*This story has been updated to reflect corrections.
An American mother desperately fights a stacked deck to bring her children home from Australia
By Judi Curry
Writing this story is a very difficult thing for me to do. I have always tried to intersperse my writings with satire and humor. But there is nothing humorous about this story, and instead of satire it might be construed as satanic.
Several years ago, my granddaughter was asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight because her dress was too short. You may remember the story because it was all over the news, the television, blogs, etc. At the time, she was an attractive young lady, early twenties, working as a waitress at Hooters to help finance her way through college. This aging grandmother saw nothing wrong with the way she was dressed; what she was wearing I had seen my students wear for years: A mini-skirt, a blouse that really didn’t show much cleavage, and yes, she was wearing underwear.
She lived in Pacific Beach at the time and she and her friends frequented a variety of pubs in that area. One eventful night, she bumped into a tall – over 6’4” – handsome Aussie that was in town playing in a Rugby tournament. She, being tall herself, with long blond hair and blue/green eyes, gravitated to this handsome man with the most charming accent. They began dating.
Shortly before his visa was to expire, she found out she was pregnant, and they decided to get married in a civil ceremony at the county courthouse. After only a few days, he returned to Australia and she followed a short time later.
Kyla did not find her new home much to her liking. The bugs, the snakes, the weather were all depressing to her. Trying to learn to drive on the “wrong side of the road” was a challenge. However, as a newlywed, she was in love with her new husband and tried to make the best of the situation. Several months after their move, their daughter arrived.
Many promises were made by her new in-laws. They said they would buy the newlyweds a new house. They did, purchasing a home in their own names and renting it to the couple for more than the mortgage payments.* They were told that a car would be provided to them. When that didn’t happen, both Kyla and her groom, BR, contributed $12,500 each for the cost of a new car. Fortunately Kyla had a sizeable amount of money in savings, which BR’s stepfather* convinced her to deposit in a local trust, which later filed for receivership and had the money impounded. It has recently been discovered that BR has been receiving a monthly reimbursement from those funds, while Kyla has never seen a penny.
The couple’s first child was born, with Kyla’s mother having traveled from San Diego to be at her side to celebrate the occasion.
But being so far away from her family and friends began taking a toll on Kyla, and the couple decided to move to back to San Diego, moving in with Kyla’s mother, Michele. Toward the end of 2009, Kyla discovered she was pregnant again, and because of the ease of access to health care in Australia, the couple decided to give it another go in the Land Down Under.
Child number two arrived, again with Michele at her side, but this time with severe complications—Kyla nearly died during childbirth. While Kyla was fighting for her life, BR slept.
As Kyla slowly recovered, she again grew terribly homesick. The couple decided to return to the States, and after a brief stay in Hawaii (a compromise solution to split the difference between their two homes) where BR found work difficult to come by, they returned to San Diego. Having been a fisherman in Australia—among other things—BR went to work on a fishing boat. Kyla’s brother was already working on a boat and got BR a job. When fishing was slow, BR was always the one they cut because he was the last one hired, but he made no attempt to find another job.
Eventually BR and Kyla both concluded that he might have better prospects if he returned to Australia. So they packed up and trekked back to the Land Down Under.
Not surprisingly upon their return Kyla’s homesickness became more intense than ever. Michele began receiving calls from the in-laws, suggesting that Kyla should be placed in a mental hospital because she was unable to cope. Michele gently reminded them that they were the only family she had there, and hoped that they would help her adjust to Australia living.
It was then that Kyla’s world began to turn upside down. BR’s stepfather, it turned out, owns several pharmacies in town. Kyla was not adjusting well to her renewed new life, and desperately wanted to go home to San Diego. But the in-laws had other notions; her unhappiness to them was a sure sign of mental instability, and an opening. Using his connections, BR’s stepfather secured the help of five different psychiatrists, although it’s difficult to tell at this point who they were helping. Each doctor prescribed a variety of medications. This cocktail of drugs was fed to Kyla for days. The trouble is that Kyla insists that she never actually saw any of the prescribing physicians. She never had one session with any of them, making a legitimate and accurate diagnosis impossible.
Shortly thereafter, BR’s mother arranged for another mental health professional to pay Kyla a visit for an evaluation, with the purpose of determining whether she should be institutionalized. Kyla sensed that something was very wrong, and refused to meet with this new figure. In desperate need of support, and still in a drug cocktail induced fog, she made a phone call stateside to Michele and reluctantly agreed to speak to the specialist. With Michele listening intently on the other end of the line, Kyla explained to the specialist and her mother-in-law, repeatedly and emphatically, that she was simply homesick, and not mentally ill.
Michele had grown concerned. Thousands of miles away and feeling virtually helpless, and needing an explanation, she called BR. He told her that he and his family had five doctors lined up and ready to testify in court that they had all treated Kyla, and that she was “crazy.” Kyla again insisted that she had never seen any of the doctors in question.
BR and his family have since often spoken about Kyla in front of the two children. After overhearing a number of discussions, my great granddaughter, age 4 ½, asked her mother “why are you an unfit mother?” a question that was parroted by my great grandson, age 3.
