I was born in early 1951, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the son of an Argentine attorney married to an American woman (one of three sisters from Brooklyn, all of whom met and married men from Argentina). I was raised in Buenos Aires, speaking Spanish as my native language, and starting to speak English at around age three. When I was three and a half, I contracted polio, and was totally paralyzed. I gradually recovered all functions in my upper body and arms, and regained some limited function in my right leg. My improvement stopped at age seven, and I have walked with two crutches and using a long leg brace on my left leg ever since.
My mother kidnapped me when I was six years old. Since she had been bringing me back to the States for medical treatment since I had polio three years earlier, traveling from Argentina to the States seemed in no way unusual. After we had been in the States for a couple of weeks, my mother told me that she had some terrible news; she said that my father and my grandparents ( father’s mother and father ) had all been killed in a car accident, and that we would simply stay in the States and would not be returning to Argentina. What my father found when he returned home from his office on the evening that we had left was a letter from my mother, informing him that he would never see either her or his only son again, and that he should simply forget about us. He also discovered shortly thereafter that she had cleaned out all of their bank accounts, leaving him totally and utterly broke.
For the next several years, my father devoted virtually all of his time, energy, and whatever money he could scrape together to finding us. Since he had no way to raise money other than by trying to rebuild his law practice, he worked as much as he could, and did most of the searching through private investigators he would retain in the States. His best friend and confidant, who was a Catholic priest in Argentina, came to my father and told him that since my father needed to keep working, he (the priest) would gladly travel to the States to look for my mother and myself, if only my father would pay his expenses. This priest indicated that he could search for us more inexpensively than the P. I.’s that my father had been using. This seemed like a good idea, so my father funded several such trips for this priest. On each trip, the priest reported making progress, and often reported just barely missing us but being hot on our trail. What my father didn’t know until we had been gone for a couple of years was that my mother actually had been having an affair with the priest, that he had been actively involved in helping her plan the kidnapping, and that when he was “searching” for us (on my father’s nickel), he actually was living with us and continuing his affair with my mother.
I don’t clearly remember at what point my mother told me that my father and grandparents were still alive. When she did, her story became that she feared being found by them. Her belief was that as an American citizen, she would certainly be granted custody in any custody hearing held here in the States. However, even a US court would likely grant my father the right to take me to Argentina during vacations. Under Argentine law, fathers have all the rights, and my mother believed that once my father had me back in Argentina, he would not send me back, and that a US custody decree would be legally meaningless and unenforceable in Argentina. She added to my fears by telling me that she knew that my father would not have me live in his house if I were returned to Argentina, but that I would be sent to live with my grandparents, whom she painted as mean and terrible people. In reality, nothing could have been further from the truth.
From the time that my mother kidnapped me and brought me back to the States at age six, until I began high school at age twelve, we moved dozens of times, and changed names and identities at least four times. We lived a very isolated existence, as she had cut herself off from all her family, and she had no friends other than the aforementioned Catholic priest, who would occasionally come and live with us for weeks or months at a time. During my four years in high school (in Brooklyn, NY), she began reestablishing limited contact with selected members of her family, so life began to take on some semblance of normalcy. When I was about to graduate from high school, and had already been accepted at a college in New Hampshire, I decided I needed to reconnect with my father. I called him out of the blue; he sent me tickets, and I spent several weeks in the summer after graduation and before going off to college with my Dad and his new family in Argentina. To make a very long story short, I have a superb relationship with my father, step-mother, and my half-sister, her husband and my nephew. I have a very limited and strained relationship with my mother. In addition, my half-brother has had a lifetime of problems, caused in large part, in my opinion, by growing up in my father’s house and having to compete with a ghost – an older brother whom he had never met that was the focus of so much remembrance and efforts to find and track down. I am not sure that he will ever recover from that.
On the positive side, I have also been blessed in many ways. I married a wonderful woman when I was twenty and she was nineteen, and despite the long odds against a marriage started at such an early age, we remain very happily married as we approach our thirty-first anniversary. We have two wonderful children; a twenty-two year old daughter who is about to graduate from college this May, and a fourteen year old son who will start high school this fall. After all that I have been through, building this family and watching it flourish is the one thing that I am proudest of in my life. I have also been blessed with a wonderful career in the field of Human Resources. I am currently a senior executive at a large hospital in Washington, DC. Interests include travel, reading, rock music and dogs, and I am an avid golfer.