|By Carley Dangona
On July 10, Brazilian officials returned Shauna Hadden and daughter Ava's passports. The duo had been stranded since May due to a custody dispute and can now return home.
Photos courtesy of Shauna Hadden
AGAWAM After being stranded in Brazil since May, Shauna Hadden and her 6-year-old daughter Ava Concilia Machado can return home.
On the morning of July 10 Hadden made this post to Facebook: "Hello all. I am happy to say that I just found out from my attorneys that the decision has been made by the Federal Regional Judge. He has decided to return our passports immediately and let us return to the USA. He has also taken our names off of the no fly list effective immediately.
"I want to thank my attorneys at RZA Advogados (Fabio, Denyson & Felipe) for all of their hard work and time invested. They fought for us and really made a difference. I want to thank my family and friends for all of their help and support because without you I would be nothing.
"And last but not least I want to thank all of you for your love, support and prayers. You have helped more than you know. You are part of the reason we are going home. Thank, thank, thank, thank you all so much. We can't wait to come home."
The City Council presented a unified front in support for the safe return of residents Hadden and Ava at its July 8 meeting.
During the Citizen's Speak Time portion of meeting, Councilor Cecilia Calabrese read her letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the dilemma Hadden was facing.
Afterwards, all councilors signed their support for the cause, requesting that action be taken by the Commonwealth to return the two to their Agawam home.
Calabrese wrote, "Please use all your powers of diplomacy and influence within the International Community to bring the immediate end to Shauna and Ava's captivity in Brazil. Shauna and Ava must have their passports returned to them immediately so that they may come home to the United States."
She continued, "The longer Shauna and Ava are denied their passports the more harrowing their situation will become since, as you know, their Brazilian Visas will expire, making their immigration status and eventual return to the United States, more problematic."
According to www.facebook.com/pages/Trapped-in-Brazil/204974706320487, the Facebook page Hadden created to share her story; the two became trapped in Brazil after their passports were seized due to a custody suit filed by her ex-husband.
Bridget Murphy of the Associated Press reported the following on July 5: "Thirty-three-year-old Shauna Hadden and her daughter, Ava Machado, have been in Brazil since late May, when they began a trip Hadden said was intended to connect the girl with the father she hadn't seen in more than three years.
"Hadden's mother, Linda, said Friday the pair had already arrived in Rio de Janeiro on her way to visit Ava's father, 32-year-old Donizete Machado, when her daughter received a phone call from a mutual friend warning her that Machado planned to keep the girl.
"Instead of taking a flight to southern Brazil to meet Machado, Shauna Hadden and her daughter flew north to stay with friends in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, Linda Hadden said.
"Then federal police seized Shauna Hadden's passport along with her daughter's in early June.
"On Friday, a lawyer for Machado confirmed the passports were confiscated following a request by the girl's father but denied he wants custody of the girl, whom Hadden has had full custody of since the couple split in 2009.
"Attorney Isabel Feijo said Machado sought seizure of their passports because Hadden skipped his scheduled meeting with Ava.
"'He wants her to visit him and his family, and if the mother agrees to that, the request to seize the passport will immediately be withdrawn, we'll drop the case,' Feijo said Friday.
"Feijo said Hadden using tickets purchased by her ex-husband arrived in Rio de Janeiro on May 21 and was supposed to meet Machado in the city of Florianopolis before traveling together to the town of Criciuma, about 125 miles to the southeast.
"When Hadden and her daughter failed to show, Feijo filed court papers on May 27 asking for their passports to be seized.
"In court filings, Feijo alleged Hadden never intended to allow her daughter to see Machado and instead used the tickets to meet an online boyfriend.
"Hadden's family called that claim ridiculous, but in an exchange of Facebook messages from April 16 five weeks before her trip Hadden voices an intention to visit the man named in the passport seizure request, a resident of the town where she's now staying.
"Hadden's mother said she believes her daughter intended to visit her ex-husband because they had purchased gifts for his nieces and nephews that Shauna Hadden took with her. Linda Hadden said it's possible her daughter is dating the other man but he wasn't the sole reason for her trip.
"Machado, who works as a house painter, had been expelled from the U.S. because he entered the country illegally through Mexico, his attorney confirmed.
"Rafaela Santos Martins da Rosa, the federal judge overseeing the case, said she couldn't provide details because the case involves a minor and falls under secrecy laws. Brazil's federal police declined to comment. The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia would confirm only that Hadden is in Fortaleza and is receiving consular services.
"U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Richard Neal, both of Massachusetts, say they've been trying to intervene in an effort to get mother and daughter back to the United States.
"It's common in Brazil for officials to confiscate the passports of parents if a judge feels there is a chance that a mother or father may try to take a child out of the country without the other parent's permission," the story concluded.
In an interview with Reminder Publications Carrie Fuller-McMahon, longtime friend of Hadden, said, "I am in minute-to-minute communication with her via text."
Fuller-McMahon explained that Hadden was to receive a determination from the Brazilian court on July 8 regarding the return of the two passports, but after sitting in her lawyer's office for nearly seven hours, no ruling was made.
In her Facebook post that same day Fuller-McMahon wrote, "Just to clarify, Ava's dad did have up until July 5 for a supervised visit with Ava, and when that day came and no visit had happened, Shauna agreed to an extension for this visit he has until the end of today."
She continued, "So, to answer questions about Ava seeing her dad, Shauna is not only willing to allow that, but has extended the time in which he had to do so. As of yet, he has not responded."
Fuller-McMahon told this reporter that Hadden isn't receiving a paycheck and has lost her health insurance. That is why she started a GoFundMe campaign for her friend.
"She [Hadden] had nothing to do with the fundraising. It was me [that organized the collection], not her," Fuller-McMahon said.
"Life doesn't freeze," she added, noting that Ava is supposed to start first grade this fall.
"It's an eye-opener about the United States and how we do things here other countries don't operate the same," Fuller-McMahon said. "We're lucky here."
Calabrese told Reminder Publications she found out about Hadden's situation by a friend's Facebook post and was immediately scared for Hadden and her daughter.
"It's a natural thing to want to keep family ties, no matter how far they are," Calabrese said. "It's going to come down to diplomacy and political will [to get the duo home]."
She continued, "There has to be a price to pay for violating basic human rights."
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