'I crumbled to the ground': B.C. mom on hearing her allegedly abducted daughter was found
Published Monday, July 15, 2019 11:40AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 16, 2019 11:16AM PDT
A Vancouver Island mother whose abducted daughter was recently found overseas says she's preparing herself for an emotional reunion three years in the making.
Tasha Brown and her lawyer spoke with reporters in Nanaimo Tuesday for the first time since her daughter Kaydance was recovered.
In 2016, a Canada-wide warrant was issued for the arrest of Brown's former partner Lauren Etchells for allegedly abducting Kaydance, then 19 months old, in defiance of a court order.
It's alleged that Etchells and her new partner Marco van der Merwen lived abroad with Kaydance for more than three years before her July 1 arrest.
Investigators said Etchells and her parents were spotted trying to land a 13-foot inflatable dinghy on the shores just south of St. Catherine, Jersey, a small island in the English Channel.
"This could've been a whole other heartbreak of a story. I'm so grateful it wasn't," an emotional Brown said Tuesday, adding that the "crumbled to the ground" when Saanich police told her Kaydance was found.
"Over the past 12 days I've had most of [my] questions answered as I slowly educate and prepare myself for the complicated process of being reunited with Kaydance," Brown said.
Kaydance has been placed in foster care in the U.K. as Etchells remains in custody during extradition proceedings.
Etchells has pleaded guilty to charges of child neglect and immigration offences in Jersey in addition to facing charges of abduction and disobeying court orders in Canada.
Brown said the process of reuniting with her daughter won't be an easy one. She'll have to attend a Hague Convention hearing where a judge will determine if Kaydance will be able to return to Canada with her.
"If the judge rules that Canada was Kaydance's habitual residence and I'm considered her parent and guardian, she may be able to return home to me," Brown said.
But she called Jersey laws "archaic" because they don't make reference to same-sex parents, despite same-sex marriage being legal, and there's no guarantee a judge will side with her.
"I would be absolutely gutted if I was denied the parental duties that I've always endaveoured to uphold," she said.
Brown's lawyer, Elisabeth Strain, said she's hopeful Kaydance will be returned because the B.C. Supreme Court has already ruled that the girl's habitual residence is in British Columbia.
"There's currently in place a B.C. Supreme Court order that directs police to apprehend the child and return her to Tasha Brown," Strain said. "Child abductions are very, very serious and I think they strike fear into the heart of any parent, but they also strike at the heart of the court system. We have to be able to rely on those court orders."
She said the trip for Brown to go overseas to try to get Kaydance back will be a costly one and said anyone who wants to donate to her cause can send money to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If her daughter is returned to her, Brown said she looks forward to spending time outside with Kaydance and showing her the garden she planted for her after she was taken.
"I just want to develop that relationship, and I just need time to do it," she said. "I just want to hang out with Kaydance outside doing cool stuff, showing her the island and planting that garden."
Brown also spoke directly to Etchells, whom she married in 2013 and separated from in 2015 after conceiving Kaydance through a donor process.
"I never wanted to take Kaydance away from you Lauren, and you know that," she said. "We came in this together united and I just cannot understand why you felt the need to do this. And it wasn't just to me, that's the thing, it's not just about me. The tsunami effect of this is incomprehensible."
The couple, who married in 2013 and separated in 2015, conceived their daughter through a donor process.