This is not just the story of my fight for justice and freedom, it’s an international problem that will continue to go unchecked until the governments of the world unite to protect their citizen’s rights. As the world becomes smaller more and more people from various nations are moving to and marrying outside of their own countries. This makes it impossible for their rights to be protected once they’ve moved to their new country of residence. Many like me are left subject to archaic and sometimes barbaric laws that are destroying the worlds population one person at a time. Once I moved here, I was subject, as many others are, to the laws of this country and was no longer protected by my own. I took for granted that my rights as a US Citizen would be protected no matter where I lived as I had maintained that citizenship and refused to become a British citizen.
The children of these international unions are left even more vulnerable even if they are registered as citizens of the non-host country as mine were as US Citizens only. Did you know that in some countries including this one if you marry a man and he isn’t the true biological father of the children he still gets what’s called parental responsibility for the children, which means he has all the same rights to your children as you do? If the relationship between the parents breaks down the children can be hi-jacked by the host country and be made into citizens of that country without the parents or the children’s original country of citizenships permission as was the case with my children. When the relationship was over I tried to move back to the US only to be told that I couldn’t leave as my ex husband had rights to see the children no matter what he had done to us. Our passports were removed from us and held by the courts, making us prisoners of this country.
I was then seen as a flight risk and my ex started proceedings against me fighting for custody of the children leaving me as a non-resident, non-citizen parent fighting an unwinnable war. The amount of prejudice suffered by non-citizens in this country as in many others is staggering, especially when it comes to court proceedings. It was clear to me that I had lost before I had even started to fight and that my children were soon to forget who I was and where they had come from. Every attempt was made to erase me from the children’s lives as well as that of my entire family living in the US as visitation and contact were ended and further contact for my family was denied. I have found through endless hours of research that this affects both mothers and fathers alike in many different countries including the UK, Germany and Poland so this is the only part of the deception that is unprejudiced.
When we try to get help from our own governments we are told that they cannot get involved in court proceedings of other countries adding further insult to injury by saying “that you chose to stay there, so now you are subject to the laws of that country and are on your own.“ They admit that there is a problem and offer you sympathy and apologies but say their hands are tied and they can’t help you. They can’t offer you help with legal fees, or legal representation much less give you any further options to pursue. So I say, what good is it to have Embassies from our own governments in these countries when they can’t help us? I thought their whole job was to protect the rights of citizens visiting and living abroad, I was wrong.
Once the illusion is erased you try every other avenue possible to try to get help or even money for legal expenses and you run into even more brick walls and red tape. You want desperately to believe that your rights as a US citizen or of any other country for that matter, are protected no matter where you visit or live and that simply isn’t the case. Your citizenship is useless in other countries, it’s not even worth the paper it was printed on. Not wanting to give up, you research for hours everyday trying to find organizations, associations, anyone who can help and you write letters, emails, faxes and you call them all numerous times to no avail. What then are we to do? Where are we to go? Until the world wakes up and sees this situation for what it really is, thousands even millions of lives will be destroyed.
Lana Walker was born in Wisconsin in 1971. She is the youngest of four children raised in the Catholic religion. She moved to Europe in 1995 where she traveled extensively until the birth of her twin daughters in 1997. She and the children moved to England in 1998 where they remain to this day. She has had several poems and photographs published throughout the years and is currently working on a book comprising of both. She enjoys studying various cultures and religions and is now working towards obtaining her masters degree.