BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts woman who has been stranded in Brazil with her 6-year-old daughter because of a dispute with the girl's father expects to return home soon.
Representatives for both sides told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a Brazilian judge has decided to return the U.S. passports that federal police seized from the visitors from North America in early June.
"We are so happy and excited to leave," the woman, Shauna Hadden, told the AP in an email from Brazil. "We will be leaving as soon as we have our passports in hand."
The 33-year-old social worker has said she took her daughter, Ava Machado, to Brazil in May so the girl could reconnect with her father. But family said she changed her plans after landing in Brazil because she got a phone call from a friend warning that the father planned to keep the girl.
A lawyer for the father, 32-year-old Donizete Machado, disputed that he wanted custody of the little girl. The attorney, Isabel Feijo, said last week that her client asked authorities to seize the two passports because Hadden hadn't let him visit with Ava.
The lawyer also claimed Hadden used airline tickets Machado paid for to fly over and meet a boyfriend.
Hadden's mother, Linda Hadden, has called that claim ridiculous. She said Wednesday that her daughter offered to pay all expenses so Machado could go and see Ava in the city where the mother and daughter were staying in Brazil but he never agreed to the visit.
Linda Hadden said her daughter and granddaughter now hope to get their passports back Thursday and be home in Agawam, about 90 miles west of Boston, this weekend. She said she was pleased Ava will get to go to summer camp and will be able to start first grade as planned in the fall.
"It's certainly been a nightmare, but thankfully it's all working out," she said.
The family had sought help from State Department officials and Massachusetts politicians, including U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, who said Wednesday after video-chatting with Shauna Hadden that the seizure of U.S. passports had gotten him "worked up."
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