Some of you may not be aware of the biblical story of King Solomon and how he dealt with a child custody issue.
The story is about two young women who lived in the same house and who both had an infant son. One of the women claimed that the other, after accidentally smothering her own son while sleeping, had exchanged the two children to make it appear that the living child was hers. The other woman denied this and so both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said that the dead boy belonged to the other.
After some deliberation, King Solomon called for a sword to be brought before him. He declared that there is only one fair solution: the live son must be split in two, each woman receiving half of the child. The liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, “It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!” However, Upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy’s true mother cried out, “Please, My Lord, give her the live child—do not kill him!” Solomon instantly gave the live baby to the real mother, realising that the true mother’s instincts were to protect her child, while the liar revealed that she did not truly love the child.
In Australia we have heard a lot recently of four young girls who were brought to Australia by their mother from Italy in 2010. The mother and father were going through a rather acrimonious divorce and in an Italian Family Law Court they were awarded joint custody of the four girls.
The mother had permission to bring the girls to Australia for a one month vacation to see the maternal relatives. That was the last time the father saw his children until 2012 when the mother petitioned the Family Law Court in Australia to allow her girls to stay in Australia. The case has dragged on for several months and ended today with horrendous scenes of four beautiful girls being dragged kicking and screaming and begging to stay while their mother wailed and cried and climbed onto the bonnets of Australian Federal Police vehicles to try and stop their deportation back to Italy.
There are several issues these events raise. It should be remembered it was the mother who kidnapped the children from Italy (all the girls were born there but hold dual citizenship) and joint custody had been awarded. It was the maternal great grandmother who hid the girls until the Family Court ordered her to produce them…It was the mother who contacted the Press to tell the girls story and how they wanted to stay here. It was the mother who rather than booking her own ticket back to Italy decided that pulling the AFP off her traumatised girls would be a better solution.
One the other side of this debate we have a father who has always maintained all he wanted was his girls to be returned to Florence where they can again share joint custody. He has offered the mother eight thousand dollars to return to Italy with her girls. He has maintained that, should the mother return to Italy, he will not press any charges against her.
So, who’s right in this matter? Like any mother, this mother fought like a lioness to keep her girls. But what about the rights of the father? Would we feel different about this situation if say a father had taken the girls back to Lebanon or Iraq?
One thing to me is very clear…there are only losers in this battle and today it was those four beautiful girls.