Kyla was in big trouble. She was in Australia—a country not her own—all alone (except for her two young children), and surrounded by people who did not appear to have her best interests at heart. In a bit of a panic, Michele dropped everything and flew to Australia to stand by her daughter’s side, where she has been for the last several months. All the while, despite all of the apparent conspiring behind Kyla’s back, whenever the kids are around both mother and daughter are careful never to portray BR as anything less than a prince; he is never spoken of in a negative fashion.
We’ve heard the horror stories of American mothers trying to bring their children home from places like Iran and Brazil and the nightmares they are forced to endure. We have discovered that Australia is no better. It may, in fact, be worse.
Deciding that Kyla was no longer welcome, BR’s stepfather had the locks changed* on the home the couple had been sharing, and when she broke a window to get inside they had her arrested for vandalism. And when BR beat her so badly that he broke her cheek bone*, she was jailed for violating a restraining order the stepfather took out* despite the fact that she and BR were still living together. And when Kyla got into an accident after suffering a seizure and passing out while driving, she was given a $397 ticket for “negligent driving,” a charge for which she will have to appear in court.
BR and his family have received preferential treatment from the local authorities throughout. BR’s stepfather is an influential man about town, and his father was a local police officer who was killed in the line of duty. His picture is the first thing you see upon entering the local police station. The family has used the attempted institutionalization against her, and she was turned away* from the local hospital after BR told the staff that she was a “druggie” coming off of a high, which he explained caused the seizure.
The marriage is all but over. BR has even found himself a new girlfriend—despite still being married to Kyla. A custody battle is underway, on his turf and on his terms. Despite efforts to remain amicable, Kyla and BR’s relationship has fallen apart, and Kyla has been forced to uncomfortably remain in Australia to fight for her kids.
The first custody hearing is scheduled for June 18 (today in the States). In a 250 page affidavit submitted for the hearing, BR is demanding full custody of the children. No one knows what the in-laws have submitted, and to further complicate matters, there is an affidavit from BR’s current girlfriend corroborating everything BR has submitted. It turns out that she and BR were engaged to be married* when BR met Kyla, and she had once told Kyla that if they ever met she would push Kyla down the stairs and stomp on her stomach until she lost her baby*. We also know that both in-laws have perjured themselves in written statements, but it is their word against Kyla’s, and Kyla is the foreigner.
Michele must return to San Diego at the end of June, and when she does BR is asking that Kyla only be allowed one hour visits with her children three times a week under the supervision of his mother. He has hidden the children’s passports so that they cannot return to the States (they hold dual citizenship). There is written documentation from both BR and his stepfather that the children would be allowed to return to San Diego, but they have refused to honor those promises.
Michele has contacted Rep. Susan Davis’ office for assistance, but was informed that since she is no longer in Davis’ district due to redistricting, there is nothing they can do. She tried to enlist the services of famed women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, but was informed that Ms. Allred was not taking on any new cases at this time. She has also contacted her current Representative Scott Peters’ office, and although they have promised to look into it, she has only received one email correspondence from them. Michele has also been in contact with the American Embassy in Australia, who provided Kyla with a public defender* who so antagonized the magistrate that she made matters worse for Kyla. That public defender has since dropped the case*.
To make matters worse, BR’s stepfather is from South Africa, where he plans to take the children for a visit. It is feared that once they leave Australia, Kyla will never see her children again. Both children constantly ask Kyla and Michele when they can “come home” to San Diego, desperate to return to the large extended family that awaits them here.
We are at our wits end. Michele has tried every possible way of getting a fair and impartial magistrate to hear the custody case. BR has told her that there is no way she will win because his family has a lot of money and is very powerful in his town. He has also made it very clear that his stepfather has a lot of people who owe him favors, and he is not above cashing in on them now.
We’ve heard the horror stories of American mothers trying to bring their children home from places like Iran and Brazil and the nightmares they are forced to endure. We have discovered that Australia is no better; it may be worse. In fact, when Kyla called the police to report that BR was abusing the children—slapping them in the face*—she was told bluntly “that’s the way it’s done here.”
We need help, and we need it fast. We are desperate. Any suggestions would be welcome.
Please note the following corrections:
1. The in-laws had already purchased the house that Kyla and BR were going to move into, but it was already occupied by tenants when Kyla arrived. They had to live with the in-laws until the house was vacated.
2. The father-in-law is a stepfather. Not BR’s father (as originally reported).
3. The father-in-law did not change the locks – BR had locked her out.
4. Turned out the cheekbone was badly bruised, not broken.
5. BR took out the restraining order at the advice of the step-father. Stepfather filed the vandalism charges.
6. She wasn’t turned away at the hospital. They ceased treating her when BR told them she was a prescription drug addict
7. The girlfriend of BR – is an “ex” girlfriend he was unfaithful with during the course of the marriage.
8. The girlfriend threatened to “kick Kyla in the ovaries” not “stomp on her stomach.”
9. The US Embassy did not provide her with a public defender – the defender came from the Legal Aid Office. The Public Defender didn’t drop the case, per se. Cases are passed to whichever Public Defender is available at the time. The US Embasy has been next to useless each time they have been contacted.
10.BR didn’t slap the children in the face but often smacks them on their rears.