A London mum has celebrated ending her 18-month battle to get her kids back by stepping off the plane and shouting: “My boys are back!”
Rachael Neustadt, 36, an American living in the capital, secured their return after her legal team won a landmark legal ruling in November.
It was the UK’s first child abduction using the 1996 Hague Convention to return a child stolen abroad after the boys’ father Ilya Neustadt conspired with his mother to keep the toddlers in Moscow following a holiday visit.
“We’re so happy to be together,” said Neustadt, in an email to supporters this week. “We are just off the plane, but I wanted to let you know straight away.”
The long-winded process involved over a dozen high court orders in two jurisdictions, all demanding that seven-year old Daniel and five-year old Jonathan be returned to Neustadt and their other brother, Meir, in England.
However, Ilya ignored the rulings, and in November 2013 he went into hiding in Russia with the children.
“Unless it’s happened to you or someone you know it is unlikely you have any idea how complex and horrific it is,” Neustadt said last month.
The mother-of-three from Houston was awarded sole legal custody of the kids after her divorce from Ilya, but said that – once in Russia – her two boys, aged four and six at the time, were forbidden from having any contact with her.
“They were held as hostages, kept off-radar in some unknown location,” she said, after writing to the Prime Minister’s Officer for assistance. It is believed that the boys have not attended school for several months.
Neustadt this week sought to send a message to her supporters in the Jewish community saying: “I have never felt so loved and cared for and I could not have done it without them. I am very grateful.”