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Help Bring Mia & Liam Home 

During the past Spring Break, Mia and Liam’s natural father, Wissam Tarabichi, stated he was taking the children to Seattle for a one-week holiday from March 24-31, returning the children to school on April 3. Instead, he abducted them to the Middle East, and the three are in Beirut, Lebanon; their exact whereabouts in Lebanon are currently unknown.

Mia, 9, and Liam, 7, are from Abbotsford, BC. The children have only known Abbotsford as home. Their two left-behind parents are their mom, Shelley, and step-dad, Dean.

It wasn’t until April 3 that we became aware of their disappearance, when Shelley was contacted by the school because Mia and Liam were absent. She soon learned that in that short time period from when their dad picked them up for their “holidays”, he had sold his house in Abbotsford, contents included, and that he had severed all ties to Canada.

It has been confirmed that Mia, Liam and Wissam crossed the border from Abbotsford to Washington State on March 24. On March 25, the three of them flew from Seattle to Paris, then onto Beirut, Lebanon.

Shelley and Dean have had no contact with their children in over two weeks. Lebanon is not a signatory of The Hague Convention. This means that the government of Lebanon is not required to co-operate with the return of the children to Canada (their rightful habitual country) and the community of Abbotsford. Global Affairs Canada has tried to help, but has advised the family to retain a lawyer in Lebanon to pursue the case in the Lebanese court system.

Over the past few years, Shelley and Dean have spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to protect their children’s safety until they would be old enough to speak for themselves. 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. Their return to Canada weighs upon Shelley and Dean’s ability to bring them home. There is a long, frustrating, emotional and expensive road ahead of them.

Our hearts ache for Mia and Liam. Their trauma will be great, and their sense of security will likely never be the same. They were not given any warning or opportunity to say good-bye to the only family, friends and home they knew. This situation has been hard to comprehend as adults, and their sense of confusion and loss will be even greater. The cold reality is that it will not be easy to bring them home; however, we will remain positive, proactive and will never, ever give up on them. To that end, Shelley and Dean will need funds for lawyers and resources to open up communications with their father and begin the process of resolution. They would just love to hear their children’s voices.

Shelley says: Bedtime in our house was always very special. I used to tuck the kids in for a snuggle and chat. I always told them that if we ever found ourselves separated, to look into the night sky and I will too, and that we will stay connected through the stars. I hope they remember that and know that we are sending them love and hugs always. Mia and Liam, we love you and will see you soon.As they are solely focused on this sensitive journey, please be mindful of their privacy. Please help Shelley and Dean in their fight to bring Mia and Liam home as soon as possible.

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