There’s no greater fear I have as a mother than being forcibly separated from my children. It’s the stuff of nightmares. And Sally Faulkner, a suburban girl from Brisbane, has been living her nightmare – the nightmare of every mother – for more than a year now.
Her ex-husband, Ali Elamine never even wanted children. When Sally fell pregnant to the charismatic man with the Californian accent she met in Dubai while working as part of the Emirates cabin crew, she says he begged her not to have the baby. She was 22 and she refused to end her pregnancy.
She returned to Australia, he followed and they had a daughter, Lahela and then a son, Noah. For a time they lived in Beirut as a family but Lebanon is a dangerous country and Sally made the decision to take the children home to Australia.
Ali decided to stay in Beirut and the couple divorced.
For a time, things seemed to be OK. Ali would come to Australia to visit the children and signed an agreement giving Sally sole custody.
But then something changed. She met someone. She fell in love. And Ali reacted. He persuaded Sally to let him take the kids for two weeks to Lebanon to visit with his parents. Sally wanted to do the right thing by the kids and by Ali. She wanted the kids to have a relationship with their father and grandparents.
She drove them to the airport after repeatedly making Ali promise he’d bring them back.
“You’re a great mother Sal, you really are.” he said at the airport as she hugged her children goodbye.
The next she heard was a Skype call when he told her “plans had changed. Lahela and Noah aren’t coming back to you. They’re staying here with me.”
You probably know a bit about what happened next.
Sally attempted to recover her children with the help of a child recovery agency called Curi, owned and run by Adam Whittington. A Sixty Minutes crew were there to cover the story.
In this confronting and heartbreaking interview with Mia Freedman on the No Filter podcast, Sally shared the story of losing her kids and the incredible lengths she went to to get them back.
There’s a lot people don’t know about what happened next. Sally has a lot to share and it’s all heart-breaking.
This interview is, at times, really upsetting. It can be hard to listen to someone who is deeply traumatised and in deep grief talk about what they’re going through. The hole in Sally’s life where her two eldest children should be is like a gaping wound. We both cried during this interview and there are times you can hear Sally’s distress. But we chose not to edit any of that out because this is what Ali Elamine has done to the mother of his children by abducting them from Australia and refusing to let them see or communicate with her.
This is the reality of what happens when you have children with someone who lives in another country, especially a country that isn’t a signatory to the Hague Convention that prevents children from being abducted and kept from the custodial parent in exactly the way Ali Elamine and many other fathers AND mothers have done to kids who should legally be living in Australia.
You can buy Sally's book on Mamamia's iBooks page, here.
Listen to the full interview below. For more interviews with Australia's most fascinating figures, subscribe to No Filter in iTunes.