Dad in Egyptian Custody Case: 'My Children Today Were Not My Children'
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Colin Bower has fought tirelessly for the right to see his two sons ever since his ex-wife allegedly kidnapped them and took them back to her home country of Egypt more than a year ago. But a reunion there this week between the father and his boys was more heartbreaking than joyful.
Bower, 41, met with Noor, 9, and Ramsay, 7, for the first time since the kids disappeared from Manchester, Mass., 13 months ago, the Boston Globe reports, but the distraught dad says the boys treated him like a stranger.
"I can tell you this has been the worst day of my life,'' Bower tells the Globe shortly before traveling back to the United States. "My children today were not my children. ... They said they didn't want to be near me."
Bower met with his two sons for about 30 minutes, and was accompanied by the U.S. consulate general. According to the Globe, his former wife, Mirvat El-Nady, and members of her family also were present. The two divorced in 2008, and Bower won sole custody of the boys.
El-Nady is accused of kidnapping the boys during a visitation in August 2009. Bower says he arrived at Nady's home to pick up Noor and Ramsay for a trip to Maine, but they were gone. A warrant for Nady's arrest was issued by a Massachusetts court. Her name also appears on an Interpol alert.
She allegedly used forged Egyptian passports to board a plane headed for Egypt, where lawmakers have made it difficult for Bower to see his sons. He has requested to see them on six other occasions, and has obtained local counsel to help him navigate the legal system.
When Bower got word over the weekend that he would be able to see his boys, he dropped everything to get on a plane, accompanied by his mother. He brought with him a bag stuffed with gifts, and told reporters at the airport he hoped to take his sons back home with him.
Instead, two days later, he was visibly shaken, the Globe reports.
"They said they didn't like America, they liked it here'' in Egypt, Bower says, adding that he wept during the visit, and told the boys "this is an adult problem between Mommy and Daddy."
In a heart-rending interview with "Today" co-host Matt Lauer, Bower says it was obvious Noor and Ramsay were coached by their mother.
"It's clearly child abuse," he tells Lauer. "They've been kidnapped. They were clearly being told what to say. They were told they were going to be watched, and they were told they were going to be held accountable for what they did in the meeting."
During the half-hour Bower was with his boys, he says he looked for an emotional reunion that was not to be realized.
"I was down on one knee; I was looking for an embrace, I was looking for any sense of connection," he tells "Today." "They completely avoided me."
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.