This time of year, Boston resident Colin Bower should be feeling a father’s pride in watching his two growing sons start a new school year. Instead, he’s left pining for the boys he hasn’t seen in more than a year, since his ex-wife spirited them away to her native Egypt using forged passports.
Bower has traveled to Egypt six times, enlisted the help of U.S. Sen. John Kerry and the State Department and started a Facebook campaign in an effort to be reunited with 7-year-old Ramsay and 9-year-old Noor. But he doesn’t know if he’s any closer to getting his boys back than the day their mother sneaked them out of the country.
Still, Bower continues to post video messages to his boys on Facebook.
“It is, frankly, therapeutic for me to communicate with them in some fashion after a year, because I haven’t been able to see them at all,” Bower told Matt Lauer in an interview on TODAY Wednesday.
Whisked away to EgyptBower was granted sole custody of Ramsay and Noor following his divorce from their mother Mirvat el Nady in 2008. Bower handed the boys over to Nady for a visitation on Aug. 9, 2009, with Bower scheduled to pick them up from her home a week later. But on Aug. 11, she boarded a flight with Ramsay and Noor using Egyptian passports bearing the name “Power” to get them on the plane.
At the time Bower was due to pick them up, he received a phone call from a mobile phone. On his Facebook page, Bower says the caller told him he “would not be able to see or contact his children again if he did anything about the fact that [my] children were missing.”
Bower contacted police and Nady was listed on Interpol as a fugitive wanted for U.S and international warrants for kidnapping. But she’s made herself — and the two boys — scarce. An Egyptian court granted Bower twice-monthly visitation with the boys in Egypt, but Bower told Lauer his ex-wife hasn’t produced the boys on his first two court-ordered visits.
“The fact is there is no one to force compliance on the Egyptian side, so she is simply not showing up,” Bower told Lauer. He is scheduled to fly to Cairo for a third scheduled visit next week, but Bower said he has been told “she won’t show up for the next visit,” either.
If Nady fails to deliver the children to Bower for a visit a third time, she will be in violation of Egyptian law, but Bower told Lauer an arrest by Egyptian authorities would require “that they actually implement their laws.”
Still, Bower is not without hope — and has actually seen some headway in recent days. On the eve of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s visit to the White House this week, Bower was informed that an Egyptian official had visited the boys to check on their well-being. Bower said he was told Ramsay and Noor are in good shape and talked excitedly about their friends and activities in Egypt.
But Bower told Lauer he believes his sons “were well on-message and well-coached for that visit.”
Bower’s spirits were buoyed that his video messages to his boys may actually have been seen by them. Bower told Lauer he’s learned elder son Noor has Internet access and is aware of his father’s Facebook page.
Now, Bower hopes that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton puts pressure on Mubarak to return his children to him when she meets with him this week. Already, Sen. Kerry has written three letters to Egyptian government officials requesting the children be put on a flight back to the U.S.
Bower hopes his situation has a happy ending much like the case of New Jersey’s David Goldman, who fought for five years with the Brazilian government to get his son returned to him before the pair were finally reunited last year.
In the meantime, Bower is left with the heartache of having gone 55 weeks without seeing his sons.
“It’s been absolute torture on many levels,” Bower told WBZ-TV in Boston. “I can’t tell you what it’s like to lose a child, to lose two children, and not have any means of communication. It’s horrible. It’s a living nightmare.”
Visit his Facebook page here.