LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It continues to be a long road, and fight, for a Morehead mother looking to bring her abducted daughter home from West Africa. Dr. Noelle Hunter learned just two days after Christmas in 2011 that her daughter was taken by the child's father to Mali, despite a court order that she was to remain in the United States.
Hunter went to Mali last May and urged their courts to honor the court rulings in Kentucky that the child be returned to Kentucky. The courts sided with the child's father, instead. Now, this mom is testifying about her battle to bring Muna home before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington D.C.
"Each year over a thousand children are abducted from American homes and taken to a foreign country. Too often they are permanently out of reach of US law and are never returned," was one of the first statements made to open the meeting.
It's a sobering reality that many children are taken each year and all too many times never returned. For those families, the statistics are not just numbers but their reality.
"It is time to pass meaningful legislation to contain this pandemic and eradicate this terrible pain that has caused all too often," urged Hunter.
This Morehead mom did not hold back her words when given the chance to address the Foreign Relations Committee, but her words don't come close to reflecting the pain she feels.
"Imagine my horror, my 4-year-old daughter, a US citizen born in Kentucky, was illegally taken away to, now, a war-torn country," she said in her testimony.
Muna has missed birthdays, holidays, and other special moments with her mom and sisters.
"There was nothing I could do, and apparently nothing I have done so far that has returned her to my borders," Hunter continued.
She's petitioned the White House, representatives from Mali, and even spoken with Congressional members from Kentucky and now this mom is pushing harder.
"We need to fix this. It's been 793 days, more than two years, since Muna was abducted," she demanded.
Hunter continued to urge that the U.S. not stand for these abductions and need to push for more federal warrants to be executed for parents who abduct their children across our nation's borders.
"In nearly all cases, this is a matter criminality. Parental abduction is child abuse," she summarized. "They need us and they need justice."
That's a fight that will continue to burn inside this Morehead mother.