebanon is not a signatory of the Hague Convention, it is not required to co-operate with the return of the children to Canada.
The family has been advised to retain a lawyer in Lebanon, but they have already spent thousands of dollars in court fighting to “protect their children’s safety,” the GoFundMe page states.
“However, the Canadian court system permitted the children to travel abroad with their father; the airline somehow let them board the plane; and now, Liam and Mia are stuck.”
Funds raised by the campaign will be used for Shelley and Dean for lawyers and resources “to open up communications with (Tarabichi) and begin the process of resolution.”
“There is a long, frustrating, emotional and expensive road ahead of them,” the page states.
The campaign can be accessed on gofundme.com by searching “Help Bring Mia & Liam Home.”