Turkish man says US wife kidnapped their twin children, partner claims abuse
A Turkish national and former tour guide identified as Umut. S. has filed a lawsuit over child kidnapping after his wife Jessica Marie S., who is a U.S. citizen, abandoned their Istanbul residence to fly back to the U.S., taking the couple’s twin children with her, daily Habertürk reported on Dec. 21.
The main problem between the now-separated couple was reportedly a difference in the pair’s parenting methods, though the wife has also claimed she experienced physical and psychological abuse.
When Umut S. came home in mid-October, neither his four-year-old twins, nor his visiting American mother-in law nor his wife, all of whom had arrived in Turkey two days previously, were there. Their passports and belongings were also gone, the report read.
“When I came home and couldn’t see the children’s passports, I reported the incident to the police. I tried to take out an overseas travel ban on them but couldn’t prevent them leaving because of missing documents,” the father said.
Umut S., who now works as an English-language teacher, first rushed to the airport upon seeing the empty house, but his wife and children, along with his mother-in-law, Suzan Turek Barfoot, had already left Turkey for good and were headed for Atlanta, GA.
Barfoot was in fact the one who introduced the couple to each other, after developing a relationship with Umut S. when he became her tour guide in 2006.
Barfoot came back to Turkey for three consecutive years, specifically requesting Umut S. as a tour guide each time.
In their last encounter, Barfoot told Umut S. she would introduce him to her daughter, a promise she later fulfilled.
Barfoot then came back to Turkey with her daughter Jessica Marie S., who then stayed on for six months in Istanbul to do an exchange program, having met her husband-to-be.
The couple were married in 2010 in Edremit, in the Aegean province of Balıkesir. Subsequent conflict reportedly arose over their parenting methods. Apparently the couple could not reconcile American and Turkish values.
Jessica Marie S. did not want the twins to learn Turkish whereas her husband sought to raise the children according to Turkish and Muslim customs.
“Apart from the typical problems multicultural families face, we were happy,” Umut S. said.
The father, who followed the family to Atlanta, said he was not shown the children when he arrived there.
Umut S. then applied to the Justice Ministry’s International Law and Foreign Connections Directorate via his lawyer.
In the meantime, Jessica Marie S. filed a divorce a month and a half after she fled Turkey with the children. She claims she was subjected to psychological and physical violence and has requested the children’s custody.