KZN family reunited at last

2014-09-02 00:00

A TRAUMATIC and international year-long custody battle has had a happy ending with a Newcastle mother finally being reunited with her six-year-old child.

Debbie Kirsten and her adopted daughter Angel Kirsty Kirsten were reunited last week after the high court in Botswana ruled four weeks ago that Angel be returned to her. She was taken away almost a year-and-a-half ago, and Kirsten had not seen her daughter for a year.

They were reunited on Thursday last week and arrived in Johannesburg on Saturday. They are currently in Pretoria where Kirsten is waiting for a flight overseas on Thursday to take up another job.

Angel was just four months old when Kirsten adopted her and ­almost five years old when she was taken away.

However, on her sixth birthday on Thursday normality returned to her life as she once again celebrated it with her mother and eight-year-old brother Simon.

A happy-sounding Angel gave The Witness a bouncy “Hello” during a telephonic interview with her mother on Sunday before rushing off to play with her brother.

Kirsten, ecstatic to have her family back together, said the nightmare was finally over.

“Everyone says after the birth of a child, you never remember the labour pains, just the child … I never had any doubt that I would get my child back.”

The custody battle took its toll, with Kirsten having to sell her house, and having to take international jobs to pay the hefty legal fees. She even lost her husband, who she said died “literally from heartbreak” after losing their daughter.

“I do not believe that God will give a gift and then take it away. I always knew that I would prevail because I knew that God was on my side.”

Her troubles started almost a year ago when she was leaving Botswana, where she had adopted Angel, whose biological mother had signed over her parental rights. She was returning to South Africa after her work contract ended.

“… The man who claimed to be the biological father suddenly came out and claimed the child … I was accused of all sorts of things including human trafficking. I was banned from seeing her for a year, arrested and interrogated for hours by security forces.”

And last August, lower courts took an unprecedented decision to reverse the adoption, leaving her husband devastated.

“For the whole year my child was taken away from me. I could not see her or talk to her … She was placed in a home and then she was given to the man who claimed to have been the father.”

Kirsten travelled between South Africa and Egypt, returning to attend the court case in Botswana. But four weeks ago, the Botswana High Court of Appeal finally restored her parental rights.

“When the decision was announced, I was not yet excited. It was only when I held her in my arms on Thursday that I was so happy. For the first hour she was stumped. She believed that we were dead and I had to tell her that her father was really dead.

“We are now back together as a family and that is how it should be.”

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